Author Archives: grelanmuse

Vallot-Baskin: Woman. Warrior. Witness.   

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By Lori Vallot-Baskin
Special to Inside The Pew

We women prepare for the day by applying our makeup, fragrance, and clothing. We contour our faces to perfection, enhancing our God-Lori Vallot-Baskingiven beauty. We spray a fine mist of fragrance over our bodies and we adorn our frames with the right attire to complement our bold, beautiful, and bountiful curves. We take care to choose a shoe that speaks so that we do not have to. Our accessories are exquisite, leaving admirers and onlookers stunned. We spend hours on end achieving a flawless look, right? Imagine if we put this much effort into preparation for every aspect of lives.

Now that I have your attention, hello beautiful! Yes, you! Woman, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Woman, you are more than a conqueror. Being fearfully and wonderfully made and being more than a conqueror, comes with some responsibility as you might imagine. For instance, you must overcome forgetfulness. Unlike your lip-gloss or your mobile phone, your clutch, sweater or planner, there are some things that you just simply must not leave home without. We all do it, in a hurry, rush, or dash for the door; we realize we have left something important at home.

If you knew you were going into battle, wouldn’t you want the necessary tools and resources for the event? Well, there is a war going on and we, as warriors, must be equipped for battle at all times. You see, the media outlets will not show coverage of this war. You must simply be prepared for your time to battle should you be called. After all, we are revered for our strength, courage, and endurance. If you are up to the task

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17)

My prayer for you, my sisters, is that you face each day boldly, that you are equipped and clothed for battle. May God bless the women warriors who stand as living witnesses attesting to the might, power, and strength of our God. I pray that God clothes you with beauty, strength and dignity and that you are always ready to conquer the day no matter the war or how formidable the opponent in your way.

I am a woman. I am a warrior. I am a witness.

Lori Vallot-Baskin, founder of On Fire to Inspire is a speaker, mentor, vocation trainer and personal brand strategist with 10 years of experience. She is dedicated to impacting and inspiring women to identify their unique and God-given gifts and talents for use in the workplace, their communities, their churches, with their families and in their personal lives by a three-point strategy: Motivate. Educate. Empower. Visit Lori’s blog and connect with her on Facebook (On Fire to Inspire), Instagram (@onfire2inspire), and Twitter (@onfiretoinspire).

Woodlawn movie: racial strife, football, faith

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By Rusty Wright
Special to ASSIST News Service (ANS Movie Review)

MOUNT HERMON, Calif. – A nation too-often tarnished by racial conflict could use an inspiring film like this.

When I learned this movie involved Tony Nathan, I perked up.  As a longtime Miami Dolphins follower, I knew of his NFL exploits.  But I Woodlawn 1was unaware of his Woodlawn High School days in Birmingham, Ala., and the poignant story of how football and faith helped bring harmony among racial enemies.

Woodlawn skillfully portrays that 1973-74 tale.  Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are executive producers.

Picture Alabama on the heels of the Civil Rights era.  In his 1963 inaugural address, Alabama governor George Wallace had infamously proclaimed, “segregation now…segregation tomorrow…segregation forever.”

Three months later, in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King, Jr., had written, “…racial injustice engulfs this community.  Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States.”

Racial derision and harassment

Now, in 1973, Tony and other African American students find themselves bused to predominantly-white public schools, becoming theBear recruits Tony - ANS size

objects of derision and harassment.  Woodlawn football players who didn’t want to be teammates were thrown together.

Enter Hank a sports ministry worker who had experienced a spiritual transformation at Explo ’72, a Christian convention in Dallas that drew 80,000 people.  He was especially impressed by an evening session in the Cotton Bowl, where all attendees had small candles.

Billy Graham lit a candle, then passed the flame to another.  The flame spread until the stadium was ablaze with candlelight.  The event helped reinforce to Hank his own significance in God’s eyes.

Faith awakening

In the film, Hank (Sean Astin, Lord of the Rings trilogy, Rudy) persuades Woodlawn’s football coach Tandy Gerelds to let him speak to theHank - ANS size team.  He tells the team God can make a difference in their lives and invites them to place their faith in Jesus.  Over forty players take him up, and division gradually morphs into unity.  The team plays with fresh purpose and camaraderie.

Gerelds, a skeptic, observes this transformation and trusts Christ himself.  The real Tandy Gerelds later wrote of that decision, “The Lord came into my life…and gave me what He gave the players: love.”

Spiritual spark spreads

The spiritual spark spreads as students gather on campus for spontaneous interracial prayer for their school and city.  Players adopt the symbol and slogan of the era’s Jesus Movement – a raised forefinger signifying “One Way!”  The slogan derives from Jesus’ statement, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

The spark even reaches the coach and many players at Banks – a rival school – with powerful effect.  Players conditioned to hate each other become friends.  The film’s climax involves a showdown between Banks and Woodlawn, both undefeated.  The 1974 high school game drew 42,000 fans to Birmingham’s iconic Legion Field.

Football action

Football fans get plenty of gridiron action in this film.  Oscar winner Jon Voight plays legendary University of Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Team prayer - Web sizeBryant.  Actual game footage of Tony at Woodlawn and Alabama adds spice.  This Dolfan would have enjoyed at least one of his NFL clips.

I nominate January 2, 1982, the Orange Bowl.  Miami trails San Diego 24-10 in a playoff game.  Six seconds remain in the first half.  Dolphins’ ball on the Charger’s 40; no time outs left.  In a flash of brilliance … but, I digress.  Google “NFL films hook and lateral” (without quotation marks) to see it.

On another personal note, it’s encouraging to see Explo ’72’s ongoing impact.  I worked for the convention organizers.  My colleagues and I spent countless hours recruiting university students to attend.  Maybe Woodlawn can fan that same spiritual flame in a nation still deeply in need of racial healing.  It only takes a spark…Rusty Wright

Copyright © 2015 Rusty Wright

Photo captions: 1) Caleb Castille as prep superstar Tony Nathan. 2) John Voight as Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant recruiting Tony to ‘Bama. 3) Sean Astin as Hank, team chaplain. 4) Team pre-game prayer.

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents.  He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.

‘I got tainted’: Justin Bieber’s monumental return to Jesus

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Justin Bieber

By Mark Ellis
Special to ASSIST News Service

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA – In the last few years, singer-songwriter Justin Bieber’s bad-boy antics and run-ins with the law have alienated some of his Christian fan base and even led thousands to petition the White House to have the Canadian-born star deported. But recently, the 21-year-old pop sensation has reconsidered the error of his ways and made a stunning turnaround in his relationship with Christ.

In an interview with Joe La Puma for the Oct/Nov 2015 issue of COMPLEX conducted at the Montage Beverly Hills hotel, Bieber bares his soul about the dramatic restoration of his walk with Jesus.

“I forgot what I was about, what my mom raised me to be,” Bieber confessed to COMPLEX. “I veered off, and I got tainted. I came into the music industry at 13. I was trying to trust people and they’d break my heart at 15,” he says.

Bieber became disillusioned with people who took advantage of him. In response, he started to “do his own thing.”

“I got into a little bit of trouble,” he admits, “—nothing that other 20-year-olds don’t get into—just rebelling a little bit. Now, being 21, I’m coming into my own and around some pretty cool people who are not afraid to tell me what’s real.”

He says his behavior pushed the limits. “I was doing anything. I was doing so many things that I shouldn’t even be on the planet still. I think that it (my survival) was by the grace of God.”

During his time of rebellion, he says his manager, Scooter Braun always made sure he was safe and that situations didn’t escalate out of control. Sometimes Braun’s oversight as a “fixer” worked, and other times it backfired, he told COMPLEX.

The night he spent in jail was an unforgettable experience. “It’s freezing; it’s uncomfortable; there are people in there you just don’t want to be around. I had people who were yelling at me. They were saying, “Bieber! We f___ with you, bro! We love you! Aye! Keep your head up, bro!” It was kind of funny to hear that, especially from cats in jail.”

Bieber admits some people around him wanted him to rebel.

Following his epic break-up with Selena Gomez, his heart began to soften toward God. “Love is a choice. Love is not a feeling. People have made it seem in movies that it’s this fairy tale. That’s not what love is.

“You’re not gonna want to love your girl sometimes but you’re gonna choose to love her,” he continued. “That’s something in life that I had to figure out. I can’t lean on people. I got to lean on God. I gotta trust in Him through all my situations. Then, hopefully, my other relationships will flourish around me.”

After his turbulent adolescence, he also began to reflect on the limits of science and his place in the universe. “For a ‘big bang; to create all this is more wild [cq] to think about than thinking about there being a God,” he told COMPLEX.

“Imagine putting a bunch of gold into a box, shaking up the box, and out comes a Rolex. It’s so preposterous once people start saying it. At this point, my faith has gotten me to where I am. My faith has brought me to a whole other level. I love talking about my faith.”

Photo captions: 1) Bieber with Selena Gomez. 2) Justin praying with friends.

Mark Ellis is senior correspondent for the ASSIST News Service and also the founder of Godreports, a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world to build interest and involvement in world missions.

 

Police move homeless people off Philadelphia streets ahead of Pope Francis’ mass

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By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

PHILADELPHIA – As crowds moved into the city for Pope Francis’ large public Mass on Sunday, Sept. 27, the Homeless_man_in_Philadelphiahomeless are heading out — part of a high-security lockdown forcing people off the streets.

According to a story by Alex Jacobi for the Religion News Service (RNS), the displacement of the homeless comes amid the pope’s repeated calls for greater income equality and social inclusion of the poor.

He told members of Catholic Charities during his Washington, D.C., stop Sept. 22 that there was “no justification whatsoever for lack of housing.”

Then the pope lunched with homeless people in the nation’s capital, forgoing an invitation to dine with members of Congress.

More than 1 million people converged on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for Sunday’s Mass, an area where thousands live in makeshift shelters, RNS reported homeless advocates said.

In all, about 5,500 people live on the streets of Philadelphia, according to Project Home, an advocacy group for homeless people.

Police said everyone, not just the homeless, was being evacuated from certain areas and said it was for “security purposes.”

Yet some within the homeless community felt targeted.

Jason Taylor, a homeless Philadelphian, was collecting donations Sept. 24 to take a train to New Jersey or suburbanPope_kisses_young_man_in_Philadelpia Philadelphia. RNS said he was hoping to avoid the police sweep.

Others aren’t leaving quite so easily. Joe McGraw, who’s been on the streets since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979, said this year’s security is much more intense.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

“It wasn’t like this,” McGraw said. “They (now) shoo us away.”

McGraw said he understands the irony of homeless people being forced to make way for an event by a champion of the poor.

According to RNS, Sue Smith, vice president of residential and homeless programs for Project Home, police are working with homeless advocates for a smooth transition.

“It is not a matter of keeping homeless people out of the parkway,” said Smith who was helping the police with the effort. “It is just an unusual protocol.”

The homeless were also “hidden” from the Pope in his visit to Manila earlier this year. It was a move that caused considerable controversy.

Photo cutlines: Top, Jason Taylor, a homeless man in Philadelphia. (Religion News Service photo by Alex Jacobi). Pope Francis kisses and blesses Michael Keating, 10, of Elverson, Pa., after arriving in Philadelphia and exiting his car when he saw the boy, Sept. 26, at Philadelphia International Airport.

Contact Jeremy Reynalds at jeremyreynalds@gmail.com.

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Round: Faith or fear: Which would you choose?

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By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you”—Psalm 56:3(ESV).

Does the headline news make you afraid to leave your house? Constantly paying attention to the negative can stop us from living out our faith.

With the constant feed of bad news, some are fearful the end is near. Could it be? Remember, Jesus doesn’t even know. “But no one knowsCarol Round the date and hour when the end will be—not even the angels. No, nor even God’s Son. Only the Father knows” (Matthew 24:36, TLB).

Choosing faith over fear is the only answer. When we choose faith, we are stretched and forced to grow spiritually. In Romans 10:17, Paul says, “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” So how do we build our faith?

First, we must know the Word. In Psalm 119:66, the writer penned these words: “Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.” Knowing God’s Word is our foundation. It’s the beginning of choosing faith over fear. It’s not enough to attend church on Sunday mornings. We must also read, study and memorize His Word, letting it soak into our spirit.

Second, we must obey the Word. James 2:22 puts it this way: “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” When we obey God’s Word, we are confident when confronted by fear. The more often we step out in faith in obedience to God’s Word, the more our faith grows in the Lord.

The third step is speaking God’s Word. Deuteronomy 30:14 states, “No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” Have you ever spoken God’s Word aloud? If you have, you know the power it gives you to let go of fear and of the unknown. There’s just something about repeating Holy Scriptures that propels us forward when we want to give up.

Praying the Word is step four. Hebrews 4:12 says, “The Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword when you speak it in faith!” Some of the best prayers come straight from the Bible. Prayers of great Bible heroes abound as wonderful examples of how to move our faith over a mountain of fear.

Step five is to live the Word. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” As a believer, if you know, obey, speak and pray the Word of God, you will live out your life in faith and not fear.

Pastor Alexander MacLaren once said, “Faith, which is trust, and fear are opposite poles. If a man has the one, he can scarcely have the other in vigorous operation. He that has his trust set upon God does not need to dread anything except the weakening or the paralyzing of that trust.”

Faith or fear—which will you choose?

Photo information: Scripture Art courtesy of Share A Verse.

Carol Round is an author, a columnist, and a speaker. To learn more about Carol and her ministry, visit  her website or connect on Facebook or Twitter.

Northrop: Jesus didn’t come to the world to judge

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By Cynthia Northrop
Special to Inside the Pew

Editor’s note: This is part one of a series of articles developed by Northrop on this topic.

As Christians our job isn’t to judge the world. Jesus came into the world, sent by the Father, to save the world, toCynthia Northrop save those in the world, not to judge them (: “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” And John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”)

We are ambassadors of Christ.  We are His hands and feet and His representatives. As Jesus spoke only what the Father told Him to speak so we are to speak only that which Jesus and the Holy Spirit tells us to speak.

Jesus said if He was lifted up he would draw all (men and women) to Him. As we speak His words, He will still draw all to Him.  This is an immutable spiritual principle sealed by His death on the cross as He paid the debt for our sin).

God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23) and it is God’s loving-kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). It is because of His great love for us that He sent His only son to pay the price for our sinful state.

So while there is time and it is still ‘today’ we share the good news of God’s great love, speaking the truth in love to save people, not to judge them.  I am reminded of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7-26) when Jesus pointed out her sin (of multiple partners) and yet still offered her ‘living water’ and eternal life.  Or how about the woman caught in adultery and the religious people of the day brought the her to Jesus demanding she be stoned and yet Jesus responded to her by telling her he didn’t condemn her while at the same time encouraging her not to continue in sin. In other words, Jesus spoke the truth in love. Why? Because there is coming a day when we will all stand before the One who judges.

It is interesting to note that immediately following John 12:47, where Jesus says he didn’t come to judge the world but to save it, Jesus continues and tells us, “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day” (John 12:48). And though God will judge us what is amazing is that He also provided the way by which we can escape that judgment. He gives us the keys to paradise, to life; it’s like He gives us a test but also gives us the answers to the test! How cool is that?

We have the choice of choosing life or death. One of life’s great ironies is that when we choose what may seem to be the ‘straight and narrow’ path we experience and reap wide open spaces of freedom and joy. Conversely, when we choose those things that seem pleasurable and fun at first, over time we experience the inevitable negative consequences of those choices.  The irony is that we don’t make the connection between the choices we made and the outcome we are experiencing.

I chose life and love through God’s son, Jesus Christ. You too have a choice and whether you consciously choose or not, you DO choose. So, which will you choose?

Cynthia Northrop considers herself a community activist desirous of being salt and light in the world as called by God. She has been active in local government serving in the capacity of elected official and has served on numerous boards and committees including The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and currently serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of North Central Texas. She is a musician singer/songwriter with five self-produced CD’s of mostly original work and has served on her church praise and worship team for over 20 years. Cynthia’s writing endeavors include stints reporting for a Christian tabloid released in the DFW metroplex, articles for local newspapers, technical writing and blogs. She is currently writing her first book. 

Copyright © 2015 Inside The Pew. All rights reserved.

 

 

Reflecting on Katrina: A community journalist’s narrative

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Aug. 29, 2005, is an unforgettable day for Louisiana residents who were embroiled in or escaping the path of Hurricane Katrina.Katrina family

At the time of Katrina’s wrath and its aftermath, I was a general assignment reporter for The Orange Leader, then a daily newspaper in the southeast Texas town of approximately 20,000. While rather small in size,  residents of Orange provided heaping help to evacuees. And for approximately three weeks, stories of all sorts flooded the newsroom – from an evacuee giving birth in a local hospital to a pet owner being reunited with a missing dog.

As a journalist who had a part in covering Katrina, the experiences I encountered were somewhat different from those of major media outlets, maybe because these were the people who got out of dodge. However, while they were not on the roofs of their homes being rescued or trapped in the Superdome, there was a sense uncertainty. Although they were out of harm’s way, most of the people I spoke with were in a strange place and worried about their homes.

In situations like these, people just need someone to listen to them; that was my role for the hours I spent at the rest stop. For a journalist, it was a dream; stories flowed with emotion flowed. As a Christian, I was more than willing to provide an empathetic ear and show compassion. They didn’t care that I was a reporter, they just needed someone to listen to them. And on Aug. 29, that was the role God appointed to me. Coincidentally, many southeast Texans, myself included, found themselves on the run from a hurricane, as Hurricane Rita made landfall nearly one month later near Sabine Pass, Texas, on Sept. 24, 2005.

It was heartwarming to witness a community pulling together – regardless of their faith, race, and background – to compassionately uplift others (Colossians 3:12). Orange churches such as First Baptist, First Presbyterian, and North Orange Baptist opened shelters. Many other congregations held prayer services for evacuees and the community.

One of the last stories I covered before Rita interrupted the lives came from caring soul who willingly open her home to evacuees. Joel (pronounced Joe-L) Wilridge, who was a shower-maintenance worker for the Flying J Travel Plaza on Interstate 10 in Orange, “adopted” several Katrina families literally camped out at the truck stop for days.

“I wanted to do my part to help them,” Wilridge told me in September 2005. “I wanted to bring a family home with me. God has definitely brought us together.”Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Wilridge not only opened her own home to evacuees, she recruited her mother, her sister, and adult daughters’ to serve as hostesses. LeRoy Franklin, Claire Brown, Edruth Segura, and Latara Brown, all of New Orleans, sought refuge in the home of Wilridge’s mother, Muriel Julian.

“The people here are very compassionate and friendly, and that goes for the white and black people,” Brown said. At the time of the interview, Brown was a social service counselor for the state of Louisiana.

It was sad that former Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco and former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin had to rely on the federal government to decide whether or not to evacuate thousands when a major hurricane churned in the gulf. Despite it all, the nonprofit organizations, churches, and caring citizens helped those who were able to escape Katrina’s wrath. Katrina is a clear reminder that can get along and help each other in these situations despite our differences. Let’s not wait until a natural disaster to prove what we all know is inside of us. May God bless you and keep you safe.

Cutline: “We are family” is one of several stories written by Tonya Andris, former general assignment reporter for The Orange Leader. Orange, Texas, a city of 20,000 in southeast Texas, was one of several Texas cities along Interstate 10 that welcomed evacuees of Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005.

Tonya Andris is managing editor of Inside The Pew. She is a former newspaper journalist and resident of Plano, Texas. You may reach her at pewnews@aol.com.

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Thompson: Seek God’s guidance before leaving a church

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By Nina Thompson
Special to Inside The Pew

First of all, we must be clear why we have chosen to attend church. For me, it was simply that something was missing from my life and I wanted more of God. I wanted to understand God, and have help in navigating my life and making decisions. I also had learned that we all have special gifts and talents given by God, and I dearly wanted to know what those were and how I should use them to serve God and others. I didn’t want to go to the graveyard “full” as they say (1 Peter 4:10).

There are indeed some situations, though, where we should stop attending a particular church because it has become detrimental to our spiritual health. In thoseChurch Hurt Ain't No Joke by Nina Thompson instances, pack your bags and ask God to lead you somewhere else or show you what the next step is.

However, you do not want to leave a church before you have obtained what God sent you there to give or get, so my overall suggestion is that you ALWAYS seek God’s guidance before leaving a church. Remember that you are there to begin or strengthen your relationship with God. When you decide that you want more of God, expect that all sorts of things will come up against you moving forward – friends who ask you to do things on the day you planned to attend church or study the Bible, people seemingly staring at you or talking about you in church, horrible memories of church as a child – the list goes on and depends on where we are most vulnerable. So keep your eyes on the benefits of the journey.

While we can definitely have a relationship with God without attending church full-time, the community of church forces you to grow and mature spiritually, as you deal with the myriad of issues that always come about when working with people. So it is a good idea to have some type of relationship in a setting with others who are trying to more fully discover and interact with God, whether it be a church, ministry group, organization, etc.

In my book, Church Hurt Ain’t No Joke, I also offer very practical guidance for becoming a true disciple of Christ and maintaining your focus on your relationship with God. However more importantly, the book outlines steps that can be taken to move past the feelings of hurt or pain and toward a God-led and God-ordained life.

Here are tidbits from some of those steps that you can take right now that will help you to heal and reconnect with both God and the church. Be prepared because it takes WORK!

  • First and foremost, pray and ask God to send you to an environment that while it may have its faults, will be a place that focuses on teaching individuals how to expand their relationship to God, and not simply to follow leadership. Just say it in plain English and watch God lead you to an environment in which you can grow. It will still hurt, but it will be pain with a purpose. Understand that you are responsible to God and others.
  • The God-given charge focuses on our responsibility to God and those we have been assigned to. Our commitment is first to our relationship with God, and secondly, to our relationship with man. (Matthew 22:36-39). Love should be the basis for all that we do or we can do irreparable harm to ourselves and others. In the book we discuss how focuses on love can turn our actions into acts of worship to God, as opposed to empty, public gestures.
  • Pray daily but don’t just ramble. In the book, we highlight the best way to use this time in prayer so that you can begin to receive direction and guidance from God. Sometimes simply jotting down words, images, perceptions while you are sitting in the presence of God is what will help you obtain guidance.
  • Feed your spirit material that helps it to grow. At the end of the book, there is a list of books and publications that help me grow tremendously. The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson is one of the best, but there are many others that will definitely cause a growth spurt. I’ve read many others as well since the book was published but the lesson is to study to show thyself approved (2 Timothy 2:15).
  • Read and study the Bible, especially scriptures that heal you. Examples include Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 23:11-14, and 1 Peter 5:7. It may be hard to memorize but read it aloud and it will get into your spirit. The scriptures will come to you almost miraculously at times at times when you need them if you read and study often.

Be diligent and persistent in your participation.  You can’t learn if you aren’t present to be taught.

Nina Thompson, DMin., has more than 25 years of experience in Public Relations and Communications. She has been published

Nina Thompson extensively in local, state-wide and national magazines, journals and newspapers, and has served as a magazine editor and writer, a newspaper columnist and a newspaper reporter. She lives in Missouri where she has operated NICHE Public Relations and Communications since October 2004 and serves as an adjunct English instructor for several colleges. In July 2011, she helped to launch Wellspring United Methodist Church in Ferguson, where she served as church administrator for four years, and helped to establish and now leads the college-age ministry, “Yes to God.” She also serves as Executive Director of the Gateway Board for Mission and Growth of the United Methodist Church, and Executive Director of Rose of Sharon Ministries, Inc., which she established in 2014. Thompson is available for workshops, speaking engagements and book signings for both of her published works, Church Hurt Ain’t No Joke and Why Yes to God: Essays on Life and God by Young Adults.

 

I am Second short film highlights Jeff Fisher’s walk to salvation

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Nonprofit, Pepsi MidAmerica collaborate to give fans VIP game-day experience with longtime NFL head coach

By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

When NFL fans think of Jeff Fisher, the moustache and cool sunglasses come to mind.

But now, Fisher has provided an enduring image of himself – son of the Almighty.

In a bonus short film released by I am Second, Fisher, who is entering his fourth season with the Rams, takes his place on the ceremonial white chairI am Second Jeff Fisher to detail the walk that eventually lead to his commitment to our Savior.

The Plano-based nonprofit announced Aug. 17 it is collaborating with Pepsi MidAmerica to offer fans the opportunity to win a VIP sideline experience with coach Fisher. Fans can enter the text-to-win and online contest between now and Sept. 30. Four winners will be chosen to receive a VIP prize of two suite-level tickets to a St. Louis Rams game, hotel accommodations, a meet and greet with Coach Fisher, a stadium tour and Saturday field passes. Entries are being accepted now at http://www.pepsimidamerica.com/iamsecond/.

“We are excited to be partnering with Pepsi MidAmerica for the first time to offer fans an inside look at NFL life from a coach’s perspective,” said John Humphrey, director of communications. “We want to give viewers a never-before-seen perspective via the film but also help create an experience they will never forget.”

In his testimony, the coach candidly admits a hurtful event that took place in the pews when Fisher was approximately 8 years old.

“I had this moment in church which I think really, really turned me off,” he said.

Fisher recounts how monsignor corrected his behavior with a hint of aggression and little explanation.

“It terrified me; I was in complete shock,” he said. “This is where my journey began.”

The spiritual void remained with Fisher, as he experienced success in collegiate and professional football as a player with USC and the Chicago Bears, respectively. Fisher’s coaching career – his 20th – isn’t exactly shabby either, as he spent 17 seasons as head coach of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans. Fisher’s Titans played the team he now coaches, St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.

“In my world, there’s never time to figure out what is, in fact, missing,” Fisher said.

In 2010, Fisher’s life was about to change for the best. One day, a friend asked Fisher an important question: Do you honestly believe that Jesus Christ is his Lord and Savior?

At the opportune moment, Fisher was rescued from the drudgery he experienced, the part of him that longed for more than a successful NFL coaching career.

Sadly, according to Nina Thompson, author of Church Hurt Ain’t No Joke, what Fisher experienced happens to children and adults. She said she hasNina Thompson encountered many people who are the way Fisher used to be: they avoid Him and church out of fear of being hurt again.

“Church hurt is anything other Christians do to interrupt others’ closeness to God,” the Ferguson author said. “We need to be very careful that we are not concerned with the pettiness while, at the same time, we maintain structure, process, and ceremony in the church.”

After viewing Fisher’s I am Second testimony, Thompson said the chastising Fisher encountered as a child is an example of the pettiness she discusses in her book.

“Why chastise him for something as small as that?” she said. “Church became unattractive to him, solely because of one bad experience. Why become associated with something that brings pain?”

Thompson said she is grateful that Fisher’s friend opened that door of knowledge of God.

“Early on, he didn’t get that God is his helping mate and that he doesn’t have to exist in his own strength.”

Humphrey said Fisher’s reaction to the events that happened one day in church is not foreign.

“It is sometimes common for people to form an opinion like that based off those experiences,” he said. “Jeff’s story is an honest portray of a new believer who is sorting how to grow in the walk with his Father.”

Brown: What is stewardship?

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By Chris Brown
Special to Inside The Pew

When you think of stewardship, what comes to mind?

Maybe fundraising or a capital campaign. Possibly taking care of the environment. Or maybe you think it’s just a stale old word you’ve seen in history books. Maybe, if you’re being honest, you’re not really sure what it means.

The reality is that many people today, including lots of Christians, don’t understand the true meaning of stewardship. And that’s a tragedy. Why? Because stewardship is our ultimate calling asChris Brown Christ followers.

It’s the first assignment God gave the human race in Genesis 1:28. That’s when God told Adam and Eve to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (NKJV).

Stewardship is managing God’s blessings God’s ways for God’s glory. See, the Bible tells us in Psalm 24:1 that He owns it all: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (KJV).

And if He’s the owner, that means we’re not. Instead, we’re His stewards—His managers. God commands us to be stewards over everything He blesses us with. Everything. That means our time, talents, treasure, relationships, jobs and, yes, stuff. It’s all God’s, and He trusts us with it.

Did you catch that? We get to manage all of the Creator’s stuff. How awesome is that? It’s both an honor and a serious responsibility! When we get that in our spirit, well, it changes things. It changes our perspective on our family budgets, our daily decisions, even our purpose in life. When we understand true, biblical stewardship, the trajectories of our lives change with every decision we make.

We begin to build a legacy of stewardship in our families. We treat our spouses and kids differently. We approach our work with a new sense of purpose. We become grateful for everything we have. We live within our means. We have more money to give. And we have hope for the future.

I’m here to tell you that I want to reclaim the word stewardship in the church today. But it’s up to all of us to make sure every believer understands God’s role as owner and our role as stewards. When we get to heaven and have to give an account of how we managed God’s resources (1 Corinthians 4:2), I hope God will reply to all of us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Chris Brown is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, pastor, and dynamic speaker carrying the message of stewardship and intentional living nationwide. Available on radio stationsChris Brown logo across the country, Chris Brown’s True Stewardship provides biblical solutions and sound advice for questions on life and money. You can follow Chris online at www.stewardship.com, on Twitter at @ChrisBrownOnAir, or at www.facebook.com/ChrisBrownOnAir.