Category Archives: From The Pulpit

Christian leaders unite to heal racially troubled Charlottesville

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heather-heyer-memorial-new-

Local pastors and leaders, plan Prayer Walks and a Holy Convocation, to promote racial healing, and repentance, in Charlottesville, Va.

By Bill Bray
Campus Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Local Christian leaders met in Charlottesville on Nov. 29 to finalize plans for a Prayer Walk and Holy Convocation on Dec. 2 in this racially troubled campus community at the University of Virginia.

Calling for a day of “prayer and repentance” on the eve of Advent Sunday, Dec. 2, the event aims to bring healing after rioting here left three dead and 19 injured last August.  The Day of Prayer and Repentance is called “Healing4Charlottesville” and will begin with a Pastor’s Prayer Breakfast at 9:30 a.m. followed by two public events.

The Healing for Charlottesville Day of Prayer Walk will start off at the chapel on the grounds of University and 9 other points around the city’s heather-heyer-memorial-new-downtown mall. Many small groups of walkers will start at various churches and parking lots and gradually merge at the County Office Building.

From that point they will walk the length of the Downtown Mall and gather at the Pavilion for a 90-minute program.

“The Church of Jesus Christ should transcend and transform politics,” says chairman Mark Beliles of the Grace Covenant Church and president of the America Transformation Company, “but on this day, we plan to gather to ask forgiveness of God and one another.”

The Reverends Beliles and Al Edwards – along with about 15 other clergy from white, African American and Korean churches – organized the walk. Pastor Edwards, from the predominately black Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, also organized the Charlottesville Clergy Collective. It is the leading inter-faith group that includes Jewish and Muslim groups.

Most of the pastors involved in the Day of Prayer were at the deadly riots on the weekend of August 12 that have since made the city of Charlottesville a symbol of racial hatred. At that time, Antifa and Klu Klux Klan extremists rioted over the removal of Confederate war statues in the downtown parks.

Beliles is no rabble rouser and is asking those who participate to “not speak or carry signs that in any way focus blame on anyone but ourselves.

“The majority white churches especially need to do this,” he said, as he outlined plans for inviting visiting speakers to promote reconciliation and repentance.

“We want to end this year with a holy season of peace and love, and that’s what is bringing us together in this way.”

Photo: A memorial to Charlottesville victim, Heather Heyer.

Wooding: ‘Persecution has finally come to America’

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International journalist’s comments came after the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX (ANS – Nov. 6, 2017) – While ANS Founder, Dan Wooding, was speaking on Nov. 5 at a Southern California church about persecution around the world on the occasion of the 2017 International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, a rifle-wielding shooter burst into the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people – including children.

Wooding, 76, had been sharing with the congregation at Hosanna Christian Fellowship in Bellflower, Calif., about persecution that has been taking place in countries like Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Nigeria, and North Korea, when the alleged gunman, who has been identified as 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, according to law enforcement officials, went on a shooting spree and was later found dead in his vehicle.

“When I heard the news, I knew that persecution has finally come to America,” he said. “For so long, terrible atrocities against believers have beendan-wooding-hosanna-christian-fellowship taking place in different parts of the world, but now it is here, and I wonder if we are ready to deal with it.”

Law enforcement officials have said the alleged shooter was formerly a member of the United States Air Force who was court-martialed with a dishonorable discharge for assaulting his wife and child, according to an Air Force spokeswoman, and who had a domestic dispute with his in-laws who at times have attended the church in Sutherland Springs.

Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains are in Sutherland Springs, Texas, following the horrifying and deadly shooting rampage during a Sunday morning service at First Baptist Church.

“The evil at work in this tragedy is incomprehensible,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “It’s impossible to understand what could drive a young man to do something so inhumanly cruel. While we don’t have all the answers, we will do everything we can to comfort the grieving and give peace to those in despair as we bring the hope of Jesus.”

Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, shared, “My heart is heavy for the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas, who have lost more than 20 of their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, parents, and friends today in this senseless act of brutality. My prayers are with this community and church.”

Even as the shooting developed in Texas on Sunday, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains remained deployed in New York City following last week’s terror attack which killed eight people on a bike path. Both efforts follow closely on the heels of the group’s ministry in Las Vegas following the concert attack, which killed 58 people.

Among religious leaders who have spoken out in response to yesterday’s shooting, are Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), who has been working for four decades to build bridges of understanding between Christians and Jews, and who called the deadly attack on a church near San Antonio on Sunday “terror” that seeks to undo decades of growing interfaith goodwill and return religions to past centuries of conflict.

“Terror that penetrates into a house of prayer is particularly evil and cruel, and seeks to undo decades of bridge building by and between people of faith,” Eckstein said. “Sadly, there are people who want to turn us back toward old circles of hatred.”

Eckstein added that The Fellowship was “shocked and sickened by this evil act, and our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their loved ones.”

“Christians, Jews and moderate Muslims should join together in condemning such attacks and work together to prevent further violence,” he said.

Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of the National Day of Prayer said: “When attacks of hate and terror happen in our places of worship, they shake us to the core. We must beg God for His mighty hand of protection on our nation and the world. May God be with the victims of this shooting. Only God is our refuge in these times of trouble.”

Dr. Floyd is the senior pastor of Cross Church and president of the National Day of Prayer, which each year mobilizes millions of Americans to unified public prayer for the United States of America. He’s the immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dr. Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, said: “Today’s horrific church shooting is every pastor’s worst nightmare and is proof of the reality of evil. Although the Bible never diminishes the pain of evil, it does promise that one day when Christ returns, evil will be defeated forever. Until that time, we pray that the members of First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, will experience the promise of Psalm 34:18: The Lord is close to the broken-hearted.’”

Feature image: Mourners participate in a candlelight vigil held for the victims of a fatal shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. (Darren Abate/The Associated Press). Left photo, Dan Wooding speaking at Hosanna Christian Fellowship in Bellflower, Calif. (ASSIST News).

Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister, and an award-winning local cable-TV program host/producer who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. You may follow Michael on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MichaelIrelandMediaMissionary.com, and on Twitter at @Michael_ASSIST. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael  

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, SiriusXM partner to launch channel

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Special to Inside The Pew

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association announced its partnership with SiriusXM for the launch of “The Billy Grahambilly graham station on sirius radio Channel,” a limited-run channel headlined by world-renowned Christian evangelist, Billy Graham.

“The Billy Graham Channel” debuted Monday, Nov. 6 and will run through Friday, Nov. 17, at 11:59:59 p.m. ET on channel 145 on satellite and via streaming.

Launching in celebration of the acclaimed preacher’s 99th birthday, SiriusXM listeners nationwide will have access to the preacher’s timeless, inspiring messages from his seven decades of ministry.

“On Nov. 7, Billy Graham celebrates his 99th birthday and we, along with SiriusXM, thought a channel featuring some of Mr. Graham’s most memorable messages would be a fitting way to mark the occasion. ‘The Billy Graham Channel’ is the kind of gift Mr. Graham would greatly appreciate: it helps point others to the hope found in Jesus Christ,” said Jim Kirkland, executive director of Audio Media at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

“Billy Graham has inspired millions of Americans with his uplifting messages of hope, courage, love, and forgiveness,” said Dave Gorab, vice president and general manager of Talk Programming at SiriusXM. “We are honored to be part of Billy Graham’s 99th birthday celebration by bringing this limited engagement channel to SiriusXM listeners coast to coast.”

In addition to the catalog of Graham’s motivational messages and sermons, “The Billy Graham Channel” will also include personal reflections on the pastor’s life by family and friends including Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, and his daughter, Anne Graham Lotz. The channel will also showcase remarks from Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

Born in 1918, evangelist Billy Graham has preached the Gospel to nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. Since the 1949 Los Angeles Crusade that vaulted Mr. Graham into the public eye, he has led hundreds of thousands to make personal decisions to live for Christ, which is the main mission of his ministry.

In addition to the SiriusXM partnership, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s audio ministry, Billy Graham Radio, accomplishes the mission of the association – to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world – by producing a number of online and broadcast programs. The newest program in the ministry’s line-up is GPS: God. People. Stories. Each weekly GPS podcast features an inspiring story of how God has worked in someone’s life. Decision Minute is a one-minute feature that airs on more than 600 radio stations. To listen to the programs, visit www.billygraham.org/radio.

 

His instructions are clear: watch and pray

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

President-elect Donald Trump is moving on past his victory on Election Day. Yet, based on the Trump reactions I’ve read on socialphilippians 4 19 the message media and seen on news shows, there are still Americans who are not satisfied with the Nov. 8 results. It is OK to hold a bit of dismay because your candidate didn’t win, but how long will you wallow in despair? It is time to let it go. While this column is not intended to endorse Trump, it is to tell Christians to never forget what God has assured believers.

The madness revealed after the election at the hands of the enemy has led people to become misguided. You know what the Bible has outlined for us; he will supply all your needs (Philippians 4-19). The people who are upset are the ones who are situational Christians. If you completely believe the world is going to hell in a handbasket because of Trump, put the brakes on refer and back to God’s instructions (I Peter 5:7). To rise above anything, you have to believe in Him.

When you understand His instructions, He clearly tells us to watch and pray. Matthew 26:41 tell us to “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” There is a reason that God tells us to watch and understand who your enemy is, comprehend His tactics, prepare by knowing His word, and to pray without ceasing to win the battle.

When the Almighty tells us to watch, it is the Christian’s duty to know what the enemy is doing to destroy His people and His church.

Due to fear and lack of recognizing what the enemy’s capabilities, people begin to believe the prophecy of those whoGrelan Muse Sr. don’t understand God’s intent. Fear is a feeling derived from people who have not faith in the words of God; He tells us not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34).

Christians truly understand that it time to heal from the presidential election. In this process, we all must become humble and accept what God has allowed with a clean heart and renewed spirit.

Grelan A. Muse Sr., a Baton Rouge resident, is founder of Inside The Pew and Pew Talk Radio.

© 2016 Inside The Pew

 

Holy Christian Orthodox Church announces the sainthood of MLK

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Saint MLK, glorification of Saint Martin Luther King, holy christian orthodox church springfield massachusetts

Special to Inside The Pew

Archbishop Timothy Paul, president of the World Bishops Council and Patriarch of the Holy Christian Orthodoxsaint martin luther king, the holy christian orthodox church, sainthood Church (HCOC) and Christian leaders from across the globe, along with local and national civic leaders will gathered together last month for the glorification of Saint Martin Luther King.

In June 2013, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was nominated for Sainthood by the HCOC, a convergence communion of churches comprised of over 4 million churches globally. The Holy Christian Orthodox Church, also known as the Communion of Churches embraces the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition of glorification, which differs from the Roman Catholic Church in terms of canonization, which is followed by beautification.

The Eastern Orthodox Church tradition is canonization to glorification. Glorification includes that the person in sainthood will get an icon. However, martyrs require no formal glorification. The self-sacrifice on behalf of their faith and lack of evidence of any un-Christian behavior at the time of death is sufficient.

This icon depicts King, one of the martyrs of the 20th Century. He was an ordained minister of the Baptist Church. From 1955 until his death, he led a campaign of nonviolent resistance in the United States against racial oppression and injustice. The number he wears around his neck is from a “mug shot” taken one of the many times he was arrested by American police for resisting unjust laws. The prison bars behind him represent the occasions he was placed in jail, and also the oppression and slavery of African Americans in the United States. The text on his scroll is from his speech in Albany, Ga., on Dec. 14, 1961. The Greek inscription by his head reads, “Holy Martin.” Since the 18th century, the faith of African American Christians in America has been tied to the struggle for freedom. Martin Luther King renewed the bond between faith and political action like the Old Testament prophets. Although his life was threatened many times, he continued to expose himself to danger. He was shot on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.

The glorification ceremony included the unveiling of the Saint Martin Luther King, Jr. icon and the inclusion of the sainted martyr in the All Saints Day observance in Christian calendars around the world.

And the community project began…

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Editor’s note: This is the part final of a series on a collaboration that benefits one north Texas city.

By Lisa V. Cone
Special to Inside The Pew

Imagine being a busy business owner or a CEO running a multi-million dollar company. Would you find the time in your busy schedule to help a church? Help a community? Help restore lives and bring light to so many in darkness.

This group of business leaders in the McKinney, Texas, area did just that by restoring the Word Church. They areFundraisers at the Word Church members of an organization called the C12 Group — a movement of Christian business executives building great businesses for an even greater purpose.

C12 member, Russell Polk, who owns a construction and remodeling company assisted in many of the assessments and construction activities needed to make the critical improvements to The Word Church building. C12 member Jim Schwalls, who owns tax and real estate companies, introduced Pastor Dyson to a banker who arranged a loan and helped negotiate a purchase price for the house. Schwalls explained, “The Word Church was leasing the building with an option to purchase. We unanimously knew purchasing the building and the home on the adjacent lot was the right option,” Schwalls shared. “This was God at work. Everything fell into place.”

The church closed on the house and building in November of 2015. In January 2016, two families moved into the house. The church remodel and restoration project is currently underway.

The Gift of Giving
“I see this spirit of giving and volunteering now spreading to other sectors of the city to include city leaders,” sharedCommunity Volunteers to Fix Home and Church on property Pastor Dyson.

Many in the community have been led to be part of a blessing that has a tremendous ripple effect. Husbands, wives, families and local residents are all coming together to work on the church and volunteering to clean the building, paint, help maintain the grounds and donate furniture for fundraisers.

“The Holy Spirit is changing our hearts. The church needed thousands of dollars in electrical repairs and improvements, but the Lord provided. A local electrician donated his time and was even able to have the parts sold to the church at a wholesale price. A new roof was required. A roofing company donated shingles. We needed appliances, they were donated. People are opening their hearts and helping in any way they feel called to help,” explained Schwalls.

C12 Group Chairman, Tom Hawes shared, “C12 members are unique in that they are business owners who make it a priority to honor God in all things. Sharing their business skills and talents, C12 members formed an advisory group to The Word Church providing strategic direction, financial insights and business guidance. Truly, their businesses are serving a greater purpose.”

Rising Up to Meet the Community Needs

Pastor Dyson believes that C12 was a God-send and knows that they would not be able to meet the needs of the community and fix the church if it wasn’t for the expertise and business acumen of this group. “They helped us with the details of financing the new building, helped us put a transitional home together for single mothers –all within a budget. In every area of this church, we have been touched by these blessings and partnership,” Dyson said.

The Word Church also helps individuals on the streets or those facing difficult times. Pastor Dyson shared the story about an east McKinney resident who is fighting cancer. She is facing enormous health care bills and since she is sick, can no longer work and pay her rent. Many individuals have donated money, food and clothes on her behalf. A C12 member created a benevolence fund within his company and has offered to donate part of the fund to help this woman pay her bills. Others are working with the insurance companies to help her get the best heath care benefits.

A Source of Light and Inspiration
“As business owners the big question we ask is how can we use our business to do what God wants us to do in our community. How can we get involved and make a difference?” Cuccia explained.

The intangible gifts are what makes this project so unique. Beyond paint, furniture and a new roof, the generosity comes in the form of volunteers creating marketing plans, organizing fundraisers and coat drives, and drafting strategic plans for The Word Church.

“The people in east McKinney do not need a hand out, they need a hand up,” said Pastor Dyson. “They need work, coaching, training, guidance and someone who truly cares.” Providing a hand-up in life and connecting them with Christ is the vision of this church and Pastor Dyson looks forward to being part of this amazing journey.

Hawes shared, “This is such an uplifting story shows how men and women of different backgrounds, vocations and circumstances can unite to serve the community together. We are honored to work with The Word Church and to remember that we all have something to contribute. When members of the community pull together for a united cause, the power and inspiration becomes unstoppable.”

Photo cutlines (photos courtesy of Lisa V. Cone):

Top: Fundraisers at the Word Church

Bottom: Group of community volunteers to fix a home and church on property

Lisa V. Cone is a writer for The C12 Group, America’s leading roundtable for Christian CEOs and owners dedicated to building great business for a greater purpose. She resides in Austin, and provides marketing and communications strategic support for non-profits and growing businesses across the country in various industries. 

Love and how it will heal Baton Rouge

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Montrell Jackson with baby

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

BATON ROUGE – I begin this column by sending my condolences to the families of the three wounded officers and the loved ones of the three Baton Rouge peace officers who lost their lives on July 17: Montrell Jackson, 32, Matthew Gerald, 41, and Brad Garafola, 45. My city has been a place of turmoil since the shooting of Alton Sterling on July 5. However, in the midst of the turmoil, I see a Baton Rouge that is capable of making change.

After reading Montrell Jackson’s Facebook post, written on July 8, we were all confronted with a man who felt heMontrell Jackson with baby was not respected on either side of the fence. Despite all the nasty looks Jackson contented he received, he adopted the only emotion that is kind, unselfish, and perseveres: love.

It is the only thing that will help us mend a wounded Baton Rouge.

Somewhere along the way, we have become numb to the concept of respecting life. Jesus came to do away with all evil acts (1 John 3:8). Now, more than ever, is the time to adorn the façade of Christ: Stand up against the enemy. Instead of attempts to play the blame game, now is the time to pray ask for forgiveness. Remove the political and selfish agendas. Once all that is gone, we have common ground.

Remember what the Bible says about love? Ask for our Father to restore us with agape love. The greatest commandment that we love one another as He loved us (John 13:34). Ask God to restore us as a people and a nation.

When we focus on loving each other, healing begins. Speaking of agape love, we have a generation who believeGrelan Muse Sr. bloodshed is the only way to express themselves. Youth know a cold world. Mentors of youth: Let’s listen to lesser-known voices and show them positive steps toward unity and understanding while simultaneously showing discontent. I recall Martin Luther King Jr. achieving a lot without harming a soul. Young men and women have it within them, but they need role models to show the young an effective way to express their anger. Channel that anger for change that is beneficial and life-changing. The answer isn’t violence.

Solomon wrote there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-9). Now is the time, Baton Rouge, for us to plant seeds of positivity and to harvest love for all.

Photo cutlines:

Top: Slain Baton Rouge police officer Montrell Jackson.

Right: Grelan Muse Sr.

Grelan A. Muse Sr., a Baton Rouge resident, is founder of Inside The Pew and Pew Talk Radio.

© 2016 Inside The Pew

Harris: Nineveh, that great city

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Jonah the reluctant profit

By Jack Harris
Special to ASSIST News Service

IRAQ – “Yet 40 days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” (Jonah 3:4). Thus cried Jonah, the reluctant prophet. One man speaking against one of the mightiest cities of the day.

The result?

The whole city repented in sackcloth and ashes; from the throne room right down to the stables. Even the domesticJonah the reluctant profit animals were covered with sackcloth and ash. Both beast and man were called upon to fast before GOD under penalty of law. The book of Jonah thus records one of the most dramatic wide scale acts of public contrition and repentance in history.

GOD spared the city in that generation though it would later in history become one of Israel’s greatest enemies. This fact and the prophet’s foresight was the cause of his reluctance to bring GOD’S warning to the city. He preferred to see a whole generation of his people’s enemies perish rather than repent and experience GOD’S mercy.

I believe the Book of Jonah was placed in our scriptures by the Holy Spirit to have more meaning than to address the problems of those who run away from their calling, or to provide our Sunday Schools with a quaint story of a man and a big fish. However, I believe this is more about how we view our enemies.

I expect nothing different from the unbelievers among our countrymen than the fear and hatred I see whipped up to the point of frenzy by the media and politicians. But I’m shocked to the core when I see it in GOD’S own people, the very ones who claim to believe in the same Jesus Christ who said, “But I say unto you, ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;’” (Matthew 5:44).

The LORD rebuked an offended James and John who wanted to call down fire from heaven upon a small village that rejected their LORD’S message. He said, “You know not what manner of spirit you are of.” (Luke 9:55).

We seldom would think of such a spirit as antichrist but that’s exactly what it is. Jesus said, “You’re either gatheringThe_Walls_of_Nineveh with me or you’re scattering abroad.” (Matthew 12:30).

Just because you favorite politicos say such things on TV doesn’t make it right. Lest you misunderstand, I’m not a pacifist and I’ve no objection to taking up arms against evil or protecting one’s family friends and country. But I’m dead set against one size fits all racial or religious prejudice.

Recently, I sat with a young Kurdish woman in the government office in Northern Iraq, where she worked. We were waiting for some document I needed to come back from another office. As we talked, I could tell she was discouraged and worried about the future. Why wouldn’t she be? The border separating the Kurdish forces and ISIS was only mere miles over the horizon. I tried to assure her that many American people, especially we Christians were with them. She just looked at me sadly and said, I don’t think your people like us anymore because we are Muslims. I asked her where she got that impression. She said, “By watching American TV and hearing the hatred spoken toward Muslims on the air. These people are our friends, our allies and so far they’ve lost over 1500 of their soldiers in the fight against ISIS.”

I am no lover of Islam. I am, however, a lover of Muslim people, as is Jesus Christ. He died on the cross for their sins just as he did for ours. He was sent by the Father to save these people, just as he saved us. What don’t we get about this?

Abe Lincoln was once criticized for trying to befriend his political enemies rather than destroy them. He replied, Do I not destroy my enemy when I make him my friend?

This is what Christianity is all about or rather should be all about.

God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.

Potentially, the greatest harvest of souls in human history is right before us but are we too blind to see it? Are we too predisposed to pay attention to it? Will we, one day, wail over a harvest past and a missed opportunity as Jeremiah did because his generation did not heed his words?

GOD is moving in the Middle East but will we, his people, miss it? Israel missed their Messiah when Jesus came the first time. They were blind to the most significant spiritual event in their history.

Jesus asks an interesting question concerning his return.

Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?

We are witnessing nothing less than the spiritual rebirth of Christianity in the Middle East. As one very dear Muslim friend told me, “The religion of Islam is finished! People are disgusted with it.”

In Romans, Chapter Ten, we read, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?”

It’s this writer’s humble opinion that it’s high time to quite trying to prophetically second guess God with our clever eschatological assumptions and simply do what He’s called us to do and that’s to labor in the harvest until HE returns.

It’s almost paradoxical that the ancient ruins of Nineveh lay just four kilometers [about two-and-a-half miles] fromJack_Harris_on_a_missions_trip Mosul across the Tigris River a mere sixteen miles from the Kurdistan border. Mosul, a city of two million is still, at this writing, in the hands of ISIS forces. There is a planned invasion to liberate the city. Nobody knows exactly when, but it’s coming. Without GOD’S intervention. it’s likely to be a very bloody battle with the loss of a great number of lives.

With over a million Syrian refugees and Iraqi IDP’s just across the Kurdish border and the cities of Domiz and Duhok, as well as many smaller towns clustered close by, there’s a sense of impending judgement and coming wrath that hangs like a dark cloud in the atmosphere. It’s palpable.

Yet 40 days! Jonah cries, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!

The Days of Prophetic Judgment are once more come to this region and we have a Jonah generation there right now, in place and standing up with the message of repentance and redemption.

* If you, YES, YOU! are ever going to pray for our people, Pray NOW!

* If you’re ever going to stand with us, then Stand NOW!

* If you’re ever going to give to help us, then Give NOW!

* That our brethren will have the resources, spiritual and material to win a harvest.

Thompson: Seek God’s guidance before leaving a church

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By Nina Thompson
Special to Inside The Pew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Brown: What is stewardship?

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By Chris Brown
Special to Inside The Pew

When you think of stewardship, what comes to mind?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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