Author Archives: grelanmuse

Movie chronicles work of homeless shelters advocate Kathy DiFiore

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Feature Shelter

By Ginny McCabe
Special to ASSIST News Service

LOS ANGELES (ANS) – Based on real-life stories of hope and transformation, Gimme Shelter opened in theaters Jan. 24.gimme-shelter-poster

This new Roadside Attractions film celebrates the life and work of Several Sources Shelters Founder, Leader and Women’s Issues Advocate, Kathy DiFiore. DiFiore has worked hand-in-hand with Mother Teresa and her powerful influence changed the shelter laws in New Jersey. She has also been honored by three American presidents and recognized at the UN for her life-changing work.

Award-winning filmmaker Ronald Krauss directed the film and penned the movie’s original screenplay, while spending a year in one of DiFiore’s shelters for pregnant teens. His writing reflects upon their lives and chronicles the challenging journey. Based on a true story, Gimme Shelter centers on a 16-year-old pregnant teenager, Agnes “Apple” Bailey, (Vanessa Hudgens) who flees a drug-ridden mother (Rosario Dawson) in search of a better life of her own. Turned away by her Wall Street father, (Brendan Fraser) Apple is forced into a life on the streets. The film is rated PG-13.

“(Gimme Shelter) will remind young women that they have choices,” said the film’s star Vanessa Hudgens. “When we see someone like Kathy doing a great job serving others, we should recognize and honor them. We’re all in this together and when we embrace that we begin to come together as a community.”

What makes this inspirational drama so riveting is that DiFiore’s own life story and experiences are as compelling as any blockbuster film. As a suburban wife and mother, she escaped an abusive marriage, which left her herself homeless and on the street. In reclaiming her life, DiFiore’s recovery fueled a desire to help others turn their lives around. When she made her home a shelter for un-wed, pregnant women, the State of New Jersey raided it and levied huge fines for running an illegal boarding house. As a devout Catholic Christian woman, she decided to reach out to none other than Mother Teresa.

“Together they fought the state and managed to change the law,” said Ronald Krauss. “Now she runs five shelters in New Jersey that give people a chance to get back on their feet by providing them with education and helping them get jobs. Her shelters are run 100 percent on donations, without any public funding, for 35 years now.”

DiFiore first welcomed a pregnant teen in her own home in 1981. Since that time, she has tirelessly devoted her life to helping others. Her faith-inspired testimony continues to offer compassion and spread hope.

“Through God’s Grace, we save babies’ lives and shelter their young mothers while providing education and ongoing compassionate support services including our Pregnancy Sonogram Center. We further educate young people to make healthy life choices. We also shelter women who are homeless, sick and elderly as we help them to restore their dignity,” said DiFiore, about the primary purpose behind her life’s work.

“Women who go against the tide and have their baby become that child’s hero. It comes down to their choices, but it’s not always an easy road. Many of them are forced to leave their family and turn to a shelter. I can’t help but admire them. They are changing the ‘culture of death’ into a culture of life and I want to help them have a better life,” DiFiore said.

For more about the movie, or to find a theater near you, go to www.GimmeShelterTheMovie.com.

 

Americans celebrate MLK holiday with host of commemorative events

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MLK Small

Inside The Pew staff report

On what would have been the 85th birthday of the Civil Rights leader, a host of organizations are holding commemorative events inRon Sims honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Below are some of the events submitted to us.

In Seattle, Wash., the second annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast will honor local leaders with the Vision From the Mountaintop Award on Jan. 20 beginning at 7 a.m. at the Westin Hotel, 1900 5th Ave. Ron Sims, deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will deliver the keynote address at the breakfast. The Rev. Allen A. Belton, Senior Partner at Reconciliation Ministries with Breakthrough Partners and The Beloved Community of the Puget Sound Area in cooperation with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee are collaborators of the breakfast.

In Grand Rapids, Mich., Bishop P.A. Brooks, founder of New St. Paul Tabernacle Church of God in Christ in Detroit, will speak during a chapel service at 10 a.m. at Cornerstone University. The Cornerstone University Multi-Cultural Organization will host Bishop Brooks as part of the campus MLK celebration. “Bishop Brooks will share historical moments from his personal relationships with Dr. King, Rosa Park and Mandela,” said Eric Lewis, multicultural advisor on campus.

In Charlotte, N.C., the YMCA of Greater Charlotte will host its 20th annual MLK Prayer Breakfast at the Charlotte Convention Center’sHilton Harper Crown Ballroom from 8 to 9:30 a.m. The keynote speaker is actor Hill Harper. Best known for his role as Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on CSI: NY, Harper is also a graduate of Harvard Law School and the author of New York Times best seller “Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny.” As a special gift to the city of Charlotte and in honor of the event’s 20th year, the YMCA will show a video titled DREAM Charlotte: A Tribute from the Voices of Charlotte’s Living Generations.

In Chattanooga, Tenn., Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, will speak to students at the McCallie School for boy on his grandfather’s philosophy and the role that it played in shaping both Dr. King and the American Civil Rights Movement on Jan. 20. King once called Gandhi “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.” McCallie Headmaster Dr. Kirk Walker said, “We are very pleased that our school community can salute Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy by hearing from the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, a man whose vision and work served as an inspiration to Dr. King. Their message of hope and nonviolence remains as important today as it was in the last century.”

On Jan. 17, the student body of Indiana Wesleyan University held a wide celebration to honor King. The MLK Celebration Concert, Living the Dream, took place in the auditorium of the Phillippe Performing Arts Center on the main campus of Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, IN. Indiana Wesleyan University is an evangelical Christian comprehensive university of The Wesleyan Church. The University, founded in 1920, is committed to global liberal arts and professional education.

Eggerichs: How to get the respect you’ve wanted from your kids in ’14

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Emerson Eggerich

By Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Special to Inside The Pew

Years ago when I was a pastor, I was speaking at a Christian summer camp. I was about to give the evening message and my son David,Emerson Eggerich who was around age ten, was misbehaving because he wanted to do something that we did not have time to do at the moment. I distinctly remember feeling: This child is purposely defying me. He is showing me disrespect to retaliate for not getting his way.

I took David out to our car, where I hoped to reason with him. He sat in the backseat; I sat in the front. I tried to get him to talk but got only cold silence, which made me feel more and more disrespected. Finally, I angrily bawled him out for his disrespect, but that only made David more convinced I was being unfair and unloving. He stared out the window with no remorse or apology—only silence—and it ended in a stalemate. I had to speak in a few minutes, so I had David accompany me to the auditorium, where I addressed the crowd as best I could, all the while feeling like a complete hypocrite because of my horrible parenting.

When kids do not listen to parents, at some level, parents feel disregarded and disrespected. But what else is going on from the child’s perspective? I want to give you a game plan for raising your kids, no matter what their age. To help you build this game plan, there are two basic principles to understand and apply to all ages and stages:

  1. Kids need love
  2. Parents need respect

The parent-child relationship is as easy, and as difficult, as love and respect.

When frustrated with an unresponsive child, a parent does not declare, “You don’t love me!” Instead the parent concludes, “You are being disrespectful right now.” A parent needs to feel respected, especially during conflicts. When upset, a child does not whine, “You don’t respect me.” Instead, a child pouts, “You don’t love me.” A child needs to feel loved, especially during disputes.

The good news is that when children feel loved, they are motivated to respond positively to parents, and when parents feel respected, they are energized to be lovingly affectionate with their kids. When these needs are met, good things happen in the family.

But, of course, the reverse happens all too often. An unloved child reacts negatively in a way that feels disrespectful to a parent. A disrespected parent reacts negatively in a way that feels unloving to the child. We might say that every negative action in the family has an equal and opposite negative reaction. This dynamic gives birth to the Family Crazy Cycle: without love a child reacts without respect; and without respect, a parent reacts without love.

Parents need and want the respect that Scripture plainly says is their due: “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12) is one of many passages where children are clearly told to honor and respect their parents. And children need and want the love and sensitive understanding that Scripture teaches parents to give them. See Titus 2:4, Ephesians 6:4, and Colossians 3:21 for just a few examples of where parental responsibilities are mentioned or described.

As I reflect on that scene where I blew it with David, it never occurred to me that he may have been feeling unloved. Perhaps he just wanted time with me and was feeling left out. If I had addressed the situation with that understanding, could this conflict have been avoided? It is hard to be sure, but one thing is for sure: my angry outburst accusing him of being disrespectful did not help him open his heart to me. I could have decoded him much better, but I did not know then what I know now. What I had to learn, by trial and error, is that parenting is for adults only, and as adults we need to learn to decode what’s going on between us and our kids.

For example, there’s not always a clear-cut “yes or no” answer to the question, “Is my child feeling unloved?” It is entirely possible that he is acting this way out of childish irresponsibility, selfishness, or even open defiance. He is unhappy, he is just not getting his way, and he is letting you know it. On the other hand, there are times when parents can start the Family Crazy Cycle by overreacting to kids just being kids. Our rigidity and negativity are perceived as unloving to our children, who then feel unfairly judged, and now we have entered the Family Crazy Cycle.

All we may want for Christmas is respect…but demanding it from our kids all year long will not help them to feel loved. In fact, it will have the opposite effect and the Family Crazy Cycle will keep spinning! As parents we need to decode and make the first move. As we begin to see love and respect as basic family needs we will be able to stop this cycle of conflict and work towards harmony in our home.

Emerson Eggerichs is the author of Love & Respect in the Family: The Respect Parents Desire, the Love Children Need (Thomas Nelson Publishers). Eggerichs, a resident of Grand Rapids, Mich., is founder and president of Love & Respect Ministries and holds 30-plus years of pastoring and counseling experience and extensive scientific and biblical research. Eggerichs earned a master’s degree in divinity from Dubuque Seminary and a Ph.D. from Michigan State in child and family ecology. He has been married for 40 years and is the father of three grown children.

NFL ties, Christian entrepreneurship rank as top reads on Pew for ’13

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Mark Clayton

By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

A Christian clothing line founded by a former NFL player ranks as the top read story on Inside The Pew for 2013.

Mark Clayton, who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2005, launched his own clothing line – My Christian T – back in 2011.Mark Clayton Although Clayton confirmed with Inside The Pew on Twitter in 2012 that he no longer operates the clothing, there is still an interest in the wide receiver’s entrepreneurial aspirations.

Clayton was traded to the St. Louis Rams in 2010, but injuries signed the Oklahoma Sooner’s career in the NFL. He told Sean Devine of Did You See That?! in September he has no regrets about his NFL playing days.

“Every minute, every experience, every relationship, I’ll never forget any of it. I’m working hard to come back and I hope to continue my career. Hopefully we can add some more stories, relationships, and experiences to my legacy.”

Three other sports related stories made the top 10. The filming of a biopic on high school football coach Bob Ladouceur in New Orleans came in at No. 4, while stories about Super Bowl XLVII coaches (and brothers) Jim Harbaugh and John Harbaugh were ranked No. 7 and  No. 8, respectively.

The story of Tyres Dixon, a Houston resident who works for the United Way and winner of the nonprofit organization’s Achiever of the Year, landed at No. 2 on the list.

Three stories from the Pew Business spotlight landed in the top 10. Whitening Lightning founder Jennifer Gerard (No. 3), National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources (NAEIR) president and CEO Gary C. Smith (No. 9), and Ezechiel “Zeke” Bambolo and First Born Son Inc. (No. 5) made the annual list.

Grelan Muse Sr., founder of Inside The Pew, was pleased at the amount of popularity generated by the spotlight. The section was officially launched in March.

“When we created the section, we wanted to help boost the presence of like-minded entrepreneurs who take Him in to the workplace every day. These types of stories are what our readers want to see. Hopefully, Christians who are considering entrepreneurship can draw from the stories of these individuals.”

Fly Away Records and its Rhythm of Gospel Music Award nominations (No. 10) and Melanie Stone’s column on the attributes of a Kingdom builder (No. 6) rounded out the top 10.

List of top stories

  1. NFL wide receiver launcher clothing line to give glory to God
  2. Goodwill Industries names Houston man 2013 Achiever of the Year
  3. Gerard to fellow entrepreneurs: Trust Him, great things will occur
  4. Filming of Bob Ladouceur movie takes place in New Orleans
  5. The First Born Son Inc. helps restore individuals and families
  6. Stone: Five marks of a kingdom builder
  7. Side of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh we don’t see everyday
  8. John Harbaugh slated keynote speaker at FCA Maryland event
  9. NAEIR redistributes corporations’ unsold products to nonprofits
  10. Fly Away Records snags Rhythm of Gospel Award nod

Round: And He will be called Immanuel

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Carol Round

By Carol Round
ASSIST News Service

CLAREMORE, OK (ANS) – “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, andCarol Round will call him Immanuel“-Isaiah 7:14 (NIV).

When I was a child, I loved to read. Without being aware of it, I often curled my toes under in anticipation of what would happen on the next page before I turned it. Mysteries were my favorite.

Today, my favorite book is the Bible. Its pages are filled with mysteries, never to be solved by the limited capacity of the human brain. However, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Christ follower who anticipates what God will do next.

Wrapping our minds around a virgin birth requires us to lay our disbelief at the entrance to the stable. To believe God would come to earth in the form of a tiny baby to save the world requires us to suspend our own understanding and to trust in the One who created everything.

In the days leading up to His birthday, I love rereading the events preceding Jesus’ birth. In Luke 1:41, the author tells us, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Just like the baby in Elizabeth’s womb, an unsurpassed joy fills my being in anticipation of this Holy Mystery. However, just as Mary anticipated the birth of this special child, we are required to wait patiently for His return one day.

Children have a difficult time being patient when brightly wrapped packages under the Christmas tree lure them to shake the contents. My grandchildren are no exception. They can’t see the gift tightly wrapped underneath the tree, but they hope it’s something on their wish list.

Mary no doubt had a wish list. As most mothers, she had plans for her baby to be born among family, where he would be welcomed with gifts of warm clothes and other necessities. And what about Joseph? I’m sure, as the family’s provider, he would have wanted only the best for this holy child. But that wasn’t God’s plan. God often surprises us, as He did this couple-with a stable, a manger and swaddling clothes. It’s not what they anticipated but it was enough.

Many are disappointed when they open their Christmas gifts because it’s not enough. But imagine Mary and Joseph’s delight when God gave them more. After hearing the angel of the Lord proclaim the Good News, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to find the Christ child. After seeing him lying in the manger, they left to spread the Good News. In Luke 2:19, we are told, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

While we celebrate this beautiful season, let us ponder the treasure of a baby sent from Heaven for each one of us. His birth, still a mystery, should fill our hearts with joy. No other gift we have received or will receive can compare to this. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son that we might have eternal life.”

Carol Round is a syndicated columnist, author and speaker. She has been writing her weekly column, A Matter of Faith, after retiring from a 30-year teaching career in 2005. Her five books include three collections of her columns: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and by FAITH alone. In 2012, Westbow Press released her book, “Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God” with the companion workbook, “The 40-Day Challenge.” All of Carol’s books are available through Amazon.com or by contacting the author through www.carolaround.com.

Daystar offers to pick up ‘Dynasty’ if Phil Robertson suspension lingers

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Phil Robertson feature

By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Phil Robertson’s suspension from “Duck Dynasty” is still intact, but he will be seen in previously recorded episodes of the show that Phil Robertsonwill begin airing on Jan. 15, reports Entertainment Weekly.

After Robertson’s personal beliefs about homosexuality caused A&E to suspend the Dynasty’s patriarch on Dec. 19, the Christian community and fellow “Duck Dynasty” cast mates came to defend Robertson. The family released a statement on the Duck Commander website, stating “We are disappointed that Phil has been place on hiatus for expressing his faith.”

The founder of Daystar Television Network announced Dec. 20 that his station would offer a prime nightly spot on their network.

Marcus Lamb, founder and CEO of the Dallas-based Christian television network, said in a press release Daystar stands with Phil Robertson and believes Christianity should not be shut out of the media conversation.

“My wife, Joni, and I are standing with Mr. Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” for family values and biblical values,” Lamb said. “Our American constitution guarantees its citizens freedom of speech and freedom of religion. As a result, Daystar Television Network is offering a primetime slot to ‘Duck Dynasty.’

Lamb said if A&E refuses to recognize Robertson’s personal Christian beliefs, then he, along the rest of the Duck Dynasty family, is welcome on Daystar.

Faith Drive Consumer, a movement connecting Christian consumers with companies that are relatively more compatible with a biblical worldview, launched an online petition Dec. 19 calling for A&E to re-instate Robertson. In the first nine hours of existence, more than 70,000 signatures were garnered. The organization’s goal is to collect 200,000 signatures. As of 6 p.m. CST on Dec. 21, more than 169,000 individuals had signed the petition.

“Simply put, Phil Robertson is being censored and punished for quoting the Bible, and A&E’s treatment of him is punitive and highly discriminatory,” Chris Stone, the organization’s founder, told the Chicago Tribune.

To sign the Faith Drive Consumer’s petition, visit www.istandwithphil.com.

Alpha-Omega Title takes care of its clients from beginning to end

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GibbsWilsonsmaller

By Gibbs Wilson
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: Gibbs Wilson is the CEO of Alpha-Omega Title Insurance Services.

What type of business is it?

“Alpha-Omega Title continues to serve as one of the largest independent title insurance agencies in Tampa Bay.  We have closedGibbsWilson and insured billions of dollars of real estate transactions, and we are the title agent for some of the largest and most financially sound title insurance underwriters in the country. I believe that to effectively operate a growing title insurance agency, one must emulate the skills of a CPA, a United Nations diplomat and the famous multiple-plate
spinner as regularly seen on the old ‘Ed Sullivan Show.'”

Why did you create your business?

“After initially pursuing a career in the medical field, I knew that God was leading me elsewhere. Upon completion of an apprenticeship at a title insurance company, I decided to launch my own business. When praying for a name for the new company, God directed me to establish Alpha-Omega Title. The name is significant because the business takes care of real estate transactions from beginning to end, as God is the beginning and end of all things …”

What is the one scripture (or two) that you draw strength from?

“Luke 10:27 states that we are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself.” We believe that the mission of Alpha-Omega Title directly correlates with this truth – our mission is to honor God by being a title insurance agency of choice where employees love to work, and clients love to do business.”

Share the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“Abiding in Christ is the most important element of living a life and steering a business that honors Christ. Jesus said in John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” We realize that anything we do, outside of Christ, is futile. We must also value the counsel of other believers, for there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. It is highly valuable to receive insight and direction from fellow believers.”

Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?

“After founding Alpha-Omega Title, my wife and I, Lori, found out that they were expecting twin boys. They decided to name their sons Andrew and Zachary – reflecting the beginning and ending of the alphabet.”

For more information on Alpha-Omega Title, visit www. www.alpha-omegatitle.com. Inside The Pew highly encourages networking among Christian business owners. Do you know of a Christian business owner we should spotlight? Send us an email at pewnews@aol.com.

Will Graham: Grandfather, Billy Graham, ‘is not doing well’

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Will, Franklin, and Billy Graham

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

BELLFLOWER, Calif. (ANS)Evangelist Will Graham, the grandson of Billy Graham, has said that at the age of 95, Mr. Graham is close towill-franklin-billy-graham going home to be with the Lord.

In an exclusive interview at Hosanna Christian Fellowship, Bellflower, Calif., before he was to preach Dec. 11 at a special Christian event, he spoke movingly about Billy Graham’s frail condition.

“I saw my grandfather last week and he is not doing well,” said Will, the son of Franklin Graham. “He’s not suffering or anything. It’s just that old age has caught up to him and is sucking the life out of him.

“On Nov. 7 [with his My Hope America with Billy Graham* outreach], he finished his race and up until that time, God had protected his health and gave him supernatural strength and now, the only thing left is for him to come home. God has removed his hand of protection and old age has set in.

“He has been in a wheelchair for a long time. He can walk, but he is in the wheelchair because it is easier for us to move him and it safer for him.”

When I asked him what happened during his last meeting with his much-loved grandfather at his Montreat, N.C., home, he revealed that they didn’t talk very much.

“That’s the best thing of being a grandson,” said Will. “We don’t have to say much. We just sit there, look at each other and hold hands. His neck was sore as he had been in bed a whole bunch, so I rubbed his neck.”

He said they say a few words to each other, adding, “It was sort or grandfather-grandson, talk, more than anything.”

What would he like people to know about Billy Graham, the world’s most well-known evangelist, with whom I have had the privilege of working with on several occasions in Russia, Germany and Puerto Rico?

He replied, “My grandfather is the most humble man I have met. Some people often say, ‘How come Billy Graham never got caught up in money or with woman, like so many others?’ That was because God was protecting him from all that stuff because of his humility. The Bible says that ‘God gives grace to the humble,’ so because my grandfather was humble, God protected supernaturally from all that stuff and gave him grace. It was not because of anything that Billy Graham had done, but because of his humility before the Lord.

“To me he is one of the most humble men I have met. I just wish I had his humility all the time.”

I concluded the interview by asking Will Graham how people could pray for his grandfather, and he replied, “I don’t know how to answer that anymore. I wish He would give him strength, but I don’t think he needs strength anymore. It’s time to go home.”

Will Graham, the third generation of evangelists in the Graham family, later spoke at this special Christmas event at Hosanna Christian Fellowship (http://www.hosannachapel.org) and was joined by his old friend, Dennis Agajanian. Will had stepped in for Pastor Chuck Smith, who had been invited to speak by senior pastor, Garry Ansdell, but when “Pastor Chuck” passed away on October 3, 2013, Will agreed to take his place.

*My Hope America with Billy Graham was a nationwide effort to reach people across the United States with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Following a simple biblical model, it combined the impact of video programs (http://myhopewithbillygraham.org/programs/?) with the power of personal relationships. It was possibly the largest media event Billy Graham has ever been involved in.

Marschall: How can they believe?

Published by:

Rick Marschall

By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

SWARTZ CREEK, MI (ANS) – If you had a child playing at the edge of an ever-widening sinkhole — and sinkholes lately have been inRick Marschall the news, including ones that swallowed people as well as houses — you would call that child to move back. If your friend were eating something poisonous without realizing the dangers, you would advise that friend of the fact. We do the same, some of us, with people, even strangers, who smoke. “Intervention” today increasingly is employed on behalf of people with drinking problems.

Followers of Christ, who subscribe to the beliefs that all of us make mistakes and are sinful at heart; that therefore a wide gulf separates us from a Holy God; that this God nevertheless desires eternal fellowship with us and offers forgiveness and salvation; and that “accepting” Jesus — believing in our hearts and confessing with our words — these Christians cannot do anything else than have the same regard for other people’s souls as we do their health and comfort.

How often do contemporary Christians fit that last puzzle-piece in place?

Failing this, we condemn ourselves; and we are implicit in sending others to the cold darkness of eternity, separation from God. How often do we avoid sharing even the smallest portion of Jesus with someone because we might “offend them”? Hurt their feelings? “Hey buddy, don’t smoke in your apartment, but I don’t care if you go to hell.”

It’s not always comfortable, but neither was that splintery cross. Living in a multimedia culture makes it easy to assume everyone thinks like we do, or has access to the same facts that we process. Not so. When the Apostle Paul arrived in Ephesus, word-of-mouth about the Savior had already led to the establishment of several Christian communities. But not every word had been shared by every mouth:

“…he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ he asked them. ‘No,’ they replied, ‘we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ ‘Then what baptism did you experience?’ he asked. And they replied, ‘The baptism of John.’ Paul said, ‘John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.’ As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:1-6, NLT).

Paul wrote letters to local churches and church leaders, sharing the good news, and answering questions. These letters comprise the majority of the New Testament. We shared last week how papyrus letters from a generation or two after Paul are extant. Before Christ’s time, spiritual news and God’s words were shared by Torah scrolls, inscriptions, sacred texts. After him we have the successive march of letters, manuscripts, tapestries and stained-glass picture stories, parchment books, printed books, mass-production, tracts, evangelistic crusades, recordings, radio, short-wave, television, and the internet.

The SHARING of the good news is central to the good news itself. “Go into all the world…” Jesus said, commissioning His disciples. Romans 10:14-15 argues: “How can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!’ (NLT) Like much of the Book of Romans, this is like an advocate summarizing his case. How can they hear about Jesus unless someone tells them?

Right about in the middle of humankind’s list of ways to share the good news — not in a timeline, but in the numbers of methods and technologies — is the radio. After its invention it was available to almost every community on the earth. And much of its message, especially today on short-wave broadcasts, is Christian. I went to Sunday school as a child, but it was preachers on my AM transistor radio from whom I really heard the first hard (and sweet) truths of the Gospel; and came face-to-face with decisions to make, or avoid, regarding Jesus Christ.

Albert E. Brumley was an American gospel songwriter of the past century. He wrote more than 800 sermons-in-song, many of which are favorites today in churches, hymnbooks, and recordings. Among them are “I’ll Fly Away,” “If We Never Meet Again (This Side of Heaven),” “I’ll Meet You In The Morning,” “Jesus, Hold My Hand,” “I’d Rather Be An Old Time Christian,” and “Rank Strangers to Me.”

He told a story about another of his classics… and the role of radio in spreading the gospel:

“I wrote ‘Turn Your Radio On’ in 1937, and it was published in 1938. At this time radio was relatively new to the rural people, especially gospel music programs. I had become alert to the necessity of creating song titles, themes, and plots, and frequently people would call me and say, ‘Turn your radio on, Albert, they’re singing one of your songs on such-and-such a station.’ It finally dawned on me to use… ‘Turn your radio on’ as a theme for a religious… song.”

Like the poor, radio we will always have with us. In the words of the song, “turn your radio on and listen to the music in the air; Turn your radio on and heaven’s glory share…”

Are you tuned in… to what God is saying to you? Don’t touch that dial! You can broadcast (as it were) a brief public-service announcement, or a personal message, every once in a while yourself.

World leaders expected to attend memorial services for Mandela

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Mandela2

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

World leaders and dignitaries will converge on Johannesburg beginning this week for the funeral and memorial services for NelsonMandela Graca Machel Mandela.

National and international media outlets are reporting that all living U.S. presidents – Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter – will attend services. In addition, Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will pay their condolences in person to Mandela.

Mandela, the iconic anti-apartheid campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner who spent 27 years in a grim island prison before he became South Africa’s unifying, first democratically elected president, died Dec. 5 at 95.

According to Fox News, a week of mourning has been declared by the South African government. Memorial services will be held throughout the week leading to the funeral for Mandela. On Dec. 10, a memorial is planned at FNB Stadium in Soweto, where Mandela made his last public appearance at the World Cup final in July 2010. Soweto was once a violent hot spot of resistance to apartheid and then host to the first Soccer World Cup to be held on African soil.

The leader’s body will lie in state from Dec. 11 to Dec. 13 at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. South African President Jacob Zuma has called for flags to be flown at half-mast until after the funeral.

President of the South African Council of Churches, Bishop Jo Seoka, who convened the funeral planning meeting Dec. 6, said: “We areMandela and F.W. de Klerk very much saddened by the news of the death of our nation’s firstpPresident: A man of vision, courage and zeal for the liberation of humankind. He has lived a selfless life so that we may all enjoy freedom and the fullness of life, just as our Lord had purposed. Today we are a respected nation because of his tireless fighting spirit to free us from oppression, exploitation and sexism, and for this we thank God.”

While Bishop Seoka’s words will resonate with most South African Christians, there are some voices who warn that people are falling into idolatrous “Mandela worship” and that films about his life are adding fuel to this fire. A few Christian critics go even further and say he was a terrorist who promoted abortion, pornography and homosexuality in the nation. Mandela himself once famously said: “I am not a saint unless you think a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.”

He was a larger-than-life figure whose life story was like that of the hero in an epic movie. Ironically, two of his daughters heard about his death last night while they were attending the London royal premiere of “Long Road to Freedom,” a feature film about his life.

Even in the past three months, most of which he spent in a semi-coma in a private hospital in the capital city, Pretoria, his presence loomed large in the nation as citizens viewed media images of prayer vigils on the street outside the clinic. Mandela is credited by many with guiding South Africa safely through the tense period of transition from apartheid to democracy as he called on angry blacks and fearful whites to reconcile and build a new nation together.

As the nation prayed and shared in the human drama of his last protracted battle on his sickbed it was as if even in his weakened state his persona was exerting a calming, restraining, influence on a South Africa where cracks of corruption, inequality, unresolved racial tension and anger are showing.

Like any hero character in an epic movie, Mandela changed the atmosphere each time he entered the frame. His broad smile, his genuine warmth to children, his colorful shirts (he seldom wore the suits and ties associated with high office), and his trademark “Madiba shuffle” (a light-hearted dance step he would often do in public places). But without a doubt there was no more epic heroic appearance than the day he donned the green and gold jersey of South Africa’s national rugby team – once a symbol of white supremacy – at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final in Johannesburg’s Ellis Park stadium. His presence was inspirational and the nation felt united as never before when South Africa won the coveted World Cup for the first time that day.

Inevitably the question must be asked: what will South Africa look like with its epic hero figure written out of the plot? There are who fear that without his restraining presence the forces of darkness will prevail. Interestingly there is a rising, grassroots movement of black Christians like former ANC provincial leader Mkhangeli Matomela, who believe that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party which Mandela symbolized for decades, has already been taken over by darkness, and they are appealing to the many Christian supporters of the ANC to join an alliance of parties pursuing a political future aligned to the kingdom of God.

With the impeccable timing of an epic movie hero, Mandela has disappeared into the yonder on the eve of an election year.

Editor’s note: Andre Viljoen from ASSIST News Service contributed to this report.