Category Archives: From The Pulpit

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.

 

Jenkins: Dangers of the Golden Calf; the calf just doesn’t happen

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The Golden Calf

Editor’s note: This is the second installment in a series of columns on Exodus chapter 32.

By Dave Jenkins Jr.
Inside The Pew

In Exodus Chapter 32 we see the dangers of falling prey to the Golden Calf syndrome. The Golden Calf represents our attempts to do what only God can do. The next danger of theDave Jenkins Jr Golden Calf is that the calf just doesn’t happen.

Aaron was afraid of the faces and voices of the people in the absence of Moses. A lot of times the second in command thinks that he/she can do what God’s appointed leader can do, all they think they need is a chance.

When a leader is anointed they make it look so easy. They seem to be able to stop a speeding financial crisis and leap dangerous traps with a single bound. So, when the second has his/her chance to act, they sometimes find out what looks easy from the outside is actually a very prayerful and skillful balancing act.

Thus, when the faces and tones of the voices became menacing – Aaron did what any poor leader would do, he folded like a cheap tent. What the people needed was direction and he gave them sinful satisfaction.

In Exodus 21, Moses asks Aaron the accountability question, “what did they do to you to cause you to lead them in the wrong direction?” Aaron takes the next couple of verses to blame the people and indirectly he blames Moses. However he lays the final blame at the feet of “it just happened.”  Look at his explanation in verse 24. However, in verse 35, God declares that Aaron made the calf. If you are going to lead, it must be God’s purpose that leads you and not the voice of confused people or the result will be a Golden Calf.

The biggest danger of the Golden Calf is to get things back in order, drastic action must be taken. Aaron and the people had allowed things to get wildly out of control. To get things back in order Moses had to take drastic action.

Because of the nature of the mistake and the way that the majority of the people had embraced the Golden Calf as their new god, Moses could not just send out a memo. Where Aaron was weak, Moses was stern and to the point. He knew the importance of this moment.  It was not just about the temporal comfort of the people but their eternal destiny. Something had to “GO” and in Moses’s eyes it was the Golden Calf and those who were now foolishly aligned with it.

Moses next decision was not an easy one. He called for faithful men and then instructed them to kill every man near the “gate.” Even if that man was your friend or brother he had to be killed no exceptions. Why those near the gate? It could have been they were telling anyone who passed by about the false god and not the true God.

The action Moses took was similar to what the skier whose arm was trapped under a boulder had to do. The skier knew that he could not move the boulder and if he stayed pinned by the boulder he would eventually freeze to death. So he made the decision to live – with one arm. He began the process of cutting off the arm that was trapped under the boulder. It was not an easy choice but it was the only way that he could survive.

On that day 3,000 men lost their lives. The body could only move forward when the infected part had been removed.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Dave Jenkins Jr. 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.

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Jenkins: Dangers of the Golden Calf

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Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series discussing the Golden Calf (Exodus 32).

By Dave Jenkins Jr.
Inside The Pew

Leaders and parents have to be careful not to fall into the “Golden Calf” syndrome.  This syndrome is when we think we have lost somethingDave Jenkins Jr of great value and we look for cheap imitations to replace it.

The Golden Calf syndrome is when appearing successful is more important than being true to who God created us to be. The Golden Calf syndrome is when fear of losing control replaces following the blueprint.streaming Patriots Day movie

When we give into the Golden Calf syndrome, we not only lose our focus and fire for the Lord; those who follow us are a part of the collateral damage. We see this so well in Exodus chapter 32.

The number one danger of the Golden Calf is that it tried to replace something that it can never replace.

In Verse 1 we see that in the absence of their spiritual leader, the people begin to seek a substitute.  They appreciated Moses but they needed something they could see to lead them to the next phase. They needed a new God that would guide them into the promise land.

They realized from crossing the Red Sea and the other military victories that they needed divine intervention. However, they chose to replace the eternal with the temporal.

Leaders we do that as well. It happens when we look for the short cuts and the quick hits instead of the proven principles. It happens in our homes when we allow the blessings to be more appreciated than the giver of the blessings.

The next danger of the Golden Calf is in the long run the imitation will cost more to be in your life than the original.

To make the Golden Calf the people had to give up the golden items that God had provided for them.  The gold earrings and other gold items did not cost the people anything since God had restructured a portion of the wealth from the Egyptians to them. So what God had given them freely, they had to pay as the cost for the Golden Calf.

When leaders take the resources that they have been given stewardship over and create a Golden Calf, they create a beast that you will always have to feed. The leadership at Enron is one example of this.

Another danger is it always requires you to sacrifice more than you intended; it is never satisfied.

Not only did Aaron have to make the new god, now he has to arrange a festival and burnt offerings. The request from the people was for Aaron to make a god for them. Now the false god requires more from them.

The Golden Calf will seem like a smart move, it will say to you “let’s not do all of that quality stuff so we can get the product out faster.” Then in a couple of months we are correcting returns and doing rework because we gave in to the Golden Calf.

Instead of checking with our spouse before we made that BIG decision, we allowed the Golden Calf of convenience to lead us. Now we have to make more adjustments than we intended just to keep the Golden Calf.

Dave Jenkins Jr. 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.

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Communities of faith to converge for TogetherLA; Tebow hits links for charity

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Tim Keller

By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

Feb. 26-Feb. 28watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 2017 movie online now

In Los Angeles: Key leaders from non-profits, churches, businesses, and communities in the Los Angeles area will convene beginning Thursday, Feb. 26 forTim Keller real-time collaboration, prayer, networking and strategic partnering. The free gathering is set to take place at West Angeles church of God in Christ, 3045 Crenshaw Blvd in Los Angeles.

Dr. Timothy Keller, lead pastor of Manhattan’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, is the slated main speaker for the three-day conference as well; all other speakers will be active leaders in the Los Angeles area. Speakers include Bishop Charles Blake, Dr. Barry Corey, Mark Labberton, Mayor Aja Brown, Efrem Smith, Caitlin Crosby, Tim Chaddick, Albert Tate, Larry Acosta, La Verne Tolbert, Michael Mata, Tom Hughes, Father Greg Boyle, and many more.

For more information, go to www.togetherla.net or email connect@togetherla.net.

March 15

In Ponte Vedra, Fla.: Tickets for the annual Tim Tebow Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic are still available online. The event will take place at TPC Sawgrass inTebow Foundation Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Gates open at 9 a.m., with shotgun starting at 10 a.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for 18 and under.

March 22-March 29

Aboard Freedom of the Seas: Back to the Bible Canada, a world-wide ministry based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, will hold its second annual Bible Canada/Laugh Again ministry cruise. Author, speaker, and humorist Phil Callaway will serve as a special guest for the voyage. The seven-day cruise will leave you smiling, refreshed, inspired and renewed in your walk with Christ. To register, http://www.laughagain.ca/cruise-2015/.

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Pastors, faith leaders from around country gather in Dallas to promote racial healing

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST and the ASSIST News Service

DALLAS, TX – A racially, denominationally, geographically and generationally diverse representation of nearly 100 pastors, civic and faith-Alveda King and James Robisonleaders from across the country gathered for an unprecedented summit on racial reconciliation at The Potter’s House in Dallas on January 15.

Convened by Bishops Harry Jackson and T.D. Jakes and Pastor James Robison, “The Reconciled Church: Healing the Racial Divide” summit focused on Seven Bridges to Peace and included four panel discussions in which the participants shared practical solutions that they have successfully implemented in their respective communities. They also strategized other initiatives that can be scaled for national roll out.

According to a news release from A. Larry Ross Communications, host Bishop Jakes welcomed attendees, saying, “The Church should lead the way; we can’t complain about Congress and community if we don’t communicate with one another. We all love our children; let’s talk about how we can make our country better for subsequent generations.

“We have one brief shining moment to say, ‘not on my watch,'” Jakes continued. “We cannot remain silent on this issue, because our silence is costing lives. I’m praying that we would care enough to do better with the resources and influence that we have.

“We can’t fix the problem today, that’s not even the goal,” Jakes added. “This is a forum for discussion and debate, but we need to focus on what we will work on, including education and the criminal justice system. We can do better regarding civic engagement in our churches.”

Bishop Jackson shared his vision for the summit, to encourage the Church to come together to address the three-fold problem of class, race and poverty. “Church leaders need to go up into the gap and be courageous and catalytic to make a difference,” he said. “We want to leave here with a declaration, a challenge and a prescription for our nation.

“The Church is divided black and white, and not as connected as we should be,” Jackson continued. “The first thing we can do is come together united as the Church. A group like this can shake the foundations of the nation – for God and for good.”

“With all my heart I believe the purpose of this meeting is to bring together the Body of Christ without all of the dissension, strife and division that keeps us apart and from fulfilling the will of God,” James Robison said.

Other key participants included Dr. Bernice King, CEO of The King Center in Atlanta and daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.; legendary civil rights leader; Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. King, and a civil rights activist and Christian minister; former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young; Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference/CONELA; and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, among others.

Several participants admonished the Church for not taking action. “Today’s complacency is tomorrow’s complicity,” Rodriguez said. “There is no such thing as a silent Christianity.”

This theme was echoed by Pastor Jack Graham, senior pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano. “There are a lot of good people in our churches who are sinfully silent,” he said. “It is our responsibility to engage them on what matters most.”

The timing of the summit was propitious, occurring on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, actual birthday, which was referenced by his daughter. Reminding attendees that her father was a pastor and that the Civil Rights movement originated in the Church, she thought it a fitting tribute to his legacy that faith leaders were once again taking the lead in the area of racial reconciliation.

“The Church was one of the institutions (my father) criticized in his letter from the Birmingham jail,” King reflected. “He was deeply disappointed that there was not more engagement by the Church in the issue of segregation in the South at that time. Unfortunately, we have had a stand-off posture since then, and 11 a.m. on Sunday is still the most segregated hour in America.”

“Today we had four ‘Cs’ of Christ, conversation and collaboration that will lead to change,” said African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Vashti McKenzie. “The Body of Christ came together in unprecedented conversation. We must be role models for people who look to us for leadership.”

The day’s events concluded with a worship and communion service at The Potter’s House, which was attended by more than 6,000 individuals.

Jenkins: Take advantage of those opportune times to share Gospel

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By Dave Jenkins
Special to Inside The Pew

One of my passions has always been sharing my faith. In my younger years, I was very rigid in my approach in sharing the Gospel. I left very little room for the other person to have a right toCalm Gospel their opinion. As I matured, I learned that compassion was a major component in sharing your faith. Jesus showed this in Matthew 9:36.

So on the last day of 2014 my wife and I decided to have lunch at a new place. It was recommended to us by our youngest daughter. I was not feeling all that well, battling a sinus infection, but food!!! Well, that is an automatic cure even if not permanent to make me feel better.

The restaurant had a great feel to it, formal but not stuffy. The wait staff was great. Our waiter was a young man with a very polished demeanor. He was thin in size and medium build. However, there was something more to him that I could not figure out in the beginning. During our meal, he was not as attentive to our needs as he could have been. Several times he forgot items or did not focus on the task at hand. Since it was only 11 a.m. and there were not many patrons, I could not blame his poor performance on the work load. At one point, I wanted to pull him aside and mention a couple of things but for some reason I did not. I would later find out why I did not move on that thought.

At the end of our meal my wife asked him a question about his religious belief. He hesitated for a moment and then begin to explain that he had a relationship with God but was not enamored with the church. It was at that point it became obvious to me why I hesitated to comment about his service. Had I done so I probably would have severely negatively impacted my ability to say what the Lord gave me to share with him.

The first fact I shared with him was that even Jesus went to church (called the Temple) and surrounded himself with others. I then shared with him that there areDave Jenkins Jr some inherent problems we all face when we deal with being connected with others, and just because it is a church does not mean these problems don’t show up at church. I wanted to quote Hebrews 10:25 with him but the Spirit of God said to just teach him the principles.

He acknowledged what I shared but was also concerned about the rigid and formal systems he saw in church when he was growing up. I then asked him if he grew up in a particular denomination, and he confirmed that he did come out of that denomination. However, his mother had since converted from that denomination and he called her a Christian and not by any denominational labels.

My next point I shared with him was that heaven is a place where people are deeply and strongly connected in corporate Worship – so much so that he might be uncomfortable there. He laughed and stated that his mother told him some of the same things.

It was at this point he shared with us that this was not just luck that we were there but a divine appointment. He explained that he does not work on Wednesdays. He also asked, “Did my mother send you guys here?”

He said that he is willing to re-think his position and follow his mother’s advice concerning being connected to a church.

As my wife and I left the restaurant, we felt blessed to have met our young friend. More importantly we enjoyed being able to see the hand of God at work in connecting us to him at the right time.

My prayer is that the work of the Holy Spirit today will propel him into greater places in 2015.

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.

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Renaldo Davis: To be loved and lead by a true shepherd

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Renaldo Davis

By Anita Jarrell-Robertson
Special to Inside The Pew

Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, recently conducted a study of a few hundred laypersons over a span of 60-Renaldo Davis 1plus churches to write down what they desired of a pastor. Their responses were open-ended, and there was no limitation on the number of items they could list. According to Rainer, the top ten characteristics of the ideal pastor include:

  1. Love of congregation. 
  2. Effective preaching. 
  3. Strong character.
  4. Good work ethic.
  5. Casts a vision.
  6. Demonstrates healthy leadership.
  7. Joyous.
  8. Does not yield to critics.
  9. Transparent.
  10. Models evangelism.

All these points relate to Minister Renaldo Davis, who serves on the Ministerial Board, Music Ministry, Youth Ministry, Men Ministry, Evangelism Ministry, and Armor Bearer Ministry at Ever-Increasing Life Ministries under the leadership of Apostle David A. Cowan and Elect Lady Linda Cowan.  He is also a well-traveled Independent Gospel Recording Artist, a dedicated husband, father, and friend.

Renaldo is very serious about ministry and believes that in order to reach unusual people you must have unusual church. Minister Davis’ ultimate dream is to see young men living strong and young women living beautiful from the inside out.  Originally from the Bahamas, Davis served at a vast array of ministries upon initially entering the United States until finally reaching what he considers to be “the best church on this side of heaven, Ever-Increasing Life Ministries located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.”

Davis reflects, “I have a great relationship with my pastor. I consult him in every aspect of my life from my marriage, my music, to my business, and all ministry affairs. He and I talk weekly and sometimes even daily.”

Renaldo’s success as a recording artist is included amongst the areas in which his pastor leads him. He proudly exhibits a strong family life, which he believes should look the same at home and in ministry.  His perception of his pastor and his choice to emulate those positive qualities lead him to success on all sides- balanced living.

“I remember growing up hearing people say they wanted to be like Michael Jordan, well I want to be like him. To me, my dad is Elijah and I want to be his Elisha. I regard our relationship somewhat like I do my marriage. I protect it, guard it, give time to it, and keep the lines of communication wide open. Now, I must say this… I love my mom (Lady Linda Cowan). Talking to her is just like talking to Dad. Their wisdom is far beyond their years. My mom has the perfect nurturing spirit. Overall, our relationship is wonderful and amazing.”

Judging Renaldo’s sentiments about his pastor, Rainer would probably adopt his pastor, Apostle Cowan, as the poster child of an ideal pastor.  In an age where recording artists, independent or otherwise are seen by some as wild and undisciplined bigots who wear their egos on their shoulders, Renaldo is a counter example of how a balanced disciple of Christ operates and why it’s important to submit to a shepherd versus a hireling.  Renaldo’s latest music video can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0eyuR5cmRk. He can be reached via email: renaldo.m.davis@gmail.com or kingdomoverchurch@gmail.com. More from Renaldo Davis @ http://www.reverbnation.com/ministerrenaldodavis.

Anita Jarrell-Robertson, a Baton Rouge, La., native and graduate of LSUBR, became a volunteer columnist for Inside The Pew Magazine inAnita Robertson 2014 after writing an article on the Rev. Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr..  Robertson also writes for The Holy Hip Hop Ezine. See more at www.anitaworships.com/blog and follow: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram @anitaworships.

 

Rutherford: Three spiritual lessons from the Tour de France

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By Dudley Rutherford
Special to Inside The Pew

If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would one day ride 60 to 70 miles on a road bicycle for fun, I don’t think I wouldDudley Rutherford have believed you. But years of playing basketball and golf had finally caught up to me, causing major damage to the meniscus cartilage in my knee. I could hardly walk after playing in a game—that’s how bad it had gotten. Then a good friend of mine recommended that I try cycling as a way to stay in shape and maintain the competitiveness I love about sports, but with less strain on my knees. So I joined the cycling ministry at Shepherd Church, the congregation I pastor in Los Angeles, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Now that I’m an avid cyclist, the Tour de France takes on a whole new meaning for me. I’ve always admired the strength and endurance of the athletes who compete, but now I have a deeper understanding of the passion and intensity of the sport. Of course, I would never be able to race at the speed of the professionals, but as I was writing my latest book, Walls Fall Down, about the seven-day victory God gave the Israelites over Jericho, I got to thinking about what believers can learn from the Tour de France to obtain victory in our spiritual walks.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul actually compares the Christian life to race in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Here are three biblical lessons we glean from the Tour de France on how to be victorious whether we are facing a personal battle or striving to accomplish something extraordinary:

Race with purpose: Every cyclist in the Tour de France has one goal: to win (or help his team leader win) the race. These athletes do not put themselves through months of painful training for the purpose of taking a leisurely bike ride in Europe or aiming to come in 57th place. No, their mission is to be the best. Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali proved his dominance in cycling to the world on July 27  by winning the annual race. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? RunVincento Nibali in such a way as to get the prize. “From the moment you decide to become a Christian—from the very second you put your faith in Jesus Christ—your race begins. And it’s not sprint; it’s a marathon. It’s a lifetime journey that takes commitment and perseverance. It ends when you die, or when Jesus returns in glory (Matthew 24:30). Until that day comes, your purpose in life as a believer is to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:36-39) and to make disciples as Jesus did (Matthew 28:19-20).

Practice self-discipline: Can you imagine the extreme physical training and the strict dietary regimen that would be required to prepare one’s body to cycle across the nearly 2300 miles of terrain for the Tour de France? How many people would be willing to sacrifice time, energy, junk food, and hobbies in order to dedicate his or her entire life to a sport?

Paul writes, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). The apostle ran the Christian race with purpose and was intentional about rejecting worldly, temporal vices so that he would not be disqualified from the ultimate prize of eternal life.

As I wrote my book Walls Fall Down: 7 Days Steps from the Battle of Jericho to Overcome Any Challenge, the Lance Armstrong doping scandal had erupted in the media. After convicting him of using performance-enhancing drugs, the US Anti-Doping Agency stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him from cycling. Armstrong later stated that he broke the rules because of the culture of drugs in cycling—that by using performance-enhancing drugs, he was simply operating on a “level playing field.”

In sports and in the Christian life, there are no shortcuts. We will not be victorious by impure means or by trying to fit in with the culture. We simply must follow the guidelines God has set forth in His Word, the Bible, and win the race the good old-fashioned way: with integrity, commitment, faith, and self-discipline.

Focus on the eternal rewards: Every cyclist in the Tour de France dreams of getting to wear that iconic yellow jersey—the coveted prize awarded to the champion. In many other sports, the winner receives a trophy. In the Olympics, it’s a gold medal. In the Apostle Paul’s time, it was a crown, which was just a wreath made of wild olive leaves. He writes, “They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (v. 25). Paul is pointing out that, in any competition, the culmination of all the hard work, sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears produces a winner, and that winner receives something that will not last forever. However, when we run the Christian race and keep our faith in Jesus through life’s various trials, we will receive the crown of eternal life (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10). We will spend an eternity with our Father in Heaven where there will be no sorrow, pain, death, or disease (Revelation 21:4).

God has wonderful things prepared for those who love Him! The Tour de France is an incredible event showcasing some of the greatest athletes in the world. But the Christian race has far greater implications. So run your race with purpose. Don’t be distracted or led astray by the things of this world. And keep your eyes fixed on the prize: the crown of eternal life. No other prize is better. No other victory is sweeter.

Dudley Rutherford is the author of Walls Fall Down and the senior pastor of the 10,000-member Shepherd Church in Porter Ranch (Los Angeles), California. You can connect with Dudley on Twitter @pastordudley. Visit www.WallsFallDownBook.com for more information.

Johndrow: Trading good for God

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By Lee Johndrow
Special to Inside The Pew

All that glitters is not gold or so the saying goes. Actually the words came from Shakespeare in “The Merchant Of Venice,” where it Lee Johndrowsays “all that glitters is not gold.” The meaning is the not everything that is shiny is necessarily valuable,

As a child I would go to the local rivers and dig up “gold” or fool’s gold (Pyrite). Later, I had an amazing pyrite collection, along with some beautiful real gold nuggets. But the pyrite was worth little. And that is the point of the phrase. Lots of things can look like gold but it does not mean they have the same value as gold. Are they?  Hmmm…Probably not!

Yesterday I wrote an article about avoiding or moving past the point of pain. A lot of people read it. A lot less people liked it. I am okay with that. Not everyone will do what it takes to get to the next place or level.

What I am going to say next is going to be controversial to some.

Today while walking and praying, I thought something has changed. All afternoon I felt it. And then tonight I felt, the collective is about to rise up and change things. The results of our expressing His goodness just overturned something. Locally, regionally and nationally. But do not look at the “obvious” but seek out that which is underneath. Earlier this week as the storm moved in, the undersides of the leaves were upturned. Keep watching. That which is hidden is being revealed. The word overturning is in the air.

What does that mean? I am not totally sure, but I am not thinking it is as easy as I would like to believe it to be. Now Ringo Starr said, “It don’t come easy, You know it don’t come easy.” I do not totally agree with that either. There is an ease in God. I believe that and experience that. But sometimes the “world” has a current created by sin. Our job is to overturn that!

Yet I recognize not everything is easy. Back to the gold. Not everything we think to be “gold” is gold. And now I move to the hard part of what I am going to say. If something good happens it does not necessarily mean it is “God” yet I can be grateful. It may not in fact mean I am “blessed” so much as it is because it may simply be a circumstance. Many things are happening these days that are good. (Be grateful.) But not all that is good is God. Hear me please. I am okay with being thankful for good things happening. It makes life easier. But it does not necessarily mean that it is God. Anymore than an accident is necessarily the devil. It may well be…just an accident.

Too many people are believing for something big and accepting something moderate. It takes a lot to wait, to be patient. To bypass good for great.

Any one of those can be a big deal. The end of arguments, with wills and estates distributed. But the one that most unnerves me is acceptance of things that will cause one to stop the growth, give up and “call it a day. My daughter Amy always told me she would never “settle” and I am kind of glad. (A great husband and a new baby.)

I feel it is important to put this on the table. Not all that glitters is gold. It is important to know that. Many things will come down the pike. And they may gleam in the distance, but that does not necessarily make it gold. And the longer you “wait” the harder it is to be sure. “Was it God? Did I miss it?”

Be wary you do not trade “good for God”. (Or “good” for excellence.) It may be a temptation. It may be comfortable. BUT…it does not mean God is on it. So, why rely on Romans 8:28 to “bail you out”? It is the “rest of God” from whence your provision comes from. It is the peace of God that allows for you to be patient. To be joyful.

Every word will be tested. Psalm 105:18-20…They afflicted his feet with fetters, He himself was laid in irons; until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested him. The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples, and set him free …

Easy does not always mean ease. Comfort does not always mean comfortable. What you trade for good may be the very thing you don’t want 5 years from now.

1 Chronicles 16:11 Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

Lee Johndrow is a staff member at The Village Church in Swanzey, N.H. Learn more about Johndrow and his dad’s ministry at www.leejohndrow.com.

Jenkins: Don’t allow pain to distract you from your purpose

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By Dave Jenkins
Special to Inside The Pew

It is almost incredible how professional athletes can play even when they are in tremendous pain from an injury. In most New York Knicks forward Willis Reedsituations, only extreme pain or injuries can stop a professional athlete from their true purpose, which is to win a championship.

The spiritual point to this is, there are some Christians who have obvious pains in their lives and there are some who have undisclosed pain in their lives. There is the pain of a life-threatening disease such as cancer. There is the pain of a marriage that is not going well. Or there is the pain of a business that is failing. There are the more secret pains such as depression, an unreported rape, a child that is rebellious, or the poor grade in a class.

Our challenge then is will we allow the pain, no matter what type it is, to distract us from our God-given purpose? Will we give in to the injury of failure or poor self-esteem or will we move forward in faith? If we don’t give into the pain, we may have an iconic moment such as Willis Reed had in game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals on May 8. Reed played in the NBA championship game for the New York Knicks despite a severe leg injury. He went on to win most valuable player in 1970.

So the question is how was the future Hall of Famer able to move past his pain and stay focused on his purpose? What are the leadership lessons that we can learn from Reed about not allowing our pain to distract you from your purpose.

Leadership Principle 1: He thought more of the team did he did of himself.

When pain hits us it does not impact us only, but it also impacts those around us. We may have been the direct target of the pain that has been inflected on us, but our family and co-workers, church members are targeted as “collateral damage.”

But how could he play basketball when he could barely walk? He could run the risk of damaging his leg and prematurely ending his career by playing. Reed had to make the choice between following his pain or focusing on his purpose. His decision was to focus on his purpose, which was to help his team win.

We have a choice, let the pain tell us to run and hide or we can face the situation and help not only ourselves but our team (family, co-workers, business partner). Fathers, mothers, pastors and teachers; there are people whose lives are impacted by how we deal with our personal pain.  Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Leadership Principle 2: He had prepared for this moment and did not want to let it get past him.

“I wanted to play,” Reed said in 2010 of his decision. “That was for the championship, the one great moment you play for all your life. I didn’t want to have to look at myself in the mirror 20 years later and say I wished I had tried to play.”

In Esther 4:14, Mordecai, the adviser/uncle to Esther reminds her that she was the possible solution to the pain that the Jewish nation was suffering. Her accent to the position of queen at the time was not a matter of chance, but God’s timing for her. Mordecai said. “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

You were made a leader for such a time as this. You were married for such a time as this. You were made strong by God for such a time as this. You were pushed from your comfort zone by the pain to move you to a greater call.

Leadership Principle 3: He did not give up hope.

Reed had to miss game 6 of the championship series because of his leg pain. His team lost game 6 during his absence. It would have been easy for him to give up and say, “We lost game 6, and I am not sure if I can play in game 7.” Instead, he kept searching for a way to play; he kept hope alive that he would be there for the final and deciding game.  Many times the pain that we go through is simply the transportation to get us to our destination. In Isaiah 40:31, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, They will walk and not be faint” (NIV).

Leadership Principle 4: He knew the importance of showing the opposing team he had no fear. 

Because of his leg injury, no one knew for sure if Reed would play in the game. The rest of his team had gone out to warm up whileDave Jenkins Jr. Reed remained in the locker room. Just moments before the game started, Reed left the locker room and headed to the basketball court. When his team and fans saw his unexpected entrance, everyone went wild with excitement; that is everyone with the exception of the opposing team, the Lakers. When Reed came to the court, the entire Lakers team stopped what they were doing and watched in unbelief as Reed went to the table to check-in for the game.

The Lakers may have thought that Reed would not show up for this game given the pain he was in. There are people who doubt you and the enemy who hates you that needs to know you have no fear of dealing with the pain. The haters need to know that you will not allow the pain or the fear of pain keep you for your purpose. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” When the other team sees that you have no fear, it will put fear in their hearts.

Leadership Principle 5: He remembered previous times that he had to overcome obstacles to get the victory.

Too often when things don’t go well or when we encounter pain, some believers want to give up. Reed knew that pain was a part of the game. We have to remember that pain is a part of life just as it is a part of sports.

Overcomers deal with the pain and the setbacks that this world gives them because they stand on the promise of Jesus. We don’t give up on the hope that is within us.

However, we have a word of encouragement from Jesus in John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

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.