New Release of GriefShare Prepares Churches for Grief Ministry to Aging Baby Boomers and Their Families

With the U.S. elderly population expected to nearly double by 2040, the GriefShare support group program offers churches a vital ministry outlet.

WAKE FOREST, N.C., July 22, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — Pastors, church staff, and lay leaders searching for ways to improve their church’s bereavement, pastoral care, and outreach ministries have an easy new solution: a fresh, updated edition of GriefShare, a 13-week support group course that ministers to those mourning the loss of a loved one.

With a rapidly aging population in the United States — the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to nearly double by 2040 – more individuals and families than ever face the challenges of grief, giving churches that use GriefShare a unique angle of ministry.

“The need for GriefShare has never been greater, so this update couldn’t arrive at a better time,” said Steve Grissom, president of Church Initiative, the nonprofit that publishes GriefShare. “Fresh and innovative, the new version of GriefShare is built on 15 years of experience working with local churches to provide ministry to grieving people. This collaboration has helped us create ministry tools that are deeper and richer than ever before.”

Here’s what GriefShare group members experience during a weekly meeting:

  • A magazine-style video seminar featuring insights from 46 leading Christian experts on grief and recovery subjects
  • Profiles of people who have experienced healing following a loss
  • A small group discussion
  • Workbook and journaling exercises during days between the weekly sessions

Mastered in crisp, beautiful HD video, the newest update of GriefShare includes hours of all-new content:

  • Powerful new testimonial interviews
  • New insights from an expanded lineup of respected contributors
  • Compelling new mini-dramas
  • Updated and expanded leadership training and workbook materials

Today, over 12,000 churches worldwide are equipped to offer GriefShare. Pastors and care ministry workers have found the biblically based support groups an invaluable outreach tool. As GriefShare support groups become established in churches, they become known throughout communities as places where people can get help.

“GriefShare brings people to your church who are desperately hurting, desperately looking for answers,” said Nancy Guthrie, who cohosts GriefShare with her husband, David. “They are so open to find something to soothe their pain, to find some answers for their questions. And I think GriefShare does that like nothing else.”

For ordering information, visit the GriefShare website or call the Church Initiative offices at 800-395-5755.

ABOUT CHURCH INITIATIVE
Church Initiative is nondenominational, nonprofit ministry serving more than 20,000 churches worldwide. From its headquarters in Wake Forest, North Carolina, the ministry creates and publishes video-based teaching materials to help churches minister to people experiencing life crises. Church Initiative programs include GriefShare, DivorceCare, Single & Parenting, and DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids).

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Schedules Vote on Controversial UN Treaty

Committee Vote on Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Scheduled for Tuesday, July 22
PURCELLVILLE, Va., July 21, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote this Tuesday on a treaty that will severely limit the freedoms of Americans if ratified. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has previously failed to garner enough support for ratification, most notably when the treaty fell six votes short in December 2012. Supporters of the treaty, however, feel that this time they have enough votes to ratify the treaty.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) opposes the UNCRPD because if it is ratified by the Senate, government officials can override parents’ decisions for their child with a disability using the “best interests of the child” clause within the treaty as their leverage. “We all want to show our support for people with disabilities,” said Michael Farris, founder and chairman of HSLDA. “This treaty, however, is not the way to do it. This treaty will give United Nations and government agents, not parents who know their children better than any government agency could, the authority to decide all educational and treatment issues for disabled children. All of the rights that parents have under traditional American law, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act will be undermined by this treaty.”
Proponents of the treaty claim it poses no danger because it can be amended with reservations, understandings, and declarations (RUDs), but Farris believes this argument is flawed. “The RUDs cannot change two central problems with the treaty,” he said. “First, it will still violate the premise that America should make the law for Americans. We may modify the technical aspects of the treaty with RUDs, but we are still agreeing to be bound by the standards of the UN.
“Second, the promises made by proponents that U.S. ratification will help disabled Americans when they travel internationally is still an empty lie. The idea that U.S. ratification will change the legal duty of any other country to comply with this treaty is legally preposterous. Did the ratification by France change Canada’s duties under the treaty? Did the ratification by Uganda secure rights for disabled Ugandans when they travel to Spain? Of course not. U.S. ratification only changes American law. No one has proven why American law needs to be changed to match UN standards.” Farris also pointed out that if the CRPD is ratified, a case arguing the validity of RUDS could make its way before the U.S. Supreme Court , or the RUDS could be withdrawn by a future Senate.
Will Estrada, HSLDA’s Federal Relations Director, believes the CRPD can be defeated by grassroots lobbying as it was in December 2012 and is urging those who oppose the treaty to call their senator if he or she is on the Foreign Relations Committee. “Americans are wising up to the truth of how dangerous this treaty is and how it puts their rights as parents in jeopardy,” he said. “And major organizations that once supported the treaty are pulling their support, like AMVETS did last summer. If ratified, the CRPD will further empower unelected bureaucrats at the United Nations. I believe no American wants to see their freedoms taken away, especially by the UN.”
Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Visit us online at www.HSLDA.org  

THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL

By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield

I often warn people about those who worship at The Church of The Almighty Dollar. Unfortunately there are people in our modern society to whom money is morality. There yardstick for the rightness of their actions is last month’s sales rankings, or the latest quarterly earnings report. Such people are anchoring their morality in loose sand ! Morton Blackwell founder of the Leadership Institute in Virginia once said “ Don’t fully trust someone until he has stuck with a good cause which he saw was loosing.” Now Blackwell at the time was talking about politics. However I believe there is a more basic principle involved here. The point is someone who does something only when he has something to gain personally is not to be trusted !

Now lets look at the often miss-quoted words of the Apostle Paul, ” For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1Timothy 6:10 (KJV) Some people quote this verse as saying money is the root of all evil. But as you notice this is not quite right. What the verse plainly says is the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. It is what you make the priority in your thinking that matters. Your behavior should be driven by you love of God and his word not by your bank balance ! God cares about the contents of your heart, and could care less about your earthly riches.

So are we saying that money is a bad thing ? Certainly not ! Am I saying that we do not need money in this world ? I am not ! Look at what Paul says at Romans 8:28 (KJV) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. “ So you see The important thing is not the money. Money in fact can be used and is used to do great things for God in this world. The important thing is our love for God, and the call he has placed on each of our lives. When we are saved, we no longer belong to ourselves but to God. When we place our priority on money on any earthly thing instead of God’s word we distance ourselves from the call he placed on our lives.

So what am I saying ? I am saying that we should not gauge the rightness or value of our actions against what we get out of them. The values people of this world place on things are constantly changing. Instead base you actions on your love of God, and his word which does not change. Do not waste your love on meaningless things. Invest your love instead in God, and those he has placed around you, your family, neighbors, co-workers etc. Money tends to be temporary. General Motors used to be the biggest most powerful company in the entire world. There even used to be a saying in the investment business “ Nobody gets fired for buying General Motors.” It was the ultimate “blue chip” a “no brainer.” Well about that, times change. Not that long ago General Motors had to be bailed out by the American taxpayer. No bank or group of banks, no investment firm or group of such firms in the entire world was big enough to save it. Enron was one of the 10 biggest companies in the world. But highly placed people there started to worry more about their own gain, than the things that really matter, and Enron fell. Its stock became worthless !

Paul warns us against the love of money because in the first century just as in this one money isn’t a solid enough standard by which to judge or govern our actions. The word of God however always will be.

#Firefighters Are You Facing Hard Times? Help is on the way:

IN HIS LATEST ARTICLE ANDY STARNES ONCE AGAIN SHARES WITH US HIS UNIQUE “FIREGROUND” PERSPECTIVE ON THE CHRISTIAN FAITH, AND ITS APPLICATION TO OUR DAILY LIVES. HIS ARTICLE CONTAINS USEFUL INSIGHTS FOR ANYONE FACING TOUGH CHALLENGES IN THEIR LIFE.-PASTOR CRUTCHFIELD

 

By Andrew J. Starnes

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character hope. “ Romans 5:3

How do we glory in our sufferings?

Not many of us look at the problems of life as something to be happy about. As firefighters, we solve problems for others but respond differently when they affect us.

Why is this?

As a firefighter, we understand this concept better than we would like to admit.

We understand that in order to be a better, stronger, and more disciplined that we have to endure many hardships.

Training, education, and exercise are some of our disciplines. But what about applying those disciplines in our own lives?

In our actual service we see tragedy, illness, death, and loss almost on a daily basis. This can carry over into our personal lives and cause us to cope in unhealthy ways that are destructive to those around us.

Let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves:

Do the hard times we face in life make us weaker or stronger?

Each moment and each experience is an opportunity to produce “perseverance, character, and hope”

These moments and experiences are not meant for us to internalize and let them destroy us from the inside out.

They are meant for us to share, draw on each other’s comfort, and to use them in the future when we face even more difficult moments.

We are not meant to carry these burdens alone. Remember that!

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

This is a brotherhood and that means we carry one another’s burdens together! We do everything as a team so why should one of our brothers/sisters have to face a personal crisis alone?

These moments can define us or destroy us. Through Faith and Fellowship they can be a source of strength.

The Application:

As we face hard times in life we must remember to share our pain with others. It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that we are human.

Without others calling for help, the fire service would not need to exist. With that in mind, begin by calling out to God and to our brothers/sisters for help.

Consider this tactical benchmark check list for our lives:

Size-Up: Pray! Tell God what your facing and share it with someone you trust.

Transfer Command: On an incident, the higher ranking officer takes command upon arrival. In our lives we don’t have to wait on God’s arrival. He is always there. Let Him take Command.

Follow His IAP: Immediately Apply Principles- God wants us to do our part; which demonstrates our faith (trust) in Him. Start mitigating the problem by following His plan.

Report to Rehab: As we work on the struggles we face we will become weary.

This is where we are to radio Command: “God, I am tired and weary”

And Jesus replies “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Remember as a firefighter, when we arrive at an emergency what do we do?

We go to work resolving the problem. Why?

Because we have confidence in our training and in knowing that help is on the way.

“Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear” Isaiah 65:24

So Pray and remember that our confidence is directly correlative to our dedication to God’s word. Our ‘training’ is our study and application of God’s word.

Then we are get to work on the problem knowing that help is on the way.

In closing, hard times will come but it is how we choose to respond to these moments that will impact our lives and the lives of those around us.

Let us practice the principles of God’s word as the ultimate training for the problems we will all face.

We Need Your Help !

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Yours in Christ,

Pastor Crutchfield

A Personal Message From “Iron Dome” Fighters

A special message for our readers in Israel, and those who support them.

 

AVOID A JUNK FOOD SALVATION

Salvation is so much more than being able to check a box on a form. Its not about being able to say “I love Jesus, of course I’m saved.” Salvation in its true sincere form is a transformational experience. Your life will be changed forever and these changes have a purpose. Salvation is the first step in preparing you for the future God has always intended for you. In this respect salvation is not entirely an individual event. Salvation is a first step in preparation for service to God and the people around you. God works through his people, so if you are unable or unwilling to allow God to work through you then you are not the only one who suffers. The salvation experience should open your heart and mind to of your acceptance of God working in you, and through you. Salvation occurs through the grace of God, by way of your acknowledgment that Christ died for you on the cross. There is now way to earn your way into Heaven. But as you are saved and after you and everyone else should see dramatic changes in how you face the world. Changes that come from being immersed in the Holy Spirit and God’s word !

Our behavior is the most obvious sign of our spiritual condition. Salvation is not a blank check ! Being saved, and under God’s grace does not mean we can do anything we want because God forgave our sins. Paul makes this point to the Christians in Corinth when he says “ “Everything is permitted, but everything isn’t beneficial. Everything is permitted, but everything doesn’t build others up. No one should look out for their own advantage, but they should look out for each other.” 1 Corinthians 9:23-24 (CEB)

Does anybody not believe that God could safe every person one Earth with a snap of his fingers ? Of course he could. But this would not be the point. Don’t you think that God could force us to follow his way if he wanted to. Of course he could ! But this would miss the point. God wants thinking willing followers not an army of brainless robots. For salvation to do what it is meant to do we must willingly accept Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. For God’s Word to do what it is supposed to do we must voluntarily follow the understanding of it the Holy Spirit gives us.

Anything less is a “junk food” kind of salvation. Junk food may taste good, its convenient, and it fills you up or at least makes you feel full. Junk Food can also be expensive, and over time lead to obesity, heart problems etc. A junk food salvation works the same way. We may say we are a Christian. We may even go to church, read Christian magazines etc. But like with junk food, if we do not allow salvation to open our minds and hearts to the Holy Spirit then our salvation is only a convenient but dangerous substitute for the real thing. If we do not allow God to enter our lives and make dramatic life changes to our world, then we are in reality not saved at all. So pray that your hear and mind will be opened to that which God has reserved for you. Commit yourself to not only reading God’s word, but integrating it into your daily life. Not only will you reap the rewards, but so will the world around you.

Faith-Based Organizations Host Disaster Recovery Volunteers

ANCHORAGE, AK (FEMA) – Faith-based organizations in Anchorage and Fairbanks are welcoming hundreds of volunteers with open arms, providing them food, transportation and shelter as they prepare for the final leg of a journey to help rebuild communities hit by last year’s flooding and ice jams along the Yukon River. Armed with a wide range of construction skills, men and women from across the country began arriving in Fairbanks on the first of June and more arrived in Anchorage starting the first of July.

The host groups are partnering with the State of Alaska and Federal Emergency Management Agency to ensure the volunteers have a local base where they receive training and orientation before heading out to the affected communities. Many are returning to continue the repair efforts they supported last summer.

“I feel really good about the volunteers coming in,” said FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaison Susie Calvert. “The churches are prepared to host them in ways that will be a pleasant transition. I feel we have the staff to support them and spent the whole winter preparing for their arrival.”

Where volunteers stay prior to their departure depends on which community they will assist. About 55 volunteers from Disciples of Christ and Mennonite Disaster Service stationed in Emmonak or Alakanuk are scheduled to connect in Anchorage throughout the summer.

The majority of volunteers, around 210 from the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, Samaritan’s Purse and Mennonite Disaster Service aiding Galena or Circle will arrive in Alaska via Fairbanks.

“This year, eight different churches in Fairbanks have stepped up to the plate to share the hosting responsibility,” said Disaster Response Coordinator Debbie Ervin for the Alaska Methodist Conference. “We’re all taking turns and helping one another to make sure that this goes as smoothly as possible to help Galena and the other communities return to where they were before the flood happened.”

Churches and other faith-based organizations hosting volunteers in Fairbanks include the Fairbanks Native Chapel, Fairhill Community Church of God, Friends Community Church, First United Methodist Church, University Community Presbyterian Church, Monroe Catholic School, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Bible Baptist Church, True Victory Baptist Church and the Salvation Army.

Participating organizations in Anchorage include the First Presbyterian Church, Prince of Peace Mennonite Church, Trinity Christian Reform Church, Anchorage Lutheran Church, the Presbytery of Yukon, St. Patrick Catholic Church Parish and First Christian Church Disciples of Christ.

“I think there’s been a good collaboration between state and federal government and the voluntary agencies,” said Anchorage pastor John David Thacker with the Mennonite Disaster Service and chairperson of the Alaska Voluntary Agencies Active in Disaster. “We all have a common goal in mission: serving Alaskans who have been affected by the disaster, and if we all work together, great things can happen.”

#Firefighters Who will save us?

By Andrew Starnes

Founder, Bringing Back Brotherhood

 

In our journey there will come a time in our lives when we realize that all that we are, all that we have, and all that we have done is meaningless. Something is missing and that something is a someone: Jesus Christ.

It’s at the point where we notice a pattern of reaching goals, acquiring possessions, working for recognition, and it hits us that each time we reach the pinnacle we are faced with another mountain to climb. It seems that it’s never enough. We are never at peace or satisfied. All that we have grasped and worked for has yet to fulfill this longing in our hearts.

Why is this?

We then begin to understand that there is a void in our soul that no material possession, no drink or drug, and no one individual can fill. This void in our heart is a cross shaped scar that can only be healed by the redeeming blood of Jesus.

But many ignore God’s great Rescue mission through His Son Jesus. Our great pride becomes our worst enemy.

Yet in our prideful stubbornness, we quietly and fearfully dismiss this inner longing, and put it out of our focus. We scoff at others who follow Christ and say words like “I am a good person.”

The devil and the world are a constant threat to us focusing on our Godly relationship.

Pulled closer or Pushed away:

The trials, tribulations, and day to day monotony of our lives can either be a distraction or a reminder of our need for God. We will either recognize our brokenness and call upon God or we will dismiss it because of our anger, the hypocrisy of Christianity, and the unanswered questions that remain in our hearts.

But God isn’t mad at us and we should never judge a belief system by those who choose to abuse it. Of that were the case, many of us would never be a firefighter because there are bad firefighters. We would never goto the gym because there are out of shape people there. And many of us would never marry because the divorce rate is so high.

The pursuit of an inner longing is not based on the performance of others; Our salvation is determined by Gods love and our willingness to accept His offer. A gift that many refuse because we cannot comprehend the principle that one would die for another who refused to acknowledge their love.

Consider this: A firefighter takes an oath to take great risks and even sacrifice their life if necessary to save someone that they may have never met.

Now, does the concept of Jesus dying on a cross to save us sound so far fetched?

But what if we accept God’s gift?

How are we to seek relationship with God through Jesus when our family, our work, and our friends tell us to take the easy road?

For the author, the fire department was a spiritual detriment but now as a firefighter each day is a “spiritual opportunity”. Each day is viewed as an opportunity to share the life changing message that God has given freely to us all.

Failing to Search & Rescue:

As Firefighters we are so focused on training and our duty to the public that we often miss the greatest opportunity to make a difference that lies right in front of us:

Our brothers and sisters in the fire house.

We have the duty and privilege to share God’s good news with ourselves and our brothers in the fire station.

Romans 5:8 says “God demonstrated His great love in this: while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”

As a firefighter we took an oath to lay down our life, if necessary, to save someone else’s. We will not know the day, the hour, or the person if this time ever comes.

We can only train ourselves: mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually to prepare ourselves to save another’s life. Yet God has already made the rescue of all mankind; rather than waiting on the firefighters to arrive to save us all we must do is make the greatest 911 call ever made.

Consider this concept:

God sent His son to die for us before we ever recognized our sinfulness or our need for Him.

When someone calls 911 they are crying out to us for our help. Out of our great love for our fellow man we respond willing to risk our life for someone we may have never met.

God provided for us before we ever called for His help. “Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24)

It was His plan to redeem us from the very beginning:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His son to condemn the world but to save it.” (John 3:16-17)

We are all born with a need for God, and it is only through Jesus that this can be fulfilled. Let Jesus come to our rescue today. May we all place our hope in Him and our future is secured. It is as simple as ABC

Admit that we need help: God I am a sinner and I need help.

Believe: Dear God, I believe that Jesus is your Son, that He died on the cross for our sins, and on the third day He rose from the dead defeating the power of sin and death.

Confess: Dear God, I confess my sins to you and I accept the gift of forgiveness by accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Please walk with me, guide me, and keep me on the path to a closer walk with Thee.

If you have prayed this prayer, we ask that you would contact us. We would love to follow up with you and assist you on the wonderful journey of walking with Jesus.

It is our hope and our mission that every firefighter will come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

MAP International Names Steve Stirling President & CEO

ATLANTA, July 8, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — The Board of Directors of MAP International, a Christian global health organization headquartered in Atlanta, announces the appointment of Steve Stirling as the next president and CEO. Stirling assumes the role this week after holding leadership positions in major corporations and nonprofit organizations including, most recently, Executive Vice-President of ChildFund International.
“Steve was chosen from a strong field of candidates because of his extensive marketing and fundraising background, as well as the organizational and leadership skills required to lead a top 100 growing and dynamic global health organization,” said Immanuel Thangaraj, Board Chairman.
MAP International, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, provides medicines, prevents disease and promotes health to create hope and lasting change in some of the poorest countries in the world. Known for its 99% efficiency rating, the organization has a global distribution center in Brunswick, GA, offices in Ecuador, Bolivia, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, through an affiliate in Indonesia and through partnerships in more than 115 countries each year.
“I’m humbled and honored to be selected by the MAP Board as the new CEO. I’m excited and look forward to working with the leadership team to build upon the strong foundation established over the past 60 years to take the organization to the next level of growth,” said Stirling.
A graduate of Cornell University, with a Masters in Management from Northwestern University, Stirling has an impressive twenty five year background in executive leadership, diverse brand marketing, fundraising and management in major multinational corporations and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) including Heifer International, World Vision, and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
In addition to his business skills, Stirling’s personal story also makes him uniquely suited to head MAP. Born in South Korea, he contracted polio as a young child and lived until he was eleven in an orphanage, until he was adopted by an American family. “MAP’s important mission of providing medicines to those in need is very personal to me,” said Stirling. “Although I know God has blessed me in many ways, my life would have been different if I’d had access to the polio vaccine as a child.”
Stirling succeeds Michael Nyenhuis, who headed MAP for 14 years. Chok-Pin Foo, a former MAP board member and Microsoft executive, has served as interim CEO.
MAP has provided nearly $5 billion in medicines and medical supplies since 1954 and has been recognized for helping eradicate Buruli ulcer and other neglected tropical diseases in some of the world’s poorest countries.
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