Wrong Place. Wrong Time. Wrong People.


When I read the gospels, I see Jesus doing the opposite of what the religious of the day thought He should. Join us as we watch Jesus move in the “wrong” place and time, for the “wrong” people.

1) Read Matthew 15:1-2, Matthew 21-22

We see Jesus in two interesting predicaments. In one He’s challenged about what His disciples are doing, and in the other He’s confronted by a woman in whose company He probably should not have been seen. This is Jesus we’re talking about! Why has He allowed himself to be in a place of the appearance of evil? Is it all a misunderstanding? Have your intentions ever been misjudged? Have things ever looked different from how they really were? Tell us about it using #MessageMag

2) Read Matthew 15:23

The disciples and Jesus were Jewish. It was a cultural and traditional taboo for Jews to be seen interacting with women from Syro-Phonecia. On top of her being someone they didn’t want to be seen with, she was loud and belligerent in trying to get Jesus’ attention. The disciples had a traditional response. Jesus was going to use this situation to teach them how nontraditional faith is. Is your faith nontraditional? Tell us how it is, or is not, on social media using #MessageMag

3) Read Matthew 15:16-20

Jesus has offended the Pharisees. He did so by pointing out the vanity in their rules. The fact that they focused more on protocol than people was a gross representation of God. They cared more about whether you washed your hands, than if you took care of your parents. It seems as if the traditions of the day had drained the church people of what it means to be loving. Have you ever encountered a tradition that didn’t seem to help in loving people? Tell us about it using #MessageMag on social media.

4) Matthew 15:16-20, Ephesian 5:1-5

We see that the writers of the Bible took some time to write out some lists. Look at these lists, and notice how all of the acts that children of God are to stay away from are ones that harm other people. Is it possible that traditions go too far when they disregard the people that are to be God’s children? Take some time to evaluate the traditions to which you adhere. Do you know the difference between the Biblical directives and traditions? Pray about it. Study and ask the Spirit for guidance.

5) Read Matthew 15:24-27

Jesus says He “was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” implying He was sent for people just like this woman. He’s in a place He shouldn’t be, and with a person to whom He should not be talking. It is no coincidence that immediately after it’s recorded that Jesus has a dispute about tradition, He does something untraditional. Take some time to meditate on the actions of Jesus.

6) Read Matthew 15:28

Jesus had this woman teach the disciples what faith looks like. He also stepped out of the traditional way of doing things for the sake of a daughter of God. Traditions in and of themselves are not bad, by any means. But the moment the tradition gets in the way of loving someone, that’s when you must evaluate the root of the tradition. Have you ever been inspired to step out of the normal and do something extraordinary for God? Was it uncomfortable? Was it rewarding? Tell us your testimony. #MessageMag

7) Read Romans 8:35-39

Love is what puts tradition in check. God’s love for us made sure that nothing separated us from Him. We should make sure that nothing separates us from sharing God’s love with others. That means that we will find ourselves in non-traditional places, with a non-traditional crowd, doing non-traditional things. It is then that you will find out that some of the things you weren’t “supposed” to do, are exactly what needed to be done for the Kingdom of Heaven.

…......……………………………………………………………….

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


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Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

“Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.”

And her daughter was instantly healed”

(Matthew 15:21-28, NLT)

How Jesus Respected and Responded to People Who Were Not in His Circle

From Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages, the chapter entitled “Barriers Broken Down.”*

“Jesus longed to unfold the deep mysteries of the truth which had been hid for ages, that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs with the Jews, and “partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel” Ephesians 3:6. This truth the disciples were slow to learn, and the divine Teacher gave them lesson upon lesson. In rewarding the faith of the centurion at Capernaum, and preaching the gospel to the inhabitants of Sychar, He had already given evidence that He did not share the intolerance of the Jews. But the Samaritans had some knowledge of God; and the centurion had shown kindness to Israel. Now Jesus brought the disciples in contact with a heathen, whom they regarded as having no reason above any of her people, to expect favor from Him. He would give an example of how such a one should be treated. The disciples had thought that He dispensed too freely the gifts of His grace. He would show that His love was not to be circumscribed to race or nation.

When He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” He stated the truth, and in His work for the Canaanite woman He was fulfilling His commission. This woman was one of the lost sheep that Israel should have rescued. It was their appointed work, the work which they had neglected, that Christ was doing.

This act opened the minds of the disciples more fully to the labor that lay before them among the Gentiles. They saw a wide field of usefulness outside of Judea. They saw souls bearing sorrows unknown to those more highly favored. Among those whom they had been taught to despise were souls longing for help from the mighty Healer, hungering for the light of truth, which had been so abundantly given to the Jews.…

The spirit which built up the partition wall between Jew and Gentile is still active. Pride and prejudice have built strong walls of separation between different classes of men. Christ and His mission have been misrepresented, and multitudes feel that they are virtually shut away from the ministry of the gospel. But let them not feel that they are shut away from Christ. There are no barriers which man or Satan can erect but that faith can penetrate.”

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


This article is part of our 2019 July / August
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…......…………………………………………..

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

_________________

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





Get Out of Your Circle of Friends


“Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

“Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.”

And her daughter was instantly healed”

(Matthew 15:21-28, NLT).

How Jesus Respected and Responded to People Who Were Not in His Circle

From Ellen G. White’s The Desire of Ages, the chapter entitled “Barriers Broken Down.”*

“Jesus longed to unfold the deep mysteries of the truth which had been hid for ages, that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs with the Jews, and “partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel” Ephesians 3:6. This truth the disciples were slow to learn, and the divine Teacher gave them lesson upon lesson. In rewarding the faith of the centurion at Capernaum, and preaching the gospel to the inhabitants of Sychar, He had already given evidence that He did not share the intolerance of the Jews. But the Samaritans had some knowledge of God; and the centurion had shown kindness to Israel. Now Jesus brought the disciples in contact with a heathen, whom they regarded as having no reason above any of her people, to expect favor from Him. He would give an example of how such a one should be treated. The disciples had thought that He dispensed too freely the gifts of His grace. He would show that His love was not to be circumscribed to race or nation.

When He said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” He stated the truth, and in His work for the Canaanite woman He was fulfilling His commission. This woman was one of the lost sheep that Israel should have rescued. It was their appointed work, the work which they had neglected, that Christ was doing.

This act opened the minds of the disciples more fully to the labor that lay before them among the Gentiles. They saw a wide field of usefulness outside of Judea. They saw souls bearing sorrows unknown to those more highly favored. Among those whom they had been taught to despise were souls longing for help from the mighty Healer, hungering for the light of truth, which had been so abundantly given to the Jews.…

The spirit which built up the partition wall between Jew and Gentile is still active. Pride and prejudice have built strong walls of separation between different classes of men. Christ and His mission have been misrepresented, and multitudes feel that they are virtually shut away from the ministry of the gospel. But let them not feel that they are shut away from Christ. There are no barriers which man or Satan can erect but that faith can penetrate.”

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

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.


This article is part of our 2019 July / August Issue
Subscribe –>

 

 

 

 

 

 

…......…………………………………………..


When I read the gospels, I see Jesus doing the opposite of what the religious of the day thought He should. Join us as we watch Jesus move in the “wrong” place and time, for the “wrong” people.

1) Read Matthew 15:1-2, 21-22

We see Jesus in two interesting predicaments. In one He’s challenged about what His disciples are doing, and in the other He’s confronted by a woman in whose company He probably should not have been seen. This is Jesus we’re talking about! Why has He allowed himself to be in a place of the appearance of evil? Is it all a misunderstanding? Have your intentions ever been misjudged? Have things ever looked different from how they really were? Tell us about it using #MessageMag

2) Read Matthew 15:23

The disciples and Jesus were Jewish. It was a cultural and traditional taboo for Jews to be seen interacting with women from Syro-Phonecia. On top of her being someone they didn’t want to be seen with, she was loud and belligerent in trying to get Jesus’ attention. The disciples had a traditional response. Jesus was going to use this situation to teach them how nontraditional faith is. Is your faith nontraditional? Tell us how it is, or is not, on social media using #MessageMag

3) Read Matthew 15:16-20

Jesus has offended the Pharisees. He did so by pointing out the vanity in their rules. The fact that they focused more on protocol than people was a gross representation of God. They cared more about whether you washed your hands, than if you took care of your parents. It seems as if the traditions of the day had drained the church people of what it means to be loving. Have you ever encountered a tradition that didn’t seem to help in loving people? Tell us about it using #MessageMag on social media.

4) Matthew 15:16-20; Ephesian 5:1-5

We see that the writers of the Bible took some time to write out some lists. Look at these lists, and notice how all of the acts that children of God are to stay away from are ones that harm other people. Is it possible that traditions go too far when they disregard the people that are to be God’s children? Take some time to evaluate the traditions to which you adhere. Do you know the difference between the Biblical directives and traditions? Pray about it. Study and ask the Spirit for guidance.

5) Read Matthew 15:24-27

Jesus says He “was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” implying He was sent for people just like this woman. He’s in a place He shouldn’t be, and with a person to whom He should not be talking. It is no coincidence that immediately after it’s recorded that Jesus has a dispute about tradition, He does something untraditional. Take some time to meditate on the actions of Jesus.

6) Read Matthew 15:28

Jesus had this woman teach the disciples what faith looks like. He also stepped out of the traditional way of doing things for the sake of a daughter of God. Traditions in and of themselves are not bad, by any means. But the moment the tradition gets in the way of loving someone, that’s when you must evaluate the root of the tradition. Have you ever been inspired to step out of the normal and do something extraordinary for God? Was it uncomfortable? Was it rewarding? Tell us your testimony. #MessageMag

7) Read Romans 8:35-39

Love is what puts tradition in check. God’s love for us made sure that nothing separated us from Him. We should make sure that nothing separates us from sharing God’s love with others. That means that we will find ourselves in non-traditional places, with a non-traditional crowd, doing non-traditional things. It is then that you will find out that some of the things you weren’t “supposed” to do, are exactly what needed to be done for the Kingdom of Heaven.

…......……………………………………………………………….

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


This article is part of our 2019 July / August Issue
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Carrying Someone Else’s Curse?

Exploring the Hebrew Israelite Interpretation of Deuteronomy 28

If you live in a major city such as New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, then you’ve likely brushed shoulders with a member of any number of Hebrew Israelite groups. In recent years, this religious group has demonstrated tremendous and rapid growth. In one sense, this is positive evidence of the religious freedom that we enjoy in the United States.

Today, the Hebrew Israelites are as diverse in practice and beliefs as any Christian denomination. The spectrum begins with the more mainstream, established, Church of God and Saints of Christ, to the more informal and counter-cultural group, the House of Israel.

Although there appears to be little doctrinal orthodoxy between the various groups, there are a few tenets that are consistent among all of them. Some of these distinct teachings are as follows:

  • Certain African descendants in America represent the lost tribe of Israel, God’s chosen people.
  • Caucasians are descendants of Esau and the Edomites.
  • Caucasians will be enslaved as a just reward for colonization and enslavement of black people on the day of judgment.

Blessings and Curses

One of the most significant beliefs of the Hebrew Israelites relates specifically to the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy functions as a sort of last will and testament to the children of Israel from Moses. They’re like his parting words before he dies, and the transfer of power is passed from him to Joshua. One of the key themes in the book of Deuteronomy is that of blessings and curses. This theme is manifested in several ways throughout the book (see Deuteronomy 11:26, 27:11-26, 30:1). These blessings and curses are representative of the covenant relationship that God was establishing with His chosen people.

Hebrew Israelites consider the blessings and curses (particularly the ones in chapter 28) to be directed toward them. Possessing strong references to slavery, many within the Hebrew Israelite community believe such scriptures are a prophetic foretelling of American chattel slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.

There’s Nothing New under the Sun

While the references to slavery in Deuteronomy 28 should not be taken as a direct reference to chattel slavery in the Americas, there is a deep message that we can gather from the allusion. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Hence, it’s possible that the old adage, “history repeats itself,” stems (at least in part) from this text, which is one reason why when we read Deuteronomy 28, we see significance and meaning for our time.

Additionally, the text speaks about a kind of suffering that members of the African diaspora (especially those in America) can certainly sympathize with. The text describes a kind of disenfranchisement that almost perfectly describes the African American experience.

“You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity…The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower” (Deuteronomy 28:41-43 selected).

These verses are just a snapshot of the issues and concepts mentioned in the text that are especially relevant to the black experience. Yet, there are several considerations that should prompt us to look closer for the contextual meaning of the text.

Prophecy and Fulfilment

Hebrew Israelites assert that Deuteronomy 28 applies directly to certain groups of African-descended people. The challenge is, if we accept this assertion, we would be setting aside a historical record that is universally accepted as a direct application and fulfilment to the prophecy.

Especially significant to the Hebrew Israelite perspective of this chapter is the interpretation of the very last verse in the chapter:

“The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you” (Deuteronomy 28:68 NIV).

The intimation that the Israelites would be returned to slavery on ships is one part of this that is identified as significant and characteristic of the African American experience. Nevertheless, a few elements in this verse should cause us to question such an interpretation.

First, the reference to Egypt is significant. This would suggest that black people will ultimately be enslaved by black people. Are we to surmise that Egyptians here represent Caucasians rather than Edomites as has been previously asserted? Moreover, the closing phrase, “but no one will buy you” suggests a level of depravity and degradation worse than the initial slave experience. Hebrew Israelites, however, generally believe that vindication of black people comes at the judgment. If this is the case, what ways could a second slave experience be manifested, and when or why, given the expected vindication?

Bible scholars generally agree that this second slave experience, wherein Israelites were transported on ships, is believed to have been fulfilled during several sieges of Jerusalem by emperors like Vespasian, Titus, and Hadrian. According to John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, “this prophecy was literally and exactly fulfilled, and one which is owned by the Jews themselves” in the devastation and ultimate total humiliation of the Jews during this period.1

Real Solace in Suffering

Given the reality that the black experience in America is fraught with hardship, struggle, oppression, and degradation, the parallels of struggle between African Americans and Jews are striking. Nevertheless, this aforementioned realization also makes us aware of the pain of all people. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” Martin Luther King, Jr. famously stated. For this reason, we embrace God’s invitation that all people be welcomed into the diverse, multiracial and multiethnic family of God. And we celebrate that powerful pronouncement that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, NIV).

Humanity all over the Earth is joined with Christ in His suffering. Whether in the chattel slavery of the American South or the Jewish Holocaust of Europe, humanity can take solace in the fact that its suffering is known and felt by God. Our greatest hope is that our God in whose suffering we are joined, who experienced torture at the hands of institutions, will come again and we who were joined with Him in suffering will be joined with Him in the glory of Heaven.

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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.

_________________

1 John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, 1746 – 1763.


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The Gold Standard of Judgment

They may well be termed the gold standard for interpersonal relationships. A heaven-sent standard introduced by Jesus in Matthew chapter seven. “Judge not, that you be not judged” (vs 1). And, “…whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (vs. 12) (NKJV). Not surprisingly, both passages are usually embraced wholeheartedly by believers, for themselves, even as they sparingly apply either verse for the benefit of others.

Oh, but we will judge. And, we will heap mistreatment upon others once their sins become known to, or suspected by, us. Nowhere in daily living does this reality display itself quite so prominently than when believers voice rejection and condemnation of the LGBTQ community’s residents and supporters.

Double Standard

What is curious, though, is how tolerant we can be of the sinful practices of those we know and love. For example, suspected robbers and thieves in our midst don’t bother us. You know, those whose financial support of the church’s mission through tithes and offerings, we suspect, is either sparse or nonexistent. Then, we tend to accept those known to take the Lord’s name in vain. Still, more curious, is how comfortable we can be indulging bearers of false witness, dis-respecters of fathers and mother, engagers in idolatry (putting relationships, cars, money, and all the rest ahead of God). Curious, too, how cozy we can be with those who kill the faith of others through gossip and innuendo. And, interestingly, coveters, adulterers and fornicators, are often met with the silence of the lambs. Each of the aforementioned acts are counted as sin by God. Yet, when family or friends, are reported to have engaged in such conduct, our silence becomes a “get out of jail, free” card.

Of Eve and Steve

True, often we don’t have all the facts; but, even when suspicions arise, rarely do we feel the need to investigate. Except, it seems, when there is suspected LGBTQ involvement. Then, suspicion is sufficient for taking action against those we’ve determined to be involved in “the number one sin before God”: same sex relationships.

Meanwhile, supporters of gay rights maintain that God does not view same gender relationships as sinful. In his book, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, Matthew Vines offers what he deems to be a valid response to what Christians used to quip: “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

Using Genesis 2:18, Vines admits that “in the beginning…” God created a woman for Adam. However, he says notice that when God said, “it is not good for man to be alone,” God gave Adam a suitable helpmate. Accordingly, Vines suggests, the key to understanding God’s gift to Adam is the word, “suitable.” His theory is that because Adam was a heterosexual man, the only suitable helpmate for him was a woman. The gift of a male helpmate would have been a deviation from the Divine plan to provide “suitable” helpmates. So, adds Vines, “if Adam had been a gay man, a suitable gift would have been a gay helpmate.

Sadly, there is no Biblical support for this teaching.

Two points on that thinking: 1). Human intimacy occurring outside of the sanctity of marriage is unlawful. Furthermore, at the time of the creation, there was no sin on the earth. Thus, there would have been no gay or lesbian candidates for the choosing of a helpmate. 2). Genesis chapter two is an expansion of chapter one. Therefore, it is clear that God’s admonition to Adam and Eve as found in Genesis 1:28, to be, “fruitful and multiply” would have been an impossibility, if He had placed two men or two women in the Garden.

Bible Standard

There is no ambiguity in the Bible concerning the sinfulness of same gender relationships. Genesis 19:5 reminds us that the men of Sodom sealed their own doom with the words, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.”

Attempts to reduce the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah to inhospitality or injustice is wishful thinking, not “thus says the Lord.” Leviticus 18:22 is very explicit: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” Leviticus 20:13 concurs: “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.”

God’s view of same gender relationships is consistent in the Old Testament and the New Testament. See: Romans 1:26-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Jude 6. Nonetheless, a professed Christian does not have license from heaven to mistreat or abuse anyone. All are to be loved according to God’s will.

As Christians, our obligation is to demonstrate God’s agape love to every believer, and non-believer, with whom we interact. We’ve not been called to heap condemnation on sinners. 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us of love’s patient and kind qualities. Jesus Himself gave clear instructions throughout the Bible. In Matthew 22:39, His disciples are called to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Heaven’s call for a loving spirit is so comprehensive that in Matthew 5:44 believers are admonished to “love your enemies.” If we are to love our enemies, surely, He expects us to love adherents to the LGBTQ way of life, who are not our enemies.

We are to love and be kind to everyone we meet. Each is a potential citizen of the Kingdom of Glory. Our role is to love as Jesus loves. Undeservedly. Unreservedly. For every child of the King, that’s the gold standard.

 


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Legacy, Privilege, and the Wealth Gap

Jesus told a story of a rich man who wore beautiful clothes, one who lived and ate well (Luke 16:19-31). We have no insight as to the character of this man, not until he dies and ends up in hell! (Not a doctrinal statement, but a story mechanism Jesus is using to make a point.) We find clues regarding the rich man’s character as it is in relationship to the poor man, the beggar Lazarus.

“Poor man” in the original language was an onomatopoeia—that of a spitting sound—and a clever device Jesus used to highlight how marginalized and scorned of society this man truly was. But, in this story of the great reversal of fortune, when the poor man died, he found himself in paradise. When the rich man died, however, he went straight to his torment.

An interesting feature in this story, is that while in hell, the rich man could see Lazarus enjoying himself with Abraham. And, the rich man could see and communicate with Abraham.* When he gets his chance, the rich man asks a question across the dimensions of life and death, heaven and earth and hell. Surely, this moment reveals transformative introspection, right?

“Father Abraham,” the rich man said, “have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame,” (verse 24). But, gentle great-grandad Abraham simply told him, “Oh, son, when you were alive, you had good things. Lazarus had evil, so now he gets good things. Besides, not possible. Do you see this great gulf fixed between us?”

With this story, Jesus sticks a pin right in the sensitive spot of human want and desire. This is a story about meaning and legacy: whether what you did in your lifetime mattered, or whether you will one day wake up to find out your choices, your priorities, your beliefs and practices were all wrong. It would be too late to find that you were tied to the good things of this world, the things that satisfied in the here and now (1 John 2:16); that your biggest concern was how you could create more wealth, more security, more happiness for yourself (Luke 12:20); that you couldn’t see your way past the pressing details of life to capture that which is truly meaningful; that, as you played your role, you played the script, the one written for you by people, not by God (Luke 10:40-42).

They believed their claim to Father Abraham made them the chosen ones.

Then, this is a story about distance. Now is a good time to look into that chasm between these two characters, the “great gulf fixed.” The rich man created that black hole through his benign and daily neglect of the man lying at his gate. That man, his needs, and his helplessness might as well have been lightyears away because the few feet to get to him were just too far. The demand on his time and the social capital lost in bridging this gap was too much. Now, the gap between where he was and where he wanted proved insurmountable. Talk about a wealth gap.

Finally, this story is about privilege. We see the rich man appealing to his privileged lineage—Father Abraham, not Father God. Jesus threw that into the story because to His Jewish hearers, privilege came through Abraham. They believed their claim to Father Abraham made them the chosen ones.

“Send Lazarus who was made to be used, appropriated and controlled by me. Send him from his place in paradise, to me, so he can serve me.” Privilege sure does die hard, does it not?

“The sin of Dives [what tradition has named the rich man] was that he felt that the gulf which existed between him and Lazarus was a proper condition of life,” Martin Luther King, Jr. posited during a 1955 sermon in Montgomery. “Dives felt that this was the way things were to be. He took the “isness” of circumstantial accidents and transformed them into the “oughtness” of a universal structure. He adjusted himself to the patent inequalities of circumstance.”

King’s exposition applied the rich man’s dilemma to the segregationists, the capitalists, and the classists of his time. But, does it stretch the parabolic purpose for us to question the priorities of the religious and privileged today? Who set our priorities for care and concern, international policy, and justice? Through what—or whose—lens do we define these “hills to die on?” How can we claim the need for prayer in schools for children, all while withholding soap and toothpaste from children detained on our borders? How will decades of strategizing to protect the unborn factor on the balance sheet against the lives lost to police shootings, or drive bys, or wrongful convictions and incarcerations? Will we really garner the favor of God by seeking to support one prophetic pro-Israel interpretation, while neglecting the obvious humanitarian needs of, say, Rohingya Muslims in forced migration?

Can we question our priorities now? Can we check our practices now? I just don’t want to wake up wrong.

*(Again, an artistic device Jesus used to make His point. Compare: Ecclesiastes 9:5; Psalms 6:5; 88:10; 115;17 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17.)


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She’s So Slow. Tell Her to Hurry Up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




But, Unto You I have Given…

The Bible story of nutrition and diet

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

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

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

Cranberry Bread

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

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

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

Red Pepper Hummus

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

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

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

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

Barley Vegetable Soup

Olive Oil

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

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


♥ Roasted Sweet Potatoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

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

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

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


♥ Almond Milk

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

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

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

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

Avocado Salad Dressing

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

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

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

♥  Momma’s Rice

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

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

Echinacea/Golden Seal Tea

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

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

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

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




Financial Freedom Starts Now!

Changing Your Finances In 2019

 

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

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

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

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

Face the Music

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

Set Small Financial Goals

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

Credit Card Payments

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

Gift Giving

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

Change Financial Behavior

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

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

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

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




2019 May/June Issue

By The Word of Their Testimony


How everyday people can protect and promote the mental wellness we need.

FEATURES

12  Bounce Back
by Kim Nowlin Logan /
Staying The Course: Mastering the art of bouncing back.

13  Can you trust yourself?
by Ruthven Phillip /
Five Ways to Keep Your Credit in Check.

14  Won’t He Do It?
Electrifying Evidences That God Is Still on The Throne!

• Overcomers by The Blood of Jesus –
William Cox
• The Closer -Sim Fryson
• God of The Magnet – Lori Diaz
• Last Woman Standing – Denise Frazer
• There Is No God, Said The Fool – Luis
Castillo
• God’s Deliverance – Billy Mirander
• God’s Protection – Jyremy Reid
• God’s Mercy – Gianna Snell
• God’s Comfort – Sharon Jamison
• God’s Plan – Tyler Brown
• Home Away From Hell – Shay Price
• Surrendered Heart – Milton Coronado
• God’s Leading – Patti Conwell

28  Sin is Sin
by Donald L. McPhaull /
No such thing as a misdemeanor or a felony in God’s book.

FAVORITES

5 EDITORIAL
by Carmela Monk Crawford /
Experiential Evidence

6 Eye on the times
by Edward Woods, III /
The Fall of Civility

8 Optimal health
by Donna Green Goodman /
The Doctor Is In! Special Guest, Milton Mills, M.D.

11 RELATIONSHIP Rx
by Willie and Elaine Oliver /
Kids of Divorce

24 Futurecast
by Carlton P. Byrd /
Celestial Struggle

26 The Experience
by Ellen G. White / What Does It Take for You to Believe?

27 The Experience Bible study
by Rashad Burden /
Better Than God?




Want to See God Move in Your Life?

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

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

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

Proving Position

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

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

Testimony to Come

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


This article is part of our 2019 May / June Issue
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