Category Archives: faith

Lessons from a World War II American Odyssey

The stories of our past, real or imagined, serve as classrooms for today’s traveler. They reveal humanity at its best and at its worst, and as spoken often throughout history, those who fail to learn its lessons are doomed to repeat its mistakes. In the first of a two-part saga, author and historian John J. Dwyer draws from the written and unwritten pages of American history, to weave a story that could parallel today’s headlines.

Dwyer’s Shortgrass (Tiree Press, May 2017) offers a realism that differs from your typical historical novel revealing the grit and determination that defined “The Greatest Generation.” The story’s characters embody the many real life heroes that traveled similar paths during those turbulent times of world conflict and human survival and the lessons taught reveal something of the author himself.

“While the story is set in a different era, Shortgrass, and its sequel, Mustang, are the closest thing to my own written testament to those who come after me. They depict what I have learned about love and loss, history and heroes, inner conflict and unanswered questions, God and man – life itself,” offers Dwyer. “Although a work of fiction, the history and the lessons it teaches us are timeless and real.”

The adventurous journey of a Mennonite farm boy, Lance Roark, begins in the drought-ravaged Dust Bowl of Oklahoma where his battle for survival would prepare him for college gridiron glory. As war clouds gather across the seas, he is smitten with teenaged Chickasaw cowgirl and stunt flyer Sadie Stanton. He later finds love with Mary Katherine Murchison, a beautiful oil heiress and singing star of the Big Band Era.

He eventually enters the dangerous world of America First, the Lindbergh-led organization opposing Roosevelt’s drive toward American involvement in the War. When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, his lifelong commitment never to raise his hand against another human soul brings him to his own crisis of conscience. He is faced with the decision whether or not to accept command of a B-17 Flying Fortress in which he would witness, and inflict, mass slaughter in Nazi occupied Europe amidst history’s most fearsome war.

“John Dwyer writes as he thinks: lucidly, dynamically, engagingly. Wherever John takes you, you’ll be glad you went. And you will want to go again.”

Reg Grant,
Senior Professor and Chair of Media Arts & Worship
Dallas Theological Seminary

John J. Dwyer earned his Master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and his undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Since 2006, he has been adjunct professor of history and ethics at Southern Nazarene University. He is former history chair at Coram Deo Academy, near Dallas, Texas. John is the author of the The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War, the historical novels Stonewall and Robert E. Lee, the novel When Bluebonnets Come and the recently released, The Oklahomans: The Story of Oklahoma and Its People. John is also the former editor and publisher of the Dallas/Fort Worth Heritage newspaper and also worked as a radio announcer and play-by-play football and basketball announcer for several radio stations, winning the coveted position of sports director for the University of Oklahoma’s 100,000 watt KGOU-FM radio station.

www.johnjdwyer.com

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Helping Fathers Part 2

Part 2 of Q&A with Tim Bayly, author of Daddy Tried

timbaylyQ: Your father was a notable author and pastor and you freely draw from your family experiences throughout the book. What are a couple of things that you learned about fatherhood through his example?

A: I was the second of five brothers. Three of them died – one from leukemia, one cystic fibrosis, and my older brother from a Christmas sledding accident. Watching both of my parents deal with their pain while maintaining an unwavering faith though it all was instrumental in shaping my idea of fatherhood. My remaining brother and I grew up hearing them say they were never as certain of God’s love as when they walked away from the fresh grave of one of their children.

Secondly, recognizing Dad’s love for me when he kicked me out of his house. I was nineteen and one Saturday morning he quietly said to me, “Tim, you are not honoring God and you may not live in my home any longer.” I tell the longer version in the book, but Dad never loved me more faithfully than that day, and I came to learn what it meant to fear the Lord above yielding to the fears of men.

Q: Obviously, your family had a personal experience with grief. What would you say to fathers who have been crippled by personal loss of a loved one?

A: Grief is hard work that must not be avoided. If it is avoided, you and your loved ones will pay a steep price. Mourn. Shed tears. Be weak and be quiet. Take your grief to God in prayer. Get good at noticing how God uses your suffering to help others. Suffering is a gift from the hand of our loving Heavenly Father. Thank God for His care for you and your loved ones because giving thanks will inoculate you against bitterness.

Q: What is the most important advice that you would give to a young father today?

A; Don’t be afraid. Our Heavenly Father specializes in making the stupid wise, the weak strong, and the fearful bold as lions. You are the perfect man to be the husband of your wife and the father of your children. Throw out your video games, drop out of fantasy football, stop looking at Facebook, close your laptop, confess your sin to your elders, ask them to pray for you, then enjoy your kids.

Q: Apart from a man’s personal responsibility to his own children, what would you say to any man about his role in society and how he can help shape the next generation of fathers?

A: Be willing to take responsibility outside your home. Serve as an elder or deacon of your church and take responsibility for guarding God’s truth as well as the souls in your congregation.

Outside your home and church, if there’s an accident and someone needs help, step in and do what is needed. Give to the poor. Help the widows and orphans. Protect the weak and defenseless from the attack of the wicked. Always speak up in defense of God and His truth, and do it cheerfully. Remember that everywhere you go you are being copied and followed by other men who are learning to be fathers themselves.

Whether or not God has blessed him with children, father is what every man is and his fatherhood is needed as much outside the home as it is inside the home.

For more information please visit https://DaddyTriedbook.com

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Finding Peace in India

Trevor with group at HBII am in India this week. My husband, Terry, is teaching pastors and their wives. I am supporting with video, pictures, prayer, and the like. I like my support role. I find it peaceful to record the stories as I listen to the people talk. I love watching their faces as they connect through the translator with Terry’s American stories.

Yesterday, we listened to them tell us their stories. I have done this in the past when meeting new pastors. Many of them are heartbreaking…almost beaten to death, rejected by their families and cast out to live on the streets by their own parents because of their faith in Christ, being sold into prostitution, alcoholism, drug addiction, attempts at suicide and much more. I have found a single thread that runs almost every story. They just wanted peace.

Life is pretty simple here. You work to get your food and clothing for each day. Your expectations, if you have any, are low and simply based on improving your life. You don’t have many other possessions. Although they drive like maniacs, it is a much slower pace of life in some sense. But many of the people don’t experience any rest or peace.

Perhaps their lack of peace is due to the fact that 3.2 million people live in the same land area as my hometown of Corsicana – population 25,000. The city literally never sleeps. Or could it be because they have no assurance of what tomorrow will bring and no way to plan for it? The day before we arrived they had an unseasonable amount of rainfall accompanied by a hailstorm. Now their crops are ruined and the cost of food has gone up 100%. Their lack of peace might also be due to their religion that offers the impossible task of appeasing a variety of gods that are “unpleasable”. They have a deterministic outlook on life, because that same religion teaches that everyone will get another chance in their next life.

Another common thread in their stories is the sense of instantaneous peace they find when they meet Jesus. The look on their entire face as they share that experience is both breathtaking and overwhelming. The local pastor, Trevor, says that people can recognize a believer just by looking at their face. He says it is because they see peace and light.

In the midst of this newly found peace, their life circumstances still do not change. They still work every day for the food they need. Some days they go without. They wear the same clothes every day. They travel hundreds of miles for 2-3 days just to hear someone teach God’s word, always in very rough conditions and sometimes experiencing persecution. But they are at peace.

Maybe that is why I like coming here so much. I sense God’s peace in a very dark place. I wish I could bottle it and bring it home with me. When I return home, I always find myself starting to rush and be anxious about the things I need to get done. And I am supposed to know better! I am praying that God will give me peace as I return, and remind me to bring my anxious thoughts to him like my brothers and sisters here in India.

So as I am finishing up, I’m thinking, “Do people who are in darkness around us see peace and light when they look at our faces?

John 14:27 My peace I leave with you….

Tina Jacobson is founder and CEO of The Barnabas Agency.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

JaipurThe Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opened on March 6th. My husband and I were eagerly anticipating and hoping to see the movie before we left for India but the schedule didn’t allow. We thought its predecessor, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a great movie, very entertaining. But what made it special for us is that we went to Jaipur, India after it released and actually saw the place where it was filmed. Because of our firsthand knowledge of life in Jaipur, we could relate on many levels. Having friends in India and “doing” ministry there, we hoped that the second would be just as good. Hey, if it has Richard Gere in it, it has to be, right?!

At this very moment, we are back in Jaipur and we hear that the reviews have not been so great. But it made me think about PR. (I know. You are asking, “What doesn’t?”)
With the success of the first movie and cast including Richard Gere and Judy Dench, expectations for the sequel were high. The first week grossed more than $8 million and by the second week the total was $12 million. I am not a movie critic or expert, but I’m not sure this is what everyone had hoped for.

So what happened?

The reviews by moviegoers were great, most were 10s, but the response from movie critics was not so great. Did their opinion keep people away? Was it the time of release? Was it a poorly written story line? Poor acting? (Hard to believe with that cast!) Was it promoted well enough? (Probably so. I saw it everywhere.) We may never know for sure.
Such is the nature of PR. With all of the work that goes into promoting and building a public platform, you never know for sure what will “stick” and resonate with the audience. I am sure that the PR strategists behind this film did their homework and knew their audience. I am confident they did everything possible to get the actors placed on the right shows, posted throughout social media, and the trailers were spectacular, sure to capture the attention of anyone enamored with the exotic feel of India. Since I haven’t seen it yet, I can’t comment on the storyline…was it weak?

Sometimes a book is promoted well, has a great cover, the authors receive rave reviews only to see it fizzle because the writing is not that great, the message doesn’t resonate or the author fails to “stay” in the public eye to continue to promote the book. There are other times that little is done in the way of promotion yet it rips through a certain demographic and finds its way onto the best-seller list (e.g. – David Platt’s Radical or Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz) and in the process, provides a platform for the author where they now have a “voice” that people will listen to.

I say that it all goes back to spaghetti. “Spaghetti,” you ask? Yes, spaghetti! Throw it on the wall and see if it sticks. And throw a lot of it. And keep throwing it. Throw different kinds of spaghetti (angel hair, fettuccini, lasagna, etc.) and see what the audience likes. Sometimes you are not surprised by the results and sometime you are.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be strategic or targeted, but the truth is that sometimes we are surprised, sometimes maybe not, but we have to keep trying.

What are you doing that is working for you? How are you promoting your message, building your platform? I would love to hear from you!

Tina Jacobson is the founder and CEO of The Barnabas Agency.

What Borders do you Cross?

Whether you are in the comfort of your home

or venturing through a foreign land

we have one question to ask…

What borders do you cross to be free?

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Deliver the Message with Diversity!

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Keep crossing borders in pursuit of freedom whether traveling the road or in your home!

You say Goodbye >> but I say Hello

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Delivering the Message with Diversity

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“You say goodbye

I say hello.”

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Can I get a witness?

Workcamps from Group Mission Trips are weeklong home repair mission camps for Christian youth. These camps are big, high-energy experiences where youth groups serve people in need through challenging home repair projects. For six days, youth join other young people to repair sagging porches, rebuild unsafe steps and wheelchair ramps and paint homes. The young people will transform a house, and God will transform their faith.

 “We’ve made Week of Hope an annual event to provide time together for our group. As they work, play and worship together, relationships are built and strengthened, which sets a valuable stage for the work of the Spirit in their hearts and lives. The kids get along better when they get home. They have drawn closer to their group leader and have experienced God in real and personal ways-priceless.” -Tom Smithson, Salem Evangelical FreeRead testimonials from Youth Leaders and campers who have attended a Week of Hope mission trip…

“Participating in Week of Hope was one of the best experiences I have ever had! I made so many new friends of all ages from 13-99. I learned more about myself and God which helped me make much needed changes in my life. I will never forget this life changing experience!” –Adrienne, Youth Participant

“Week of Hope showed me how God can change lives.” –Jordan S, Youth Participant

“This has had a lasting impression on my life. I feel my relationship with God is much stronger. The memories I made will last forever and I can’t wait for the mission trip this summer!” –Madison, Youth Participant, First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford

“As Youth Director, this is the best part of my job. Getting to watch our youth become transformed beyond what they ever imagined. They have been coming every year for four years and I personally see God in action through them. Their restoration and redemption experiences is what makes my job all the more worthwhile. I have the best job EVER!” –Allison Partridge, Youth Leader, 

First United Methodist Church

“Experiencing service projects with my youth was amazing. They continued to surprise me and I saw their faith grow each day.” –Kelly W., Youth Leader

“I had an amazing amount of quality time with my students that I would not have had throughout an entire year within our normal life back home.” –Chris M., Youth Leader

Group Mission Trips

(800) 385-4545

GroupMissionTrips.com