Category Archives: Pew Talk

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

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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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Nixon: When brethren fall

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By Brian Nixon
Special to ASSIST News Service

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the persecution of Christians is at an all-time high around the world. According to Open Doors, the ministry started by Dutchman, Brother Andrew, the persecution of Christians has reached “historic levels.” Yet when one thinks of persecution, we normally don’t think of the United States of America. Rather, our minds wander to the Middle East or Africa. After all, one asks, wasn’t America founded upon a Judeo-Christian worldview? The answer of course is, yes, the European influence upon America was founded upon a Christian ethic.

But as the recent news of the massacre on the night of June 17 at Emanuel AME Church shows (where nine innocent people were killed), America – black, white, Middle Eastern, Asian, or Native American — is not immune to persecution. This particular hate crime focused on African Americans, making it that much more heinous. But it must be noted that they were African American Christians, people who were studying the Bible and praying; they were seeking Christ and His kingdom.

How our hearts should ache.

As the various media outlets look for answers to the crime (as they should), we Christians need to provide a different kind of answer: those from God’s word and witness – the testimony of His people working in love.

In a tragedy like this, there is no room race politics or parading. Rather, our response as Christians should be one of prayer and provision for our fallen brethren and their families.

When one part of the Body of Christ suffers, we all suffer; when several of His children are hurt, we all are hurt. Why? We stand as a body of One (Ephesians 4:5-6).

Remember to pray for the Emanuel AME Church and the families affected by this horrific crime of persecution, one filled with hate for people of color. But let this tragedy be an opportunity to demonstrate our love for one another (John 13:35); let the heartbreak of this event turn our hearts toward our brethren around the world facing similar tortuous acts, showing them the love of Christ, and showering them with the prayers of His people.

Photo caption: Worshipers embrace following a group prayer across the street from the scene of a shooting at Brian_NixonEmanuel AME Church, Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, and minister. He’s a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus (BA) and is a Fellow at Oxford Graduate School (D.Phil.). As a published author, editor, radio host, recording artist, and visual artist, Brian spends his free time with his three children and wife, painting, writing music, reading, and visiting art museums.

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Nixon: Are Satan and demons real?

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By Brian Nixon
Special to ASSIST New Service

Albuquerque, N.M. (ANS)I’m privileged to host a call-in radio broadcast called Theology Thursday on Star 88. OnBrian Nixon this broadcast we answer a host of questions on various biblical topics. This past week we covered angels and demons, with great questions from our listeners. Because of the general interest, here are some quick facts about angels and demons.

There are many false ideas about Satan and demons in the world today. We live in a world where two extremes exist concerning the realm of the supernatural. On one hand, there are groups of people who deny that the supernatural realm, saying that angels and demons, and even God, are not real. We call these folks, materialist, because they only believe that the material world (that which we can see, touch, and test) is real. On the other hand there are groups of people who do believe that the supernatural world exists. They believe in God, angels, and the like. This group of people we will call supernaturalist, because they believe that there is a supernatural world, beyond what we can touch, test, and see.

As Christians, we would fall under the supernaturalist category. However, we must be careful in how we describe the supernatural world, and here in is where the problem lies: not all supernaturalist believe the same thing about the supernatural world. As an example, Christians are not like the animist who believes that good demons fight bad demons, or that our relatives walk on the earth in the form of ghosts, as some religions teach. No! As Christians we must adhere to a biblical view of the supernatural world. It is very important to get our information from the Bible about the things we cannot see, touch, and test.

Angels are mentioned 196 times in the Bible. 103 references are found in the Old Testament, 93 from the New Testament. The Hebrew word for angels is mal’ach; the Greek is angelos. Both words mean “messengers.” Angels areDemons-and-Angels spiritual beings created by God to serve Him. Some of the angels rebelled, of which we get the term, demons. We don’t know exactly when the demons rebelled (some suggest sometime after the creation of the universe in Genesis 1), but the Bible is clear who the leader is: Satan.

Biblical truth is very important when we turn to the subject of the supernatural and demons. Some would have you believe that demons are under every rock, behind every door, and controlling every politician. As Christians, we must check these statements with what the Bible teaches about demons. So it is to the Bible we turn to give you some points to ponder and think through regarding demons.

1) The Bible teaches that demons are real.Watch Full Movie Streaming Online and Download

2) Demons were once good angels who fell during the fall of Satan (Jude 6).

3) Satan is the lead demon, called Lucifer (Isaiah 14, Matthew 4).

4) Satan originated sin, and has spent his existence tempting and leading humans from God (2 Corinthians 4:4)

5) Satan and demons are not as powerful as God, and are under the jurisdiction of God.

6) Demons are not the only cause of evil in the world, the world’s systems and the works of the flesh, are also responsible for evil.

7) Christian’s need not fear demons. (1 John 4:4)

8) At some point in the future, all demons will be cast into the eternal lake of fire, being separated from God for all eternity.

As you can read, the Bible is clear about the reality of supernatural beings called demons. But unlike the popular description of demons as pitched-forked, horned, red faced creatures – the biblical demons are evil, but still well beneath the control of our Lord. For even they tremble at His name (James 2:19).

Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, artist, minister, and family man. Follow Brian on Twitter @BnixNews.

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Experience ‘The Difference’ in Houston’s nightclub scene

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By Anita Jarrell-Robertson
Special to Inside The Pew

Recently, noted journalist Dan Derozier of Houstonia Magazine published a news story on Jerri P. Beasley’s “TheJerri P. Beasley Difference Venue,” a Christian nightclub located at 13334 Almeda Road in Houston, where “church folks get turnt up.” Derozier captured images of dancing, singing, rapping, poetry, praying, crying, kneeling, preaching, altar calls — people of various nationalities in a club? Together?

“The Difference” has also received national notoriety, as it was the $25,000 question on the May 11 episode of the popular, syndicated game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” (watch here)

What is the lure of this particular nightclub? “The Difference” is the buzz of Houston and has earned a reputation for being a place for true and lasting deliverance matched with nonjudgmental attitudes from pastors and other spiritual leaders who often wear their street clothes to blend in with club patrons and reduce the fear some people experience when they meet a pastor with formal attire.

On a typical club night, the facility where “The Difference” is held is owned and operated by Kevin Martin. Because his club, “The Manhattan” typically touts a crowd much different from “The Difference,” many of the patrons come on Friday or Sunday nights out of curiosity. Many stay because they end up finding something they need – something different. Different from church. Different from the club. The Difference. Beasley is proud to offer a place for good clean fun without profanity, drugs, and alcohol. Even kids are welcome.

Beasley said that it usually “takes about 10 minutes before ‘patrons’ realize they’re not going to hell” for being in the club. In an interview for Houstonia Magazine that recently aired on NewsFix TV, Beasley boldly testified that she began “The Difference” out of an overflow of gratitude for Jesus saving her soul and delivering her from a diagnosis of bipolar schizophrenia almost two decades ago. She now uses “The Difference” as well as her platform on KCOH 1230AM radio and TV programming in Houston to provide much-needed and open-handed exposure for Independent Gospel Artists from around the globe.

For instance, in honor of Mother’s Day 2015, Beasley hand selected an eclectic blend of Independent Gospel Artists/Performers including: Jacquie yForeman (Traditional), Shirley “Beloved Beloved” Hester (Liturgical Dancer), Cher2fication (Neo-Soul/R&B), Gloria Spruce (Contemporary), Pastor Anthony Rogers (Traditional/Contemporary), and yours truly, Anita Jarrell-Robertson (CCM/Contemporary/Latina). Several of the evening’s artists are starring in Beasley’s highly sought after Stage Play Revival, “Can U Pay The Price” on Aug. 8 at Greater Love Church, 4517 Laura Koppe Road in Houston. “The Manhattan” club owner, Martin has described his experience of getting goose bumps when the performers, who are typically filled with the Holy Spirit and prone to spark altar calls, share the Gospel on stage through the arts. Countless testimonies have poured in expressing new faith in Jesus Christ and/or renewed relationship with their Redeemer.

At the 2015 Mother’s Day Concert, Pastor Tabatha C. Whitten, the concert’s main speaker, pastor of Remnant Fellowship in Houston and host of the new hit TV show “Ignite,” shared with club patrons the importance of remembering the name God gave them. Pastor Whitten bounced all over the stage joyfully with fire, red hair; a blue, snazzy top; and hip-hugging blue jeans.

“I bless God for Pastor Tabatha Whitten’s relevant ministry. When you get bartenders to say Amen, God is speaking,” Beasley said.

Beasley believes the concept of “The Difference” will expand to other states in the future. Although many talented artists and pastors grace the stage on a regular basis, there is only one Headliner, Jesus Christ – without apology and with intentionality.

Faith-filled mothers everywhere have an answered prayer for Mother’s Day and every day in “The Difference,” a place where their children can truly come as they are and leave with THE DIFFERENCE. Beasley can be contacted via email at jpbeaspro@aol.com and via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jerri.p.beasley.

Anita Jarrell-Robertson is a CCM/Contemporary Gospel recording artist and freelance journalist. Email: anitaworships@gmail.com Connect via Twitter @anitaworships. WEB: www.anitaworships.com.

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Bradshaw: My ever-positive mother helped shape me

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By Sherry Bradshaw
Special to Inside The Pew

Our experiences shape us. NO doubt about it. I am convinced that one reason I have started most every day of my life with a positive outlook is because of theSherry Bradshaw, author of The Front Nine: Making Your Shots Count in Life experience my mother provided. I am not sure she even knew what the result would be when she was actually living it and leaving an everlasting imprint and impression.

It was the experience of the way I woke up most mornings in our home….to the song of…”This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it, whatever it brings there is a song you can sing…you may get tired but don’t fret! Nature is dawning a new day is yawning the sun will be coming up soon, if there is a mountain I will climb it or a valley I will walk through it to wish the top of the morning to you.” Yes, that is how I woke up every day. God used my mother and that defining moment to shape my outlook…daily and in all aspects of life. At 52, I marvel at how many times I wake up with that song in my mind and my heart. I am 52 and haven’t lived under her roof for the last 28 years.

Psychological research suggests that one’s self-concept is defined by a very small number of experiences. Ninety-nine percent of life’s experiences vanish like a vapor into the subconscious. Only 1 percent make it into our conscious memories and less than that, 1 percent of that 1 percent are not just memorable, but truly unforgettable. Those are the moments that they say define us. The positive or negative repetitive experiences can have a lasting impact, depending on how dramatic they are in our lives.

There is no doubt in my mind, now at 52, that my mother’s positive input had a profound effect on the way I have always viewed my day and, thus, my life. I believe God can use every past experience in preparation for our future opportunities. And one way God helps to redeem the past, especially if it is less than good, is by helping us see it through His eyes. His providence, His provision. In light of the enemy and the effects of sin on our lives, either our sin or that of others, HE is willing and more than capable of “using all things for His good, our good and His glory.”

“God causes all things to work for good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

I encourage you today to truly grasp that God is a God who makes things new. Lamentations 3:22-24, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’”

HE is the only one who can make us white as snow. His GRACE can takes us to new and exciting places….to soar…as eagles. Whether or not you were blessed, like my sister and I, with a positive ….mom…YOU can choose to be positive…to imprint the Good.

God can be the enabler to help you do this for yourself and others. He is all powerful and can reshape our thinking and our lives. Read the book of John and then the book of James. Jesus is still in the miracle business. He can take the negative in our lives and “flip flop” it into something incredible. It is called surrender!

Look to Jesus today…Surrender…to the ultimate positive…a life…that Jesus created to be significant…He will show you…He never disappoints.

Sherry Bradshaw is author of “The Front Nine: Making Your Shots Count in Life” and founder of Back 9 Ministries. Bradshaw, a native of Columbia, S.C., is a former first runner-up in the Miss America pageant. She speaks at corporate events, schools, churches, and community organization events.

Smith: Are our origins coincidental or intentional?

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By David R. Smith
Special to Inside The Pew

Ms. Eloise heard a knock at the door one afternoon, and shuffling her way over to it, opened it to find Kyle, a sweet-but-hyper little boy, standing on her porch

David R. Smith

clutching a baseball glove. The elderly woman, a grandma many times over in her own right, immediately noticed the sheepish look on the little boy’s face.

Kyle looked up at Ms. Eloise and politely said, “Umm…there’s something that belongs to me in your garage and I’d like it back.” Ms. Eloise walked him around to the garage door and as soon as she opened it, noticed two recent additions: a baseball lying in one corner…and a destroyed window with a baseball-size hole in it.

Ms. Eloise crossed her arms, looked down at Kyle, and asked, “How do you suppose that ball got in here?” Kyle looked at the ball, then the window, and then back at Ms. Eloise. Thinking quickly, he said, “Wow! I must have thrown it right through that hole!”

Kyle’s response required Ms. Eloise to believe an extremely coincidental explanation: that the baseball-size hole in her window and his missing baseball had nothing to do with one another. Yes, it was an explanation…but it probably wasn’t the best explanation. In fact, Kyle’s explanation sounded downright unlikely.

Interestingly, the scientific community is continually uncovering evidence that makes the current theory of our origins – known as the Big Bang theory – sound just as unlikely when it comes to the tedious task of explaining us. In layman’s terms, the Big Bang theory states that the Universe we now inhabit started as a very hot, dense nothingness that underwent radical expansion about 14 billion years ago forming planets, stars, and whole galaxies.

But this theory has intrinsic problems beginning with the observation that Epicurus made over 2,000 years ago: “Something never came from nothing.” And what are the chances that a completely random expansion – what is often called the “explosion” part of the Big Bang – could yield Earth…let alone this magnificent Universe? After all, when we analyze our celestial home, we all note the same realities about this shared rock:

  • It’s the only planet known to have water in liquid form.
  • Earth has a perfect balance of water and land.
  • We’re located in “the habitable zone,” the perfect distance between Earth and the sun ensuring our planet is neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Earth has an atmosphere that shields its inhabitants from dangerous radiation and (most) of the debris flying through space.
  • We have a moon of perfect size and proximity to us that ensures life-giving tides to the creatures of the seas.

These are just a few of the requirements our planet must meet to shelter life. However, there are other necessary attributes for sustaining life – scores and scores of them, in fact – each one more awe-inspiring than the last. For example, we need a very precise balance between the four known forces of nature – strong nuclear, weak nuclear, gravity, and electromagnetism – and we have it! But for life to exist on our planet we also need a “sweeper planet” located nearby to clean comets and asteroids from our orbital pattern. Ours is known as Jupiter.

In light of these criteria, the Big Bang theory – the idea that these absolutely perfect conditions for life sprang from a completely random explosion of nothingness – is starting to sound as unlikely as Kyle’s explanation to Ms. Eloise. That little boy and proponents of the Big Bang theory have something in common: holes they can’t explain.

Consequently, a different theory for explaining us, known as the Fine-Tuned Universe, is gaining traction. This line of thinking states that the Universe didn’t come about by chance, or by necessity, but by intentional design. In short, the Fine-Tuned Universe theory rejects the notion that a world as calculated and precise as ours could be generated by accident.

But the modern world has a problem with this theory: a fine-tuned Universe requires a Tuner.

In the opening chapter of my latest book Christianity…It’s Like This, I make the simple case that all of us acknowledge that a spectacular building requires a builder and a beautiful design requires a designer. So why wouldn’t a brilliant creation require a Creator?

In reality, this is hardly groundbreaking. Three thousand years ago, the king of a relatively small nation said, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2) King David knew how to explain us: God created us.

In the end, there will always be those who want to dismiss a Creator in spite of such a marvelous creation. They’d have us believe that our world is the way it is because of a series of completely random events that have never been repeated, not even once, even though there are billions and billions of other planets.

When it comes to explaining us, the biblical explanation isn’t the only explanation…but it’s certainly the best explanation.

Though he’s earned two undergraduate degrees and one advanced degree, David R Smith prefers to have simple conversations about faith and life. He pastors First Baptist Church in Linden, Florida, where he lives with his wife, Jenn, and their son, Josiah. When he’s not preaching, he’s usually looking for great BBQ joints or his errant golf shots. David was recently named as one of Vyrso’s top authors to watch in 2015. Smith’s latest title Christianity…It’s Like This is available now!

Muse: ‘Behold I stand at the door …’

Published by:

he-is-risen-from-the-dead

Editor’s note: This is a reprint of a column run March 30, 2013.

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

BATON ROUGE, La. – Easter is one of the most sacred holidays to Christians.

On Sunday, take a moment and remember the reason we celebrate it. I remember Easter Sundays vividly growing up. It wasn’t the Easter

Grelan Muse Sr.

Grelan Muse Sr.

egg hunt after service, but the message of His death, burial, and resurrection.

With a change in priorities by many people, it is important to continue to tell the story of Jesus beyond Easter. As believers, we must be consistent and resonate that message because it is His death that we are saved.

According to Revelation 3:20, the author said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me” (ESV).

No matter how we live our lives, Jesus is the door. To make any strides to get to heaven, it goes through Him. Therefore, we have to learn all we need to know about Him and teach His words to the next generation. If Easter means dressing up to the 9s and Easter baskets, we are doing the Lord and our children a great disservice. Be accurate and tell the truth. The secular world has tried its hardest to take Him out of the holiday (Christmas too); believers won’t deny Him.

If you take a look at the sacrifice He made for us, we don’t need flashlight Christians. These are the people who cut His word on when they want to cut it on. Instead of flicking His word on and off, become a spotlight for God. My favorite scripture on this is 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

He didn’t die for Himself. He died for all mankind.

Grelan Muse Sr. is founder of Inside The Pew and Pew Talk Radio. Email him at pewnews@aol.com.

 

Round: Why did He remain silent?

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Jesus before Pilate

By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

“As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate” (Mark 15:1 NRSV).

What if you knew tomorrow would be your final day on earth? How would you prepare? Would you spend time eating a meal—or maybeCarol Round two—with those you love? Would you prepare them for your death? What would you say?

During Jesus’ final day on earth, beginning with the last meal He ate with His disciples and ending with His death and burial, those 24 hours changed our world.

Jesus had been betrayed by Judas, deserted by the rest of His disciples, denied by Peter—not once, but three times—and put on trial by the Sanhedrin. Jesus knew what was ahead. But did that make it any easier?

When the chief priests handed Jesus over to Pontius Pilate, he asked Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” How did Jesus answer? “You say so.”

And when those chief priests continued to accuse Jesus of many things, Pilate asked Him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.”

Mark tells us in his gospel that “Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed (15:5).

In Adam Hamilton’s book, “24 Hours That Changed the World: 40 Days of Reflection,” he tells us more about Pilate. “Philo of Alexandria described Pilate as cruel, corrupt and violent.”

Yet, Pilate saw through the Jewish ruling council’s apparent interest in attempting to uphold Rome’s authority. Hamilton says, “There they presented Him to the governor, charging Him with the capital offense of claiming to be a king—a crime tantamount to treason and insurrection.”live streaming film Life 2017

Hamilton adds, “He knew they tolerated Rome’s authority and accommodated to it, but their presentation of Jesus to him was not out of a concern for Rome. Pilate knew they were jealous of this man who had challenged not Rome’s authority, but their own.”

Why did Jesus remain silent when questioned by Pilate? Why didn’t He defend Himself against the accusations? Hamilton says, “Some see His silence as another occasion when Jesus was intentionally fulfilling the words of the prophets, in this case Isaiah 53:7:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

Hamilton asks his readers to picture the expressions that might have crossed Jesus’ face as He listened to the charges against Him?

Hamilton says, “I picture dignity; resolve; a certain righteous disdain for the high priest; and an awareness that the trial will end in His own death, regardless of what He says, and that God will use His death to change the world forever.”

Born in a stable, sought out by shepherds from the fields and wise men from the east, Jesus was born for just this moment. That’s why He remained silent.

Email carolaround@yahoo.com for information about speaking at your next event.

 

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