Category Archives: Pew Talk

How to deal with loneliness at Christmas

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loneliness-on-christmas

By Rusty Wright
Special to ASSIST News Service

MOUNT HERMON, CA – ‘Tis the season to be … gloomy?

Feeling low this Christmas season? You’re not alone. Amid cheery songs, festive parties, gifts and good wishes, many

loneliness-and-christmas

lonely people are crying or dying on the inside. Maybe you’re one of them. I was.

During a horrible year, my wife of twenty years divorced me, my employer of 25 years fired me, and I had a cancer scare. As I drove home one night, lovely Christmas music came on the radio. Melancholy aching evidenced the deep pain of abandonment and loss that I was still processing. No fun.

Blue Christmas

Romantic estrangement, family strife, and bereavement can make your holidays dismal. One of Elvis Presley’s most popular songs was “Blue Christmas.” A lonely crooner mourns heartbreaking lost love. Performers from The Beach Boys to Celine Dion, Loretta Lynn, and Jon Bon Jovi have recorded it.

Does even thinking about that song make you depressed? The spoofed “Porky Pig” version could get you laughing. Google will take you there. But please … wait until finishing this short article to search, OK?!

Several factors can produce Christmas blues. Hectic activity can bring physical and emotional stress. Overspending can produce financial pressure. Year-end reflection and focus on loss can magnify sorrow.

McGill University psychologist Michael Spevack notes, “Over eating and over drinking combined with a decreased amount of sleep is also a formula for extreme emotional swings.” Depression can lead to thoughts of suicide, especially among the socially isolated, he says.

The ‘Empty Chair’

Is your family apart this season by necessity or choice? Maybe an “empty chair” reminds you of your pain. Does Christmas “Ho, Ho, Ho” contrast with your deep anguish?

One widow recalled how she felt during the Christmas after her husband’s death: “Little mattered to me. I didn’t want to hear carols. I didn’t want to be cheered up. I didn’t want to look at perky Christmas cards. I wanted the same thing I’d wanted every day for eight months: the strength to force myself out of bed in the morning, to brush my teeth and to eat.”

One possible influence, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a form of depression the medical community doesn’t completely understand. The Mayo Clinic says genetics, age and body chemistry could be the culprits. Mayo recommends seeing your doctor if you feel down for days and have motivation problems. Symptoms can include changing sleep patterns and appetite, feeling hopeless, contemplating suicide, or seeking comfort in alcohol.

Coping

How can you cope with Christmas loneliness? Some suggestions:

Spend time with people, especially positive ones who lift your spirits. Perhaps you’ll be grateful for their cheer.

Exercise regularly.  Blood pumping can help clear your mind.

Eat right. Chocaholics beware. Overindulgence can mean temporary highs followed by disappointing flab.

Lights on! Enjoy sunlight, outdoors if possible. Brighten up your home and workplace. Light therapy sometimes helps SAD.

Budget your gift spending and stick with your budget. Prevent January bill shock.

Talk about your feelings. Keeping them bottled up can mean anxiety, ulcers, sour disposition, and/or explosion. Need a trusted, listening friend? Try a local church.

Give to others. Volunteer. Medical professor Stephen Post, PhD, is convinced that giving is essential for optimum physical and mental health in our fragmented society. He says some California physicians give volunteerism “prescriptions” to their Medicare patients.

Seek counsel. I used to be embarrassed to obtain professional counsel. Now I recommend it. We all can use good advice navigating life’s storms.

Develop spiritual roots. I’m glad that before my dark days began, I had a friendship with God.

Now, I realize you may not agree with me about spiritual matters. But – with sincere respect for you – may I politely mention a few thoughts that have made sense to me, and which you might wish to consider?

Tired of friends who betray, manipulate, disrespect, or desert you? God won’t. He cares for you, values you, will listen to you and comfort you. You can trust Him. He always wants your best.

One early believer put it this way: “Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?” His point: God loved us enough to send Jesus, his only Son, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our wrong, our sins. What a demonstration of love! I can trust a God like that. Then Jesus rose from the dead so he could live inside us and become our friend.

Your Choice

Would you like to meet Jesus, the best friend you could ever have? Wouldn’t Christmas season be a great time to place your faith in him? You can tell him something like this:

Jesus, I need you. Thanks for dying and rising again for me. Please forgive me, enter my life, and give me eternal life. Help me to become good friends with you and learn to follow your lead.

Did you just trust Jesus to forgive you and enter your life? If so, ask the person or group that gave you this article how you can get to know him better. Even if you’re skeptical or undecided, ask them your questions. I have a hunch they’d love to talk with you.

About the writer: Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents.  He Rusty Wrightholds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

This article first appeared in Answermagazine 15:6, November/December 2008.  Copyright © 2008 by Rusty Wright. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Bestseller or not, we all have a story to tell

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Deuteronomy 31:8, old testament bible scriptures

By Deanna Nowadnick
Special to Inside The Pew

I never expected to write a book. Mom had asked me to write a book, but at the time my boys were little and I couldn’t get a grocery list put together. Later when the boys were in high school, Mom asked again, but I deferred, deanna nowadnick“Writers write books.” After Mom’s death, Dad reminded me that Mom had wanted me to write a book. With no more excuses and time to reflect, I wrote a book. Then I wrote a second book.

When I wrote Fruit of My Spirit, I’d just wanted my boys to know how I met their father. My adult sons knew there was more to the story; they knew I hadn’t been studying in the library that fateful night. Before our discussion digressed into tee-hee moments, I began writing, making our family’s story part of a bigger story, a story shaped by God’s love and faithfulness, not the misplaced priorities of a young 18-year-old.

One story on love became two stories, a second one about joy. Then came one on peace. Soon a fruitful theme developed and I was exclaiming to everyone, “I wrote a book!” Then I wrote another book, Signs in Life, this time sharing driving antics, again connecting stories to a bigger, more important message of God’s love and faithfulness.

At an early book signing, a friend approached me and with a shy smile, her eye sparkling, said, “I have a story to tell…” She went on to talk about her family who emigrated from Norway, first to Canada and then to the United States. Her father died just after their arrival. With five children in tow, the youngest only a year old, her mother embraced a new life in the land of promised opportunity. Irene said her own father had been their Moses, leading them from the old country to the new. She added that her mother had been their Joshua. Then she looked away and said, “I could never write a book.”

Perhaps not. Last fall I met with a book club who’d been using Signs in Life for a devotional.  They’d just finished Maya Angelou’s memoir. At the time a reality star had just published her own memoir. I asked the group about their own stories, wondering aloud where our stories fit in. And then we talked about being part of God’s story, wondering where our own stories fit in. I walked with Moses in my second book, but I’m certainly no Moses. I’ve had struggles in life, but I’m certainly no Maya. But surrounding the cross are all our stories, stories that don’t have to be found somewhere between Genesis and Revelation to matter. They don’t have to appear on Amazon’s best-seller list to count. Our stories are more important than that, because they’re chapters in God’s great story. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar, said, “The genius of the biblical story is that, instead of simply giving us ‘seven habits for highly effective people,’ it gives us permission and even direction to take conscious ownership of our own story at every level, every part of life and experience. God will use all of this material, even the negative parts, to bring life and love.”

You and I may be traveling different roads, but we’re traveling with God’s divine direction, leading us where we’ve chose to go and also where we haven’t. Now that’s a story to tell!

Deanna Nowadnick is the author of two books, Fruit of My Spirit: Reframing Life in God’s Grace and Signs in Life: Finding Direction in Our Travels with God. Both are inspirational memoirs. When not writing, Deanna serves as a registered investment advisor with The Planner’s Edge, an investment advisory firm in Washington State. She’s active in her church, playing the violin Sunday mornings and serving on the leadership team. She loves Bible study and delights in meetings with various women’s groups. Deanna’s a Pacific Northwest native who’s been blessed with a wonderful marriage to Kurt. Deanna is also on Facebook at Deanna Nowadnick—Author, Speaker, Mentor and Twitter @DeannaNowadnick.

 

Perez: ‘Good teacher’ points us toward eternal life

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By Nick Perez
Special to Inside The Pew

“And a ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments:Nick Perez “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal. do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.” And he (the rich ruler) said to him, “All of these I have kept from my youth.”

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he (the rich ruler) heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich” (Luke 18:18-23).

Each and every time I come upon this text, or it is brought to mind, I am floored. But as I think, and ponder, I come to the realization that we aren’t any different than this man. The man came to the Lord and called him a “Good Teacher” he recognized the goodness of the Messiah. Furthermore, Jesus himself was able to discern that he had followed commandments 4-8 (see Exodus 20). However, he still lacked one thing. Jesus commanded him to sell all of his possessions, distribute it among the poor, and follow him. At this, scripture tells us he became “very sad.” How many times has the Lord asked us to rid ourselves of something for his namesake? How many times has the Lord asked us to give something up, for his glory and renown? And how many times has it made us very sad? This man asked the age-old question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told him, and he passed. His possessions, his wealth, his status, they were all too important for him to relinquish at the feet of our Master. What about us? What are we holding on to that God so desperately wants us to hand over to him, all so that we can be true followers of Jesus.

Jesus says in Matthew 6, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6:19-21) And in another place he says, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose (or forfeit) his soul?”

Brothers and sisters, what is the Lord asking of us? In times like today, what is the Lord asking us to hand over for the advancement of the gospel?

Lastly, think about how beautiful the story of the first disciples is. How he called, and they left everything to follow. Think about their journey with Jesus pre-crucifixion and post resurrection. Such a beautiful story of the Lord at work in the lives of people willing to leave it all behind for the work of the Lord.

Photo cutlines:Alien: Covenant movie download

Main: Courtesy of LikeSuccess.com

Middle: Nick Perez

Nick Perez is the host of The Anchored Podcast. He, alongside his brother Dorian, have been called to
produce gospel centered content with a heart for gospel centered resources. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickAnchored.

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Medical doctor’s heart attack led to near-death experience in heaven

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By Mark Ellis
ASSIST News Service

As a staff physician at the University of Texas Health Center he was well acquainted with the symptoms of a heart Landry-Gerry-259x300attack. But this time, the M.D. wasn’t examining someone else – he was grappling with troubling signs of his own.

At home, Dr. Gerry Landry, 55, felt overwhelming fatigue and crushing pain in his chest for more than an hour.

“Denise! This is serious! Please pray!” he called out to his wife.

His wife began to pray after she called an ambulance. She also called Christian friends to pray. “We committed the situation to Almighty God and asked Him to heal me,” he says.

In spite of the excruciating pain, a wave of peace washed over the doctor and his wife after they prayed, a peace that defies understanding (Phil. 4:7).

“All I remember during the ride to the hospital was calling out the name of Jesus, over and over again,” the doctor recalled.

A few years earlier, praying for God’s help would have been last on his to-do list. He was a nominal Christian, devoted to his church, but praying for his patients was not part of his life.

But that changed one day. “I witnessed a young couple praying for a patient of mine, I actually felt God’s presence in the room and was strangely moved. They prayed as though God was their closest friend. I envied them. It started me on a journey, a search for a true, deep, personal relationship with God,” he said.

“Before long, I met Christians who taught and prayed for me to receive the Holy Spirit. After that, Jesus became real to me, and the words of the Bible suddenly came to life.”

Landry entered the same Emergency Room where he had treated hundreds of patients. The doctor in charge showed him his EKG: His inferior coronary artery was completely knocked out.

“The cold clamminess of my hands warned me of collapsing veins,” he noted. “Yet, the sweet presence of Jesus continued to enfold me with His peace.

But as his wife prayed quietly by his side, his heart suddenly stopped beating. “I became acutely aware of my spirit separating from my body and I died – pronounced ‘clinically dead’ at 4:13 p.m.”

Immediately he found himself transported to heaven — a place of dazzling beauty!

“A multitude of radiantly beautiful people surrounded me. In spite of the crowd, I looked around and actually recognized some of my late relatives, as well as some historical figures who had preceded me a long time ago.   We were in the Eternal Now, without past or future and I was perfectly at ease, full of joy.

Read more here.

Photo cutline: Dr. Gerry Landry

 

 

Jesus’ resurrection: Fact or fiction?

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Jesus' empty tomb

By Rusty Wright
Special to ASSIST News Service

MOUNT HERMON, Calif. – At Easter, some might wonder what all the fuss is about.  Who cares?  What difference does it make if Jesus rose from the dead?

It makes all the difference in the world.  If Christ did not rise, then thousands of believers have died as martyrs for aJesus' empty tomb hoax.

If he did rise, then he is still alive and can offer peace to troubled, hurting lives.

Countless scholars – among them the apostle Paul, Augustine, Sir Isaac Newton, and C.S. Lewis – have believed in the resurrection.  We need not fear committing intellectual suicide by believing it also.  Where do the facts lead?

Paul, a first-century skeptic-turned-believer, wrote that “Christ died for our sins…he was buried…he was raised on the third day…he appeared to Cephas [Peter], and then to the Twelve [Disciples].  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred…at the same time, most of whom are still living.”  Consider four pieces of evidence:

  1. The explosive growth of the Christian movement. Within a few weeks after Jesus was crucified, a movement arose which, by the later admission of its enemies, “upset the world.”  What happened to ignite this movement shortly after its leader had been executed?
  2. The disciples’ changed lives. After Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, most of his disciples fled in fear.  Peter denied three times that he was a follower of Jesus.  (The women were braver and stayed to the end.)  Yet ten out of the eleven disciples (Judas committed suicide) were martyred for their faith.  According to traditions, Peter was crucified upside down; Thomas was skewered.  John was boiled in oil but survived.  What turned these cowards into heroes?  Each believed he had seen Jesus alive again.
  3. The empty tomb. Jesus’ corpse was removed from the cross, wrapped like a mummy, and placed in a solid-rock tomb.  A one-and-a-half to two-ton stone was rolled into a slightly depressed groove to seal the tomb’s entrance.

A “Green Beret”-like unit of Roman soldiers guarded the tomb.  Sunday morning, the stone was found rolled away, the body was gone, but the graveclothes were still in place.  What happened?

Did Christ’s friends steal the body?  Perhaps one of the women sweet-talked (karate-chopped?) the guard while the others moved the stone and tiptoed off with the body.  Or maybe Peter (remember his bravery) or Thomas (Doubting Thomas) overpowered the guards, stole the body, then fabricated – and died for – a resurrection myth.

These theories hardly seem plausible.  The guard was too powerful, the stone too heavy, and the disciples too frightened to attempt such a feat.

Did Christ’s enemies steal the body?  If Romans or Jewish religious leaders had the body, surely they would have exposed it publicly and Christianity would have died out.  They didn’t, and it didn’t.

The “Swoon Theory” supposes that Jesus didn’t really die but was only unconscious.  The expert Roman executioners only thought he was dead.  After a few days in the tomb, the cool air revived him.

He burst from the 100 pounds of graveclothes, rolled away the stone with his nail-pierced hands, scared the daylights out of the Roman soldiers, walked miles on wounded feet, and convinced his disciples he’d been raised from the dead.  This one is harder to believe than the resurrection itself.

  1. The appearances of the risen Christ. For 40 days after his death, many different people said they saw Jesus alive.  Witnesses included a woman, a shrewd tax collector, several fisherman, and over 500 people at once.  These eyewitness claims provide further testimony for the resurrection.

As a skeptic, I realized that attempts to explain away the evidences run into a brick wall of facts that point to oneRusty Wright conclusion:  Christ is risen.

The above does not constitute an exhaustive proof, rather a reasoned examination of the evidence.  Each interested person should evaluate the evidence and decide if it makes sense.  Of course, the truth or falsity of the resurrection is a matter of historical fact and is not dependent on anyone’s belief.  If the facts support the claim, one can conclude that he arose.  In any case, mere intellectual assent to the facts does little for one’s life.

A major evidence comes experientially, in personally receiving Jesus’ free gift of forgiveness.  He said, “I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him [or her].”

Worth considering?*     *     *

The New Testament resurrection accounts are in Matthew 27-28Mark 15-16,Luke 23-24, and John 19-21.  Suggestions for further reading:  J.N.D. Anderson, The Evidence for the Resurrection; Frank Morison, Who Moved the Stone?; Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict.

Copyright © 2016 Rusty Wright

Heart attack victim raised from the dead!

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By Charles Gardner
Special to ASSIST News Service

DONCASTER, UK — A man from the Yorkshire town of Doncaster in the north of England, was restored to life after being clinically dead for nearly an hour during hospital treatmentRaised_from_the_Dead has been speaking about his experience at Christian meetings around the country.

But in an exclusive interview with this journalist, Joe Stevenson has now shared his amazing story for the purposes of newspaper coverage.

The “miracle” happened six years ago, and has been verified by the surgeon involved.

Joe was admitted to Doncaster Royal Infirmary for a total knee replacement but, at the initiation of physiotherapy the day after surgery, he suffered a massive heart attack.

For the next 55 minutes he had “no cardiac output and no respiratory effort other than what was maintained by the resuscitation team,” according to Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, Mr. A. S. W. Bruce.

When informed by the patient’s son-in-law that Joe had died, his church friends began to pray – not for the Lord to raise him up, but for his family to be comforted.

Then, amazingly, his heart started beating again – “spontaneous cardiac output and respiratory effort were returned,” said Mr. Bruce – and he was in a coma for the next 72 hours. But there was no brain damage and, although initially suffering acute renal failure, this completely settled in time.

“Having seen him in clinic, he has made an uneventful recovery,” Mr. Bruce added in a letter dated Jan. 25, 2011.

Now 75 and in continuing good health, Joe lives in Coniston Road, Askern, with his wife, Wilsie.

Dr. David Garrard, a senior lecturer at the Assemblies of God Bible College at Mattersey, Doncaster, and a fellow member at the time of the Reachout Christian Fellowship at Christ Church in central Doncaster, said: “The miracle of the resurrection power of Christ is evidenced in what happened to Joe.”

Joe was admitted for his operation [surgery] on Dec. 9, 2009. The op itself went smoothly, but it was the following morning, as he lay recovering, that he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Wilsie called their five children, who immediately dropped everything and raced down from all over the country. Then the doctor announced: “We have a pulse, but don’t build your hopes.”

“The medical team had fully expected Joe to be a vegetable due to no oxygen supply to his brain for all that time,” Wilsie recalled. “And though his kidneys were not initially functioning, with regular dialysis on the cards, they eventually returned to normal, to the delight of the medics.”

Joe has since revealed that he had a series of extraordinary visions during his hour of “death.”

This included a scene of “total chaos on the earth” with everyone struggling for power and some arguing over clothing and possessions which had become worthless as money no longer had any value.

“The Lord showed me armies fighting one another, even beginning to kill their own people; young men and women taking people into alleyways, killing them at random and running away, laughing. I saw pillaging and rapes.

“Then I saw millions of dead bodies inside a massive lean-to, all in different uniforms. And giant earth-moving machines pushing the bodies into a quarry – something like a picture of Armageddon described in the Bible.” (Revelation 14.20)

Dr. Garrard explained: “I have no difficulty at all accepting what Joe communicates [of his visions] because… they can be backed up by many portions of Scripture.”

Joe and Wilsie are currently members of the Millennium Christian Fellowship in Hemsworth [a former mining town in West Yorkshire], meeting at the YMCA.

Joe said that in the weeks leading up to his surgery, he had sought a much closer relationship with God as a result of which he experienced “a deep cleansing and a strengthening of spirit.”

He now realizes that we all need to get back to basic Bible principles of loving one another as one body, with Jesus as head.

Round: Make the most of your new year

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“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well”—3 John 2(NIV).

By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

A New Year has arrived and with it the usual resolutions to lose weight, get in shape and quit smoking. Some look for quick fixes through crash diets, new exercise crazes or so-called “magical” pills while others seek a solution through surgery, bringing with it a host of possible complications and side effects.

Growing up in the 50s and 60s, I don’t recall seeing as many overweight people as is prevalent today. I also don’t remember seeing a fast-food restaurant on almost every corner. MyCarol Round mother was a stay-at-home mom who cooked healthy meals. When we did eat out, it was a treat. Today, eating out seems to be the norm as the choice of restaurants and fast-food places have grown as fast as our waistlines and hips.

Instead of setting ourselves up for failure by making resolutions each January, what if we turned to scripture for a permanent solution to our health problems?  What if we chose to do the following?

Make wise choices concerning our health. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what the wisest choices are when we get conflicting information via the media. We must educate ourselves through reliable sources, including those from reputable organizations. (see Proverbs 2:6)

Practice self-control.  With an abundance of food choices in our country comes stress. How is that possible? Just walk down a supermarket aisle and check out the options available. It can be overwhelming. Too many choices can lead us to make hasty decisions. We don’t take time to study labels nor educate ourselves about the best food for our bodies. (see Proverbs 25:28)

Honor God with our bodies. How do we do this? By choosing wisely what we eat and drink and letting go of bad habits that lead to disease and early death. (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Ask for accountability. If you’re trying to make healthier choices, seek an accountability partner who will help you stay on track until your new lifestyle becomes a daily habit. (see 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Rely on God’s power rather than our own strength. A new year brings resolve to do better for most of us, hence the word ‘resolution.’ However, we usually set out to accomplish them in our own power. That’s why most people fail. (see Philippians 4:13)

Choose to exercise our bodies. Say the word “exercise” and most people run in the opposite direction. Why is that? Do we equate it with hard work? Is it because we don’t want to make the time, instead preferring to vegetate in front of the TV? Exercise should be fun. Fun? Choose something that interests you and will keep you motivated. (see Romans 12:1)

Quit making excuses. Just do it! (Luke 14:17-18)

Start your New Year right. Commit all of your goals and plans to the Lord. Ask for His direction and guidance for the coming year. Make the most of 2016.

Carol Round is an author, a columnist, and a speaker. To learn more about Carol and her ministry, visit  her website or connect on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Bradshaw: Bragging rights

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Editor’s note: No. 1 Clemson defeated South Carolina, 37-32, on Nov. 28.

By Sherry Bradshaw
Special to Inside The Pew

As I write this blog…I am sitting in my bed…fire going…listening to the hustle and bustle in our home as everyone gets ready for the Clemson-South Carolina game. Biggest game ofSherry Bradshaw the year in most South Carolinians hearts…if they are honest… 🙂

Yes, I am a Clemson graduate and a Clemson fan…of course I am. Since I married a former USC football player some ask if I am still a Clemson fan. In my mind I say, “Really?” and wonder why they would think I am not a Clemson fan. After years of being asked this question I have come to the conclusion that because I live in Columbia, and don’t go to every Clemson game, and I don’t heckle people about “whose team is better,” many others have concluded that I must have “crossed over!”

To set the record straight–always have been and always will be a Clemson fan. But I can honestly say that my identity does not rest there. In fact, having our identity wrapped up in what team you pull for or what school you go to or graduated from is absurd to me. I am not at all saying “don’t be a fan or be proud of your school choice!” By all means be a huge fan, supporter and cheerleader for your school…nothing at all harmful about that.

But when it defines you…
your happiness meter is based on wins and losses and
it separates you from being friends with people who don’t see things the way you do…
then there is a REAL PROBLEM in my opinion…
that is when…we need to check the “idol status” in our lives.

Yes, I do love my team and my school. I have observed something over the last 5 or 6 years. I have found it interesting to watch how people, on both sides of the fence, act when their school is on top or on bottom. I have watched, in particular, some of the biggest fans for Clemson and South Carolina as the successes of both schools have varied drastically in the last couple of years.

I especially love to see who wears their colors after the game in the weeks to follow and who still flies their flags. Is it based on wins? Or true love no matter the outcome? I can honestly say that in the last few years of living in Columbia I wore my orange to the gym for four years straight after losing to South Carolina. Yes, on the Monday after the game I continued to sport my colors. My love meter didn’t rest in the win/loss tally.

Where am I going with this…..??????

Don’t let wins/losses determine your joy, your friends, your loyalty. Watch your words…your posts. Check your “idol meter!”

Of course idolatry can be many things…but “sports and the success of OUR team” is a big one. Funny…how hot and cold I have heard the same people be on Coach Spurrier and Coach Swinney.

Love one year and hate the next.

Wow…just Wow…the mentality: “I will love you now if you are winning.”

I am so glad I am not hated or loved by family and friends based on my performance. I encourage you first, to remain a “loyal and true fan to your school, win or loss”. Second, what really comes from boasting? Can’t we just let the record speak in any year without “showboating” like we were the ones who suited up and did the work?

Everyone is going to know the outcome and the score. Do we really have to “roar” or “cock-a-doodle-doo” when our team wins?

If you disagree…oh well…. just saying…… true peace, joy, and contentment in life isn’t at all derived from wins from your team. It is fleeting, not lasting at all. If you are a Clemson or a Carolina fan, just look at the last few years. Both have won and both have lost. What is your joy meter based on? Where does your joy come from?

I encourage you to look for joy and contentment in things that last….that aren’t fleeting. I encourage you to “re-purpose your fan-ship” into a growing and thriving relationship with Christ. One that could bring you to “raising your hands in worship on Sunday” instead of just in the “stands on Saturday”.

Six years ago it was apparent to me that I could not say I was a bigger fan of the Lord than Clemson if I treated one differently in my praise. “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks….” (see Luke 6:45). I needed to examine my actions and I realized that when others looked at my life they would probably have said…”your actions are so LOUD…I can’t hear what you are saying!”

What is your heart? It will always overflow into your words and actions! Psalm 33:1, “Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.”

Columbia, S.C. native Sherry Bradshaw is author of The Front Nine: Making Your Shots Count in Life (Life Bridge Books), and founder of Back 9 Ministries.

Vallot-Baskin: Woman. Warrior. Witness.   

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By Lori Vallot-Baskin
Special to Inside The Pew

We women prepare for the day by applying our makeup, fragrance, and clothing. We contour our faces to perfection, enhancing our God-Lori Vallot-Baskingiven beauty. We spray a fine mist of fragrance over our bodies and we adorn our frames with the right attire to complement our bold, beautiful, and bountiful curves. We take care to choose a shoe that speaks so that we do not have to. Our accessories are exquisite, leaving admirers and onlookers stunned. We spend hours on end achieving a flawless look, right? Imagine if we put this much effort into preparation for every aspect of lives.

Now that I have your attention, hello beautiful! Yes, you! Woman, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Woman, you are more than a conqueror. Being fearfully and wonderfully made and being more than a conqueror, comes with some responsibility as you might imagine. For instance, you must overcome forgetfulness. Unlike your lip-gloss or your mobile phone, your clutch, sweater or planner, there are some things that you just simply must not leave home without. We all do it, in a hurry, rush, or dash for the door; we realize we have left something important at home.

If you knew you were going into battle, wouldn’t you want the necessary tools and resources for the event? Well, there is a war going on and we, as warriors, must be equipped for battle at all times. You see, the media outlets will not show coverage of this war. You must simply be prepared for your time to battle should you be called. After all, we are revered for our strength, courage, and endurance. If you are up to the task

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17)

My prayer for you, my sisters, is that you face each day boldly, that you are equipped and clothed for battle. May God bless the women warriors who stand as living witnesses attesting to the might, power, and strength of our God. I pray that God clothes you with beauty, strength and dignity and that you are always ready to conquer the day no matter the war or how formidable the opponent in your way.

I am a woman. I am a warrior. I am a witness.

Lori Vallot-Baskin, founder of On Fire to Inspire is a speaker, mentor, vocation trainer and personal brand strategist with 10 years of experience. She is dedicated to impacting and inspiring women to identify their unique and God-given gifts and talents for use in the workplace, their communities, their churches, with their families and in their personal lives by a three-point strategy: Motivate. Educate. Empower. Visit Lori’s blog and connect with her on Facebook (On Fire to Inspire), Instagram (@onfire2inspire), and Twitter (@onfiretoinspire).

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

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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.