Finding Rest for Your Stress

United States Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black helps us find peace even in the pandemic through the Word of God.

In the light of the global health crisis, caused by the Coronavirus, I found myself questioning the truth of a Bible verse. I was preparing a prayer to pray when the United States Senate convenes, attempting to intercede out of the overflow of my devotional life. I began reading the fifty-fifth Psalm to get my ethical juices flowing, and the twenty-second verse stopped me. It states, “Cast your burdens upon the Lord and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

As I read this verse, I paused for silent reflection. I thought, “Really, Lord, is it really that simple? If I give you my burdens of fear, cynicism, anxiety, grief, and despair, You will not permit me to be moved?” The promise seemed too exceptional to believe.

I began to play the devil’s advocate, my thoughts spinning like a planet. I continued thinking. “Lord, what about Job? Wasn’t he moved? What about Elijah in 1 Kings 19? He sounded suicidal when he asked you to take his life.” I went down the list of people who seemed to be moved, even though they cast their burdens upon the Lord: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. The list went on and on. The patriarchs and prophets seem to promenade past me on my mental screen in a solemn precession. Casting burdens and not being moved, does that really make sense? Is it really possible to find rest for your stress?

Casting May Be The Easier Part

I understood the part about casting your burdens on God. First Peter 5:7 reminds us that we should do so because Jesus truly cares for us. The verse states, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” We have a savior who has promised to always be with us (Matthew 28:20). He cares for us more than we care for ourselves. He demonstrated His love by coming to die for our salvation.

We see the caring of Jesus in the story of the feeding of the 5,000 in John 6. It was He who said to Philip, “Where are we going to find bread to feed these people?” While Philip was calculating, and eventually suggesting to Jesus that the task was too great, John 6:6 reminds us that Jesus was only testing Philip. Jesus already knew what He was going to do. He cared so much for this audience who was so spiritually hungry, they listened to him for hours, that He was concerned that they would faint along the way as the journeyed home. We can find rest from our stress because of this caring savior, who invites us to bring our burdens to Him.

Listen to His words in Matthew 11:28-29, “‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’” This easy yoke refers to a well-fitting one. It is not a yoke that is too large or small. This yoke also causes us to think about submission. For the oxen must submit in order for the yoke to be placed properly. This is the caring Christ who invites us to come to Him when we are burdened with life’s challenges.

Humble Me

As I continued to understand the second part of Psalm 55:22: “He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved,” I had a different challenge. If Jesus cares so much for us, why are we often moved to despair by our trials and tribulations? I turned again to 1 Peter 5, but this time I read verses 6-11:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”

From this powerful passage, I finally saw more clearly how we can find rest for our stress.
A key to finding rest for your stress is to stay humble before God. We need to be humble enough to appreciate that we cannot carry our burdens by ourselves. This humility also suggests a reverential awe for God. It means we have had the epiphany that He is God, and we are not.

Humility That Trusts

We see this reverential humility in Matthew 8 when a centurion came to Jesus with a burden. The centurion’s servant was gravely ill. He asked Jesus to heal his servant, and the master responded: “I will go to your home.”

The centurion responded with these words in Matthew 8:8, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”

Jesus was astonished by this soldier’s humility. He said, “I have not found faith like this not even in Israel. “ That is the kind of reverential humility, which enables us to never be moved. It means that though we have challenges in time, we will still triumph in eternity.

Humility Upgrade

We see this humility  before God in the story of another man recorded in Mark 9. This man came to Jesus’ disciples with a burden. His son was demon possessed. When the disciples were unable to heal the boy, the man appealed to Jesus: “If you can do something, please help me.”

Jesus almost seemed offended. He said, “What do you mean if I can do something?” The man quickly responded with exemplary humility, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Do you have that kind of humility before God that you believe He can do more than you can ask or imagine? Are you willing to admit to God that there is often unbelief blended with your faith? Being humbly transparent before God and staying humble in his presence, is a key to finding rest from your stress.

Are you willing to admit to God that there is often unbelief blended with your faith?

All-Purpose Serenity

The next step to finding rest for your stress is to discover serenity in God. First Peter 5 calls this casting all our anxieties on Jesus. The apostle Paul was in a prison at Philippi. He wrote to the believers in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned in whatever state I am in to experience contentment.”

The apostle Paul continued in verse thirteen, I am ready for anything because of Christ who strengthens me. Wow! What amazing serenity this great apostle possessed. He could find serenity in Christ even behind prison bars.

In Philippians 4:6-7 he describes to us a strategy for finding this rest for our stress:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

What a straightforward strategy. If we subdue our anxiety by taking everything to God in prayer, with thanksgiving and specific requests, God has promised that His peace will guard our hearts. Perhaps this was the peace that Jesus spoke about in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Tempter’s Snare

The final step to finding rest for your stress is to guard against temptation. First Peter 5:8 reminds us that we have a predatory adversary, seeking to devour us. We are warned that we must be prepared to do battle with this enemy.

This is not the first time that the Bible reminds us of the criticality of guarding against temptation. Matthew 26:41 provides this warning, “‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” To some extent, this guarding against temptation is the reminder of the wisdom in James 2:26, “Faith without works is dead.”

How watchful are you? Many years ago there was a television program called Different Strokes. It had the unlikely plot of a multimillionaire who adopted two inner city, African American kids named Arnold and Willis. Willis often sought Arnold, the younger child, to join him in deviating from the path of integrity. Arnold kept his guard up and would respond to Willis’ overtures with these words, “What you talkin’ ‘bout Willis?!” Arnold had his guard up against temptation in the same way we should if we are going to find rest in our stress.

The Best Rest

Thank God I have a Savior who enables me to find rest from my stress. If I stay humble before Him, discovering that He is the secret to my serenity, and guard against temptation, I will discover that I can indeed cast my burdens upon a caring Christ who will not permit me to be ultimately defeated.




Your Crisis Care Kit for Coronavirus, and Everything Else.

What do you do when storms come? How does one make it through tough times? These and many more are the questions some have during this coronavirus crisis and global pandemic. As fear and anxiety loom in the air, so many fret about the future, and worry about how we will get through this crisis.

Let me assure you there is a word from the Lord. This did not catch God off guard. His promise is, “Lo, I am with you always, even until the end . . .”

Two Crisis-Management Strategies

First, let me remind you that God has not left you. “Never feel that Christ is far away. He is always near. His loving presence surrounds you” wrote 19th Century, prolific writer Ellen G. White in the Ministry of Healing. The fact of His nearness truly is key to a sense of well-being. Jesus knows us individually, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He knows us all by name. “He knows the very house in which we live, the name of each occupant. He has, at times, given directions to His servants to go to a certain street in a certain city, to such a house, to find one of His sheep” White wrote in the Desire of Ages. You have a friend in Jesus, and even in the storm He can bring peace!

Second, we must make sure we are rooted and grounded. The Bible says it this way, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

We sometimes wonder why some trees are down and some are still standing after a storm. Was it the wind? No, it was because the roots of some trees extended deeper than others. Storms may build us. It is more likely, though, that they reveal us. During this time while some resent isolation, I heard someone say it’s time for consecration. It is spending time with God that builds us, and this is a time for us to evaluate on what we build our lives.

Storms may build us. It is more likely, though, that they reveal us.

Perspective in Vulnerability

“Notice how fast the whole world can fall apart?” someone asked me the other day. “In the blink of an eye toilet paper runs out. In the blink of an eye college campuses close, and the NBA stops playing. In the blink of an eye plane stop flying. In the blink of an eye you’ll be quarantined to your homes, but fired if you don’t show for work. In the blink of an eye every nation trembles.”

Humanity is so frail that a tiny, little, invisible virus could disrupted so much. This life is temporary.  In the blink of an eye we can step in to eternity.

Underground Strength

Jesus is standing at the door of your heart and knocking. Will you let him in? That is why He said everyone who hears His word and builds on it is like the wise man who built his house on a rock, and when the storm came his house did not fall because it was built on a rock. Question, is Christ your solid Rock?

The song writer says,

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, when darkness seems to hide His face I rest on His unchanging grace; In every high and stormy gale My anchor holds within the veil. His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood; when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay.

If during this crisis you don’t have a sure foundation let me invite you to give Jesus your heart and He will uphold you and carry you through.

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).




An Antidote for Anxiety

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Have you ever felt anxious? The American Psychology Association (APA) defines anxiety as, “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” Few people are immune from feelings of anxiety because most people are familiar with the unpredictable nature of life. While we understand the seasonal nature of life, we are still gripped by our limited capacity to predict every transition. Because we live within the dynamism of life, or life’s ebb and flow, we are susceptible to surprises. Consequently, we are frequently frustrated by the fact that all of our planning, organizing, saving, and positioning cannot prevent tragedies, avoid chaos, elude challenges, or eliminate aggravations.

As Christians, we are acquainted with the interplay between good and evil. We know that trouble is a part of this life (see John 16:33). Yet, at times, wickedness seems to prosper and evil conquers good more than we’d like. If we are honest, sometimes we are bothered by the inequities God permits, how He handles circumstances, and why He moves in the ways that He does. Our inability to completely comprehend the nature of God, His patience in a world of sin, His goodness in a world of bad, and His faithfulness in a world of fickleness can make us downright anxious.

Answers For Anxiety

Although we cannot always prepare for the unexpected, prevent the unwanted, or prohibit the unsolicited, there is an antidote for your anxiety. The apostle Paul shares it in the fourth chapter of his letter to the Philippian church. The church of Philippi was located in Macedonia. Macedonia was a major trading center, welcoming seafaring merchants and land-trodding tradesmen for various types of business. The Philippians would have known the feelings of anxiety because they are not much different than you or I. Your biblical family members would be able to relate with the yearnings of your year, the moans of your month, the weeping of your week, and even the disappointments of your day. If they could, they might say, “Although we speak a different language, live in a different part of the world, and have different customs and norms, we still get anxious!”

But, they would not stop there. I believe they would move from confession to consolation, saying, “Brothers and sisters, Pastor Paul wrote us a letter. He said we did not have to be anxious about anything because we could pray about everything.” This is our antidote for anxiety! What was true for the Philippians is true for you and me. Prayer still works! This week, practice the discipline of pausing to pray. In return, God promises to give you peace that passes all understanding.




Entrepreneurship: The Structure of Your Purpose

In our first article on entrepreneurship I listed some of the many decisions you must confront in starting your business in 2020. Now for some of you this is just a business. But today I’d like to suggest to you that it’s really your purpose. You’re not really an entrepreneur if you’re not making a difference in the community or being a blessing in the lives of others. But even purpose requires structure and order. So, what corporate structure should your purpose have? Should it be a non-profit, partnership, corporation, sole proprietorship or limited liability company? Let’s look at a few of these structures as you plan and help you fulfill your purpose.

NON-PROFIT

If you intend to start a non profit there are several steps and key factions to consider. The first consideration is whether your non profit will take the form of a corporation, non profit trust, unincorporated association or some other structure. If you choose to be a corporation, then you will need to incorporate or register with the state by filing some form of articles of incorporation.

Having decided to form a corporation, if you are seeking tax exempt status, where your donors’ contributions can be deductible under section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code, then the organization will need to be operated and organized exclusively for charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sport competition, or prevention of cruelty to children or animals. It simply means that your purpose must fall into one of those designated categories to qualify for special tax  exempt treatment.

What else would you have to consider? You will need to understand that simply because you have become incorporated in your state as a non profit does not mean that contributions received are tax deductible for your donors. In order to complete the non profit process you will be required to file Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1023 with the Service in order to qualify for tax exempt status. There are two versions of the form. There is IRS Form 1023EZ for small non profits and the regular IRS Form 1023 for large or regular organizations.

Finally, you will have to decide whether your non profit is a public charity or a private foundation. One simple distinction between the two is, with a public charity donors can deduct up to 50% of their contributions not exceeding their adjusted gross income. However, with a private foundation donors can only deduct up to 30% of their adjusted gross income. Simply put, your donors can deduct a greater amount of their contributions, if the organization is a public charity as opposed to a private foundation.

SOLE PROPERTIERSHIP

This form of structure is the simplest to create. You do not need to register or file any documents with the state in which you live. To begin, all you have to do is create a name for your business, use your home address as your business address and use your social security number to open a bank account and start transactions with customers. While it is the easiest to create and to get started, simple does not always means the most prudent. Your social security number will be on all of your business papers and you will be more exposed to identity theft. Furthermore, you will be exposed to personal liability because your business is not registered or incorporated with the state. Think twice about this option.

CORPORATION

The corporate structure is a business model which has been in existence for a very long time. If you are thinking of operating as a corporation, you will first need to incorporate or register in your state or some other jurisdiction. Some organizations choose not to register in their state but in the state of Delaware. In Delaware, the court system, judges and other professionals are experts in corporate law as opposed to judges and lawyers in other jurisdictions.

In most states, a corporation will need at least two persons. Generally, one person may hold more than one position, but in all circumstances a corporation requires a board of directors and a variety of shareholders. The corporation is viewed as a separate person or entity and thus you will need to operate under some by-laws and other governance documents. The down side of this structure is that there is double taxation.

Finally, under the corporation designation, you can elect to become a sub-chapter S corporation. This may be one way to avoid double taxation. This corporate structure will allow profit or losses to pass directly to the owners.

Knowing what structure best fits your purpose or calling is important as an entrepreneur. If your structure is flawed,  it is just like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Choose wisely!




Pandemic Spending

The stock market has experienced one of its most volatile weeks in history. With the Dow falling over 2,000 points in a few days, shoppers have become panic buyers descending upon grocery stores in sheer pandemonium. But do you have pandemic money? How do you manage your resources during a national emergency? Here are a few financial suggestions to help you navigate your finances during this COVID -19 pandemic.

  1. FAITH SPENDING: During this pandemic, your spending cannot be predicated upon your fears, panic and anxiety. In times like these, your spending should be buttressed by the reassurance found in Luke 12:24, “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?”
  2. LONG TERM MANAGEMENT: All your finances should not be spent on acquiring emergency food in the moment. If you spend your resources on emergency goods, what will you have left to pay the utility bills, rent or mortgage when they become due? Exercise balance spending. Spend wisely, not out of fear!
  3. WISE SPENDING: Perhaps you find yourself at Costco among the crowd attempting to purchase bottles of water. You find out you are only limited to two cases. Not to worry! Perhaps you can focus on purchasing a water filter and save the cost of several cases of water in the future. If all else fails, you can also boil your tap water. Spend wisely!
  4. FINANCIAL ACCESS: This may be a time for you to consider paying your bills on line or to conduct more online banking transactions. Be sure to have the proper internet security structure to protect your finances as you conduct these transactions online. Also, keep some cash readily available for easy access.
  5. EMERGENCY FUND: If you have an emergency fund continue to contribute to it if possible. Sure, you need to use some of it now, but at your earliest opportunity start putting funds back into it. For those who haven’t created an emergency fund, start one now. An easy way to start your emergency fund is to use your tax refund as the first deposit. Even reserving small amounts can make a big difference, and it’s never too late to get started.
  6. CREDIT CARD: Call your credit card company and ask them to waive your late fees as part of your financial strategy during this pandemic. If necessary, ask them to move your payment date as you rearrange your cash flow during this crisis.
  7. PAY DAY LOANS: If you need money to see you through this pandemic, avoid payday loans at all cost! During the last financial crisis, the average payday loan was $300.00 with annualized interest rates of 350 percent. These interest rates are criminal! Try other sources of borrowing and avoid predatory lending.

In conclusion, strike a balance between how you spend now and how much your spending needs will be for the next few months during this crisis. As I like to say, make a distinction between what’s necessary verses what’s important.

Connect with us at: Ruthven@give2getrich.com

All ownership rights Reserved Give2Getrich, LLC 2020.




Tips to Prevent a Coronavirus Infection

  1. Keep Hands Clean
    • Wash your hands with soap 10-20 seconds when you return home or encounter something or someone. (May Use Anti-Bacterial Soap).
    • Use disinfectant wipes that are Greater than 60% alcohol-based or Clorox wipes. Use to wipe handles and child seat, grocery carts, etc.
    • Keep a sanitizer at each of your home or office entrances and in your car. Use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects.
  2. Be Careful About What You Touch
    • No Handshaking, Kissing or Hugging! Use a fist bump or elbow bump.
    • Use only your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc. Open Doors with Your Closed Fist or Hip – Do Not Grasp the Door Handles or Gasoline Dispenser with Your Bare Hand.  Use Latex or Nitrile Latex Disposable Gloves or Paper Towels.
  3. Cough or Sneeze Into a Disposable Tissue and Discard. Use Your Elbow Only If You Have To. (The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more.)
  4. Use disposable surgical masks to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth. (This is the only way this virus can infect you – it is lung-specific. The mask won’t prevent the virus if someone sneezes directly on you).
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Face masks should be used by persons showing symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease and by health workers and people caring for someone at home or in a health care facility.
  5. Reduce or Eliminate Sugar and Dairy
  6. Use A lot of Water Inside and Outside
  7. Exercise – Moderate Exercise Stimulates the Immune System
  8. Increase Vitamin C
  9. Zinc (Proven effective in blocking coronavirus and most other viruses from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx.) Take the equivalent of 30 mg each day when you begin to feel ANY “cold-like” symptoms. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. (Cold-Eeze lozenges is one brand available).
  10. Avoid Close Contact with People Who Are Sick AND Stay Home When You Are Sick.



Entrepreneurship: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

As you launch out this year to start your own business and use your talents to become the person God has called you to be, there are some critical decisions you will need to make. The very first one is choosing to develop a plan. I’m always amazed by individuals who want to start their own business and become entrepreneurs but do not have a plan. They just slap some ideas together and think they have a plan. Or better yet, some have a feeling they will be successful in providing food services for example, but really don’t like dealing with inventory. One of my favorite books makes it clear: which of you intending to build a house, do not count the cost before commencing construction? (Luke 14:28) So let’s look at the list of initial decisions you will have to make in order to lay down a solid foundation.

SELF ASSESSMENT

You will need to be honest with yourself ask: Can I do task without help? Do I need employees or contractors and why? What is my risk tolerance? Am I a self starter? Am I disciplined? Can I manage my time and get things accomplished without a taskmaster watching over me? Now here’s a big one, if there is a significant other in your life, are they supportive of your proposed business? Do you have enough money saved so that you can make it for several months before cash flow really kicks in? Do you have debt? Will you be able to acquire a business line of credit?

CHOICE OF ENTITY

When starting a business there are several corporate formations you can establish. You can choose Sole Proprietorship, Corporation, S-Corporation, Limited Liability Company, Professional Limited Liability Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Professional Limited Liability Partnership just to name a few. You will need to sit down with your accountant or business consultant to figure out which structure best serves your objectives and gives you the most protection.

EMPLOYEES OR CONTRACTORS

Making the right choice on this one can save you lots of headaches and problems in the future. Some considerations would include finding out who would qualify as a contractor verses an employee. What will be your responsibility to an employee as opposed to a contractor. What impact, if any, will taxes play in choosing an employee over contractor.

OFFICE

This decision must be made quite early. Will you rent a space or share office space or can you work from home? If you need a space then you will have to decide on location, size, rental cost and equipment just to name a few factors. If you are working from home, will your contractors or employees be able to come over to your home office and work?

FINANCES

You don’t have to be an accountant to know you’ll need a budget to start your business. Other financial considerations would include a possible line of credit. For example, you need to know how many bank accounts are you going to establish-checking and savings? Do you know accounting software and how to read financial statements?

These and a few more considerations are some of the basic decisions you will need to make in starting your business or ministry in 2020. In our next article series on entrepreneurship, we will be taking a deeper dive into some of the areas presented above to help you become a successful ministry or business leader and live out your purpose!

 

Ruthven R. Phillip, Esq., is a tax attorney, Stewardship and Philanthropy Ministry Assistant, and CEO of Give2Getrich, LLC

Give2Get Rich, LLC 2020. All Rights Reserved. Any distribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited.




The Truth About the Coronavirus

In December of 2019 a cluster of unusual pneumonia was detected in Wuhan, which is the capital of Hubei Province in the People’s Republic of China. In January of 2020 the cause of the infection was discovered and found and has come to be commonly known as the Coronovirus. The truth is, COVID-19 is the official name of the infectious disease and it is caused by this most recently discovered coronavirus.

What is Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which usually cause illness in animals. The virus is transmitted to humans who come into close contact with the infected animal, like contact with bats. The open market of Wuhan, China is thought to be the area where the initial contact occurred. Many speculated that the virus made human contact through cuisine like “bat soup.” But a recent study in the Journal of Medical Virology shows that while the spreading of the virus originated with bats, it much more likely was transferred from bats to snakes (as snakes eat bats) and then to humans. Within this study scientists determined that such knowledge reveals that the notion of the virus being caused by eating “bat soup” is not only misinformed, but potentially xenophobic.

In humans, several coronaviruses have already been known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. All of these symptoms could also be from an infection by the common cold virus.  So it is important to ask if the sick person had any recent travel to China.

The risk of becoming infected by COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to “catch” COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill.

COVID-19 Statistics

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying chronic medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to contract the serious illness. But only about 2% of people with the disease have died.

As of this publication, there have been 81,407 confirmed cases world wide. There have been 2,772 deaths and 30,406 patients have recovered. There are 48,229 active cases, with 39,361 (82%) being mild and 8,868 (18%) being severe or critical cases. The cases of infected individuals is however projected to increase worldwide.

A new case of coronavirus was confirmed in the United States on Wednesday, February 27, bringing the total number of cases in this country to 60. As of today, March 4, the virus has caused 11 deaths. For more information, outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post are providing live, full coverage of the global epidemic giving updates as these numbers change.

Protection From COVID-19

You may have noticed on the news that many people are wearing surgical face masks to

protect themselves. This is because the primary way the disease is transmitted, person to person, is through respiratory droplets coughed or expelled by someone who is infected. Simple surgical masks are however not effective against this virus. The only type of masks that protect are the respirators that fit tight to the face and include a filtration system. If you are coughing, the common surgical mask only provides a small degree of protection.

Young women wear face masks as protection against the coronavirus during Chinese New Year celebrations in London on January 26, 2020. | Barry Lewis/In pictures via Getty Images

Here are some ways of protecting yourself from not only getting infected by COVID-19 but also from all other kinds of viruses and bacteria:

  1. You should regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand wash or better, wash hands with soap and water.
  2. If someone is coughing or sneezing, continue to love them, but from at least 3 feet away.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and of course, don’t pick your nose. Wash hands before eating anything, yes, anything.
  4. If you are coughing or sneezing, do it in your bent elbow or in tissue or wear a mask. Dispose of the tissue immediately. Do not use a handkerchief.
  5. Ministers, instead of shaking hands use the fist bump or a big smile when greeting members after church.
  6. Stay home if you feel sick. If you are experiencing a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, don’t be heroic and go to work or school. Call your health care provider for advice.

The Truth About Coronavirus

Antibiotics will not help in treating this viral infection. There is increasing evidence showing that Vitamin D may be helpful in preventing Coronaviruses from attaching to cells. It appears that the virus attaches to the cells via an enzyme called ACE2. Vitamin D reduces this enzyme therefore preventing a viral attachment.

Information from the WHO (World Health Organization) also stresses that eating a balanced diet with fresh fruit and vegetables will help the body resist infection.

All of this should not be a surprise to us as Children of a God. Jesus himself, in speaking about the last days before He returns for His people, says in Luke 21:11, “there will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilence in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”

This possible pandemic of COVID-19 may be the beginning of the end. We’re going home soon.




Top 12 Tax Scams

The IRS reminds taxpayers to remain vigilant to these often aggressive and evolving schemes throughout the year. This year’s “Dirty Dozen” list highlights a wide variety of schemes that taxpayers may encounter at any time, although many may peak during tax-filing season. The schemes run the gamut from simple refund inflation to complex tax shelter deals. A common theme throughout all: scams put taxpayers at risk.

Taxpayers should remember that they are legally responsible for what is on their tax return even if it is prepared by someone else. Consumers can help protect themselves by choosing a reputable tax preparer.

Here is a List of The Top 12 Scams:

1. Phishing: Taxpayers should be alert to potential fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email about a bill or tax refund. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS. Be wary of emails and websites that are potential scams to steal personal information.

2. Phone Scams: Phone calls from criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as con artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation and license revocation, among other things.

3. Identity Theft: Taxpayers should be alert to tactics aimed at stealing their identities, not just during the tax filing season, but all year long. The IRS, working in conjunction with the Security Summit partnership of state tax agencies and the tax industry, has made major improvements in detecting tax return related identity theft during the last several years. But the agency reminds taxpayers that they can help in preventing this crime. The IRS continues to aggressively pursue criminals that file fraudulent tax returns using someone else’s Social Security number.

4. Return Preparer Fraud: Be on the lookout for unscrupulous return preparers. The vast majority of tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service. There are some dishonest preparers who operate each filing season to scam clients, perpetuate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams that hurt taxpayers.

5. Inflated Refund Claims: Taxpayers should take note of anyone promising inflated tax refunds. Those preparers who ask clients to sign a blank return, promise a big refund before looking at taxpayer records or charge fees based on a percentage of the refund are probably up to no good. To find victims, fraudsters may use flyers, phony storefronts or word of mouth via community groups where trust is high.

6. Falsifying Income to Claim Credits: Con artists may convince unsuspecting taxpayers to invent income to erroneously qualify for tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. Taxpayers should file the most accurate tax return possible because they are legally responsible for what is on their return. This scam can lead to taxpayers facing large bills to pay back taxes, interest and penalties.

7. Falsely Padding Deductions on Returns: Taxpayers should avoid the temptation to falsely inflate deductions or expenses on their tax returns to pay less than what they owe or potentially receive larger refunds. Think twice before overstating deductions, such as charitable contributions and business expenses, or improperly claiming credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit.

8. Fake Charities: Groups masquerading as charitable organizations solicit donations from unsuspecting contributors. Be wary of charities with names similar to familiar or nationally-known organizations. Contributors should take a few extra minutes to ensure their hard-earned money goes to legitimate charities. IRS.gov has the tools taxpayers need to check out the status of charitable organizations.

9. Excessive Claims for Business Credits: Avoid improperly claiming the fuel tax credit, a tax benefit generally not available to most taxpayers. The credit is usually limited to off-highway business use, including use in farming. Taxpayers should also avoid misuse of the research credit. Improper claims often involve failures to participate in or substantiate qualified research activities or satisfy the requirements related to qualified research expenses.

10. Offshore Tax Avoidance: Successful enforcement actions against offshore cheating show it’s a bad bet to hide money and income offshore. People involved in offshore tax avoidance are best served by coming in voluntarily and getting caught up on their tax-filing responsibilities.

11. Frivolous Tax Arguments: Frivolous tax arguments may be used to avoid paying tax. Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims about the legality of paying taxes despite being repeatedly thrown out in court. The penalty for filing a frivolous tax return is $5,000.

12. Abusive Tax Shelters: Abusive tax structures including trusts and syndicated conservation easements are sometimes used to avoid paying taxes. The IRS is committed to stopping complex tax avoidance schemes and the people who create and sell them. The vast majority of taxpayers pay their fair share, and everyone should be on the lookout for people peddling tax shelters that sound too good to be true. When in doubt, taxpayers should seek an independent opinion regarding complex products they are offered.




Black History Month According to an Afro-Latin@

My name is Idalia T. Wilmoth, and I am an Afro-Latina American from Roatan, Honduras. To me, Black History Month means a time to “Re-member” the Sankofa, an African word from the Akan people which means “to return and retrieve; go and get it and bring it here; to return to the source; to recover the rich lessons.”

Black History Month is more than celebrating the enormous amount of invaluable contributions Black Americans have sacrificed and given to the United States and the entire world. It’s a moment where I believe African Diaspora peoples center and unify themselves in ways to reimagine life within the dominate narrative.

With February as Black History Month, we as a people deeply understand and appreciate a time designated to the celebration of African descendants. For me, Afro-Latino Americans have a long history of African linage that reaches back to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. However, the narratives of Afro-Latinos often are rarely brought to light.

The Importance of Afro-Latin@s

According to Miriam Jiménez Román and Juan Flores in their 2010 book The Afro-Latin@ Reader: History and Culture in the United States, Afro-Latin@ communities have historically been structurally racialized, which has resulted in the creation of monolithic narratives surrounding what race and ethnicity mean; in this case, Black and Latinx. Both Black and Latinx discourse for me speaks to the intersecting identity I hold linguistically, culturally and even within the notion of Black indigeneity.

This intrinsically complex and unique blend of identity means that the African ancestors from their various ethnic groups were kidnapped from Africa, but brought their cultures, ideas, and world-views with them. In this regard, the experiences of Afro-Latino Americans are not homogenous but these communities exist simultaneously in similar and different ways throughout the African Diaspora. This simply means that Black History Month is always incomplete without the global narrative of Afro-Latinos.

Black History Month as Communion

It is for this reason that I always compare Black History Month to communion. I believe this month is a time to reflect, renew, and refuel. It’s an opportunity to show humility, reverence, and stand in awe of a God who protected His people through 400 years of slavery and displacement, Jim Crow and lynching, institutional discrimination, and global exploitation and erasure. It is a time to never forget and to stand on Hebrews 13:7 which says to,

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

The bible says to remember those leaders who embraced faith and were obedient to God’s calling. We should consider their lives, their examples and how they lived, and do our best to emulate their faith and leadership.

This month is a time to awaken the historical amnesia that sweeps the hearts and minds of many, and remind ourselves that Black History Month is a powerful tool against white supremacy. It is important that we avoid romanticizing Black history as this savior, heroic and achieving piece to our narratives. We must address the complexity of blackness and the ambiguity of the past. Let’s not only focus on celebrating the first inventors, but explore our first defeats and disappointments. Let’s be intentional about studying the critical thoughts and products of African heritage globally.

Black identity has shaped, informed and touched this world like nothing else. And Black History Month reminds us how we have done it so as to encourage this current generation to continue to do it. Adding the lens of Latinidad only adds to this rich understanding and call to true Black History.