Category Archives: National

The long wait is over: Saeed Abedini back on U.S. soil

Published by:

By Dan Wooding
Founder of the ASSIST News Service

NORTH CAROLINA – The long wait is finally over for Saeed Abedini, the 35-year-old American pastor imprisoned in Iran, when the plane he was traveling in, touched down onSaeed_Abedini off plane U.S. soil Jan. 22 at a North Carolina airport, and he was able to wrap his arms around his parents and sister.

A huge smile spread across Abedini’s when he deplaned and was warmly greeted by his family, and also Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, after spending more than three traumatic years in jail in Iran for his Christian faith.

Iran-born Abedini, who converted from Islam to Christianity, had traveled to Iran in 2012 on a mission to build an orphanage. But he was detained in July 2012 on charges of evangelizing and sentenced to eight years in prison.

The judge said Abedini’s activities were “threatening the national security of Iran.”trailer movie J. Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only 2017

Abedini was freed from the Iranian prison along with three other Americans last week. The release was part of a prisoner exchange between the United States and Iran.

Besides Abedini, the Iranians also released Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian; Amir Hekmati, a former Marine from Flint, Mich.; Nosratallah Khosravi-Roodsari, a businessman; and Matthew Trevitthick, a student.

“Pastor Saeed Abedini is safely back and will be a guest at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove [the 1,200-acre retreat center in the N.C. mountains] in Asheville, N.C., as he re-acclimates and spends time with his family,” Graham shared on Facebook on Jan. 22.

In a statement, Franklin Graham, who is also CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), which operates the Asheville center, said that “we want to provide him aFranklin_Graham_with_Saeed_Abedini quiet place to rest and visit with family.”

Franklin, who played a leading role in the campaign by evangelical Christians to press for Abedini’s release, added: “None of us in America can begin to understand or appreciate what Saeed has endured after being imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith.”

CBN News reported that Saeed’s attorneys said the charge also stemmed from his prior involvement with Christian house churches in Iran.

Until his flight back to the United States, Saeed Abedini had been in Germany undergoing medical evaluation at a U.S. military hospital.

“During his imprisonment… he was beaten, threatened, suffered internal injuries, denied medical treatment and was separated from his wife and two children,” added CBN News.

His wife, Naghmeh, 38, who fought tireless for him, has announced that she and their two children, Jacob and Rebekka, will joining him at the The Cove on Jan. 25.

Naghmeh added that she will continue working to promote religious freedom and bring attention to Christian persecution.

One media report stated that Luke Caldwell, a family friend and son of the founder of Calvary Chapel Boise, where the Abedinis attend church, described their reunion as a “complex situation” that requires “a lot of prayer and support.”

“You wish it was as easy as, everyone’s fine, but 3-1/2 years of separation and disconnection,” he said. “Ultimately, they need to reunite that love and that connection.”

Meanwhile, Saeed has been speaking out about what it’s been like for him to finally be free.

The ACLJ (http://aclj.org), has worked on Saeed’s behalf to advocate for his freedom since he was thrown in prison by the Iranian regime, who many believe had doubled-crossed him by initially telling him that he could return to the land of his birth to help set up an orphanage. But then, after crossing the border from Turkey, they promptly arrested him, and he was later sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment on charges of evangelizing.

Photo credits: Top, Saeed Abedini is greeted in North Carolina by his mother as his father and sister look on. Bottom, Franklin Graham, left, with Saeed Abedini.

#post-3691 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

‘I got tainted’: Justin Bieber’s monumental return to Jesus

Published by:

Justin Bieber

By Mark Ellis
Special to ASSIST News Service

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA – In the last few years, singer-songwriter Justin Bieber’s bad-boy antics and run-ins with the law have alienated some of his Christian fan base and even led thousands to petition the White House to have the Canadian-born star deported. But recently, the 21-year-old pop sensation has reconsidered the error of his ways and made a stunning turnaround in his relationship with Christ.

In an interview with Joe La Puma for the Oct/Nov 2015 issue of COMPLEX conducted at the Montage Beverly Hills hotel, Bieber bares his soul about the dramatic restoration of his walk with Jesus.

“I forgot what I was about, what my mom raised me to be,” Bieber confessed to COMPLEX. “I veered off, and I got tainted. I came into the music industry at 13. I was trying to trust people and they’d break my heart at 15,” he says.

Bieber became disillusioned with people who took advantage of him. In response, he started to “do his own thing.”

“I got into a little bit of trouble,” he admits, “—nothing that other 20-year-olds don’t get into—just rebelling a little bit. Now, being 21, I’m coming into my own and around some pretty cool people who are not afraid to tell me what’s real.”

He says his behavior pushed the limits. “I was doing anything. I was doing so many things that I shouldn’t even be on the planet still. I think that it (my survival) was by the grace of God.”

During his time of rebellion, he says his manager, Scooter Braun always made sure he was safe and that situations didn’t escalate out of control. Sometimes Braun’s oversight as a “fixer” worked, and other times it backfired, he told COMPLEX.

The night he spent in jail was an unforgettable experience. “It’s freezing; it’s uncomfortable; there are people in there you just don’t want to be around. I had people who were yelling at me. They were saying, “Bieber! We f___ with you, bro! We love you! Aye! Keep your head up, bro!” It was kind of funny to hear that, especially from cats in jail.”

Bieber admits some people around him wanted him to rebel.

Following his epic break-up with Selena Gomez, his heart began to soften toward God. “Love is a choice. Love is not a feeling. People have made it seem in movies that it’s this fairy tale. That’s not what love is.

“You’re not gonna want to love your girl sometimes but you’re gonna choose to love her,” he continued. “That’s something in life that I had to figure out. I can’t lean on people. I got to lean on God. I gotta trust in Him through all my situations. Then, hopefully, my other relationships will flourish around me.”

After his turbulent adolescence, he also began to reflect on the limits of science and his place in the universe. “For a ‘big bang; to create all this is more wild [cq] to think about than thinking about there being a God,” he told COMPLEX.

“Imagine putting a bunch of gold into a box, shaking up the box, and out comes a Rolex. It’s so preposterous once people start saying it. At this point, my faith has gotten me to where I am. My faith has brought me to a whole other level. I love talking about my faith.”

Photo captions: 1) Bieber with Selena Gomez. 2) Justin praying with friends.

Mark Ellis is senior correspondent for the ASSIST News Service and also the founder of Godreports, a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world to build interest and involvement in world missions.

 

Reflecting on Katrina: A community journalist’s narrative

Published by:

By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Aug. 29, 2005, is an unforgettable day for Louisiana residents who were embroiled in or escaping the path of Hurricane Katrina.Katrina family

At the time of Katrina’s wrath and its aftermath, I was a general assignment reporter for The Orange Leader, then a daily newspaper in the southeast Texas town of approximately 20,000. While rather small in size,  residents of Orange provided heaping help to evacuees. And for approximately three weeks, stories of all sorts flooded the newsroom – from an evacuee giving birth in a local hospital to a pet owner being reunited with a missing dog.

As a journalist who had a part in covering Katrina, the experiences I encountered were somewhat different from those of major media outlets, maybe because these were the people who got out of dodge. However, while they were not on the roofs of their homes being rescued or trapped in the Superdome, there was a sense uncertainty. Although they were out of harm’s way, most of the people I spoke with were in a strange place and worried about their homes.

In situations like these, people just need someone to listen to them; that was my role for the hours I spent at the rest stop. For a journalist, it was a dream; stories flowed with emotion flowed. As a Christian, I was more than willing to provide an empathetic ear and show compassion. They didn’t care that I was a reporter, they just needed someone to listen to them. And on Aug. 29, that was the role God appointed to me. Coincidentally, many southeast Texans, myself included, found themselves on the run from a hurricane, as Hurricane Rita made landfall nearly one month later near Sabine Pass, Texas, on Sept. 24, 2005.

It was heartwarming to witness a community pulling together – regardless of their faith, race, and background – to compassionately uplift others (Colossians 3:12). Orange churches such as First Baptist, First Presbyterian, and North Orange Baptist opened shelters. Many other congregations held prayer services for evacuees and the community.

One of the last stories I covered before Rita interrupted the lives came from caring soul who willingly open her home to evacuees. Joel (pronounced Joe-L) Wilridge, who was a shower-maintenance worker for the Flying J Travel Plaza on Interstate 10 in Orange, “adopted” several Katrina families literally camped out at the truck stop for days.

“I wanted to do my part to help them,” Wilridge told me in September 2005. “I wanted to bring a family home with me. God has definitely brought us together.”Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Wilridge not only opened her own home to evacuees, she recruited her mother, her sister, and adult daughters’ to serve as hostesses. LeRoy Franklin, Claire Brown, Edruth Segura, and Latara Brown, all of New Orleans, sought refuge in the home of Wilridge’s mother, Muriel Julian.

“The people here are very compassionate and friendly, and that goes for the white and black people,” Brown said. At the time of the interview, Brown was a social service counselor for the state of Louisiana.

It was sad that former Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco and former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin had to rely on the federal government to decide whether or not to evacuate thousands when a major hurricane churned in the gulf. Despite it all, the nonprofit organizations, churches, and caring citizens helped those who were able to escape Katrina’s wrath. Katrina is a clear reminder that can get along and help each other in these situations despite our differences. Let’s not wait until a natural disaster to prove what we all know is inside of us. May God bless you and keep you safe.

Cutline: “We are family” is one of several stories written by Tonya Andris, former general assignment reporter for The Orange Leader. Orange, Texas, a city of 20,000 in southeast Texas, was one of several Texas cities along Interstate 10 that welcomed evacuees of Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005.

Tonya Andris is managing editor of Inside The Pew. She is a former newspaper journalist and resident of Plano, Texas. You may reach her at pewnews@aol.com.

#post-3619 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

Youth engagement summit comes to Dallas Baptist; spoken word ministry preps for ‘Rhetoric’

Published by:

By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

In Carrollton – Holy Arms Ministries will play host to a Community Response Intervention Event on July 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Carrollton Public Library, 4220 N. Josey Lane/E. Hebron Parkway in Carrollton. The event is free and open to the public. The event will bring awareness to child safety. The Child Advocacy Center of Denton County. Call 972-822-9408 for more information or visit www.holyarm.org.watch Captain America: The First Avenger 2011 movie online now

In Los Angeles – Passion 4 Christ Movement will hold RHETORIC 2015, billed as the world’s largest Christian Preston Perry and Jackie Perryspoken word event, on Aug. 7 starting at 7 p.m. at Cottonwood Church, 4505 Katella Ave. in Los Alamitos. Cost is $20. To learn more about this exciting ministry, visit http://www.p4cm.com or view on YouTube.

In Waxahachie – Southwest Assemblies of God University will hold its diaper dandy camp for boys and girls ages four to 10 years old on July 24 and July 25 from 9 a.m. to noon.  The camp will be held on Sheaffer Gymnasium on the university’s campus.  Sign-up on the day of the event is welcome.  For more information call the Athletics Office at (972) 825-4672. Cost is $50 per camper.

In Dallas – On July 11, World Vision will host its fourth annual Youth Engagement Day for youths and adults from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Sadler Global Missions Center on the campus of Dallas Baptist University, 3000 Mountain Creek Parkway. Free event but registration is required. Lunch will be provided. Organizers say the event is appropriate for those entering grades 8-12 and students entering college and those completing their first year of college. Contact Rafael Munoz at 972-790-1204 ext. 2228 for more information.

In Anaheim, Calif. – The Harvest Crusades with evangelist Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, will return to Southern California for the 26th year. From Aug. 18 to Aug. 30 at Angel Stadium, the SoCal Harvest will feature a message of hope and contemporary Christian entertainment each night, including THIRD DAY, Jeremy Camp, Phil Wickham, and Lecrae. The free event will be broadcast live via the Internet at www.harvest.org and daily blog accounts of the crusade will also be made available. Updates about the Harvest outreach will be posted on Facebook (www.facebook.com/harvestcrusades ), Instagram (harvest_org or search #HarvestSoCal and Twitter (www.twitter.com/harvest_org ).

In Washington, D.C. – Rodney and Adonica Howard Browne’s Celebrate America 2015 will continue this Rodney and Adonica Browneweekend with Power Evangelism daily until July 11 at 10 a.m. and nightly events at 7 at the Daughters of American Revolution Constitution Hall, 1776 D. St. NW in Washington D.C. The Brownes say this event is for Americans to come together and turn their hearts to Christ, something much needed in this nation. Celebrate America’s promotional clip and the 2014 highlights are available at http://celebrateamericadc.com/media/.

Photo cutlines: Top, Preston Perry, left, and Jackie Hill Perry perform the poem, “The Fall“, during Rhetoric 2014.  Courtesy: Zoe4Life Productions. Bottom: Rodney and Adonica Browne.

Submit church and nonprofit events, Christian concerts, and fundraisers to Jacob Trimmer at pewnews@aol.com for publication.

#post-3541 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

Marschall: Faith of our fathers, distinguished guests’ comments

Published by:

One Nation Under God

By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

SWARTZ CREEK, Mich. (ANS) — We approach the Fourth of July again. I am going to suggest we save a little time apart fromOne Nation Under God our backyard barbecues, or town parades if your town still holds them. In addition to ketchup and mustard, add some of these patriotic condiments to your picnic fare; in addition to cheering the flag or the Boy Scout troop in the parade, cheer some of these quotations.

In fact, in addition to prayers, or the Pledge, at your gatherings — even if your family does not already exercise those traditions — draw together and exchange the quotations by our distinguished “guest bloggers” here. (And they are verified quotations, not those manufactured by well-intentioned patriots or challenged by Snopes and Urban Legend watchdogs.)

Long ago, a Frenchman visited the United States, toured the great cities and smallest towns, and came away astonished. Alexis deToqueville reportedly said, “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Our president has denigrated the term of current popularity, “American Exceptionalism.” He has said that he is sure every nation thinks of itself as exceptional. We can worry that his complete misunderstanding of that term reflects his complete misunderstanding of America. Americans are not exceptional by virtue of birth certificates or driver licenses. American farmers or American firefighters are not different, or “more exceptional,” than human beings anywhere doing their jobs honorably. Heroes are heroes. And American villains can be as villainous than any others.

“American Exceptionalism” refers to the American system. What “is” the USA? The first of nations, not to declare independence, but to enshrine Liberty. To acknowledge God in the foundational documents of its Declaration and Constitution. To be a nation of laws, not men. To be a Republic, not a Democracy: elevating individualism, under law, over institutions and governmental whims. To respect religion, and religious freedom, as vital components of our American system. In revolutionary fashion — yes, the first; exceptional in world history — to protect minority rights but guard against majority tyranny.

Here, our guest bloggers may remind Americans of things we might have forgotten, God forbid.

“The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” George Washington, first Inaugural Address.

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens.” George Washington, Farewell Speech, 1796.

“I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning.” Benjamin Franklin, 1787, Constitutional Convention.

“I’ve lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing Proofs I see of this Truth — That God governs in the Affairs of Men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid? We have been assured, Sir, in t he Sacred Writings, that except the Lord build the House they labor in vain who build it. I firmly believe this…” Benjamin Franklin.

“Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” John Adams.

“I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy; pray for me.” Alexander Hamilton.

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” John Jay, Constitutional framer, First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

“[The Bible] is the rock on which our Republic rests.” Andrew Jackson.

“It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins andRick Marschall transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.” Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation Declaring the National Day of Fasting.

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Abraham Lincoln.

“Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.” United State Supreme Court, 1892.

“Ever throughout the ages, at all times and among all peoples, prosperity has been fraught with danger, and it behooves us to beseech the Giver of all things that we may not fall into love of ease and luxury; that we may not lose our sense of moral responsibility; that we may not forget our duty to God, and to our neighbor…. We are not threatened by foes from without. The foes from whom we should pray to be delivered are our own passions, appetites, and follies; and against these there is always need that we should war.” Theodore Roosevelt

“Can we resolve to reach, learn and try to heed the greatest message ever written, God’s Word, and the Holy Bible? Inside its pages lie all the answers to all the problems that man has ever known.” Ronald Reagan.

These are exceptional credos. It would be an exceptional disaster if a free people would forget such an inheritance. Happy Fourth. GO forth.

Send comments about this column to Marschall at RickMarschall@gmail.com

Early American Christian poetry: Alexander Mack Jr. 

Published by:

By Brian Nixon
Special to ASSIST News Service

Albuquerque, N.M. – For many literary scholars, American poetry did not take flight until the post-Colonial era, falling roughly between the years of 1800-1900. Poets such as William Bryan (1794-1878), Henry Longfellow (1807-1882), John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), and Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) are mentioned with high regard, but culminating with Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) as the exemplars of a uniquely American voice.

All of this may be true.

But the reality is that poetry was present in the New World prior to the post-Colonial era, not only through theAlexander Mack Sr. various native tribes – where verbal histories, religious explanations, and tribal narratives were plethora – but also through the immigration of individuals from various nations.

This era of poetry prior to the 1800s is called the Colonial period.

Colonial poetry covers the years 1620-1800. Poets such as Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), Samuel Danforth (1626-1674), Edward Taylor (1645-1729), and the first black woman to publish her work, Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784), are the normative poets to highlight during the Colonial era.

In all, Colonial poetry was largely religious in orientation, highlighting independence, freedom, and the Puritanical values of hard work, family life, and religious conviction.

Yet tucked in between the more known and celebrated American poets, lies a German-American poet: Alexander Mack Jr.

Alexander Mack Jr.’s life is intricately tied to the plight of the pietist Christian movement his father, Alexander Mack Sr. founded: The Brethren. It is known today through its various off-shoots: Church of the Brethren, Grace Brethren, German Brethren, and the like.

The Brethren began as a group of eight members in the small town of Schwarzenau, Germany, in 1708. After persecution, the Brethren splintered into various regions in Europe, then America. The first Brethren group arrived in America in 1719, by the invitation of William Penn, making Germantown, Penn., home.

In 1729, Alexander Mack Sr. and 59 other families arrived on American soil. From here, the Brethren gained in numbers and influence.

Alexander Mack Jr. was born in 1712 in Schwarzenau. Germany. He traveled with his family at age eight to West Friesdland, Germany; little is known of the Mack family during this period.

As mentioned above, Alexander Mack Jr., came to America in 1729 with his family. After the death of his father in 1735, Mack Jr. went through a crisis of faith, culminating in depression and mental turmoil.

To help give direction to his life, Mack joined the Ephrata Community in 1738. The Ephrata Society was an American Christian group, favoring medieval mystical ideology with monastic overtones: celibacy, strict daily orders, prayer, and Bible study.

Mack left the group in 1746 and returned to the Brethren. In 1749, he married Elizabeth Nise and began a family.

Being an educated man, Mack turned his attention to writing poetry, theology, lyrics, and letters. All of Mack Jr.’s writings were written in the German language.

According to author Samuel Heckman, Mack Jr.’s writings demonstrate a “kind and sympathetic spirit of the man, and show him to have been looked upon as a wise counselor and respected citizen.”

Mack Jr.’s largest non-poetical work was written in 1788. The book’s title, shortened to An Apology, is a defense of radical Christian thought and practice.

During the same year, Mack Jr. began publishing poems, many of which were contributions to Christopher Sower’s printed magazine Geistliches Magazien (translated as The Religious Magazine). Sower is best known as the first American to print the Bible in the New World.

According to Heckman, Mack Jr.’s ultimate purpose for the poems was to highlight “pious living and the source of his inspiration was the sacred Scriptures.” But Heckman is quick to point out that Mack Jr. had broader interests as well, stating, “He had larger learning and culture and interests is evidence through his knowledge of historical characters and events.”

Mack, Jr. died in 1803, leaving a body of work that should be placed with the other Colonial poets, as an instrumental factor in shaping early American poetry, particularly American Christian poetry. Though (by modern standards) the poems seem simple in tone and content, they are examples of Christian piety and demonstrate a deep Christian mind at work, cultivating a poetical and biblical worldview.

I leave you with his poem Number 36 (consisting of 55 stanzas), written to help comfort struggling families. The introduction of the poem, possibly written by Sower, states that Mack Jr. wrote the poem for those “erroneously dwelling in sadness, from out their house of mourning, and of leading them, with God’s blessing, to better thoughts.”

Stanza 36:

Whom love makes strong
Him, also, his affliction strengthens
Whom sorrow weakens
Him, also, his love enfeebles.
For love and sorrow
Are always closely related,
Each always extends to the other its hand
Through the whole of life’s journey
.

Sorrow and love were something Mack Jr. knew much about-experiencing the fruit of both. But as the poem continues, Mack Jr. relishes in the outcome of love’s pursuit:

Stanza 42:

The love of God
Is a fire that is effective;
It leads us, through Jesus Christ,
Into a new world.
It melts the folly out
And melts the wisdom in,
And when we are purified
It leads us all home
.

In a day and age where so many people are struggling – economically, socially, politically, and spiritually – Mack Jr.’s short stanzas (and the larger poem) sound as though they were written yesterday. Maybe it’s time afflicted people pick up the poems of Alexander Mack Jr. and learn how our founding fathers stayed the course amidst great turmoil, trusting in God’s love to see us through, eventually leading us home.

Photo (above): Alexander Mack Sr., founder and first minister of the Church of the Brethren.

Notes: Brethren Press published a book of Alexander Mack Jr’s writings in 1912. It was edited by Samuel Heckman, of which much of this material was gleaned. Additional information on Alexander Mack Jr. can be found in Donald Durnbaugh’s book, The Brethren in Colonial America, published by The Brethren Press. A reprinted version of Alexander Mack, Jr’s poetry can be found on Amazon. Also a free internet version can be read on Internet Archive:http://www.archive.org/details/religiouspoetry01heckgoog

 

Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, minister, and family man. You may contact him at www.briannixon.com

Calcasieu Youth Organization seeks employers for job fair; Outcry 2015 coming to several cities

Published by:

By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

In Lake Charles – Due to the recent concern of economic growth and correlated employment level in the Lakeriot conference Charles area, the Calcasieu Youth Organization (CYO) will sponsor a career job fair, from Monday, June 29 to Friday, July 3 at the Lake Charles Civic Center. The fair will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is sponsored by Sasol North America.

Karew Records recording artist Jonathan Nelson will entertain during the Revival In Our Town (R.I.O.T.) Conference on June 29. Cost is $25. Employers interested in being a part of the fair should contact Pastor Larry Miles, president of CYO, or his wife, Linda, at calcasieuyouth@yahoo.com or (337) 309-5075 to register. There are no entry fees for employers. Deadline is Friday, June 26.

In Baton Rouge – Registration is under way for Masterpiece Kids (Ephesians 2:10), a summer arts camp, sponsored by First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, 529 Convention St. The camp is scheduled for July 6 to July 10 from 8 a.m. to noon daily. Cost is $10 per child. For kids completing kindergarten through sixth grade. Register online at First Baptist.trailer movie Brommers Kiek’n

In Irving – Interested in becoming a foster parent? The Bair Foundation Child and Family Ministries will hold an orientation on June 25 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at its office, 4425 W. Airport Freeway in Irving. Call 972-957-0030 for more information.

Outcry Tour 2015 is coming to the following cities on these dates: Pittsburgh (July 25); Washington, D.C. (July 26);Hillsong UNITED Greensboro, N.C. (July 27), New Orleans (July 29); Nashville (July 30); Atlanta (Aug. 1); Miami (Aug. 2); St. Louis (Aug. 4); Tulsa (Aug. 5); and Houston (Aug. 6). Performers vary by location and include Hillsong UNITED (pictured right), Kari Jobe, Bethel Music, Passion, Lauren Daigle, and Trip Lee. Guest speakers include Nick Hall and Shaun Groves. For ticket information and venue locations, visit www.outrytour.com.

In Katy – The Katy Christian Women’s Connection will host monthly Prayer Connections on July 9 and August 13 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.  Join in praying for our family, friends, military, city and country.  Please call 281-232-8338 for locations.

Submit church and nonprofit events, Christian concerts, and fundraisers to Jacob Trimmer at pewnews@aol.com for publication.

#post-3513 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

Suspect in shooting at Charleston AME church apprehended

Published by:

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)

#post-3482 .CPlase_panel {display:none;}

Newcombe: Five distinct phases of Jefferson’s religious life

Published by:

Thomas Jefferson

Editor’s note: This is the final installment in a three-part series inspired by the book, “Doubting Thomas?: The Religious Life and Legacy of Thomas Jefferson” (Morgan James Publishing, Nov. 4, 2014) is co-authored by Mark A. Beliles, Ph.D. and Jerry Newcombe, D.Min.

By Dr. Jerry Newcombe
Special to Inside The Pew

In the book, “Doubting Thomas?” we show that Jefferson went through five distinct religious phases in his life. In the first one, which lasted until 1788, he was by all signs that weJerry Newcombe can tell a practicing, believing Trinitarian Christian. This included in 1776 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence and 1777 when he wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (passed in 1786).

In 1777, Jefferson helped establish an evangelical church. This was the Calvinistical Reformed Church of Charlottesville. The patriotic Rev. Charles Clay, ordained as an Anglican, was an evangelical and the pastor of that church. For the first time in print ever, our book publishes two of Rev. Clay’s gospel sermons. Jefferson financially supported this church and wrote up its by-laws, a copy of which is included in our volume.

Both the Declaration and the Virginia Statute rest on theological foundations. Our nation’s birth certificate adopted July 4, 1776 states that our rights come from the Creator. What God giveth, the state is not free to taketh away. The Declaration of Independence says that we have God-given rights and they are not up to debate. The Virginia Statute begins with the statement that God has created the mind free. When government seeks to enforce religious conformity of belief or practice, all it does is “beget habits of hypocrisy.” Furthermore, says Jefferson, this is a “departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion.” Because Jesus, “the holy author of our religion,” gave us religious freedom, who are we to deny it to others?

Many scholars say the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was a forerunner to the First Amendment. Jefferson and his compatriot James Madison were heroes to the evangelicals in their day because they were champions of religious freedom—not oppression of religion.

Later, Jefferson went through some doubting phases. Near the end of his life, we find him thinking in Unitarian ways about God, Jesus, the Trinity. But even in the last phase of his life, he was privately doubting, while publically attending Trinitarian worship services, once the Episcopal church reopened in Charlottesville.

To be sure, by the end of his life, Jefferson seemed to question some of the key doctrines of the Christian faith. But many commentators tend to ascribe these beliefs for all of his 65 adult years. In reality, Jefferson was a constantly developing and changing person of faith.

Furthermore, the real important question is: Are the policies of today that are essentially fashioned in his name in line with what he himself would agree to? We think our book shows that they are not.

Jefferson did not view himself as an atheist nor a Deist; but he rather saw himself as one trying to save Christianity, as he understood it, from centuries of corruptions.

THE JEFFERSON BIBLE

Any fair reading of the faith of Thomas Jefferson should take in all sides of the story. When we examine Jefferson and the Bible, we see that he was overall a student of the Scriptures. We also see that he had bought into the philosophy, prevalent in Unitarian circles (and even some of the Restoration circles, popular in his area of Virginia in that day), that the Bible we have is corrupted. One of the leaders of the Restoration church movement was Alexander Campbell. He was anti-Trinitarian and anti-Calvinist and said that he wanted to save “the Holy Scriptures from the perplexities of the commentators and system-makers of the dark ages” and therefore (similar to Jefferson), published his own edition of the New Testament in 1826 to correct the alleged flaws and perversions. Campbell, however, is still treated today by the evangelical world as a legitimate Christian in American history. But Jefferson has not been treated with the same deference as Campbell. We believe they should be treated the same, but perhaps Jefferson with more grace since he was not trained in theology.

Jefferson felt that, despite such (alleged) corruptions, the morality of Jesus was the finest the world has ever seen. So, without getting into any metaphysical debates or issues, he wanted to focus his personal study on a digest of “the philosophy of Jesus.” Initially he did so in 1804 in an edition that he said, in his subtitle, was for the use of the Indians.

Later in 1819 or 1820, for his own use, he enlarged it about a third more and called it “the Life and Morals of Jesus.” This one included columns with the Greek, Latin, and French versions, as well as the King James Version of these various sayings of Jesus. Not all the miracles of Jesus were deleted from either version, however.

The skeptics of today who try to drive the Bible completely out of our schools today and out of the public arena often hide behind Jefferson to do their dirty work. I would love to see those same skeptics become regular readers of the moral teachings of Jesus that Jefferson was. Some reports indicated he studied Jesus and His teachings all the time, virtually every day. I cannot imagine that being the case among the atheist-type groups constantly suing to keep knowledge of the Good Book from impacting society today.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, not appear to me so pure as that of Jesus.” (To William Canby, September 18, 1813). So although Jefferson had an unorthodox approach to the Gospels, it is still a matter of public record that he greatly appreciated the teachings of Jesus Christ.

JEFFERSON AND THE CLERGY

Most clergy in Jefferson’s lifetime were not antagonistic to him. Only later did this begin to be popular in some historical works of clergy.

And similarly Jefferson was not universally opposed to the clergy. His anti-clericalism was clearly selective and focused, and for biographers to not make that distinction is unfair to Jefferson. Indeed, those that fail to make the distinction become the allies of his political enemies. Jefferson’s understanding of religious freedom is held by the vast majority of American evangelicals to this day. We do not favor a state church. Nor did he.

Despite outrageous comments from the pulpit during the acrimonious 1800 election, any fear that the people of New England may have had that they should hide their Bibles in case Jefferson were elected president proved completely baseless. The accusations against Jefferson’s faith in the 1800 election were not true. Disestablishing a state church is not the same thing as opposing a church.

Ironically, today, the secularists, often in Jefferson’s name, are creating a new state religion—a religion of atheism and humanism that has no problem squelching the conscience of believers. Jefferson himself would not agree with that. He once wrote: “On the contrary, we are bound, you, I, and every one, to make common right of freedom of conscience.”

Furthermore, our book documents that Jefferson had very good relations for the most part with hundreds of ministers, the vast majority of whom were Trinitarian Christians. We also document that he donated generously to all sorts of Christian causes.

SEPARATION OF GOD AND STATE?

The secularists of today have done a major disservice by twisting Thomas Jefferson’s doctrine of the separation of church and state to mean the separation of God and state. They are trying to remake the U. S. in the image not of its founders, even men like Jefferson (who was not an orthodox Christian), but in the image of the founders of the failed Soviet Union.

Likewise, modern biographers and commentators have misrepresented Jefferson by exaggerating the attacks of clergy against him and ignoring the overwhelming number of favorable relationships. They have fabricated a dominant and simplistic image of anticlericalism that is misleading and false. If any of this is done by those with a political agenda, we hope the reader will realize that there is no historical accuracy to the view that Jefferson hated the Christian clergy and wanted society purged from their influence.

CONCLUSION

While Jefferson was clearly not an orthodox believer by the end of his life, it is a myth to say that he was always a skeptic. Furthermore, Jefferson was a champion of freedom OF religion, not of freedom FROM religion.

Dr. Jerry Newcombe is the author/co-author of 24 books including bestsellers George Washington’s Sacred Fire (with Dr. Peter Lillback) and What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (with Dr. Kennedy). Newcombe serves as a co-host, columnist and spokesperson for D. James Kennedy Ministries, where he produces/co-produces more than 60 one hour television specials that have aired nationwide. He has appeared on numerous talk shows as a guest, including “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher” (4x), Fox News Channel, Fox Business Channel, C-Span2’s “Book Notes,” Janet Parshall’s America, Point of View, Moody Radio Network and more! Newcombe also hosts a weekly talk radio PROGRAM on “GraceFM.” He is happily married with two children and a grandchild, and resides in South Florida.

 

Newcombe: Jefferson’s religious views have been misread

Published by:

Jerry Newcombe

Editor’s note: This article is part 2 of a series that focuses on the book, “Doubting Thomas: The Religious Life and Legacy of Thomas Jefferson,” by Drs. Mark A. Beliles and Jerry Newcombe.

By Dr. Jerry Newcombe
Special to Inside The Pew

There has been a massive shift in the understanding of “the separation of church and state” in America. As a nation, we were founded for religious liberty, but now that freedom seems under attack by the forces of a militant secularism.

Just as an example. Recently, in Houston, city officials have sent out subpoenas, demanding certain ministers who have spoken out against homosexuality to hand over their sermons and emails. In Idaho, a husband and wife team who run a wedding chapel might have to go to jail and be fined because they refuse for conscience sake to conduct same-sex weddings. City officials upholding traditional stances on marriage or other issues have lately come under fire.

To paraphrase one professor of law, the First Amendment has been put on a search and destroy mission for any sneaky vestiges of religion left in public places.

Yet our founders, the same men who gave us the First Amendment, hired chaplains who say Christian prayers for the military and the legislatures at taxpayer expense. They proclaimed state and national days of prayer and thanksgiving. Thanksgiving itself is an annual reminder of our nation’s Christian heritage.

What’s happening today is in part because of a misreading of Jefferson, and it is our goal in this book to set the record straight. Suffice it to say that the Thomas Jefferson of history is not the Thomas Jefferson of the ACLU, People for the American Way, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, etc.

The separation of the institution of the church from the institution of the state, properly understood, is a biblical concept and was promoted by some of our founding fathers, including Jefferson and Madison. However, today’s “separation of church and state” is often defined in such ways as to essentially mean “state-sanctioned atheism”—something different than what the founders advocated. Groups like the ACLU actively promote the “state-sanctioned atheism” version of the separation of church and state. Many courts and public officials have bought into this vision, and we read about the results virtually every day in the news.

But is this even what Jefferson wanted? The real answer is no, even in his most liberal, skeptical phase of life. For instance, when he was president, Jefferson attended church on a regular basis at the Christian worship services held in the U.S. Capitol building. You might ask, “But what about the ‘separation of church and state’?” He certainly didn’t understand it in the strict way it is often imposed today. Like the other founders, he understood it to mean that no one national denomination would lord if over the others. No one denomination would become the national church “by law established.”

Dr. Jerry Newcombe is the author/co-author of 24 books including bestsellers George Washington’s Sacred Fire (with Dr. Peter Lillback) and What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (with Dr. Kennedy). Newcombe serves as a co-host, columnist and spokesperson for D. James Kennedy Ministries, where he produces/co-produces more than 60 one hour television specials that have aired nationwide. He has appeared on numerous talk shows as a guest, including “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher” (4x), Fox News Channel, Fox Business Channel, C-Span2’s “Book Notes,” Janet Parshall’s America, Point of View, Moody Radio Network and more! Newcombe also hosts a weekly talk radio program on “GraceFM.” He is happily married with two children and a grandchild, and resides in South Florida.