Category Archives: Pew Talk

Steiner: Rescue your ‘hopeless’ marriage

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By Karleia Steiner
Special to Inside The Pew

As Christians, we believe that marriage is a lifetime plan, not a convenience that can be disposed of in a lawyer’s office.  The loveMarriage karleia steiner of a husband and a wife is in all reality a hint of the deeper love between a human being and God. Proverbs 5:15-19 states, “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure and receives favor from the LORD.”

Marriage if of course not always easy, but with hard work and commitment come immeasurable rewards. Below are some simple yet powerful strategies for sustaining a long and successful marriage.

Identify the issues
If you can’t pinpoint specifically why you’re having difficulties in your marriage, you’re probably not thinking hard enough. Sit your spouse down and address the troubles you’ve been experiencing. Be 100 percent honest. Identifying your problems is the first step in getting on the path to fixing them. Perhaps you don’t spend enough time together. Perhaps you disagree about factors related to money. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement regarding your troubles, you can work together as a team to determine whether they can be salvaged.

Communicate openly
Communication is the key to any successful relationship, marriage or otherwise. Many relationships fail due to poor communication. When you talk to your spouse, do so with clarity and care. Make sure you always say the things that you truly mean. Never say anything just because you believe you’re taking the “safe” or “easy” route. If you speak from within, your spouse will pick up on the effort and hopefully return the favor.

Spend quality time together
Many relationships and marriages collapse because couples drift apart, plain and simple. Stop that unfortunate fate from occurring by making a point to regularly spend quality time with your spouse. While you both might lead busy and chaotic lives, it’s absolutely essential that you prioritize each other. Setting up official romantic “date nights” each week can go a long way in saving a previously hopeless marriage.

Admit your own faults
When it comes to marriage, pride is the enemy. Never be too proud to acknowledge where you’ve been wrong. If you haven’t exactly been the most attentive spouse, say so. If you’ve been a lousy partner due to work stress, admit that. Realize that it takes two to tango in a marriage. Your spouse isn’t perfect, but you aren’t either. The goal in any healthy marriage is to always focus on improvement — on both sides.

Marriages feel terrific when they’re working, and awful when they’re not, understandably. Having said that, you don’t want to give up on your commitment at the first sign of a rainy day. Put love, care and effort into your deserving marriage. Great marriages call for dedication and lots of patience.

What is an annulment, anyway?
Prior to considering annulment or divorce, focus on strengthening your existing ties with your spouse. Instead of declaring your union invalid through an annulment or legally dissolving it through divorce, concentrate on saving it. Remember what made you fall in love with your spouse in the first place.

Karleia Steiner is a freelance writer. To respond to her column, contact her at pewnews@aol.com. We will gladly forward your comments to her.

 

Ellis: Important mothers in my life

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By Bill Ellis
Special to ASSIST News Service

SCOTT DEPOT, W.V. (ANS) — Recently, I read this startling statement, “37%” of parents who went to church as children doHappy Mother's Day not take their own children to church.” They added this question, “Think every American child knows the words to ‘Jesus Loves Me?’ Think again.”

It is hard to imagine a mother or father who was ever active in a Sunday School or church not leading their own children into such life-changing experiences. If the parents do not, who will?

Grandmother Ellis, with whom my parents lived with when I was born, always lived close to us and was cared for in our home during her last few years. Special memories include spending nights at her house, her large biscuits and delicious fried-apple pies and being taught by her to read the Bible.

Grandmother Perry always had things I liked when I would spend the night with her and grandpa. My favorites were molasses cookies, crisp baked pork rinds and milk, direct from the cow, that grandpa and I would enjoy with cornbread before going to bed.

I relished the times when my mother would read to me. She read each night from a Bible story book what I thought were the most exciting stories I ever heard. She took care of her house. Clothes were sometimes washed in a tub with a washboard. It was a happy day when she got a new electric washing machine. The clothes were hung out to dry. Once dried, she would carefully iron out the wrinkles.

Mom was a superb cook. She made excellent cornbread and the most delicious hot rolls I have ever eaten. She often mailed tastyBill Ellis chocolate chip cookies to me when I was in college.

Before Kitty and I were married, her mother, Sara, wife of businessman Luke Harshbarger, caught my attention. She was a musician, excellent seamstress, knowledgeable, terrific cook and the mother of four daughters and one son.

Kitty is a lot like her mother. She is the most beautiful, talented, versatile and intelligent woman I have ever met. I do not know of anything she cannot do. All that her mother and mother-in-law ever did for their children, she has done for her children and husband.

These important women in my life are the embodiment of the message St. Paul sent to young Timothy: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV).

Mothers are honored because of their great love and the tremendous difference they make in the lives of their children and grandchildren.

Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles, and contributions to books.

Bradshaw: Wisdom is supreme

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By Sherry Bradshaw
Special to Inside The Pew

Eating salads was something I added to my life in college. It was one of those discoveries that I am so glad I made. I love and enjoySherry Bradshaw, author of The Front Nine: Making Your Shots Count in Life a good salad and find great comfort in knowing I am eating healthy. At least that is what I thought for a while until I decided to become a lifelong learner and read more. It was then that I realized choosing the salad bar for a meal didn’t exactly mean I was eating healthy. It was pretty embarrassing when I learned I was intaking as many calories at a salad bar as Thomas was taking in with a burger and fries! I realized I was absolutely deceiving myself on what I thought was a good choice. I love cheese, croutons, among other things, and a salad “drowned” in blue cheese dressing.

I had good intentions and thought I was making the wisest choice. There are many places in life we deceive ourselves. This is just one simple way I was patting myself on the back for nothing! I wasn’t really getting the benefit from my intentions. Proverbs 14:8 states, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” I was deceived and realized a healthy salad looks more like loads of vegetables on top of very green lettuce with low-fat dressing. Yuk! It is not nearly as good as my former salads, but for sure more beneficial.

Wise choices aren’t always fun nor do they always taste good. Seriously, being wise doesn’t always bring quick satisfaction. Refraining from gossip could exclude you from a popular conversation. Or, if you are really bold and gently call it for what it is, you may not only be excluded, you may lose a friend or draw ridicule. How about choosing to stay in and study when all your friends are going out? How about playing a game on your computer at work when you should be working? Or justifying paying your personal bills online when you are at work? I vividly remember our kids talking about a golfer calling a penalty on himself when his ball moved; no one saw but him. He chose to call the penalty and it inevitably cost him his PGA tour card!

Making wise and right choices aren’t always comfortable and could cost us in the short-term, but almost always, wise choices bring benefits; those benefits can be years in coming. Sometimes the benefits are peace of mind, comfort, and satisfaction that you personally know you did the right thing even if no other human knows it, ever. I have found in life – confronting wrong, making a wise choice, or simply standing for right – can do many things, but it can bring short-term or long time hurt, devastation, or loss. That is where trust comes in. I have found I can’t trust myself nor others as much as I can depend on and trust a Holy God. It promises in Proverbs 4:11, “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.”

I love all of scripture but the most encouraging scripture that I read often and draw from to encourage myself to pick Godly wisdom over human desires or daily whims and temptations is the following found in Proverbs 4:20-27. In my Bible, it is under the subtitle “Wisdom is supreme.”

“My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words, Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Above all else guard your heart; for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk from your lips; Let your eyes look straight ahead fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

I would like to, but will refrain from writing the whole book of Proverbs from the Bible. If you have never read that book, read it; I believe it is the best book in the Bible on how to live a “wise” life. I have found the more I strive with intention to live the instruction found in the book of Proverbs, the easier it is to run and run with a pace that is challenging, testing, convicting, but most of all, rewarding, and, I do much less stumbling!

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.

Round: Every morning is Easter morning

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Resurrection Sunday

By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end; He will stand upon the earth” Job 19:25 (NIV).Resurrection Sunday

Holy Week dawned with a cloudy sky, rain showers and the threat of freezing temperatures in Oklahoma. It was mid-April. New plants were pushing their green heads through the soil in my flowerbeds. Would they survive the predicted late freeze?

The previous day, our church had celebrated Palm Sunday with the children marching into the sanctuary, waving palm branches and singing “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest.”  Not only do our children look forward to this day, the congregation enjoys celebrating Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.

In his Palm Sunday sermon, our pastor said Jesus fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies—some of them between 400-700 years before Jesus was born—including his arrival on the back of a borrowed donkey. Traditionally, entering the city on a donkey symbolized arrival in peace, rather than as a war-waging king arriving on a horse. As Pastor Ray said, “The purpose of that first Palm Sunday was to demonstrate the Kingship of God, and to offer peace. It was a non-violent challenge to a very violent (Roman) regime!”

He added, “Palm Sunday was no accident.” Neither was the crucifixion nor Easter Sunday. The events that took place during theCarol Round first Holy Week were all part of God’s perfect plan, a plan to help us focus our hearts on the cross of Christ and His empty tomb. God’s perfect plan was to save humanity.

Evangelist Billy Graham said, “God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’” But His love didn’t end on the cross. He further demonstrated His amazing love through an empty tomb, offering hope to those who believe.

Remember John 20:1-3? “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’”

Some see Easter as no more than jelly beans, colored eggs, cellophane-covered baskets and giant candy bunnies but it is so much more. Easter is our symbol of hope, renewal and new life.

I came across the words to a song called “Every Morning is Easter Morning.” The chorus follows: “Ev’ry morning is Easter morning from now on! Ev’ry day’s resurrection day, the past is over and gone!” The first stanza includes the words: “I am one of the Easter people! My new life has begun!”

For people of faith, every day is Easter Sunday. When we accept the unconditional love of a Heavenly Father, who gave His precious Son for our sins, we can delight in what this youngster said, “Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, but Easter is everybody’s birthday.”

Easter was no accident. It was the Pinnacle of God’s Plan.

The author is available to speak at women’s events or to lead prayer journaling workshops. Email carolaround@yahoo.com

 

Wright: Noah movie shows one man’s courage, faith, hope

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Russell Crowe as Noah

By Rusty Wright
ASSIST News Service

Mount Hermon, Calif. (ANS) – OK, how would you feel if you thought you heard God telling you he was going to destroyRussell Crowe as Noah every living thing on earth with a great flood?

Except he wanted you to build a boat to survive the tumult with a few relatives and a slew of creatures.

Would you jump at the challenge? Run and hide? Ask – as Bill Cosby did in his classic comedy routine portraying Noah – “Right! Who is this really?”

Perhaps you’ll sense how the biblical Noah felt. Paramount Pictures and director/co-writer Darren Aronofsky bring Noah to the big screen in North America and worldwide throughout late March and April. The cast includes Russell Crowe in the title role, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Anthony Hopkins.

With breathtaking cinematography, this film imagines some intense struggles for Noah and his family. We see sorrow for lost masses, interpersonal conflicts, and practical realities of living on a creature-packed craft.

Taking Liberties
Paramount says Noah’s story “inspired” the film, but that “artistic license has been taken.” Too much license, feel some. I’m reminded of TV’s iconic psychiatrist Frasier Crane, concerned that an employee was “taking far too much liberty with the liberty-taking!” Readers of the biblical Noah story won’t find there, for instance, the film’s multi-armed fallen angels, its pronounced environmentalist message, or hordes of people fighting to board the ark.

The biblical account is short – mostly Genesis 6-9 – with little detail about ark life. So, yes, the filmmakers took liberties – many. Aronofsky recently told The Atlantic he views the story “as poetry and myth and legend” that helps us understand the world and ourselves.

But the essential framework of the biblical flood story – human evil, divine judgment, hope and salvation – remains in Noah. Consider these facets of that story and their modern implications.

Human Evil; Divine Judgment
Genesis says humanity was a mess: “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. . . It broke his heart.”

Human corruption prompted him to “destroy every living thing.” But “Noah was a righteous man [who] walked in close fellowship with God.” God told him to build a large boat, specifying precise dimensions and design.

Filmmakers took pains to follow biblical specs for their ark. The production designer had many ideas for the ark’s appearance, but Aronofsky, who is Jewish, insisted, “No, the measurements are right there.” 

Salvation, Hope, Promise

Noah built his ark and took aboard his wife, their three sons with their wives, plus pairs of animals, birds, and crawling creatures. Elaborate computer-generated imagery portrays the animals for film.

Rain poured, underground water erupted, and floodwaters covered the earth. Every human, bird and land animal not in the ark perished. The waters receded, the earth dried, and the ark inhabitants disembarked. God promised never again to destroy the earth by flood, offering the rainbow as a pledge reminder.

Faith; Future

If you attend the film, I suggest reading the biblical account first, then again after the screening. Noah’s story has much for a 21st-century audience, including two nuggets about faith and the future.

The New Testament lauds Noah for his faith. He was not perfect.

“Wickedness is in all of us,” he tells his wife in the film. His own drunkenness – depicted in the film – led to embarrassment and family conflict. But his faith in God mattered. I came to faith as a skeptical university student. It has made all the difference in my life.

Concerning the future, Jesus indicated his second coming would be “like it was in Noah’s day” with people carrying on their Rusty Wrightroutines and unaware of impending peril. “You also must be ready all the time,” he continued, “for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

I want to be ready.

Rated PG-13 (USA) for “violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content”

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

 

Round: Waiting on God is hard

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By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope.”—Psalm 130:5 (NIV).

We wait in line at the grocery store, the post office, a concession stand and other places requiring us to be patient. Waiting is hard. WeWaiting don’t want to wait. We want it now.

In a 1978 edition of “Good Housekeeping” magazine, a recipe for Hummingbird Cake appeared. Submitted by a Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of North Carolina, the cake took only 60 minutes of hands-on time. However, the cake—made from scratch—required 8-10 hours before it could be sliced and served.

Using over-ripe bananas, toasted pecans and crushed pineapple, along with the other necessary cake ingredients, the batter was poured into three well-greased and floured 9-inch cake pans, baked and then cooled for at least an hour. The next step called for a homemade cream cheese custard filling, a decadent mixture to be spread between the cake layers. However, after boiling, the cream cheese mixture had to cool at room temperature for at least an hour before being placed in the refrigerator to be chilled for another six to 24 hours. The final step in this famed cake recipe is a browned butter frosting, which required another hour to an hour and half prep and chilling time before completion.

 

That was 35 years ago. Times have changed. Most of us don’t want to spend that much time preparing, let alone waiting over 24 hours, to eat a cake. Most of us grab a cake mix and canned frosting off the grocery shelf to make a cake in less than two hours.

Waiting on God is also difficult. It’s frustrating. We want answers now. Wouldn’t it be nice to pick up the phone, dial a number and get God on the other end to give us an immediate answer? However, it doesn’t work that way. He always answers in His timing with good reasons for making us wait. For example, Mary and Martha waited on Jesus to come heal their brother, Lazarus. When Jesus finally shows up, He is accused of taking too long. In the wait, His plans were perfected.

Waiting is one of God’s tools to develop His people. If you look at Psalm 130:5 closely, the psalmist mentions not only waiting for the Lord but also placing his hope in God’s Word. If we read and study the Bible stories of those who waited on God, we can find encouragement. Remember, Abraham waited 25 years, Moses waited 40 and Jesus waited 30. God uses the times of waiting to transform our character but He never asks us to wait without Him. The great heroes of the Bible went through difficulties and hardshipsCarol Round but God was with them in the trenches.

Pastor John Ortberg said, “Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.”

While waiting, trust God in the process.

Carol Round is author of the weekly syndicated column “A Matter of Faith.” She resides in Claremore, Okla.  Need a speaker for your women’s event? Email carolaround@yahoo.com.

 

 

Eggerichs: How to get the respect you’ve wanted from your kids in ’14

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By Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Special to Inside The Pew

Years ago when I was a pastor, I was speaking at a Christian summer camp. I was about to give the evening message and my son David,Emerson Eggerich who was around age ten, was misbehaving because he wanted to do something that we did not have time to do at the moment. I distinctly remember feeling: This child is purposely defying me. He is showing me disrespect to retaliate for not getting his way.

I took David out to our car, where I hoped to reason with him. He sat in the backseat; I sat in the front. I tried to get him to talk but got only cold silence, which made me feel more and more disrespected. Finally, I angrily bawled him out for his disrespect, but that only made David more convinced I was being unfair and unloving. He stared out the window with no remorse or apology—only silence—and it ended in a stalemate. I had to speak in a few minutes, so I had David accompany me to the auditorium, where I addressed the crowd as best I could, all the while feeling like a complete hypocrite because of my horrible parenting.

When kids do not listen to parents, at some level, parents feel disregarded and disrespected. But what else is going on from the child’s perspective? I want to give you a game plan for raising your kids, no matter what their age. To help you build this game plan, there are two basic principles to understand and apply to all ages and stages:

  1. Kids need love
  2. Parents need respect

The parent-child relationship is as easy, and as difficult, as love and respect.

When frustrated with an unresponsive child, a parent does not declare, “You don’t love me!” Instead the parent concludes, “You are being disrespectful right now.” A parent needs to feel respected, especially during conflicts. When upset, a child does not whine, “You don’t respect me.” Instead, a child pouts, “You don’t love me.” A child needs to feel loved, especially during disputes.

The good news is that when children feel loved, they are motivated to respond positively to parents, and when parents feel respected, they are energized to be lovingly affectionate with their kids. When these needs are met, good things happen in the family.

But, of course, the reverse happens all too often. An unloved child reacts negatively in a way that feels disrespectful to a parent. A disrespected parent reacts negatively in a way that feels unloving to the child. We might say that every negative action in the family has an equal and opposite negative reaction. This dynamic gives birth to the Family Crazy Cycle: without love a child reacts without respect; and without respect, a parent reacts without love.

Parents need and want the respect that Scripture plainly says is their due: “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12) is one of many passages where children are clearly told to honor and respect their parents. And children need and want the love and sensitive understanding that Scripture teaches parents to give them. See Titus 2:4, Ephesians 6:4, and Colossians 3:21 for just a few examples of where parental responsibilities are mentioned or described.

As I reflect on that scene where I blew it with David, it never occurred to me that he may have been feeling unloved. Perhaps he just wanted time with me and was feeling left out. If I had addressed the situation with that understanding, could this conflict have been avoided? It is hard to be sure, but one thing is for sure: my angry outburst accusing him of being disrespectful did not help him open his heart to me. I could have decoded him much better, but I did not know then what I know now. What I had to learn, by trial and error, is that parenting is for adults only, and as adults we need to learn to decode what’s going on between us and our kids.

For example, there’s not always a clear-cut “yes or no” answer to the question, “Is my child feeling unloved?” It is entirely possible that he is acting this way out of childish irresponsibility, selfishness, or even open defiance. He is unhappy, he is just not getting his way, and he is letting you know it. On the other hand, there are times when parents can start the Family Crazy Cycle by overreacting to kids just being kids. Our rigidity and negativity are perceived as unloving to our children, who then feel unfairly judged, and now we have entered the Family Crazy Cycle.

All we may want for Christmas is respect…but demanding it from our kids all year long will not help them to feel loved. In fact, it will have the opposite effect and the Family Crazy Cycle will keep spinning! As parents we need to decode and make the first move. As we begin to see love and respect as basic family needs we will be able to stop this cycle of conflict and work towards harmony in our home.

Emerson Eggerichs is the author of Love & Respect in the Family: The Respect Parents Desire, the Love Children Need (Thomas Nelson Publishers). Eggerichs, a resident of Grand Rapids, Mich., is founder and president of Love & Respect Ministries and holds 30-plus years of pastoring and counseling experience and extensive scientific and biblical research. Eggerichs earned a master’s degree in divinity from Dubuque Seminary and a Ph.D. from Michigan State in child and family ecology. He has been married for 40 years and is the father of three grown children.

Round: And He will be called Immanuel

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By Carol Round
ASSIST News Service

CLAREMORE, OK (ANS) — “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, andCarol Round will call him Immanuel“-Isaiah 7:14 (NIV).

When I was a child, I loved to read. Without being aware of it, I often curled my toes under in anticipation of what would happen on the next page before I turned it. Mysteries were my favorite.

Today, my favorite book is the Bible. Its pages are filled with mysteries, never to be solved by the limited capacity of the human brain. However, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Christ follower who anticipates what God will do next.

Wrapping our minds around a virgin birth requires us to lay our disbelief at the entrance to the stable. To believe God would come to earth in the form of a tiny baby to save the world requires us to suspend our own understanding and to trust in the One who created everything.

In the days leading up to His birthday, I love rereading the events preceding Jesus’ birth. In Luke 1:41, the author tells us, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Just like the baby in Elizabeth’s womb, an unsurpassed joy fills my being in anticipation of this Holy Mystery. However, just as Mary anticipated the birth of this special child, we are required to wait patiently for His return one day.

Children have a difficult time being patient when brightly wrapped packages under the Christmas tree lure them to shake the contents. My grandchildren are no exception. They can’t see the gift tightly wrapped underneath the tree, but they hope it’s something on their wish list.

Mary no doubt had a wish list. As most mothers, she had plans for her baby to be born among family, where he would be welcomed with gifts of warm clothes and other necessities. And what about Joseph? I’m sure, as the family’s provider, he would have wanted only the best for this holy child. But that wasn’t God’s plan. God often surprises us, as He did this couple-with a stable, a manger and swaddling clothes. It’s not what they anticipated but it was enough.

Many are disappointed when they open their Christmas gifts because it’s not enough. But imagine Mary and Joseph’s delight when God gave them more. After hearing the angel of the Lord proclaim the Good News, the shepherds hurried to Bethlehem to find the Christ child. After seeing him lying in the manger, they left to spread the Good News. In Luke 2:19, we are told, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

While we celebrate this beautiful season, let us ponder the treasure of a baby sent from Heaven for each one of us. His birth, still a mystery, should fill our hearts with joy. No other gift we have received or will receive can compare to this. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son that we might have eternal life.”

Carol Round is a syndicated columnist, author and speaker. She has been writing her weekly column, A Matter of Faith, after retiring from a 30-year teaching career in 2005. Her five books include three collections of her columns: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and by FAITH alone. In 2012, Westbow Press released her book, “Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God” with the companion workbook, “The 40-Day Challenge.” All of Carol’s books are available through Amazon.com or by contacting the author through www.carolaround.com.

Marschall: How can they believe?

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By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

SWARTZ CREEK, MI (ANS) — If you had a child playing at the edge of an ever-widening sinkhole — and sinkholes lately have been inRick Marschall the news, including ones that swallowed people as well as houses — you would call that child to move back. If your friend were eating something poisonous without realizing the dangers, you would advise that friend of the fact. We do the same, some of us, with people, even strangers, who smoke. “Intervention” today increasingly is employed on behalf of people with drinking problems.

Followers of Christ, who subscribe to the beliefs that all of us make mistakes and are sinful at heart; that therefore a wide gulf separates us from a Holy God; that this God nevertheless desires eternal fellowship with us and offers forgiveness and salvation; and that “accepting” Jesus — believing in our hearts and confessing with our words — these Christians cannot do anything else than have the same regard for other people’s souls as we do their health and comfort.

How often do contemporary Christians fit that last puzzle-piece in place?

Failing this, we condemn ourselves; and we are implicit in sending others to the cold darkness of eternity, separation from God. How often do we avoid sharing even the smallest portion of Jesus with someone because we might “offend them”? Hurt their feelings? “Hey buddy, don’t smoke in your apartment, but I don’t care if you go to hell.”

It’s not always comfortable, but neither was that splintery cross. Living in a multimedia culture makes it easy to assume everyone thinks like we do, or has access to the same facts that we process. Not so. When the Apostle Paul arrived in Ephesus, word-of-mouth about the Savior had already led to the establishment of several Christian communities. But not every word had been shared by every mouth:

“…he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ he asked them. ‘No,’ they replied, ‘we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ ‘Then what baptism did you experience?’ he asked. And they replied, ‘The baptism of John.’ Paul said, ‘John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.’ As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:1-6, NLT).

Paul wrote letters to local churches and church leaders, sharing the good news, and answering questions. These letters comprise the majority of the New Testament. We shared last week how papyrus letters from a generation or two after Paul are extant. Before Christ’s time, spiritual news and God’s words were shared by Torah scrolls, inscriptions, sacred texts. After him we have the successive march of letters, manuscripts, tapestries and stained-glass picture stories, parchment books, printed books, mass-production, tracts, evangelistic crusades, recordings, radio, short-wave, television, and the internet.

The SHARING of the good news is central to the good news itself. “Go into all the world…” Jesus said, commissioning His disciples. Romans 10:14-15 argues: “How can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, ‘How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!’ (NLT) Like much of the Book of Romans, this is like an advocate summarizing his case. How can they hear about Jesus unless someone tells them?

Right about in the middle of humankind’s list of ways to share the good news — not in a timeline, but in the numbers of methods and technologies — is the radio. After its invention it was available to almost every community on the earth. And much of its message, especially today on short-wave broadcasts, is Christian. I went to Sunday school as a child, but it was preachers on my AM transistor radio from whom I really heard the first hard (and sweet) truths of the Gospel; and came face-to-face with decisions to make, or avoid, regarding Jesus Christ.

Albert E. Brumley was an American gospel songwriter of the past century. He wrote more than 800 sermons-in-song, many of which are favorites today in churches, hymnbooks, and recordings. Among them are “I’ll Fly Away,” “If We Never Meet Again (This Side of Heaven),” “I’ll Meet You In The Morning,” “Jesus, Hold My Hand,” “I’d Rather Be An Old Time Christian,” and “Rank Strangers to Me.”

He told a story about another of his classics… and the role of radio in spreading the gospel:

“I wrote ‘Turn Your Radio On’ in 1937, and it was published in 1938. At this time radio was relatively new to the rural people, especially gospel music programs. I had become alert to the necessity of creating song titles, themes, and plots, and frequently people would call me and say, ‘Turn your radio on, Albert, they’re singing one of your songs on such-and-such a station.’ It finally dawned on me to use… ‘Turn your radio on’ as a theme for a religious… song.”

Like the poor, radio we will always have with us. In the words of the song, “turn your radio on and listen to the music in the air; Turn your radio on and heaven’s glory share…”

Are you tuned in… to what God is saying to you? Don’t touch that dial! You can broadcast (as it were) a brief public-service announcement, or a personal message, every once in a while yourself.

Marschall: We CAN go home again

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By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

SWARTZ CREEK, MI (ANS)Many popular sayings that are regarded as embodying folk wisdom are, in fact, as crumbly as the fortuneRick Marschall cookies where they should stay. I have always been struck by how almost every handy, traditional capsule of folk wisdom is cancelled by another such time-honored saying. “Look before you leap”? But… “He who hesitates is lost.”

You can “roll with the punches” OR “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” And so forth.

I recently thought the oft-quoted Thomas Wolfe aphorism, “You can’t go home again” when I did in fact visit the home in New York City where I was born, and the address in the New Jersey suburbs where I was reared. I drove from the Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference with my friend Shawn Kuhn, who was born in a different neighborhood of Queens. We were each a little surprised that our neighborhoods were clean, appeared safe, and had not fallen prey to real or clichéd urban blight: just the opposite.

Later in the week, with my sister Barbara, we visited the address of our adolescent years — I call it such because it was recently razed and replaced with what regretful “natives” like me are calling “McMansions,” ridiculous mini-estates on half acres. Most of the new owners likely suffer from the affliction common to parvenus, the Edifice Complex.

It was sad to see my home no longer there; our Village School boarded up; the town’s Swim Club closed and overgrown; an d the church of our youth condemned, doors chained closed, neglected.

However. Paging Thomas Wolfe: “You CAN go home again.” I understand that I am supposed to understand that the past is past, a rose is a rose, and all those other syllogisms. The more important facts relate not to whether our parents have died, or our homes have been demolished, but what value they had in our development. The important corners of our memories. Then, the question is not whether we can “go home,” but whether those “homes,” our foundational values, can, or should, ever leave us.

I will call someone else, George Santayana, into the discussion, and mangle his own famous aphorism: “Those who forget the past are not only in danger of repeating it, but of having no past at all.”

I recently quoted Theodore Roosevelt in this space: “Both life and death are parts of the same great adventure.” And we should be reminded that Wolfe’s adage refers to the emotions and our intellectual growth, as much as nostalgic real-estate tours. My childhood is not a house; it was spent in a home that stood there. What I am, or have achieved, as a man is no less real because my parents died after my formative years. The chapel of my affectionate memories is gone, all the more bitter because it stands as a skeleton; but my faith was not diminished because the doors are chained shut.

Indeed, the pasts we miss and the futures we distrust are seldom pieces of real estate or schoolrooms or, say, battlefields. They are of the mind, the intellect, of life-choices, emotions… in fact, the spiritual realm.

Even when we know this fact, whether we are filled with joy or anxiety, it is easy to forget: a most human part of our humanity. My heart currently grieves for the director of the writer’s conference Shawn and I attended, because she is beset by personal problems, health trials facing herself and family members, business challenges galore… (Please look for the website of Write His Answer Ministries and see the wonderful things Marlene Bagnull has done and is doing)

Christians know the Author all good things, and know who the enemy of our souls is, and who comes to seek, and kill, and destroy. Words are cheap (if I can cite another old cliché) but, being a frequent victim of discouragement myself, I feel qualified to remind anyone who will listen that there is a Larger Story. We cannot always see it. But we need to remember it.

“I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee,” Joshua 1: 5.

We call to our memories: we should summon the best of them. They call to us. And, whether our children live near or far, we should always be in the mode of calling them home too. Just as our Heavenly Father does to us.

Rick Marschall is the author of 65 books and hundreds of magazine articles in many fields, from popular culture (Bostonia Magazine called him “perhaps America’s foremost authority on popular culture”) to history and criticism; country music, television history, biography and children’s books. He is a former political cartoonist, editor of Marvel Comics, and writer for Disney comics. Email Rick at RickMarschall@gmail.com.