|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on December 31, 2018 at 9:25 PM||comments (0)|
Reflecting on 2018: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
As I sit listening to the firecrackers, it seems unreal that we are getting ready to celebrate the New Year. After all, I still can’t believe that we are at the end of 2018. How quickly the year has slipped by, and what a rollercoaster year it has been. Given all of what has happened this year, I face the next few hours with mixed emotions. First, I am eternally grateful to God for his provision, direction, protection, grace, and mercy in 2018. But, sad for some of the losses that have occurred this year. However, as I always do, I come to the end of the year in a very reflective mode. Here are a few thoughts that are brimming in my mind.
• 2018 was my 25th year in this county. In 1993, following God’s prompting, I gave up my home and career to move to the USA to go back to college and to work towards my doctoral degree.
This goal took me longer than I anticipated, but with Gods’ help this goal was finalized in 2013.
• 2018 was my 14th year in my current home. God has kept us there, by continuing to provide all the resources we needed.
• In 2018, my family reunited after 40 years apart.
• 2018 was the start of my 11th year in my current job, and the beginning of my countdown to retirement.
• 2018 was the 40th anniversary of my high school graduation.
• 2018 was the 40th year of work and the beginning of my career in public health.
• 2018 was my son’s 37th birthday and my youngest daughter’s 19th birthday.
• 2018 was the year my first granddaughter was born.
• In 2018, my eldest daughter married her high-school sweetheart and moved to Texas.
• In 2018, I was involved in a serious hit and run motor vehicle accident that had me incapacitate for almost six months.
• In 2018, my 30-year-old niece died in her sleep leaving two very young children.
2018 was indeed very stressful year, but one of many successes. As the New Year approaches, I am hopeful that 2019 will be an even better year. Most importantly, I am learning to turn over control of my life to God, and allow HIM to have his will and way in my life.
Please share with me what you are grateful for in 2018.
Here's to the best New Year ever!
|Posted by email@example.com on November 28, 2018 at 9:45 PM||comments (0)|
November a Time of Change and Transition: Refocusing to Find Order and Peace in Our Lives
November has been an interesting month! For starters, in November, we as a nation held the midterm elections, made changes in Congress, witnessed the fires in California, stood in awe at the continued unrest at the US/Mexico border, and heard reports of several other shootings in the streets of our cities. America it seems was not slowly moving towards the end of the year, but there instead seems to be a continued spirit of unrest in our country. In my opinion, order and peace seem to evade us and instead there seems to be a constant stream of negative news at the local, state, national, and international levels.
For many, as we ran to and fro for the recent Thanksgiving holiday, buying what we really did not need or could ill-afford, overeating, overspending, and for some overdrinking. It seems apparent to me that we all might need to collectively stop to unwind, figure out what is in our control, and take steps to ascertain how to best address the needs of our families, friends, and our immediate community. Not that the world is not our stage, but life is chaotic enough within our homes and communities, that if we were honest, we would say, we all have our hands full.
To add to this spirit of unrest, on my side of the world, I lost a 30-year-old niece in November. What a blow! Death is never a welcomed visitor and we know that the grave is never satisfied (Proverbs 30: 16-19), but losing a loved one is never easy. It is worse when they are young and vibrant with young children. As humans, we have many questions, we blame ourselves, we think, and think again about what we could have done differently while going through the stages of grief. These stages are many and might not even be cyclical, but include denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. So, I have moved through the phases and after much prayer and tears have found some semblance of peace, but know that our lives are never the same.
So, how does one find peace and order in one’s life, whether their dis-peace is related to issues affecting the nation or death in one’s family? I believe that this happens in a few ways and I will share these here, but would love to hear from you about approaches that work for you as well. First, I think that it is important to realize what we can or cannot control. Whether wildfires, the election and its outcomes, or death in our families, these are all outside of our control. Next, we must continue to pray for our families, friends, leaders, nation and world, so that we can have a godly and peaceful life. Then, we must acknowledge the sovereignty of God over all things of creation. Often we can’t understand why we would lose a vibrant 30-year-old niece, but I have realized that there are some things that I will never understand this side of eternity. So, I have learned to trust God’s heart when I can’t see or understand his plans. Finally, I have learned to accept the blame if I am at fault, but work hard to quickly forgive myself and others, since life is short and living in unforgiveness about any issue or offense someone might have caused, is not an option.
What are your thoughts about these ideas?
Would love to hear from you.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on October 27, 2018 at 9:00 PM||comments (1)|
Following God’s Will as He Guides Us into A New Way
Tony Hall, Guest Blogger, Clarkston, GA
There invariably will come a time in our spiritual journey when the Lord will solicit our cooperation in permitting Him to guide us in a new way. His preference is that we would sense His leading, fully cooperate and move in the new direction. However, as is all too often the case, He must intervene in the affairs of our lives due to the fact that we are comfortable and entrenched in our present course of action.
To secure our attention and place us on the pathway God desires, there are strategies that He employs that are very effective. We must be knowledgeable of the ways of the Lord (Ps. 25:4). Knowing God's ways will result in us experiencing His mighty acts (Ps. 103:7).
Here are three ways God works to move us in a new direction:
Disruption of Our Plan
Dissipation of Resources
Dissolution of Relationships
Disruption of our Plans
The Apostle Paul had received an apostolic commission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. In keeping with his mandate, he targeted key cities in the Roman Empire to visit. Yet, the New Testament narrative informs us that on at least one occasion he was not able to fulfill his objective because God saw fit to stop him. "They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia and were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they came near Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not allow them" (Acts 16:6-7).
Like Paul the apostle, while attempting to do the will of the Lord, perhaps you were heading down a certain roadway and you ended up "hitting a wall" and were stopped in your tracks. From that point on, no matter how hard you worked, you were incapable of making significant progress. Initiatives and projects that were originally inspired by a lofty vision and deep passion ended up languishing, some of them even terminating.
When stuck at an impasse, it is a natural tendency to return to familiar surroundings. We see this in the lives of the disciples after Jesus' death. They went back to fishing even though they had clearly been mandated to forsake their vocation and follow Christ (See Luke 5:10-11; John 21:3). Because they were commercial fishermen, there may even have been economic motives behind their actions. Nevertheless, we see clearly that there was no lasting provision and no permanent peace in returning to past environments.
When God leads us out of a place of familiarity and the way forward is blocked, what is the solution?
There are some breakthroughs reserved for us that can only be accessed through prayer. We must seek God until we receive a clear answer from heaven. Whether it was Paul's night vision of the man in Macedonia summoning him, or the voice of Jesus speaking to the disciples on the seashore in Galilee, the New Testament Christians received clear direction from the Spirit and were able to regain momentum and experience breakthrough.
The Dissipation of Resources
God wants us to move in a new direction, He may also permit us to experience the dissipation of resources. Elijah had been powerfully used by the Lord to declare prophetically the purpose of God in dealing with Israel. "And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word" (1 Kin. 17:1) And just as the prophet had foretold, the word of the Lord came to pass. "And there was a severe famine in Samaria ... "(1 Kin. 18:2).
During the famine, God looked after Elijah. He gave him specific instruction relative to how he would be sustained. "Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'Get away from here and turn eastward and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.' So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook" (1 Kings 17:2-6).
Cherith which means "place of covenant," was where the Lord demonstrated His faithfulness in taking care of Elijah. However, the day would come when the brook would run dry and the birds would no longer fly (see 1 Kin. 17:7). Although Elijah had come to depend on such provision, God seemed to have no compunction at all cutting off these resources.
Has Your Brook Dried Up?
Have you experienced something similar? Your streams of resource have dried up. You struggle to make ends meet and you do not know how you are going to keep going. During such a time, trust that the Lord will soon speak to you as He did to Elijah. "Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you'" (1 Kin. 17:8-9).
More than a cute cliche, you will see that the place where He leads you will be the place where He feeds you. Where the Lord guides, He provides!
Please feel free to share any experience you might have had with God’s redirecting your life.
To be continued!
|Posted by email@example.com on September 22, 2018 at 1:25 PM||comments (0)|
On September 22, 2018, our ministry will host its first local Forgiveness and Wellness Conference in Decatur, GA. This is quite timely as September 21 was the International Day of Peace, or more informally called “World Peace Day”. World Peace Day is a United Nations sanctioned observance and nations across the world stopped today to celebrate peace and to uplift the concept of “the right to peace” which is the 2018 theme for this 70th observance of this day. On this day, I pause to share Dr. Desmond Tutu’s statement that “stability and peace in our land will not come from the barrel of a gun, because peace without justice is an impossibility." Do you agree? I do! Whether in South Africa or in these United States, peace will only come when we love, forgive, and uplift one another, not through by verbal, physical, or other battles.
We could not agree more that everyone has “the right to peace”, and so in our small way, we will be working to touch the lives of more than 100 participants at this inaugural Forgiveness and Wellness Conference. Interestingly, attendees will come from a variety of denominations, religions, states, and cities to congregate in Decatur for this event. Presented by an esteemed and diverse faculty, the conference kicks off with all attendees completing a forgiveness assessment which will be followed by an interactive workshop on forgiveness which will discuss the biblical concept, the physical benefits of forgiveness, what is unforgiveness and its health implications, etc. Later in the afternoon, the conference will address issues around stress and anger management, mindful eating, brain health, managing your money, relationships, and prayer life after transgression. The day will end with a sacred event and tools to continue the forgiveness process.
With the conference less than 24 hours away, activities are in high gear to ensure a successful event, but most importantly, we have been praying and fasting about the event and praying over the attendees listening. We have also prayed fervently that God will be glorified at the conference and all attendees will find the peace they so desperately seek. Finally, we look forward to hearing from attendees about how attendance at the conference changed their lives. Wont you share your experiences with us
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on July 30, 2018 at 4:15 PM||comments (0)|
Contributed by Anthony Hall
Answer: When a Christian woman is looking for a husband, she should seek a man “after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). The most important relationship that any of us have is our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That relationship comes before all others. If our vertical relationship with the Lord is as it should be, then our horizontal relationships will reflect that reality. Therefore, a potential husband should be a man who has his focus upon walking in obedience to God's Word and who seeks to live so that his life brings glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
What are some other qualities to look for? The apostle Paul gives us the qualities we should look for in a husband in 1 Timothy chapter 3. In this passage are the qualifications for a leader in the church body. However, these qualities should grace the lives of any man who walks “after God's heart.” The qualities can be paraphrased as follows: a man should be patient and controlled in his demeanor, not filled with pride but of sober mental attitude, able to master his emotions, given to graciousness to others, able to patiently teach, not given to drunkenness or uncontrolled use of any of God's gifts, not prone to violence, not overly focused upon the details of life but focused upon God, not apt to be a hot-head or be thin-skinned so that he takes offense easily, and grateful for what God has given, rather than envious of what gifts others have received.
The above qualities describe a man who is actively engaged in the process of becoming a mature believer. That is the type of man a woman should look for as a potential husband. Yes, physical attraction, similar interests, complementary strengths and weaknesses, and the desire for children are things to consider. These things, though, must be secondary to the spiritual qualities a woman should look for in a man. A man you can trust, respect, and follow in the path of godliness is of far greater value than a man of good looks, fame, power, or money.
Finally, when “looking” for a husband, we must be surrendered to God's will in our lives. Every woman wants to find her “prince charming,” but the reality is that she will probably marry a man with as many flaws as she has. Then, by God's grace, they will spend the rest of their lives together learning how to be a partner to, and servant of, each other. We must enter into the second-most-important relationship of our lives (marriage), not under an emotional cloud, but with eyes wide open. Our most important relationship, with our Lord and Savior, has to be the focus of our lives.
|Posted by email@example.com on June 20, 2018 at 9:15 PM||comments (1)|
I can’t believe that we are in the middle of June since it seems like only yesterday we were busy celebrating the New Year. June is a busy month, and so far, June 2018 has lived up to these expectations. June seems to be the month for weddings, graduations, family reunions, and vacations. Vacations and all these celebrations are timely breaks since we have all been running at a neck-breaking pace over these five months. So, as the temperatures are rising, it seems to make sense that we stop this June to celebrate our brides, graduates, family, take time to slow down and take a break from our daily grind.
As I have gotten older, I have learned that I no longer have the resilience or the ability to do an all-nighter and bounce back like I did when I was in my teens. Life sure has a way of slowing us down. Of course, slowing our pace is important for healthy living, making good decisions, and good quality of life. Surprisingly in these United States, our culture does not support setting aside time each day to slow down. In countries such as Spain, these periods of rest are built into businesses and the fiber of a society. I wonder what would happen if Americans took an hour off each day for a nap. I would predict that we would have a healthier population with better quality of life. But while we wait for the nation to catch up to the idea of slowing down, I would like to suggest that this is something we can start in our own families. So, join me in taking off even a day per month to do nothing but relax, take a nap in the middle of the day (definitely on Sundays if you can), or just take a nature break. Any or all of these will refocus us, clear our heads, and increase our effectiveness and efficiency.
In 2018, we have no one in our family graduating from college or high school, but for the first time, my little family is planning a wedding. As the days tick closer, fear turns into trepidation, then excitement, then surprise, and cycles back to fear. I find myself constantly asking if this real? Is my child ready for this next step? Have I prepared her for a long-lasting relationship, despite my many flaws? As the anxiety heightens, I have learned to stop to take any “dispeace” to God, and as I do, my fear slips away. Fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) is a liar, and the Lord continues to remind me that he loves my daughter more than me. In addition, he has plans to prosper her and not to harm her. So, despite my anxieties, fears, apprehension, etc., I am learning to surrender everything to God. Once this happens, real peace and joy returns that no one, not even a worrier, can understand.
As I get ready for the big day, I wondered what advice I will offer. What will I say? So, I thought that I would consider doing this blog to get my creative juices going. Say a prayer that I will be ready to contribute with a few pearls of wisdom in the next four weeks. Here are some great tips on marriage that I have picked up along the way; I truly believe that these will be helpful for my daughter, all the brides, and bridegrooms that will take their vows in 2018.
Here are my pearls of wisdom on marriage that I will share. Tell me what you think!
• A good marriage has three parties: a bride, a bridegroom, and GOD.
• A good marriage is a prize. You don’t get it for nothing!
• Trust, respect, and honor your spouse. You chose them, and now you are united as one. Add value. Do not detract from them.
• If you have to criticize, do it lovingly. Be steel wrapped in velvet.
• At least, once each day, try to say one kind, complimentary thing to your partner.
• God has your back since he instituted marriage. Lean heavily on him. He knows everything, so why worry when you can pray. So, pray about everything TOGETHER.
• Marriage is harder than it looks. When two imperfect people come together, smoke will rise first before peace comes.
• Never bring up mistakes of the past. Forgive and forget.
• Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire.
• Never go to bed angry at each other or with an unsettled argument. Talk about your differences, kiss and makeup. But don’t give the devil the opportunity to cause any division in your home.
• If one of you has to win an argument, let it be the other one.
• Neglect the whole world rather than one another. For who can bear loneliness in a marriage.
• Find a couple in a wonderful, long-lasting marriage, ask them to mentor and provide support to you on this new journey.
• There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.
• God created the first marriage, ensure you are in his perfect will before saying I do; he wants you to be happy.
• Don’t expect your partner to make you happy. If you are not happy alone, you will just make your spouse unhappy.
• When you have done something wrong, be ready to admit it and ask for forgiveness.
• Finally (my absolute favorite from Dr. Myles Munroe) you must remain single, unique, and whole in your marriage, so that your marriage can thrive.
I believe that as we slow down this summer to celebrate marriages, couples should consider following these tips for a happier ever after.
By the way, do you have tips that you share with the newly married? If yes, please share these on our Blog this month.
Congratulations to all of our brides and grooms.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on May 6, 2018 at 5:45 PM||comments (0)|
Celebraing and Praying for Our Mothers
May is a busy month for all of us as we move into the summer. During this month, we will celebrate many health observances, including, national mental health month, high blood pressure education month, women’s health month, healthy vision month, lupus awareness month, national women’s checkup day, etc., and of course Mother’s Day. May is also the month when as a nation, we celebrated the National Day of Prayer (every first Thursday of May) where all Americans were encouraged to stop to pray. We have much to pray for a nation and we should be praying without ceasing since these are troubling times.
A prayer request that should be constantly on our lips is a prayer for all of our mothers. In fact, have you ever met anyone who never had a mother? I am sure the answer is no since all of us have or have had a mother. Whether they are still alive, dead, or estranged from us, we all are here because we have mothers. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that as a nation we witness 3,945,875 births. All these 3,945,875 new moms joined the other existing moms of our nation, to care for, love on, and protect millions of Americans.
As I reflected on May and the various health observances, I could not help but wonder how the mothers of our nation are managing their health, regardless of where they find themselves. In fact, I think this is a timely conversation, given our upcoming Mother’s Day. Honestly, I think, given their huge role, I think it is about time that we spend some time praying for and celebrating our mothers, whether they have no existing chronic conditions, lupus, mental health conditions, high blood pressure, vision impairment, etc. As mothers, we are guilty of always caring for others, and unfortunately we often wear ourselves thin putting our families before ourselves. As moms, we invest heavily in our children, spouses, and families, but we don’t take time to take care of ourselves. Anyone else found guilty of this except me? I doubt it and as mothers, I think that we can all relate.
So, given this truth, I wanted to stop to salute all our mothers and to issue a call to action for all of us collectively, to take better care of ourselves. Dr. Meg, you ask how I do that with all that is on my plate. I am glad you asked. Here are a few suggestions for the consideration of our readers who are mothers. Try these tactics and let me know how they work for you.
1. First, start your day with prayers and a time of meditation, to center yourself and to set your day off on the right footing.
2. Eat a healthy breakfast with low- fat proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
3. Drink lots of water and limit sugar-sweetened beverages in your diet.
4. Quit if you smoke or chew tobacco, and if you don’t smoke, please don’t start
5. Work to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
6. Keep physically active by finding some physical activity that you love and engaging in this for at least 150 minutes each week.
7. Find a friend that you respect and trust and someone with which you can share the ups and downs of your life with. Meet often to check in, talk, connect over a cup of coffee or tea, or just cry together.
8. Ensure that you receive all your preventative health care services, such as mammograms, pap smears, vision screenings, check-ups, etc., to take care of you.
9. Find time to de-stress when things get hectic, and work to find joy in whatever you do.
10. Set boundaries in all your relationships, and learn how to say no. You will be unable to please everyone, so stop trying to do so.
11. Take time for yourself. Run a bath, paint your nails, take a nap in the middle of the day, read a book, or sit and do nothing. I know that this is a novel idea, but life is not always about doing. It’s time to just be!
12. End your days with prayers and meditation. Journal as you pray and before you know it, you will be a healthier you.
Take some time to try these tips and let me know how they work for you. I am working through the list myself, and believe that this will make me a better mom and grandmother. Also, if you have other tips that work for you as a mother, please feel free to share these with us as well.
Enjoy your Mother’s Day and remember to find time to take care of you.
Here’s to good health for all our mothers.
|Posted by email@example.com on April 8, 2018 at 9:55 PM||comments (0)|
Minority Health Month and Life in Black America. Some Progress, but Still A Lot of Work to Do
April is the month dedicated to minority health in the United States. This year’s theme is “Partnering for health equity” and serves as a call to action for Americans to work to reduce disparities in health and health care. This April 4, 2018, also marked the 50th year since the assassination of Martin Luke King, Jr. in Memphis, TN. This week in my world, I also lost an African American, 35 year –old colleague to drowning. As expected, I and our entire community were overcome with shock, grief, and pain. While this recent death and the pain that surfaced cannot compare to the pain that Americans; particularly African Americans, felt at the death of Martin Luther King, it gave me pause and forced me to stop to do some reflecting. Since both men died in their 30s, almost 50 years apart, I stopped to compare the America they both knew, and to take a second look at where we are today in Black America.
Here are some interesting facts from the Pew Research Center (2018 and the Brooking Institution (2018 that paints a picture of life in Black America in this the 21st century.
• African Americans make up 13% of the U.S population or a total of 40 million people.
• 4.2 million of the 40 million African Americans living in the US are foreign –born Blacks. This number has risen by 71% since 2000. About half of all foreign-born Blacks in the US are from the Caribbean.
• African Americans have high rates of obesity. As a matter of fact black women have the highest rates of obesity in America. 79.5 percent of Black women are overweight or obese.
• African Americans are not only more susceptible to disease and illness, they are also more likely to die from them. Even when the incident rate is lower for a particular disease such as Leukemia, the Black death rates are higher due to lack of access to appropriate health care.
• Unemployment for African Americans was at 7.7% in January 2018; this is higher than Whites.
• The labor force participation rate for Blacks is lower than in Whites.
• The median household income for African Americans is $20,000 less than for White families.
• African Americans only have ten cents in wealth compared to every dollar own by Whites.
• Only 29% of African Americans were married, compared to 48% of all Americans. Half or 50% of African Americans have never been married compared to 33% of all Americans.
• The percentage of Black homeowners decreased between 2005 and 2012 from 46% to 42.5%. Much of these losses can be attributed to the housing crisis where so many Americans lost their houses to foreclosure. This also means more than half of all African Americans rent.
According to the Black Demographics (n.d), progress is also being made in other areas. For example, the following is true in April 2018.
• Forty percent of African Americans now consider themselves members of the middle class.
• Eighty- seven percent of African Americans age 25 or older have at least a high school diploma,
• Twenty- four percent of African Americans have finished a four- year college degree.
• Black account for 33% of the U.S prison population. This is declining, but still too high.
In 2018, as a people, we still struggle with racism, discrimination, health disparities, health inequalities, poverty, etc., that keep many of our people in chronic stress. Unfortunately, white privileged is still alive and well in this the 21st century, and Martin Luke King, Jr., would be proud yet perplexed if he walked back into our world. African Americans have made progress over these past 50 years, but yet we have miles to go to equality in America. So this begs the question, what will it take to get us to equity? I am glad you asked, and I will be the first to confess that I don’t have all the answers, but would like to share a few ideas that I believe might help us move closer to that ever moving vision for equity.
First, as African Americans, we must put aside our pain and grief over what has been lost, stolen, pluck from us, etc. and forgive all those who have hurt us. Start first by forgiving God for making you Black or anything else you might be angry about, forgive your parents, your family, your friends, and even your enemies. Since all of this is spiritual, doing this simple act will allow God to step in and work on our behalf. We can’t get to equity without HIM.
Second, we must put aside our personal grudges and in-fighting with our brothers and sisters who are Black. While much has been written about post-traumatic slave syndrome, we must make a conscious effort to embrace each other, whether our place of origin is as far away as South Africa or as close as Cuba. What does it matter where we are from when we are all viewed as Blacks? The bible is true that a house divided cannot stand. So, let’s unite as a people, embrace and celebrate our differences, join forces in this struggle, and our progress together will be faster than each sub-group fighting alone.
Third, we must mentor, serve as big brothers, big sisters, or a friend for members of our African American community that are without fathers, mothers, spouses, friends. If we are going to make it as a people, we cannot achieve the American dream and forget those who still struggle, or just leave them behind. Let us all promise God and each other that if see a sister or brother in need that we will offer them our hands. After all, if not your hands, whose? Who else is coming to help? No one, and so, then the ball is in your court. You are it! Yes, you are your brothers/sisters keeper. Look around and change your side of America. Reach out a hand to help. What talents do you have? How can they be used to make differences? Use them; Black America is counting on you.
Fourth, we must encourage our African American brothers and sisters to find what they love and to work at it with all the dignity and pride they can muster. After all, God word is clear that if we don’t work, we should not eat, so let’s encourage one another to good works. Whatever your hands find to do, do with all excellence unto God. This means that wherever you work, God is the ultimate, and is in control, even when we don’t feel like it. Ask for his help when things get rough, he is strong when you are weak. Also, work to avoid get-rich schemes; if they worked then everyone would be rich. Take pride in your work! Don’t look down on those in “menial jobs”. After all, an honest job is better than stealing or dealing drugs. As you know, too many of our people have been overtaken by the “New Jim Crowe” (prison), so, keep on the right side of the law and you never have to look over your shoulders. Remember, you might not be rich, but you might be happier, less stressed than those that are. Work hard at what you love, and your gifts will take you before kings.
Lastly, let us make a concerted effort to consume less, save more, invest more, and work to leave a legacy of health, wealth, and forgiveness for the next generation. Up to now, generational wealth has been a misnomer in Black America. Isn’t it time to change this fact and work collectively to leave a legacy of health, wellness, forgiveness, and wealth for the next generation? I am hopeful that given the statistics shared earlier, that now is the time to make this shift, so that in the next 50 years, it can be said that African Americans have made significant inroads as a people. I believe that both Martin Luther King, Jr. and my colleague, who died this week, would then be proud of the steps we have taken as a people.
|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on March 10, 2018 at 9:30 PM||comments (0)|
Forgiveness at Work in 2018
Contributor: Anthony Hall, Clarkston, GA
If you work anywhere in this country you will at some point have to practice some form of forgiveness. Perhaps a coworker betrayed your confidence. Your boss treated you unkindly. Maybe you are the one in need of the grace of a forgiving spirit. Opportunities to capture our workplaces for Christ through forgiveness are many. However, these occasions too often slip through our fingers.
Unfortunately, participants in the work world today routinely respond to errors, mistakes, and bungled relationships in an angry, unhealthy, and unchristian manner. Many Christians believe an angry and unforgiving spirit is acceptable in "the real world" of work. How many times have we heard someone say, "You had better let them know who is boss? It is good to show your temper. Anyway, Christ showed his anger when he threw people out of the temple. If he yelled at people, why shouldn't we?" Can we even compare an error or mistake made at work, whether careless or intentional, to the desecration of God's temple?
In your week of work, how did you respond to the hurt and disappointment of the failings of others? The time has come for believers to absorb the pain of our own and others' failures and, with the help of Christ, offer forgiveness to the unforgivable. Put off anger and disassociation, and follow the teachings of our forgiving God. I believe the Scriptures offer inspired teaching on how we can forgive even the most difficult people.
Step 1: See Others from God's Perspective
The first step to forgiveness is seeing your coworkers from God's perspective. Take your eyes off the offender and look to the Savior. Jesus sees each of us as eternally significant beings with brilliant potential. God's vantage point teaches that we have all sinned and that we are all helpless without the blood of Christ.
This admonition to look through godly lenses is tough when a fellow laborer steps on us to get ahead. Looking around our workplace with godly eyes is difficult if we have been displaced for no good reason.
Yet over and over we see how Christ responded to the scorn of others with compassion and forgiveness. "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matt. 9:36).
You may work with people whose lives are defined in that verse—helpless and harassed, sheep without a shepherd, aimlessly meandering from one day to the next. It is little wonder that many of your coworkers suffer from unbearable anger, an unforgiving spirit, and a me-first attitude. Our human perspective on the person at the next desk or in the next office or on the next line is not good enough. We must seek the perfect perspective, the forgiving perspective of the Creator of us all.
Step 2: Leave the Offense at the Cross
Have you been the victim of a coworker's mistake? Have you said to yourself, "Every dog has his day? My day is coming." That is the easy response. The Bible describes a different response: "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Eph. 4:32). What is your pain compared to the pain Christ endured on your behalf?
When Christ died on that cross, He created a lasting reminder of His loving forgiveness. Remember he said on the cross father forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:24) Sometimes we have to charge things to a person’s head and not to their heart.
Step 3: Operate Out of Your Will and Reason
The third step to responding with godly forgiveness is to operate out of your will and reason, not out of your emotions. After you have gained God's perspective and left the burden of your error at the Cross, then, with a reasonable heart, meet to discuss the error and the future.
The prophet Isaiah communicated to the people of Judah and Jerusalem God's dissatisfaction with their behavior. He related the wages of their sin and then announced a marvelous offer from God: "Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord" (Isa. 1:1 God asked the failing people of Judah and Jerusalem to come and talk about the situation rationally and with cool heads.
God had given humans a special ability to reason that distinguishes us from other creatures. But in the jungle of commerce, we sometimes act like animals. Like the territorial lion, we quickly dispose of coworkers whose actions annoy us. With lightning speed, we unleash our anger on the very one in need of forgiveness.
In your job, you may have experienced the quick hand of a boss responding angrily, not reasonably. Maybe a coworker told a lie about you. These people need your forgiveness. Follow the instruction found in Isaiah and slow down. Calm down. Do not rush to judgment. Pray. Meet and discuss the conflict. Listen and reason. Forgive.
Step 4: Rebuild and Restore
Restoration and rebuilding are what Christ is all about. Imagine the hurt you would feel if one of your closest friends betrayed you. Would you try to restore and rebuild your relationship with you betrayer? During the biggest crisis of Jesus' earthly life, Simon Peter denied knowing the Savior. Did Jesus brood and hold a grudge? Did He exact vengeance on His fallen friend? No. Christ rose from the grave and embraced Peter. Jesus forgave His friend, and a hurting Simon Peter was rebuilt and restored.
Transforming your company into Christ can be a difficult task. It is possible only if you will humble yourself and seek and offer forgiveness. We must slow down and reason with godly wisdom. Seeing others from God's perspective, we should take our pain and the pain of others and leave it behind us on the Cross. Then we should look to the future as eternal builders and restore our broken relationships.
Take a minute to reflect on the situation this week when you should have used forgiveness. Were you the victim, the offender, or the innocent bystander? Did you represent your Lord in a manner that would be pleasing to Him? What actions can you take in the next twenty-four hours to open the pathway to forgiveness? Tomorrow we look at the physical effects of un-forgiveness…until then expect to be blessed in 2018….
|Posted by email@example.com on February 13, 2018 at 10:25 PM||comments (0)|
Resetting in February to Find our True Love
It's February 2018 and as you know this is heart health month and, of course, it is also Black History Month. The 2018 Black History month’s theme is “African Americans in Times of War”. Of course, the 2018 Black History theme marks the commemoration of the centennial of the end of the First World War in 1918. This theme also explores the complex meanings and implications of this international struggle and its aftermath. As I scan the American landscape, I believe that the 2018 Black History them aptly describes not only the role of African Americans in the First World War, but speaks to the physical, emotional, and spiritual war that African Americans and many other Americans find themselves in today. We are busy fighting each other and our nation is more divided than ever before. Somehow, we have forgotten that “we still bleed the same” and that “they will know us by our love”. We are no longer united in brotherhood and are often far from loving to each other.
Yet, it is February, the month of love, an unusual year when we celebrate Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday on the same day. So, Pastors all across America are preaching on love and relationships, flowers are being sent by the tons, and we are all running in a million directions. We are busy, but many of us are failing to thrive. Why, because we have lost our first loves~ our love of God and self. Instead, many things; football, money, car, sex, and material possessions have taken over. Yet, many of us are running on empty. We have acquired what we thought would make us happy, but we feel empty. We have fallen for the schemes of the enemy and yet we are still discontent. In fact, in speaking to many, some are not certain how to feel whole again, since shame, regrets and guilt have pushed us far away from the source of all true love~ God
Given this situation, I think it is time for us to stop for a reset. A reset you might ask, what is that, and why. Well, let's see, we are several weeks into our New Year’s resolutions, and for many, we have already forgotten what we prayed for and vowed to achieve this year. For others, we gave up on resolutions years ago. Some might have turned their backs on God and even dammed those who follow his name. So, yes, a reset might be needed after all. Do you agree, its time to push that reset button? If yes, let's do that together right now!
Now that you have pressed reset, let's start over on the right foot by taking a fresh look at February. To do so, I posit that we must do the following:
• Start and end with GOD, he is the ultimate lover of our souls.“ Our hearts are restless until they rest in YOU” ( St. Augustine). Stop and ask the man/woman in the mirror, where is God in my life? Once you receive an answer, push past your fear, and start moving back to the source of all peace.
• Remember to keep the main thing, the main thing. “God first, people second and career third” (Mary Kay Ash). Many of us have these in reverse order and we are empty for it. Stop to prioritize and get back on track, so you can thrive.
• Love yourself or if you don’t, figure out why, and do the hard work to fix it. Living without self-love is like living in a glass tomb- you can see everything, but the world is passing you by.
• Give more, and yes, this does not always have to be monetary. Give of your time, de-clutter and give away to those in need, use your talents to help where your community needs you. If nothing else, give a smile and a compliment to those you meet each day.
• Forgive often, even if it is the same person, give them another chance. By the way, unforgiveness and love cannot coexist in any heart. Where love exists, unforgiveness is not welcome. After all, who wants to live with a millstone around their neck?
• Work daily to improve your relationships. It is all about relationships, whether at work, school, church or at home, everything is built around relationships. In fact, I will go as far as saying that deep down in all of us, is the need to be loved and appreciated. This, I believe might be one of the biggest voids in our relationships.
• Seek peace and remove any source of dis-peace in your life. Life is too short to be a walking dead. If war is within and without us, before long something will break. Nothing, not work, career, money, or anything else is worth your peace.
• Find a need and fill it, if you are lonely this Valentine’s day, take a walk to encourage those who will visit cemeteries, visit a nursing home, etc. Give what you need and very soon, you will find that you are the better for it.
As you celebrate Black History Month, Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday this February lets get back to our first loves by following these simple tips, keeping the right perspective, and loving until it hurts.
Please send me your thoughts on how to reset our hearts, so that we can thrive.