By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Josh Hamilton fans can now share their love for Christ and the Texas Rangers all-star outfielder everywhere they go.

ScriptureArt, a provider of Christian gifts, home décor, and clothing, has created a line of clothing inspired by the life and testimony of Hamilton.

The Hamilton Tee Shirt Collectionis now available for purchase on ScriptureArt’s website, according to the company’s co-founder, Kelly Shiley.

“Josh has been amazingly transparent and out front about his struggles and about how his faith has helped him overcome them,” Shiley said. “His input was instrumental in helping us create designs that express that faith and dependence on God in authentic and graphically compelling ways.”

Hamilton, an outspoken Christian, has publicly acknowledged his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. This revelation, however, has not dampened his popularity. With 4.2 million votes, the 2010 Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player was the top vote-getter for the 2012 MLB All-Star Game.

He and his wife, Katie, who is also co-founder of ScriptureArt, have four daughters.

The t-shirts – with styles for men, women, and children – feature inspirational slogans such as “iBelieve,” “Believe This,” (the “T” resembles a cross), and “Play Hard, Pray Harder.”

Based in Raleigh, N.C. and Dallas, Texas, ScriptureArt was co-founded by the Josh Hamilton’s wife, Katie, and Shiley in July 2011 with a mission to develop high quality products and designs which inspire others to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Shiley said the company will showcase Hamilton’s line of inspirational clothing and many other creations at the AmericasMart trade show, from July 11-18 in Atlanta, Ga. Their booth (no. 1111) can be found in building 3, floor 5.

“We’re doubly excited to now be able to bring the Hamilton line of clothes and our other exclusive creations to the trade at wholesale pricing for the first time,” Shiley said.

In Lewisville, Texas: Youth Enjoying Salvation (Y.E.S.) Ministries of Denton will host is first Born 2 Be Free conference and concert on Saturday, July 14 beginning at 9 a.m. at Macedonia Ministries, 702 S. Mill St. in Lewisville. Youth and young adults, ages 13-29, are invited to attend. Event is free and meals provided, but pre-registration is required. Day sessions and workshops include music, praise dance/step, spoken work/rap and sign language. The concert begins at 6 p.m. at the Medical Center Lewisville Grand Theatre. The event will feature the Born2BFree Conference choir and dance, mime, and step teams, and Christian and gospel artists.

In Fort Worth, Texas: The Fort Worth Christian Women’s Connection will hold a “Young at Heart” luncheon honoring mothers, daughters, and granddaughters from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 18 at Mira Vista Country Club, 6600 Mira Vista Blvd., in Fort Worth. Guest entertainment is Jana Fick and Girls N Grace Dolls. Cost is $17 for adults and $9 for children ages 5 to 12. Free childcare will be provided by Christ Church, 5301 Alta Mesa, in Fort Worth. Deadline for reservations for the luncheon and childcare is July 13. Call Patsy at 817-232-0106 or email fortworthwomensconnection@yahoo.com for reservations.

In Port Arthur, Texas: The Port Arthur Christian Women will hold its luncheon titled “A Million Dollar Look on a Ten Dollar Budget” beginning at 11:45 a.m. on July 13 at the Pompano Club, LeChambre Room, 330 Twin City Highway, Port Neches. The cost of lunch is $15 per person. Christine Rothchild from Katy, Texas, is the guest speaker. Her theme will be “How to dress like a million bucks without spending it.” Reservations are essential for the luncheon and for the nursery, if needed, and may be made by calling Donna at 722-0951 or Mary at 962-5571 by Tuesday, July 10.

In Port Arthur, Texas: St. Paul United Methodist Church, 821 Freeman Ave. in Port Arthur, will hold Vacation Bible School from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, July 16 to Friday, July 20 at the church. Join them for a week long summer adventure for ages 1 to 100 as they “Go Fishin’ Deep for God’s Word Finding Heavenly Treasures,” through this opportunity for fellowship, discipleship and praise. Classes are held in the education building of the church. Call 409-985-9977 to schedule transportation.

In Katy, Texas: The Katy Christian Women’s Connection will hold a prayer coffee and fellowship meeting from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 12 at La Madelaine’s, 23322 Mercantile Parkway, in Katy. Betty Fancher is the guest speaker. Bring a friend and don’t forget to bring your Bible! Plan to arrive 30 minutes before the prayer coffee begins for breakfast and fellowship; the prayer coffee will begin promptly at 10 a.m. RSVP to Nancy at 281-232-8338.

By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

Swartz Creek, Mich. – A number of years ago I was working on a book, a three-part biography of rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis, evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, and country music superstar Mickey Gilley, who all are first cousins to each other. A friend offered me his unused condo in Montgomery, Texas, to get away for research and writing one summer. Since Lewis lived in Mississippi, Swaggart in Louisiana, and Gilley in nearby Pasadena, Texas, it made geographical sense.

Once settled, I took out the Yellow Pages to chart the location of Assembly of God churches for all the weeks ahead, intent on visiting as many as I could. East Texas was in every way new to me, and I wanted to experience everything I could. I was born in New York City… you get the picture.

Well, the first church I visited was in Cut and Shoot, Texas. That’s the town’s name; you can look it up. A small, white frame AG church was my first stop that summer… and I never visited another. For one thing — coincidence? — I learned that a member of the tiny congregation was the widow of a man who had pastored the AG church in Ferriday, La., the small town FOUR HOURS AWAY where, and when, those three cousins grew up in its pews. She knew them all, and their families, and had great stories. Beyond that, the pastor of the church in Cut and Shoot, Charles Wigley, had gone to Bible College in Waxahachie, Texas, with Jerry Lee Lewis and played in a band with him, until Jerry Lee got kicked out. Some more great stories.

But there was more than that kept me there for that summer. In that white-frame church and that tiny congregation, it was, um, obvious in three minutes that I was not from East Texas. Yet I was treated like family as if they all had known me three decades. It was the Sunday before July 4, and a fellow named Dave Gilbert asked me if I’d like to go to his farm for the Fourth where a bunch of people were just going to get together and “do some visitin’.”

On the Fourth I bought the biggest watermelon I could find as my contribution to the get-together. Well, there were dozens and dozens of folks. I couldn’t tell which was family and who were friends, because everybody acted like family. When folks from East Texas ask, “How ARE you?” they really mean it. There were several monstrous barbecue smokers with chimneys, all slow-cooking beef brisket. (Every region brags about its barbecue traditions, but I’ll still fight anyone who doesn’t claim low-heat, slow-smoked, no sauce, East-Texas BBQ as the best) There was visitin,’ after all; there were delicious side dishes; there was softball and volleyball and kids dirt-biking; and breaks for sweet tea and spontaneous singing of patriotic songs.

I sat back in a folding chair, and I thought, “THIS is America.”

As the sun set, the same food came out again — smoked brisket galore; all the side dishes; and desserts of all sorts. Better than the first time. Then the Gilberts cleared the porch of their house. People brought instruments out of their cars and trucks. Folks tuned their guitars; some microphones and amps were set up; chairs and blankets dotted the lawn. Dave Gilbert and his brothers, I learned, sang gospel music semi-professionally in the area. Pastor Wigley and his saxophone, later in the summer, opened for Gold City Quartet at a local concert. But everyone else sang, too. In some churches, in some parts of America, you’re just expected to sing solo every once in a while. You’re not only expected to — you WANT to. So into the evening, as the sun went down and the moon came up over those farms and fields, everyone at that picnic sang, together or solo or in duets or quartets. Spontaneously, mostly. Far into the night, exuberantly with smiles, or heartfelt with tears, singing unto the Lord.

I sat back in a folding chair, and I thought, “THIS is Heaven.”

Recently I came across a video that very closely captures the music, and the feeling — the fellowship — of that evening. A wooden ranch house, a barbecue picnic just ended, a campfire, and singers spontaneously worshiping, joining in, clapping, and “taking choruses.” There were cameras at this one, this video, but it took this city boy back to that Fourth of Ju-lye, finding himself amongst a brand-new family, the greatest barbecue I ever tasted before or since… and the sweetest songs I know.

Rick Marschall is the author of 65 books and hundreds of magazine articles in many fields, from popular culture. He is recipient of the 2008 “Christian Writer of the Year” award from the Greater Philadelphia Writer’s Conference, and produces a weekly e-mail devotional, “Monday Morning Music Ministry.” His e-mail address is: RickMarschall@gmail.com.


By Donald Lee
Special to Inside The Pew

With the divorce rate – roughly 50 percent of marriages in the United States – continuing to threaten the family unit, we must do everything we can to reverse the abysmal pattern many homes are falling into.

The best way to combat this epidemic is to lay down the foundation for a wholesome home by sharing the biblically based, yet practical, principles that lead to changed attitudes toward self and relationships. And it is for this reason that I am teaming up with a fellow Christian author, Dr. Aimee (pronounced I-may) Colbert, to host the Christian Couples Conference in the Fort Worth area on July 7 at Grace Church, 4740 Western Center Blvd., in Haltom City. There’ll be two sessions, one from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the other from 5 to 8 p.m.

The conference is free.

“The purpose of the conference is to help each individual, married or not, to increase his or her emotional intelligence and self-awareness,” said Colbert, an evangelist, faith-based counselor and author of the upcoming book, “Reality Check: Relationships.”

“I hope that attendees come to a better understanding of themselves, get answers and go forward with a passion to change and a new perspective on love,” Colbert said. “It’s not only for couples. It’s for couples and anyone seeking to be married some day.”

The idea is to reinforce the need for individuals to understand themselves, to have a healthy appreciation of their own self-worth and discern whether someone else has the wholesome spirit that is needed to best complement them. Strong relationships are built on wisdom and humility. And they thrive when those entering into them have genuine, sincere hearts rooted in the spirit of giving.

When someone approaches a relationship with the mindset of seeing what they can add to that relationship to help make the other person’s life easier, better, that produces a powerful connection, one that reflects the attributes of God. But when someone enters into relationships with a “gimme” attitude, always seeking to make withdrawals from the other person’s heart and rarely (if ever) making deposits, then that not only strains the relationship, but it gradually tears down the other person.

So, we want to stress that people have a health attitude toward themselves. A person can’t be sufficiently good to someone else if he (or she) has a negative view of himself (or herself).

Topics Colbert and I will cover at the conference include: “Twenty Questions You Must Ask Your Mate Before You Get Married”; “Twenty Signs That He/She is Not the One”; “Are You Addicted to Bad Relationships?”; and “Evaluating Your Expectations in Your Relationship,” just to name a few.

The conference will be recorded on CD and some video. The content will be available following the conference.

“The conference will be very eye-opening,” Colbert says. “Couples and singles should come prepared to learn. They should invite as many people as they possibly can, as we will be sharing information that they will probably never hear anywhere else. This will be a life-changing event in their lives.”

For more information about the free conference, including registration, visit http://www.christiancouplesconference.com.

Donald Lee is founder-pastor of Kingdom Living Christian Center in Dallas and co-author of “Married to Commitment,” the powerful Xulon Press-published book on relationships. To order “Married to Commitment” online, visit http://www.xulonpress.com. Follow Lee on Twitter at @donaldj_lee. Dr. Aimee Colbert also is on Twitter at @aimeetweets4u. The first chapter of Dr. Colbert’s book, “Reality Check,” already is available for download from the conference’s Web site. Also, call in to their Blogtalk radio show at 1 p.m. (Central Standard Time) every Saturday by calling (646) 652-4405. Lee’s and Colbert’s e-mail addresses are pastordonjlee@yahoo.com and aimee­_colbert@yahoo.com, respectively.

Special to Inside The Pew

Catholic music’s most celebrated composers – Steve Angrisano, Curtis Stephan, and Dan Schutte –  will take the stage at 7 p.m. on June 15 in Dallas for the first concert of the Age to Age: Generations of Faith Tour.

Leaving labels of youth, contemporary and liturgical behind, the tour aims to unite Catholics across generations to praise God and express a shared faith.

“Curtis, Dan and Steve, have been formed by the church at different seasons of her history; however, they share something in common – the faith that has been passed down to them,” said Laure Krupp, OCP’s manager of events. “That same story is true of Catholic communities everywhere. Though tastes in musical styles might vary, we are share in the same baptism and love for our God. That’s what we’re celebrating. That’s idea behind the Age to Age Tour.”

All three composers, men of deep faith, share a mutual respect and admiration for their craft.

Having grown up singing Schutte’s music, Texas native and OCP composer Curtis Stephan explains, “Dan writes the kind of music I want to write. Every time I sing something like ‘City of God’ or ‘Here I Am, Lord,’ I think how relevant and powerful it is, from the day it was written to today. When music is relevant, it’s timeless.”

“You can see in people’s faces that Steve’s music really touches them. He truly ministers to people,” said composer Dan Schutte.

The first concert of the Age to Age: Generations of Faith Tour will take place at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, 180 Samuel Blvd., in Coppell, Texas. Tickets are $10 and are available at www.ocp.org/agetoagetour or at the event. Additional tour dates are slated for July 25 in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Oct. 20 and Portland, Ore.