By Marian Jordan Ellis
Inside The Pew

A few years back, I fell in love with a pair of jeans at a local department store. They were fabulous! The perfect cut, color, and length (and if you’re 5 foot, 11 inches like me, you know that is hard to do.) I adored everything about them … except one thing, the price tag.

Since I was on a budget, I would often go try them on and try to justify the price tag.  I told a friend about my dilemma, and she recommended I look online. Back then I hadn’t shopped much online (this was before my UPS guy knew me on a first-name basis) so I asked my friend where to search, and she recommended eBay.

A few hours of searching later, and I found them – the same exact jeans. Brand new! With tags! And get this, only a fraction of the price! Fast forward, a few days later, to when the little brown package arrived at my doorstep. I ripped open that package like a kid on Christmas morning.

Holding them up like Simba from The Lion King, I welcomed them to my little closet tribe. But as my hands wrapped around the denim, an alarm bell went off in my head.

“Something’s not right here?!”

The fabric was stiff… not soft and luxurious like the jeans at the store.

The color was off…and rubbed off on my hands.

“What in the world?”

The too-good-to-be-true deal was just that, too good to be true. I’d bought a lie. I was the sucker!

Don’t feel too badly for me, because this taught me a valuable lesson about how we can recognize the difference between a lie and the truth. The way I recognized that the jeans were fake was because I knew the real thing. I’d held in my hands the real deal. I knew what the true cut, color, and fabric was and when confronted with a fake, I could easily recognize it.

Jesus called our enemy the “Father of Lies.” His mode of operation from the very beginning has been deception, and he is still at work today – aiming sex-and-the-city-undercovered to deceive us about our identity, destinies, power and worthy. I pray this lesson brings freedom to many reading this today. So often we are duped by the enemy to buy lies about ourselves but we don’t know that we’ve been deceived.

When we buy into these lies, it affects everything about us, our self-worth, relationships, callings and experience of the Christian life. And since we behave how we believe, we end up in all kinds of messes, simply because at some point, we bought a lie.

[smartadapt_pullquote]Jesus called our enemy “The Father of Lies.”[/smartadapt_pullquote]I know this one from experience. I was once the girl who severely struggled with insecurity and feelings of rejection. I believed the lie that my value was based on people’s opinions or my own performance. If I was pretty enough, smart enough or successful enough, then I would earn love. This lie kept me in a prison of fear, people pleasing and self-hatred.  This pattern of thinking was so ingrained in me that I had no idea that I believed it. This was just my normal, relationship drama, roller coaster emotions, and disappointment.  I had no idea that everything I was feeling and experiencing was based on the lies I was believing.

Then, something powerful happened, I discovered the truth!

After living the “Sex and the City” life for most of my college years and young 20s, I was redeemed by the grace of Jesus Christ. When I fell in love with Jesus, the next thing that happened was I fell in love with His word, the Bible. I would sit for hours and read the scripture. I discovered that these are not just words on a page, this is the living, breathing word of God. As I dove into God’s word, I found a surprising result – I began to change from the inside out. After all, it was Jesus who said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

As I immersed myself in God’s word, I began to experience real freedom. The reason? I finally knew the truth. And by knowing the truth, I could recognize the lies of the enemy when they landed on my doorstep.

As we renew our minds with the truth, we begin to see the world and ourselves differently. It is my prayer that you will dive deep into God’s word. Allow the truth to expose any deeply held lies you may believe about yourself with God’s truth and experience the freedom and abundance that is yours in Jesus.

Photos: Top, Marian Jordan Ellis. Bottom: Ellis’ Sex and the City Uncovered.

Marian Jordan Ellis is the author of “Sex and the City Uncovered” and her new book, “Stand,” releases August 2017. She is the founder of Redeemed Girl Ministries. You can follow her on social media @marianjordan.

By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” – Galatians 5:1 (NIV).

To most Americans, the word freedom connotes images of the American flag. We associate July 4 with the freedoms we’ve been granted by the U.S. american-flag-and-christConstitution. We celebrate our country’s independence with fireworks and parades.

According to dictionary.com, freedom means “the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.”

Physical freedom is denied those locked behind prison walls. But those who have discovered a relationship with Jesus while in prison will tell you they are; indeed, now free, in spite of the iron bars they peer through each day.

Found throughout the Bible, the word, “freedom,” is familiar to those who’ve read God’s Holy Word. John 8:32 says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

In an article by Roger Olson, he writes, “Unfortunately, two very different ideas of freedom get confused in many people’s minds. The biblical idea of freedom is different from, but easily confused with, the cultural value of the same name. And neither one is the same as “free will.” It can be confusing to the average Christian who wants to know what “real freedom” is. Is it having choices? Is it lack of coercion and constraint? Is it being able to do whatever you want? In what sense does Christ set us free, and how is that different from what Madison Avenue and Hollywood promise?

“At the very heart of the Christian gospel is the strange truth,” he continues, “that real freedom is found only in giving up everything secular culture touts as freedom. The gospel, it turns out, requires a distinction between the enjoyment of true freedom and the mere possession of ‘free will.’ Not that free will or independence from tyranny is a bad thing; they’re just not true freedom. True freedom, the gospel tells us, is trusting obedience, the obedience of faith. That’s not exactly the image one finds portrayed in popular culture.”

So, what does true freedom mean for those who choose to follow Christ? According to St. Augustine, true freedom is not choice or lack of constraint, but being what you are meant to be.

For too many years of my adult life, I was a slave—a slave to other’s opinions, a slave to the false image I portrayed as someone who had her life together, a slave to the identities I slipped into because of cultural demands. I wasn’t experiencing true freedom. I wasn’t completely free until I embraced the woman God has created me to be.

“Humans were created in the image of God. True freedom, then,” writes Olson, “is not found in moving away from that image but only in living it out. The closer we conform to the true image of God, Jesus Christ, the freer we become. The farther we drift from it, the more our freedom shrinks.”

Only Christ can set us free.

Photos courtesy of Carol Round and Anglican Pastor

Need a speaker or workshop leader? 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.

By Major General Michael J. Diamond, US Army (retired)
Special to Inside The Pew

In order to be a complete leader, those in charge must possess certain character traits. Workers need leaders whom they can admire and respect. It should be no surprise that many of these foundational traits can be developed through religious teachings.

We will look at my five most important character traits; integrity, work ethic, discipline, courage, and decisiveness. Imichael-diamond-the-diamond-process have found in client organizations that subordinates crave a leader that has at a minimum these five elements. They are also very dismissive if their positional leader does not have and exhibit all these traits. Without them they tend to not be as supportive and go that extra mile when crunch time comes into play, e.g. putting in overtime, weekends, working late to meet a deadline. Character does matter to subordinates while their positional leaders tend to discount it because they are in fact the boss.

With each of these character traits, we will look at a biblical connection and how that carries over to today’s leaders.

  1. Integrity – “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3). “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy” (Proverbs 12:22). “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the lord but also in the eyes of men” (2 Corinthians 8:21).
  2. Decisiveness – “The one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that,the-diamond-process purpose must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6– 8). “Part of decisiveness is a) praying for knowledge and wisdom (Ephesians 5: 15– 17), b) seeking counsel from others (Proverbs 15:22); and c) submitting to the Llord’s will (Proverbs 19:21).
  3. Work ethic – Colossians 3:23, “whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart.” Matthew 5:16 “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works”.
  4. Discipline –  Titus 1:7– 9 “For an overseer, as God’s steward must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine, and also rebuke those who contradict it.”
  5. Courage –  Joshua is a great example of leadership as Moses instructed him to courageously lead his people into the Promised Land.

Although it did not make the top 5, there is one overarching theme to all these and that is the concept of humility. Humility supplants all and enables people to lead others much more effectively. It is this potential to build longer, lasting relationships that causes subordinates to want to follow others who are humble yet very gifted leaders of people. These 5 traits have served me well in my leadership experiences as well as the many that I have served with and mentored throughout my career. It will pay huge dividends for all of us in this day and time if we learn and continue to strive to live up to these to our subordinates.

Photos: Top, Major General Michael J. Diamond; middle, book cover, “The Diamond Process: How to Fix  Your Organization and Lead People More Effectively.”

Major General Michael J. Diamond, US Army (retired) is author of The Diamond Process: How to Fix Your Organization and Lead People More Effectively. Diamond served a combined 35 years on active duty and in the Reserves. He brings this wealth of experience in military, manufacturing, retail, consulting, IT and many other sectors to help improve performance in organizations. His new book is co–authored by his son, Capt. Christopher R. Harding, presents the Diamond Process Model referenced above. The book is available on DiamondStrategyGroup.comAmazon and other fine booksellers.

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

President Donald Trump’s trip to Israel is a promise that goes beyond words. Trump, the only sitting U.Strump-visits-western-wall. president to visit to holy sites in Jerusalem, said the visit to the Western Wall was a “great honor,” one that could build “a deeper path to friendship with Israel.”

Trump’s visit to Israel was historic and welcoming. Billboards and signs proclaiming, “Trump Is A Friend of Zion” and “Trump Make Israel Great” have lined the streets of Jerusalem in a very public welcome to the president. The initiative, launched by Michael Evans, founder and chair of the Friends of Zion Heritage Center and a member of the Founding Trump Faith Board.

“Donald Trump won the election because of a historic evangelical voter turnout – the largest in American history. Evangelicals tend not to be monolithic except on two issues – the Supreme Court and Israel.

Evans, among others, point to Trump’s campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. By moving the embassy, Trump would signify that the United States recognizes Jerusalem at the capital of Israel.

“President Trump promised us he would recognize Jerusalem and move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.  We wholeheartedly believe that this promise is non-negotiable and will happen while he is president.”

Don Horwitz, executive director of Christians Care International, told Inside The Pew the bond between the U.S. and Israel is based on the shared Judeo-Christian values of our two nations. He said both nations cherish personal liberty, religious freedom, and human dignity.

“When the President of the United States visits Israel, he sends the world a powerful message that this bond will Don Horowitznever be broken and that our two nations will forever be united in friendship and mutual support.

Horwitz added that Trump’s visit also puts Israel and the Jewish people into the world’s focus, and reminds us that many thousands of Jews remain subject to virulent anti-Semitism and persecution.

“Christians have also become increasingly subject to persecution and religious violence – Jews and Christians must stand together in the face of this violence.

“As the Bible tells us, Israel is a light unto the nations. It is time for the world to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital.”

Trump’s next stop in this tour is a meeting at the Vatican with Pope Francis on May 24.

Photos (top to bottom):

President Donald Trump prays before the Western Wall in Jerusalem. (AP)

A banner hangs on a building in Jerusalem. (Yossi Zamir)

Don Horwitz, executive director of Christians Care International (http://www.christianscare.org/)

Tonya Whitaker contributed to this story.

© 2017 Inside The Pew

By Alexis Marie Chute
Special to Inside The Pew

Many moms relish Mother’s Day as a chance to have breakfast made for them – for a change. Or to have an uninterrupted bubble bath, minus the toys. Or to simply be thanked. Mother’s Day is advertised well, with cards, flowers, and gifts of any imaginable product, all geared towards the hard-working, over-tired, and much deserving mom.

But what about the mother of a mom?

When women have children of their own, they enter this wonderful club of motherhood. Still, the bond with one’sauthor-alexis-marie-chute own mother remains, like an invisible umbilicord, connecting heart to heart. It is without doubt that mothers and daughters share a sacred bond. It is this bond that makes Mother’s Day all the more heartbreaking when your own mother is unwell or has died.

Many young children believe their parents know all the answers and have this “life-thing” figured out. When you grow up, you realize that your parents are mere mortals, just fellow people figuring things out as they go. This is a startling realization in and of itself. Then, when your parents get sick, you realize they will not live forever. When your mother or father dies, the ache can be felt with each heartbeat, leaving you with a sense of loneliness, as if your foundational protection has been lifted.

Coping through Mother’s Day when you are caring for your ailing mother, or missing her larger-than-life presence, is challenging. Sometimes there are no words of comfort that make even a dent on the sadness you feel. Here are a few ways to redeem Mother’s Day for you:

Shut off the social and be present.

We spend much of our lives distracted by things that do not matter. Social media is a perfect example of this. Instead of updating your Facebook status or Instagram-ming the card your kids made for you – be with your kids! If you mom is still alive and within driving distance: Visit her. And lock your phone in your car if it’s too much of a temptation.

You know social media will be abuzz with Mother’s Day posts anyway and these in-your-face messages prompt the agony you feel for your mom and her pain. Shut them all off. Avoid the social media comparison game. Avoid seeing the pictures of your peers with their healthy mothers. When you logout, and wake-up to the present moment, you will see it for the gift that it is. You will feel alive and free, appreciating every minute of the life you have the privilege of living as a daughter to your mother and as a mom yourself.

Create and re-live memories.

If your mom has passed, take intentional time to be still and think about her. Get in a meditative state where you breathe deeply and do not wiggle around. Close your eyes and picture your mother. Remember her smell. Remember the way she said things to you: was she firm or tender? A jokster or a straight-shooter? Think back to trips you may have taken together or your weekly lunch dates or family holidays. Think about the lessons she taught you and the physical features of your body that came from her. Remember and celebrate your mother in spirit, her warts and all.

If your mother is alive, it is not too late to create new memories. The weekly lunch dates can take place at her home or hospital room. Surprise her with flowers and her favorite book, which you can read to her; or her favorite board game if she is still able to play. Give her a massage, the gift of touch. Take her for a walk in her wheelchair and start up a round of eye spy. Tell each other stories about your lives. And whatever you do, take as many photos and video as you can. These will become cherished keepsakes later on.

Let the feelings come.

Don’t get stuck in fretting about the “right things” to do or say for your mother if she’s ailing. Just do your best. Similarly, there is no one right way to grieve, and no singular perfect way to remember your mom’s life. Be graceful and kind with yourself. Everyone knows you are doing the best you can – and what other people think doesn’t matter anyway. What you think and feel is what counts. If you are feeling blue, let your tears flow. If anger is bubbling up in your chest at the fact that your mother passed from a tragic illness: Be mad! Give yourself permission. Go for a run till you’re winded, beat-up your duvet, scream till your throat throbs. Get out the feelings, whatever they are. The sense of release will be tangible afterwards.

“Life is not fair.” Those are the words likely every child everywhere has said to his or her parent at one point or another growing up. We can feel this injustice just the same as adults. There is never enough time with the ones we love, true. While Mother’s Day may feel like a kick-in-the-pants right when you are praying hard for a miracle, choose to see it as an opportunity. A chance to celebrate your mother, at whatever state of health she may be in, or to celebrate her in spirit as you remember her amazing life. If you have children of your own, tell them about their grandmother. We keep memories alive through the stories we share.

Alexis Marie Chute is the author of the award-winning memoir Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss, available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Alexis Marie is a writer, artist, filmmaker, public speaker, and bereavement expert. Learn more about her book and documentary, Expecting Sunshine: The Truth About Pregnancy After Loss, at www.ExpectingSunshine.com. She is a healthy-grief advocate educating others on how to heal in creative and authentic ways.

Connect with Alexis Marie Chute on FacebookLinkedIn TwitterInstagramPinterestTumblrYouTube, and at www.AlexisMarieChute.comwww.ExpectingSunshine.comwww.WantedChosenPlanned.comwww.AlexisMarieArt.com, and www.AlexisMarieWrites.com.