Golden Opportunity and the Golden Anniversary

I missed my chance to be the change I want to see this week. Change, however, is more than chance.

This week saw the death of Winnie Mandela, and the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There was no shortage of commemoration or memorialization. But, what happened to me on Sunday, shifted my consciousness and course for the rest of the week, and caused me to contemplate the golden opportunity in this Golden Anniversary.

I stood at the check-out line on Sunday, yes Easter, or as I prefer to call it: Resurrection Sunday. While shopping, I noted how far we’ve come since I was a child when Easter was a holy day and the stores were closed, gas stations shuttered, and the roads were clear. Though Sabbath keepers who celebrated the day before, or perhaps attended a sunrise service that morning, we learned to dress appropriately and conduct ourselves with requisite respect for a day recognized as the day Christ rose from the grave.

In was in that Spirit that I noticed the woman behind me in line. She was petite, a senior, and white. Her faded print dress once was rich with hues in blues, greens and purples. Her crocheted turquoise shrug and matching fingerless gloves, let me know she had been somewhere special.

“Did you have a good day today?” I asked her, smiling. “Yes, I went to church this morning. I’m an usher, and usually have to wear black, but today we could wear anything we wanted.”

She was alert and friendly. On her game. I could see why she is an usher.   Fun to talk to. Her keys were on a tattered “US Army” lanyard around her wrist. My eyes flitted over the items she placed on the conveyor belt—a stalk of broccoli, a couple of lemons and tomatoes, the package of chocolate meal replacement drinks and a Red Bull.

“That’s my one sin,” she said, pointing to the energy drink.

“Wooo, don’t hurt yourself,” I said jokingly. She laughed with me, and it was time for us to move on. Just then, she put her hand on my shoulder and told the cashier, “My granddaughter here is going to pay for mine.”

My eyes must have glazed over. Did this woman in Huntsville, Alabama just call me her granddaughter? Funny. Wow, I thought. I laughed and walked away.
Embed from Getty Images

 Missed Opportunities and Shirked Responsibilities

The Spirit pricked my conscience ever so slightly. But, I sadly confess, I was too shocked, too preoccupied, too selfish, and too disconnected to pay for her. It certainly wasn’t too much for me. I just wasn’t plugged in, and my natural inclination was to keep walking. Oh, but while He prodded gently there, in grace, He came back to arrest my sensibilities, full force.

While I didn’t care that she was little, old, or white, and I didn’t care about the $20 it would have cost me, the fact that I did not recognize the opportunity to extend a little grace, was a substantial mistake. It was not willful, but inadvertent.  And, that is what haunts.

Well done? When selfishness becomes our reflex, meditation upon the suffering, sacrifice and resurrection of Christ enables His servants to change.

In an extensive discourse about the end times Jesus tried to explain to His disciples, the signs of the end, in Matthew 24. He discussed the preparation needed to make it through this life to the end (Matthew 25), in which the “wise virgins” prepared by having enough oil to last the night—the oil being interpreted to mean the Holy Spirit to guide us through to the end. Then, in His parable of the talents, Jesus taught His people to work until He return, using whatever means and ability they had. He ended by painting a word picture of the judgment, in which He decides who comes with Him, and who suffers destruction that will last forever.

To the right, He motioned for His blessed people. “Come with me, because when I was hungry, and poor and was in prison, you fed me, clothed me, and visited Me.

“Oh?” the blessed must smile in surprise, “we didn’t know that was You, Jesus! That’s just what we do!”

“Because you did that to the least of these, you did it to Me. Enter!”

Their pattern had been ingrained; it was the substance of their characters, and by then, an unnatural tendency in a world so selfishly inclined. (See Matthew 25:34-40 instead of my personal paraphrase.)

But, it is with the same sense of surprise that the wicked, the ones bound for destruction, wonder, “Where were You, Jesus? Certainly, our oversight was inadvertent.”

“I was right there, the person you didn’t help, didn’t feed, didn’t love on, didn’t visit, didn’t care for, the one you cursed, and disrespected. You didn’t help them; thus, you didn’t help Me” (See Matthew 25:41-46).

Like a scene straight out of “Maury” or “Jerry Springer”—or a “Housewives” or any Tyler Perry film—they get hot, curse, and fight. Church wigs and pocket squares flying, the fire of everlasting destruction licks at their heels.

As the angels usher them through the door on the left, they scream, “Wait! We never even saw You!

Reflexive and Automatic

We draw closer to that day. We have the witness of God’s Word to remind us, and the prophetic voices behind us. In the King celebration we celebrated the life of one whose aims and energies advocated for the basic personhood of everyone. We also learned the results of an autopsy that confirmed that police resorted to shooting another unarmed man, in the back. A few days later, in a different city, another shooting resulted in the death of a mentally ill black man who wielded a plumbing fixture.

This pattern, while not readily acknowledged as such, certainly is reflexive and automatic. How much of our lifestyle and collective practice comport to our reflexive and automatic, selfish inclinations? I think we can find the answers as we examine everything from immigration, taxation, militarization and nationalism, to mass incarceration, and church participation.

We may revisit Memphis and that fateful day when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took a bullet for the oppressed and disrespected, but this Golden Anniversary must not overshadow the golden opportunity to change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




2018 January / February Issue

ALLIES

Foxhole Friends in the Fight


COVER STORY

MORE THAN A FEW GOOD MEN, THE FIGHT FOR RACIAL JUSTICE AND EQUALITY SEEKS INTERRACIAL ENLISTMENT AND ENGAGEMENT.


FEATURES

12  BOUNCE BACK: UNDER-ESTIMATED
by Kim Logan-Nowlin /
How the Word of God rescued this woman from certain death.

13  DRY BONES TO LIVING FLESH
by Timothy Golden /
Live to inspire. Tribute to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

14  MLK50 CHECKUP
by Malcom Luther /
Fifty years beyond the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., America is in stage four denial.

16  ALLIES
by David Person /
Abolitionists to Allies, what it means to struggle together.

18  FAITH, FAMILY AND FINANCES
by Alva James-Johnson /
Civil rights gains rested on the back of this three-point prescription.

20  CHURCH MUSIC MADNESS
by Patti Thomas Conwell /
Two-time “Choir of the

World” director Jason Max Ferdinand brings sanity back to the service.

22  FINDING GOD IN A CHURCH
by Michael Polite /
Millions of people hate church because they’ve never been taught to be a member.

22  NATIVE TONGUE
by Donald L. McPhaull /
Speaking in tongues, and how God’s


FAVORITES

4  ELEVATION
by Phillip McGuire Wesley /
MEDIA THAT TAKES YOU HIGHER

5  EDITORIAL
by Carmela Monk Crawford /
PERSEVERE AND PROSPER

6  EYE ON THE TIMES
• PROTESTANTS WHO STOPPED PROTESTING
• WHICH POLITICAL PARTY HAS THE RELIGIOUS CORNER ON THE MARKET?

8  OPTIMAL HEALTH
by Donna Green Goodman /
RIGHT FROM THE START

11  RELATIONSHIP Rx
by Willie and Elaine Oliver /
TRADE-IN VALUES

24  FUTURECAST
by Carlton Byrd /
LOVE LETTER #9 TO TELL THE TRUTH

26  THE EXPERIENCE
by Ellen G. White /
MY FATHER’S BUSINESS

28  THE EXPERIENCE BIBLE STUDY
by Rashad Burden /
LOST AND FOUND

29  POWER PLAYS
by Samuel Thomas, Jr. /
ELIJAH: FIRE FROM HEAVEN


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Persevere and Prosper

This year marks 120 years since our forerunner, The Gospel Herald was first published, and 84 years since The Message Magazine, by God’s grace, made its providential debut. We remain in awe and humility at the task God has given us.

Two discoveries have stimulated awareness in my own destiny, and I share them with you for analogy sake. First, and with thanks to my friend Alvin Singleton, who like Skip Gates on the PBS series “Finding Your Roots” investigated my people. My paternal ancestors were among free blacks who lived in Philadelphia in the 19th Century. One even fought in the Civil War. I simply hadn’t known my own story before that, but to learn that we were free sets me—perhaps dangerously so—in an unapologetic, unafraid, and unashamed posture.

Second, after reading Freedom Fighters: From Monk to Mazumbo, written by Ira Philip, I learned one of my ancestors was a clergyman and newspaper publisher. While working in Bermuda, his turn-of-the-century paper advocated:

For the cause that needs assistance

For the wrong that needs resistance

For the future in the distance

And all the good that we can do

We also find inspiration in the work of activist and journalist Ida B. Wells Barnett, who was formerly enslaved, but dug her heels in, and her teeth for that matter, when she was unlawfully ejected from a railroad car in 1884. She found no justice in the Tennessee court system. It was because she had a story to tell that she ran the Free Speech and Headlight, later just the Free Speech. Hers became one of the few newspapers to investigate and report on lynching of black people nationwide. Lynching was “mocking our laws and disgracing our Christianity,” she wrote.

“Lynching Our National Crime,” Proceedings of the National Negro Conference, 1909, New York, May 31 and June 1 (New York, 1909), pp. 174-179.

Other black newspapers filled voids in their communities—shining a light on the black experience, black trauma and black triumph. Publishing that fulfills this role now includes the perspective of any observer with social media and a cell phone. And, writes David Love—journalist and contributor to TheGrio.com and CNN, “What is certain is there is a sense of responsibility to the community, advocating for that community and telling their stories from their perspective.” These platforms in an age of racial politics, and metamorphosing publishing, are golden.

We remain in awe and humility at the task God has given us.

Brenda Andrews, owner, editor and publisher of the New Journal and Guide, established in 1900, finds the preserving hand of God still at work in her business. When she went from being an employee and stock-holder to editor and owner after the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1992, she knew God as a sustainer and provider. But, why? I asked her. Why would God want to intervene and spare this paper, this platform? Civil rights gains in the 1960s and 70s, found losses in the 1980s, Andrews said. Footholds gained during the 1990s and 2000s, are now again met with rollbacks in civility the protections designed to help us secure footing in the first place. The black press, then, opposes the resulting sense of abject vulnerability.

“The black press was founded to alter that kind of thinking,” Andrews said. It was created to get people of African descent to realize who we were, write our own story about what we can do, rather than leaving that to other people who don’t want us to succeed to tell the story. We can be what God wants us to be. Even though it doesn’t appear to be as pivotal as it was in the days of segregation, we are as important and vital today, and that’s why God has intervened.”

Andrews’ keen assessment could not have fallen on more welcoming ears. We know the interference of the detractor, the troller, and the bigot comes between black people and their God. We believe correcting the narrative—the lie that the race is cursed and destined for poverty or failure, deserving of marginalization, or whether the narrative dismisses God as a tool in the hand in the oppressor—and contradicting those ideas, is a divine mission into which God inserts Himself.

That is the breath-taking freedom, confidence and assurance that makes us dangerous to satanic forces, and all the assurance we need to persevere. As the Lord said, (and no matter what anyone else says): “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11).



This article is part of our January/February 2018 Issue
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Richard Bland talks about Selma

Oral history from Selma given by United Prison Ministry International founder Richard Bland. Never before seen footage and photos from the Selma march in 1965, with images of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, Ralph Bunche, Roy Wilkins, Ralph Abernathy, Whitney Young, and Rosa Parks.




2017 November / December

How To Take A Stand

Blackout on the NFL Blacklist


COVER STORY

“When we see Colin Kaepernick take a knee in one of the largest venues in the United States, that resonates with us.”


FEATURES

13 RAINY-DAY THINKING
by Ruthven Philip / Simple ways to save money and stay on top.

14 FANTASTIC CHRISTMAS
by Damien Chandler /
One whole hour of Christmas. Not a single minute of Christ.

16 HOLIDAY SPENDING OVERDRIVE
by Paula Goddard / Out of control Christmas spending and the cash-poor aftermath aren’t fooling anyone.

17 WHY PASTORS TOOK A KNEE FOR THE NFL BLACKOUT
by David Person /
It was about time to take a stand for taking a knee.

20 HOW TO TAKE A STAND
by Eric Walsh /
Former public official denounced for sermons found more faith in the fight.

22 DON’T LET THEM HAVE CAKE?
by Timothy Golden /
Doing the right thing, legally and morally.


FAVORITES

4  ELEVATION
by Phillip McGuire Wesley /
MEDIA THAT TAKES YOU HIGHER

5  EDITORIAL
by Carmela Monk Crawford /
CONSCIENCE

6  EYE ON THE TIMES
by J. Elaine Nailing /
OPEN FOR DEBATE?

8  OPTIMAL HEALTH
by Donna Green Goodman /
LET’S GO NUTS

11  RELATIONSHIP Rx
by Willie and Elaine Oliver /
SHE LOVES ME, BUT DOESN’T WANT TO MARRY ME

12  BOUNCE BACK
by Kim Login-Nolan /
TWO-HOUR DECISION

24  FUTURECAST
by Carlton Byrd /
LOVE LETTER #8

DON’T TAKE WHAT’S NOT YOURS

26  THE EXPERIENCE
by Ellen G. White /
PUSHED TO THE BRINK

28  THE EXPERIENCE BIBLE STUDY
by Rashad Burden /
LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL

29  POWER THEATER
by Samuel Thomas, Jr. /
ELIJAH: FIRE FROM HEAVEN


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Perverted Conscience

Mae—not her real name—was my client. She was a Black, twenty-something in the vice grip of a crack addiction. She worked in the even riskier business of prostitution to fund her compulsion. I represented her in front of a judge who was particularly hard on prostitutes, routinely maxing out their jail time. He threw the book at them to teach them a lesson, and protect them from getting killed in the street.

Mae got killed in the street about a year after I last saw her in court.

I learned that fact as I read the paper over the shoulder of a cop one morning. This man, short and portly, with a close crew-cut and wireframe glasses often worked undercover, engaging prostitutes—and, in my opinion, entrapping girls like Mae—to gain an arrest.

“Good,” he barked gruffly. “I’m glad.” I looked at Mae’s mugshot in the paper. She was so small and thin, and I was incredulous at his cruelty. What he said next stunned me: “She won’t be around to victimize anyone anymore.”

For a split-second I tried to imagine a transaction between Mae and a sleazy guy cheating on his wife for $20, as Mae somehow victimizing him.

Not everyone with a Billy club, or who stands in the bully pulpit, or has professional authority discerns aright the value of humanity. A corrupt “conscience” leads to perverted justice. Yet, the courageous exercise of God-given conscience sets us on a path to reconciliation. A Christian’s exercise of conscience—what I believe to be the inner influence of the Holy Spirit—needs to be revealed now, in all its nuance. While refusing to dictate that others follow our lead, by following the Spirit we create an atmosphere that recognizes the value of each in God’s creation.

Many issues before us now—whether the issues of national identity, destiny and power, racial and gender equality, LGBTQ rights, and religious freedom—have created a national season of introspection. The most satisfying corrective action is the demand for accountability following revelations of sexual misconduct and harassment.

When real conscience works, I believe:
It is not complicit.

In this context, I challenge those who body shame others, or make crude, appearance-based comments. I don’t find the sex-worker underground fascinating, or think pole-dancing is a great way to get exercise. Pornographic images in the hands of consensual adults, some argue, hurts no one, but we know that downline somewhere someone is struggling, or victim to a sex or porn addiction gone rogue. I won’t be a part of it.

A corrupt “conscience” leads to perverted justice

Steps in for the vulnerable.

A Huffington Post 2013 survey found that as many as 21% of the adults polled knew of a co-worker who was being sexually harassed. Most, 61%, couldn’t find their way to intervening for that co-worker. Maybe that will change now as we prime our hearing for the faintest “No!” We’ll hear her amidst the slime of Hollywood’s smarmy moguls, indulgent music industry icons, the influential and the powerful. We discern her cries even against the stalwart Christians who betray their God with their own actions. We hear her cries burrowed under the weight of family secrets. Conscience demands an intervention.

Halts the abuse, even when it’s untimely and inconvenient.

I don’t blush when I hear that consensual backseat engagements or 1 a.m. rendezvous end when someone changes her mind and shuts things down. An awakening of conscience—God’s voice staking His claim in His beloved—may not always be convenient.

As Paul acknowledged, “[I]t is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”(Philippians 2:13). Alas, the prodigal son’s height of indulgence led him to the depth of degradation, but it was there that his conscience kicked in (Luke 15:17-20). The glint of the Holy Spirit influenced him to call it quits, turn around, and set out for home.

Results in critical examination.

As in Mae’s case, one should be able to determine the difference between a victim and a victimizer, at the very least. It requires one to be more than a “superficial analyst,” in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Letter from a Birmingham Jail). What led to the current crisis? What is its context, and who are the players involved?

Seeks restoration

Relatedly, conscience seeks to restore the person to a sense of wholeness. Unfortunately, while large sums of money can redress wrongs, they do little to unring a bell. Real acts of conscience seek to repay and restore.

Let us prime and protect our consciences to face and fight issues that detract from God’s image in His creation.




2017 September / October

Finding God In The Crisis

God’s watertight and fireproof promises.


A Letter to Survivors with Six Watertight, Earthquake and Fireproof Promises in God’s Word

Preview the magazine below

6 JUST BELIEVE & NEVER GIVE UP
by Marlena Lewis /
We all fall down, but the key is to get back up.

7 STRESS-LESS
by Audrey Ann Moses /
Know yourself and how to maintain balance.

13 YOUR ELEVENTH-HOUR FINANCIAL STRATEGY
by Ruthven Philip /
Biblically-guided fourth-quarter ways to protect your funds.

14 DO SOMETHING
As told by Daniel Xisto and Nathaniel Drew /
Protestors, parishioners become living sanctuaries for peace, love and action.

17 FATHER KNOWS BEST
by Myla McCoy /
How my father taught me to hope in God’s providence.

18 THIS IS THE LORD’S DOING
by Keith Goodman /
God’s Footprints are already where you are going.

19 WARNING!
by Paula Blackwell /
My hurricane experience taught me a few lessons.

21 FINDING GOD IN THE CRISIS
by Michael Polite /
God’s watertight and fireproof promises.

22 FORGETTING SOMETHING?
by Oliver Archer /
One neglect in planning could cost you your life.

30 CRISIS INTERVENTION
by L. David Harris /
God’s care for you cannot be interrupted by earthly crises.

 

4  ELEVATION
by Phillip McGuire Wesley /
MEDIA THAT TAKES YOU HIGHER

5  EDITORIAL
by Carmela Monk Crawford /
CRISIS OVERLOAD, CUNNING OVERLORD

8  OPTIMAL HEALTH
by Donna Green Goodman /
HERBALICIOUS
by Shelem Flemonds / CRAVINGS TO CARROT JUICE

11  RELATIONSHIP Rx
by Willie and Elaine Oliver /
KEEP ME FROM SCREAMING AT THESE KIDS

12  BOUNCE BACK
by Kim Login-Nolan /
REAL RECONCILIATION
by H. Jean Wright II / PRISON PLAN OF ACTION

22  MYTH BUSTERS
by Donald L. McPhaull /
BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF…

24  FUTURECAST
by Carlton Byrd /
LOVE LETTER #7 THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY

26  THE EXPERIENCE
by Ellen G. White /
FEEDING THE FIVE THOUSAND

28  THE EXPERIENCE BIBLE STUDY
by Rashad Burden /
HE IS NOT DONE WITH ME YET

29  POWER THEATER
by Samuel Thomas, Jr. /
ABIGAIL: PEACE, WIDSOM AND DISCRETION

   

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Crisis Overload, Cunning Overlord

Like an 18-car pileup on the interstate, crises of terror, political brinkmanship, natural and man-made disasters give us no space to brace. You see them coming, but all you can do is to cry out in prayer. Sometimes you don’t even see them coming, and your heart is so numb, all you can say is “God, you know.”

Our unmissable vulnerability binds us in times like these. We may be able to track a storm, but remain powerless to shift its course. We can measure the force behind an earthquake, but can only learn of its imminence within seconds of its arrival. The floods of life are but a metaphor. While we think we can ride them out, placing our valuables further and further out of reach, the slow seepage reaches our property and our very lives sometimes. We, like all the rest around us, make a break for survival.

Extremity exposes us all. Naked, bereft of outward beauty and elegance in the trenches of a crisis, the real us emerges. It is either the heart of gold or the spirit of selfishness. I’ve heard many describe the human will to survive and the banding together in times of crisis. On the other hand, we’ve all seen the spirit of selfishness in the price gouging and profiteering from necessities such as food and gasoline.

You can find all the crisis management and resilience training you may ever want in the hundreds of book titles that have the word crisis in them. That’s if you have time to read a book while your life is turned upside down. My bug-out bag only has two tools, for real-time resilience, and I’ll share them with you.

Hang on while you stick together.

Your survival now and your mental well-being will pivot upon the support of those close to you. Remember how Moses raised his famed staff to heaven, a stance that signified strength, faith, and pointed to the Source of all? As he did this, team Israel, in real-time, fought back its enemy and advanced in the battle at hand. When Moses got tired, rested and lowered his hands, his people lost ground, and the enemy advanced. Finally, someone understood that helping Moses, powerful in faith as he was, would save them all.

“Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle” Exodus 17:12,13.*

Social scientists studied this effect when they explored the personal, inner core of survivors from the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” the wretched Vietnamese prisoner of war camp at which Senator John McCain was held for more than five years. Faith, humor, optimism, willingness to help others in need, having a role model, and maintaining physical fitness comprised his formula for endurance even in the face of torture. But, it was their “tap code,” writes Lucy Hone in her book Resilient Grieving, that made a difference. Their tap code was a way to communicate when they couldn’t see each other, a way to signal hope and encouragement, that gave them the strength needed to survive.

Our relationships with our close friends and loved ones—when we still have them—especially in times like these, emerge as the studs around which we have built our lives. Everything around us may fail, but these pillars of strength allow us to rebuild in the face of threat and waste. Get through this crisis by helping someone else endure, and you may find yourselves walking out together.

Grab Onto God

“When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.” The verse to the old hymn not only details on what and on whom to hold, but under what circumstance: when darkness veils His lovely face.

You may not have the benefit of human companionship when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It is there, however, that you find that inexplicable golden strand glimmering in the lightning, and in the firestorm, in the darkness.

Though you may wonder where He is, why He’s allowed this crisis to creep into your life, ask Him for clarity, Psalm 34:4. Your cries can’t escape His notice. Psalm 34:17. And, He is there, in your desperation, Psalm 34:18. And your displacement does not surprise or confuse God, Psalm 139:7-10

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References
* Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.




What Happens When God Speaks, and You Actually Listen

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, September 24, 2017

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 09.24.2017” on Spreaker.

Devotional thought 11 in “Removing the Veil: Sanctuary Living in the 21st Century.” Our subject is: When God Speaks

Here’s the question for consideration: When God has something to say and we are willing to listen, what’s next?

The Lord Came Down. Moses Went Up.

“And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up” (Exodus 19:19–20).

The journey continues. The trumpets are sounding; the mountain is engulfed and smoking; the earth is quaking; thunders are clapping; lightning is flashing; the people are trembling, and now, YHWH is speaking. Are God’s people ready to listen? Moses spoke. What might He have said? I think this Scripture gives us an idea: “In fact, so awful and terrifying was the [phenomenal] sight that Moses said, I am terrified (aghast and trembling with fear)” (Hebrews 12:21, AMP). Now what?

Your Attention, Please

This is the question we must all ask ourselves. When God is speaking and everything around us and within our lives suggests that He is trying to get our attention, what do we do next? If we even tell Him of our fear, awe, trembling, uncertainty, or wonderment, where do we go from there?

The Bible says that God took this encounter a step further and welcomed Moses into His presence. Even this is awe inspiring because the Bible says that God came down and personally welcomed Moses up. Does that remind you of anything? Generally, we can see this as the condescension of God. However, we can also apply this to life events facilitating prayer encounters with God.

Real Communion

Think about it. Jesus said that when we pray, we recognize that our Father is in heaven. The One whose name is Holy, whose kingdom is coming, and prepares to accomplish His will on earth as it is done in heaven, abides in heavenly places. This means that when we pray as the Holy Spirit welcomes us into communion with God, He welcomes us up to His throne of grace.

While the privilege of prayer, in many ways, is God condescending to give us access, His purpose is to immediately elevate us, spiritually, to where He is.

In His presence we find victory over sin. There’s no sin in His throne room. In His presence, we find relief from worry and doubt. There’s no worry in His throne room. In His presence we find peace. There is no discord or strife in His throne room. Thus it is that prayer elevates us to heavenly places.

Sitting Pretty

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:3–4). “

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:6–10).

Immediate Elevation

When God has something to say and we are willing to listen, what’s next? When we listen keenly to God’s will for our lives, He immediately begins to elevate us to personal communion with Him where we will receive power to live according to Jesus Christ’s example. As long as we continue to breathe in His atmosphere and commune with Him daily, we will be well on our way to the fulness of sanctuary living.




DICK GREGORY PILGRIM IN SEARCH OF LIBERATION

From the Message Archives March April 1981 Issue:

Twenty years ago Dick Gregory was a stand-up comic on the nightclub circuit. By his own account he smoked and drank heavily. Gregory had an eye that saw through the games people and institutions play. He had a wit thatbroke up huge audiences while making them see truths about themselves. But that eye and that wit were teamed with a heart that was being led to the more important issues of life. Gregory’s priorities shifted. His concerns became oppression, manipulation, racism, and war. He discovered that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and is not to be defiled. He became a prophet to the secular world about the evils of bodily abuse, particularly through diet. When Gregory yells Foul! about an oppressive institution or agency or group of people or life style, he doesn’t make a case like a lawyer with a long list of proofs. No, Gregory thinks analogically. He looks for parallels. He’s not hung up trying to prove cause and effect. If a window breaks each time a guy waves his arm, Gregory doesn’t have to see him throw the stone. But enough—Gregory can speak for himself.

MESSAGE: You say research indicating that the typical American diet has many harmful elements in it has not been made readily available to the masses. Instead, the interests of the rich and powerful are protected at almost any cost to the poor and the powerless. What does all this have to do with diet? And can you give us examples of manipulation of the masses?

GREGORY: You know, I do think much of the salvation of the planet is in diet. Another thing is how easy it is to get into it. You don’t have to change all of your eating habits. Here’s a little thing: just add bran to your diet in the morning and in the evening, and you can cancel out about 80 percent of the diseases in the lower digestive tract. And you know the way they got into that?

They got into Africa. They happened to meet this group of Africans whose systems were regular. They began checking and they found out that within 24 hours everything they had eaten had passed completely through their systems. From there it led to the roughage theory. This was already suspected, but for follow-up, researchers found some of this same group of Africans who had moved to Western society. This group was winding up with the same kinds of diseases as people in the West. So—when you cook string beans and take the strings off, your roughage is gone. The lesson for us: add some bran.

I usually tell people to go to a health-food store and get the pure bran. But it’s different in dealing with the masses, you know, because the minute you say that—”Go to the health food store”—it turns them off.” You mean you’re asking me to change my diet, and then what I’ve got to find is hidden somewhere? Plus, you know, I’m not all that upset bout the way I’m eatin’. I’m just trying this change out of respect and knowing where you’re coming from.” So I tell them to get bran or whole wheat cereal. Now I hate to send people to that commercial scene, but bran is bran. Some commercial preparations have sugar, but I’m saying that once they start on it, in about a two-week period, eating a bowl in the morning and a bowl in the evening will have a fantastic effect. I say eat a bowl of bran because people are not likely to believe it would only take a teaspoonful. They can’t see a teaspoon doin’ nothin’. They’d just say, “Later for the whole idea. I’ll just forget about it.”

MESSAGE: How did you start informing yourself on health issues?

GREGORY: I used to go to healthfood stores at first, or other places. I bought six or seven hundred dollars’ worth of books. I have researchers on my staff, and I use Harvard’s library. I also used my own common sense. I started asking myself, “If dead animals’ flesh is so good for you, why don’t cows eat it? If protein is so necessary in that form, why don’t the animals need it?” I began to realize you don’t have to eat hair to grow hair; you don’t have to eat fingernails to grow fingernails. If you put the right minerals and things into your body it will manufacture what you need. That’s the wonder of this body. When I was eating meat, the most I weighed was 134, but when I started a vegetarian diet I went to 288. This was from ignorance. I thought I needed a substitute, and that substitute was eating 5 or 6 times a day. But then I learned about fasting. In 1967 I went on my first 40-day fast, and I went from 288 to 95 pounds. My energy level was incredible, just so high!

Then I learned you must pray while fasting, and during my second fast, prayer made a difference. I’ve been trying to get people to fast from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, and use that time to meditate and to pray that hungry people will be fed. But the important thing is the Government. They act as if they don’t have the research. The former Department of Health, Education and Welfare was really pushed with questions on why we don’t have serious research on vegetarianism. They said, “The only thing we have ever studied was from England.” But they have piles of it [research on vegetarianism]. There are piles of documents concerning what they have studied about your group [Seventh-day Adventists].

MESSAGE: In a sense you’re saying the Government is not making available the information it has. Is this what you mean by governmental manipulation and control?

GREGORY: We live in a country today that can ship tanks all the way around the world but cannot ship turnips to starving people. We have no business living on a planet where people are dying from starvation. There are enough folks with enough know-how to feed everybody. We are all born with certain God-given rights to drink water (clean water), the right to breathe air (fresh air), and the right to eat. And we’ve got to let people know that we are not dealing with any more trickery.

MESSAGE: Trickery?

GREGORY: Yes! Look at this Iran thing. The day I left Iran I bought this soft drink mix right in Iran. The boycott was on in Iran, yet I bought these grits—the same grits the President (former President Jimmy Carter) ate in the White House. I bought this Vaseline in Iran. Anything available in Iran before the boycott, I could still buy months later, and yet high anti-Iranian sentiment was developing even then. The Iranian people couldn’t understand it. They couldn’t understand how we were all so upset over the hostages’ being taken that we were jumping at everything Iranian, when they could go to the supermarket and find every American product they were ever able to find. It still must be emphasized that no one in his right mind—and no sane, honest people—could ever justify taking hostages, under any circumstances. But there are some circumstances. We need to know what led up to the hostage-taking so we can work to do the things in other countries that will prevent what happened in Iran. Look at this FBI thing, this Abscam. Eight Congressmen and one Senator. We should rise up and say, “Hey, how did you all choose them? What criteria did you use to pick all of them? And why has no one in the major press done a serious research job to find out what relationship these officials have with the FBI?”

Persistent rumors linking the CIA with the People’s Temple in Jonestown has been the subject of Congressional investigation, and I think we should really be concerned about the CIA, Jonestown, and mind-control drugs being tested. Because the next thing you know, they might be showing up in your hamburgers; they might be showing up in your breakfast cereal, and the next thing you know . ..! How are 900 people all going to commit suicide and neatly lie face down after drinking cyanide? There’s nothing on the planet that creates spasms and convulsions like cyanide. Then we were told that the dogs and the cats and the pets drank the grape too. You can’t get a
dog, even the dumbest dog you can find, to drink with anything in it, let alone cyanide—and there are
some dumb dogs.

Then there’s that P____! You know, they told F___ Motor Company that these gasoline tanks in the back were dangerous. If they were bumped from the rear the gas tank would explode, and with $14.00 we can
correct that. They said, “Wait a minute, let’s figure that up—$14.00 times . . . that will be 58 million dollars! Roll them like they are, because whatever lawsuit we get won’t cost us 58 million dollars.” Did you know that? It came out in a trial. And F___ Motor Company is still permitted to do business as usual. Not one person in F___ Motor Company has gone to jail. But I’ll bet if it had been some N who made such a car, and it was brought out in court that they knew it could kill you, they’d be lynched. But you ain’t gonna mess with nobody with no power that might mess with you back. That’s what the whole ball game is about. We all have got a big stake in this thing—in making this country, this planet, work right, because we’ve got no place to go; we’re stuck with this one. But don’t believe that a handful of crazies are going to tear this planet up. The same God that put this planet here will be the same God that will tear it up whenever He decides to tear it up, and that God does not need any of us to help Him do it.

MESSAGE: Seventh-day Adventists have been advocates of healthful living with attention called to the vegetarian diet since our early days. We’re interested in reaching the man on the street. What are your suggestions?

GREGORY: You have to exhibit it, and you have to leave leeway. It’s very important to leave leeway for the horror of coming through grade school, high school, and college. Mothers and Fathers—you know, the people that love us—never told us that meat was bad. It’s very difficult for a stranger to tell us, when we’re believing all the teachings of the people that love us. If you go around to a Black person’s house, and you don’t eat meat, they feel sorry for you. I mean, when I first turned vegetarian, it seemed to attract women. Women just wanted to be with me because they felt sorry for me. You know, “Oh, my soul, you don’t eat meat?” If you’d go to their houses, they’d pile your plate up. It was just the most incredible thing in the world. They never looked at it as a strength. Mothers are the same way. And then you get grandmothers trying to slip stuff to your children. The same things happened to ours [the Gregorys’ ten children]. I had started out with the candy. The kids were off candy. We would come into the house and we wouldn’t accept candy and cookies. “0 my soul,” folks would say, “Gregory is so mean.” But I think what has to happen is that we document on a very unsophisticated level that we don’t have to eat it. I think my next book will deal with the spiritual side of things.

Your material would need to go out on two levels. Write a column for the adult and then write a column for the child—something like coloring a page or a coloring book. The important thing is to get them introduced to what a carrot is …. You see, out of all the ways to commit suicide, even brutal ones, no one’s gonna drink iodine, because of the skull and crossbones. You’ve seen it as a child. That’s the level you have to work on. I tell you what would be interesting in your church, a study on the sexual temperament. That’s where Ghandi really got into his movements, you know. He was trying to cut back his sexual urge and control diet. I just wonder what it’s like for people who go without all the toxins in the body.

What is the strength of the family, and what is the temperament of the church, of your church? Are you losing? Are you having problems?

MESSAGE: What is your advice to our readers, mostly Black people in America?

GREGORY: Decide! Decide you’re going to have an integrity about your body. Decide you’re not going to put any soda pop, or beer, or reefers, or booze, or cocaine—none of that craziness—in your body. And see how good you feel. You may decide you want to feel that way all day. I’ve gone the whole route. I’ve been up to 288 pounds, smoked four packs of cigarettes a day, and drunk a fifth of Scotch every day and I can tell you there’s nothing in it. You’re playing a game on yourself. If you see the way we disrespect our bodies, then you can see why the people who manipulate us can get by with what they can get by with. I beg you to please, please, start checking out your food.

Some run around saying, “I’m into soul food, baby. Whitey can’t cook.” Whitey don’t want no soul food! Anybody can cook that old grease that we be cooking! But do you realize two out of every three Black folks in this country have a serious problem with high blood pressure, sugar diabetes, hypertension; and we’re sitting there eating all that old crazy stuff saying, “Yeah, man, I bet white folk can’t eat like this.” Any old fool can cook corn bread. White folk raised the hogs and the chickens, and you expect they can’t cook them if they wanted to? Anybody can cook a chicken. A chicken can cook itself!

When you go to the store, just play a game with yourself. Read the ingredients, and you’ll see five or six words you can’t even pronounce. Why eat it? What I’m fixin’ to do now is go 12 years with no sex, no talking, no eating solid food. I’m going the whole route to dramatize my protest against racism, against wars, and to gain moral power. I am calling for no war ever! If your son is 6 years old, and my son is 7 years old, when I come off of this thing they’ll be 18 or 19. At first people will laugh, but then every time they think about sex, they’ll think about me and this whole thing. There’ll be joking and laughing.—” Ha, ha, ha.” But then the jokes will stop.

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