Good Fathers: Today and Tomorrow

#FromTheVault

This tough, demanding role calls for creative partnerships.

Fatherhood, a time-honored role, is presently in such a state of flux that many men, especially black men, hardly know how to handle it effectively. The medias has greatly distorted fathering with the use of such situation comedies as All in the Family and the not-so-good Good Times. With the increased independence of women and greater emphasis on children’s rights, fatherhood in the future surely will be one of the most demanding and creative roles a man will ever play. Successful fathers must possess the following qualities: a high degree of spirituality, respect for women, a balance in career goals, and responsibility for influence.

The successful father will accept the fact that as a human he is totally unable to direct and mold rightly the lives of his children without divine guidance. In matters of morality, the media is corrupt, the government compromised, and the church inconsistent. How can a father counsel his children against pre-marital sex when the Supreme Court has declared abortion on demand to be legal? With the large number of television programs, books, magazines, and popular songs promoting compromising or immoral behavior, a father must look to others sources for moral standards.

The effective father of the future must be firmly grounded in the Word of God. He must learn about the lives of Bible characters and teach his family about their failures and successes. His children must be familiar with great Bible truths and believe that the enabling power of the Holy Spirit can help them to live out these great truths as they run the gauntlet of temptations common to youth.

Constant prayer for wisdom characterizes the daily life of the effective father. The first fact every father must accept is that he is grossly unprepared for the many decisions before him. Only by bowing in humility before the heavenly Father can there be even a remote chance of true success. Indeed, the creative solutions to tough family problems have often been resolved, not through might or money or compromise but through divine inspiration and direction.

Fathering is but half the parenting process. Mothering is the other half. Many fathers have overlooked the fact that the best mothering is done by a woman who feels her husband respects, trusts, and appreciates her. Many a marriage and home have been destroyed because the mother felt that either she was left alone to make all the decisions or that she wasn’t involved in major decisions.

It is not wise of think of oneself as a successful father if the mother is not allowed to reach her full potential. Fathering, in the sider sense, includes supporting and encouraging the mother. The roles of a mother or father, as we have traditionally learned them, in many cases have changed dramatically. It’s important that both parents seek to support each other and do what is necessary to promote, nurture, and advance the family unit.

The effective father must be grounded in the Word of God.

Fathers who understand this relationship can then find joy in the challenge of dirty diapers, soiled dishes, unwashed clothes, and messy bedrooms. Fathers who help with the constant, repetitive, and often boring tasks of keeping house allow the mother to spend quality time with the children and also allow her the have cherished moments for rest and reflection. Too few fathers know the limitless joy of marital bliss when the mother is allowed to go to bed early and the father stays up to take care of the supper dishes, give nightly baths if needed, and do other exhausting evening activities before joining her.

For many men, the most difficult area of fathering is balancing career objectives with family commitments and responsibilities. Currently, fathers are measured by society on their ability to provide creature comforts and material possessions. A man who refuses to provide for his family obviously needs counseling. However, the father who provides every material need and want, yet fails to spend quality time with his family is planting the seeds of discontent and restlessness. There is no real wisdom in being a workaholic in order to acquire that home, that business, that vacation when, after having acquired it, the family doesn’t enjoy the “thing” because they really don’t enjoy the father, who by now has become nervous, ill-tempered, and restless.

The successful father will consistently have to do what many may consider very unwise. During the family’s formative years, the father will need to balance career goals with the emotional and spiritual needs of his family. He will not take a job, regardless of the pay, if the environment is harmful for the children. He will not recklessly move to a new area if his wife’s job or objectives might be severely affected. The father realizes that jobs come and go and that his first job is to promote well-being and contentment in his family. Moreover, what is the advantage of gaining a major career promotion and losing the sense of family that the promotion was supposedly going to improve? It is better to rear a successful and well-adjusted family than to start and run the world’s largest business.

Finally, the successful father will accept responsibility for his influence on those not of his home. Through his behavior, attitudes, deportment, and philosophy the successful father must attempt to demonstrate to other fathers the potentials for successful fatherhood.

In the church, in the school, on the job, and on the playing field, he will encourage the principles of toleration, compassion, strength, kindness, and generosity. He knows that the world needs men who are true to such family principles. He will seek ways to uplift, encourage, and help those in his circle of influence, as well as direct them to his heavenly Father. A variation of a slogan used by the Marines seems appropriate here: “The world is looking for a few good fathers.” Will you be one?




Sudan: Don’t Silence the Messenger

“Spreading the message of justice must continue for the termination of every power-hungry, resource-exploiting, humanity-demeaning and truth-silencing force.”

Sudan, a country cornered by Ethiopia, Egypt, and now South Sudan, is in battle for economic stability, government integrity, and freedom of expression. With protests taking a particular rise in late December of 2018, citizens demanded the removal of long term President Omar-al-Bashir. Unfortunately, military backlash from the Transitional Military Council (TMC), in response to Bashir’s removal and arrest, resulted in the deaths of many protesters and even children, according to UN News. In addition to the violence, Al Jazeera reports the Sudanese government declared “a blackout on communications, including blocking social media access, disrupting phone traffic and severely restricting the spread of information.”

Living in a Dark Spot

Oftentimes, media censorship, particularly during times of conflict, is one of the many tactics used on the playground for power. Silencing the messenger not only impedes time spent alleviating injustice(s), but it also enables the perpetrator to continue.

What is our moral and spiritual responsibility towards a crisis like this? When a country is experiencing a media blackout and its citizens and residents are restricted from sharing the injustices happening to them, does the Christian story-teller have an obligation to share their story on their behalf? Sources say Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram are all blocked in Sudan. With Sudan in a “dark spot,” who becomes responsible for sharing the message of Sudanese injustice? Who shares the message when they silence the messenger?

Several verses in Scripture command us to speak up for injustice. More specifically, they highlight our responsibility to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. In fact, the prophet Isaiah writes about this while extremely frustrated with the silence of the children of Israel. He said, “No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth…Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter” (Isaiah 59:4,14 NKJV).

In Sudan it seems that truth has fallen in the street and the media restrictions of the government prevent equity from entering in. In these verses Isaiah is looking for the Israelites to do justice and can’t find anyone willing. Isaiah is expressing the divine expectation God has that His children speak up for the oppressed, while challenging our tendency to remain silent on matters of injustice. It’s texts like these that show us that it is the Christian’s responsibility to share the message of justice when injustice silences a fellow messenger.

Scripture Demands We Share

The New Testament, also provides insight and examples on speaking up for justice, even when we’re in a dark spot. For example, Luke records in Acts 4:13-21 that religious leaders tried to silence Peter and John. In a predominately Jewish region many early Christians experienced injustice for believing and teaching about Jesus. Facing public beatings, the destruction of property, religious persecution, character defamation, unfair prison sentences, and much more, the early Christians experienced great injustice. In fact, some would even say their experiences seem eerily similar to those of the Sudanese today.

In Acts, we see the Sanhedrin monitoring Peter’s proverbial Facebook wall as he passionately shared the gospel of Jesus Christ, while the Council marveled watching every truth-soaked, Holy Spirit-filled, and rightly divided YouTube video on his channel.

His preaching about a Jesus who healed the sick on the Sabbath, cared for the poor, drove moneychangers out of the Temple, preached liberty to captives, and rose from the dead infuriated the religious leaders. His message of a liberator from oppression, and freedom from injustice was far too threatening. And so the Sanhedrin didn’t just remove Peter’s posts. They removed Peter. The Council who perceived Peter as “uneducated and untrained” silenced him before he shared too much. They unanimously agreed:

A notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name. So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus (vs. 16-18, NKJV).

Speak The Things You See and Hear

Peter and John sharing the liberating message of Jesus Christ infuriated the Jewish leaders. And the Sudanese sharing of injustice and State violence is infuriating the TMC. Both leaders attempted to silence both groups. The beauty is that right now we can resist the silencing of the Sudanese with the words of Peter:

Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (vs. 19-20, NKJV).

This verse teaches us that some of the most important times to speak up is in the face of harm and conflict. The unrest in Sudan is the period of harm and conflict in which many Sudanese currently find themselves. Many have shared and continue to share what they have seen and heard all over social media. But as of today, many truth-tellers are muzzled. Such attempts at censorship mean that it is now our responsibility to share. We must use our social media and other platforms to call for prayer and justice in Sudan.

You Cannot Silence Injustice

The Sanhedrin thought they won when they threatened Peter and John. The Council thought they won when they blocked the media in Sudan. But the message is alive. The message of a resurrected Christ was not contained to Judea and Samaria. And the injustices of Sudan cannot be contained to Northern Africa. As people of faith in Jesus Christ, we have the authority of Matthew 28:18-20 to share His truth of a liberating gospel. In other words, we have divine permission and divine authority to speak up and speak out.

Acts 4:27-31 confirms this responsibility in Peter’s prayer for boldness. After being released from interrogation Peter prayed, “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 

And the Bible says that when the accompanying believers prayed this prayer with Peter “the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

They, (the Sanhedrin, the Council, Social Media Regulators, Political Institutions, Governments, fragile systems, etc.) may try to silence what you do or say. They may even try to regulate where you go. But they can never silence injustice. Injustice has a way of soaring above restrictions and demanding a response. Today, the world sees what is happening in Sudan. We hear the cries of injustice across oceans and deserts, and we will no longer remain silent. Instead, we will speak with holy boldness for justice in Sudan.




My Struggle With Mental Health

These Are My Confessions

I am a pastor, husband, father, and a writer. I love Jesus and I am excited about what He is doing through me and in me. Yet, there are two issues that I have dealt with my whole life: ADD and anxiety. I became aware of them pretty early on in life. The anxiety manifested itself in two ways, especially:
  1. Public speaking
  2. Dark, lonely places
I’ve always said God has a sense of humor because he called me to be a pastor: a job that requires a lot of public speaking and also a lot of traveling and staying in dark places alone. And truthfully I must confess, traveling was very difficult for me for the longest time. The anxiety got so bad that I couldn’t fall asleep. And I will never forget how my anxiety took over when I preached my first sermon. I was so overwhelmed that even though I had 10 pages of written material I only spoke for 5 minutes. My girlfriend at the time was so unimpressed with my sermon she broke up with me soon after.

You Are Not Alone

The reason I’m sharing my experience is because I find so many leaders and members alike struggle with mental health issues. And to make matters worse they’re getting terrible counsel. Unfortunately, many of us are dealing with everything from anxiety and depression to bipolar disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) by ourselves. Anyone facing these issues alone knows that isolation only exasperates the problem.

Get Counseling

You know what helped me? Counseling helped. At some point we have to be honest and admit that sometimes you can’t just pray depression away, or anxiety, or _______________ (fill your mental health challenge here). “Pray harder” may not be the best solution.
In fact, when you pray and the problem continues it can create a false sense of guilt and shame. Many begin to believe that either God doesn’t want to heal them, or that they don’t deserve to be healed. And neither of these things are true. The fact of the matter is, mental health issues are not exclusively spiritual issues. They are illnesses that require medical attention in the same way a broken arm or a heart attack requires a physician. So if you’re struggling with mental health go see a counselor.

Prayer Really Works

But in addition to the counseling, prayer really did help a lot. There is a calming effect to prayer. This calming effect is really why I believe talking to God is such a blessing. I can truly say that through prayer i’ve experienced the promise of Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Work With the Weight

I also found that doing my job regardless of how I felt helped. In spite of the anxiety, I continue to speak and travel. I’ve taken God’s instruction to Joshua to “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). It’s verses like these that teach me to trust in God’s calling more than in my issues.

Talk Through It

And finally, I learned that talking to people also helped. Because there is a stigma attached to mental health issues it is oftentimes hard to open up. But when we share our stories with others it allows people to feel comfortable saying “that is my story too!” Vulnerability breeds community.
I want to invite you to seek help. The Father says, you are worthy. Jesus says, you are loved. And the Spirit say, you are special.

 




Hope Garden: A Sanctuary in the Middle of a Desert

A young mother and her two children walked down the street coming from our church’s daycare. It was their first day, and this mother was walking her children home. They obviously lived nearby, but we were alarmed to learn they lived right across the street from the church. Joining them on their stroll we struck up a conversation, the path took us past the garden. We asked if they like to eat. They laughed and responded “of course!” To that we responded, “then let’s eat!”

Immediately, we turned towards fifteen beautifully raised garden beds. The four closest to us were filled with cherry tomatoes. Before we could offer them to pick their fill, the young three-year old girl, same age as our daughter, picked a tomato and quickly ate it before her mother could object. The image of this little girl eating a fresh cherry tomato, juices and seeds sticking to her little fingers was priceless. This is what it was all about. Giving the community access to fresh organic food.

Ministering in the Desert

It began with a vision of hope for our community. Our church sits in the midst of a neighborhood food desert with crime, sickness, and poverty raiding each home. We recognized that these issues were not mutually exclusive to the systemic problems of our community. Community’s with food deserts like ours need more than simply one-time acts of charity. We need justice. The primary concern for a Christian is to seek first God’s kingdom and God’s justice. Too often justice is discussed in retributive terms, but biblically justice is restorative. Even the judgment in God’s justice is for the purpose of restoration in the earth and the human family. This is why the Hope Garden is an important justice initiative for our community, especially right now.

More grocery stores are closing, destroying more opportunities for people to find fresh food. Even the local food banks are closing down. And as healthy food becomes more scarce liquor stores are popping up in abundance. In fact, more and more liquor stores are being built in some of the most vulnerable communities. Interestingly enough, out here in Georgia, churches still outnumber liquor stores. This should compel believers to come together and speak out against the injustice happening in their communities, but unfortunately it hasn’t.

We need a plan from the city to revitalize our community, but we cannot wait for them. At Emmanuel SDA we choose to lead by example. My wife and I understand how easy it is for churches to become complacent and content remaining within their devilishly designed boxes settling for the occassional handout that fails to effect the root issues. But we want a reason to worship. We want to experience the joy of celebrating a miracle done through us. And so we planted the Hope Garden.

Birthing “Hope Team”

A team of people from my church and others quickly emerged. Tired of program focused religion and feeling a move for something greater, Hope Team was birthed. This movement is a new type of church plant that focuses more on mission instead of programming. The Hope Team searches for ways to inspire and revitalize the communities around it. So, when multiple farmers asked us if we were interested in planting a garden for the community, we felt confirmation that God was moving. The idea for the Hope Garden was planted in our hearts, and the Spirit just kept on watering it.

Soon, the local Home Depot offered to help with the project and encouraged us to write a grant. Taking their advice we wrote the grant and a month later they awarded the project $5,000. With these funds and the help of volunteer workers we built our garden beds. Soon the news media picked up the story and the word quickly got out. Since the inception of the project we have gained several partners and others have even caught the vision for their churches and communities. We’re even blessed that some developers in the city want to use our cite as a pilot for doing future gardens at other churches.

The Hope Garden Harvest

The beauty of the garden project is how so many activists and charitable agencies are seeing the value of the garden within their communities and careers. For example, those in the medical field see the value of fresh fruits and vegetables for patient prevention and recovery. This summer our church will host cooking classes featuring foods from the garden.

Those in the business sector are interested in how community members are being equipped to grow and sell their own produce. Law enforcement loves the idea of making use of void space within the community to train young people how to care for the community. Educators see the connection students can make with the practical science applications a garden creates. And most recently, we’ve partnered with the Boys and Girls clubs and city Parks and Recreation to bus children to our garden to participate in this educational experience.

Hope Garden Vision

Currently, our team is working out the logistics for distributing the food in an equitable manner. Our ultimate vision for the garden is that it become a training ground for individuals to learn how to grow their own food. We don’t want folks to solely rely on the garden for their produce needs. We want the garden to inspire, educate, and empower people.

One of our goals is to allow families portions of our land to grow their own food. We are still working out the details of how to market the project and inspire residents to take advantage of the opportunity. But we’re confident that if we continue to show them our consistency in this area then they’ll grow to trust our intentions and believe in our projected outcomes. We are starting small, but we have so much potential for growth. And we believe that as the garden grows so will our community.

Hope Garden is Hope for the Community

As I finish this article I find myself in the barber shop waiting to get a cut. Music is blasting. Every other word begins with “F”. The barbers and patrons don’t know who I am, or what I do for a living. And that’s how I like it. I love when ministry is unfiltered. Raw. Real. And based on the nature of my environment, I couldn’t help but get sucked into a good barber shop debate: “did black folks start the country music genre?” Like every good beef in the 21st century we pulled out our cell phones and let google settle it.

But any good woke brotha knows that even google can’t always be trusted. And just like that a new debater began to reel about other untrustworthy things like the processed food we eat. We began talking about Nipsey Hussle, Dr. Sebi, and nation building. At the end of our discussion we coordinated a partnership with his people and our garden to help educate and employ black men. Experiences like this have taught me to embrace the uncomfortable spaces in search for where Jesus really is. And this experience has showed me that He still lingers where the religious people least expect Him. And there is where Hope continues.




A New Frontier: Interracial Love and Marriage Through the Lens of Star Trek

The cult sci-fi hit Star Trek has been a milestone for many things. The team of the starship Enterprise set the standard for numerous storylines and tropes common within the genre. More than that, the show encouraged conversation on controversial topics such as reproductive rights, terrorism, homosexuality, and race.

“Plato’s Children”

This November, Star Trek will celebrate its 51st anniversary of the first on-screen interracial kiss. The kiss takes place between Captain James Kirk, played by William Shatner, and Lieutenant Uhura, played by Nichelle Nicholes. Uhura herself was already a strong figure in the show. In fact, she was one of the first women of color in a position of power on prime-time television. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. even encouraged Nicholes to remain on the show. Depicting a black woman on equal footing with her white coworkers, King said Star Trek was one of the only shows he let his children stay up late to watch.

The controversial episode “Plato’s Children” first aired on November 22, 1968. And it can certainly be said that Star Trek opened up a new “final frontier” by pushing the social boundaries of its time. In fact, the episode was debated and critiqued by social and civil rights analysts for decades. The power rested in its controversy. This show, and particularly this episode, showed that people of color could have romantic relationships not based on the color of their skin.

The Kiss That Inspired Love

Eric Deggans, a TV critic for National Public Radio, said the kiss

suggested that there was a future where [interracial relationships] were not such a big deal. The characters themselves were not freaking out because a black woman was kissing a white man…In this utopian-like future, we solved this issue. We’re beyond it. That was a wonderful message to send.

However, in 1968 less than 20% of Americans thought interracial relationships were acceptable, according to Gallup Polls. In fact, in 1967 it was illegal for a racially mixed couple to get married in many states. This sentiment still resinated with many viewers causing them to see the kiss as a degradation of American values. While others saw it as a great leap forward in representation. In the end, society determined that Kirk and Uhura’s kiss was a step forward in normalizing mixed-race couples.

Love on The New Frontier

As of 2018, about 17% of newlywed American couples are interracial. In fact, Honolulu, HI has the largest number of interracial marriages hovering around 40%, while Jackson, MS has the lowest at 3%. Studies further show that only about 11% of white partners end up marrying someone of a different racial background, while Asian, Hispanic, and black Americans are much more likely to marry outside their ethnicity. What’s interesting is that the rate of black interracial marriages has risen from less than 5% in the 1980s to almost 20% today.

God’s Response to Mixed Marriages

But concern about interracial marriage is not just 20th and 21st century issue. The Bible also records instances of biracial, or more appropriately bi-ethnic, unions. Possibly the most famous is that Moses and Zipporah. Displeased with their brother’s choice in a mate, Aaron and Miriam argued with Moses about his decision to marry a woman from Cush, or modern-day Ethiopia.

Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

An outsider from the Hebrew community, Aaron and Miriam did not believe that Zipporah was suitable for Moses. They actually began to question Moses’ ability to lead because of his choice in a mate. For their xenophobic and discriminatory criticism Numbers 12:10-11,15 record God’s punishment:

And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was a leper. So Aaron said to Moses, “Oh my Lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned.”…So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again.

This story clearly reveals that as far back as the Old Testament God protects interracial marriages. Not only did God show favor on the marriage of Moses and Zipporah, but he also punished anyone, even Moses’ sister, for trying to tear them a part.

Conclusion

Star Trek tried to show viewers that true love will explore new frontiers, new cultures, new people. And the story of Moses and Zipporah teaches us that when we step out to reflect the image of God with partners of different racial and ethnic backgrounds that we have His protection and His favor. May we build relationships that truly exemplify that we are all one in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:11 NIV). If modern Christians can follow this principle, then maybe Star Trek won’t be the only world exploring a new frontier.




What If Leopards Can Change Their Spots?

This is the Faith I Live By: God doesn’t renovate us, He recreates us.
Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Audio Link: http://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship
“Can the…leopard [change] its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.”
Jeremiah 13:23 (NKJV)

 

Have you heard any of the following idioms before?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

The older we get, the more set in our ways we become.

Old habits die hard.

If any of these are true spiritually, our future looks grim. But what if there were a way to change the conversation completely? Even if the statements were true, what if, somehow, some way, the “old dog” could learn new tricks? How about age not determining our behavior? What if we could grow older, but still be open to new possibilities and new ways of thinking? Why do old habits have to die hard? What if the old habits don’t need to die because instead the old self would die? What if a new self could be? Might that change the conversation?

New Creatures

The truth is, when it comes to spiritual things we need a do over. But God does not renovate people, He recreates us. Paul taught that whenever we come to Christ and surrender our wills to Him, we become new creatures; the old self passes away, and all things become new. God promised to take away from us our hearts of stone, and transplant hearts of flesh that are receptive to God’s leading. The psalmist said that when we learn to delight ourselves in the Lord, He would replace our old desires with new ones. New hearts desires new things. Do you see how that works? God does not renovate people, He recreates us. Our old characters invariably carry with them old baggage. Therefore, God announces, “Let there be light!” and we are moved out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light.

Wash, Rinse, and Repeat

Do you desire to become new? Are there some embarrassing habits you wish to overcome? Memories of pain and disappointment, do you wish you could bury them? Are there some wrongs you want to right? Today can be the beginning of your new life. Yes, it will take a lot of work and discipline to resist sliding into your old lifestyle, but the power of God which is in you is so much more effective than the world’s pull on you towards sin. You need only to submit.

Submit your thoughts, habits, plans, past mistakes, aspirations, etc. to God, and allow Him to perform His perfect work in you, moment-by-moment today. And if He spares your life to see tomorrow, do it again. If you make it to the next day, do it again. Wash, rinse, and repeat until Jesus comes. If you stumble and fall along the journey, talk to God about it, and turn away from sin with the Holy Spirit’s help, and submit again. Surrendering our hearts is the key, and God will renew us to bring honor to His name.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. Let this be the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




She’s So Slow. Tell Her to Hurry Up!

My wife moves very slowly. It is the reason we are late most of the times to everything. We’ve been married for over 25 years and I am really tired of always waiting for her. I wish she could move a little faster. However, every time I ask her to move faster, she seems to move slower. Sometimes I feel like I am going to lose my mind. Please help me with a strategy to help my wife move faster so our marriage can be what it has the potential to be. —Anonymous—Flint, Michigan

Marriage can be truly difficult. Isn’t that right? Nevertheless, once you accept the fact that marriage can be difficult, the fact that it is difficult no longer really matters, as long as you trust God to give you the patience needed to respond to any situation with love. And, by the way, Jesus makes the promise in Mark 10:47 that, “…with men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”

As we think about the situation you have shared about your wife, we cannot help but reflect on the fact that we are at the beginning of another year when many choose to make resolutions for the new year. We are wondering out loud what new or not so new resolutions you might want to make in your relationship with your wife of 25+ years, given the annoyance you have reported having with her slowness.

Right about now we are wondering if your wife has always been slow, or if this is a tendency she has developed of late. If it is the former, then it follows that during your courtship and early marriage you simply chose to overlook her slowness, given her outstanding characteristics on other matters. Of course, if your wife’s slowness is something she has recently developed, you may want to check on her health, and/or come to grips with the fact that as one grows older, one tends to develop aches and pains in one’s extremities, which tend to literally slow one down. And the latter may be an explanation for your wife’s current slowness.

So, this is as good a time as any to make decisions about how you will respond to your wife, going forward, in order to maximize the viability of your marital relationship in this new year. Because, the truth is, the only counsel we have to share with you about improving your current marriage dilemma is not so much about what you can tell your wife to correct her perceived flaws, as much as it is about how you can respond to your wife to enhance your marriage relationship. 

What we know about healthy marriages is that they are characterized by partners who tend to respond to each other with love, despite the circumstances that may arise from time to time in the course of negotiating life together. We have the natural predisposition to respond with anger, resentment, selfishness, contempt, criticism or disrespect to things we don’t like about people we are in close relationships with; responding in love is the only assurance of being in a successful and satisfying partnership.

Thus, rather than being too concerned about your wife’s slowness, we would encourage you to make a New Year’s resolution—with the help of God, of course—to be loving and kind to your wife regardless of the circumstances. Also, that you will practice being accepting of her, just the way she is. The more you exercise responding to your wife in love, the more likely you will be to bring out the best in her, and experience the joy of a satisfying and happy marriage relationship.

Please know you and your wife are in our prayers as you trust God each day to help you be the patient and loving husband He wants you to be.

…......………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

WILLIE OLIVER, Ph.D., C.F.L.E., an ordained minister, pastoral counselor and family sociologist, is director of the Department of Family Ministries for the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters. family.adventist.org; hopetv.org/realfamilytalk oliverw@gc.adventist.org 

ELAINE OLIVER, M.A., L.G.P.C., C.F.L.E., a counseling psychologist and educator, is associate director of the Department of Family Ministries for the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters. family.adventist.org; hopetv.org/realfamilytalk olivere@gc.adventist.org




But, Unto You I have Given…

The Bible story of nutrition and diet

Dietitians and nutritionists, doctors and health educators, health coaches and even the self-made experts share a lot of information to help you decide what’s best to eat. So many opinions easily cause confusion, to say the least.

At Message, we believe in a Biblical worldview. Whether it’s about your faith, money, relationships, health, or diet, there is always an answer in the word of God. And, that’s how I sift through all of the “evolving information” that continues to come from the world of nutrition experts. My choices follow this analysis: how does what they are saying about what I eat compare to the Word of God?

In Genesis 1:29, the Creator explained to Adam and Eve what to eat. “And, God said, Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” That verse describes what we now know as fruits, nuts or seeds and grains.

Cranberry Bread

  • 3¼ cups unbleached flour or 2 cups unbleached flour and 1¼ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup soy margarine, room temperature
  • 1¼ cups natural cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons alcohol free vanilla flavoring
  • 1 8-ounce carton soy cream cheese
  • ¾ cup soy or nut milk
  • 1 16-ounce can whole cranberry sauce or 2 cups homemade cranberry sauce
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon salt (optional)

Spray and flour bread baking pan—regular size or several small ones which are excellent for gift giving.

In a bowl combine flour, and baking powder. In another large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Mix in vanilla extract and cream cheese. Add milk, cranberry sauce and lemon juice. Beating on low speed of mixer, beat in flour mixture just until blended. Stir in nuts. Pour batter into pan(s). Bake at 350o for 45-50 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool, cut, serve. b Yield: 1 large loaf or 3-4 small loaves.

Red Pepper Hummus

  • 2 cups cooked or canned garbanzos, with liquid
  • cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small red pepper (roast if desired)
  • ¼ cup tahini (sesame seed butter)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin or to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic

McKay’s NO MSG Chicken Style Seasoning to taste, optional

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Add the roasted red bell pepper by stirring in diced pieces or by blending in the whole red pepper. Delicious on pita bread with lettuce, tomato, bean sprouts. b Yield: 3 cups

After Adam and Eve sinned, the Creator revisited their diet saying in Genesis 3:17, 18 “And unto Adam he said, Because thou has hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and has eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.”

Barley Vegetable Soup

Olive Oil

  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-3 stalks celery
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small bell pepper
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced or diced
  • 2 cups fresh, coarsely chopped Roma tomatoes
  • 1  cup each – barley, corn, lima beans, green beans
  • Water
  • McKay’s Chicken Style Seasoning, Basil, Thyme, Parsley to taste
  • 1 Bay Leaf

Pour a small amount of oil into a large soup pot. Add onion, celery, garlic, bell pepper and carrots. Sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add other ingredients stirring well. Add 4 cups of water. Season to taste with Chicken style seasoning and herbs. Let simmer a few minutes. Add 2-4 cups more water, bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer about 30 minutes until ingredients are tender. Add more water if necessary. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve. b Yield: 6 servings


♥ Roasted Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced into bite-sized cubes
  • 2 tablespoons margarine or coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon natural sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger, oregano, thyme, cinnamon or Jamaican allspice or coriander
  • Dash of salt

Place diced sweet potatoes into an oven proof dish. Mix seasonings into melted margarine or coconut oil. Stir into sweet potatoes, coating them well. Roast in 400o oven until desired tenderness. Serve. b Serves: 4-6

For 2000 years, humanity ate a plant-based, or “vegan” diet. And, scripture lists the longest person to live as 969 years. When God began to grieve that He had made man on the earth, He said He was going to destroy it through a flood and give all who wanted to live through it a chance to join Noah and his family on the ark. No one took his offer.

When the flood was over and all the vegetation was gone, God told Noah and his family, the only ones who went on the ark, that “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you, even as I have given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat” (Genesis 9:3,4).

It was then that dramatic loss in life span occurred. About 300 years were lost between Noah and his sons. And, today the average life span in America is close to 70 or 80 years.

Years later, as Abraham’s descendants, the Children of Israel exited Egypt (the Exodus), the Creator fed them daily with manna from heaven. The Bible says that the manna was like coriander/cilantro. He told them in Exodus 15:26 that if they did what He said, He wouldn’t put any of the disease on them that he put on the Egyptians. At their demand for “meat” He sent them quail—and, they ate it until it came out of their noses and many died.

God also repeated the details of His diet for them. In Leviticus 11, He clearly lists the animals that they could eat – the animals that were “clean” or vegetarian. He also clearly listed the animals they should not eat, animals that were “unclean” or the carnivorous scavengers. In addition, He states that “It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations through all your dwellings that ye eat neither fat nor blood” (Leviticus 3:18). That would include milk and cheese and dairy products, which in their unprocessed state are full of animal fat.

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

  • 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Using a food processor or spice/coffee grinder, blend all ingredients together into a powder.

Store in the fridge for up to three weeks. Modified from karissasvegankitchen.com


♥ Almond Milk

  • 1 cup raw almonds, rinsed
  • 4 cups water
  • Sweetener of choice – honey, agave, stevia
  • Salt, optional

Place almonds and one cup of water in blender and blend until smooth. Add remaining water and blend again until smooth. Add sweetener and optional salt to taste. Strain to remove any remaining nut solids. Serve as is. Serve with fruit or carob added. Use in any recipe that calls for milk. Variation: Use cashews in place of almonds. Make with flax seed using ½ cup flax seed and 4-6 cups water. b Yield: 1 quart

All through the Bible, God mentions honey. The Promised Land was flowing with it. And, in Proverbs (24, 25) He tells us to eat it, but not so much that it makes you vomit.

And, we see through the prophets Isaiah (11, 62, 65) and John the Revelator (22) that when He comes again to rescue us from this world of sin, the animals won’t die anymore to be served up on our plates. As a matter of fact, the lion and the lamb will play together. And, the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Avocado Salad Dressing

  • 1 medium, ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
  • Juice of one lemon and/or lime (depending on your preference, I use both)
  • ⅓ 1 cup water or more to desired consistency
  • Honey and salt to taste, optional

In a blender, place the peeled and sliced avocado. Add lemon and lime juices and water to make it thick but pourable. Add optional honey and salt to taste. Serve immediately. (Color darkens, longer it sits). b Yield: 16 servings.

Variation: Add ½ small cucumber, 1 handful fresh basil, 1 small container plain, non-dairy yogurt, 2-3 cloves garlic, water to desired consistency.

♥  Momma’s Rice

  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup your favorite veggie beef chunks, diced
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 2 cups Instant Brown Rice
  • 3¼ cups water
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • Garlic powder, Mckay’s Chicken Style Seasoning to taste

Pour a small amount of olive oil in a large pot. Saute’/stir fry veggie beef chunks and onion for about 3 minutes. Add carrots, peas and rice. Stir until mixed well. Add cilantro, some garlic powder and McKay’s Chicken Style Seasoning. Add water and bring to boil. Taste and add more seasonings if desired. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer until rice is done. Serve. b Yield: 6-8 servings

Echinacea/Golden Seal Tea

Often used in the winter months to fight colds/flu. Echinacea improves immune system, by increasing the white blood cell count. Golden seal helps upper respiratory tract infections, fights coughs and colds, and benefits stomach pain, ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids, and intestinal gas. The powder can be made into a salve and used on rashes.

Boil 4 cups of water. Add 2 echinacea teabags and 2 goldenseal teabags. Remove from heat source and let steep for about 5 minutes. Add lemon and honey to taste. Enjoy!
b Yield: 4 cups.

I’m so happy that the Creator makes it so easy to figure out how to eat. He made us! He knows what’s best for us! He can give you power to overcome appetite

DONNA GREEN GOODMAN, M.P.H., writes from Huntsville, Alabama where she and her husband operate Lifestyle Therapeutix, A Lifestyle For Better Health Center.  www.lifestyletherapeutix.com She is a health educator who has been a college professor, National Ambassador for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure “Circle of Promise” Campaign, and is  author of Somethin’ to Shout About!, (Orion Enterprises, 1999), Cookin’ Up Good Health, (Still Shoutin’, 2008) and executive producer of her own cooking show “Cookin’ Up Good Health!” which aired on HOPETV.  Tune in to Donna’s YouTube Cooking Channel and visit her  at www.stillshoutin.com




Financial Freedom Starts Now!

Changing Your Finances In 2019

 

Each year you make resolutions, but continue to fail. But why? It may be summarized in a simple scripture found in Proverbs 23 and verse 7: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

Therefore, before you commence making financial resolutions and figuring out what to  do, explore the question what is your attitude towards finances, being broke, spending, and saving, among other things.

If you decide to take the financial journey with us this year, it must begin with a commitment to behavioral and spiritual change. I must warn you that financial resolutions are the most difficult to keep. Consequently, if you are serious about becoming wealthy and wise, spirituality must be integrated into your solution.

Let us assure you if are currently experiencing financial difficulty near the point of being broke.  What should you do to begin digging yourself out of that hole with limited or no resources? Here are a few suggestions:

Face the Music

Many people facing financial challenges, refuse to open their mail and ignore bills, bank statements and notices. The reality is that your financial situation cannot improve by wishing or hoping it goes away. Get a hold of your faith and your God and move forward. It’s not going to fix itself.

Set Small Financial Goals

It may have taken you a long time to get into this hole, so don’t expect miracles overnight. One reason why people fail in honoring their financial resolutions is because the results are not immediate. Financial improvement takes a few months. If I can be honest with you, getting out of debt is painful and takes an awfully long time.

Credit Card Payments

If you have credit card debt and bills, pay only the minimum while you are strapped for cash and working on improving your financial condition. Yes, I know you want to pay off that bill immediately, but if you pay more than the minimum on one card, but cannot afford to pay all the others, you further ruin your credit. If paying the minimum allows you to pay on time and preserve your credit, do it!

Gift Giving

I could never understand it! People who are struggling with their finances seem to purchase gifts for birthdays and holidays which they cannot afford. What’s even worse is that they will purchase an outfit to wear to an event that can only be worn once.

Change Financial Behavior

This point is very simple. You cannot afford cable television so cut the cord. You can vew the show you missed one or two days later, or you can purchase services from a streaming company. You don’t need the hot chocolate or coffee every morning. That money actually represents the interest you are paying on the debt you have incurred. Pay down your debt interest. You can drink later. 

In our next article we will begin to explore one of the major tasks required to bring about real changes in your finances and that is the dreaded budget.

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RUTHVEN R. PHILLIP, Esq., is a tax attorney, Stewardship and Philanthropy Ministry Advisor, and CEO of Give2Getrich, LLC.

Give2Get Rich, LLC 2018. All Rights Reserved. Any distribution or
reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited.




Want to See God Move in Your Life?

As a child, I would bring my dime to church for tithe (10 percent on my whopping occasional increase of a whole dollar). The words that followed from the front each week were so predictable that the enormous power of the promise has faded.

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” Malachi 3:10.

This promise of God—way better than any contract in good faith among mere mortals—raises our expectations. It purposely gets our hopes up. It intentionally invites us to go out on a limb and believe for what He has said. “Prove,” meaning “test,” “try,” or “investigate,” also implies God’s hope. He hopes that in the proving process, when we glimpse who He is, and trace a small part of what He wants for us, we would discern between the choices in front of us and choose Him.

Proving Position

While the promise in Malachi is so ubiquitous in service, the architecture of it is worth noting for those of us who want to see God move in our lives. It requires us to first get in position. Position? Yes, proving position means we align ourselves with what we know to be true, the things we know He has asked of us, things already clearly revealed in His Word, the Bible.

In Malachi, the prophet indicated that the proving position was returning the tithes. For Joshua and the children of Israel—wearied, jaded, and weak in faith after wandering 40 years in the wilderness—the proving position was dipping the toes into the river Jordan. It was then that God parted the water for them to cross to the other side (Joshua 3:9-17). In the prophet Elijah’s day, during a widespread famine, the proving position for a poor starving widow and her son who had so little, was to share of her last little homemade cake. It was then that her supply, and her Supply, never ran out (1 Kings 17:10-16). For a man whose hopeless, helpless case meant he lay at a poolside impotent and paralyzed for 38 years, proving position meant immediately acting on the call of Jesus (John 5:2-10).

Testimony to Come

Want to see what happens? Position yourself to get a glimpse of God, and His plan for your life:

Trust and Believe, even in the face of skeptics, doubters and haters.  You’ve got evidence—just that calm inkling that things will work out is evidence itself (Hebrews 11:1).

Trust and Obey, even when we don’t understand (and we may often fail to understand) (1 John 3:22).

Trust and Listen—through His Spirit and through His Word—to gain an understanding (John 16:13, 14).

Trust and Pray while you wait, letting the Spirit do the talking (Romans 8:26).

Trust and Speak and “act in harmony with your prayers,” wrote Ellen G. White in the book Christ’s Object Lessons. We are, after all, working on the same team, as “co-workers” with God, (1 Corinthians 3:9).

Tell what you know, what you’ve seen, and what you’ve heard of Him in your life to others.  “We have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).


This article is part of our 2019 May / June Issue
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