Walk out of Darkness-Emerging from the Shadow of My Son’s Suicide

Raising Awareness, raising money, raising our courage. These are ways we fight the epidemic of suicide.

My intent was to be there at the very beginning and to get involved, since I knew that I was truly ready to face this event. Last year’s Out of the Darkness Walk, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) was a challenge for me. This challenge was a part of my healing – healing of the wound left by the loss of my one and only son to suicide six years, two months, and seven days ago.

It was important to keep busy doing whatever I could. I fully engaged  by helping to hang the banner by the pavilion, and assisting with setting up booths, snack tables. Everyone was diligently performing their assigned tasks. While we worked I kept hearing discussions about “the tree” that the staff was anxious to set up. They didn’t know if the tree would make it due to the rain. They didn’t know where they would set it up either. This tree was really piquing my interest.

Tree of Lives

Soon, walkers gathered. There were families, who had just lost loved ones, walking around with signs and photos showing the dates of their loss. Some wore shirts with sentiments such as: “Your Life Matters You Will Never Be Forgotten.”

Then I saw a bronze-looking object with pipes of different sizes being unloaded from a truck. This, as it turns out, was to become the tree.  Once the pipes, which were actually the limbs, were assembled to the base, there stood the tree, in spite of the wind and rain.

It became a reality, and the meaning was clearer to me.

We were then directed to the craft table where we could choose stock paper, glitter, markers and colored twine to affix pictures of our loved ones to the tree. Slowly, I chose stock paper in my favorite color (blue) and glued to it the picture of my son when he graduated from the University of Phoenix, at the top of his class with a master’s in International Marketing.

“Yes. I was very proud of him.” Marialyce who lost her son to suicide six years ago poses in front of the tree that keeps standing in spite of the storm and rain.

Say His Name

Yes, I was very proud of him.  My McCants LeVon Carter, born November 13, 1978 was a quiet  child who became more confident after high school. He loved and looked up to his older sister, and was so proud of his two nieces. He insisted that they pursue their education. When his nephew came along later, he was equally proud of him.

He was a lifelong learner. My son loved to read car magazines, and books by Ellen G. White, especially The Great Controversy. He graduated from Bowie State University in 2003, and immediately pursued his MBA.

His love was vibrant, and he surprised his sweetheart of seven years, Meredith, with a proposal on stage at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, Maryland. His proposal took place when they both graduated on the same day, with thousands in attendance. He later married her on his birthday. He loved Meredith and their two daughters.

 

Walk into the Light

It was an emotional moment to see the golden tree which bore pictures of our loved ones, even though I wondered why I was even at this event.

Once the ceremonies began, speakers told of their lost loved ones; some also told of trying to end their own lives. We know that people of all ages, ethnic groups and economic strata commit suicide. In fact, the numbers are higher for suicide than for all the veterans who lost their lives in Vietnam. A recent Washington Post article stated that suicide is a national epidemic, and that it needs to be treated like one. Organizers reminded us that AFSP needs more funding to lower these growing, alarming statistics.

The Walk will occur again, and my plan is to participate, again. Last year I walked the five miles, and met some of the walkers. There was a woman who was walking for her son, who lost his close friend to suicide. She wished her son could have been part of the Walk, and hoped her participation would serve as a vehicle for discussion and encourage her son to open up about his feelings.

If I Can Help Somebody

Overall, there was not much conversation as we were all there to represent the loss and to make a statement about the need for funding from the medical arena and the government. Losing a child is truly a tough journey. My desire is to help others get through this painful journey, which may be avoided by assisting others before they feel the need to take this final step.

Fortunately, I have had occasions to offer assistance to parents and family members by encouraging them that they, too, can make it through this trial. God does not give us what we can handle; God helps us handle what we are given

Find out how you can participate in a walk near you. Here’s one near me:

 




Bill Cosby and Our Fall From Grace

“What?” I shouted, swerving and almost sending my SUV careening into the ditch.

Quickly recovering control of my vehicle and pulled onto the shoulder of the road.

I just there, silent and stunned!

America’s Dad, a worldwide hero, Bill Cosby, imprisoned. He had just been sentenced to three to ten years for drugging and raping a woman!

Once our childhood hero, Bill Cosby’s name was pure gold. Now, his life symbolizes the need for pure connection.

Hero Gone Rogue

Bill Cosby was my childhood hero.  I had grown to love his cartoons, educational shows, audio and his video stand-up routines. Finally, I appreciated his two landmark, culture-shifting shows: “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World”.

Although I deeply loved and respected Bill Cosby, I don’t in any way endorse his criminal acts towards women. My support and love for Bill Cosby are for—were for, rather—the positive childhood memories. The transformational experiences I had were valuable. At one point, the word “Bill Cosby” was pure gold.

However, I can no longer watch, read, or listen to anything to which he is associated. The taint of his heinous crimes against so many women ring in my spiritual ears.

The Original Sin-ner

Spiritually, there was another superstar whose life and existence took a similar and surprising fall from stardom. His was not just worldwide. His stardom and resulting precipitous plummet was the sound heard across the entire universe! Lucifer, originally created by God, to serve Him, one day just got tired and made the decision to fall. God, through His prophet, Isaiah, gives us insight into how and why this happened in Isaiah 14:12-15.

Now you might think that my comparison of Bill Cosby and the devil is inappropriate. Others will likely think “he totally nailed it!”

Embed from Getty Images

No Easy Solutions

My goal is not to make a judgment call about Bill Cosby’s character. And, really, we should all be praying for him, his family as well as the many women and families whose lives he destroyed, but I am comparing the reason why they both fell. In one word that reason would be the reason why we all fall, pride.

The reason why we all fall, just as Lucifer did, ends and begins with sin and pride. “I” being the center of it all.

I’ve heard it said that people who suffer from both pride and sin suffer from an “I” problem. At their core, both words have the letter “I” in the middle of them. Both represent and define someone who is focused only on what they want, prize, and desire —to the exclusion of all others.

Pride’s Antidote

So how do we not give in to selfishness and pride?

Jesus, in speaking with His disciples as a group for the last time, gave them instructions in John 15: 1-11. He basically told them (like nine times) how to stay safe and secure from the sinfulness of selfishness. He pleaded with them. Stay connected to Him. I know that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but even I can’t miss Jesus’s point: if you want to stay saved and safe from sin and all it’s consequences, stay connected to Jesus!

How to Get and Remain?

I recently heard a preacher say, “You can’t remain where you’ve never been.” Once you’ve gotten connected (1 John 1:9), just stay there. No matter what kind of good or bad things happen to you, stay connected to Him. Not to other people or to stuff, but to Him. Many of the things that we’re connected to aren’t bad (Christian/inspirational resources, family, friends), but they’re not Jesus. They can’t give you eternal life. Only Jesus can do that.

God’s Cleaning Secrets

Connecting with Jesus is an all-day thing with me. I’m so messed up that I need to have a living and constant connection with Him. But often, life gets in the way and I’m not able to sit and talk with Him as I want. Therefore, I find that the end of the day is a great time for me to re-connect with Him and basically unload on Him.

In our daily attempts to walk with God, to know and love Him better, to love others as He loves us, we don’t want anything—including us—to get in the way of that. When we knowingly get out of step with Him (Galatians 5:16, 25), we immediately confess our sin, ask Him to forgive us and consciously decide to stop breaking our relationship. It is not unlike sweeping up those things that we can see; but what about those things that we do during the day that we’re not consciously aware of—those things that aren’t so readily visible?

Promise of Power over Pride

The answer is the spiritual disciplines of silence, stillness, confession and repentance. They are a wonderful way to daily renew your mind (Romans 12:1) and spirit and get you focused on experiencing God’s best in your life.

If you do this every day, habitually, day in and day out, I promise you, not only will you be able to stay spiritually connected, but you—and more importantly, God, will like the fact that you won’t fall from His grace.

 

 




Amends Win Friends

Making amends is part of the sin recovery process. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, September 23, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 09.23.2018” on Spreaker.

Today’s Scripture Focus: Exodus 22:10-15

We are focusing on sin recovery principle number eight of 12: “We made a list of all persons we have harmed and are willing to make amends.”

‘Fess Up

I cannot tell a lie. It is extremely difficult to own up to our wrongs especially if we have harmed someone through irresponsibility. I will give an example that may or may not apply directly to you, but please see the principle here.

What if you borrowed a vehicle from a good friend? You were driving down the road to the supermarket and did not see that there was a concrete block that had apparently fallen from a truck that is long gone. You see it too late and hit it, destroying the tire and front bumper cover. What do you do when it is time to return the vehicle? How do you explain what happened? Do you simply return the vehicle, hand over the keys, say that you made a mistake and go about your business? Is there a better way of handling this? Today’s thought is not about forgiveness, so we will not seek to apply that principle yet.

Level with Me

It is human nature for us to shirk responsibility. Some men sire children and walk out on the mother (for whatever reasons). Some people spread rumors on social media about others, and when they realize whatever they wrote was not true, they don’t even bother to make amends with the injured party or create a new post to clarify the error. Some of us borrow money or property, and if repaying becomes inconvenient, we expect our friends or loved ones to eat the deficit like they are banks who can charge off the debt and write it off on their taxes. And all of this is not to mention those of us who have had issues with substance abuse or general habits with stealing.

The point here is that we know there is cause and effect in every aspect of life. There is also an expectation that we will own up to our wrongdoing and make restitution. If you have harmed someone, abused their property, or owe a debt, seek out those you’ve harmed and come up with a plan to make things right. Every situation is different. The exact manner in which to handle it is different, but the principle is the same. Do your level best in the Lord, and make things right. You will be so glad you did even if there are consequences. The Lord is with you.




Drama Files: Never Leave a Man Behind

It May Have Been Too Late to Say Goodbye, But Not Too Late to Address His Addiction.

Carson had been a substance abuser since entering the military. He returned four years later, upon an honorable discharge from the army.  He was one of 13 children and always a loving and devoted son to his parents.

Carson was reared in a very spiritual and loving family.  He was very supportive, caring, and helpful towards his parents all while struggling with his personal drug and alcohol addiction. One afternoon after a day helping his mother and enjoying the afternoon with his parents, he walked out and told his father “I’ll be back.”  

Passing of Time

Later that week Carson’s father, James, went into the hospital for a breathing treatment. His physician decided to extend his stay because the effects of a  longstanding smoking habit were now exacting its toll. James’ lungs had been deteriorating for at least 10 years.  After a week, James was no longer breathing on his own. His body was getting weaker and weaker and his lungs were no longer functioning properly. 

Carson’s mother and siblings visited James several times throughout the week, until the doctor called and told them nothing else could be done for him.

James and seven sons all served in the military.  “You never leave a wounded solider alone,” they believed, and the family gathered around James one last time as the life support was removed.  He passed away early the next morning. 

A week later when James was buried, Carson was absent.  He missed his father’s illness and passing. Carson’s ex- wife, a police officer, went looking for him for the family. When she found him and told him that his father had passed away, Carson was in total disbelief.  He remembered seeing a huge funeral possession going down the street and was so surprised by how long it was, not knowing that it was his own father’s funeral. 

Life, Well-Lived

Immediately, Carson went home to find his mother and a single obituary in the china cabinet.  Carson realized he had to live with this for the rest of his life. 

Ever since that day Carson has lived with his mother and finally found healing in drug recovery.  Carson has begun counseling for PSTD  ( Post Traumatic  Stress Disorder) and also grief counseling. 

All Suffer

Alcoholism and drug addiction have obvious and well-documented effects on chronic substance abusers. Prolonged abuse of drugs and alcohol deteriorate a person’s physical health, impair mental functioning, and damage the spirit. These adverse effects also impact the immediate family’s finances, physical health and psychological wellbeing. 

Family roles naturally shift to adjust to the behaviors associated with drug or alcohol use, and to continue maintaining order and balance. Including the addict, there have been six roles identified to understand how the family functions around the substance abuser. They are:

  • The Enabler-Carson’s parents enabled his behavior by allowing him to come and go from their home knowing he was an addict. 
  • The Mascot-The Mascot was his sister Ann. This child feels powerless in the dynamics which are going on in the family and tries to interrupt tension, anger, conflict, violence or other unpleasant situations within the family by acting as the “court jester.” The Mascot seeks to be the center of attention in the family, often entertaining the family and making everyone feel better through his or her comedy. She may also use humor to communicate and to confront the family dysfunction, rather than address it directly. 
  • The Hero-The Hero in this family was Carson’s mother. This family member devotes his/her time and attention to making the family look “normal” and without problems. The Hero can mask or make up for the dysfunctional home life. Over-responsible and self-sufficient they are often perfectionistic, over-achievers and look very good – on the outside.
  • The Scapegoat-The Scapegoat was Darry,l the troubled child. The Scapegoat is the “problem child” or the “trouble maker.” This family member always seems defiant, hostile and angry.  The Scapegoat is the truth teller of the family and will often verbalize or act out the “problem” which the family is attempting to cover up or deny. This individual’s behavior warrants negative attention and is a great distraction for everyone from the real issues at hand.  The Scapegoat usually has trouble.
  • The Lost Child-The lost child was Carson’s brother Earl. This child avoids interactions with other family members and basically disappears. They become loners, or are sometimes very shy.  
  • The Addict-The Addict was Carson who spent many years fighting this demon inside of him. He felt trapped and worthless in his life. He wanted to stop the drug addiction but didn’t have the desire or motivation to do so. 

No matter how old a parent’s child is, discovering that a child has an addiction can be an unpleasant, rude awakening. It may cause mothers and fathers to question their parental abilities or the decisions they made. Parents of addicts, much like children of addicts, often blame themselves for the development of the substance use disorder.

God is a forgiving God. We must be willing to forgive ourselves and grow from our mistakes.  God can turn even the tragic addiction, and the grief-filled experience of losing his father into complete recovery and restoration. 

 

 

 




The Key to Self-Appraisal

See yourself in the true light. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 09.19.2018” on Spreaker.

Today’s Scripture Focus: Luke 18:10-14

We are focusing on sin recovery principle number seven of 12. “We submit to God and ask Him to remove our deficiencies.”

Self-appraisal is impossible without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who brings conviction to the heart and shows us where we need to be renewed and transformed (John 16:13).

Tricky Heart

Whenever we attempt to see ourselves in our true light without His aid, we will invariably minimize our need. We will think of ourselves more highly than we should. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). “Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” (Isaiah 1:5-6). These verses give an accurate picture of our experience without the Lord.

A religious zealot stood up in the temple, the Bible says, and prayed with himself (should he no have been praying to his God instead?) that he was holy, unlike the publican who was nearby. The wording in the King James Version of the Bible is interesting. I am not making a doctrine out of the wording, but it is interesting. It says that the Pharisee prayed with himself and then the verse continues. When we have a false sense of our innate righteousness and then venture to pray, giving our spiritual resumes to God, it is as though we are praying to ourselves. We have made ourselves gods. The God of heaven neither hears nor answers proud prayers.

Humble Pray-er

The tax collector received the power of the Holy Spirit to see his exceeding sinfulness. “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:13-14). It is a blessing to know that the Lord is not impressed by our proud self-appraisals, but by our God-given humility. He is anxious to answer the prayers of those who humble themselves before Him.

May the Lord give us acute spiritual eyesight that we may see as He sees. May we be brought to humility, thereby bringing us into a close relationship with Him and having our spiritual deficiencies removed. “Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD. Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off” (Psalms 138:5-6)




2018 July/August Issue

Destined for Healing

Dr. Hadiyah Nicole Green Closes In On Cancer


 


FEATURES

13 God’s Gift: The Hadiyah Nicole Green Story
by Patrice Thomas Conwell
/ Necessity may have invented the cure for cancer.

16 What it Takes to Heal
by Samantha Nelson
/ Discover the ten transformational tips for abuse survivors.

18 Forewarned is ForeArmed
by Ivona Roberts Bernard
/ How this Kansas City group applied evergreen wisdom to today’s sex trade.

20 Uncovered
by Ronnie Vanderhorst
/ How #MeToo touches every man, and what he must do to bring change.

22 Find Jesus in the Sanctuary
by Karen Styer
/ How to understand the timeless symbolism of the Tabernacle.

28 Closer than You Think
by Andrea King
/ When a pimp claimed the services of one of her teenaged members, this pastor stepped up the street ministry.

30 When We Know Better…
by Donald L. McPhaull
/ Who is Revelation’s mysterious woman called Babylon?

FAVORITES

4 ELEVATION
by Phillip McGuire Wesley
/ Media That Takes You Higher

5 EDITORIAL
by Carmela Monk Crawford
/ Not Normal

6 Eye on the times
Church and State Closer Now with Faith-Based Executive Order

8 optimal health
by Donna Green Goodman / Wheat Worries
by Carmela Monk Crawford
/ Going Vegan & Vegetarian

11 RELATIONSHIP Rx
by Willie and Elaine Oliver
/ We Disagree On Everything

12 BOUNCE BACK
by Kim Login-Nowlin
/ Depressing Discovery

24 FUTURECAST
by Carlton Byrd
/ Promised Victory In Revelation

26 The experience
by Ellen G. White
/ Peace Be Unto You

27 The experience BIBLE study
by Rashad Burden
/ It’s Going To Be Alright

29 Power Plays
by Eugene Anthony
/ 5 Secrets Of Joshua’s Leadership Success


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It’s Going to be Alright

When it rains, it pours. Whatever can happen, will happen. You win some, you lose some. Sometimes the unexplainable happens and these are some of the phrases we use to assure ourselves things aren’t as bad as they seem. You ever had a day in which everything went wrong? Some might feel they have had a life where everything went left. You are not alone in this feeling. Journey with us as we find out if “It’s going to be alright”.

1) Read John 20:19; John 14:1-3; Luke 4:28-30

Shock is what I can imagine the disciples are experiencing. Jesus had been crucified. How could He have allowed that to happen to Him? People had tried to kill him on multiple occasions. What made this time different? Why did He let them do it? Why does God let the things happen that He does? Have you ever wondered that? What has happened in your life that has made you question God? Tell us using #MessageMag.

2) Read John 20:19; John 14:27; Mark 4:35-41

I’m sure the disciples were gripped by fear. If the Jewish leaders did what they did to Jesus, what was going to happen to them? Gone were the days of jubilee, entering into Jerusalem amid praise and adoration as Jesus had done only about a week earlier. Now the door was locked so that no one could barge in and drag them to their doom. I wonder if they began to reflect on other times when their lives were on the line because of Jesus. Has there been a time that your following Jesus has put you in a compromising position? Tell us about it on social media using #MessageMag.

3) Read John 20:19; Mark 9:26-29; Jeremiah 10:6-10; John 20:11-18

With the emotions already running high there are those among them who are claiming that Jesus isn’t actually dead! Can you imagine the awe? The disciples and others had seen the impossible become possible for more than three years, but this? Could Jesus actually have done it again? When you’ve had God work in your life He will challenge you to believe in His infinite ability. Has He ever had you in awe because He has done something beyond what you could imagine? Tell us about it on social media using #MessageMag.

4) Read John 20:19; Philippians 4:19; 1 Samuel 16:7

Jesus appears to them, and fittingly His first words to them are “Peace be unto you.” It is worth taking time out to meditate on the fact that God knows exactly what you need. He could have just said “I’m alive!” Or, “You’re not going to die!” Instead, Jesus goes to the root of their hearts’ longing, and says “Peace be unto you.” Has God ever given you what you need when you didn’t know you needed it? Was He able to see through your problem and analyze your heart and give like no one else? Tell us about it on social media using #MessageMag.

5) Read John 20:20; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Proverbs 3:12

The comfort given is interesting to say the least. Jesus doesn’t perform a miracle, but shows the disciples the holes in his hands and wound on his side. It is almost as if what He had been through was proof of who He was. We can tell that this was enough because the disciples were overjoyed. We are children of God and I want you to consider the possibility that what you’ve been through wasn’t meant to destroy you, but rather to prove who you are. If you are able, find and listen to a song called “Pure Gold” by the Clark sisters on YouTube.

6) Read John 20:21

Honestly, this would have disturbed me. Maybe that is why Jesus had to reiterate the peace He had just imparted. Jesus had been through a lot! Now He says the same God that sent Me is sending you. The assurance is this: a Man who was dead is now standing in front of you, alive! Do you want peace as you’re moving from this side to that side? We at Message want to support you in your experience with Jesus. Give me a call at 614-266-9568 and I would love to pray with you.

7) Read John 20:22

This is epic. When Jesus stepped into the emotional storm the disciples were in, He called for peace, changing their sorrow into joy. Peace is what they needed. And, they will need a lot of it because they are being sent out, just as Jesus was sent by the Father. The next action is mind-blowing (no pun intended). Jesus breathes on them and they received the Holy Spirit. They weren’t going to be doing this by themselves, God was going to be with them. Do you want God to be with you as He sends and uses you where you are? Just ask Him, and it is done. I assure you the Holy Spirit will. Jesus said, “Peace be unto you.” You have to know, it’s going to be alright.

Call us if you find you have questions, want to talk, or want to pray with someone: 1-855-463-2273, or, 1-855-God Cares.

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Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.

New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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This article is part of our 2018 July / Augudt Issue
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Peace Be Unto You

“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you,” John 20:21.

Oreaching Jerusalem the two disciples enter at the eastern gate, which is open at night on festal occasions. The houses are dark and silent, but the travelers make their way through the narrow streets by the light of the rising moon. They go to the upper chamber where Jesus spent the hours of the last evening before His death.


Here they know that their brethren are to be found. Late as it is, they know that the disciples will not sleep until they learn for a certainty what has become of the body of their Lord. They find the door of the chamber securely barred. They knock for admission, but no answer comes. All is still. Then they give their names. The door is carefully unbarred, they enter, and Another, unseen, enters with them. Then the door is again fastened, to keep out spies.

…a voice which is no other than the voice of their Master. Clear and distinct the words fall from His lips, “Peace be unto you.”

The travelers find all in surprised excitement. The voices of those in the room break out into thanksgiving and praise, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.” Then the two travelers, panting with the haste with which they have made their journey, tell the wondrous story of how Jesus has appeared to them. They have just ended, and some are saying that they cannot believe it, for it is too good to be true, when behold, another Person stands before them. Every eye is fastened upon the stranger. No one has knocked for entrance. No footstep has been heard. The disciples are startled, and wonder what it means. Then they hear a voice which is no other than the voice of their Master. Clear and distinct the words fall from His lips, “Peace be unto you.”

     “But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And He said unto them, why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have. And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands and His feet.” . . .

     At the birth of Jesus the angel announced, Peace on earth, and good will to men. And now at His first appearance to the disciples after His resurrection, the Saviour addressed them with the blessed words, “Peace be unto you.” Jesus is ever ready to speak peace to souls that are burdened with doubts and fears. He waits for us to open the door of the heart to Him, and say, Abide with us. He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” Revelation 3:20.



This article is part of our 2018 July / August Issue
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ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at www.whiteestate.org/onlineboks.




Promised Victory in Revelation

Open the pages of the Bible’s prophetic end time missives to discover God’s message for you.

We’re living in a time that is distinctively different than anything we’ve seen or witnessed before. The prophetic words of Jesus that describe the events surrounding His Second Coming are expeditiously coming to fulfillment. “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”1

Jesus has won! 

Christ returneth! 

Hallelujah! 

Hallelujah!

Amen!

Over 2,000 years ago, Christ foretold what our current world would resemble, and truly His words are coming to fruition. We are inundated with the threat of war. The menacing frequency of natural disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and volcanic activity are commonplace. Terroristic attacks, school shootings, and gun violence plague us everyday. Death, disease, and destruction are rampant. Allegations of sexual assault are on the rise as countless individuals have joined the “#MeToo” Movement” in response to the abuse they’ve received at the hands of others.

And while all of the aforementioned eschatological events must come to pass, God, in the Book of Revelation, has given us assurance that we, His people, will have ultimate victory through Jesus Christ! In fact, Revelation is all about Jesus! When we read the opening words of the book, we’re told that it is the “Revelation of Jesus Christ,”2 and that God gave Revelation to Jesus; Jesus gave it to an angel; an angel gave to John; and John wrote it down and gave it to us!3

Don’t Be Alarmed.

Given its end time emphasis, Revelation is also a prophetic book. It’s our New Testament prophetic book, while Daniel is its prophetic counterpart in the Old Testament. Yet, many people are uncomfortable reading Daniel and the Revelation because either they don’t understand these books, or they get fearful when considering the lions, bears, beasts, and symbols in these books. They say, “I don’t know what all those symbols represent. Daniel and the Revelation make me scared!”

But “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”4 And when you understand all of the symbols and animals, you will discover that the books of Daniel and the Revelation are books about God’s love revealed in Jesus, and the fact that Jesus wants to save us!5

Revelation then is not a closed or sealed book! God wants us to read it!6 In fact, the very word “Revelation,” by definition, means “to reveal.” To reveal is “to expose. To uncover! To make known. To tell!”7 Revelation reveals Jesus, but it also exposes Satan and his demonic and deceptive nature. Therefore, Satan doesn’t want us to read, hear, or keep Revelation. Hence, in Revelation, we are faced with the question of “Who will we give our loyalty and worship to – God or Satan?” One of the three angels of Revelation 14 admonishes us where to stake our claim, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”8

We Win!

Let’s be on the winning side! Jesus’ side! In Him, we win! He is victorious over Satan,9 and will reign forever!10 Satan is defeated and Satan is a failure! He failed in heaven against Jesus! He failed when he tried to kill Jesus in infancy! He failed when he tried to tempt Jesus in adulthood! He failed at the cross against Jesus! And He’s going to fail at the Second Coming of Jesus!

Despite the eschatological overtones of our present day, remember, Jesus has won! Christ returneth! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen!11

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CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

1 Matthew 24:6-8, NKJV

2 Revelation 1:1

3 Revelation 1:1-5

4 2 Timothy 1:7

5 Revelation 22:7, 12

6 Revelation 1:3

7 www.merriam-webster.com

8 Revelation 14:7

9 Revelation 20:10

10 Revelation 21:1-4

11 H.L. Turner, “Christ Returneth,” Hymn, 1878.



This article is part of our 2018 July / August Issue
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When We Know Better, We Do Better

What You Need to Know (and Share) About Revelation 14’s Second Angel

His zeal was undeniable. Standing at a major Los Angeles intersection, he was screaming at passersby, “Better give your heart to Jesus, or you’re going to burn in hell.” Yes, his zeal was readily apparent. Nonetheless, his unprofitable enterprise presented a prime example of the Bible’s “zeal without knowledge.”

Although, sincere, the young believer proved himself to be less of a danger to Satan’s plans, than he was to his own. Uninformed Christians, face very real and possibly fatal consequences. God says so in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

To remove any excuse for our being lost, the Lord expanded our knowledge base regarding “last day” events through the messages of the three angels in Revelation, chapter 14. Having previously explored the first angel’s message, we now turn our attention to the message of the second angel in Revelation 14:8: “And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen … because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

BABYLON REDUX

Since literal Babylon was destroyed long ago, which Babylon would command our attention on the stage of prophecy? Among commentators and scholars, many have wrongly labeled the Church of Rome as Babylon. However, a careful study of the text helps us to know that this prophetic Babylon could not possibly represent either pagan Rome, or, papal Rome. We can be sure of this, because we’re told by John that Babylon is now in a fallen state. This suggests that at some point this Babylon had been in good standing with God. However, that has never been the case for Rome in either of its forms.

Uriah Smith in his book, Daniel and the Revelation, pp 664, offered this insight: “From the beginning of their history, Paganism has been a false religion, and the Papacy an apostate one.” Therefore, the second angel’s warning of Babylon being fallen could not apply to Rome. Then, to whom?

Revelation 14:8’s pronouncement must appropriately point to a religious body that at some point in time had been pure, but whose doctrines over time had become corrupted. Furthermore, understanding that this second angel’s message follows the “judgment hour” message of the first angel, helps us to know that these are “last days” messages. As such, these messages are intended for the sons and daughters of God. They are not divine instructions for those who blindly follow false religions.

The gospel message ringing out from Calvary has long been the call to leave the false teachings of men and to become invested in the true religion of Christ. Therefore, we are left with the shocking, but true, understanding from Scripture that apostate Protestantism is the Babylon of prophecy. In the “last days,” we may equate Babylon with Christian churches that profess Jesus, but according to Him in Matthew 15:8,9 “… draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Such faith communities are fatally flawed.

COMPROMISE AND CORRUPTION

What is the cause of their deviation from the Truth? The Bible says they have engaged in spiritual fornication with the world. This has occurred as Protestant churches began allowing the world to influence the people of God in their worship of God. While, indeed, offering familial love, warm fellowship, and vibrant worship experiences, these communities of professed faith, have seen fit to reject God’s Word as the final arbiter of faith. Thus, they have committed spiritual fornication with the world by drinking the wines of paganism and error.

In these last-days, fallen communities of faith have become guilty of permitting the world to influence what believers believe. We see clear evidence of this as Christian churches teach contrary to “thus says the Lord.” Among the examples we find are churches teaching: renunciation of the reality of hellfire for the unrighteous, belief in once saved-always saved, claims of the immortality of the soul, and rejection of the validity of the entirety of God’s Ten Commandment Law.

And this is just a partial listing of how Protestant churches have veered from God’s path of righteousness. More than zeal, the redeemed need God-ordained knowledge of truth versus falsity that is being taught in many Christian communities, today. Knowledge is ours, if we but ask (James 1:5).

UNIFIED IN CONFUSION

Sadly, we’re also seeing the embrace of ecumenism by Protestant churches. This crafting of a false sense of unity has been nurtured by the Bishop of Rome. And, it finds the people of God forming alliances with Rome, while following the directives of men, rather than the Word of God.

Since the time of Nimrod, Babylon has represented confusion. Throughout Scripture, false and apostate religions have worn the label, Babylon. Just as Belshazzar demonstrated his contempt for the God of heaven by drinking wine from the Temple’s sacred vessels, apostate Christian communities show their contempt for God by defiling His law, His name, and His Holy day through the substitution of man-made teachings for the pure Word of God. The institution, which is responsible for leading humanity into obeying erroneous doctrines and becoming allies with the church of Rome, is apostate Protestantism, which wears the label, Babylon.

LET GO. COME OUT.

The importance of knowledge is underscored by the fact that the fallen condition of Babylon is repeated in Revelation 18:2-4. And, this time, the Lord declares grave consequences for those who persist in embracing Babylon: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen … And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and … receive of her plagues.”

The Father extends His invitation of grace to each of His children. Come out of Babylon and come into the Kingdom of glory. That’s knowledge worth sharing.



This article is part of our 2018 July / AAUgust Issue
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DONALD L. McPHAULL, M.S.W., has enjoyed 30 years of ministry and is currently the senior pastor of the Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church in Los Angeles, California.