Author Archives: grelanmuse

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

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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?

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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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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.

Former NBA player praises God for ‘working things out’

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BenderInside

By Jonathan Bender
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: Jonathan Bender is a former NBA player (Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks). He is founder of JB Intensive, a health and wellness company. Bender is also founder of The Jonathan Bender Foundation, a 501 c3 nonprofit organization.

Why did you create your business?

“I am a former NBA player and I come from a very small town and never had any examples of real wealth creation before. Once IJonathan Bender realized that even though I was getting paid a lot of money to play ball I did not have a long term process or strategy for wealth creation. The only way to create capacity is through owning something and starting from the ground, getting your hands dirty and learning the steps of building a solid business that will give you what you’re looking for.”

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

“There is not one exact scripture that I draw strength from. I renew my mind on a daily basis by reading and listening to the word of God. I don’t mean just opening the Bible and start reading, but focusing on what we are struggling with at the moment and either listen to a Podcast or a scripture that relates to that subject so you can draw new strength to continue your journey.”

Share the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“Let God be your business partner. He knows the problems before they come; and He already has the solution, embrace the problems God puts problems in our life’s to teach us and make us stronger. It’s our job to press forward and keep passing the test.”

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

“Ever since I embraced God as the driver of my life car and as my business partner, things are happening without my effort at all; mySingle leg lunge from JB Intensive job is to do what I can and be focused in the moment. He has worked things out for me, and the moment I asked God for what I wanted out of life it was already done. So, do not be fearful embrace struggle that is the teacher and the testimony. In the end, there will be no one else that deserves the glory but him!”

Learn more about Bender and JB Intensive at http://jonathanbender.com/.

 

Cillie shares her gift of showing others how to thrift

Published by:

LaCheryl Callie

By LaCheryl B. Cillie
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: LaCheryl B. Cillie is founder of Thrift Style Living. She teaches people how to live fabulous yet thrift. Collie conducts a LaCheryl Calliewebtalk radio show where she interview celebrities who thrift to fashion editor from Paris about thrifting and how to get the best for less. Cillie is also a licensed auctioneer who does estate sales, benefit auctions, also an author.

“We try to teach people how to be good steward of their money, spending less for the best, and how to recognize things of value from fashion to collectibles to general household and everything in between,” Collie said.

Why did you create your business?

“I created my business to help people get the best for less, in a response to the tight economy which we live. Also to help families with practical mandates to help restore and appreciate family heirlooms thus being good stewards of things which have been entrusted to them.”

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

“There are several scriptures which I draw great strength from, the two most notable being: First, in 1 Corinthians 12:7, the apostle Paul says that gifts are given for the common good, thus we are to use them to help others. I have the gift of being able to recognize things of value, great aesthetics, and being able to communicate with a warm spirit with others. This gift is for me to help others get the best for less, recognize valuable collectibles, and antiques as well as being good stewards of the things God has given to them or placed in their path. Being able to find something someone needs at a price they can afford is a great thing. Also helping people to sell things and get great prices when they did not even realize they had anything worthwhile to sell is a gift God has given me for that purpose.

“The scripture about having the faith of a mustard seed, speaks to me daily, during periods of uncertainly in this journey I am on. When I do not know where the next open door is, but I trust God for the unseen doors, God ideas, and great favor among great men. It is in Hebrews, faith is the things hoped for yet unseen.”

Share the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“My best advice is to get a great set of knee pads, you will need them. Look only to God which is your strength, who is divine and ever knowing in his purpose for your life. Pray not for good ideas, but the God ideas, and know where your help comes from. It comes from God who uses men to carry out his wishes. Be in prayer and be thankful always.”

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

“The best can cost less. Do not buy mediocre. Quality counts. Quality counts. Let me show you how to get anything you need and most of what you want at considerable savings. Along the way show you how to invest in personal property which will hold its value and appreciate in value. Another way to build a nest egg.”

Learn more about thrift style living from LaCheryl Cillie. Visit her website, www.thriftstyleliving.com. Also, listen to her web show, “Thrift Style Living with LaCheryl B. Cillie,” at www.webtalkradio.net 

 

 

Bialek: Watching or obsessing?

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Pastor Jeremy Bialek

By Jeremy Bialek
Special to Inside The Pew

The food is on the table, everyone is seated, and it’s time to eat…but first we bow heads and close eyes to thank God for providingPastor Jeremy Bialek another meal. My kids will occasionally open their eyes or peak through fingers during this offering of appreciation. After the “amen,” my son will announce, in an accusing tone, that his sibling(s) opened their eyes during the prayer, thus immediately indicting himself.

In a Sept. 19 article published on Thinking Faith, Pope Francis said that the church shouldn’t be “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, homosexuality, and contraception. While church leaders have set their collective sights on particular social issues, at times to the detriment of preaching the Gospel, doesn’t the media’s highlighting of this one statement taken from an immense interview covering countless subjects, amount to crying, “They opened their eyes during the prayer!” Church leadership is guilty in that our only obsession as believers ought to be Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith upon whom the Bible commands we fix our eyes (Hebrews 12:2), and sharing His beautiful declaration – a Gospel of grace. The church’s failure to do so properly has left generations without a proper understanding of what Christ did and promised to do for us. Still, who started this fire?

Often the church is reacting instead of leading, but (while at risk of sounding defensive) can you blame church leadership for reacting to the obsession of culture with these same issues? Each of the issues Pope Francis mentions has been argued before the Supreme Court, is backed financially by our government (to the point of even lobbying for these “rights” overseas), and receives millions of dollars in promotion from the television & movie entertainment industry plus the news media. Yes, those who oversee the church should be as concerned about murder, heterosexual immorality, and materialism (sins that likewise share in the windfall of lavish media promotion). Yet, it is reported that our country is one of only four nations in the world to legalize abortions after viability and threatens to withdraw funding from states or countries unless they remove restrictions on those who perform abortions. So, who is more obsessive about the subject – those for it or those against it?

A pastor is a shepherd. The Word is clear that shepherds are supposed to feed and protect the flock. Too often our pulpits have spent so much time in protection mode that the sheep have forgotten what the bread of life & living water taste like. That said, to only feed the sheep and not warn them when the world sends more and more wolves, lions, and bears to devour the truth about sin, its consequences, and impending judgment, is, in fact, to close our eyes when we were charged with being watchmen. I agree with Pope Francis that balance is needed. It’s just that the world’s view of balance welcomes changing what we believe and silencing our voices.

Jeremy Bialek lives in Indianapolis, where he has served as the Pastor/Senior Elder of Indianapolis Christian Fellowship since 2008. Jeremy has a Bachelor of Science from Butler University & a Master of Science from Syracuse University. He is married and has seven children. Follow him on Twitter @pastorbialek. Learn more about ICF at www.icfonline.us

The Mission Continues in Houston: Post-9/11 veterans train to serve local communities

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Bravo Service Project participants

Special to Inside The Pew

Veterans from across the country are reporting for duty in Houston to begin the next chapter of serving their country: leading theirBravo Service Project participants communities at home. More than 80, post-9/11 veterans will gather in Houston Oct. 25-27, for a weekend of leadership training and community service as part of orientation with The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans to serve their country in new ways.

These latest recruits will join more than 700 other post-9/11 veterans who have worked with The Mission Continues to navigate the transition to post-military life by reconnecting to their communities and their sense of purpose through volunteerism.

Houston residents may join The Mission Continues in action volunteering at Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School of Houston on Oct. 26 and also witness all 80-plus veterans pledging an oath of service to the community before each returns home to spend the next six months volunteering with local nonprofits.

“Each veteran who volunteers with The Mission Continues is driven to serve others,” said Spencer Kympton, U.S. Army veteran and president of The Mission Continues. “With the support of engaged communities like Houston, we can empower veterans to have a positive impact here at home.”

As part of Delta Orientation, the new veteran recruits and Houston-area alumni of the program will team up with volunteers from Shell and Boeing, as well as project sponsor Benjamin Moore Paints to transform the campus of Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School. The volunteers will rebuild the school’s bleachers, plant new gardens and landscape grounds, and remove an outdated performance stage. The site improvements will support the school in its mission to empower students of all backgrounds to reach their full potential.

“The Mission Continues’ veterans are living examples for our students that leadership, determination, and service to others offer a path to empowerment and success,” said Dan Walsh, interim president, Cristo Rey Jesuit. “We’re excited and truly honored to welcome The Mission Continues to the Houston community.”

Through their service experience in Houston and throughout their six-month fellowships at home, veterans learn to translate military abilities into civilian skills, gaining valuable work experience and pursuing a defined post-fellowship goal: full-time employment, pursuit of higher education or a full-time position of community service.

Additionally, The Mission Continues is launching a Houston-based veterans’ service platoon led by fellowship alumnus Brian Wilson. Wilson, a former U.S. Army medic, spent his fellowship volunteering with the Lone Star Veterans Association as the Communications Director and has since enrolled as a full-time student pursuing a degree in communications. As Houston platoon leader, he’ll recruit local veterans to support a mission addressing community challenges in the Houston area through monthly organized service events.

“My fellowship helped me reconnect to that same fire and passion that I felt while serving my country and I want to make sure other veterans have a chance to experience that – even if just for a weekend,” Wilson said. “We’re excited to start recruiting and identifying a long-term mission that will make a difference to people in Houston.”

GodSpeaks movement reveals billboard messages ‘signed’ by God

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GodSpeaks

By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

Ministry on billboards is making a comeback.

GodSpeaks, a cross-denominational non-profit organization, is posting new messages “signed” by the God of the Bible on billboardGodSpeakss and other media throughout Ft. Lauderdale and beyond. Messages such as “I’ve been here all along. – God” or “Let’s pick up where we left off. – God” will give daily commuters and digital followers something to ponder outside of their busy lives.

After more than a decade of silence, GodSpeaks is making a comeback, a move influenced by current cultural trends. “Everywhere around us, people are searching for meaning and purpose in life,” shares Bradley Burck, director of GodSpeaks. “For many, God has never been an option.” According to a 2011 Lifeway Research Survey, statistics show that 46 percent of Americans never think about whether they’re going to heaven or not and almost 70 percent of Americans don’t read the Bible or any other religious texts on a regular basis.

“Our culture is in trouble. People are hurting, and GodSpeaks seeks to be a resource of hope and compassion,” Burck said. “Families suffer the effects of alcoholism; violent crime is rising in our cities; children are sexually exploited,” he continues. “GodSpeaks interrupts the hopelessness, through powerful and positive media, and offers God as the answer—because He is the One who changes lives.”

The original billboard campaign, developed in 1998 by anonymous donors, attracted the attention of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America and was featured as the OAAA’s national service campaign in 1999. As a result, 10,000 GodSpeaks billboards were posted in 200 cities across America—no small feat for a project that started as a citywide campaign with a handful of billboards and a limited budget. The campaign garnered local, regional and national media attention from CBS, “Good Morning America,” and the “Today” show.

Building on past successes, the present GodSpeaks movement promises to be more far-reaching than the first campaign. In addition to billboards, every available type of media will be utilized to spread the messages, including real-time digital responses to natural disasters, social breakdowns and international events. Messages will be positive, relevant and timely, and, with today’s media capabilities, will speak to situations at the points of impact.

Since the 90s debut of the campaign, thousands have responded with heartfelt emails and testimonies of God’s working in their lives. Burck remains hopeful that the new messages, particularly given the viral nature of digital and social content, will make a difference worldwide.

“We believe if we stop people, for even a split second, to remind them that the God of the universe is real and that He loves them, values them and wants a relationship with them,” Burck shares, “That moment has the potential to help change their lives forever—the ultimate goal for GodSpeaks.”

The origin of each published message can be discovered in specific promises or truths from the Bible. The newly redesigned GodSpeaks.com website offers visitors a closer look at how the Bible verses and messages tie together. It also features short devotionals and lengthier blog posts that further explore message topics. The website directs visitors to partner websites and contacts who are prepared to answer questions about God.

Marschall: We CAN go home again

Published by:

Rick Marschall

By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

SWARTZ CREEK, MI (ANS)Many popular sayings that are regarded as embodying folk wisdom are, in fact, as crumbly as the fortuneRick Marschall cookies where they should stay. I have always been struck by how almost every handy, traditional capsule of folk wisdom is cancelled by another such time-honored saying. “Look before you leap”? But… “He who hesitates is lost.”

You can “roll with the punches” OR “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” And so forth.

I recently thought the oft-quoted Thomas Wolfe aphorism, “You can’t go home again” when I did in fact visit the home in New York City where I was born, and the address in the New Jersey suburbs where I was reared. I drove from the Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference with my friend Shawn Kuhn, who was born in a different neighborhood of Queens. We were each a little surprised that our neighborhoods were clean, appeared safe, and had not fallen prey to real or clichéd urban blight: just the opposite.

Later in the week, with my sister Barbara, we visited the address of our adolescent years — I call it such because it was recently razed and replaced with what regretful “natives” like me are calling “McMansions,” ridiculous mini-estates on half acres. Most of the new owners likely suffer from the affliction common to parvenus, the Edifice Complex.

It was sad to see my home no longer there; our Village School boarded up; the town’s Swim Club closed and overgrown; an d the church of our youth condemned, doors chained closed, neglected.

However. Paging Thomas Wolfe: “You CAN go home again.” I understand that I am supposed to understand that the past is past, a rose is a rose, and all those other syllogisms. The more important facts relate not to whether our parents have died, or our homes have been demolished, but what value they had in our development. The important corners of our memories. Then, the question is not whether we can “go home,” but whether those “homes,” our foundational values, can, or should, ever leave us.

I will call someone else, George Santayana, into the discussion, and mangle his own famous aphorism: “Those who forget the past are not only in danger of repeating it, but of having no past at all.”

I recently quoted Theodore Roosevelt in this space: “Both life and death are parts of the same great adventure.” And we should be reminded that Wolfe’s adage refers to the emotions and our intellectual growth, as much as nostalgic real-estate tours. My childhood is not a house; it was spent in a home that stood there. What I am, or have achieved, as a man is no less real because my parents died after my formative years. The chapel of my affectionate memories is gone, all the more bitter because it stands as a skeleton; but my faith was not diminished because the doors are chained shut.

Indeed, the pasts we miss and the futures we distrust are seldom pieces of real estate or schoolrooms or, say, battlefields. They are of the mind, the intellect, of life-choices, emotions… in fact, the spiritual realm.

Even when we know this fact, whether we are filled with joy or anxiety, it is easy to forget: a most human part of our humanity. My heart currently grieves for the director of the writer’s conference Shawn and I attended, because she is beset by personal problems, health trials facing herself and family members, business challenges galore… (Please look for the website of Write His Answer Ministries and see the wonderful things Marlene Bagnull has done and is doing)

Christians know the Author all good things, and know who the enemy of our souls is, and who comes to seek, and kill, and destroy. Words are cheap (if I can cite another old cliché) but, being a frequent victim of discouragement myself, I feel qualified to remind anyone who will listen that there is a Larger Story. We cannot always see it. But we need to remember it.

“I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee,” Joshua 1: 5.

We call to our memories: we should summon the best of them. They call to us. And, whether our children live near or far, we should always be in the mode of calling them home too. Just as our Heavenly Father does to us.

Rick Marschall is the author of 65 books and hundreds of magazine articles in many fields, from popular culture (Bostonia Magazine called him “perhaps America’s foremost authority on popular culture”) to history and criticism; country music, television history, biography and children’s books. He is a former political cartoonist, editor of Marvel Comics, and writer for Disney comics. Email Rick at RickMarschall@gmail.com.