2014 Sept/Oct

Singularly Successful: The now strategy for living the godly single life

Singularly Successful: The now strategy for living the godly single life


    by James Dotson / How one man arrived at abstinence.

11 When abstinence is the scarlet letter, and when a kiss is more than a kiss

    by Tiffanie Archie

13 Tired of performing the same old tricks and getting nothing in return?

    by Patrice Thomas Conwell / Feeling cheap? Try this to keep you  “God-confident, and skill-ready.”

18 The EXPERIENCE – Invited, Yet Unwelcome

     by Christopher C. Thompson / You are on God’s A-list. How do you reply?

     by Rashad Burden / Too Fortunate.

24 Five critical moments

    by Stephen P. Ruff, Jr. / How Antoinette Tuff was prepared for her purpose.

4 Eye on the Times

    by Ed Cook/ Religious Freedom

6 Editorial

    by Carmela Monk Crawford / Love in the last days


    by Willie and Elaine Oliver / GRIM DISCOVERY: “My husband abused our daughter; now what ?”


    by Carlton P. Byrd / Blessings from family.

21 Spirit -filled:

    by Kurt Johnson / We all need each other

22 The Rubric

   by L. David Harris / Secrets to strengthen the family

23 Myth busters

   by Donald L. McPhaull / Is the husband the boss?


   by Donna Green Goodman / Throw it in the crock-pot!

28 Living with STD

   by Alanna Hunter /

30 Real

   by Diane Stark / Reviving a dead pickup


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Can This Marriage Be Saved

The statistics on marriage are troubling; in fact, some researchers suggest that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. But long beforehand there are warning signs. Learn about the warning signs, what to do if you think your marriage is in trouble and how to turn it around. Guests: Ronald & Karen Flowers

Protecting Fragile Life in Ferguson

Google maps shows that Mike Brown was killed 1.5 miles from my church.

After he was shot, I spent a week away from my church and city with our Pathfinders, a youth group, in Oshkosh Wisconsin. Each day I got calls with updates and requests to find a way to help.   After the looting, men from our church, the Northside Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Louis, Missouri, helped with the cleanup. Others went to be a positive influence to prevent illicit activity. The precious time I spent with my young people at the camporee, also allowed me to contemplate what I could pour into them to make sure they did not become a Michael Brown.

I know how precious and fragile life is as it says in James 4:14: “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (NASB95)

When our twelve-passenger van neared Ferguson, we pulled in to the parking lot of the church, and started to unload the van. More than ten police vehicles with lights and sirens blaring darted past us as if the end of the world was at hand. We hurried home to see what the news was saying about our community. I wondered what I was going to do to make a difference.


I reflected on my personal experience as a frequent traveler through Ferguson. Ticketed and going to court in Ferguson is something that most people around here experience. The scene in the courtroom is one that reveals why Ferguson is a powder keg: when I went to court, I counted approximately 15 court officials, all of whom are white, and of the 200 to 300 defendants, only a handful were nonblack.


I remembered watching a video depicting wild animals roaming through a city, and thinking how compassionate the people are towards animals. Search YouTube for “Bear in City.” I found one, Bear runs loose in the city and I watched as no one rushed to shoot the bear. Ordinary citizens people and the police looked, but did not make a quick decision to shoot the wild animal. This bear first appeared when children were on their way to school and still no one thought to kill it because it was possibly a danger to children. Police, parents and others just looked on and kept their distance until a conservation officer came to tranquilize the bear. One young lady in the video says “I don’t understand why they aren’t tranquilizing him or something to get him out of the city.” Just out of curiosity I decided to search YouTube for police dealing with wild dogs and came across this video St. Petersburg police change way they deal with violent dogs.

If we can look at the two videos and not see the lack of respect for the life of African Americans as compared to animals, we are in for more of what has taken place in Ferguson. I don’t mean that animals should not be treated humanely—I believe that all humans should be treated at least as humanely as the animals in these videos. And, I hope after seeing these videos, some eyes open as to why there is so much anger, frustration, outrage, and volatility in Ferguson and the St. Louis area.


Who is calling for justice?

Outrage after the shooting of Mike Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, has caused many around the country and world to come to my community. I received calls from members of the international press, Germany in particular, who were coming to town to cover the shooting and its aftermath. As I walked in protest to lend my support to the Ferguson cause for justice, respect, and equality, I met Debbie Williams from Detroit, Michigan who came to prevent further abuse and mistreatment as something of her own unofficial observer.

“The story kept changing,” Williams said. “Each day I would hear something different.”

“I have an eye on you all, Williams said.

“The whole world is watching” chimed in an unnamed man for New York.

Jim Bryan and Meg Hegeman of the United Methodist Church in Columbia, Missouri were on their way back to their vehicle when I stopped them to ask why they had joined the protest.

“These are my people,” said Hegeman. Even though she was not African American she wanted me to know that she was in Ferguson on behalf of her parishioners, many of whom are members of an urban community.

“This has been handled very badly, overkill,” said Hegeman. “The role of the church is to speak truth to power.”

Bryan answered the call, really an email, from the Missouri Faith Voices to travel to Ferguson and stand for justice because, as he put it, “the scenes [on TV] are heart breaking!”

Bryan marched with approximately 150 demonstrators and four members of the clergy. His witness of the events, the solidarity, the empathy, and the insight that came with being there on the ground, was worth a thousand pictures or words.

“Meg and I can’t understand what it means to be Black in America.” He alluded to all the injustice he had seen and shook his head and my hand and left.

May the God we serve allow all who worship and love Him to learn from the tragedy in Ferguson and address the need to respect and treat all humanity as Jesus would have us do.


Bryan W. Mann, Northside Seventh-day Adventist Church, Senior pastor

Is the Husband the Boss?

When following the biblical mandate and two individuals become one flesh, who’s the boss?
For many Christians this question, fueled by custom and tradition, has a very simple and straightforward answer.  Some accept that heaven has always viewed the husband as the boss of the family. To them, the wife’s marital role is subordinate or secondary to that of her husband.  Indeed, doesn’t the Bible say as much?  Specifically, doesn’t Paul tell the Ephesians, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church” (Ephesians 5: 22, 23)?
Surely such biblical clarity removes any doubt as to whether the husband may rightly be considered the “boss” of the family?  But is that true? If we’ve learned anything through studying God’s Word, what appears to be obvious may appear so only in the absence of biblical context.
We know that marriage is ordained of God.  We find in Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (NASB).1 There is no ambiguity as to how the marital relationship came into being. It is a union designed by God.
In Matthew 19, confronted by the Pharisees on the question of marriage and divorce, Jesus reiterates God’s view of the marital relationship. “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So then, they are no longer two but one flesh” (verses 4-6).
So the origins of marriage are clear enough. Is it not likewise clear that the husband is the boss in the family?  Isn’t that what Paul means in Ephesians 5:23 when he writes that “the husband is head of the wife”?
The apostle Paul does say that the husband is the head of the wife.  However, may I suggest that often we magnify that part of the Word that confirms our thoughts and feelings, while attempting to diminish surrounding context. The headship Paul speaks of is not to be viewed as the husband having a dominating role.
True, God has given clear areas of responsibility for both husband and wife.  However, never does He offer endorsement of the husband as the “big chief.”  A correct understanding of Ephesians 5:23 would be that the husband’s headship is to be modeled after the headship of Christ with His church.  Nowhere in the Bible do we find Jesus dominating the church simply because He is the head.  Study His example, and you will find His approach to headship was through offering love, self-sacrificing love.  Likewise, a husband is to present the same model of headship to his wife. He is to offer his wife love, self-sacrificing love.

The key to busting this myth is found in the context of mutual submission.

So then what about Paul’s admonition for the wife to submit to her husband?  I like the way Jeffrey and Pattiejean Brown approach the concept of submission in their book The Total Marriage.2 They point out that submission is not synonymous with subservience.  And while the husband’s role is one of headship, it is anchored in agape love that is selfless and self-sacrificing.  Thus, a wife’s choosing to submit to her husband is her free-willed response to his Christlike love.  As a result, the wife’s submission is not to her husband’s commands, demands, or wishes, but rather to her husband’s love. Additionally, the authors offer that many times the Ephesians 5:23 counsel for wives to submit is emphasized, while the admonition found in Ephesians 5:21 is overlooked. In that passage Paul writes, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (KJV).  The Browns point out that here the apostle Paul is highlighting the concept of mutual submission.  “Mutual submission requires that Christians . . . ‘through love be servants of one another.’  If a partner is to submit as Christ’s church is to submit, then the biblical definition of submission is a free response, an uncoerced surrender to the self-sacrificing, unconditional love of a compassionate and committed spouse.”
The Bible leaves no room in marriage for a boss. That’s because God views marriage as a partnership. We find that understanding repeatedly in His Word—for example,
1 Corinthians 7:3, 4: “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” This partnership originated in the heart of God. He announced its role in our lives when He declared, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, be joined to his wife; and they shall become one” (NASB). This partnership recognizes the headship of the husband as a self-sacrificing gift to his wife, the wife’s submission to her husband as a gift-in-kind, and mutual submission one to another out of reverence for God as a total gift exchange.
No need for a boss in a Christian’s marriage. That’s because God is at the center of their partnership. And their joint prayer is “Your [God’s] will be done.”


1 Scripture quotations marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
2 Jeffrey Brown and Pattiejean Brown, The Total Marriage, pp. 55, 56. (Granthan, Engl.: Autumn House, 1999).

Invited Yet Unwelcome

Our country has been arguing about gay marriage for some time now. At the time of this writing 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriages. Yet polls indicate a split down the middle on the issue.

Our country has been arguing about gay marriage for some time now. At the time of this writing 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriages. Yet polls indicate a split down the middle on the issue. So here is the question: If you got invited to the wedding and reception of a gay couple, would you go? Would you feel comfortable sitting at the wedding reception table for the celebratory meal?
It is probably the most unsettling feeling to eat in the presence of people you are uncomfortable around, or people that you do not like. Mealtimes are probably the times we are the most relaxed and at ease. It is hard to be at ease when you are in the presence of people you do not respect or like.
In ancient Hebrew culture mealtimes were even more special and intimate. As a matter of fact, Jews held hospitality as a very sacred virtue. The Jewish Shema states, “The Lord our God . . . is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). They understood that to mean that the ultimate goal for society was to become one in community and relationship. Thus, when entertaining guests, it was absolutely essential to ensure that their needs were met, especially during mealtime. On one occasion Jesus chided Simon, the Pharisee, for not providing water for foot washing to Him and the other dinner guests (Luke 7:44).


However, despite their values of hospitality, there were certain people that Jews would never entertain, much less invite into their homes for a meal.

The Jews believed that if a perso2014 The Experience homelessn was sick or suffered some misfortune, it was evidence of God’s disapproval and judgment. They believed that those who were paralyzed, blind, or leprous were cursed by God because of their sins. Furthermore, there were certain groups with whom the Jews would not even socialize. They were chosen by God to represent His will and character in the world. Yet they misunderstood His favor to mean favoritism. But Jesus’ ministry would change all of that.
In this parable Jesus tells the story of a man who prepares a “great banquet” for some special guests. However, when he extends the invitation, they excused themselves. One had just recently bought a piece of land, and probably wanted to go and survey the property. Another had just bought some new oxen to help him plow his fields, and he wanted to go and try them out. Still another had just been married, and maybe wanted to go directly to his honeymoon.
When the host learned that they had rejected his hospitality, he decided in an angry huff that he would extend his invitation to anyone who would come. He ordered his servant to go out into the city streets and alleyways “and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame” (Luke 14:21, NIV).1 Anyone he can find is now welcome. The servant did as he was told, and before the owner’s anger could subside, the hall was furnished with grateful guests. But with space for more guests still, the owner ordered his servant to expand the invite to the countryside and county roads.
The story ends abruptly with a fairly dark saying of the obviously still upset owner:  “I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet” (verse 24, NIV).
Ironically, Jesus told this story while at a banquet of a prominent religious leader. He was surrounded by the very important and powerful, the very group that believes that poor people, sick people, and foreigners are all cursed by God. They could not possibly be invited into the intimate proximity of the chosen ones. They are cursed, and that is why they were not invited to this particular banquet with all the “important” people.
But Jesus’ story reverses that notion. In His story it
is those who are poor, lame, or blind that receive the favor of the master. And it is the privileged ones who are shut out. The owner determines to make sure that the hall is full, so that even if they change their mind they won’t be allowed in. They had their chance and they rejected it, and now their seat has been taken. Now the favored ones are cursed, and the cursed ones are favored.
Could it be that this parable still vividly describes churches today? Are we angry at the dinner table because we do not like being around them? If so, maybe we are the ones who the owner promises will not be allowed to enter the great banquet.
You can take your pick of outcasts and undesirables, and ask yourself: Would I feel comfortable breaking bread with them? We may have started this discussion in the context of members of the LGBT community, and that is a reality-based example, but there may be so much more. What about a drug dealer, a drug addict, a Wall Street CEO, a crooked politician, a prostitute, or an undocumented immigrant? Would they be welcome guests at your table? Maybe you are the one who feels like an outcast.
If you feel as though church is not for you because you do not fit in, or because the people there are cold and snobbish, then the words of Jesus are especially for you. He wants you to know that God’s kingdom is established on the foundation of grace, love, and acceptance. He proclaimed that His “house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7, ESV).2 He welcomes you to His house.
I hope you’re hungry, because the table is set and the food is ready.


Scriptures quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
2Scripture quotations marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

christopher c. thompson has written three books on spiritual growth, and blogs regularly at www.thegrowthnetwork.org. He is also a doctoral candidate at United Theological Seminary.

If you were to take a personal inventory of some of your best days, you would realize that there were some truly joyous days that you have experienced. Maybe it is a golden moment from your childhood, or the moment you met the one you were to be with the rest of your life, or even some academic or occupational accomplishment that you longed for. Whatever it may be, we find in Scripture a very sobering lesson from the one called Jesus Christ.

Day 1 - Read Luke 14:1

Luke 14:1

It may sound simple, and maybe even trivial, but have you ever tried to literally list the blessing and fortune you are currently experiencing in your life? How much “good” is really around you at this present time? I challenge you to take an inventory of what you are blessed with, or fortunate to have at this particular time. Write it out. If you’re comfortable enough, share it with us at Message via roundedinstagram Instagram, roundedfacebook Facebook,
roundedtwitterbird Twitter, by #MessageMagazine.

Day 2 - Read Luke 14:12 - 14

Luke 14:12 – 14

The words of Jesus are a practical challenge. How natural is it to want to do nice things for those who have been nice to us? How much easier is it to show kindness to those who we know will have our back if we ever needed them? It seems that Jesus is downplaying the merit of showing kindness to those who are close to you, or have ability and means to return it. Look over your list of blessings and things that you see as fortunate, and see who they benefit. Is it you? Is it family or friends? Share it with us at Message via roundedinstagram Instagram, roundedfacebook Facebook,
roundedtwitterbird Twitter, by #MessageMagazine.

Day 3 - Read John 15:13

John 15:13

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13 (KJV). The extent of love a person can exhibit is dying for a friend. But Jesus didn’t die for only those He called friend—He died for the whole world. I want you to make another list. This list will take serious introspection and honesty. Make a list of people it would be hard to die for. Who is it that rubs you the wrong way? Is there anyone whose presence causes negative feelings to arise in you? Write the names out, and I ask you to pray for them. Read Matthew 5:43-45.

Day 4 - Read Luke 14:15 - 17

Luke 14:15 – 17

With this mind-set I invite you to read the lyrics to the hymn “Jesus Saves.”
We have heard a joyful sound,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Spread the gladness all around;
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Bear the news to every land,
Climb the steeps and cross the waves,
Onward, ’tis our Lord’s command,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves.

Waft it on the rolling tide,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Tell to sinners, far and wide,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Sing, ye islands of the sea.
Echo back, ye ocean caves,
Earth shall keep her jubilee,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves.

Sing above the battle’s strife,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
By His death and endless life,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Sing it softly through the gloom,
When the heart for mercy craves,
Sing in triumph o’er the tomb,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves.

Give the winds a mighty voice,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Let the nations now rejoice,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves;
Shout salvation full and free,
Highest hills and deepest caves,
This our song of victory,
Jesus saves, Jesus saves.
Isn’t it interesting who the songwriter says Jesus saves, and who we should tell that Jesus saves?

Day 5 - Read Luke 14:18 - 20

Luke 14:18 – 20

We find in this passage that the ones invited
are all fortunate. There’s nothing that indicates that these are “bad” people who are being invited. In fact, it seems they are all well-to-do members of their society. One has managed their money well and acquired real estate to further their net worth. Another has purchased some necessary upgrades to be more efficient in doing his or her work, and wants to make sure all is in working order. The last has just started the crown jewel of human relationships, and married the love of their life. All of these are blessings, correct? Why then does the Bible call them excuses? What do you think? Share it with us at Message via roundedinstagram Instagram, roundedfacebook Facebook,
roundedtwitterbird Twitter, by #MessageMagazine.

Day 6 - Read Luke 14:21-24

Luke 14:21-24

The next order of the master is radical. He commands his servants to go and get anyone. When the banquet still isn’t full, he then says, in his own way, “Really! Go get absolutely anyone who will come.” The portion that seems harsh is verse 24, where he says, “I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet” (NIV).* This is in reference to those in the previous verses. What does this say about God? What does this say about the kingdom of heaven and those who make it?

Day 7 - Wrap Up

It’s been said that you should not exalt the gift over the giver, the blessing over the blesser. So many of us see ourselves as good, fortunate, and blessed people, but we fall short of the people that make it into the banquet with the Master. We do only for those who are good to us. We take very little thought for those who have no help. Instead of seeing the things in our lives as an opportunity to enrich the life of those less fortunate, we conclude it is nothing more than our own fortune and enrichment. I hope that this study has led you to realize that some of us are too fortunate, and that will be the reason we excuse ourselves from the A List of the banquet of heaven.



*Scriptures quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Rashad Burden is an associate pastor for youth at the Buckhead Fellowship chruch in Buckhead, Georgia.



Blessings That Flow From Family

Traditional folklore tells the story of a Vacation Bible School teacher, who, after having shared the biblical Creation account, asked her class to draw pictures from the Creation story.  She received pictures of the sun, moon, stars, rivers, trees, animals, and a serpent with an apple in its mouth.  Because the learners were young and had drawing skills appropriate for their age, the teacher was not expecting perfection, but one picture completely baffled her. She wondered at the picture of a long, modern limousine with massive blazing flames coming from the vehicle exhaust system, two passengers in the back seat, and the driver wearing a cap with a halo over his head.
When gently prodded to explain his picture, the young boy said emphatically, “Teacher said God drove out Adam and Eve from the garden!”
While we smile at the interpretation of this child’s limited understanding of Adam and Eve being driven out of Eden, we can only imagine the pain it must have caused our loving God to remove them from their home. After creating this earth in six literal days, our Creator established marriage, one of the greatest blessings of God to humanity, only for sin to progressively mar this divine institution.
Nevertheless, from the Edenic narrative several foundational principles for the marital structure have been laid. For one, Adam had vocational responsibility before he had a wife, according to Genesis 2:15. The ability and willingness to provide for his family became two integral parts of his existence after Creation. Hence, having employment was not foreign to the experience of men from the very beginning.
Second, we learn that God took a rib from Adam to use as He created Eve (Genesis 2:21). The choice of a rib from which to create Eve provided an important lesson for us. God chose a rib from Adam’s side, because the woman was to be neither above nor beneath the man, but to stand by his side.  The rib was taken from under his arm, which symbolically suggests that the woman was to enjoy the man’s protection and support. Also, the rib was located near his heart, indicating that the woman was to be the object of his affections and love.
God then brought Eve to Adam as a complete woman so Adam would know that he was neither the Creator nor the cause of woman coming into existence. God created both Adam and Eve, and intended this sacred union between a man and a woman to be indissoluble.

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:23-25, KJV).

Despite the devastating effects of sin on marriage, when husbands and wives apply these general principles of responsibility, respect, protection, support, and love to their marriage coupled with committing themselves not only to one another but also to God in a saving relationship, the beauty and blessings of marriage are plenteous.


The prophetic positioning of your family

  • Parents obey, and teach their children to honor, obey, and respect God. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).
  • “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Genesis 18:19, KJV).
  • Watch for the tendency to conduct family affairs lightly,
    or even enter into the decision to start a family as if nothing eternal were at stake, and as if there were no God to whom we are accountable. “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark” (Matthew 24:37-39).
  • Make the home the symbol of God’s heavenly home, rooting out the key indicators of selfishness common today. “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4).