Tag Archives: family

Hope Is….

Hope Is the Belief That Anything Is Possible!

Put yourself in Mary’s shoes for a minute. You’re in your room late at night when an angel appears out of nowhere and tells you you’re going to get pregnant (without having sex) and that your son will reign like a king.

To say this is hard to believe would be an understatement. But after receiving this mind-blowing news, Mary does not question God’s fulfillment of His promises. Her only question is a practical one: “How will this be…since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). Instead of getting caught up in questions like “Why me?” or “Are you sure?”, Mary’s response is, “OK. How’s this going to work?”

In this moment, Mary shows us what it means to live in hope. Living in hope is realizing that nothing is impossible with God. The same God who made a way for a virgin to give birth wants to do the impossible in our lives today. The wayward child who leaves you sleepless night after night is within God’s reach. The cancer that threatens a loved one’s life is not beyond God’s ability to heal.

Living in hope, Mary believed God and pursued the sign He gave her. For us, living in hope looks exactly the same—believing that nothing is impossible with God and doing what God has put on our hearts to do. We may not know how all the details will work out, but God always does what He says He’ll do.

Pray:

Jesus, give me the faith to believe that nothing is impossible and the courage to face what’s before me today. Even though I may not understand how this will all come together, I put my hope in You.

Reflect:

Is there a longing God placed on your heart that seems impossible to fulfill? How can you take a step today to put action to your faith?

(From Bible App Reading Plan “Hope Is”)

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A Message to Parents

“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.    Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.   These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.   Repeat them to your children.  Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol  on your forehead.    Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Not giving children a moral compass could lead to a chaos. However, teaching apart from example also leads to tragedy.
This is not an argument for perfection rather its an argument for integrity.

As you grow,  your life should reflect your stated beliefs and convictions more closely. Your children should be able to witness that growth and respect you for it.

Life is now and always has been an unmastered process. Talk to your children about the process so they will not be discouraged nor disappointed with your journey or there own.

Be blessed!

A Picture of Sound Stewardship

“Never measure your generosity by what you give, but rather by what you have left.”
~Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979), Roman Catholic bishop

It’s offering time.  Each family of the church has been asked to raise $1000 toward the general conference apportionment. 

The representative from each family lines up in the center isle, the recording steward pulls her list out of her folder, sits down in a chair next to the offering table and begins to call off the list of families. 

The Grimes family. The representative struts down the isle wearing her expensive, yet beautiful attire and declares, The Grimes Family gives $1500; the church erupts in praise, handclapping and joy. 

The Hampton family.   The Hamptons bring $1350; again the church erupts in shouts of praise.  Go head now the people exclaim.  This continues and each family reaches its goal. 

Then it is The Jones’ family turn.  The Jones family gives $5.  A Holy Hush fills the room as everyone turns and looks to see who said that.

She comes ever so slowly down the isle, supported by her staff.  Her back is humped over, her body frail and battle weary.  She is about 95 years of age; she has outlived her husband and her children.  She has been through so much.  There she is Sister Jones bowed but not broken, tried and tested, triumphantly she comes. 

This service had been planned at the beginning of the conference year and now after 10 months the day has arrived and she makes her report with joy.  Can you see her?

She is a 5th generation CME born and bred tried and true.  Her family had been among the 1st to join that small CME Church in Choudrant, Louisiana. 

Strong was her faith even from a child.  Her daddy used to carry her to Sunday School in his horse drawn carriage every Sunday morning, telling her the tales of how his daddy and his daddy before him used to work the fields until late in the evening, then come home and get ready for prayer meeting and mid-week service.  Her daddy told her, “Lisa, God owns everything and if you tithe and bring him your best, God will bless you.” 

Her family had been known to sell the prized cow at the county fair and bring the money back to their church for Homecoming Service so their church could continue to survive.  Theirs was a proud family, CMEs, dedicated to ensuring they did their part.

But now, she comes, leaning on her staff making her way slowly up the isle to once again represent her family at the meeting.  $5 among so many larger more profound sounding gifts.  $5 representing a year’s efforts of setting aside something for the homecoming meeting.  $5 from a widow who had no social security coming in from her husband’s work and only a small check of her own.  A widow who subsidized her meager income by selling eggs in the community. 

Yet strong was her faith for down through the years she had learned to lean and depend on God.  Was her offering significant?  Was her offering just as grand as those who came before her?  I tell you yes, and so was her example of stewardship. 

You ought to give her a hand church!  Oh you can do better than that, let’s give Sister Jones another hand!  Hallelujah!

How did Sister Jones become such a good steward?  Let me tell you.  First, her family modeled good stewardship in her presence. 

Second, her family invested in her discipleship ensuring she went to all the CME training for young people and young adults throughout her lifetime.  She could tell you stories about the annual conferences, bishops meetings where she got to hang out with all her friends.  She could tell you about the leadership schools she attended and out of which she had met James and married.  She could joke about the old ladies who used to give her the eye whenever she got a little unruly in church.  And the food, oh the food that used to be sprawled on picnic tables behind the church under that old oak tree over by where the new church parking lot sits today.

Third, she had fallen in love with the God of her fathers.  She still remembers her baptism and confirmation services, she had cried and wept as she realized the gravity of what she had done.  She was overwhelmed as she contemplated the great sacrifice her Heavenly Father had made on her behalf. 

Her favorite scripture then and now, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believed in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

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Precious People Along the Way

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” 
― Donald Miller

One of Imagethe best things I have discovered as a pastor is that relationships are more important than missions, money, movements or any of that other good stuff.  As a church family, we are multi-faceted not monolithic and it is our charge to “love one another.”  Through constant worship and praise, fellowship, and changing dynamics we discover who each of us really are.  I’ve pastored several churches and the most memorable things are the people I’ve associated with.  I remember Mother Stokes at Rock of Ages; I cherish her because she adopted me when my mother died in 1994.  I remember Annie Ruth Jones, Woodlawn CME Church, she was loyal to me even when she knew I was wrong; she ensured I had space to grow and develop.  I remember Barbara Harris, Jones Chapel CME Church who was diagnosed with stomach cancer, but God healed her to the astonishment of her doctors.  I remember Paige Perry, Trinity CME, as she weeped and worried that her mother would die; but God lifted her mother up off that hospital bed and she still lives today.  I remember Mother Cornelia Ingram, St. Paul CME,  and Betty Henderson, Trinity CME, who held my foot to the fire and made me accountable.  And my Assistant Pastor (:-) Sister Marianne Acee, St. Paul CME who could get a plan activated much quicker than I could.  Sister Patricia Brassel, Lane Chapel CME, continues to teach me many valuable lessons about relationships and I am so glad to have a big sister like her.

Men were also formative in my journey as pastor.  Gene R. Dean, Larry Anders, Earnest Jarrett, Kenneth Wells, Alvin Jackson, Ronald Turk, Joe Cornelius, Theron Winzer, Willie Bradford, Jr., Green P. Lewis, Dr. Joseph Carter, Nathan Jones, Herman Lewis, Larry Anderson, Willie Prather, Travis Griffin, Malachi Cook, and the many other strong men of our church.  Al Devin Jackson, a young boy whom God gifted to play the piano who had never touched a keyboard, but who prayed and God answered the need of the church for a musician.  Now he’s young man leading music ministry at several churches.  Bishop Joseph C. Coles, my 1st bishop who ordained me deacon and prophesized over my life and ministry.  Bishop Otha H. Lakey, who sheltered me in the time of a storm and who became my father after my biological father passed in 1991.  Bishop Thomas L. Brown, Sr., my present bishop who showed the confidence of the church in my integrity by recommending me as Conference Treasurer.  These men taught me to be strong, courageous, and fair; they leaned in the trenches with me and helped me navigate through dark and deep waters. The list goes on and on.  My point is the people of each church where I have served helped in my personal development in so many ways.

In reflection, I cherish the relationships I’ve had over the years.  They have been more meaningful than any success in missions, money, or movements.  These people and others have been instrumental in teaching me how to love myself and God’s people.  Relationships matter; and when you view people as you should, each person you come in contact with has something to learn from you and something to teach you.  Never discount the value of any relationship you experience; they all matter!  What a blessed life I’ve been priviliged to experience thus far; and the best is yet to come!

The Value of Teamwork

A loner is out to get what he wants for himself. He opposes all sound reasoning. A fool does not find joy in understanding but only in expressing his own opinion. (Proverbs 18:1, 2 GWT)

A man set his sights on becoming rich and powerful. He made his plans, gathered his resources, and started on his journey. He met a lawyer who wanted to help him volunteering to be a part of his team. The man thought how much that would cost and refused. Further along he met a doctor who volunteered to be his physician, the man also refused. He then met a CPA who volunteered to keep his financial records organized. But this man saw no need of him either; he was totally capable of handling his own affairs. Finally, this man met a beautiful woman who offered him her unconditional love. He had no time for love at this point in his life.

The man ruthlessly pursued his dream and obtained riches and power. He gloated with pride and bragged on his success though he had offended so many.

One day a letter arrived notifying him of a lawsuit that would reduce him to poverty should he lose the case. He needed a lawyer; but he was without one. He became worried and frustrated leading to a stroke. He had no physician whom he could trust. The lawsuit called for a strict accounting of his financial records; he had a few weeks to respond but no accountant. Hospitalized and alone he needed someone to care; the only woman who had offered was gone.

Lying in bed alone and facing ruin, he who would not listen learned the value of teamwork. Greatness demands having the right members on your team!

A Family that Stands Together

Duck Dynasty won because Phil Robertson’s family refused to continue without him. A & E said its core company values were “inclusion & mutual respect. ”  What Robertson said didn’t conflict with those values but they offended some people and rightly so.  How can we have a genuine conversation about issues of race and sexuality if we silence voices with whom we disagree?

Of note for us is what Jesus said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. ” A&E was a house divided and they retracted their decision.  This is a lesson for us as a people,  we need to stand together towards some common goals in 2014.  We need to refuse to compromise even if others are offended.  Dr. King taught, “If you don’t stand for something,  you’ll fall for anything! ”

Take a stand in 2014!