Category Archives: Pew Talk

Round: Faith or fear: Which would you choose?

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By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you”—Psalm 56:3(ESV).

Does the headline news make you afraid to leave your house? Constantly paying attention to the negative can stop us from living out our faith.

With the constant feed of bad news, some are fearful the end is near. Could it be? Remember, Jesus doesn’t even know. “But no one knowsCarol Round the date and hour when the end will be—not even the angels. No, nor even God’s Son. Only the Father knows” (Matthew 24:36, TLB).

Choosing faith over fear is the only answer. When we choose faith, we are stretched and forced to grow spiritually. In Romans 10:17, Paul says, “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” So how do we build our faith?

First, we must know the Word. In Psalm 119:66, the writer penned these words: “Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.” Knowing God’s Word is our foundation. It’s the beginning of choosing faith over fear. It’s not enough to attend church on Sunday mornings. We must also read, study and memorize His Word, letting it soak into our spirit.

Second, we must obey the Word. James 2:22 puts it this way: “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” When we obey God’s Word, we are confident when confronted by fear. The more often we step out in faith in obedience to God’s Word, the more our faith grows in the Lord.

The third step is speaking God’s Word. Deuteronomy 30:14 states, “No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” Have you ever spoken God’s Word aloud? If you have, you know the power it gives you to let go of fear and of the unknown. There’s just something about repeating Holy Scriptures that propels us forward when we want to give up.

Praying the Word is step four. Hebrews 4:12 says, “The Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword when you speak it in faith!” Some of the best prayers come straight from the Bible. Prayers of great Bible heroes abound as wonderful examples of how to move our faith over a mountain of fear.

Step five is to live the Word. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” As a believer, if you know, obey, speak and pray the Word of God, you will live out your life in faith and not fear.

Pastor Alexander MacLaren once said, “Faith, which is trust, and fear are opposite poles. If a man has the one, he can scarcely have the other in vigorous operation. He that has his trust set upon God does not need to dread anything except the weakening or the paralyzing of that trust.”

Faith or fear—which will you choose?

Photo information: Scripture Art courtesy of Share A Verse.

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.

Northrop: Jesus didn’t come to the world to judge

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By Cynthia Northrop
Special to Inside the Pew

Editor’s note: This is part one of a series of articles developed by Northrop on this topic.

As Christians our job isn’t to judge the world. Jesus came into the world, sent by the Father, to save the world, toCynthia Northrop save those in the world, not to judge them (: “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” And John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”)

We are ambassadors of Christ.  We are His hands and feet and His representatives. As Jesus spoke only what the Father told Him to speak so we are to speak only that which Jesus and the Holy Spirit tells us to speak.

Jesus said if He was lifted up he would draw all (men and women) to Him. As we speak His words, He will still draw all to Him.  This is an immutable spiritual principle sealed by His death on the cross as He paid the debt for our sin).

God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23) and it is God’s loving-kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). It is because of His great love for us that He sent His only son to pay the price for our sinful state.

So while there is time and it is still ‘today’ we share the good news of God’s great love, speaking the truth in love to save people, not to judge them.  I am reminded of the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7-26) when Jesus pointed out her sin (of multiple partners) and yet still offered her ‘living water’ and eternal life.  Or how about the woman caught in adultery and the religious people of the day brought the her to Jesus demanding she be stoned and yet Jesus responded to her by telling her he didn’t condemn her while at the same time encouraging her not to continue in sin. In other words, Jesus spoke the truth in love. Why? Because there is coming a day when we will all stand before the One who judges.

It is interesting to note that immediately following John 12:47, where Jesus says he didn’t come to judge the world but to save it, Jesus continues and tells us, “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day” (John 12:48). And though God will judge us what is amazing is that He also provided the way by which we can escape that judgment. He gives us the keys to paradise, to life; it’s like He gives us a test but also gives us the answers to the test! How cool is that?

We have the choice of choosing life or death. One of life’s great ironies is that when we choose what may seem to be the ‘straight and narrow’ path we experience and reap wide open spaces of freedom and joy. Conversely, when we choose those things that seem pleasurable and fun at first, over time we experience the inevitable negative consequences of those choices.  The irony is that we don’t make the connection between the choices we made and the outcome we are experiencing.

I chose life and love through God’s son, Jesus Christ. You too have a choice and whether you consciously choose or not, you DO choose. So, which will you choose?

Cynthia Northrop considers herself a community activist desirous of being salt and light in the world as called by God. She has been active in local government serving in the capacity of elected official and has served on numerous boards and committees including The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and currently serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of North Central Texas. She is a musician singer/songwriter with five self-produced CD’s of mostly original work and has served on her church praise and worship team for over 20 years. Cynthia’s writing endeavors include stints reporting for a Christian tabloid released in the DFW metroplex, articles for local newspapers, technical writing and blogs. She is currently writing her first book. 

Copyright © 2015 Inside The Pew. All rights reserved.

 

 

Thompson: Seek God’s guidance before leaving a church

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By Nina Thompson
Special to Inside The Pew

First of all, we must be clear why we have chosen to attend church. For me, it was simply that something was missing from my life and I wanted more of God. I wanted to understand God, and have help in navigating my life and making decisions. I also had learned that we all have special gifts and talents given by God, and I dearly wanted to know what those were and how I should use them to serve God and others. I didn’t want to go to the graveyard “full” as they say (1 Peter 4:10).

There are indeed some situations, though, where we should stop attending a particular church because it has become detrimental to our spiritual health. In thoseChurch Hurt Ain't No Joke by Nina Thompson instances, pack your bags and ask God to lead you somewhere else or show you what the next step is.

However, you do not want to leave a church before you have obtained what God sent you there to give or get, so my overall suggestion is that you ALWAYS seek God’s guidance before leaving a church. Remember that you are there to begin or strengthen your relationship with God. When you decide that you want more of God, expect that all sorts of things will come up against you moving forward – friends who ask you to do things on the day you planned to attend church or study the Bible, people seemingly staring at you or talking about you in church, horrible memories of church as a child – the list goes on and depends on where we are most vulnerable. So keep your eyes on the benefits of the journey.

While we can definitely have a relationship with God without attending church full-time, the community of church forces you to grow and mature spiritually, as you deal with the myriad of issues that always come about when working with people. So it is a good idea to have some type of relationship in a setting with others who are trying to more fully discover and interact with God, whether it be a church, ministry group, organization, etc.

In my book, Church Hurt Ain’t No Joke, I also offer very practical guidance for becoming a true disciple of Christ and maintaining your focus on your relationship with God. However more importantly, the book outlines steps that can be taken to move past the feelings of hurt or pain and toward a God-led and God-ordained life.

Here are tidbits from some of those steps that you can take right now that will help you to heal and reconnect with both God and the church. Be prepared because it takes WORK!

  • First and foremost, pray and ask God to send you to an environment that while it may have its faults, will be a place that focuses on teaching individuals how to expand their relationship to God, and not simply to follow leadership. Just say it in plain English and watch God lead you to an environment in which you can grow. It will still hurt, but it will be pain with a purpose. Understand that you are responsible to God and others.
  • The God-given charge focuses on our responsibility to God and those we have been assigned to. Our commitment is first to our relationship with God, and secondly, to our relationship with man. (Matthew 22:36-39). Love should be the basis for all that we do or we can do irreparable harm to ourselves and others. In the book we discuss how focuses on love can turn our actions into acts of worship to God, as opposed to empty, public gestures.
  • Pray daily but don’t just ramble. In the book, we highlight the best way to use this time in prayer so that you can begin to receive direction and guidance from God. Sometimes simply jotting down words, images, perceptions while you are sitting in the presence of God is what will help you obtain guidance.
  • Feed your spirit material that helps it to grow. At the end of the book, there is a list of books and publications that help me grow tremendously. The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson is one of the best, but there are many others that will definitely cause a growth spurt. I’ve read many others as well since the book was published but the lesson is to study to show thyself approved (2 Timothy 2:15).
  • Read and study the Bible, especially scriptures that heal you. Examples include Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 23:11-14, and 1 Peter 5:7. It may be hard to memorize but read it aloud and it will get into your spirit. The scriptures will come to you almost miraculously at times at times when you need them if you read and study often.

Be diligent and persistent in your participation.  You can’t learn if you aren’t present to be taught.

Nina Thompson, DMin., has more than 25 years of experience in Public Relations and Communications. She has been published

Nina Thompson extensively in local, state-wide and national magazines, journals and newspapers, and has served as a magazine editor and writer, a newspaper columnist and a newspaper reporter. She lives in Missouri where she has operated NICHE Public Relations and Communications since October 2004 and serves as an adjunct English instructor for several colleges. In July 2011, she helped to launch Wellspring United Methodist Church in Ferguson, where she served as church administrator for four years, and helped to establish and now leads the college-age ministry, “Yes to God.” She also serves as Executive Director of the Gateway Board for Mission and Growth of the United Methodist Church, and Executive Director of Rose of Sharon Ministries, Inc., which she established in 2014. Thompson is available for workshops, speaking engagements and book signings for both of her published works, Church Hurt Ain’t No Joke and Why Yes to God: Essays on Life and God by Young Adults.

 

I am Second short film highlights Jeff Fisher’s walk to salvation

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Nonprofit, Pepsi MidAmerica collaborate to give fans VIP game-day experience with longtime NFL head coach

By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

When NFL fans think of Jeff Fisher, the moustache and cool sunglasses come to mind.

But now, Fisher has provided an enduring image of himself – son of the Almighty.

In a bonus short film released by I am Second, Fisher, who is entering his fourth season with the Rams, takes his place on the ceremonial white chairI am Second Jeff Fisher to detail the walk that eventually lead to his commitment to our Savior.

The Plano-based nonprofit announced Aug. 17 it is collaborating with Pepsi MidAmerica to offer fans the opportunity to win a VIP sideline experience with coach Fisher. Fans can enter the text-to-win and online contest between now and Sept. 30. Four winners will be chosen to receive a VIP prize of two suite-level tickets to a St. Louis Rams game, hotel accommodations, a meet and greet with Coach Fisher, a stadium tour and Saturday field passes. Entries are being accepted now at http://www.pepsimidamerica.com/iamsecond/.

“We are excited to be partnering with Pepsi MidAmerica for the first time to offer fans an inside look at NFL life from a coach’s perspective,” said John Humphrey, director of communications. “We want to give viewers a never-before-seen perspective via the film but also help create an experience they will never forget.”

In his testimony, the coach candidly admits a hurtful event that took place in the pews when Fisher was approximately 8 years old.

“I had this moment in church which I think really, really turned me off,” he said.

Fisher recounts how monsignor corrected his behavior with a hint of aggression and little explanation.

“It terrified me; I was in complete shock,” he said. “This is where my journey began.”

The spiritual void remained with Fisher, as he experienced success in collegiate and professional football as a player with USC and the Chicago Bears, respectively. Fisher’s coaching career – his 20th – isn’t exactly shabby either, as he spent 17 seasons as head coach of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans. Fisher’s Titans played the team he now coaches, St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.

“In my world, there’s never time to figure out what is, in fact, missing,” Fisher said.

In 2010, Fisher’s life was about to change for the best. One day, a friend asked Fisher an important question: Do you honestly believe that Jesus Christ is his Lord and Savior?

At the opportune moment, Fisher was rescued from the drudgery he experienced, the part of him that longed for more than a successful NFL coaching career.

Sadly, according to Nina Thompson, author of Church Hurt Ain’t No Joke, what Fisher experienced happens to children and adults. She said she hasNina Thompson encountered many people who are the way Fisher used to be: they avoid Him and church out of fear of being hurt again.

“Church hurt is anything other Christians do to interrupt others’ closeness to God,” the Ferguson author said. “We need to be very careful that we are not concerned with the pettiness while, at the same time, we maintain structure, process, and ceremony in the church.”

After viewing Fisher’s I am Second testimony, Thompson said the chastising Fisher encountered as a child is an example of the pettiness she discusses in her book.

“Why chastise him for something as small as that?” she said. “Church became unattractive to him, solely because of one bad experience. Why become associated with something that brings pain?”

Thompson said she is grateful that Fisher’s friend opened that door of knowledge of God.

“Early on, he didn’t get that God is his helping mate and that he doesn’t have to exist in his own strength.”

Humphrey said Fisher’s reaction to the events that happened one day in church is not foreign.

“It is sometimes common for people to form an opinion like that based off those experiences,” he said. “Jeff’s story is an honest portray of a new believer who is sorting how to grow in the walk with his Father.”

Earl: Grateful people are blessed

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By La Vonne Earl
Special to Inside The Pew

Have you ever noticed that people who are grateful are truly happy? Perhaps you think they are happy because things are going really well in their life, which very well could be true. Or perhaps there is a bigger secret as to why they are so blessed. I believe it is because they look for the blessings in their life. Like seeing gold everywhere they look. You might point out to them that it is really fools’ gold, but to them it is the prettiest sparkle they have ever seen.

This simple act of looking for the blessings in your life develops the prefrontal cortex of the brain, where all your happy emotions are stored. Did you know that the more you practice looking for joy, the bigger this part of the brain begins to grow? This makes it easier and more natural to see and feel joy daily.

The more joyful people are, the more others enjoy being around them, which further blesses the person because they have more people in their life. Social people are happier people.

Joyful, happy people are usually better at demonstrating gratitude for others. Either by verbally expressing their gratitude in person or La Vonne Earlthrough gifts and/or acts of service.

Think about it, who doesn’t want to do more for the grateful individual in their life? When people appreciate us we naturally want to do more for them.

So in your relationships, no matter who it is, your child, spouse, parent or business relationship, show your gratitude for them for the blessings they have given to you. Regardless of whether they have blessed you in a small or large way, find out their love language and seek to bless them! And seriously come on, not just once, do it often! They in turn will come to enjoy your company and will seek to do more for you!

By the way, what has happened to the thank you card? Does anybody do those anymore? This is a practice that is becoming so rare these days. If someone receives a thank you card from you they will feel you have gone above and beyond when really you are practicing something that is a common courtesy.

Our pastor Rick Warren has said that all you need to do is just a little bit more than average and people will think you are outstanding!

Become a grateful person and watch the blessings begin to pour into your life! Including feeling great because you know you are blessed!

La Vonne Earl is the founder and director of YKI coaching associates. She is a Master Certified Christian Coach and trainer for YKI coaching. Her professional trainings include coaching, counseling, Neuro Linguistics Programing, Sozo Healing, and Hypnotherapy. She has broad experiences in handling various life issues and is capable of helping you to achieve Emotional Wellness. 

Hostetler: The top seven prayer secrets of Jesus

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By Bob Hostetler
Special to Inside The Pew

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

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

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

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

Bob Hostetler

Bob Hostetler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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Marschall: Faith of our fathers, distinguished guests’ comments

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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. 

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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.

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