Author Archives: Tonya Whitaker

Northrop: Can you be content in the midst of a storm?

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Cynthia Northrop

By Cynthia Northrop
Special to Inside The Pew

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that the things that happened to meCynthia Northrop have rather furthered the advancement of the gospel, so that my imprisonment has become known in the whole palace guard and to everyone else, and most of the brothers, having put their trust in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have even more courage to speak the word fearlessly” (Philippians 1:12-14).

These words in the Book of Philippians, penned by Paul while he was in prison, always struck me with such force. There is something powerful occurring when one can see beyond a particular set of circumstances they find themselves in. I suppose that is one of the reasons his words, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am,” (Philippians 4:11) resonate with me and is one of my favorite bible verses.

We all face challenging times and difficult circumstances. More often than not, these times that challenge the soul happen throughout our lives and are not limited to just one or two isolated instances. Many of us have read inspirational quotes like, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” or something to the effect of trials will come but it’s how we choose to respond to them that makes the difference.

What really makes the difference is the power of the Holy Spirit residing in believers because when the going gets tough we need something bigger than ourselves. We can rely on the fact that Jesus in us is greater than any circumstance or obstacle we may face.

God’s faithfulness may not look or feel like what we think it should look and feel like. He may ask us to learn to be content in the midst of the storm or the fire. He may ask us:

  • Can you be content in me in a job where you have been marginalized, persecuted, demoralized and humiliated?
  • Can you be content in me with your less than perfect health?
  • Can you be content in me with your loneliness?
  • Can you be content in me when you lose a loved one?
  • Can you be content in me with failure?

The secret is resting, trusting and believing that just as God ministered grace, mercy and peace to Paul while he was imprisoned, He will be faithful to do the same to us in our particular set of circumstances.

Trust and know that In the midst of any hardship or challenge that He has a plan and a purpose, and like King David, command your soul to hope in the Lord. Believe that He loves you and that He has you in the palm of His hand. Believe that He is your provider, protector, defender, and even your best friend.

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” John 15:15.

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 5 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. Cynthia is a long-time certified health and fitness professional with over 20 years of group exercise and personal training under her belt.

Congregations to observe Blue Sunday on April 28, pray for victims of child abuse

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By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

Each year, hundreds of churches around the country partner with Shepherding the Next Generation to bring awareness to the thousands of children who are victims of abuseBlueSunday and neglect.

This year, on April 28, congregations will do the same. Shepherding the Next Generation, a network of 250 evangelical pastors and ministry leaders, is working with churches to promote awareness and action. According to the organization, an estimated 611,000 children who were victims of abuse and neglect in 2011, and the 1,570 children who died as a result.

“Children hold a special place in the Savior’s heart (Matthew 19) so doesn’t it stand to reason we should care deeply about them also?” said Steve Mays, pastor of Calvary Chapel Southbay in Los Angeles, and member of Shepherding the Next Generation.

On the last Sunday in April, churches commit to pray for the victims and their rescuers. Participating congregations may also hold toy drives, host community forums, or commit to volunteer in ways that support at-risk children and families.

“Pastors have unique insights about their congregations, and a strong sense of the challenges young parents and families are facing,” said Tom Pearce, the national director of Shepherding the Next Generation. “As members of Shepherding the Next Generation, they know that preventing child abuse and neglect is essential for healthy families.”

Pearce said that proven strategies to prevent abuse and neglect include parent coaching, and encouraging mentoring and discipleship relationships within the church.

Jay Dennis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., said, “When God’s people are shown a need, the only appropriate response is to fill that need just as He would.”

To learn more about Blue Sunday, visit


Track and field ministry reacts to bombings at Boston Marathon

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

The April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon has caused great concern within the track and field community.

Steve McConkey, president of 4WINDS, a track and field ministry that works with athletes worldwide, said the attack will change how road races will be conducted in the United States.

“You will see Olympic type security at all events, including more track and field meets. Sad day for the running community in the USA.

“We need to pray for those injured and for the families of those who died at Boston. Pray the authorities would find who is responsible.”

On Tuesday, federal agents continued their investigation for possible clues to the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and injured 170. Authorities have asked the public to help by submitting video clips or other evidence that could lead to answers. Two bombs exploded within seconds of one another at the finish line of the storied race.

McConkey said he was 100 meters from where the bomb went off during the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. Steve was with his wife, Liz, their son, and a family friend.

After the Atlanta bomb, McConkey said members of his family were interviewed by the FBI because they saw a person with a large Army bag going in the direction of where the bomb eventually went off in Atlanta. In Atlanta, they saw people being pushed back or more people would have died. They were close enough to feel the wind from the bomb.

The McConkeys have been involved in world-class track and field ministries since 1981, spanning eight Olympics. Their ministry is based in Madison, Wis.

Read more about this ministry and keep up with the latest news from in track and field at

Snyder: Facing our fears with faith

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By John Snyder
Special to Inside The Pew

The horrifying bombing in Boston on April 15 brings to our minds the tragedy of September 11. None of us have forgotten that day. Nor have those who lost their loved onebostonwebs and friends. These hideous acts are designed to strike fear in our hearts and cripple our strength.

As Christians, we’re just as likely to become fearful as the next person. We can permit this use of violence and intimidation to completely overwhelm us, or we can say with the Psalmist:

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
-Psalm 46:1-3

God has called us to be his people of strength and courage. Our lives are in his hands. When these situations fill us with fear, let’s remember that God is by our side—we have nothing to be afraid of. Let this thought empower us to walk boldly and encourage our families, neighbors, and friends. Read through the Scriptures, sing songs of God’s power and deliverance. Praise him for his might and mercy. Let us be the pillars that people lean on during these, and other, fear-filled times.

John I. Snyder, a pastor and speaker, is the author of “Your 100 Day Prayer.” Connect with Snyder at at or


Maggio: Sex and the single mom

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Jennifer Maggio

By Jennifer Maggio
Special to Inside The Pew

Yep, I’m going there. There’s no sense in pretending the subject does not exist, so… buckle up.

I recently came across a website that INFURIATED me. In fact, that is probably a serious understatement. Since my life’s passion is singledsc_0062 moms, I am always researching single parents’ topics. I happened upon an article regarding sex and singles. I would not dare give you the name of the site, because I will not give them the satisfaction of multiple hits. But here is what the meat of the article said, loosely translated:

“My name is Sally. I am single. I have been for some time. I am also a Christian. I have been for some time. And I am sexually active. I have been for some time. God created sex. Sex is good. And since no normal human being would be able to abstain for any length of time anyway (and God really does not expect us to), I know God will forgive me. I’m going for it and you should do the same.”

The lengthy article sparked quite the controversy. I almost chimed in with the hundreds of other comments and voiced my outrage, but quickly knew that it would fall on deaf ears and she wrote that article (and many like it) for that exact reason.

Eighty percent of the country identifies themselves as Christian, so why is it that none of us talk about this subject? Christians follow God’s written word as their life’s instruction book – The Bible. The Bible is more than clear on its principles regarding sex.

“Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does…” 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NLT).

There are dozens and dozens of Scriptures that outline God’s word for how sex is supposed to happen. Sex is good. It IS right. But only within God’s plan for our lives.

This is not new news for most of us. We’ve heard it before. But have you ever wondered why God puts such a difficult “don’t” on our list? Have you ever thought, like the woman above, that this was a ridiculous measure for which no one could ever live up to? That ain’t right how God won’t let us have any fun, huh?

Well let me tell you what “ain’t right”…

- Suicides among teen girls

- Sexually transmitted diseases affect millions

- AIDS in still an incurable disease

- Millions of babies have been killed through abortion, because moms cannot afford to or do not see how they could care for them.

- Fifty percent of babies are born outside marriage today, which leads to single parenting. Single parenting among those under 25 is most often associated with lower income rates, higher high school dropout rates, suicide, depression, and abuse.

Those are the facts. (The Church and the Single Mom, Carepoint 2011). That does not even broach the subject of giving oneself over sexually to another and how the emotions tie in or the broken hearts that follow

Let me challenge you with this idea. As a parent, when we tell our 7-year-old not to play in the street, is it because we do not want him to have any fun playing kickball with his friends? Are we just plain ol’ mean parents? No, of course not. It is because we understand the potential danger that our precious 7-year-old could experience and we want to protect him — EVEN IF HE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND WHY. The exact same is true for Christians. Our Heavenly Father does not want to hinder joy in our lives, but He does want to protect us from potential harm.

And before you decide that I am some rigid, unbending, beat-you-over-the-head-with-the-Bible, finger-pointing, judgmental Christian, let me stop you. I WAS some of those statistics. I was sexually active at 13, pregnant four times by 19, and dabbled in sexual promiscuity for years thereafter, living in poverty, depression, abuse, and more. I have lived it and seen first-hand the devastation it causes.

Today, as I work full time with single parents, I have seen hundreds of young teens walk through the most difficult seasons of their lives because they did not wait. I’ve seen thousands of single moms struggle emotionally and financially, because they did not wait. I’ve seen the trickle affect that this one simple concept (or lack thereof) has had on our economy, emotional well-being, and spiritual growth.

And before my inbox is flooded with countless emails, let me be clear. Everyone has their list of issues they are working on. (I know I sure do). No one thing is greater than the other. I am not saying this is just a single parent problem, obviously, but my passion is for helping the single parent live a better life.

Before you embark on one more meaningless sexual relationship that could very well leave you more emotionally broken, more financially broken, and more spiritually broken, think about its effects and know that there is great freedom in simply waiting for the right one.

Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on single parent issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who travels the country sharing her riveting story of homelessness, severe abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies. She has appeared on countless radio and television programs, and she is founder of the global nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. For more information, visit


Rick Warren’s youngest son takes life after struggle with mental illness

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Rick Warren and Dan Wooding this year

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

LAKE FOREST, Calif. — Pastor Rick Warren, author of the best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” and senior pastor of Saddleback Valley

Rick Warren and Dan Wooding this year

Rick Warren, left, and Dan Wooding this year

Community Church in Lake Forest, Ca., has announced that his 27-year-old son, Matthew, has taken his own life.

In an anguished message sent to the church staff early on Saturday morning, Warren wrote, “Over the past 33 years we’ve been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I’ve been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us.

“No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now. Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today.

“You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He’d then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them.

“But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided.

“Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.”

Pastor Warren went on to say, “Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. I’ll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said ‘Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?’ but he kept going for another decade.

“Thank you for your love and prayers. We love you back. Pastor Rick.”

On hearing the tragic news, Southern California evangelist and pastor, Greg Laurie, who lost his first-born son Christopher David Laurie, in an auto accident in Riverside County, Calif., in 2008 posted on his blog, “I too have had a son die, so I have a sense of the pain Rick and Kay are facing. But their circumstances are different and my heart goes out to them. At times like these, there really are no words, but there is the Word.

“There is no manual, but there is Emmanuel. God is with us. I know the Lord will be there for all of the Warren family and Saddleback Church as they grieve together.

He added, “Looking forward to that day when God will ‘Restore all things’” (Acts 3:21).

Founded in 1980 by Pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, Saddleback Church serves the Southern California community with several locations, including in Lake Forest.

Pastor Warren, 59, author of the Purpose Driven Life, which is the best-selling hardback non-fiction book in history and the second most-translated book in the world, after the Bible, has two other adult children, Amy and Josh, and five grandchildren.

Meals on Wheels Abilene recognizes Hardin-Simmons baseball players

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HSU baseball

Special to Inside The Pew

ABILENE, Texas – A group of Hardin-Simmons baseball players haveHSU baseball been named Volunteer of the Month for April for Meals on Wheels Plus Inc. in Abilene.

HSU athletics announced April 4 pitcher Tyler Brunnemann (Garden Ridge, Texas), Andrew Bell, infielder Eric Zamora (Garland), third baseman Jordan Dotson (Lewisville) and pitcher Chas Quisenberry (Lubbock) were recognized for the efforts by the Abilene chapter of the national nonprofit organization.

Hardin-Simmons baseball has had a group of players volunteering with the organization since October 2008 and the players started this on their own back then and it has continued to be a tradition for the program.

“This is something they have done on their own,” said HSU head coach Steve Coleman. “We believe that there are a lot more important things to college kids than playing baseball or going to school. We want them to be well rounded. It is always nice to see your kids being recognized for helping others.

According to Meals on Wheels, the athletes delivered two routes a week and one player volunteers in the pantry twice a week bagging groceries for their clients. The teammates made deliveries every Monday and Wednesday on non-game days.

Meals on Wheels provides meals to homes of seniors whose mobility is limited. Learn more about the Abilene initiative at and the national organization at

King: Uncle M.L.’s lasting message to obey God’s moral law

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By Alveda King
Special to Inside The Pew

Forty-five years ago today, my Uncle M.L., the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered by an assassin’s bullet. Sometimes I wonder

Alveda King

Alveda King

what life would be like if that shot had never been fired; what our nation would be like if that bullet had missed. Many are the times I wish he were here.

But though Uncle M.L. is no longer with us on earth, his voice lives on in the words he used to change our nation in the cause of justice.

We are a more just society today because of Martin Luther King, Jr. Not because he brought new ideas into the public consciousness, but because he reminded us of fundamental, eternal truths — truths that needed to be restated and lived out. He once asked and answered this question: “How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust?” He went on to explain:

“A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: ‘An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

These timeless truths must be restated again today.

Remember Reverend Martin Luther King — let us not forget that he was an ordained Baptist minister and preacher of the Word of God — taught that we are to respect the law. But he also taught that there is a law higher than man’s. There are no commands more deserving of obedience than God’s.

Those commands caused Uncle M. L. to look beyond city ordinances, state statutes, or even federal law for guidance. He believed that those

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

ordinances, statutes, and laws were to be respected, but that they were to be weighed against God’s law or what some would term natural law to determine if they were just.

The same is true today. But some still look to themselves to determine right and wrong.

We are told by the Obama administration that it is “unjust” that women should have to buy their own birth control pills, so everyone else must reach into their pockets to pay for them.

We are told by abortion advocates that it is “unjust” that some women cannot afford to abort their babies, so tax dollars must be used to finance the killing of those children.

We are told by same-sex “marriage” advocates that it is “unjust” that men cannot marry other men and women cannot marry other women, so 2,000 years of wisdom must be abandoned.

And yet, the Bible tells us that human life is sacred. We are thereby to choose life over abortion. The Bible teaches us that natural marriage between one man and one woman is part of the procreative process. We are thereby compelled to choose holy and procreative matrimony.

In forgetting our heritage, in distancing ourselves from God’s moral rules, we are doing Uncle M. L. a disservice, and we are in danger of coming face to face with disaster. So, in remembering Uncle M. L. today, I urge America and the world to remember that he was a servant of God who, though imperfect, tried to point people to the truth.

Muse: ‘Behold, I stand at the door …’

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

BATON ROUGE, La. – Easter is one of the most sacred holidays to Christians.

On March 31, take a moment and remember the reason we celebrate it. I remember Easter Sundays vividly growing up. It wasn’t the Easter egg



hunt after service, but the message of His death, burial, and resurrection.

With a change in priorities by many people, it is important to continue to tell the story of Jesus beyond Easter. As believers, we must be consistent and resonate that message because it is His death that we are saved.

According to Revelation 3:20, the author said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (ESV).

No matter how we live our lives, Jesus is the door. To make any strides to get to heaven, it goes through Him. Therefore, we have to learn all we need to know about Him and teach His words to the next generation. If Easter means dressing up to the 9s and Easter baskets, we are doing the Lord and our children a great disservice. Be accurate and tell the truth. The secular word has tried its hardest to take Him out of the holiday (Christmas too). Believers won’t deny Him.

If you take a look at the sacrifice He made for us, we don’t need flashlight Christians. These are the people who cut His word on when they want to cut it on. Instead of flicking His word on and off, become a spotlight for God. My favorite scripture on this is 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

He didn’t die for Himself. He died for all mankind.

Grelan Muse Sr. is founder of Inside The Pew. Email him at

Ellis: Life is worth living because our Redeemer lives

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By Bill Ellis
Special to ASSIST News Service

SCOTT DEPOT, W.V. – Centuries bring unbelievable changes to human life. What there is to know about life has grown with quantum leaps Bill Ellisfrom one century to another.

One nagging question existed before Job gave it verbal significance centuries ago, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14).

Life would be dismal and bleak if it abruptly ended with no hope for anything beyond. Charles W. Koller, brilliant author, world famous teacher of preachers and seminary president said, “Death is not the end of life – only an incident along the way of everlasting life.”

In 1999, I listened to Gary Coffey, chaplain of the Putnam General Hospital, Hurricane, W.V., deliver an inspiring message which he titled, “Live as though He’s risen”, based on Luke 24:1-12. He was speaking primarily to hospital personnel, and those who do all they can to alleviate suffering and bring people back to good health.

Speaking of the problems we may face in life, Gary said, “When faced with the most difficult situations, what we said we believe is no longer what we expect.” He followed with this story.

“How different were the Jews who were hunted during the reign of Nazi terrorism. Written on the walls of their secret refuge underneath the Cologne Cathedral (Germany) were these words: ‘I believe in the dawn, even though it be dark; I believe in God, even though He be silent.’ “This is resurrection faith.

Being nailed to a cross, as Jesus was, and remaining there until death came was the common way for criminals to die. That was their sentence after being found guilty of crime. It was a torturous death. A terrible way to come to the end of life. No wonder Job and others wanted to know, “Is there anything more? Is this how it all ends?”

Easter is celebrated annually as the “day of days, the queen of Christian festivals.” It is never earlier than March 22 or later than April 25. It is only mentioned once in the Bible, in the King James Version. Most other versions refer to the day as Passover.

King Herod was persecuting the church. He had killed James, the brother of John, with the sword. He put Peter in jail, “Intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people” (Acts 12:4).

Easter is not only the most important of all Christian days, but it is also the oldest of the Christian festivals. St. Paul writes, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast” (I Corinthians 5:7-8).

In every country of the world, Easter is celebrated in the hearts and minds of believers. In some places, it cannot be done openly and freely as it is in America.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ takes the sting out of death, the victory out of the grave. Bill and Gloria Gaither, our good friends of 60 years, wrote in one of their songs: “Because He lives I can face tomorrow, Because He lives all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.”

If you want to know more about living forever and the resurrection, read John, chapters 11 and 20 and I Corinthians 15 in the New Testament.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest fact of history. In fact, all history as we know it, is dated on the authority of His resurrection.

I want to live forever. That hope is assured through my faith in Jesus Christ. It is guaranteed by His resurrection. With St. Paul I can say, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:57).

Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles and contributions to books. He is also a widely known motivational speaker and pulpit guest who utilizes enjoyment of life and just plain fun and laughter while speaking to high school, university and professional sports teams as well as to business and professional groups of all kinds. His keen understanding of human problems makes him a favorite speaker for youth, parent, and senior adult meetings. He is accompanied by Kitty, his wife, favorite singer, editor and publisher.