10 Lessons From the Back of the Desert

“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.”
Exodus 3:1 (NKJV)

As I reflect on this season of Coronavirus COVID-19, the wildfires in California, Hurricanes off the Gulf Coast, the killing of unarmed Black people at the hands of police, poverty and homelessness, illiteracy, mass incarceration, femicide, and so much global unrest, I recognize that many people perceive themselves to be living in a wilderness. And truthfully, many afflicted by the turmoil of this world find themselves not just in the wilderness, not just in the desert, but in the back of the desert. And it’s normal to, when in the back of the desert, ask, where is God?

The beauty is that according to the book of Exodus the mountain of God resides in the back of the desert. If you find yourself struggling in the back of a desert what you need to know is that there are 10 lessons to learn while there. Let’s take a dive into Exodus chapters 3 and 4 and discover these 10 lessons. 

Lesson #1: God Will Get Your Attention

In Exodus chapter 3:2 the Bible says, “the Angel of the Lord appeared to [Moses] in a flame of fire from the midst of the bush. So, he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but was not consumed.” As you read this I am certain that you know what it feels like to be in the desert. Many of us know what it feels like to be in a place where there’s little sign of life, the environment feels unbearable, and God feels absent. But the end of verse 1 tells us that the mountain of God is in the back of the desert.

So, no matter how much you believe you’re alone, the truth is that the back of your desert is where God resides. And whenever you find yourself in the back of the desert know that God will get your attention. Right now, as you are in the back of your desert, how is God trying to get your attention? What in your life is on fire, but not being consumed? 

Lesson #2: God Will Require Your Sanctification

Now, the moment God has your attention He will immediately require your sanctification. Verse 5 says, “Then [God] said, ‘Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’” This is a critical command. Oftentimes, we want to be in the presence of God, but don’t consider the reverence requirements necessary to enter.

God tells Moses he has to take his shoes off because the ground is Holy. In your wilderness, where is the holiness of God? What has God asked you to do, to stop, to take off in reverence of His presence? We’ve got to understand that in the wilderness God is going to do whatever is necessary to get our attention and then He will require our sanctification. 

Lesson #3: God Will Call You to a Mission

Once God got Moses’ attention and Moses could discern that it was in fact God speaking He then surrendered to God allowing himself to be made holy. Then, God shares with Moses the mission He was calling him to in Exodus 3:7-10. In this moment we see that the Creator God is not a far off, disengaged Being. Instead He is one that is intimately acquainted with and concerned about the unjust treatment of humanity. So much so, that God declares that He has come down Himself to use His own hand to deliver the Israelites. The only caveat is He desires to accomplish this in partnership with Moses.

This is such a powerful truth because it in the back of our deserts, that God shares His heart with us. It’s in the wilderness that God crosses space and time and inserts Himself onto the Earth seeking to partner with humanity for the liberation of people. The question is, have you stopped to give Him your attention? Have you allowed yourself to surrender to His holiness? Have you heard the heart of God and received the call on your life?

Lesson #4: God Will Read His Own Introduction

It’s when we hear the heart of God that we come to know the character of God. But when Moses asks God what His name is, He says, “I AM WHO I AM.” This is so powerful to me, because Moses has heard the heart of God, learned what is burdening Him, and now He has learned His name.

And when God says, “I AM WHO I AM” He is saying, I am the origin of all families, the seed of all heritage, the spark of all culture, the Father of every living thing. In me exists all things and without me nothing was made that was made. So that in God at all times is whatever you need. And we see God manifest this truth throughout the Exodus Story. In the back of your desert have you allowed God to introduce Himself to you?

Lesson #5: God Will Declare Your Recitation

In Exodus 3:16 God tells Moses to “gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob appeared to me, saying, I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt; and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.’”

In other words, God gave Moses the script. Not only did God share with Moses his mission, but He also told him exactly what to say. So many times, we worry and shrink back from what God has called us to do because we don’t believe we know how to do it. But in the life of Moses we see that God won’t just call you to a mission, but He will also equip you for it. What has God told you to do? And how did He tell you to do it?

Lesson #6: God’s Liberation Promises Reparations

The title of this lesson alone may have caused you to tense up, but I want you to look with me in Exodus 3:21. The Bible says, “And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed.” Here we see that God desires not just to use us to free people, but He also desires that we do it in such a way that they are economically, socially, and physically repaired from the oppression they lived through.

Ellen White in her potent article “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” published in the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald in 1896 begins saying, “The American nation owes a debt of love to the colored race, and God has ordained that they should make restitution for the wrong they have done them in the past. Those who have taken no part in enforcing slavery upon the colored people are not relieved from the responsibility of making special efforts to remove, as far as possible, the sure result of their enslavement.”

If we were to be honest, oftentimes, our approaches to serving and saving people oppressed by various systems fails to do this. We must consider who are the people in our contemporary period in need of freedom? What does it look like for them to leave their oppressors emancipated and not empty-handed?

Lesson #7: God Will Show You Confirmation

The wilderness is a difficult place to be. And the back of the desert seems even more overwhelming. This is why whatever God shares with you in the back of the desert He confirms with you in the back of the desert. Chapter 4:1-9 God shows Moses a variety of signs and wonders to prove His power. He turns the rod into a snake, inflicts Moses’ hand with leprosy, and declares that Moses will turn water into blood. In other words, God will confirm your calling and seal within your heart and mind His power so that you will know without a shadow of a doubt that this is what He’s called you to.

Lesson #8: God Will Give You Affirmation

Now, oftentimes, even after the confirmation of our calling and the confirmation of God’s power we still doubt, we remain insecure. We feel like what God is asking of us is far too much for us to take on. Immediately, we join in with Moses and begin sharing with God all of our short comings, inadequacies, deficiencies, along with every reason why He should have picked someone else. But I love how in our moments of insecurity God declares His confidence in Himself!

This reiterates that we are not doing anything we’ve been called to by God in our own strength. He says, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what to say.” Here God is saying, your weaknesses, your inadequacies, your deficits are no match for My power! God is not looking for qualified people. He’s looking for willing people. Any willing heart can become qualified. Particularly when they have the power of God flowing through them.

Lesson #9: God Will Provide Collaboration

Technically, God’s confirmation and affirmation should be enough for us to accept the call and walk in obedience. But some of us are like Moses and we require a little bit more. And according to Scripture our lack of faith does frustrate God. But even in that anger He is gracious enough to give us individuals that we can collaborate with who have strengths where we have weaknesses.

In Exodus 4:14 God encourages Moses to partner with his brother Aaron. And this is important because it’s critical for you to understand that God has people in mind who will come alongside you to aid in you in fulfilling His purpose for your life. The question I want you to wrestle with is, who has God encouraged you to collaborate with?

Lesson #10: God Expects Dedication

After all that, the only thing left for us to do is obey. Once we allow ourselves to go through this entire process, God is then looking for us to be dedicated to completing the mission. My prayer is that you receive this truth. While you may be in the back of your desert God has everything you need in the back of the desert in order to prepare you to come out equipped and empowered to accomplish His will in the Earth. Take some time to consider these lessons, ask yourself these questions, and allow God to speak to you.




Saving Life

What is Love? Who is love? How do you love? Maybe you’ve asked one of those questions. At least, you have heard them asked at some point or another. What if I told you that justice and love in the Bible are the same? Would you believe me? Let us journey through this experience as we find out how God’s love in you can bring justice and save life.


(1) Read Mark 3:1; Isaiah 1:17; Micah 6:8

We are introduced to a man in Mark 3 who has a visible difference that alienates and marginalizes him in society. In his time, he had no business being in the synagogue, and his exclusion stemmed not from his actions, but because of something over which he had no control. Can you imagine being pushed to the sidelines of society because of some outward thing that you can’t help? Talk to us about it on Social Media using  #MessageMag.

(2) Read Mark 3:2; Mark 2:23-27; Psalm 37:27-29

While this man with a withered hand stands there, others in the synagogue are wondering if Jesus will heal him on the Sabbath. What they don’t realize is that Jesus uses the Sabbath to give people who are weary, rest. Who is more weary than individuals like this marginalized man? Do you know of any? How do they fall into this category?

(3) Read Mark 3:3; Prov. 28:5; Psalm 33:5

Jesus then does the unthinkable. He asks the man who isn’t even supposed to be in the room to stand up, front and center. How loving it is to give attention to the ignored, a voice to the silenced, and a platform to the underserved. Jesus empowering someone to stand in a place he should be, but policy forbids, is justice.

(4)

I must say that it intrigues me to no end that this man had his life changed by following the simple directions of Jesus. It wasn’t a series of positive actions. It wasn’t a history of good behavior. It wasn’t credit for some good deed. It was simply doing what Jesus told him to do. Be like this man. Don’t let your condition dictate your actions. Jesus is a professional at looking beyond our faults and seeing our needs. #RighteousnessByFaith

(5) Read Mark 3:4; Deuteronomy 27:19; Jeremiah 22:3

Jesus then asks them about justice. They have no reply. If Jesus asked you about justice would you have a response? What would it be? Share what you would tell Jesus about love on Social Media using #MessageMag. We’d love to hear from you!

(6) Read Mark 3:5; Job 12:22; Psalm 140:12

The passion of Christ reaches a fever pitch, and the Bible describes Him as distressed and angry! Why? Because these church people refuse to acknowledge that this alienated and marginalized individual is the one who has been excluded from the privilege of accessing a good life like everyone else. There is no way this still happens in 2020, is there? If so, how? Share your thoughts with us on Social Media using #MessageMag

(7) Read Mark 3:5-6; Isaiah 61:8-9; Zechariah 7:9-10

Jesus empowers this man to lift his hand and be healed. The saving of this man’s life put Jesus’ life in danger. The same can happen for those who wish to love as Jesus did. When your love steps out in public and is exposed as justice, know that you need not worry about your life because Jesus is saving for you.

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

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This article is part of our 2020 July / August Issue
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“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying:

“There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying,  ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ”

Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” 

Luke 18:1-8

Get Justice for Me – When Heaven Has Enough

A Reflection

Selected from Christ’s Object Lessons, by Ellen G. White, “Shall Not God Avenge His Own?”

The Scriptures describe the condition of the world just before Christ’s second coming. James the apostle pictures the greed and oppression that will prevail. He says, “Go to now, ye rich men, . . . ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton. Ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you” James 5:1-6. This is a picture of what exists today. By every species of oppression and extortion, men are piling up colossal fortunes, while the cries of starving humanity are coming up before God” (p. 170).

The world has become bold in transgression of God’s law. Because of His long forbearance, men have trampled upon His authority. They have strengthened one another in oppression and cruelty toward His heritage, saying, “How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?” Psalm 73:11. But there is a line beyond which they cannot pass. The time is near when they will have reached the prescribed limit. Even now they have almost exceeded the bounds of the long-suffering of God, the limits of His grace, the limits of His mercy. The Lord will interpose to vindicate His own honor, to deliver His people, and to repress the swellings of unrighteousness” (p. 177).

They “shall have judgment without mercy” that have “showed no mercy” (James 2:13.) Not long hence they will stand before the Judge of all the earth, to render an account for the pain they have caused to the bodies and souls of His heritage. They may now indulge in false accusations, they may deride those whom God has appointed to do His work, they may consign His believing ones to prison, to the chain gang, to banishment, to death; but for every pang of anguish, every tear shed, they must answer. God will reward them double for their sins” ( p. 179).

From India, from Africa, from China, from the islands of the sea, from the downtrodden millions of so-called Christian lands, the cry of human woe is ascending to God. That cry will not long be unanswered. God will cleanse the earth from it moral corruption, not by a sea of water as in Noah’s day, but by a sea of fire that cannot be quenched by any human devising”  (p. 179).

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

2020 July August cover
This article is part of our 2020 July / August Issue
Subscribe –>

…......…………………………………………..

ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

_________________

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





Get Justice for Me – When Heaven Has Enough

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying:

“There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying,  ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’

Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’” 

Luke 18:1-8


A Reflection

Selected from Christ’s Object Lessons, by Ellen G. White, “Shall Not God Avenge His Own?”

The Scriptures describe the condition of the world just before Christ’s second coming. James the apostle pictures the greed and oppression that will prevail. He says, “Go to now, ye rich men, . . . ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton. Ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you” James 5:1-6. This is a picture of what exists today. By every species of oppression and extortion, men are piling up colossal fortunes, while the cries of starving humanity are coming up before God” (p. 170).

The world has become bold in transgression of God’s law. Because of His long forbearance, men have trampled upon His authority. They have strengthened one another in oppression and cruelty toward His heritage, saying, “How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?” Psalm 73:11. But there is a line beyond which they cannot pass. The time is near when they will have reached the prescribed limit. Even now they have almost exceeded the bounds of the long-suffering of God, the limits of His grace, the limits of His mercy. The Lord will interpose to vindicate His own honor, to deliver His people, and to repress the swellings of unrighteousness” (p. 177).

They “shall have judgment without mercy” that have “showed no mercy” (James 2:13.) Not long hence they will stand before the Judge of all the earth, to render an account for the pain they have caused to the bodies and souls of His heritage. They may now indulge in false accusations; they may deride those whom God has appointed to do His work; they may consign His believing ones to prison, to the chain gang, to banishment, to death; but for every pang of anguish, every tear shed, they must answer. God will reward them double for their sins” ( p. 179).

From India, from Africa, from China, from the islands of the sea, from the downtrodden millions of so-called Christian lands, the cry of human woe is ascending to God. That cry will not long be unanswered. God will cleanse the earth from it moral corruption, not by a sea of water as in Noah’s day, but by a sea of fire that cannot be quenched by any human devising”  (p. 179).

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

ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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

2020 July August cover
This article is part of our 2020 July / August Issue
Subscribe –>

…......…………………………………………..


What is Love? Who is love? How do you love? Maybe you’ve asked one of those questions. At least, you have heard them asked at some point or another. What if I told you that justice and love in the Bible are the same? Would you believe me? Let us journey through this experience as we find out how God’s love in you can bring justice and save life.

 

(1) Read Mark 3:1; Isaiah 1:17; Micah 6:8

We are introduced to a man in Mark 3 who has a visible difference that alienates and marginalizes him in society. In his time, he had no business being in the synagogue, and his exclusion stemmed not from his actions, but because of something over which he had no control. Can you imagine being pushed to the sidelines of society because of some outward thing that you can’t help? Talk to us about it on Social Media using  #MessageMag.

(2) Read Mark 3:2; Mark 2:23-27; Psalm 37:27-29

While this man with a withered hand stands there, others in the synagogue are wondering if Jesus will heal him on the Sabbath. What they don’t realize is that Jesus uses the Sabbath to give people who are weary, rest. Who is more weary than individuals like this marginalized man? Do you know of any? How do they fall into this category?

(3) Read Mark 3:3; Prov. 28:5; Psalm 33:5

Jesus then does the unthinkable. He asks the man who isn’t even supposed to be in the room to stand up, front and center. How loving it is to give attention to the ignored, a voice to the silenced, and a platform to the underserved. Jesus empowering someone to stand in a place he should be, but policy forbids, is justice.

(4)

I must say that it intrigues me to no end that this man had his life changed by following the simple directions of Jesus. It wasn’t a series of positive actions. It wasn’t a history of good behavior. It wasn’t credit for some good deed. It was simply doing what Jesus told him to do. Be like this man. Don’t let your condition dictate your actions. Jesus is a professional at looking beyond our faults and seeing our needs. #RighteousnessByFaith

(5) Read Mark 3:4; Deuteronomy 27:19; Jeremiah 22:3

Jesus then asks them about justice. They have no reply. If Jesus asked you about justice would you have a response? What would it be? Share what you would tell Jesus about love on Social Media using #MessageMag. We’d love to hear from you!

(6) Read Mark 3:5; Job 12:22; Psalm 140:12

The passion of Christ reaches a fever pitch, and the Bible describes Him as distressed and angry! Why? Because these church people refuse to acknowledge that this alienated and marginalized individual is the one who has been excluded from the privilege of accessing a good life like everyone else. There is no way this still happens in 2020, is there? If so, how? Share your thoughts with us on Social Media using #MessageMag

(7) Read Mark 3:5-6; Isaiah 61:8-9; Zechariah 7:9-10

Jesus empowers this man to lift his hand and be healed. The saving of this man’s life put Jesus’ life in danger. The same can happen for those who wish to love as Jesus did. When your love steps out in public and is exposed as justice, know that you need not worry about your life because Jesus is saving for you.

…......……………………………………………………………….

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

2020 July August cover
This article is part of our 2020 July / August Issue
Subscribe –>





So Many Churches, How Do I Choose One?

We have churches everywhere today. We have churches on every corner. Big churches. Little churches. Urban churches. Rural churches. Some churches clap their hands. Some churches don’t. Some churches say, “Amen.” Some churches don’t. Some churches have musical bands. Some churches don’t. Some churches have long services. Some churches don’t. We have churches everywhere.

Every church preaches love. Every church preaches forgiveness. Every church preaches salvation. We have churches everywhere preaching everything.

Now let me be clear that there are good people in all churches. There are good Christians in all denominations. But, when I consider a church, it’s not about who has the nicest building. It’s not about how many members you have. It’s not whether you have a television ministry or not. It’s not about how many choirs or praise teams you have. While all of these things may be good, I’ve learned in my life that that’s not why you should become a member of a church. Rather, you should become a member of a church where God’s unadulterated Word is being preached.

You must be where the people, though they may be imperfect, are pursuing a perfect message. There are too many churches where anything goes. In these types of churches, you can do anything you want. If it feels good, do it. But Jesus is coming back soon for a church “without spot or wrinkle;” one that is “holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

The signs pointing to the imminence of Christ’s return are increasing every day. Jesus foretold us in Matthew 24 that there would be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, and so much more just before His second coming. We can clearly see that the Coronavirus, the current modern-day pestilence, has ravaged our world, and people are still dying.

Sadly, the world is not going to get better, but it’s going to get worse. We don’t have time to play around with the idea of a church! We shouldn’t attend a church simply because of its popularity. But we’ve got to be where God’s truth is being preached and taught.

Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23, NIV:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Today, I’m happy to say that I’m a Seventh-day Adventist Christian! It is not the name, or the denomination that is as important as the indicators, or the signs of a truth-telling and truth-seeking body of believers. So, in seeking a church, make a decision based on Bible-based reasons. Here are factors that I believe rightfully inform a decision to join a church:

1. Its teachings are in harmony with the Word of God. Isaiah 8:20 speaks about our responsibility to live according to the principles as taught in God’s Word. Hence, it should be our desire to belong to a church that advocates biblical teaching and fosters a biblical lifestyle.

2. It keeps all Ten Commandments of God including the Fourth Commandment to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Revelation 12:17 says that those who follow God and keep His commandments are God’s remnant people.

3. It has the Testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12:17 also states that having the “testimony of Jesus” is a characteristic of God’s remnant. Revelation 19:10 defines “the testimony of Jesus” as “the Spirit of Prophecy,” which demonstrates the abiding witness of God’s saving power through a human vessel.

4. It preaches the everlasting gospel in all the world. Revelation 14:6 reminds us that God’s church will spread the good news of the gospel all around the world, not just locally.

5. It preaches the final three point message of Revelation 14:6-12. These three messages remind us to “fear God,” flee the fallen, rebellious system of Babylon, and to reject the Mark of the Beast.

6. It believes that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 and John 3:16 are abiding reminders that Jesus came to save sinners, and there’s no other way to be saved but through Him.

Perhaps you’re looking for a church. Maybe you’ve become interested in attending church. In your decision process, be sure to consider the list above. And remember, God does care which church I choose, because He’s coming back, not for just any woman, but for His special bride.

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

_________________

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Finding God’s Glory in the Darkness

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

1 John 1:5

Recently I heard a a sermon by Pastor Ivor Myers, entitled, “The Hidden Agenda Behind Racism.” He was speaking of God in terms of light. His point was that God made humanity and all of humanity is one race. He spoke of the brightness or the glory of God in Ezekiel 1 where His glory is like a “bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain” or a rainbow. Myers presents in his sermon that it is this rainbow-gloried God that created humanity in his image. Thus the varying degrees of human phenotypes are demonstrative of the rainbow glory of humanity as a reflection of the rainbow glory of God. By placing within humanity the varying spectrum of phenotypical colors, God revealed his own glory, and humanity can truly be said to be made “in the image of God.”

The Light of God

As he spoke, my mind trailed off to the idea of light. According to NASA Science, the light spectrum has varying colors, varying heats, varying abilities, but it is the same light. What’s interesting is that the darker a color is along the spectrum the more colors exist within it. Thus black is the convergence of all colors.

The truth about the color spectrum and its optical expression is critical for us to understand as the Bible describes God using a variety of colors. It is said His body is “as the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it…as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around” (Ezekiel 1:27). This visual of the fiery God is repeated in some form throughout the Bible: the flaming sword, the burning bush, the pillar of fire, the Shekinah Glory, the fiery chariot, the Holy Ghost at Pentecost (Gen. 3:24; Ex. 3; Ex. 13:21-22/Num. 14:14; 2 Kings 2:11; Acts 2).

An important point for you to understand is that in order to see this revelation of God as “amber” Ezekiel was permitted to see through the “outer shell” of God. This outer shell is described as a firmament which looks like a sapphire stone (Ezekiel 1:26). Sapphire is a dark blue stone, the heart of which can appear black, or blue black. While in this particular text the Sapphire blue “outer shell” is a throne for Ezekiel, this kind of darkness can be seen in other passages of the Bible:

  • God comes to Abraham shrouded in a “horror of great darkness” (Genesis 15).
  • God comes to Israel in a dark, thunderous, lightening cloud (Exodus 19).
  • David says God clothes himself in darkness, dark waters, dark clouds (Psalm 18).

Covered in Darkness

In these texts, God is clothing or covering Himself with darkness. Why would God cover Himself in darkness? Isn’t He a God of light and so “there is no darkness in Him”? In fact, so much of Christian iconography has taken the words of John the Revelator so literally that God is always depicted as being enshrouded in light. The truth is, our colonialist mindset that privileges light over darkness restricts our imagination from seeing the glory, divinity, or essence of God affiliated in any way with darkness. Our limited study often queries, if there is no darkness in Him then this means there is no darkness even around Him.

If there is no darkness in Him then this means there is no darkness even around Him.

In an article published in 2008 entitled, “The Black God and The Ancient Mysteries” Wesley Muhammad presents that in various ancient cultures the earliest depictions of the creator God displayed Him as having a luminous fiery body, so bright and powerful that He clothed His flesh in dark skin from the dark watery abyss of space. This blue-black skin refracted the luminosity of the deity making His presence bearable to His creation. In other words, there is so much light in Him that in order to engage with humanity God had enshroud that light in darkness.

Muhammad continues this train of thought in his article, “Sapphiric God: Esoteric Speculations on the Divine Body in Post-Biblical Jewish Traditions” where he quotes two Jewish writers:

“Why is blue specified from all other colors [for this precept]? Because blue resembles the colour of the sea, and the sea resembles the colour of the sky and the sky resembles the colour of [a sapphire, and a sapphire resembles the colour of] the Throne of Glory, as it is said: And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone [Ex. 24:10], and it is also written, ‘The likeness of a throne as the appearance of sapphire stone [Ez. 1:26]’”

And again,

“In what way does blue differ from other colors, that God should have commanded that it be inserted in the fringes? Because blue (resembles grass, grass) resembles the sea, the sea resembles the sky, the sky resembles a rainbow, a rainbow resembles a cloud, a cloud resembles the heavenly throne, and the throne resembles the divine glory (כבוד), as it says, ‘As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud, etc. (Ezek. 1, 28.)’”

The Black Christ

This reality of the glory of God enshrouded in darkness is further manifested in the humanity of Jesus. Just as black is the convergence of all colors, so too is it the convergence of all genetics. Scientists and scholars have published extensively revealing that all races originated from Africa and its darker people. In fact, Time magazine published an article detailing how the origin of all human genetics can be traced back to Africa. While their research is rooted in evolution, the premise is supported with Scripture.

The Bible itself reveals that when God made humanity in Their image (Gen. 1:27) from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7) and called them Adam (Gen. 5:1-2) that They did so on African soil. In fact, “Adam” means earthy colored and Genesis 2:10-14 tells us that the location of Eden was somewhere between where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers of the Middle East join the Pishon and the Gihon rivers of Africa. This means that Adam and Eve were a darker people birthed from African soil on the Earth. It is from the loins of these darker people that the varying rainbow of phenotypes we see throughout humanity exists.

Therefore, when Jesus, the very image of the glory of God (Hebrews 1), decided to put on the flesh of humanity He chose to enshroud such divinity in the dark, melanin filled skin of an ancient middle eastern Jew. It is in Him, through Him, and by Him that all of humanity can find being, salvation, and come to reveal the varying expression of the rainbow glory of God. For in darkness exists the variations of all color; in blackness exists the variations of all humanity.

For in darkness exists the variations of all color; in blackness exists the variations of all humanity.

Give God Glory

Which brings us back to light. Light has a spectrum of colors available to it, even as God’s glory is likened to a rainbow. Remember, God’s form is likened to fiery amber and His skin is likened to the deep dark of blue black sapphire. With this in mind, when Revelation 14 says “Fear God and give him glory…”, the question must be asked, “how do we give him glory?” If God’s glory is seen as a rainbow what does it mean for humanity to give Him glory?

Quite plainly the answer is not in our offerings of praise to God, but instead it is found in our treatment of humanity. Racism and its various manifestations through prejudice and discrimination directly diminish and devalue the glory of God by elevating the glory of self. White supremacy and the notion of the superiority of lighter skin pigmentation is humanity’s broken attempt at giving glory and honor to itself valuing the human variation over the God in which all human diversity exists. Therefore, to give God glory is to protect and value all human life, regardless of its varying phenotypes. This kind of worship is critical to God as all of humanity, in its varying shades and colors, is the very expression of Their glory.

In Christ we see a phenotype which, in its darkness, is capable of containing all of us. It is in the life and light of a darker hued Christ that all phenotypes find their place and their fulfillment. Furthermore, it is in this darker hued Christ that all phenotypes are brought together as the human rainbow. Any church claiming to give God glory will work to appreciate and uplift all of humanity irregardless of their different phenotypical features, shades, and colors. When we as a church appreciate all ethnicities and races as being in the image of and bearing the glory of God working for their liberation and protection, only then can we say that we fear God and give Him glory.




Don’t Miss the Miracle

It was Bryan Stevenson who said, “There is power in proximity. We have to get close to people and the communities who are at risk—and stay close.” When I reflect upon this statement and consider the current challenges our society faces, I surmise that our inability to solve problems is not because we don’t have good ideas, but rather because we don’t get close enough to them to engage in a way that makes a meaningful and lasting impact.

The Bible records in Matthew 14 that Jesus had just received the terrible news of the untimely death of his cousin and forerunner, John the Baptist. Our Savior wanted to spend some time alone to contemplate and grieve the loss of his fellow minister of the Gospel. He boarded a boat, likely on the edge of the Sea of Galilee, and sailed away from the shore. Because the people heard that He was leaving, they tracked His course, and by the time He reached the other side of the lake, they had already assembled en masse to have Him speak to them, care for them and heal their sick loved ones.

Jesus wasted no time and busied Himself in the work of healing and nurturing the people. And sure enough, Jesus, the Great Physician, spoke with each one and healed them all.

By the time Jesus had finished caring for all of the people, no one wanted to leave. After all, it was a perfect day already and there was no other place they’d rather be. Moreover, the time had simply drifted away, and no one had thought about food. They were either waiting or working in Jesus’ one-day “pop-up” clinic. The disciples came to Him and urged Him to send the people away so they could purchase meals in the neighboring towns. Yet, Jesus would hear none of it, and responded with a simple challenge, “No, give them something to eat,” (See Matthew 14:16).

This challenge was incredibly impractical and totally implausible, given their location, the size of the crowd, and the resources on hand. “We only have five loaves of bread and two fish,” they replied. Jesus must have thought to Himself, “Well then, that will have to do.”

He petitioned His Heavenly Father, likely with a prayer of supplication for provision and exponential favor, and no sooner than He prayed, His request was answered and granted. The disciples watched in amazement as Jesus seemed to be breaking bread over and over again in His Hands. As He began to divide the fish and the loaves, His hands were becoming more and more full until they were overflowing.

The disciples stood in astonishment, but there was no time for spectating. They needed to shift from being caregivers, grab some aprons, and become servers. They scurried quickly to gather baskets to catch the food that fell from the Master’s overflowing hands. Requiring the people to sit down in groups of fifty, the disciples delivered this miraculous makeshift meal to the grateful throng. When the disciples finished serving, everyone had eaten until they were satisfied, but there were still twelve extra baskets of food left!

After the disciples had finished serving, they tallied the number of individuals served, and to their surprise, they counted “about 5,000 men, plus women and children,” Matthew 14:21. But that’s not the greatest miracle here!

The greatest miracle was that in the mind-blowing moment, the disciples are once again being transformed into a faith-filled mission task-force! They go from expecting that they would bear no responsibility in the feeding of the multitude to engaging and participating in the act of the miracle themselves! When God works a miracle through you, you will never be the same again!

God wants to work a miracle through us today. He’s not expecting that someone else will take on the impossible mission. He has said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26. Nothing is impossible with God. He wants to use you to do the impossible. He wants to use you to carry out His mission. He wants to use you to be His hands and feet. He wants to use you to change the world. Don’t miss the miracle! He’s going to perform it through you!

…......………………………………………………………………………

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

_________________


This article is part of our 2020 May / June  Issue
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Social Distance – Who dares to cross the line?

“Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” 

Matthew 8:1-4 (NLT)


A Reflection

From Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages, the chapter entitled “Thou Canst Make Me Clean”, p. 262*

Away from his friends and his kindred, the leper must bear the curse of his malady. He was obliged to publish his own calamity, to rend his garments, and sound the alarm, warning all to flee from his contaminating presence. The cry, “Unclean! unclean!” coming in mournful tones from the lonely exile, was a signal heard with fear and abhorrence.

In the region of Christ’s ministry, there were many of these sufferers, and the news of His work reached them, kindling a gleam of hope. But since the days of Elisha the prophet, such a thing had never been known as the cleansing of one upon whom this disease had fastened. They dared not expect Jesus to do for them what He had never done for any man. There was one, however, in whose heart faith began to spring up. Yet the man knew not how to reach Jesus. Debarred as he was from contact with his fellow men, how could he present himself to the Healer?

And he questioned if Christ would heal him. Would He stoop to notice one believed to be suffering under the judgment of God? Would He not, like the Pharisees, and even the physicians, pronounce a curse upon him, and warn him to flee from the haunts of men?

He thought of all that had been told him of Jesus. Not one who had sought His help had been turned away. The wretched man determined to find the Saviour. Though shut out from the cities, it might be that he could cross His path in some byway along the mountain roads, or find Him as He was teaching outside the towns. The difficulties were great, but this was his only hope.”

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

ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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

2020 May June cover
This article is part of our 2020 May / June Issue
Subscribe –>

…......…………………………………………..


When you finally decide to give your life to Jesus it is a beautiful thing: the hope of things finally changing for the good. It’s an opportunity to become a new creature; the ability to say goodbye to the old you, and hello to the new you. What a wonderful experience, and what if Jesus wants to do more than clean up your life? Does making us “white as snow” mean what we think it means to God?

 

1) Read Matthew 8:1; James 1:22;
James 2:26

In Matthew chapters 5-7 Jesus recaps in practical terms what the law is about and how to live a godly life. Some consider it the greatest sermon ever recorded. After He concludes His sermon Jesus then comes down from the mountain and encounters someone in need. Have you ever noticed that after you’ve done or experienced something amazing about God that a test challenges? If so, share your experience with us on social media using #MessageMag.

2) Read Matthew 8:1-2; James 1:3-4

The person that Jesus encounters isn’t given a name. His condition names him and frames him. As a leper, his condition weighed on his life like death sentence. Leprosy relegated people to the outskirts of society. Hypothetically speaking, Jesus left church and runs into someone whose physical problems distance him—emotionally and socially—from society. Often, following Jesus puts His followers in community with people whose lives are in shambles. Is this your experience? Is your life in shambles and surrounded by people just like you? Share if you would on social media using #MessageMag.

3) Read Matthew 8:2-3

The request the man has is to be made clean. He is also wondering if Jesus is willing. Why is he questioning Jesus’ willingness? Maybe he thinks that what is wrong with him somehow affects Jesus’ willingness. Do you find it difficult to believe that God will do good things for you when there is still bad in your life? Take some time to pray and meditate on this.

4) Read Matthew 8:2-3

What the man with leprosy asked for is worth looking at also. Notice that he didn’t ask to be healed. He asked to be made clean. This suggests that he was Jewish and wasn’t just looking for just the leprosy to be removed, but he wanted to return to society. He was tired of his outward challenges affecting his inward desires. Can you relate to this? Have you ever wanted to get back to who you once were? What is it that you desire to get back to? Share with us here on social media using #MessageMag.

5) Read Matthew 8:3; Psalm 34:1

Jesus is willing. Take a moment and get a pen and paper. At the top of the paper write “What God was willing to do.” Then write a list of experiences where you now know that God was willing to do something on your behalf. Mine would start off with something like “God was willing to protect my family when I wasn’t around.” This is a list praises of what God was willing to do.

6) Read Matthew 8:3-4; Philippians 4:6

Jesus doesn’t ask for the Father to heal this man. Instead He commands the man to “be clean.” The Bible says that the man was cleansed at that moment. We live in world of people that often don’t allow for others to grow beyond their challenges or mistakes of yesterday. Jesus on the other hand, specializes in instantaneous transformation. The struggle is often accepting the change that He has promised in His word.

7) Read Isaiah 1:18; 1 John 1:9;
Psalm 103:12

The man is able to go and be declared clean. All because he ran into Jesus. People can talk about what he once was, but when they look at him, he is his own testimony of change. When Jesus washes you white as snow you can live a life where you don’t have to defend your past because God has mapped out your future.   

…......……………………………………………………………….

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

2020 May June cover
This article is part of our 2020 May / June Issue
Subscribe –>





White as Snow

When you finally decide to give your life to Jesus it is a beautiful thing: the hope of things finally changing for the good. It’s an opportunity to become a new creature; the ability to say goodbye to the old you, and hello to the new you. What a wonderful experience, and what if Jesus wants to do more than clean up your life? Does making us “white as snow” mean what we think it means to God?


1) Read Matthew 8:1; James 1:22; James 2:26

In Matthew chapters 5-7 Jesus recaps in practical terms what the law is about and how to live a godly life. Some consider it the greatest sermon ever recorded. After He concludes His sermon Jesus then comes down from the mountain and encounters someone in need. Have you ever noticed that after you’ve done or experienced something amazing about God that a test challenges? If so, share your experience with us on social media using #MessageMag.

2) Read Matthew 8:1-2; James 1:3-4

The person that Jesus encounters isn’t given a name. His condition names him and frames him. As a leper, his condition weighed on his life like death sentence. Leprosy relegated people to the outskirts of society. Hypothetically speaking, Jesus left church and runs into someone whose physical problems distance him—emotionally and socially—from society. Often, following Jesus puts His followers in community with people whose lives are in shambles. Is this your experience? Is your life in shambles and surrounded by people just like you? Share if you would on social media using #MessageMag.

3) Read Matthew 8:2-3

The request the man has is to be made clean. He is also wondering if Jesus is willing. Why is he questioning Jesus’ willingness? Maybe he thinks that what is wrong with him somehow affects Jesus’ willingness. Do you find it difficult to believe that God will do good things for you when there is still bad in your life? Take some time to pray and meditate on this.

4) Read Matthew 8:2-3

What the man with leprosy asked for is worth looking at also. Notice that he didn’t ask to be healed. He asked to be made clean. This suggests that he was Jewish and wasn’t just looking for just the leprosy to be removed, but he wanted to return to society. He was tired of his outward challenges affecting his inward desires. Can you relate to this? Have you ever wanted to get back to who you once were? What is it that you desire to get back to? Share with us here on social media using #MessageMag.

5) Read Matthew 8:3; Psalm 34:1

Jesus is willing. Take a moment and get a pen and paper. At the top of the paper write “What God was willing to do.” Then write a list of experiences where you now know that God was willing to do something on your behalf. Mine would start off with something like “God was willing to protect my family when I wasn’t around.” This is a list praises of what God was willing to do.

6) Read Matthew 8:3-4; Philippians 4:6

Jesus doesn’t ask for the Father to heal this man. Instead He commands the man to “be clean.” The Bible says that the man was cleansed at that moment. We live in world of people that often don’t allow for others to grow beyond their challenges or mistakes of yesterday. Jesus on the other hand, specializes in instantaneous transformation. The struggle is often accepting the change that He has promised in His word.

7) Read Isaiah 1:18; 1 John 1:9; Psalm 103:12

The man is able to go and be declared clean. All because he ran into Jesus. People can talk about what he once was, but when they look at him, he is his own testimony of change. When Jesus washes you white as snow you can live a life where you don’t have to defend your past because God has mapped out your future.

…......……………………………………………………………….

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

2020 May June cover
This article is part of our 2020 May / June Issue
Subscribe –>


“Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” 

Matthew 8:1-4 (NLT)

Social Distance – Who dares to cross the line?

A Reflection

From Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages, the chapter entitled “Thou Canst Make Me Clean”, p. 262*

Away from his friends and his kindred, the leper must bear the curse of his malady. He was obliged to publish his own calamity, to rend his garments, and sound the alarm, warning all to flee from his contaminating presence. The cry, “Unclean! unclean!” coming in mournful tones from the lonely exile, was a signal heard with fear and abhorrence.

In the region of Christ’s ministry, there were many of these sufferers, and the news of His work reached them, kindling a gleam of hope. But since the days of Elisha the prophet, such a thing had never been known as the cleansing of one upon whom this disease had fastened. They dared not expect Jesus to do for them what He had never done for any man. There was one, however, in whose heart faith began to spring up. Yet the man knew not how to reach Jesus. Debarred as he was from contact with his fellow men, how could he present himself to the Healer?

And he questioned if Christ would heal him. Would He stoop to notice one believed to be suffering under the judgment of God? Would He not, like the Pharisees, and even the physicians, pronounce a curse upon him, and warn him to flee from the haunts of men?

He thought of all that had been told him of Jesus. Not one who had sought His help had been turned away. The wretched man determined to find the Saviour. Though shut out from the cities, it might be that he could cross His path in some byway along the mountain roads, or find Him as He was teaching outside the towns. The difficulties were great, but this was his only hope.”

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

2020 May June cover
This article is part of our 2020 May / June Issue
Subscribe –>

…......…………………………………………..

ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

_________________

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





#Lamentations with Larry & Sandy Feldman

Pray

In the Jewish tradition, Tikkun Olam – repairing the world – is a fundamental responsibility. Today, our world is badly in need of repair.

Our hearts are breaking over the most recent in a long line of senseless killings of African-American men, women, and children by police officers. We pray for a clear understanding of what we can do to change this terrible reality and we pray for the strength to persevere in our efforts to bring about urgently needed social change.

Racism has been deeply embedded in the fabric of our nation for hundreds of years. Slavery, lynchings, segregation, prejudice, and discrimination have all taken a toll on people of color. Institutional and individual racism continue to have a devastating impact on Black and Brown America. Police brutality is one manifestation of the enduring legacy of racism in these “United” States.

Jewish theologian Martin Buber taught us that the Divine can be experienced through “I-Thou” relationships. When we recognize “the other” as a person created in the image of God, as an individual deserving of recognition, respect, and caring, we can feel the presence of the Divine. But when the “I-Thou” relationship is distorted by stereotypes and prejudice, “Thou” becomes “It” and “the other” is stripped of his or her humanity. When we enter into “I-It” relationships, terrible things can happen – exclusion, exploitation, discrimination, aggression, murder, genocide. Dr. King often cited the link between experiencing “the other” as an “It” and systemic racism.

In our prayers today, we ask for divine guidance to help us reject the kind of thinking that leads to “I-It” interactions, and to help us commit to recognizing the “Thou” in our relationships with our brothers and sisters.

Fast

In the Jewish faith, our most significant experience of fasting is during the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur. We abstain from eating and drinking from sunset the night before until the sun sets on the day itself. Fasting frees our mind to focus on introspection, on taking a spiritual inventory of how we’ve lived our lives in the year that just concluded. It also allows us to experience in a limited way the feelings of deprivation that are constant companions in the lives of marginalized people.

For all of us today, may our fasting help us to let go of our more superficial concerns and make room for a deep dive into the world of those whose lives are impacted by racism. May our fasting help us to honestly face our own implicit and explicit biases and to acknowledge institutional racism in every aspect of our society. May our fasting help us to make a strong and lasting commitment to do everything we can to eliminate racism in ourselves and in our institutions.

Act

Consider the words of Rabbi Hillel: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me. If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”

What can we do today to help repair this broken world? We suggest the following possibilities:

  • When injustice occurs, speak out against it, loudly and persistently, privately and publicly, in our homes, our neighborhoods, our houses of worship, our work environments, and in the public square.
  • Insist on better pre-hiring evaluations, more effective training, and greater transparency for all police officers.
  • Join organizations that are committed to creating a more equitable and just world. Stay involved and stay active, commit for the long haul.
  • Work for the election of governmental officials, at every level, who are strong advocates for the elimination of racial injustice.
  • Communicate with your elected representatives and demand that they take action against injustice.

Systemic racism has plagued our nation for much too long. The time for Tikkun Olam, for repairing ourselves and our society, is now! Together, we can and must make this happen.




#Lamentations with Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart

“Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, ‘I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.’ When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, ‘Is that how you answer the high priest?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?'”

John 18:19-23

PRAY

The world is being turned right side up which is what Jesus came to do. People across the globe are protesting for the right of black people to be seen as human beings who reflect the image of God. The question is how do we keep it going; how do we make this a Church priority; that the church joins Jesus in this confrontation of the powers that deny rights to which everyone is entitled? But, before we ask the church, we must ask ourselves, is this what we want for God’s sun-kissed people? Is this a priority for us? If it is, we must pray, pray that we have the strength to challenge the church to make it a priority and pray for ourselves for the strength to commit to the fight, to the struggle, for the long-haul. This is not a sprint; it is a marathon.

FAST

Then we fast; fast from negativity because advocating for equal rights is tiring and there are those who call themselves people of faith who deny Jesus by their actions. There are those who will tell us to “go slow” or that there has been enough change, after all, we’ve had a black man in the White House. Isn’t that enough?  Well, no. We also fast from arguments because those whose minds are made up; those who want to maintain the status quo; who want to maintain what is considered normal; we will just have to leave them to God. We must also fast from prejudice because it is easy to prejudge those who might not agree with us.

ACT

Finally, we act. But act how? As we’ve seen, millions have taken to the streets calling for change in policing. Others are behind the scenes, meeting with governmental officials and legislators. Still others are creating programs where the police and the community can learn together. And then there are those who preach; who take the fight to their pulpits and risk everything to bring about God’s kingdom here, right now for those who have been marginalized, for those who have lamented, “How long, Lord; how long?” There are those who are marshalling resources so every one who can vote, will vote. If you’re going to follow Jesus, you must be political because is about the decision making process that allocates resources to people and since those resources are all part of God’s creation, those who follow Jesus must be involved in the decision making process of getting what is God’s to God’s people. Scripture says, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-18). If we follow Jesus, our faith will be an active faith; one that shows the world that a better life can be had by all. This is a Kairos moment. It is full of chaos and opportunity. God creates out of chaos. Do not let this opportunity pass by. We cannot afford to let it pass by. If we do, the church, I’m afraid, will become an irrelevant social club. Keep the faith and keep it active.