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

By Sherry Bradshaw
Special to Inside The Pew

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where am I going with this…..??????

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

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

Love one year and hate the next.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Rusty Wright
Special to ASSIST News Service (ANS Movie Review)

MOUNT HERMON, Calif. – A nation too-often tarnished by racial conflict could use an inspiring film like this.

When I learned this movie involved Tony Nathan, I perked up.  As a longtime Miami Dolphins follower, I knew of his NFL exploits.  But I Woodlawn 1was unaware of his Woodlawn High School days in Birmingham, Ala., and the poignant story of how football and faith helped bring harmony among racial enemies.

Woodlawn skillfully portrays that 1973-74 tale.  Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are executive producers.

Picture Alabama on the heels of the Civil Rights era.  In his 1963 inaugural address, Alabama governor George Wallace had infamously proclaimed, “segregation now…segregation tomorrow…segregation forever.”

Three months later, in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King, Jr., had written, “…racial injustice engulfs this community.  Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States.”

Racial derision and harassment

Now, in 1973, Tony and other African American students find themselves bused to predominantly-white public schools, becoming theBear recruits Tony - ANS size

objects of derision and harassment.  Woodlawn football players who didn’t want to be teammates were thrown together.

Enter Hank a sports ministry worker who had experienced a spiritual transformation at Explo ’72, a Christian convention in Dallas that drew 80,000 people.  He was especially impressed by an evening session in the Cotton Bowl, where all attendees had small candles.

Billy Graham lit a candle, then passed the flame to another.  The flame spread until the stadium was ablaze with candlelight.  The event helped reinforce to Hank his own significance in God’s eyes.

Faith awakening

In the film, Hank (Sean Astin, Lord of the Rings trilogy, Rudy) persuades Woodlawn’s football coach Tandy Gerelds to let him speak to theHank - ANS size team.  He tells the team God can make a difference in their lives and invites them to place their faith in Jesus.  Over forty players take him up, and division gradually morphs into unity.  The team plays with fresh purpose and camaraderie.

Gerelds, a skeptic, observes this transformation and trusts Christ himself.  The real Tandy Gerelds later wrote of that decision, “The Lord came into my life…and gave me what He gave the players: love.”

Spiritual spark spreads

The spiritual spark spreads as students gather on campus for spontaneous interracial prayer for their school and city.  Players adopt the symbol and slogan of the era’s Jesus Movement – a raised forefinger signifying “One Way!”  The slogan derives from Jesus’ statement, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

The spark even reaches the coach and many players at Banks – a rival school – with powerful effect.  Players conditioned to hate each other become friends.  The film’s climax involves a showdown between Banks and Woodlawn, both undefeated.  The 1974 high school game drew 42,000 fans to Birmingham’s iconic Legion Field.

Football action

Football fans get plenty of gridiron action in this film.  Oscar winner Jon Voight plays legendary University of Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Team prayer - Web sizeBryant.  Actual game footage of Tony at Woodlawn and Alabama adds spice.  This Dolfan would have enjoyed at least one of his NFL clips.

I nominate January 2, 1982, the Orange Bowl.  Miami trails San Diego 24-10 in a playoff game.  Six seconds remain in the first half.  Dolphins’ ball on the Charger’s 40; no time outs left.  In a flash of brilliance … but, I digress.  Google “NFL films hook and lateral” (without quotation marks) to see it.

On another personal note, it’s encouraging to see Explo ’72’s ongoing impact.  I worked for the convention organizers.  My colleagues and I spent countless hours recruiting university students to attend.  Maybe Woodlawn can fan that same spiritual flame in a nation still deeply in need of racial healing.  It only takes a spark…Rusty Wright

Copyright © 2015 Rusty Wright

Photo captions: 1) Caleb Castille as prep superstar Tony Nathan. 2) John Voight as Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant recruiting Tony to ‘Bama. 3) Sean Astin as Hank, team chaplain. 4) Team pre-game prayer.

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.

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

By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Natalie Tristan
Special to Inside The Pew

It wasn’t the way Southwestern Assemblies of God University football standout Jeremiah Maat pictured his junior Maat on mission tripfootball season going.  During spring ball over a year ago, the linebacker tore his rotator cuff.  It was a season-ending injury and it changed the course of the next year.

“Having to sit out last season was the worst for me,” Maat said, “It was the first time that I haven’t played and started football in my position since I began football in seventh grade.”

It didn’t take Maat long to readjust his focus. The mission’s major from Slidell, La., decided to take an internship in Zimbabwe, Africa. He spent three months oversees, completing a semester of school while getting invaluable hands-on experience, “I worked with the missionaries on the field, and was allowed to do many things on my own such as speaking engagements, prayer meetings, and just fellowshipping with local pastors who became good friends.”

Maat worked hand in hand with local missionaries, helping to build churches, visiting villages and speaking toMaat and Group congregations. One all-night prayer meeting stood out in his memory, “We arrived at what I can only describe as a brick and mud hut. It had two rooms and no water or electricity. We had a small lantern for light and our voices for music. It was me and these amazing African people worshiping God in a hut the entire night. We sang and danced at times, cried out to God, and just sat in his presence at times.”

The semester overseas was life-changing for Maat as he came to realize people, at the core, were all the same, “It’s those moments when you make a friend despite color of skin, continent you grew up on, or amount of money you have. Those are my favorite moments.

Maat is back in the United States preparing for what will be his final season of football, “I have never worked out harder in all of my life as I am now. My shoulder is getting stronger than it has ever been, and there is no doubt in my mind that I will come in this season in my best shape.”

Being in his best shape ever is exciting news for SAGU football. In 2013, Maat helped lead his team to a 6-4 record and a Central States Football League Co-Championship, averaging nine tackles a game as a sophomore.streaming Beyond Skyline

Maat’s immediate goal is focused on his strongest football season ever, but his long-term goal is to make it back to the mission’s field, “My time overseas has changed my outlook on life a lot. I have a deeper perspective on what poverty is and what is necessary for happiness.  I learned just to love people no matter what because that is what Christianity is at the core of it all.”

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By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

In Carrollton – Holy Arms Ministries will play host to a Community Response Intervention Event on July 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Carrollton Public Library, 4220 N. Josey Lane/E. Hebron Parkway in Carrollton. The event is free and open to the public. The event will bring awareness to child safety. The Child Advocacy Center of Denton County. Call 972-822-9408 for more information or visit www.holyarm.org.watch Captain America: The First Avenger 2011 movie online now

In Los Angeles – Passion 4 Christ Movement will hold RHETORIC 2015, billed as the world’s largest Christian Preston Perry and Jackie Perryspoken word event, on Aug. 7 starting at 7 p.m. at Cottonwood Church, 4505 Katella Ave. in Los Alamitos. Cost is $20. To learn more about this exciting ministry, visit http://www.p4cm.com or view on YouTube.

In Waxahachie – Southwest Assemblies of God University will hold its diaper dandy camp for boys and girls ages four to 10 years old on July 24 and July 25 from 9 a.m. to noon.  The camp will be held on Sheaffer Gymnasium on the university’s campus.  Sign-up on the day of the event is welcome.  For more information call the Athletics Office at (972) 825-4672. Cost is $50 per camper.

In Dallas – On July 11, World Vision will host its fourth annual Youth Engagement Day for youths and adults from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Sadler Global Missions Center on the campus of Dallas Baptist University, 3000 Mountain Creek Parkway. Free event but registration is required. Lunch will be provided. Organizers say the event is appropriate for those entering grades 8-12 and students entering college and those completing their first year of college. Contact Rafael Munoz at 972-790-1204 ext. 2228 for more information.

In Anaheim, Calif. – The Harvest Crusades with evangelist Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, will return to Southern California for the 26th year. From Aug. 18 to Aug. 30 at Angel Stadium, the SoCal Harvest will feature a message of hope and contemporary Christian entertainment each night, including THIRD DAY, Jeremy Camp, Phil Wickham, and Lecrae. The free event will be broadcast live via the Internet at www.harvest.org and daily blog accounts of the crusade will also be made available. Updates about the Harvest outreach will be posted on Facebook (www.facebook.com/harvestcrusades ), Instagram (harvest_org or search #HarvestSoCal and Twitter (www.twitter.com/harvest_org ).

In Washington, D.C. – Rodney and Adonica Howard Browne’s Celebrate America 2015 will continue this Rodney and Adonica Browneweekend with Power Evangelism daily until July 11 at 10 a.m. and nightly events at 7 at the Daughters of American Revolution Constitution Hall, 1776 D. St. NW in Washington D.C. The Brownes say this event is for Americans to come together and turn their hearts to Christ, something much needed in this nation. Celebrate America’s promotional clip and the 2014 highlights are available at http://celebrateamericadc.com/media/.

Photo cutlines: Top, Preston Perry, left, and Jackie Hill Perry perform the poem, “The Fall“, during Rhetoric 2014.  Courtesy: Zoe4Life Productions. Bottom: Rodney and Adonica Browne.

Submit church and nonprofit events, Christian concerts, and fundraisers to Jacob Trimmer at pewnews@aol.com for publication.

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