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The Complex Legacy of Bishop Eddie Long by Danyelle@TheUnfitChristian

February / March, 2017

An NFL Player's Take on Temptation

How to be Kind Even to the Mean People Birthing A God Sized Vision! By Jennifer Lucy Tyler

How to Develop a Passion for Jesus


5 Ways Wives Hurt Their Husband’s Feelings on Accident Five Steps to Walking Out of Depression Single, Satisfied, and Sent: Mission for the Not-Yet Married

Joyce Meyer

an unlikely success story Can Man Live Without God?

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Contents February/March, 2017

Inside This Issue


Spiritual Wellness:

Relationships:  How to be Kind Even to the Mean People 37 – 37  5 Ways Wives Hurt Their Husband’s Feelings on Accident - 41

Image Joyce Meyer


 An NFL Player’s Take on Temptation -- 15  Can Man Live Without God? – 21  How to Develop a Passion for Jesus – 25  Birthing a God Sized Vision! By Jennifer Lucy Tyler – 31

Personal Wellness:  Five Steps to Walking Out of Depression 47 - 47  Single, Satisfied and Sent: Mission for the Not-Yet Married - 51

Joyce Meyer

an unlikely success story

In The Spotlight:  The Complex Legacy of Bishop Eddie 59 Long - 59  Joyce Meyer: an unlikely success story -


10 Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017

Cover Photo Joyce Meyer Ministries

Also in this issue‌ 13 Letter from the Editor 49 Trusting God When Life is Hard by In Touch Ministries 57 Celebrate Courageous Changes In The New Year by In Grace Ministries 71 Just For Fun

Question: Do You Know


Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 11

Letter From the Editor

Editor’s Corner

Praise the Lord My Brothers and Sisters in Christ! First giving all glory and honor unto the Lord Jesus Christ for without Him in my life, nothing I could ever do would amount to anything! With the inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th President of the United States to the untimely death of Bishop Eddie Long, this year has already began with a sense of uncertainties, but we are not to fear because in all things, God is still in control‌hallelujah!!! I want to personally thank all of our fans and readers for their continued support of this ministry which has continued to strive and for that I am grateful to our Lord, Jesus Christ Our goal is to continue being a resource for Christians and others for years to come and with your support we can keep this publication available free of charge always on our digital platform Pray for us as we continue to pray for you and thank you for reading this issue of Blessed Magazine God bless you! Your Humble Servant in Christ,

Laraine Turner Editor-in-Chief

Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 13

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Spiritual Wellness

Photo Credit: David Ramsey

"There's so much more to choosing abstinence than just saying no," says Justin. "You're not just saying no to sex, you're saying yes to an abundant life in Christ."

An NFL Player's Take on Temptation by Mark Moring

Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 15

Spiritual Wellness Justin Armour was introduced to the ways of the NFL long before he played in his first pro game. It happened during preseason camp last summer when Justin—then a naive rookie, fresh out of college—came across a scene he now describes as "incredible.― Justin, a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, had joined some teammates for a night on the town. After dinner, they wound up at a club down by the lake. Soon, Justin's teammates began disappearing. One by one, they left the club and headed down to the dock, where they hopped aboard boats—with beautiful young women.

"It was probably the most eye-opening experience I've ever had," Justin says. "I saw men leave on boats with two or three girls, just disappearing into the night.― Justin is sure they weren't going fishing, either. "I had heard about things like this," he says, "but I had no idea what it was really like. I was so naive.― Later that night, some of those same women started coming on to Justin. He reacted the only way he knew how: "I got out of there as fast as I could.―

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As a football player, Justin was used to running. But mostly from linebackers. Now he'd have to run from temptation, too. Welcome to the NFL. Justin says the scene described above is almost an everyday occurrence for pro athletes. "That's just the way it is," says Justin. "If I wanted to be promiscuous, night in and night out, I could be.― But that's not what he wants. Safe sex? Not for Justin. He'd rather save sex . …for marriage. "God promises that sex is something he will bless in the context of marriage," says Justin. "I'm willing to wait. "I've seen people who've had a lot of sexual relationships, and they're scarred. Every time you have premarital sex, you give a little piece of yourself away. By the time you're married, how many pieces have you given out? And how many do you have left to give? "But the biggest blessing of choosing abstinence is this: You fall in love and get married for all the right reasons. You fall in love with someone because of how they motivate you, how they encourage you in the Lord, how they hold up your life. And if you fall in love for those reasons, it'll be that much better.

Spiritual Wellness "This isn't blind faith. This is practical faith. It's God's formula for having a relationship that's real and sustaining and fulfilling—for both people.― With those convictions, Justin must have a pretty easy time resisting the temptations, right? Wrong. As Justin says, he's a normal 23-year-old guy with active hormones and a healthy sex drive. And since he doesn't even have a girlfriend, it'd be very easy to give in. So, how does he say "no"? Well, as he said, he runs from it. But he also tries to avoid temptation in the first place— by staying away from certain situations.

going to get into your life and hold you accountable for walking with Christ. Steve has been that for me. He knows everything about my life, good and bad, and there's nothing he won't hold me accountable for. We're totally honest with each other. "I tell Steve about the things I'm struggling with. He can relate, because he sees those things too. He tries to help me deal with what's going on, and gives me suggestions on how to spend my time to best avoid temptations.― One temptation Justin will avoid this season is TV—and the gobs of garbage that so often appears on the tube. "I won't even have one in my apartment," he says. But he won't just sit around, either.

"I'd just as soon not have my mind polluted by those things," Justin says. "Once you've been in a couple of situations where there's temptation, you learn how to avoid them in the future. You run away and you don't go back.― When Justin runs, he usually heads straight for his apartment—and the phone, to call his best friend, Steve Stenstrom, a quarterback with the Chicago Bears. Steve and Justin played college ball together at Stanford, where they were best buds and accountability partners. "You need someone," says Justin, "who is

"I've got a lot of free time, and I have to fill it with something productive," he says. "I'm taking guitar lessons. I'm doing a lot of community service. And I just got a computer, because I want to do some writing. "You just have to make a choice to make some wise investments with your time.― The way Justin sees it, the choices he's making today are investments for tomorrow—for marriage, for the things that matter most. "There's so much more to choosing abstinence than just saying no," says Justin.

Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 17

Spiritual Wellness "You're not just saying no to sex, you're saying yes to an abundant life in Christ. "Being a Christian doesn't mean you're subjecting yourself to a bunch of constraints and limitations on what you can't do. It's not about feeling guilty. Nothing could be further from the truth. Knowing Christ gives us true freedom—freedom to have relationships that are real and based on substantial things. "Knowing Christ moves you to a whole new plane. It's having confidence in what God has promised—a life of real meaning, of real joy. That's the most liberating thing there is."

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Spiritual Wellness

Can a Man Live Without God?

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By S. Michael Houdmann

Contrary to the claims of atheists and agnostics through the centuries, man cannot live without God. Man can have a mortal existence without acknowledging God, but not without the fact of God Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 21

Spiritual Wellness As the Creator, God originated human life. To say that man can exist apart from God is to say that a watch can exist without a watchmaker or a story can exist without a storyteller. We owe our being to the God in whose image we are made. Our existence depends on God, whether we acknowledge His existence or not. As the Sustainer, God continuously confers life. He is life, and all creation is held together by the power of Christ. Even those who reject God receive their sustenance from Him: ―He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous‖. To think that man can live without God is to suppose a sunflower can continue to live without light or a rose without water.

As the Savior, God gives eternal life to those who believe. In Christ is life, which is the light of men. Jesus came that we may have life ―and have it to the full‖. All who place their trust in Him are promised eternity with Him. For man to live—truly live—he must know Christ. Without God, man has physical life only. God warned Adam and Eve that on the day they rejected Him they would ―surely die‖. As we know, they did disobey, but they did not die physically that day; rather, they died spiritually. Something inside them died—the spiritual life they had known, the communion with God, the freedom to enjoy Him, the innocence and purity of their soul— it was all gone.

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Adam, who had been created to live and fellowship with God, was cursed with a completely carnal existence. What God had intended to go from dust to glory now was to go from dust to dust. Just like Adam, the man without God today still functions in an earthly existence. Such a person may seem to be happy; after all, there is enjoyment and pleasure to be had in this life. But even those enjoyments and pleasures cannot be fully received without a relationship with God. Some who reject God live lives of diversion and merriment. Their fleshly pursuits seem to yield a carefree and gratified existence. The Bible says there is a certain measure of delight to be had in sin. The problem is that it is temporary; life in this world is short. Sooner or later, the hedonist, like the prodigal son in the parable, finds that worldly pleasure is unsustainable. Not everyone who rejects God is an empty pleasure-seeker, however. There are many unsaved people who live disciplined, sober lives—happy and fulfilled lives, even. The Bible presents certain moral principles which will benefit anyone in this world— fidelity, honesty, self-control, etc. But, again, without God man has only this world. Getting smoothly through this life is no guarantee that we are ready for the afterlife. See the parable of the rich farmer in and Jesus‘ exchange with the rich (but very moral) young man in. Without God, man is unfulfilled, even in his mortal life. Man is not at peace with his

Spiritual Wellness fellow man because he is not at peace with himself. Man is restless with himself because he has no peace with God. The pursuit of pleasure for pleasure‘s sake is a sign of inner turmoil. Pleasure seekers throughout history have found over and over that the temporary diversions of life give way to a deeper despair. The nagging feeling that ―something is wrong‖ is hard to shake off. King Solomon gave himself to a pursuit of all this world has to offer, and he recorded his findings in the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon discovered that knowledge, in and of itself, is futile. He found that pleasure and wealth are futile, materialism is folly, and riches are fleeting.

Solomon concludes that life is God‘s gift and the only wise way to live is to fear God: ―Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil‖.

Without God, man‟s destiny is hell. The man without God is spiritually dead; when his physical life is over, he faces eternal separation from God. In Jesus‘ narrative of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man lives a pleasurable life of ease without a thought of God, while Lazarus suffers through his life but knows God. It is after their deaths that both men truly comprehend the gravity of the choices they made in life. The rich man realized, too late, that there is more to life than the pursuit of wealth. Meanwhile, Lazarus is comforted in paradise. For both men, the short duration of their earthly existence paled in comparison to the permanent state of their souls. Man is a unique creation. God has set a sense of eternity in our hearts, and that sense of timeless destiny can only find its fulfillment in God Himself.

In other words, there is more to life than the physical dimension. Jesus stresses this point when He says, ―Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God‖. Not bread (the physical) but God‘s Word (the spiritual) keeps us alive. It is useless for us to search within ourselves for the cure to all our miseries. Man can only find life and fulfillment when he acknowledges God. Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 23

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Spiritual Wellness

How to Develop a Passion for Jesus By S. Michael Houdmann

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

This question fits right in with God’s greatest commandment, found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, to love our God with all of our being. Here is some guidance in how to bring that about from Scripture

Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 25

Spiritual Wellness 1) It goes without saying that we cannot love someone we do not know. Get to know God and what He has done for you. Before the command to love God is given in Deuteronomy 6:5, the statement is made, ―Hear O Israel, The LORD our God is one LORD.‖ One aspect of this statement is that He is unique, and the better we get to know what He is like, the easier it will be for us to love Him with our whole being. This also involves getting to know what He has done for us. Again, before the first command is given in Exodus 20:3, God states what He had done for Israel in bringing them out of slavery in Egypt. Likewise, in Romans 12:12, the command to offer our lives as living sacrifices is prefaced with the word therefore--a word meant to remind us of all of the mercies of God toward us recorded in the previous chapters. To grow in love with God, one needs to get to know Him. He has revealed Himself in nature (Romans 1), but so much more through His Word. We need to make daily Bible study a perpetual habit—as much a part of our lives as eating every day. We would do well to remember that the Bible is more than a book; it is truly God‘s love letter to us, revealing His love for us through the centuries, especially through the ministry of Jesus Christ, His Son. We must read the Bible as a letter from Him, asking His Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts about what He wants us to glean from it that day. Memorizing important verses and passages is also essential, as is thinking of ways to apply what we learn (Joshua 1:8).

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2) Follow Jesus‘ example of praying constantly and consistently. When we examine the life of Jesus as well as that of Daniel and others who had a passion for God, we find that prayer was a vital ingredient in their relationships with God (even a quick reading of the gospels and the Book of Daniel reveals this). As with Bible study, prayer—sincere and open communication with God—is essential. You cannot imagine a man and woman growing in love without communicating, so prayer cannot be neglected without expecting one‘s love for God to grow cold. Prayer is part of the armor against our greatest enemies (Ephesians 6:18). We may have a desire to love God, but we will fail in our walk without prayer (Matthew 26:41).

3) Walk closely with Him NOW. Daniel and his three friends chose to obey God and refused to compromise in even the food they ate (Daniel 1). The others who were brought from Judah to Babylon as prisoners with them caved in and are never mentioned again. When the Jewish prisoners of war had their convictions challenged in a far greater way, it was only these few who stood alone for God (Daniel 3 and 6). In order to ensure that we will be passionate for God later, we need to walk with Him now and begin to obey Him in the smallest tests! Peter learned this the hard way by following God ―at a distance,‖ rather than identifying himself more closely with Christ before his temptation to deny Him (Luke 22:54). God says that where a man‘s treasure is, there his

Spiritual Wellness heart will be also. As we invest our lives in God through serving Him and being on the receiving end of persecution for Him, our treasure will increasingly lie with Him, and so will our hearts (1 Timothy 3:12; Matthew 6:21).

those items mentioned above. The first step in this is confession and receiving the forgiveness and restored fellowship that are the result of that confession (1 John 1:9). There is no doubt that God will bless the pursuit of a passion for Him and will glorify His name through it.

4) Eliminate the competition. Jesus said it is impossible to have two masters (Matthew 6:24). We are tempted to love the world (those things which please our eyes, make us feel good about ourselves, and gratify our fleshly desires) (1 John 2:15-17). James says that to seek to embrace the world and its friendship is enmity (hatred) toward God and spiritual adultery (James 4:4). We need to get rid of those things in our lives (friends who would lead us the wrong way, things that take up our time and energy and keep us from serving God more fully, pursuit of popularity, pursuit of possessions, and the pursuit of physical and emotional gratifications). God promises that if we pursue Him, He will not only provide for our needs (Matthew 6:33) but will give us our desires as well (Psalm 37:4-5). 5) If straying, begin to do what helped you grow in love with God in the first place. It is not uncommon to have dips in a relationship. Peter dipped in his (Luke 22:54), and David dipped in his (2 Samuel 11), but they got up and pursued after God once again. John, in Revelation 2:4, states it is not a case of ―losing‖ one‘s love but ―leaving‖ one‘s love. The cure is to do the ―first works,‖ those things that caused one to grow in love with God in the first place. This would include

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Question: Do You Know

Jesus? Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 27

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Spiritual Wellness

Birthing a God Sized Vision! By Jennifer Lucy Tyler

Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 31

Spiritual Wellness So I haven‘t given birth to a child yet, but as I‘m preparing to give birth to vision I realize that there are so many similarities. Nesting In pregnancy, the urge to clean and organize is known as nesting. Nesting during pregnancy is the overwhelming desire to get your home ready for your new baby. The nesting instinct is strongest in the later weeks coming up on delivery. I believe that vision birthing requires a nesting season. When you are preparing for a launch of a dream or a vision, you will find yourself tying up lots of loose ends. My days have been spent combing over our website, researching, ordering marketing items, meeting with assistants, accountants and event planners, etc. The nesting season can be fun but if you aren‘t careful you can be overwhelmed. (I‘m preaching to myself here.) Yet, even within the nesting season REST is so important. Without rest, the birthing process can be difficult. I have had to remind myself to rely on His strength more than my one. This is not always easy but necessary during the nesting stage. 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)- 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Labor and Delivery When its time to give birth to a baby,

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contractions will begin. This process can be painful for some, and has been painless for others. Nonetheless, just as you may have pain birthing a child, you may also experience painful things as you birth a vision. Have you ever been so close to birthing what God has inside of you and it seems like all of hell breaks loose in your life? Those painful moments may come in the form of family, health, financial or friendship challenges. The enemy‘s role is to steal, kill and destroy. I believe that he looks to destroy God given visions and will try to use people or other avenues to simply destroy the vision God has birthed on the inside of you. This is when you have to PUSH like never before. No matter how painful it becomes, there is a vision inside of you that the world needs to see. John 16:33 (NLT)- I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Because we are in a fallen world, we will experience trials. But we can be joyful knowing that in Christ we overcome. So if you are overwhelmed and experiencing painful things as you birth your vision, step back and get into God‘s presence. Go into prayer, worship and rest. Allow His presence to comfort and strengthen you. Remind yourself that you can do this with His help! He won‘t allow a vision that He‘s birthed on the inside of you fail!

Spiritual Wellness Psalm 121 (NLT) 1 I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! 3 He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. 4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. 5 The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. 6 The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. 7 The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. 8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

them? If so, its time to look for new midwives!! When you have a baby in the natural, you would not just let anyone in the room beside you, as you are about to give birth. So it should be in the natural. Everyone will not be able to walk alongside you as you give birth to this vision. Ask the Lord to help you identify your midwives who are able to coach and support you through the birthing process. These individuals are so critical because they literally are the ones who have taken on the role of not allowing you to fail. They are in your ear, telling you to push even when you feel weary or doubtful. They remind you of the beautiful promise of God that is on the other side of birthing this vision!

Doula or Midwife, Who is in Your Corner? In pregnancy some women choose to hire a doula or a midwife. A midwife is a health care provider while a doula is more of a childbirth coach. When you are giving birth to a God given vision it is important to make sure you have the right person(s) in your corner. Every visionary needs a coach, and even friends that will push you to fulfill that purpose. Visionaries often pour out so much but you also have to make sure that you are being poured back into. Take some time to evaluate the people in your life as you are birthing a God sized vision. Are they encouraging? Prayerful? Helpful? Or do you feel drained or discouraged after sharing with

The Promise

The vision is birthed and now we rejoice! But just as it is when you give birth to a child, the work really begins. Now is the time to cultivate, nurture and serve the vision that God has allowed you to birth. Just as you would show off your beautiful baby, its time to show off the vision! Tell everyone about it as a testament to His glory! Use your

Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 33

Spiritual Wellness vision to bring glory and honor to His name! Never forget Christ as the foundation of your vision and always rely on His strength and wisdom as the vision grows and develops. As you pour into your God-sized vision daily you will begin to see fruit that will be a part of a beautiful legacy for generations to come! 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (TLB) 19 Timothy and Silvanus and I have been telling you about Jesus Christ the Son of God. He isn’t one to say yes when he means no. He always does exactly what he says. 20 He carries out and fulfills all of God’s promises, no matter how many of them there are; and we have told everyone how faithful he is, giving glory to his name.

One of the strongest foundations on this earth is FAMILY Steps for a Strong Foundation in Jesus Read the Bible Together Pray Together Go to Church Together

Get to Birthing! Love,

Jennifer Lucy Tyler

34 Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017

Communicate with Each Other Blessed Magazine

One of the strongest foundations on this earth is FAMILY Steps for a Strong Foundation in Jesus Read the Bible Together Pray Together Go to Church Together Communicate with Each Other Blessed Magazine


How to be Kind Even to the Mean People By Rachel Dawson

Photo Credit: Shannon Colleary

There are mean people in the world. I love jesus and I want to love his people and my neighbors well, but that doesn’t change the facts: some people are really just not nice. Sometimes these people are strangers whose meanness only reaches you through computer screens and facebook messages, but sometimes they’re also family members, close friends, coworkers, or people you bump into at the grocery store. We can’t always avoid mean people, as much as we might like to.

Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 37

Relationships They comment on our blog posts with harsh feedback, they make comments under their breath across the living room, they use fighting words on social media sites, and they call us names from the other side of the dinner table out of anger. When people are mean to me, I‘m often tempted to be mean back. When I‘m called an ugly name, my brain instantly lists a dozen others I could retort with. When hurtful words hit me, I want to respond with words that will hurt back. It‘s the classic ―They started it!” feeling that I use to justify my anger and indignation… but I know that‘s an immature response to meanness that does not reflect the Lord‘s heart well. So, how do we deal with hurtful attacks when they come? What do we do when mean people lash out and hurt us? Jennifer Dukes Lee recently wrote ―How to Deal with People Who Try to Bring You Down‖ for (in)courage and shared three simple pieces of advice: “First, allow yourself to feel the pain.”If you are hurt by harsh words or an unkind action from another person, it is okay to acknowledge those feelings. ―We should not ignore the pain we feel,‖ writes Lee, ―but we don‘t have to let that pain fuel a negative response.‖ “Second, refuse to seek revenge.” In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus tells us, ―You have heard that it was said, ‗Eye for

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eye, and tooth for tooth.‘ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.‖ As Christians, revenge should never be our response when we are wronged or hurt. ―Sometimes,‖ Lee says, ―we simply have to walk away from mean people, which takes a great amount of strength, dignity, and courage.‖ Fighting back when we are wronged only continues the cycle of meanness instead of putting a gentle stop to it with our love in place of anger. “Third, be kind.” Kindness is not the same as ―we will be doormats,‖ Lee explains. ―We can be grace-filled even in the face of nastiness.‖ 2 Corinthians 6:3-6 says, ―We put no stumbling block in anyone‘s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses… in purity, understanding, patience and kindness.‖ There are more than 30 places in the Bible that mention kindness -- we‘ve gathered up 40 verses here that remind us just how important it is to show compassion and love to everyone we come in contact with. If you‘re struggling to respond well when you are hurt, maybe write a few of these down and stick them where you‘ll see them (such as on your car‘s dashboard or by your computer at work). The next time we are hurt by a mean person,

Relationships let‘s respond with kindness. Let‘s turn the other cheek as Jesus commands, and break the cycle of meanness by refusing to seek revenge or be mean back. We can be kind even to the mean people, and we will show them Jesus through our humble love.

Question: Do You Know

Jesus? Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 39

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5 Ways Wives Hurt Their Husband‟s

Feelings on Accident By Angela Guzman

It doesn‘t matter if you‘re the most sensitive person or someone who tends to take things with a grain of salt, feelings get hurt. While it probably isn‘t intentional, the fact is sometimes feelings get hurt and it‘s our responsibility as individuals to recognize the way our actions affect others. Miscommunications or casual occurrences often take place within marriage. Relationships can be very complicated. As a spouse, you act as confidant, partner, shoulder, cheerleader, rationale and friend. Wives take on many other roles that encompass motherhood and being the social lite of the family. When things get stressful, it‘s relatively easy to allow these things to get out of hand and accidentally take out your emotions on your husband.

Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 41

Relationships It‘s important to know what can or will hurt your husband‘s feelings. Even though he may not openly say that you upset him, you must stay in tuned to the emotions and other way he expresses himself. Knowing what hurts his feelings will alleviate any arguments or issues in the future because he will see that you are genuinely trying to do right. You may be asking yourself, ―How am I supposed to know what I should or should do?‖ No need to worry, we have some great pointers to help you map out what you can improve on and common target areas that cause frustrations. Take a long and hard look at these items of discussion because you may discover a great deal of things that you weren‘t aware of before.

bring negativity to the table. Wives will discover that their husband is much more receptive in general once they‘ve stopped second guessing him because it reinforces their independence.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Material Items Second Guess Him

It‘s a hard pill to swallow when a wife consistently checks double checks behind her husband to see whether or not a project has been completed up to par. While it may be the wife‘s concern that things need to be completed correctly, the mindset of her husband is that she doesn‘t quite trust him or believe that he‘s capable. Not only does this effect a husband‘s ego, but it can affect other areas that he may not be completely confident in yet. Wives must trust their husband and always give him the benefit of the doubt before checking in on his effectiveness. From timeto-time things may not work out because no one is perfect – and that is completely okay. Wait until things don‘t work out before you

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There are a number of scriptures that talk firsthand about materialistic items. One of the best scriptures that discuss material items is Matthew 6:19-21. ―Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.‖ Men are typically viewed as the ―man of the house‖ and oftentimes they take pride in putting food on the table and providing for the family as a whole. It‘s important that wives do not over indulge and request things that are beyond the family‘s means. It‘s okay to want nice things, but it‘s not okay to constantly ask for items that are not within a realistic budget or

Relationships of true need. Try to stay humble and look to the words in scripture to provide guidance and inspiration. Comparison Everyone lives a different life because they have different means and situations. For example, a wife may see a family on the same block driving a nicer car, dressed in high labeled apparel, and go on more vacations. Seeing these luxurious differences, may strike a nerve and cause a wife to complain to her husband. This whole series of events may then cause the husband to feel like he‘s not providing for his family or making his wife happy. Corinthians 10:12 talks about putting yourself into the same class with others and comparing others to that standard. It‘s important to not go to your husband with every comparison that you view because it can make him feel less than stellar. When you feel the need to compare yourself or your family, think about the blessings that you have and turn to scripture for guidance – you‘ll discover a whole new realm of inspiration that can be a huge influence within your everyday life.

Gratitude Wives oftentimes take their husband‘s for granted. You‘d be surprised how far and how effective the two words ‗thank you‘ can empower your husband. As women, we think our husband‘s don‘t do enough and when they do take action sometimes we forget to recognize their efforts. Not recognizing your husband‘s efforts can hurt his feelings and cause him to feel inferior. It‘s important to say thank you and think of other ways you can show you‘re grateful to your husband. A lot of times men link gratitude with respect and not hearing that they‘re appreciated causes them to feel less loved. Even though he may exude a tough exterior, a wife should recognize that her husband needs to feel truly appreciated and loved on a daily basis. Not only will the marriage benefit from a little bit of gratitude, but a couple will also find their communication lines will also be stronger. Passiveness Sometimes wives exude a great deal of passiveness towards their husbands. In many cases it‘s not at all intentional, but they often assume that their husband doesn‘t need a great deal of attention and that ultimately he‘ll understand why. Women that also assume the role as mother must understand that they are in a relationship too and their husband needs them – just as much as they need their husband. Make time for your husband and

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Relationships do not treat him like another child. Give him your undivided attention and devote one-onone time exclusively for him. Dedicating this time to him will make him feel important and will also allow him to feel like a priority versus just someone you cohabitate with. You may be thinking that you‘re exhausted and do not have the energy to focus on your husband. You should remember before you had children and everything else you fell in love with a great man. Make sure you relive that love every day. Be Careful With Your Words There are many other additional ways that wives hurt their husband‘s feelings on accident. It can be a difficult trying to make sure you don‘t upset your husband, but if you become mindful of the instances that are hurtful you‘ll discover that it‘s much easier to avoid than you originally planned. Be present within your marriage and seek out ways you can become a stronger union by communicating with each other. Ask your husband to tell you when things bother him and explain to him that you are actively trying to avoid hurting his feelings. Not only will he appreciate your efforts, but he‘ll also help you to guide you through your own frustrations and issues that you may be facing.

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Personal Wellness

Five Steps to Walking Out of Depression There is hope, writes preacher‘s wife and mother of two Christy Fitzwater. She‘s been through the feelings of loss, grief, disappointment, humiliation, selfdoubt, and aimlessness of depression. And here‘s how she survived it …

By Christy Fitzwater

Out of the Darkness ―I recently went through two weeks of hard-to-get-out-of-bed depression,‖ writes Christy Fitzwater. ―I was walking along just fine, and all of a sudden it felt like my emotional legs were swept out from underneath me.― ―Several circumstances, arriving like The Perfect Storm, caused me to feel loss, grief, disappointment, humiliation, self-doubt, and aimlessness –all at the same time,‖ writes Fitzwater. She is a pastor‘s wife and mother of two in Kalispell, Montana. ―Now I am on the other side, and I would like to tell you how I regained emotional hope and joy.‖ Here are five steps to walking out of depression:

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Personal Wellness ADMIT YOU‟RE DEPRESSED. As a pastor‘s wife and a Bible study teacher, I felt embarrassed that I was struggling emotionally. My husband, a professional counselor, said, ―It‘s okay to feel down sometimes.‖ I tried euphemisms, like ―feeling blue‖ and ―in a funk‖, but really I had to admit I was depressed and just wanted to curl up in a ball under the covers and not come out. REFUSE TO STAY DEPRESSED. As followers of Christ, we are instructed to live a joyful, light-shining, hope-giving example to the world around us. We cannot live in a state of depression and give hope to others at the same time. Depression may come, but Christ followers are not allowed the indulgence of wallowing in it.

PRAY. Paul says, ―Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!‖ (Philippians 4:4 NIV) and ―Pray continually.‖ (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV) I combined these two commands and started to pray continually that God would give me joy. When we are depressed, we can‘t just paste a smile on and call it happiness; we need a deeply fulfilling joy that has the byproduct of a smile. The source of joy is our relationship with the Lord, so we must seek him with all our hearts in prayer. We must knock and keep knocking on the doors of heaven, begging for restored joy, with the hope that God ―rewards those who earnestly seek Him.‖ (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)

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CONTINUE HABITS OF LISTENING TO GOD. Continue habits of listening to God. In my two weeks of depression, I continued to get up and read the Bible every day, even though I didn‘t feel like it. I also continued to read Christian literature and listen to sermons online. Before reading or listening to a sermon, I would ask God to speak to me. I needed Him to help me understand where the depression came from and how to fix it. Every single day during those two weeks, He slowly revealed to me why I was depressed and necessary truth that would help me move out of the depression. (NOTE: It is important that we develop good habits of listening to God when we are NOT depressed, so that these habits are ingrained in us when hard times hit, and we go to them automatically.) GO TO THE CROSS. On the last night of my depression, it was my job to prepare the Lord‘s supper at church. As I placed the bread in the serving trays and filled each cup, I was reminded that Christ knows what it‘s like to suffer pain. I was also reminded that only Christ has the power to rescue a person from despair. He is the one who rescues people from the power of darkness, not only on the first day we choose to follow Him but on every day after that. We do not pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We call out for help, and He rescues. Depression feels like death, and Christ conquered death as He died and then was raised again by the power of God three days later. God can use that same power to rescue us from the grave of dark emotions.

Personal Wellness CONCLUSION. Everyone experiences seasons of depression, and even one day of this is miserable and disorienting. But those of us who know Christ have a source of joy and power to tap into that can free us from the chains of oppressive emotions. I earnestly sought God for emotional health, and He rewarded me. He will reward you, too. I promise.

Trusting God When Life is Hard 4 Principles to Help Us Through Tough Times By Charles F. Stanley If we‘re confident of the Lord‘s love for us and understand how He uses adversity in our lives, we will be able to trust Him and respond in a way that benefits us. Consider these biblical principles about our hardships: Adversity Is One Of God‟s Most Effective Tools For Strengthening Our Faith. If we focus on the ways He is working within us and enabling us to endure affliction, our trust in Him will grow even if our circumstances stay the same. The Lord Sends Adversity To Help Us, Not To Hurt Us. God‘s purpose for allowing pain is to achieve something good. He may be trying to correct us or produce godly character in us. In the case of the apostle Paul, God protected him from pride and taught him to depend on Christ (2 Cor. 12:7-10). God Is Always With Us. We may not feel His presence, but He has promised to never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). As believers, we have been united with Christ, and His Spirit lives within us. Adversity Can Be A Precious Gift From The Lord. Pain and hardship are the instruments He often uses to correct our thinking, turn us around, and guide us onto His path. The Word of God shows us how to walk through times of adversity. It reminds us of His love, tells us about His purposes for trials, encourages us to endure, and strengthens us in the process. One of the primary reasons we struggle in adversity and give in to despair and hopelessness is ignorance of the Scriptures. The Lord wants to help us through affliction, but we must open His Word to receive His guidance, comfort, and assurance. Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 49

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Personal Wellness

Single, Satisfied and Sent: Mission for the Not-Yet Married By Marshall Segal

If you‘re single, Satan is after you! Okay, he‘s after all of us, but there are some unique dangers in singleness — especially in unwanted singleness. He loves to deceive and discourage single people in the church and derail our devotion and ministry. But God intends to use you, your faith, your time, and your singleness in radical ways right now, as you are

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Personal Wellness You might come away from a reading of 1 Corinthians 7 with two categories in mind: those who will live, serve, and die single and those who must marry. Paul sings singleness‘s praises, listing the spiritual benefits of being spouse-free. The single life can be (relatively) free from relational anxieties (7:32), worldly distractions (7:33), and wide open for worship, devotion, and ministry (7:35). So, Paul concludes, skip the ceremony, literally, and enjoy ―your undivided devotion to the Lord.‖ Most say, ―More power to you, Paul… but I‘m getting married.‖ Maybe temptation overwhelms you, and you need a Godhonoring way to satisfy that longing (7:2). Maybe it‘s abundantly clear that you need a helper to carry out God‘s call on your life (or it‘s abundantly clear to others that you do). Maybe you want to have kids and realized that you need help with that. Maybe you just have a deep, undeniable desire for a loving, committed companion. In each case, it is good for you to get married. While it may seem like two categories at first, we soon discover in application that there are three: the single, the married, and the not-yet married. After all, as any single person knows, a desire for marriage does not a marriage make. My hope in reflecting on Paul‘s words is to restore hope and ambition in the hearts of the not-yet married and set them solidly on mission in their singleness. All Dressed Up and Everywhere to Go

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Perhaps the greatest temptation in singleness is to assume marriage will meet our unmet needs, solve our weaknesses, organize our lives, and unleash our gifts. Far from the solution, Paul makes marriage out to be a kind of problematic Plan B of Christian life and ministry. Marry if you must, but be warned, following Jesus is not easier when you join yourself to another sinner in a fallen world. While marriage may bring joy, help, and relief in certain areas, it immediately multiplies your distractions because you‘re intimately responsible for this other person, his or her needs, dreams, and growth. It‘s a high calling and a good calling, but a demanding one that will keep you from all kinds of other good things.

Photo Credit Scrapbook Pages

Therefore, for the not-yet married, our (temporary) singleness is a gift. It really is. If God leads you to marriage, you may never again know a time like the one you‘re in right now. A season of singleness is not merely the minor leagues of marriage. It has the potential to be a unique period of undivided devotion to Christ and undistracted ministry to others.

Personal Wellness With the Spirit in you and the calendar clear, God has given you the means to make a lasting difference for his kingdom. You‘re all dressed up, having every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3), with literally everywhere to go. With God‘s help and leading, you have the freedom to invest yourself, your time, your resources, your youth, and your flexibility in relationships, ministries, and causes that can bear unbelievable fruit. So, here are eight suggestions for making the most of your not-yet married life. Avoid Trading Marital Distractions for Other Distractions Paul may have been right about our freedom from spousal concerns, but in an iPhone, iPad, iPod, whatever iWant world, single people never have trouble finding their share of diversions. In fact, if you‘re like me, you crave diversion and tend to default there, whether it‘s Sports Center, Downton Abbey, working out, fancy eating, endless blogging and blog-reading, surveying social media, or conquering the latest game. We might call it resting, but too often it looks, smells, and sounds a lot like we‘re wasting our singleness. ―Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God‖ (1 Corinthians 10:31). Everything just mentioned can be done for God‘s glory, and it all can be a

dangerous distraction from it. If you deny the latter, you may need to put down the smartphone, controller, or treadmill. Look for ways Satan might be undermining your mission with short and simple pleasures. You may not need to eliminate it, but limit it and look for ways to welcome others into your life through it. Be creative and make disciples over college basketball, cooking, or Call of Duty, rather than going AWOL from God‘s mission because of them. Say “Yes” to the Spontaneous It‘s just a fact, marriage murders spontaneity — not entirely, but massively. If you haven‘t learned this yet, I doubt any of your (formerly spontaneous) friends have gotten married. One of your greatest spiritual gifts as a single person is your ―Yes.‖ Yes to a random phone conversation. Yes to coffee. Yes to help with the move. Yes to stepping in when someone‘s sick. Yes to a late-night movie or the special event downtown. You have the unbelievable freedom to say yes when married people can‘t even ask the question. When the spouse doesn‘t exist, you can‘t hurt them with your selfless, impulsive decisions. Be willing to say Yes! and bless others, even when you don‘t always feel like it. Practice Selflessness While You‟re Still Alone ―Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in

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Personal Wellness humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.‖ Philippians 2:3–4 will only get harder in marriage, so practice now. Think of a couple people or families for whom you could lay down your single life. No one is expecting you to care and provide for others right now — no one, that is, except for God. So be mindful of the needs of others, especially those in the church, and consider contributing. It could be money or food or just time and energy. Maybe especially time and energy. Regardless of your paycheck, you have been given much. Spend it wisely and liberally on the needs of others. Financially, you‘re supporting just one person. Sure, save modestly for days when you‘ll need more, but while you wait, look for ways to provide for others. While you‘re not buying groceries for five, dinner for two, and endless diapers, budget to bless and develop attitudes and habits of sacrifice for others. It will serve your future spouse immensely and make Jesus shine beautifully to those around you in the meantime.

Do Radical, Time-Consuming Things for God

more costly dreams. Start a daily prayer meeting or some regular outreach. Commit to multiple discipleship relationships. Organize a new Christ-centered community service project. Do all of the above. You‘d be surprised, with God‘s Spirit in you and a resolve to spend your singleness well, how much you and your single friends are truly capable of, especially when you dream and work together.

Photo Credit: HOPE

Be radical, but not reckless. The idea is not to spread yourself dangerously thin, so make decisions prayerfully and in community with people who love you and can tell you, ―No.‖ My perception, however, is that most not-yet-married believers can afford to give or do more than they are. Spend Time with Married People

Just as you are free to say yes to more spontaneous things, you‘re also able to say yes to things that require more of you than a married person can afford. Dream bigger,

The longer you‘re not-yet-married, the more time you have to learn about marriage from other people‘s successes and failures. While

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Personal Wellness you can‘t avoid your own set of marital missteps and sins, you certainly can increase the odds of successes, small and large, by being a good student beforehand. Look for opportunities to be a regular part of a married person‘s life and family. If you‘re not around enough to see any ugliness or messiness, perhaps you‘re not around enough. Don‘t impose on people, but don‘t be afraid to initiate the conversation, either. It could be as simple as having lunch with them after church on Sundays. Make it easy for them to say yes by being a willing and eager servant. Offer to babysit on date night or help with yard work or bring a meal when one of the kids goes down sick. Then be a student. Watch carefully. Ask questions. Take notes on what to imitate. In all your observations, be humble and gracious (if you could see your future marriage, this would be less of an issue). As our minds and hearts are being shaped by Scripture for marriage, we need examples of flawed but faithful marriages. These kinds of ongoing relationships make the principles and lessons real and repeatable.

seeking to make the most of this unique season of singleness for Jesus‘s sake. Think about it, though he was never married, Paul did most of his ministry with someone. Find the trusted, gifted, and mission-minded friends in your life and be accountable to one another to make your not-yet married life matter for the kingdom. Following Christ was never meant to be done alone, even when you‘re single. Find a Fiancé on the Front Lines Instead of making it your mission to get married, make your mission God‘s global cause and the advance of the gospel where you are, and look for someone pursuing the same. If you‘re hoping to marry someone who passionately loves Jesus and makes him known, it‘s probably best to put yourself in a community of people committed to that. Join a small group, not just a group of single Christians, but one actively on mission together. Get plugged into a ministry in your church that‘s engaging the lost in the local community. Focus on the harvest, and you‘re bound to find a helper.

Spend Time with Not-Yet Married People While married people provide an important perspective and example, you need people in your life who are experiencing the same feelings, longings, and temptations you are. You should find and invest in people who are asking the same questions as you and also

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While You Wait, Hope in Jesus More Than Marriage Make it true first. Spend lots of time satisfying your soul in all that God has become for you in Jesus. Then be bold to say it when all anyone wants to talk about is your

Personal Wellness love life. ―So, any women in your life these days?‖ ―Are the two of you an item?‖ ―She‘s a really great girl. What do you think about her?‖ ―Would you be willing to go on a date with my wife‘s cousin‘s roommate‘s brother?‖ Married people have lines, too.

CELEBRATE COURAGEOUS CHANGES IN THE NEW YEAR While there is nothing wrong with pledging to lose unwanted pounds gained over the holidays, there may also be important courageous commitments God is calling us make in 2017. Way too often we find ourselves stuck in predictable patterns, repeating old habits, or settling for what we believe will be safe, dependable and risk-free. When in reality we may actually be selling ourselves short and turning down opportunities to do the very things we‘ve been asking God to allow us to do.

Photo Credit: Fanpop

Use the awkward small talk as an opportunity to point them to the Groom who purchased your eternal happiness whether in life or in death, in sickness or in health, whether in matrimony or ―on the market.‖ So when you feel lonely or discouraged in your singleness, remember that if you‘re saved, you‘re sent. Instead of waiting until your wedding day to get about the work, make the most of this not-yet-married life.

Most of us are familiar with messages and sermons on Ecclesiastes 3:1, ―There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven,‖ and we‘ve heard the all-familiar phrase, timing is everything. This is true, no matter what phase of life we‘re in and now may be just the right time for you to step out and make courageous changes in your life. Is God calling you to start something new in 2017? Is He encouraging you to break bad habits, improve poor attitudes or courageously engage in sharing your faith? Let‘s begin by praying and asking God to reveal the things He wants us to eliminate in 2017. Then let‘s ask Him to reveal the things He wants us to add to our lives in the New Year. As you get alone with God and pray over these two requests, journal your prayers along with any answers God provides during your quiet time with Him, through reading His Word and through godly counsel. Next, make your commitment by writing down your goals along with the specific steps you will implement in order to achieve them in 2017. But that‘s not all – just so you don‘t end up repeating the predictable habit of allowing New Year‘s commitments to fall by the wayside – share your goals and commitments with at least one person who will promise to hold you accountable. Together let‟s let go of the Old – God is calling us to remove and celebrate the New – God is calling us to embrace

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In the Spotlight

When the news broke that Bishop Eddie L. Long had succumbed to the aggressive cancer that had ravaged his body, leaving him a former shell of himself physically. I, like many others, looked at his gaunt appearance from Watch Night service and knew that the end was imminent. Still, the news of his passing was a shock for which I was unprepared. It is also forcing me to reconcile the conflict of emotions I have with Long‘s ministry, death, and legacy. The complexity of Long‘s legacy is not a secret to most. A few short years ago, the mega pastor became the center of a national sex scandal. He stood accused of molestation of multiple young men who were participants in his mentorship program. The reaction was polarizing to the Black church and the community at large. New Birth, Bishop Long‘s ministry, never fully recovered from the fall out. Criminal charges were never pursued and civil settlements were eventually reached. Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 59

In the Spotlight I came into a relationship with Christ at the age of nine. It was during a Wednesday night bible study when (now Bishop) Jackie McCullough preached and I felt the call. I‘d only known church my whole life as my Dad was a preacher and my mom kept me in fellowship. But that night, I felt the call and tug at my heart and decided to seek my own relationship with God. I found God at New Birth. For that reason alone, New Birth will always be significant for me.

oppression of LGBTQIA identities. There are, undoubtedly, countless young queer Christians who were browbeaten by his theology. His fall came at the hands of the very thing he so strongly preached against. It is my firm belief he preached so fervently against it due to his own internal struggle. But as I said, his death exposes community hypocrisy as well. Homophobic Patriarchy Still Harms Us All

Recognizing Conflicting Emotions Still, Bishop Long‘s death exposes a myriad of conflicting personal emotions as well as community hypocrisies. I am saddened at the loss of life because I am cognizant that he was still a father and husband. Four children will have to bury their father after he so valiantly fought against illness. I know that pain and grief all too well, having laid my own preacher Dad to rest at age 47 last year. A wife is now a widow. Especially a wife who chose to stay when all others said leave. To know that they cannot grieve peacefully without being constantly reminded of their loved one‘s flawed humanity is an ache that burns deep within me.

My personal pain provides a willingness to see Bishop Long in the totality of his works. However, it doesn‘t allow me to exonerate his actions. I am as cognizant of those his actions hurt as I am of those for whom his actions saved. Bishop Long raised a ministry that thrived on homophobia and the

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I‘ve seen more than my fair share of cruel remarks at the news of his passing. Not to mention, prior to his passing. Kim Burrell even hurled her venom his way, stating that his illness was a result of his choices. While I hesitate to label or hypothesize about his sexuality, Bishop Long became a victim of the very same homophobic patriarchal culture he helped to incubate. Regardless of the truth of the accusations against him, he helped to create an environment that was not conducive to allowing him to be unapologetically authentic. Homophobic Patriarchy is partially responsible for how quickly people latch on to child abuse accusations of pastors. Bishop Long stood accused, tried, and convicted only in the court of public opinion. While it is important that we take serious the stories of survivors, we must also acknowledge our hypocrisy. Homophobia enables us to believe same-sex abuse with limited proof. Homophobia enables the murmuring that the

In the Spotlight cause of death for Bishop Long was HIV/AIDS because of the probability of sex with men. Patriarchy allows the justification of abuse by men against women. Homophobic Patriarchy collides to silence sexual abuse in a way that is nearly impossible to surmount. What if his Accusers were Women?

I can‘t help but to imagine that had Long‘s accusers been young women, he might have retained the success, support, and dignity of similar men. Homophobic Patriarchy is why despite video footage and repeated violations, R. Kelly is still selling out shows. He is still being denied the apt title of child molester while being defended at every turn. Homophobic Patriarchy is why Cosby‘s 50+ accusers have had their survival stories dissected, dismissed, and denied in dominant public opinion. Men berated women for not wanting to support the theatrical production of two accused rapists when ―Birth of a Nation‖ was released. Nate Parker was, despite proof, upheld and exonerated by many of the same tongues wagging in fiery anger towards Eddie Long. I remain wholly unconvinced that gracious defense would remain if even ONE of the victims of the aforementioned had been a man or teen boy.

survivors, his church, as well as those he harmed is absolutely needed in this time. We needn‟t sanctify the dead to be mindful of those who are living and left behind in his legacy. Still, is it forcing us to grapple with how we contribute to the denial of room for pastors to be their authentic self? Are we taking this opportunity for dialogue to make an action plan of how to do better by sexual abuse victims within our church and community? Or is it merely an opportunity to provide damnation to satisfy our intrinsic need for vengeance? Moreover, I ask do we wish to be extended the mercy of God only by the measure of a fraction of our lives or by the totality of our humanity and the works therein? Because as much as we like to make hierarchy of grievances, we all are subject to judgment by act and not by the fullness of our humanity. I‘ve watched people be eaten alive in the wake of this news because they‘ve chosen grace over condemnation. Yet, I know for certain that those who are eating today will seek grace when they are starving tomorrow.

We Don‟t Have to Beatify Eddie Long in Death To be certain, I think healthy dialogue about the impact of Long‘s choices on his

Photo Credit: Highlight Hollywood

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In the Spotlight An Opportunity Engagement




Still I wonder if the hatred is deeper than Eddie Long. Certainly I remain unconvinced that it‘s because of who he harmed that vitriol is the poison of choice. How we handle accusations of sexual assault from our public figures and private family members is a testament to that. Is it that we hate the church so much that we LOOK for its demise? The church is often blamed for passivity in the Black community. We blame the church for collective ignorance. We blame the church for community poverty. We blame everything but white supremacy because somewhere inside, even when one leaves religion, Black people are still blamed for their own oppression.

We still act as if we did something to incur the wrath of hegemony. This idea that if people weren‘t religious they‘d progressive pursue their liberation is bunk. Plenty of nonreligious Black folks and we have made little to no traction with full liberation. Because religion is a tool of white supremacy but it is not the source. Still, the Church‟s Hypocrisy is Also Exposed. We created a culture of hate and intolerance. We remained far too silent when we knew abuse was taking place at the hands of our church leaders. We inadvertently taught families to protect the abuser and shun the victim. We helped to fan the flame of

homophobia in the Black community. We asked people to deny their truth and the fullness of their being. And now we ask for grace in losing one of our own when we often didn‘t sow in grace. We must own that. How Do We Grieve Problematic People? I‘m here neither to defend nor deface his legacy. My only hope is that Bishop Long made right with God whatever heart issues he had before his passing. It is my hope with any and every death. I choose to be mindful with my words because I honor the totality of the impact of his death. My prayers are both with those he loved AND those he hurt. So how do we grieve problematic people? In the conflict of our personal feelings, we should still choose grace. And in no way, shape, or form does grace mean a denial of truth. I simply choose to accept that Bishop Long was complex, flawed, and human. Because of that, it is okay that we express a range of emotions towards his legacy.

DANYELLE The Head Honcho of The Unfit Christian. From Pop Culture to the Pulpit, I write it all with a healthy dose of humor and wit. Observant by nature, extrovert at heart, and never afraid to go there. For more from the UnFit Christian, click here Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 63

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In the Spotlight

Joyce Meyer: an unlikely success story By CYNTHIA MCFADDEN And MARY MARSH

Joyce Meyer is as close as it gets to being a Christian rock star. But she herself - abused as a child, divorced young, a woman who admits to stealing from her boss -- says she is an unlikely success story.

People, women in particular, flock to Meyer's conferences on Christianity, which are peppered with down-home advice on how to live, love and work with God in your life. Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 65

In the Spotlight "I tell people, and it's the truth, I could sit in my garage for a week and it won't make me a car," Meyer said. "And you can sit in church till your bottom is flat and that won't make you a servant of Christ. "Meyer's ministry has attracted millions of devoted followers through a successful TV show, a Web site, a radio show and Meyer's books. Her 80th title, "Eat the Cookie ... Buy the Shoes: Giving Yourself Permission to Lighten Up," is coming out today. She said she has sold in excess of 20 million books. Her headquarters in a sprawling complex outside St Louis was paid for with cash, she said.

whole emotionally, I've been married to the same man for 51 years, I have four wonderful children, and I'm being able to help people all over the world, God has done a lot for me.― One question that arises from Meyer's life narrative is whether we'd be talking about a Joyce Meyer Ministry without her horrible childhood, without the continual rape.

It is in large part Meyer's honesty about her struggles that makes her so appealing to so many. "I was in a terrible mess in my childhood," said Meyer, who calls herself a Bible teacher. "Just had so many devastating things happen to me; sexual abuse, verbal abuse, abandonment, just one mess after another. So let's just say by the time I was a young adult, I was really messed up.― The sexual abuse Meyer suffered at the hands of her father is part of her preaching, part of what defines her. "The abuse started, I guess, around the time I was 5," Meyer said. "As I got older, it turned into, you know, him actually having sex with me. My own father raped me. ... I know it happened at least 200 times, so for me to stand here and say I'm of sound mind, I'm

66 Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017

Photo Credit: The Christian Post

"I'm not sure we would be," Meyer said. "And I can tell you something even crazier. ... I used to say, of course I wish that would've never happened to me. But, and one day I just thought, you know, I can't even really say that anymore. Because of the deep need in my life, because of what had happened to me, I had to find help with God, no one else was going to help me. And the things that I've been through, and even being in this public position, the judgment, the criticism, the potshots that people throw at you, I mean other than my immediate family, I've had to find a way to go on in God."

In the Spotlight Meyer said she believes her candor is a large part of her appeal, which she displays not just at conferences but also on her global television show. "I think it's my transparency, you know people ask me about that and it's not something I do on purpose, it's just the way I am," she said. "It's what you get, you're not going to see me in my private life and find me very much different than right here talking to you. ... I don't have anything to hide, it's like, why not tell the truth?― Joyce Meyer Admits to Stealing, Facelift Judging by Meyer's past sermons, she means what she says about transparency, to a point that some audience members might find cringe-inducing. In one sermon, Meyer talked about having worked in a company where she was involved in stealing money. "That was just so important to me, because that was a secret that would have always made me fearful of someday being caught had I not brought that out in the open," Meyer said. "God wanted to use me in ministry, but that was something I needed, that was something I could go back and make right, he wanted me to go back and make that right. I was petrified. ... I was like, 'What if they arrest me,, what if I go to jail, what if, what if?' ... But I really felt like it was what God was prompting me to do, that I needed to go make that right, that I didn't have to have that between me and God." Meyer decided to go to the owners of the

company and confess. She paid back the money she had stolen. The preacher has also been honest about having had a facelift. "God doesn't love me anymore or less because I had some work done on my face," she said. "You know, I prayed about it a long, long, long, long, long time, because there again, I wouldn't want to do anything that I felt was going to be offensive to God. ... But I just felt like he finally just came to my heart, you know, it's your face, do what you want to. ... It was a really good thing that I did for me. It made me feel good. ... And you know, when you're in front of millions of people every day, you want to look your best.―

Meyer said she didn't think it was a religious matter. "I want to look my best for God," she said. "So many people have the attitude that if you're a Christian you've got to dress bad, wear an old color, not do anything to your hair, have nothing. It's no wonder that Christianity is not very attractive. I mean, how many people do you know in a Western culture that's going to go, 'Yeah, give me some of that'?― It Takes Money to Help People What people do seem to want in on is Meyer's offer to help them prosper by giving to her. She is an effective fundraiser. Her

Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017 67

In the Spotlight ministry brings in more than $100 million a year.

Joyce Meyer: Jesus Might Fly Private Today

Is she a prosperity preacher?

We asked Meyer about the private plane she uses to travel on ministry business.

"That whole thing is just so totally ridiculous," Meyer said. "First of all, what is a prosperity preacher? It's just this term that people have come up with. Do I believe that God wants to bless us? Yes. The word prosper is in the Bible. ... I just love God, and I'm just trying to help people with the word of God.― People would get back money by giving it, Meyer added, "because the Bible says give and it should be given unto you. You see, giving is a major part of the whole Christian doctrine.

"Most people doing what I'm doing, working at it as long as I have, would be way beyond that, so I am not robbing the ministry," Meyer said. "When I ask people to give, I can't be on television if they don't, I can't help people, if I don't -- I mean, it takes money.―

Nightline: Talk for one minute about the plane, because there are a lot of people who go, look, yes she flies a lot, but she could fly commercial. A 22-seat jet? Meyer: I really could not fly commercial at this stage of my life and do what I'm doing. I could not endure it physically if I had to do that. Do you know how hard it is to fly commercial now? I used to be so tired when I'd come back from our conferences that I would be almost sick for two to three days. And I finally just told David, I just can't, I can't do this like this anymore. I said, it just - because I work hard, I mean I put my whole heart and soul into this... Nightline: So you don't think it looks unseemly for a person preaching the word of God to have a private jet? Meyer: I don't. ... Why would it be OK for a business executive but not OK for someone like me? Why is it that people think if you "work for God" that that always means that you cannot have anything? It seems to me, if you read the Bible, it's pretty clear that God wants to bless his children. Nightline: Because, I think people think, OK, Jesus' example of sackcloth-and-ashes, where he ... lives in the simplest way, gives

Photo Credit: QuotesGram

68 Blessed Magazine February/March, 2017

In the Spotlight up his sandals, and they want to know— Meyer: I went through all that. I did every bit of that. I gave up everything, I -- you know. Nightline: So if Jesus were here, he'd have a corporate jet? Meyer: He might today, they weren't available then, so.

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Powerful Prayers for Believers of the Faith When you feel like you have nothing to say in prayer, lean on the timeless Word of God. These life-giving prayers can kick-start your conversations with God

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Blessed Magazine February, March 2017  

In this issue: Joyce Meyer (an unlikely success story), The Complex Legacy of Bishop Eddie Long, and much more

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