Category Archives: Pew Talk

I forgive because He forgave me

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Over the past 13 years of my walk with Christ, I have heard several sermons pertaining to forgiveness. As a young Christian, I had to learn about true forgiveness. I was never in situations where I had to forgive someone for a terrible act against me – until I reached my late 20s. The act included a close family member, and it had harmful ramifications to several members of my family. I was puzzled by something – the people in my family who professed believers are the ones who are holding to the past wrong at this very moment.

It puzzles me. Do they not understand what Christ said in Matthew 6: 14-16, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (NIV). Just imagine what life would be like if Christ never forgave us for our wrongdoings? No person is perfect; we all make mistakes. There is no need to question why someone hurts you. As a Christian, it is our duty to pray to God to bring solace and to pray for the person who hurt you. The Lord told Moses in Leviticus 19:18, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD” (NIV).

To make matters worse, some of them question why I talk positively about this individual. I explain to them it is not about taking sides, the issue is letting go of the past and moving on. I am joyful for life and blessed, while there is a part of their souls that protrudes disdain. I can tell in the way they talk and the way they treat others that there is blockage. These are hurt people. But, luckily for them, I pray for their soul to heal like mine did. Holding on to past transgressions is not good for mental, physical, and spiritual health. Our God is more than willing to take those burdens off us. Why hold on to negative energy? As T.D. Jakes said, “Let it go.” These lukewarm feelings toward a family member should not become a generational curse.

The most powerful testimonies of forgiveness I have witnessed are those of the family members of a murdered loved one. On Feb. 27 in Chardon, Ohio, 17-year-old T.J. Lane opened fire on a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table at Chardon High School. He killed Demetrius Hewlin, Russell King Jr., and Daniel Parmentor and wounded two others.

In an ABC News interview, Hewlin’s mother, Phyllis Ferguson, said she forgave Lane. “I would tell him I forgive him because, a lot of times, they don’t know what they’re doing. That’s all I’d say. … You have to forgive everything. God’s grace is new each and every day,” she said.

I am sure it was difficult, but the family can rest assured Christ has taken care of the situation. As commanded, I don’t forget what happened because it is a part of my history but I surely forgive.

Tonya Whitaker of Plano, Texas, is a former newspaper journalist and copy editor. She is managing editor of Inside The Pew. Follow Tonya on Twitter @twhitaker1974 and @pewtalk.

Knowing the difference

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By Pastor Grelan A. Muse
Inside The Pew

When I was a boy growing up in Amite, La., my siblings and I had friends that would come over and play. We would always like to play games, especially with the ones we hadn’t seen in a long time. Calling myself funny, I would love to trick the younger kids. The older buds would not fall for it, but the less experienced children would. The question was, “If you had to believe in someone would it be

Grelan Muse

Satan or the devil?”  My brothers and sisters would stand around that kid looking and waiting for the answer so we all can laugh and talk about it to others.

Not comprehending the difference, the kid would stand there thinking, and he would say “Satan.” We would laugh at the answer provided and every time we seen that kid, we would make fun of him until it was not funny anymore. I believe some of us are just like that kid – confused. They don’t know the difference between loving the things of the world and the love of the Father.

At first, I didn’t understand why we allow our kids to walk around with their pants below their waist, let the youth get tattoos on their body and just about every youth that you see wants to rap. This is the ways of the world. Christian parents are working hard to buy the pants and shirts for the youth to wear, giving them money to buy music and all other things of the world. So this is why one kid kills another for the shoes that is on his feet. Parents cry and tell the youth that they work hard to give them the things they want and they repay them by disrespecting them by talking back and not going to church and getting involved in drugs and alcohol. But there is one thing the Bible says about worldly love. In 1 John 2:15-16, the author says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

When it comes to the Scripture, it is a clear-cut line. Some Christian parents try to keep their children up with the Joneses when God doesn’t want this for anyone. Instill in your children that things of the world are not the true treasures to strive for. Make the Almighty the ultimate gift. Lust of the flesh and eyes divides homes and families. Pride of life drives corporations into the ground. All these misfortunes are not an imagination of one’s mind. These things are not of the Father, and we need to avoid them at all costs.

I go back to the young child back in Amite, La., who was fooled mainly because he didn’t know better. My fellow Christians, don’t be blinded by Satan. Ignorance is not bliss. Stand behind the truth. What might look good isn’t always what it seems. I heard a sermon one time that being a God-fearing person is one of the hardest things. We are bombarded with images and news that takes away from God’s law. What are we to believe? Remember, culture changes. God’s word doesn’t. Amen.

Grelan A. Muse Sr. is founder of Emanuel and The Mainline Ministries Inc.. and Inside The Pew, a nonprofit organization based in Baton Rouge, La. Follow him on Twitter @gremuse.

The tyranny of enough

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Editor’s note: The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inside The Pew staff.

By Paul Hughes
Special to Inside The Pew

I think more was devised by the Devil, with America as his down line. Props to Satan: distribution has been dynamic and deep. Mephistopheles is nothing if not efficient.

More money?  You’re a go-getter, bootstrapping, entrepreneurial whiz-bang wunderkind; you’re going places man.  Also, we’re having a party and you’re invited.

More abs?  You’re sexy and desirable and doable. Evolutionally speaking you’re the kind accumulation of cells all the other stars-upon-thars Sneetches want to mate with.  Also, you’re cool.

More votes?  You win.  Also you’re right.

Mephistopheles is nothing if not persistent.

Of course it goes back to Eden.  Everything does and we all try.  Adam and Eve wanted more …  and they got it, too.  Mephistopheles is nothing if not consistent.

The Slanderer is always happy to sign us up — and those who know me know I bear in my body the evidence of one man’s inordinate desire for more. My friends, such things should not be.

Because the Bible is as the kids say all about contentment.  So much so that godliness doesn’t get to stand on its own: godliness with contentment is great gain.

Be ye satisfied with yo’ stuff.

Psalm 23 … ”I won’t lack nothin’.”

Matthew 6 … “Don’t look for this stuff.”

1 Timothy 6 … “If we get something, maybe even this stuff, we’re OK.”

And yet … not so — be not so swift to agree.  Search the scriptures and see if these things are so.  Too often as Christian speaks, be he pastor-writer or web logging apologist writer, he draws false dichotomies to prove this point of his.

Bad writer.  Bad, bad writer.

For God is an Othering God, and even immense wealth can’t threaten He who rides herd over mountain ranges.

Psalm 23 … “My flagons are full and flooding onto the floor.”

John 12 … “They had enough money for the embezzler, too.”

Philippians 4 … “I can handle all, and I can handle nothing.”

The idea, rather, is awareness of abundance: what the Bible calls peace.  The idea welcomes, nay seeks, God’s action in our life: what the Bible calls grace.

Or both.

[Seventeen epistolary greetings — 17! — call for this in Christian’s life.]

It is knowing, as the pastors say, not that God will keep saints from dying, but that even if we die He will keep us.

It is not about enough at all — and that is the problem. We’re jazzed to have more than enough, proud to have less than enough, and worry if we have enough.






Nearing the end of life, C.S.  Lewis said if the Lord let him keep writing, blessed be He.  If not …

Blessed be He.


Paul Hughes writes in Southern California. He edited Think and Live: Challenging Believers to Think and Thinkers to Believe and wrote Tebow: Throwing Stones. This post first appeared at, revised for publication in Burning and Bleeding: Efforts on Faith and Culture. Follow @PoetAndPriest on Twitter. Thank you for reading.

Pew devotional: You are valuable

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By Nick Perez
Inside The Pew

When we read the word of God we lose grasp of the idea that the Lord is speaking directly to us. The word of God is the will of God and it’s

Nick Perez

God’s heart poured out to us. The word shows us we are valuable to God. Our value to God goes beyond human understanding, for example; Psalm 8:5 says, “For you have made him a little lower than the angels, And you have crowned him with glory and honor.” The word “angels” in Hebrew is Elohim, meaning God. This alone shows how valuable we are to God. Another prime example is 2nd Samuel 14:14, “… yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.” Here God shows us that our lives are so valuable to Him that even when we’ve departed from the Way, he devises a plan to bring us back. I’m sure that many of us remember that person who invited us to church or to some kind of fellowship event. So a word of encouragement is this: When somebody puts you down, or when you start feeling down about any situation life comes with; remember that your life is valuable to God, and nothing could ever

Massachusetts resident Nick Perez, 19, is on fire for Jesus and looking to spread His truth, the gospel. He is a product of grace, a servant and son, for His glory. Visit Perez’s blog at

Destined to sin or destined to glorify?

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Editor’s note: The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inside The Pew staff.

By Jane Reed
Special to Inside The Pew

Eve’s original sin defined the way we sin today. There is a sequence to her sin that has resonated through the ages and continues to this day in each of us.  Notice how Eve sinned: SIGHT: Eve saw that the tree was good. She saw the fruit and it looked good. PLEASUREABLE: She gazed at the tree.  She really wanted that fruit.  She began to lust over the fruit. TAKE: It was not enough to

Jane Reed

look at the tree; she had to have the fruit on that tree, so she took it. COVER: Eve and Adam attempted to cover their guilt and shame form the Lord with fig leaves. This sequence is set in motion each time we give into sin.  We see it, it looks good, and whether right or wrong we take it and then we attempt to cover our guilt to ease our conscience.

Amazing isn’t it?  Every sin we commit follows along these guidelines. Knowing this sequence of events can increase our awareness when facing sin. When we accepted Christ we became filled with His Holy Spirit and with that filling came discernment and strength. It is through the Holy Spirit that we can become aware of temptation and recognize the sin sequence of events when it begins to take place. We can then pull on the strength of the Lord to stop the sequence before it continues any further.

Notice the sequence and discernment in this example:

A woman enters a clothing store and begins to admire the clothing. Everything in the store is beautiful, but one piece of clothing catches her eye. She cannot take her eyes off the blouse. She picks it up and admires it. She really wants this blouse but does not have

the money to purchase it.  She becomes tempted to steal the blouse. It would be easy to put it in her purse and walk out as the sales lady is nowhere in sight and there are no cameras. She begins to feel discernment in her heart.  The idea of taking the blouse without paying begins to bother her.  It’s not right and she knows it.

This story can have two different endings. One, she puts the blouse back and leaves the store without it. Two, she steals the blouse.  In the first ending she has successfully listened to the discernment of the Holy Spirit and in the second she has ignored it. What would your ending be?

In the simplest of temptations to the strongest of temptations, the Holy Spirit dwells within us to guide our actions.  We do not have to follow the sequence Eve created; we can break it and make right choices.  When you are faced with temptations, take a moment to listen to the Holy Spirit and make your choices based upon how your actions will show glory to God.

Jane Reed, a Louisiana resident, is the founder of Blessed Life Ministries ( and the Editor-in-Chief of Blessed Life Magazine. Jane founded Blessed Life Ministries for the purpose of spreading the word of God so that others can feel the beauty and blessing of God in their lives. It is her prayer that this ministry will touch each person, whom it comes in contact with, allowing God’s word to penetrate their souls, bringing them to a closer walk with Christ.


Singer knows Whitney’s story all too well

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By Barry McGuire
Special to ASSIST News Service

Whitney Houston slips away to the other side of life returning to the source from which she came. What a tragedy for us, the ones she’s left behind. I can’t help but think back on my early years as a recording artist – 300 shows a year for three years in a row. Up at 5 a.m., off to the airport, five or six hours in the air, a quick check in, a shower, then off to the venue for a sound check and the show. Then back to my room around midnight for five or six hours of sleep until the next morning when it starts all over again, day after day, week after week, year after year. When we weren’t traveling, we were recording.

If you have talent, and the music business can make money off of that talent, they will literally chew you up, swallow you whole, and

Barry McGuire

when you’re finished, they’ll defecate you into a ditch on the side of the road while all the time looking for their next “meal.”

The pressure of my schedule was crushing me, and then one day a friend turned me onto marijuana. What a relief it was to be able to mellow out, sit back, and let reality unfold. Everything was easier, funnier, and the food was tastier. The colors were brighter, and the sex was more sensual. It was a life-changer for me. What started off with one or two joints a day wound up with me smoking a half a dozen or more. By the end of the day, I would be so laid back from the grass, that I started using amphetamines to jack me up for the show. Then after the show, I’d be flying so high I’d use barbiturates to slow me down so I could get to sleep.

Because many of my friends were doing the same thing, I didn’t think my lifestyle was that bizarre, but then over the years, we lost so many – Cass Elliot, Hoyt Axton, Timmy Hardin, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, John Philips, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Lenny Bruce and those are just the famous people we know of. There are dozens more whose names were never known.

So many artists are hard-wired, manic-depressives and they use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate because they don’t want to feel the way they feel.

Mental illness is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. So please my friends, if you know anyone lost in a world of drugs and alcohol, do everything you can to get them help.

For me, help came through a spiritual awakening. I discovered the Christ living within me and around me. I had reached a point where I daily considered suicide, when I heard a small voice whispering within me telling me that it actually wanted me to commit suicide, but not biologically. It wanted me to die, but not physically. It assured me that if I were to totally lay down my life, just as though I had actually died, just let go and let God, that reality, itself, would lift me up, cradle me, guide me and direct me onto a life-sustaining path that was and still is beyond my ability to imagine.

So one night in May of 1971, I did that very thing. Barry McGuire died while lying on the floor of a house filled with friends, all laughing, smoking dope, eating peyote, drinking champagne and organic orange juice. Oh yes, it had to be organic! We certainly didn’t want any of those chemicals in our orange juice.

The next day when I woke up, I asked the little voice within me. “Now what do I do?” And it told me to leave Hollywood and return to Fresno, Calif., where my Uncle lived. He was an Armenian man who knew Christ, and had loved me since I was a little boy. That was my new beginning. That’s when I was truly born again. Just like a caterpillar dying to itself, and being birthed again as a butterfly, just as a tadpole letting go of all that it is, so it can become a new creation, and experience a whole different level of reality.

That gift is waiting there for every man, woman and child on the planet. The tragedy is, so few of them know it. And how will they ever discover this wonderful gift of forgiveness and life, if they only see judgment streaming from Christian eyes and condemnation screaming from Christian lips? Jesus Himself said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, “Where are your accusers?” And when she looked around, they were all gone.

And her reply to Christ was, “There are none.” And with love-filled eyes, He gazed upon her saying, “I don’t accuse you either. Go, and sin no more.” Love never forgives because it doesn’t have to. It never takes offense and keeps no record of wrong doing.

Probably the only Christ that Whitney ever saw was the judgmental, finger-pointing, Bible-bashing, hell and brimstone fundamental Christianity that we’ve all come to think of as “the church.” How could Whitney ever be condemned for rejecting the false image of Christ that she’d been exposed to? But now, in my heart of hearts I know she is having a face to face with Love, Itself and that Love is saying to her, “I don’t accuse you either Whitney, be at peace, come, live with Me forever.”

Anyway, that’s my take on it. I’m sure there are many different opinions, philosophies and doctrines that look at it from a totally different perspective, but we all choose the path we want to walk, and the path I’ve chosen is a path that doesn’t even recognize an offense. My mandate from God is to Love those around me. I’ve come to know that God is the Judge. Christ is the Forgiver, and all I have to do is Love those whom God brings into my life.

This is just something to consider when you think of Whitney.

Barry McGuire, now 76 years old and married to New Zealand-born Mari, is one of the true survivors of the music business. He had a huge hit in the sixties called “Eve of Destruction,” was lead singer for several years with the New Christy Ministries, played the male lead in HAIR on Broadway, opposite Dianne Keaton, and was responsible for the Mamas & the Papas getting their first record deal. After many years of substance abuse, he became a Christian. You can find out more about his career at or

Marschall: A red-letter day awaits you

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By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

The words of our Savior in red,” some Bibles say on their spines. But what about the words printed in black? I recently posted a picture on Facebook of a tattered Bible, opened to no place in particular, but the two pages looking like a Technicolor spectacular, with notes, revelations, and reminders in its margins. Bookmarks and Post-It notes splayed forth from many spots. Many people mark verses and passages that speak — or shout — to them in their Bibles.

Accompanying this picture I found was the quotation by Charles Spurgeon, “People whose Bibles are falling apart usually lead lives that aren’t.” It reminded me of the country song whose title warned listeners against “dust on the Bible.”

There are some devout people who think that any notes or marks we make in the Holy Bible is a form of desecration, but I am of the

Rick Marschall

school that thinks that scripture, the Holy Word, is also God’s User Manual for Life. I suspect it pleases Him when we are touched by a truth… want to revisit things easily… find ways we can organize the wisdom, commands, and promises… and know it all better.

In a way, margin-notes and color highlighters are not all that different from the old-fashioned versions of the Bible, those “Red Letter” editions. On the spines or title pages, sometimes, we read, “Jesus’ Words in Red.” Just so. Easy to find; quicker to, perhaps, memorize.

Certainly there is utility in highlighting Christ’s words. But even when a kid I used to wonder whether that would suggest to some people that the rest of the Bible was NOT the inspired Word of God, or not AS inspired. If God caused scripture to be written; if the Holy Spirit inspired every word, should not ALL the Bible be printed in red letters? “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the servant of God may be perfect, thoroughly provided for all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17).

Again, just so. Jesus is Savior, but we must resist the temptation, when highlighting only His words, to think that the rest of the Bible might (as many in the world think) “merely” be the thoughts of good men, or well-meaning legends, or less than Holy.

I have been blessed enough to visit some of the world’s great cathedrals, and it was brought to my mind, despite the memorable majesty, that God does not dwell only in grand churches. In fact, we go to church to worship God, not really to meet Him. I have also been profoundly moved in some of the world’s humblest chapels; and, so, I am sure, you have been too. Plus, we are reminded that our very bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, like Bibles we mark and underline, our worship-temples are not remote: they come with us, they are part of us. A fancy Bible can prompt reverence, just as a mighty cathedral can remind us of God’s grandeur. But if it stops there, we sadly are left with counterfeit experiences.

The Bible is, instead, a lamp unto our feet. And when we enter the Temple of Life, so to speak — not some New Age cliché, but in the reality of God’s habitation of every aspect of our lives — then we can experience many “red-letter days” God intends for us.

Rick Marschall is the author of 65 books and hundreds of magazine articles in many fields, from popular culture to history and criticism; country music, television history, biography and children’s books. He is a former political cartoonist, editor of Marvel Comics, and writer for Disney comics. For 10 years he has been active in the Christian field, writing devotionals; co-author of The Secret Revealed with Dr. Jim Garlow. Marschall is a former Director of Product Development for Youth Specialties. He is recipient of the 2008 “Christian Writer of the Year” award from the Greater Philadelphia Writer’s Conference, and produces a weekly e-mail devotional, “Monday Morning Music Ministry.” His e-mail address is: