Category Archives: From The Pulpit

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.

 

Goodwin: Prophetic blood red moons

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God's Final Jubilee

By Dan K. Goodwin
Special to Inside The Pew

And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned Dan Goodwininto darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come (Acts 2:19-20)

There is a lot of interest in the blood red moons. Let me explain these lunar eclipses and clear up some of the confusion.

  • A blood red moon is a total lunar eclipse. Only a total lunar eclipse is considered a blood red moon. It is caused when the Earth gets between the sun and the moon. The moon appears “red” because of the rays of the sun going through the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • A “tetrad” is four consecutive TOTAL lunar eclipses in a row in a two-year period. There have been seven tetrads in the whole 2000 year New Testament Age where the blood red moons fell on the Jewish feasts of Passover and Tabernacles.
  • Seven times in the last 2,000 years there has been a rare occurrence of these four back-to-back full lunar blood red moons on the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles.
  • There is an eighth tetrad coming in 2014 and 2015.
  • Each of the first seven tetrads is associated with an important historical event that corresponded to Israel.God's Final Jubilee
  • Since the seven tetrads all revolved around Israel, it is very possible that the eighth will too.

Here are the dates of all eight tetrads that occur from Calvary to the end of the 21st century:

  • 162/163 A.D.
  • 795/796 A.D.
  • 842/843 A.D.
  • 860/861 A.D.
  • 1493/1494 A.D.
  • 1949/1950 A.D.: The Jews returned to Israel in May 1948 and got a seat on the United Nations in January 1949.
  • 1967/1968 A.D.: This tetrad began two months before the Six-Day War where Israel won Jerusalem.
  • 2014/2015 A.D.: This eighth tetrad is occurring now and on those same feast days. Three blood moons have already passed. The fourth is Sept. 28 on Feast of Tabernacles. There are no more of these “tetrads” on Jewish feast days for several hundred years.

So what does all this mean? In the Bible, the moon seems to be a sign for the nation of Israel. There have only been seven Blood Moon Tetrads on these feast days between Jesus Christ’s first coming and 2013. Remember, we are talking about total lunar eclipses on the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles two consecutive years in a row making them a very rare event that scientists call a tetrad. Each and every time there was some significant event which impacted the Jewish people. All seven times that it has happened in the last 2000 years something significant happened concerning the Jews. Seven times this rare occurrence fell on the first and last of the seven feasts that are in a seven month period on the Jewish calendar and yet, we have preachers around the country scoffing at it. Can you believe that?Detective Conan: Crimson Love Letter streaming

Seven is God’s number of completion. The eighth tetrad ends this fall. Eight is the number of new beginnings. There were eight souls in the ark that started over after the flood. Something may take place concerning Israel. Some believe the rapture may occur. We cannot be sure, but I admonish you to get your heart right with the Lord and be ready. In my book, God’s Final Jubilee, I give more details about these events.

Evangelist Dan Goodwin is the author of God’s Final Jubilee. He travels extensively, speaking in prophecy meetings and Bible conferences across the nation. In addition to God’s Final Jubilee, he has authored several books and study guides. Contact him to schedule a meeting or to get information on his books.

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Hostetler: The top seven prayer secrets of Jesus

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By Bob Hostetler
Special to Inside The Pew

If anyone exemplifies the blessed life, it is Jesus. Though he never owned a home or car, and never held season tickets for his favorite baseball team (the Cincinnati Reds, in case you were wondering), he lived a singular life. A rich life. A healing life. A life filled with laughter and song. A life that exuded beauty and blessing. One man, however, has not only read the Bible numerous times. He has also written it. Every word. By hand.

But how did Jesus live such a life? How did he get those riches? Was he born to such blessing? Did he bring those things with him from heaven? Were such blessings his because he was the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah? Or did he access those blessings in the same way we can?

I think the snapshots of Jesus we see in the Gospels show us exactly how he— who was thoroughly human in every respect, yet without sin—managed to live the kind of life he did. I think they depict how we can live the Christ life, too. And I think they reveal that his blessed life was due in large part to his prayer life. Prayer was critical to Jesus. It was essential to his connection with the Father. It was vital to the water-to-wine, walking-on-water, lunch-for-the-multitude, and victory-over-sin-and-death kind of life he lived. It was the source of his ability to speak like no one else, before or since. It was the conduit by which he healed the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead. And it will be no different for us, if we learn from the top seven prayer secrets of Jesus:

He prioritized prayer. The Gospel writers often said things like this: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he

Bob Hostetler

Bob Hostetler

departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35, ESV). In my book, rising before the sun indicates commitment! The Gospels make it seem like prayer, to Jesus, was like a letter from home to a soldier or prisoner—refreshing, reinvigorating, restorative, required.

He prayed relationally. Not a single prayer of Jesus begins, “O Thou Ineffable, Invisible, Intangible Ruler of All…” He said, “Father.” In Aramaic, “Abba.” It was a way of praying that not only assumed a close relationship, but relied on it. And he made “Father” the first word (in Greek) in the prayer he modeled for his followers.

He sought the Father’s agenda. When Jesus taught his first followers to pray like him, he told them to pray, “May your Name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10, CJB). In other words, according to Jesus, prayer is first and foremost about the Father, not about us. It is not about getting things from God but entering into partnership with God and seeking his glory, his kingdom, his will.

He kept it simple. As a first century Jew, Jesus was heir to some of the most beautiful and eloquent prayers ever spoken. But his prayers—at least the ones his biographers recorded—are about as simple and earthy as they come. Like, “Make them one,” Forgive them,” and “Take this cup from me.”

He kept it authentic. Two of Jesus’ most famous prayers seem to be amazingly vulnerable: When he prayed, “Get me out of this,” in Gethsemane, and “Where are you?” on the cross. I’m paraphrasing, of course (his actual words were “Take this cup from me” and “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). Still, those two moments provide a glimpse into the raw authenticity of Jesus’ prayer life. He didn’t pray platitudes; he prayed authentically, sincerely, even bluntly.

He was specific. Jesus apparently never prayed “bless them” prayers. For example, he prayed for Peter’s faith to withstand Satan’s attacks (Luke 22:31-32). And he told his followers to do likewise. He could have taught us to pray, “Bless us” or “Provide our needs.” But he didn’t. He said, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11, KJV).

He kept at it. Luke recorded, “At about that same time he climbed a mountain to pray. He was there all night in prayer before God” (Luke 6:12, The Message). On the night of his arrest, he prayed three separate times, while his closest friends dozed nearby. Like the friend at midnight and the importunate widow in two of his parables, he prayed insistently and persistently.

Clearly, to Jesus, prayer was “the root, the fountain, the mother of a thousand blessings,” as St. John Chrysostom would call it. Jesus’ connection to his Father was key to his enjoyment of life, command of the elements, authority over sickness and Satan, and more. It was prayer—not his special status or privilege—that strengthened him in dark times and blessed him in brighter days. And so it will do for us, if we simply apply a few of his secrets in prayer.

Bob Hostetler is a writer and speaker whose 36 books include The Red-Letter Prayer Life (which inspired this article). He is also the author of the iPhone and iPad app, “31 Ways to Pray for Your Kids,” and blogs twice a week on Guideposts. He and his wife live in southwest Ohio.

Jenkins: What great leaders do in crisis

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By Dave Jenkins Jr.
Special to Inside The Pew

It is written in 2 Chronicles 32: 6-8: “He appointed military officers over the people and assembled them before himDave Jenkins in the square at the city gate and encouraged them with these words: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”

And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.

Just about anyone can lead when things are going well. The true test of leadership is how you lead during a crisis. I see three significant things that Hezekiah did that allowed his team to succeed in the face of great adversity. First, he set up accountability systems. In verse 6, he established a system that will allow people to have someone to speak to about their concerns. During a crisis situation, you need to allow people to share their mind, but not to the extent that they pollute the minds of others. These officers were probably well trained in the art of keeping peace, but they also understood the bigger picture – you serve the Kingdom and not complainers.

Two, Hezekiah gave an accurate assessment of the situation to the people. In verses 7 and 8, he does not try to sugar coat what was going on. He told them:

  • This is what it looks like: A vast army has surrounded us.

    Crisis Message On Dynamite Shows Emergency And Problems

  • This is what we have. We have a power greater than the challenge we are facing.
  • This is what we will do. We will be strong and not get discouraged because we have the power needed within us to win.

Third, he encouraged the people. The latter part of verse 8 notes, “And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.” Leaders who address the challenges quickly, truthfully and decisively will inspire courage and action in the people they serve. If you wait to take “perfect action,” the opportunity to galvanize and mobilize your team may pass you by.

If your company, church or team is facing a crisis, share with them:

  • The leaders has to express “This is what our challenge looks like.” If you know how the problem started explain that as well.
  • This is what we have going for us that will allow us to come out of this. If you have successfully dealt with this type of problem before and succeeded, then share that.
  • The leader, along with others, must lay out a plan to overcome the challenge. That plan may be to add more focus in a particular area, or work with vendors for temporary price reductions. It may require that you make that change that you have been reluctant to implement.

Dave Jenkins is an ordained minister and leadership and relationship teacher. Jenkins, a former chaplain for the Allen (Texas) Police Department, is a graduate of Grambling State University in Grambling, La., and earned a master’s of Christian leadership from Criswell College in Dallas. He also received advanced counseling training from Amberton University. Jenkins and his wife, Phyllis, are hosts of their own weekly family relationships show, “Marriage Monday,” on KGGR 1040 at 5 p.m. CST. Follow him on Twitter at @IamDaveJenkins and “like” him on Facebook (IamDaveJenkinsJr). Learn more about his ministry at www.davejenkinsjr.com.

Suspect in shooting at Charleston AME church apprehended

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

The gunman in a deadly shooting rampage at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., has been captured by the police.

Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was arrested during a traffic stop in Shelby, N.C., as reported by Reuters, 14 hours after Roof walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church at opened fire on the congregants during the prayer meeting on June 17. Greg Mullen, Charleston Police Chief, said Roof is cooperating with authorities. The FBI is investigating the church shooting as a hate crime.

The Associated Press reports Roof attended the meeting and stayed approximately an hour before the shooting, said Greg Mullen, Charleston Police Chief.

Of the dead is the church’s pastor, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, 41, D-Columbia. The married father of two wasrevpinckney elected to his seat at 23. Mullen said the names of the victims will be released once their families have been notified.

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley told The Associated Press the shooting is an “unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy.”watch Noctiflora film now

“Of all the cities, in Charleston, to have a horrible hateful person go into the church and kill people there to pray and worship with each other is something that is beyond any comprehension and is not explained. We are going to put our arms around that church and that church family.”

Immediately following the shooting, pastors and citizens held a prayer vigil outside Emanuel AME. Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston hosted a community prayer service in remembrance on June 18.

The Emanuel AME church traces its roots back to 1816, when several congregations split from Charleston’s Methodist Episcopal Church. Historical records show one of the church’s founders, Denmark Vesey, tried to organize a slave revolt in 1822. Vesey was caught and white landowners burned his church in revenge. Its congregants also played a part in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In the wee hours of June 17, The King Center tweeted an undated photo of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worshiping at the historic church.

Photo caption: Surreace Cox, center, of North Charleston, S.C., holds a sign during a prayer vigil down the street from Emanuel AME Church during the morning of June 18. (The Associated Press)

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Experience ‘The Difference’ in Houston’s nightclub scene

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By Anita Jarrell-Robertson
Special to Inside The Pew

Recently, noted journalist Dan Derozier of Houstonia Magazine published a news story on Jerri P. Beasley’s “TheJerri P. Beasley Difference Venue,” a Christian nightclub located at 13334 Almeda Road in Houston, where “church folks get turnt up.” Derozier captured images of dancing, singing, rapping, poetry, praying, crying, kneeling, preaching, altar calls — people of various nationalities in a club? Together?

“The Difference” has also received national notoriety, as it was the $25,000 question on the May 11 episode of the popular, syndicated game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” (watch here)

What is the lure of this particular nightclub? “The Difference” is the buzz of Houston and has earned a reputation for being a place for true and lasting deliverance matched with nonjudgmental attitudes from pastors and other spiritual leaders who often wear their street clothes to blend in with club patrons and reduce the fear some people experience when they meet a pastor with formal attire.

On a typical club night, the facility where “The Difference” is held is owned and operated by Kevin Martin. Because his club, “The Manhattan” typically touts a crowd much different from “The Difference,” many of the patrons come on Friday or Sunday nights out of curiosity. Many stay because they end up finding something they need – something different. Different from church. Different from the club. The Difference. Beasley is proud to offer a place for good clean fun without profanity, drugs, and alcohol. Even kids are welcome.

Beasley said that it usually “takes about 10 minutes before ‘patrons’ realize they’re not going to hell” for being in the club. In an interview for Houstonia Magazine that recently aired on NewsFix TV, Beasley boldly testified that she began “The Difference” out of an overflow of gratitude for Jesus saving her soul and delivering her from a diagnosis of bipolar schizophrenia almost two decades ago. She now uses “The Difference” as well as her platform on KCOH 1230AM radio and TV programming in Houston to provide much-needed and open-handed exposure for Independent Gospel Artists from around the globe.

For instance, in honor of Mother’s Day 2015, Beasley hand selected an eclectic blend of Independent Gospel Artists/Performers including: Jacquie yForeman (Traditional), Shirley “Beloved Beloved” Hester (Liturgical Dancer), Cher2fication (Neo-Soul/R&B), Gloria Spruce (Contemporary), Pastor Anthony Rogers (Traditional/Contemporary), and yours truly, Anita Jarrell-Robertson (CCM/Contemporary/Latina). Several of the evening’s artists are starring in Beasley’s highly sought after Stage Play Revival, “Can U Pay The Price” on Aug. 8 at Greater Love Church, 4517 Laura Koppe Road in Houston. “The Manhattan” club owner, Martin has described his experience of getting goose bumps when the performers, who are typically filled with the Holy Spirit and prone to spark altar calls, share the Gospel on stage through the arts. Countless testimonies have poured in expressing new faith in Jesus Christ and/or renewed relationship with their Redeemer.

At the 2015 Mother’s Day Concert, Pastor Tabatha C. Whitten, the concert’s main speaker, pastor of Remnant Fellowship in Houston and host of the new hit TV show “Ignite,” shared with club patrons the importance of remembering the name God gave them. Pastor Whitten bounced all over the stage joyfully with fire, red hair; a blue, snazzy top; and hip-hugging blue jeans.

“I bless God for Pastor Tabatha Whitten’s relevant ministry. When you get bartenders to say Amen, God is speaking,” Beasley said.

Beasley believes the concept of “The Difference” will expand to other states in the future. Although many talented artists and pastors grace the stage on a regular basis, there is only one Headliner, Jesus Christ – without apology and with intentionality.

Faith-filled mothers everywhere have an answered prayer for Mother’s Day and every day in “The Difference,” a place where their children can truly come as they are and leave with THE DIFFERENCE. Beasley can be contacted via email at jpbeaspro@aol.com and via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jerri.p.beasley.

Anita Jarrell-Robertson is a CCM/Contemporary Gospel recording artist and freelance journalist. Email: anitaworships@gmail.com Connect via Twitter @anitaworships. WEB: www.anitaworships.com.

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Smith: Are our origins coincidental or intentional?

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By David R. Smith
Special to Inside The Pew

Ms. Eloise heard a knock at the door one afternoon, and shuffling her way over to it, opened it to find Kyle, a sweet-but-hyper little boy, standing on her porch

David R. Smith

clutching a baseball glove. The elderly woman, a grandma many times over in her own right, immediately noticed the sheepish look on the little boy’s face.

Kyle looked up at Ms. Eloise and politely said, “Umm…there’s something that belongs to me in your garage and I’d like it back.” Ms. Eloise walked him around to the garage door and as soon as she opened it, noticed two recent additions: a baseball lying in one corner…and a destroyed window with a baseball-size hole in it.

Ms. Eloise crossed her arms, looked down at Kyle, and asked, “How do you suppose that ball got in here?” Kyle looked at the ball, then the window, and then back at Ms. Eloise. Thinking quickly, he said, “Wow! I must have thrown it right through that hole!”

Kyle’s response required Ms. Eloise to believe an extremely coincidental explanation: that the baseball-size hole in her window and his missing baseball had nothing to do with one another. Yes, it was an explanation…but it probably wasn’t the best explanation. In fact, Kyle’s explanation sounded downright unlikely.

Interestingly, the scientific community is continually uncovering evidence that makes the current theory of our origins – known as the Big Bang theory – sound just as unlikely when it comes to the tedious task of explaining us. In layman’s terms, the Big Bang theory states that the Universe we now inhabit started as a very hot, dense nothingness that underwent radical expansion about 14 billion years ago forming planets, stars, and whole galaxies.

But this theory has intrinsic problems beginning with the observation that Epicurus made over 2,000 years ago: “Something never came from nothing.” And what are the chances that a completely random expansion – what is often called the “explosion” part of the Big Bang – could yield Earth…let alone this magnificent Universe? After all, when we analyze our celestial home, we all note the same realities about this shared rock:

  • It’s the only planet known to have water in liquid form.
  • Earth has a perfect balance of water and land.
  • We’re located in “the habitable zone,” the perfect distance between Earth and the sun ensuring our planet is neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Earth has an atmosphere that shields its inhabitants from dangerous radiation and (most) of the debris flying through space.
  • We have a moon of perfect size and proximity to us that ensures life-giving tides to the creatures of the seas.

These are just a few of the requirements our planet must meet to shelter life. However, there are other necessary attributes for sustaining life – scores and scores of them, in fact – each one more awe-inspiring than the last. For example, we need a very precise balance between the four known forces of nature – strong nuclear, weak nuclear, gravity, and electromagnetism – and we have it! But for life to exist on our planet we also need a “sweeper planet” located nearby to clean comets and asteroids from our orbital pattern. Ours is known as Jupiter.

In light of these criteria, the Big Bang theory – the idea that these absolutely perfect conditions for life sprang from a completely random explosion of nothingness – is starting to sound as unlikely as Kyle’s explanation to Ms. Eloise. That little boy and proponents of the Big Bang theory have something in common: holes they can’t explain.

Consequently, a different theory for explaining us, known as the Fine-Tuned Universe, is gaining traction. This line of thinking states that the Universe didn’t come about by chance, or by necessity, but by intentional design. In short, the Fine-Tuned Universe theory rejects the notion that a world as calculated and precise as ours could be generated by accident.

But the modern world has a problem with this theory: a fine-tuned Universe requires a Tuner.

In the opening chapter of my latest book Christianity…It’s Like This, I make the simple case that all of us acknowledge that a spectacular building requires a builder and a beautiful design requires a designer. So why wouldn’t a brilliant creation require a Creator?

In reality, this is hardly groundbreaking. Three thousand years ago, the king of a relatively small nation said, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2) King David knew how to explain us: God created us.

In the end, there will always be those who want to dismiss a Creator in spite of such a marvelous creation. They’d have us believe that our world is the way it is because of a series of completely random events that have never been repeated, not even once, even though there are billions and billions of other planets.

When it comes to explaining us, the biblical explanation isn’t the only explanation…but it’s certainly the best explanation.

Though he’s earned two undergraduate degrees and one advanced degree, David R Smith prefers to have simple conversations about faith and life. He pastors First Baptist Church in Linden, Florida, where he lives with his wife, Jenn, and their son, Josiah. When he’s not preaching, he’s usually looking for great BBQ joints or his errant golf shots. David was recently named as one of Vyrso’s top authors to watch in 2015. Smith’s latest title Christianity…It’s Like This is available now!

Muse: ‘Behold I stand at the door …’

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he-is-risen-from-the-dead

Editor’s note: This is a reprint of a column run March 30, 2013.

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

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

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

Grelan Muse Sr.

Grelan Muse Sr.

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 world 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 and Pew Talk Radio. Email him at pewnews@aol.com.