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CONTENTS SUMMER 2016
ON THE COVER
14 DR. KENNETH KEMP Pulmonologist and Pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas 20 DR. PAUL D. STEVENS, SR. President of the Baptist Ministers’ Union of San Antonio and Vicinity and Pastor of New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas FEATURES 8 PASTOR SPOTLIGHT Pastor Otis I. Mitchell, Mt. Zion First Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas 26 CHRISTIAN COMEDIAN MARCUS D. WILEY By Michelle London-Bell 29 GOSPEL ARTIST SPOTLIGHT LaDonna Ayers Releases Her Debut Single EVENT PHOTOS 27 MARCUS D. WILEY AND ISAAC CARREE at True Vision Church in San Antonio, Texas HEALTH MATTERS 24 SURGERY PREPARATION By Sharon Barnes, RN. COLUMNS 6 AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP By Dr. Julia McMillan 12 SERVANT LEADERSHIP By Dr. Trevor Alexander 35 CHRISTIANS RETURNING TO THEIR HEBRAIC ROOTS By Dr. LaSalle Vaughn 4 FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM•SUMMER 2016
CONVERSATIONS 10 TAKING THE KINGDOM BY FORCE Bishop David M. Copeland 13 MILLENNIALS and DECLINING CHURCH ATTENDANCE Dr. Stacey Floyd-Thomas 18 ONE ON ONE with Pastor L. J. Gillespie, Sr. 30 PARTNERS IN MINISTRY Bishop Alfred Blue, Jr. and Pastor Veron Blue 32 Q and A with Pastor Charles Flowers 33 Q and A with Pastor Jerry W. Dailey IN EVERY ISSUE 5 IN THIS ISSUE 28 SEPARATED AND SATISFIED
IN THIS ISSUE “There is always room for improvement.”
am always grateful for the opportunity to converse with men and women of faith who are willing to share their personal life experiences, challenges they have overcome, and insight gained along the way. In this issue of FAITH, we have focused our attention on a few pastors and leaders who are handling Kingdom business. Our cover features, Dr. Kenneth Kemp and Dr. Paul Stevens, both pastor churches in San Antonio, Texas. Although employed full-time as a pulmonologist, Dr. Kemp’s duties and responsibilites as a full-time pastor do not go unmet; he is committed to caring for the needs of his patients and leading the congregation of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. During our conversation, he emphasized the fact that his ministry is not limited to his pastoral duties, but that there is “ministry in medicine”. While interviewing Dr. Stevens, he recalled the day he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and how his faith, along with the prayers and support of his family, friends, and the congregation of New Covenant, were instrumental in keeping him encouraged during his healing process. He also spoke of the challenges of pastoral leadership and his vision for the Baptist Ministers’ Union. As the familiar adage goes, “There is always room for improvement.” For this reason, we asked Dr. Trevor Alexander and Dr. Julia McMillan— both pastors and college professors—to share their perspectives on two essential leadership styles. As you read Dr. McMillan’s thoughts on authentic leadership and Dr. Alexander’s views on servant leadership, you may just discover a few ways that you can begin honing your leadership skills. Each interview conducted and each article written in this edition of FAITH, as with every issue, was conducted and written with you in mind. So for that reason, we want to hear from you. Share your feedback about an article that peeked your interest by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us on Twitter: @FAITHMagazine_ and like us on Facebook. Be Blessed and Be a Blessing! Diane
Diane Hannah Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
FAITH M a g a z i n e SUMMER 2016
PUBLISHER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Diane Hannah EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Joy McGhee HEALTH EDITOR Sharon Barnes YOUTH EDITOR Taylore Gills GRAPHIC DESIGN 356 Graphix ADVERTISING Diane Hannah MARKETING Urban Media Group of Texas COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Dr. Kenneth Kemp - Louis Scott Dr. Paul Stevens - Frank Baker CONTRIBUTORS Dr. Trevor Alexander Candace Garner Michelle London-Bell Dr. Julia McMillan Dr. LaSalle Vaughn Contact Us
FOR LETTERS TO THE EDITOR & SUBMISSION OF MATERIALS FOR REVIEW OR PRINT SEND EMAIL TO: email@example.com TO ADVERTISE SEND EMAIL TO: firstname.lastname@example.org Mailing Address: FAITH Magazine 5680 Highway 6, #226 Missouri City, Texas 77459
FAITH Magazine is published quarterly. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. Articles and letters will be edited due to space limitations and for clarity as necessary. The views expressed in any story or column in this publication are those of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or advertisers. The publisher is not responsible for errors in advertising copy. FAITH Magazine reserves the right to reject any advertisement, photograph, or article for any reason. FAITH Magazine will not be held liable for services or products advertised in FAITH. All product names, brand names, and trademarks may belong to their respective holders. Printed the USA. SUMMER 2016•FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 5
“There is a
crisis in the leadership of the Christian church today—the lack of authentic leaders of God’s people.”
Authenticity is knowing and acting upon the truth of who you really are with the courage to operate in transparency without feigning and without hypocrisy. Without authenticity, there can be no effective leadership.
By DR. JULIA MCMILLAN
sing the words of noted educator, author, philosopher and scholar, Dr. Warren Bennis, “Leadership is a common buzzword but a rare commodity. The young ignore it. Experts claim it. Scholars want it. Bureaucrats pretend to have it. Politicians wish they could find it. Preachers have learned the choreography to imitate it and parishioners are confused by it.” The crisis of leadership within the Christian Church is at an all time high—moral failures, financial scandals, and ecclesiastical upheavals are so common that reality TV profits from the misappropriation of the sacred. In times like these, the Church is looking for leaders who face 6 FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM•SUMMER 2016
real problems with transparency and truth without forsaking Christian conduct. They are less interested in religion and more than ever interested in spirituality. No longer will the skillful manipulation of words from the pulpit satisfy the longings of this generation. No longer will the people in the pews succumb to religious rituals, hierarchies, or legalisms without accountability. No longer will they believe in a God they cannot experience as real. God is calling for leaders who will serve His people in spirit and in truth. The world’s view of leadership can be summed up in three words: perks, power, and prestige. God’s view of the authentic leader can also be summed up in three words: truth, integrity, and servanthood. From God’s point of view, you are a
leader if you know how to walk upright when all around you is corrupted; if you know how to refrain from evil in the face of diverse temptations; if you know how to stand on the solid convictions of the Bible in a world laced with convenience and compromise; if you know how to make an honest living under the weight of enormous need; if you know how to give to others even out of your own lack; if you know how to serve mankind void of a need for reciprocal action or public recognition. To become an authentic leader, you must do three things consistently: Trash the Mask of Hypocrisy Jesus describes hypocrisy as the wretched state of a person who reduces himself to being an actor on a stage pretending to know God the Father. Leaders wear many types of public masks, often to their private shame and demise. Masks may cover incompetency when education is readily available. Masks may cover guilt and shame of unhealed hurts when Christian counselors are available. Masks may cover marital problems or sexual addictions while the leader quotes James 5:16 (NIV), “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” We must trash the masks. Speak the Truth in Love Noted theologian John Piper describes church leaders in Ephesians 4 as agents of truth: Apostles are the authoritative foundational witnesses to the truth. Prophets are the charismatic speakers of truth. Evangelists do the work of evangelism with the truth of the gospel. Pastors and teachers take the truth and use it to feed and protect the flock of God. These agents of truth must be motivated by the love of Christ and for the Body of Christ in order to be effective and authentic. Truth without love leads to offense and disunity. Love without truth leads to permissiveness and corruption. It is little wonder that Paul admonishes leaders in Ephesians 4:15 to mature the saints by speaking truth in love. Preach the Word The Word of God is like a black light illuminating a crime scene. All that is hidden is exposed so that it may be collected as evidence for future healing. My charge to each of us is identical to that of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:1-8 (ESV): 1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Dr. Julia McMillan is the Founding and Senior Pastor of New Dawn Restoration Center in Tampa, Florida and Professor of Organizational Ethics at Liberty University. For more information, visit Newdawnrestoration.org
“No longer will
the people in the pews succumb to religious rituals, hierarchies, or legalisms without accountability.” TO ORDER DR. JULIA MCMILLAN’S BOOK, PROPHETIC CRACK: PUSHERS IN THE PULPITS ADDICTS IN THE PEWS
VISIT DRJMCMILLAN.COM OR AMAZON.COM SUMMER 2016•FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 7
REVEREND OTIS I. MITCHELL
Pastor of Mount Zion First Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas Beyond Church Walls AS TOLD TO FAITH In the Beginning I grew up in a family of nine children, and I loved it. At some point, I began to feel like I needed to find my place in the world, and as I sought to do that, my relationship with God began to blossom. And through that relationship with God, came my desire to make a difference. I realized that through Him I have value and that life is meaningful. I find my life’s meaning in God, and like the tentacles from an octopus, everything else spreads from that—my relationship with my spouse, my children, and the church. Right after I completed seminary at Morehouse, I joined a military chaplaincy internship program for two months in Europe. The army was in need of Black chaplains because there weren’t very many on active duty at that time, so the military went to seminaries to look for African Americans who would be interested in becoming chaplains. Although I had no desire to be in the military whatsoever, upon completion of the internship, I prayed about it and turned down a job to pastor so I could become a chaplain in the military; I served for 25 years.
Ministry should also take place beyond the walls of the church. You don’t have a church if the church is not affecting positive change and movement within the community. What we do on Sunday mornings is less than a tenth of what really matters. Sunday morning gets the most attention; it gets the most visibility, but that is worship and praise. What we do to celebrate our existence as members of the body of Christ, we do on Sunday mornings. But Monday through Saturday and sometimes on Sundays, that is when ministry beyond the walls of the church happens—Bible studies, home and hospital visits, prison ministry, overseas ministry, community ministry, ministry to youth and seniors. That’s church; that’s ministry. You don’t need a building to have a ministry that matters. Making A Difference The thing I ask myself when I am preparing a sermon is, “What difference does it make?” Whatever you are saying about God, Christ, or people, what difference does it make? If it doesn’t make a difference, it doesn’t belong. The most important aspect of ministry is to positively affect people’s lives. Ministry is about making a difference so that people become closer to God.
While in the military, I would distribute pamphlets, Bibles, and other things to the soldiers throughout their deployment. When we were in the combat zone, commanders, officers, and sergeants all came to me and requested that I pray for them and for the safety of their units. And even those people who had no faith at all said, “If there is a God, I might be getting ready to meet Him, so I had better be ready.” Anytime you are in a combat zone, people realize that if they are going to die, they better be right with God. Don’t wait until you are about to die to live right. If it’s right to serve God when you are about to meet Him, then it’s right to serve God as you go through your daily experiences.
I told the congregation at Mt. Zion that I am just fed up. I’m fed up about the fact that every week an incident occurs and someone’s civil rights have been severely violated because of the color of their skin or where they happened to be, and it’s not right. Our sons are an endangered species, and if I put on a hoodie, so am I. And even if I don’t put on a hoodie, because I’m Black, I’m questioned. What’s happening is ungodly. The thing that churches can do is stand together to take a strong unified presence on issues that matter—Black Lives Matter. We need to have a unified stance on police brutality and other pressing issues.
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CANDACE GARNER TALKS WITH BISHOP DAVID COPELAND, FOUNDER OF THE KINGDOM COUNCIL OF INTERDEPENDENT CHRISTIAN CHURCHES AND MINISTRIES What is the purpose of the Kingdom Council and the annual conference? The conference is held every summer at New Creation in San Antonio. The purpose of the Kingdom Council is to assist pastors in fulfilling their visions for ministry and to help them become better equipped as leaders. What are some of the benefits of covering/headship? The purpose of covering is to give counsel and assistance in matters that may affect the effectiveness of ministry.
spiritual covering. The challenge with covering is that many leaders want the benefits that come from being in relationship, but few are willing to accept the discipline that they may have to face from their covering. Many leaders have little problem disciplining others but have much problem receiving discipline themselves. Seldom do they want to accept correction.
What are some possible consequences of a pastor not having a spiritual covering? When a leader lacks accountability, the danger is that as power corrupts that leader, he or she can become susceptible to their own achilles heel in terms of diminishing their ability to be effective, and they will then misrepresent the Lord and His Kingdom.
What do you feel is most important for pastors to understand when leaving a ministry to launch a church? It’s my understanding that there is a certain protocol that calls for accountability. When a new ministry leader is unwilling to seek insight from their leader, they miss the benefit of the counsel, and as a result, they don’t position themselves to learn from the experiences of that particular leader. They may make mistakes that could have otherwise been avoided because of the lack of preparation.
How did you personally benefit from having a spiritual covering? I probably did not benefit as much as I could have because I did not always understand the purpose of having a
Bishop David M. Copeland is the Senior Pastor of New Creation Christian Fellowship in San Antonio, Texas and the Presiding Prelate of the KCICCM. For more information, visit Kingdomcouncil.net
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SERVANT LEADERSHIP PASTOR TREVOR ALEXANDER SHARES WHY AGAPE LOVE AND FORGIVENESS ARE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS FOR THE SERVANT LEADER
Jesus was the prime example of a servant leader. He was humble, He served the people, and He wasn’t afraid to get dirty with them. As a servant leader, you go first to listen, befriend, and then to see how you can help. The question the servant leader asks is: How can I best serve you? I agree with the familiar phrase: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I think the epitome of servant leadership is to show that you care. Servant leadership is not about book knowledge or flaunting titles. It’s great to have a title, but if a leader’s title or position defines them, then they may need to revisit their theology. Those who are in positions of leadership should be honored, but the leader should never be put above Christ; in some situations, the leader becomes Christ to the followers instead of being seen as a servant of Christ. I respect leadership, and I believe that honor should be given to whom honor is due; but at the same time, the extreme is when a follower will do more for the leader than they will for God. As a leader, I don’t ever want to be placed above God or Christ because that’s a demand that I cannot meet. And I don’t ever want to be seen as one who is so high that I can’t be reached; I have to be able to touch the people. When a leader gets to a certain level, he or she can’t touch everybody; but within a church context, the pastor should be able to at least touch the leaders who serve the congregation. If I’ve got 15 elders under me, I’ve got to at least be able to touch the elders so they can go and touch the people. Pope Francis says, “Every leader should smell like their sheep.” A leader should have the scent of 12 FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM•SUMMER 2016
the sheep from spending time with them, and the sheep should have the scent of the shepherd and know what the shepherd’s vision is. It’s hard to embrace the shepherd’s vision if the shepherd is not intentional about spending time with the sheep. The most important aspect that must be grasped for effective servant leadership to
so they can help us to heal from the hurt. Most times when we are wounded, we don’t go to anyone; we just continue to bleed because the thoughts are still with us, and the pain is still with us. The bleeding never stops. We want to forgive, but we don’t always take the necessary steps to help bring about true forgiveness.
“Servant leadership is not about book knowledge or flaunting titles. It’s great to have a title, but if a leader’s title defines them, then they may need to revisit their theology.” take place is the principle of agape love. Agape love is often viewed as a vague concept and not as a principle; when it’s seen as a principle rather than a concept, the love is put into action. Agape love causes us to make internal changes which allow us to minister to our enemies, and when they don’t love us back, we don’t refrain from exhibiting love towards them. We keep bringing the love of Christ until something changes. Many of us struggle with agape love because there are people who have done us wrong, and we have a hard time forgiving them. We can’t practice agape love when we can’t forgive, so we must first get past the hurt which can be especially challenging when the scars that we receive are from the hands of a friend. Sometimes friends are hard to forgive because we have invested in them, and they turned around and did us wrong. But we’ve got to put ourselves in a position to be healed so we can forgive. It may be necessary to expose the wound to a trusted friend, pastor, or counselor
Forgiveness is not easy. We can’t go to a person who has offended us immediately and talk about forgiveness if when we look at them we still see and feel the pain. We’ve got to get healed so that when we look at the one who offended us, we no longer see and feel the pain; until that happens, it’s going to be hard. And if we do get to the place where we forgive, sometimes it’s not even genuine; it’s a false sense of forgiveness because we know that we are supposed to forgive. Forgiveness is more for us than it is for the other person. Sometimes our struggle is not with forgiving others, but it’s with forgiving ourselves. Ultimately, everything starts with love, and then you build from there. When we love unconditionally, we are able to serve as Christ served. Dr. Trevor Alexander is the Pastor of True Vine Christian Fellowship in San Antonio, Texas and a Professor of Religion at the University of the Incarnate Word.
MILLENNIALS & THE CHURCH A CONVERSATION WITH DR. STACEY FLOYD -THOMAS ABOUT DECREASING CHURCH ATTENDANCE AMONG MILLENNIALS
Why do you believe that church attendance among millennials has declined? I think it is because the Church has disengaged herself from the practical matters that this generation faces. This generation needs answers to the crises that they have experienced. They have witnessed some of the world’s greatest atrocities to which
Some of them consider themselves spiritual; many say that they have a relationship with God, but they don’t attend church. I think there are far more agnostics, non-theists, and atheists among millennials than those who say that they are spiritual because they need explicit terms that make sense. This is a genera-
“I am teaching future pastors, and what I have often found is—as frightening as it may seem—many people within this generation who are preparing for ministry are even doubtful about what they believe.” religion and theology has had little if any response—homelessness, poverty, AIDS, the way in which the American jurisprudence system says that Black lives don’t matter, the way in which young Black boys are profiled in third grade as an indicator of how many cells to build in the prison industrial complex, the way in which their chances for survival are worse than previous generations. All of these things are contributing factors. There is an assumption that with every generation evolution will bear out—meaning that with every generation things will get better for that generation—and that’s not the case. In many aspects, from generation to generation things have not necessarily become better; in the midst of that, the Church has had little if anything to say about it—from issues of sexuality to issues of health and wellness, financial concerns, and racial profiling. Do you believe that millennials are still seeking God despite their decreasing church attendance?
tion that has been told to think as much as to believe and maybe think more because education is supposed to bring about success; it’s supposed to open up doors that nothing else prior has provided for African Americans in particular. So there are people who are willing to think, and if asking “why” doesn’t give a response except that you’re being blasphemous, they take that and say that if they are being blasphemous by asking “why” then maybe God does not exist. I grew up in a Missionary Baptist church with a culture that said, “Don’t question God.” I remember being in Baptist Training Union or Sunday School, and we were in kindergarten learning how to spell when a little boy in class said, “Oh, my goodness! I got it!” So the Sunday school teacher asked, “What?” He responded, “God is just like dog. It’s just spelled backwards.” He got in trouble, was put out of the classroom, and he and his family left the church. He was thinking; he was making a connection that I believe was
actually divine. There he was in church, and he understood what he could not understand before as he was learning how to read and write. I think back and wonder how his soul has developed given the way in which he was wounded for thinking. Have you had the opportunity to speak to any millennials about this subject personally, and if so, why do they say they don’t attend church? I teach millennials at Vanderbilt, and I teach doctoral students as well. When we talk about millennials, we’re talking about people between the ages of 18 and 30. While I don’t teach undergraduate students, I do teach Masters of Divinity students—students who are actually preparing for ministry. I am teaching future pastors, and what I have often found is— as frightening as it may seem—many people within this generation who are preparing for ministry are doubtful about what they believe. Many of the suicides that have occurred in successful church leadership, the rates of depression, addiction, and abuse have also come from a crisis of faith based on this separation of thinking and believing—not being able to reconcile what one thinks and what one believes and not having a context or community to work that out. This has not only kept this generation from church, but it has been literally death dealing to many church leaders. What does the Church need to do differently so that millennials will begin to see the value in church attendance? I think the Church needs to embody thinking (continued on page 36) SUMMER 2016•FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 13
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PASTOR AND PHYSICIAN
AS A PULMONOLOGIST AND AS PASTOR OF ANTIOCH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, DR. KENNETH KEMP MINISTERS HOPE AND HEALING TO PATIENTS AND MODERATED CONGREGANTS. BY DIANE HANNAH PHOTOGRAPHY BY LOUIS SCOTT
Are you faced with many challenges as a pastor and physician? The uniqueness of what I do is not often understood in circles outside of the Antioch Church. Most people ask, “How do you do that?” The truth of the matter is that I was a physician when I started in ministry. My situation is different from most. First of all, I was under a legal obligation to be a physician, so I couldn’t just simply say, “I’m done.” I was in the military, and I had also received a scholarship from the military―the Health Professions Scholarship. I also received a scholarship from the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), so I had 7 ½ years of obligated service to the military on top of my training, and when I accepted my call into the ministry, I had just completed 3 years of training, and I was on my way to do an additional 3 years of training. So as you can see, by the time I finished my training and added on the 7 ½ years of obligation, I had 13 ½ years of military service that I was obligated to fulfill as a physician. I could not say, “Well, now I’m a preacher, so I’m going to stop being a physician.” It wasn’t an option, so I had to do both. And truthfully, there is ministry in medicine just like there is ministry in the church as a preacher/pastor. Much of that obligation to be in medicine was in place when I became the pastor of Antioch. I became the copastor of Antioch on the 27th of September 2009, and I retired from the military officially on the 30th of September 2009. It’s kind of complicated. I entered what is called “terminal leave”, so in the late summer of 2009, I had no more obligation to work actively for the military. And in that time period, I was actually looking to get a different position in medicine, and it just so happened―it was the will of the Lord, I should say―that a position opened at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) during the time we were in Iraq, and there were a number of people deployed to support Operation
Iraqi Freedom, and they needed an additional pulmonologist to work at BAMC. I was offered that position, and I accepted it. Along with that, I had a one year obligation to serve in a civilian position in the military, so I started that on the 14th of September, and a month later, our current pastor at the time, Dr. E. Thurman Walker passed away. So I had a legal obligation to BAMC, and I also had an obligation to the church. I said to the staff at Antioch, “I’m going to give you my ministerial intent.” It was an actual written document about what I intended to do; it was my philosophy about what I think of leadership. I told them, “I’m presenting it to you so you can represent me when I am not physically present, and you know you can operate under these guidelines. Don’t ever feel like I’m not available for you. As long as you operate within these guidelines, you won’t need to have me standing here to tell you what to do.” I also implemented a Supervisor of Personnel to direct day-to-day activities who was also our Minister of Counseling, and I have an Executive Administrative Assistant who helps me tremendously. I set up the infrastructure so that the church could run pretty much whether I’m present or not, but I always keep my hand on the pulse of what’s happening. You mentioned that there is ministry in the medical field. Many people only associate ministry with what takes place within the church building. How do you get people to see it from your perspective? The people that I work with very closely at Antioch see that very clearly, but a lot of other people don’t because their concept of ministry is primarily preaching, whereas, my concept of ministry is primarily serving—whether that is preaching, visiting the sick, visiting someone in prison, helping someone SUMMER 2016•FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 15
obtain higher levels of education, or helping them pay a bill that they don’t have money to pay—all of that is ministry. So when you actually go into the room of a sick person and sit down next to them, hold their hand, or examine them and find an ailment that can be corrected either through medicine or surgery, you are actually ministering to their bodies. In addition to ministering to their bodies, you are also ministering to their spirit and their soul if you do it the right way. If I just go in and say, “Ok, you have terminal cancer,” and then walk out, that’s not ministering to their soul. Most physicians who do it well not only have to take care of the physical component, but they also have to take care of the spiritual component; that is ministry within itself. There are people who depend on me at the hospital just like there are people who depend on me at the church. Do you feel a need to balance everything? That would imply that everything is of equal importance. I don’t consider myself a bi-vocational pastor who is in part-time ministry; I consider myself in full-time ministry. I am always the pastor of the Antioch Church, and I am always working on behalf of the members. The only challenge is finding enough time to do all of the things that I want to do. Unfortunately, sometimes my family ends up getting the short end of that because I’m so busy dealing with the issues of the church and then handling my responsibilities at the hospital with patients here and there, and as a result, there is often very little time left for me to do much else.
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How do you maintain a successful marriage with such a busy schedule, and what is your advice to other married couples who are in the same situation? I don’t consider myself to be an expert in the area of marriage. My wife and I have two grown daughers, and we have been married for over 30 years. We still work every day to make sure our marriage is strong, but the first thing is that you have to marry the right person. You can’t just get a dime piece to be on your arm, or you can’t just get somebody that you are going to work into the ground to support you. It has to be someone who loves you, and then you have to be loving toward them. You have to marry someone who understands that the job you want to go into may require you to be absent quite a bit. When my wife and I got married, I was in medical school, so even if I had not become a preacher, one of the things that was understood was that I was going to be gone a lot. My wife went into our marriage with that understanding, and she is secure with that. She doesn’t necessarily need me to complete her because she is strong in her own right. Do you think that’s an area of struggle for many couples? I think that is the case for many people who are married to someone in a very high powered position. Their spouse may be considered less than because they are always the second fiddle to Mr./Mrs. Big Stuff. A person who is in a high powered position has to validate their spouse; that’s one thing. The second thing is that you have to always love, honor, and respect the person that you’re married to and make time for them even when you are busy with so many other things; cut
out some of that stuff so you can make time for your spouse. Many denominations still do not ordain women? What is your viewpoint? There are multiple scriptures in the Bible that say that women should be silent, that women are not permitted to speak in the church. When you really look at it carefully though, you also have to consider who the author of those scriptures is, the context of those scriptures, and then whether what was written at that time is applicable in general for all situations. Those scriptures were written by only one author, the Apostle Paul, who wrote from a masculine perspective, and when he wrote those scriptures he was writing to specific churches or to a specific person. And therefore, my conclusion is that Paul wrote those scriptures for that particular context and that they were not meant to be a generalization for all eternity for every church. And the reason I believe that is the case is because if you look at people who were leaders in the Old Testament like Deborah in Judges, and even in the New Testament if you consider Paul’s writings with regard to Corinthians, in the same epistles where he talked about women should be silent, he also talked about women having their heads covered when they are ministering in church. My conclusion is that the weight of the evidence in the entirety of Scripture does not preclude women from preaching. In addition to that, we see that the first resurrection message—if you really want to be detailed about this—was delivered through a woman.
Unfortunately, some ministers are comfortable in their religious cocoons, and therefore, they don’t feel like it is their responsibility to say anything about social ills. Ministers of the new millennium have to speak prophetically concerning what God would have for our communities. We do that in our local churches, we do that through our coalitions, and we do that through our organizations like the NAACP and others. We also do that in our regular conversations between pastors and congregants. We just have to say something. We can also use social media to make our voices heard. Who were your mentors in ministry? I learned about God through the preaching at Century Baptist Church in Gethsemane, Arkansas, where we had less than 20 members. The late Rev. John Joseph Rector, Sr. and the late Dr. E. Thurman Walker, former pastors of Antioch, were also mentors who greatly influenced my ministry. Are there other preachers who have influenced you as well? Yes, I’ve learned preaching from being around preachers like Bishop David Copeland and Dr. Claudette Copeland and other great preachers in San Antonio and around the country. I’ve also learned from Rev. L. A. Williams, Rev. Herman Price, Jr., Chairman of CCSA, and from the president of the Baptist Ministers’ Union (BMU) in San Antonio, Dr. Paul D. Stevens, Sr.
some ministers are comfortable in their religious cocoons, and therefore, they don’t feel like it is their responsibility to say anything about social ills.”
You were the first to ordain a woman at Antioch, is that that correct? As far as I understand, yes. There was a woman who was a part of the ministry under previous leadership, but I don’t believe he actually ordained her; I don’t have any record to prove that. I think I’m pretty safe in saying that the first woman ordained at Antioch came under my leadership. The ordination of Rev. Mingon Span brought in a different paradigm that had not been in place over the last 60 years or so. To be fair, we’ve had women called to the ministry within that 60 year time frame, but we had never licensed or ordained a woman minister. Antioch has supported women in the past under Dr. Walker; he had never ordained a woman, but he supported women in ministry through the Community of Churches for Social Action (CCSA) which he founded. Some of the first ministers who preached during our Seven Last Sayings service were women including Dr. Claudette Copeland. How should churches address police brutality and other issues? I believe that it is important for ministers to stand and speak to the issues of our community from the perspective of faith. We cannot allow these things to happen and the minister be silent.
How would you describe yourself as a pastor? I consider myself to be a regular preacher. I have a degree in medicine, but that’s just part of who I am. All I try to do is preach Jesus Christ. I believe in doing what God says do, and preaching what God says preach. It becomes complicated because of all the politics associated with being a pastor, but that’s what I try to do day in and day out. I’m grateful that God has chosen me to serve and to make a difference in the lives of so many. Dr. Kenneth Kemp is the Pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas and the author of the book, A Servant’s Heart: Tips for the Associate Minister. To purchase your copy, visit Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com
For more information about Dr. Kenneth Kemp
and Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, visit
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ONE ON ONE WITH PASTOR LESTER J. GILLESPIE, SR. GREATER LOVE MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
“We can get so caught inside the box that we don’t experience the world around us.” What one thing will you always remember about that particular trip? I saw two little girls who lived without plumbing and electricity walking proudly with their books under their arms. You would have thought they had just won a million dollars as proud as they were walking to school in those circumstances. Their situation didn’t keep them from being grateful for the opportunity to attend school.
Pastor Gillespie talks about his recent trips to Africa and Europe which he describes as “life changing”. Was this your first time traveling to Africa and Europe? Yes, it was. What three words describe your overall experience? Awesome, overwhelming, and soul-searching. What was your first impression upon arrival in Africa? Never having gone before, I can’t get past how the people there embraced me; they were just very welcoming. My brother and sister-in-law live in Africa, and being able to visit with them was really a blessing. 18 FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM•SUMMER 2016
What did you enjoy most while in Africa and Europe? In Africa, I enjoyed experiencing their sense of community and how they acknowledged and embraced one another. In Europe, I was able to go to the Cathedral of Trier in Germany and see one of the spikes acquired from the crucifixion of Christ. I was also able to see the mockers robe that Christ wore during His trial. I went from there to Paris, France and toured the Notre Dame Cathedral where I was able to see the Crown of Thorns.
life began—that I was in the cradle of civilization where life itself began with the first man. I thought I could say it before, I’m Black and I’m proud, but even more so now. Did you attend a worship service while in Africa? Yes, the service that I attended was held in my brother’s home; the congregation does not have a building yet. There were 13 of us. The people were very aggressive in their worship experience; they weren’t sitting back waiting for somebody to encourage them to praise and worship God. They were excited and not subdued at all.
Why was it important for you to go on this trip when you did? I thought about the fact that so many of my peers have been crossing over in the last few years; God has allowed them to finish their assignments here. I realized how many things I have wanted to do but have procrastinated about doing. There was this sense of urgency to travel to Europe and Africa after I began seeing people What was the most spiritual leaving here. There are so many part about being in Africa? things that I still want to do and Knowing that Africa is where plan to do. We can get so caught
inside the box that we don’t experience the world around us. By not living life to the fullest, we miss out on the opportunity to develop new friendships and other relationships. What did you gain personally from the experience? The realization that God is even greater than I have ever imagined. There is so much going on in this world, and we get caught up in so many things that don’t matter. I realized that I don’t need to sweat the small stuff.
Would you like to visit Africa again? Yes, my plans are to go back; it was that wonderful. If there is a place that I want to retire, that’s where I want to go. I would love to live there. I cannot tell you how refreshing it was. I came back with a different focus, a renewed spirit, and anticipating finishing what’s for me to finish here and spend those last days there. Any words to encourage others to live their lives to the fullest? Before you settle anywhere, see as many
places as you can, and go as often as you can. Don’t be complacent. Experience as much as you can, and then determine what you are going to do with the rest of your life. Be sure to listen to God all the while. There are a whole lot of things that you won’t find by staying inside the box.
Pastor Gillespie has been in ministry for more than 43 years. He organized Greater Love over 30 years ago. For more information, visit Thegreaterloveexperience.org.
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20 FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COMâ€¢SUMMER 2016
PASTOR, PRESIDENT, PROSTATE CANCER
Dr. Paul D. Stevens talks about life as a pastor and leading the Baptist Ministers’ Union of San Antonio and Vicinity
MODERATED BY DIANE HANNAH PHOTOGRAPHY BY FRANK BAKER
astor Paul D. Stevens has led New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in San Antonio for 17 years. He is a fourth generation preacher who was called to preach while working as a sales manager in Houston, Texas for General Mills, Inc. He and his six siblings were raised in the home of a pastor in Westlake, Louisiana. Their father, the late Rev. Willie Stevens, Jr., pastored for over 40 years, so they experienced firsthand what a pastor and the pastor’s family have to endure in ministry. “The family of a pastor is put into a fish bowl. The world is watching every move of the pastor and the pastor’s family,” says Stevens. He and his wife, Belinda, are empty nesters who have been married for 31 years. In this conversation with FAITH, Pastor Stevens shares aspects of his life as a pastor, cancer survivor, and leader in the community of faith. . FAITH: Did you always aspire to become a pastor? STEVENS: I did not aspire to become a pastor; it was not on my bucket list. Preaching and pastoring was the furthest thing from my mind. I did not want to take the roller coaster ride that I saw my dad take throughout his ministry. I wanted to become a successful business man because I really enjoyed working in corporate America and had plans to retire working in the business world in some form or another, but God had other plans.
ant saints won’t follow God’s vision but will openly stand and fight for the traditions of man. I simply share the vision of God to the people that I lead. However, I do believe that vision must be taught before it is caught. FAITH: Who was your mentor during your early years in ministry? STEVENS: My dad was my mentor. When I accepted my call to the ministry, I immediately called my dad and sought his counsel. I knew that he would give me real world advice. I didn’t need any irrelevant religious jargon from some stranger who really didn’t know me or understand the burden of being called to preach. FAITH: What was the best advice your father gave you? STEVENS: He told me to be true to my calling, faithful to God, and to be a student of the Word of God. Never allow my ears to become trash cans. In other words, be careful who and what I listen to.
FAITH: What do you enjoy most about being a pastor? STEVENS: I am humbled that God would call me to lead His people. He is so merciful and kind to entrust the lives of His children to my care. I enjoy being a vessel that God uses for His Kingdom’s work.
FAITH: How do you define “pastoral success”? STEVENS: I believe pastoral success is leading the people of God exactly how the Lord has commanded. Success as a pastor has nothing to do with the size of the congregation or the size of your budget; it has everything to do with faithfulness and godly obedience. It’s all about loving the Lord with all of your heart, all of your soul, and with all of your strength. God is not impressed with pastors who are just concerned about building edifices. He wants pastors who are concerned with building people and making them whole through their relationship with Him.
FAITH: What do you least enjoy about being a pastor? STEVENS: Trying to lead people who do not want to be led. When the pastor tries to lead people to follow God’s vision for the church, which often calls for change, many members will reject what the pastor is proposing. It is disheartening that these defi-
FAITH: What in your opinion are three of the most challenging issues facing pastors today? STEVENS: Political Correctness: Pastors are facing a rebellious generation. We are living in a time when people don’t want to hear the truth, and many pastors don’t want to offend anyone SUMMER 2016•FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 21
in spite of their ungodly lifestyles. This type of behavior is an all out revolt against God fueled by human greed—commercialism that is intended to destroy the family as God has designed it. We must obey God rather than man. Meeting Needs: Many who attend our churches today are only concerned with their felt needs. They want to attend a church that has the right music, perfect ministries, the choir or praise team must sing their kind of song, and the preacher has to preach an unabrasive sermon. They want to be entertained rather than ministered to. Commitment: I have seen a decline in the commitment among all age groups in the Church. People are committed to what is important to them. They are committed to religious traditions more than they are to the plans that God has for their lives. Many of my pastor friends and I often talk about the commitment level among young adults; there seems to be a disconnect with this age group. Many are trying to see where they fit. I’ve noticed that many of them may connect to a ministry, but their commitment to the ministry doesn’t last long. I am constantly looking at new methods and models that will retain our young adults. FAITH: Based on your personal experience, what is the most effective way to approach these issues?
FAITH: What inspired you to write Where Do Pastors Go to Cry? STEVENS: I wanted to write about what pastors really go through in the real world of ministry. So many people don’t understand what a pastor does outside of the pulpit on Sunday. Pastoring goes way beyond the Sunday morning worship experience. There are meetings to attend, administrative issues to address, weekly staffing and in-service challenges, budgets to deal with, and the list goes on. I’m not saying that the pastor has to be hands on with every one of those things, but the pastor should know what is going on in the church that they lead. FAITH: Where do pastors go to cry? STEVENS: I believe that every pastor needs another pastor with whom he or she can be transparent. They need someone in their lives that they can be real with and show their vulnerabilities to without fear of being criticized or ridiculed. FAITH: What keeps pastors from sharing their struggles and having authentic relationships with other pastors? STEVENS: I believe that there are perhaps some trust issues among pastors. Some ask, “Who can I really share my heart with and the conversation stays with us only?”
“The community of faith must love people as they are, but we must still challenge people to hear and receive the truth of God’s Word.” STEVENS: They must be approached with love. The community of faith must love people as they are, but we must still challenge people to hear and receive the truth of God’s Word. I believe that we must do three things to people who worship in our churches: love them, lift them, and liberate them. All of this is done through Christian education. There is not one issue in life that can’t be fixed by the Word of God. FAITH: How do you handle the stress that you experience as a result of the demands of ministry? STEVENS: I’ve learned through the help of my wife to step away when things get stressful. Every pastor needs an outlet from the woes of ministry. I’m intentional about working out at the gym three days a week and playing a round of golf whenever I can. FAITH: Do you feel that pastors generally neglect caring for themselves? STEVENS: Yes, I do. Many pastors feel that they have to do it all—make every hospital visit, answer every phone call, and be all things to all men. That is a recipe for disaster. Substance and alcohol abuse among pastors, suicide, and depression have risen in recent years. Pastors must take care of themselves or they will be no good to God, their families, their churches, or themselves. 22 FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM•SUMMER 2016
FAITH: What are some issues that cause pastors to become discouraged? STEVENS: Where do I start? Pastors are discouraged about so many things—their ministry plates being full, defying members, church finances, and failed capital campaigns. Pastors are discouraged about the lack of church growth and failed evangelism efforts; many pastors are even discouraged to the point of wanting to leave the ministry altogether. FAITH: What are a few characteristics of a healthy church? STEVENS: Church health has nothing to do with the size of a church; it has everything to do with the church fulfilling the Great Commission and doing the small things well. Is the church clean and does it represent God? Does the church have curb appeal? Are the members of the church friendly and welcoming? Does the church have visionary leadership and competent staff? FAITH: What was your initial reaction when you were diagnosed with prostate cancer? STEVENS: Hearing a doctor tell you that you have cancer feels like someone punched you in the stomach and knocked the air out of you. When I recovered from that punch, I caught my breath, regrouped, and regained my composure. I called my wife, and she was so strong and courageous; I gained
strength from her support. She accompanied me to my urologist appointments, and she and my children were there when I went into surgery. The members of New Covenant were also very supportive; they partnered with me in prayer and allowed me to take my time getting back to my pastoral responsibilities. It’s very important for any congregation to be understanding and allow their pastor time away from the church when facing personal challenges. FAITH: How did your faith sustain you during that time? STEVENS: My faith remained strong; I was never fearful nor did I think the diagnosis was fatal. I never questioned the Lord or asked, “Why me?” I simply trusted God and believed that by His stripes I was healed. I also received words of comfort from other pastors who had gone through the same experience and recovered well, so that was very encouraging. FAITH: What did you gain from that difficult time? STEVENS: I no longer sweat the small stuff. Life is short and precious. Life must be lived prayerfully, joyfully, and intentionally. We must live our lives to the fullest and love this precious gift from God called life. FAITH: As the President of the Baptist Ministers’ Union of San Antonio and Vicinity (BMU), what is your primary responsibility? STEVENS: To carry out the mission of the BMU which is to unite the ministers who are members of the organization in providing exemplary Christian service to the local church through special services and events. The two major annual events hosted by the BMU are the City Wide Institute and the City Wide Revival which have been held for over fifty years. FAITH: What is your vision for the BMU? STEVENS: My vision is to make it stronger by improving our major events, equipping our pastors, and leading the BMU as it continues to make an impact in the city of San Antonio. FAITH: What are your sentiments regarding the opportunity to serve as the leader of the BMU? STEVENS: I am honored and humbled to follow in the footsteps of other great pastors who have served as President of the BMU. These men deserve the credit for laying a strong foundation for the Union. I am grateful for my staff and all of the pastors and preachers who make up the BMU. I appreciate them for allowing me to serve and for their confidence in my leadership.
Dr. Paul D. Stevens serves as Pastor of New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas and as President of the Baptist Ministers’ Union of San Antonio and Vicinity. For more information about New Covenant, visit Newcovenantbcsa.org. For information about the Baptist Ministers’ Union, visit BMUSA.org. SUMMER 2016•FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 23
PREPARING FOR SURGERY CUTTING THROUGH THE CONCERNS
ny surgery, whether planned or emergent, is a physical and emotional stressor. Many factors contribute to the patient’s and family’s stress levels. Issues such as how much pain you will experience after surgery, the outcome of biopsies or various tests, and financial matters such as medical expenses and loss of work are a few of the many concerns that patients may deal with when preparing for surgery. One way of decreasing stress is to become an active partner with your healthcare team and by seeking information and understanding your pre-operative instructions. Most physician offices or hospital preadmission services will provide patients with basic Pre-Op instructions which may involve a one on one conversation with a nurse; however, it is not uncommon to simply receive written instructions from the doctor’s office with minimal chance to gather your thoughts and questions. Write down any questions that you have, and make it a point to ask them prior to your scheduled surgery. In addition to the specific questions that you may have, be sure that you are provided basic information about the medical condition you are dealing with and the treatment alternatives. Questions to ask include: • What is the planned procedure, and what are the possible alternatives? • What is the pain management plan? Will I have a Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) pump, or is a pain ball, a device that delivers a local numbing agent into the wound, an option for me? • What is the expected time of hospitalization, and what is the expected time to return to normal activities? Another factor to consider is that many professions have a language of their own. The medical field is not an exception. You may need to ask the staff to clarify an unfamiliar word or acronym. You may hear words that seem to make no sense in a hospital setting, so always ask for clarification. Examples include a word that sounds like cabbage but is actually CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Graft); He is 24 FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM•SUMMER 2016
By SHARON BARNES, RN
“SOB” means he is “short of breath”; “We are going to put you on the floor” means that we are going to put you in an inpatient hospital room. One important surgical acronym to be aware of is “NPO” which means “nothing by mouth.” NPO after midnight means that you should have nothing to eat or drink after midnight. Many people are surprised to learn that this includes water or even chewing gum. The only exception to the NPO rule will be specific medications that your healthcare provider instructs you to take the morning of surgery with a small sip of water. NPO after midnight is a safety factor to increase your chances of a surgery that is free of complications such as vomiting and to prevent the vomited contents from getting into your lungs. Other things that will enhance your opportunity for a safe successful surgical experience include providing a clear concise list of your medical and surgical history, providing a list of your medications to include the strength and frequency (consider keeping a copy in your wallet or cell phone in case of emergencies), and avoiding vitamin supplements and herbal medications prior to surgery. Your healthcare provider may advise you to stop taking certain medications prior to surgery to decrease the
chance of bleeding; be sure to follow these instructions carefully. Additionally, quitting smoking and informing your medical provider of recent problems such as chest pain, infection, rashes, or other new illnesses are important factors to address prior to surgery. A final consideration I encourage is that you have a relaxation strategy to help you in the Pre-Op period. It is important to have your mind and body working in concert toward the goal of providing the optimal conditions for repair and healing. Whatever gives you peace and/or comfort, I encourage you to have it at the hospital with you. It may be your favorite music, a calming scripture, or certain family members. Speak peace to your mind and body before your procedure. A favorite scripture that I share with my Pre-Op patients at every opportunity is John 14: 27 (NIV). “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.” The Lord is truly the Comforter, the Healer and a Very Present Help in times of need. I know Him to be the Best Physician in any medical setting. By putting your trust in the Lord, you and your healthcare providers can work in harmony to orchestrate a positive and successful surgical experience.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14: 27 (NIV)
Sharon Barnes is a Registered Nurse and the Health Editor for FAITH Magazine.
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MARCUS D. WILEY
Comedian Marcus D. Wiley sits down with FAITH to explore how his career as a comedian and as a professor at Texas Southern University intersect to fuel his passion for developing today’s youth. Wiley’s book, Hustle & Faith, explains how the word “hustle” is not truly negative and why Christians, particularly youth, need to change their worldview on faith and the deeds that enact faith. By MICHELLE LONDON-BELL
“When people expect you to be funny, it’s a lot of pressure, but being a comedian is one of the most rewarding things I get to do.” In his book, Hustle and Faith, Marcus references the Parable of the Talents. He hones in on how even though each man was given a different quantity of talents, what was actually done with these talents was the differentiating factor. The last man given one talent was afraid; fear held him back from stepping into his destiny. Marcus suggests that many youth today have similar issues rooted in the lack of self-worth or self-esteem. “Those who do lack confidence, the only way you get it is to do something to gain confidence. Self-esteem comes from knocking on the door and trying things. As you mature, and join organizations and groups to help you develop—as young people say, your swag or your thing—it’s revealed to you,” says Marcus. Marcus shares his initial struggles with performing as a comedian and how he overcame his fear of making people laugh on demand at the start of his career. “When people expect you to be funny, it’s a lot of pressure, but being a comedian is one of the most rewarding things I get to do. You can’t beat making people laugh. What’s unique about it for however long I’m on stage is that I get to bring those people into my world. The stage makes it my world; you get to see things from my eyes. As I continued to perform, I got better and better at it.” As a Christian comedian, Marcus believes that it is critical to maintain balance between secular views and biblical views to survive in today’s society. “Growing up, I was blessed to live in a Christian household where my parents taught balance. I was able to be in the world but not of the world. Truth is, if you are in the world and you aren’t about your business or aren’t hustling, opportunities will pass you by. The difference is that being a Christian, I get some favor with my hustle,” chides Marcus. Using his platform as a professor, he conveys to his students this very thing in the classroom. He loves being a professor and having a hand in molding young minds and teaching real world lessons beyond what is covered in textbooks. Marcus constantly combats the perceptions youth have about instant gratification and how success appears in their eyes. Favor with your hustle does not guarantee instantaneous success. 26 FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM•SUMMER 2016
Marcus Wiley performing at True Vision Church in San Antonio, Texas.
“I share with my students that it gets greater later. [During your collegiate years] this is the time to struggle. What some students do is seek to get everything now, and once they get out in the real world, they have to learn those hard lessons of sacrifice. And when you know better, you do better,” he admonishes. Marcus’ sacrifices truly paid off. Hand-selected by Yolanda Adams to be a part of the Yolanda Adams Morning Show team, he recalls how preparation and favor led to that opportunity. (The show was syndicated in 50 markets across the nation.) “Yolanda is fantastic and she was the best boss I’ve ever worked for. She not only allowed me to do me, but she also mentored me along the way about the business.” Because of people like Yolanda Adams and her influence in his life, Marcus decided to publish his book and share his story so that others can benefit from the lessons he has learned along the way. He wants everyone to know that success is possible and accessible—even to someone with origins in Houston’s 4th Ward.
To Purchase a copy of Hustle and Faith, visit Marcusdwiley.com
COMEDIAN MARCUS D. WILEY AND GOSPEL RECORDING ARTIST ISAAC CARREE AT TRUE VISION CHURCH IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
1. Pastor Michael Brown, Marcus Wiley & First Lady Joy Brown 2. Isaac Carree 3. Jerome Roberson, Marcus Wiley & Pastor Michael Brown 4. B. Michelle & Marcus Wiley 5. Isaac Carree & Jerome Roberson SUMMER 2016â€¢FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 27
SEPARATED S AT I S F I E D and
By TAYLORE GILLS
“If you have to let go of something that’s
holding you back from a closer relationship with God, let go! If you have to let go of some relationships, let go! Holding on is not even worth it.” At the end of all the days God grants us on earth, the relationship that matters most is the one we share with Him. When this life is over, it’s over. I can’t take my friends, family, my phone (AKA my bestfriend), or anything else the world offers me. Sometimes we fail to remember what is really important because all the world around us cherishes material possessions. This world isn’t even our final destination, so why worry unnecessarily about something that won’t last forever? Colossians 3:1-2 says, “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (NIV) When your life down here is finished, God isn’t going to ask you if you copped the latest Jordans or the new iPhone. Don’t get me wrong, those things are cool, but nothing is better than knowing that you have a reserved spot in heaven. Do what you have to do so that you can spend a lifetime of peace, love, and joy in the pre-
sence of the King when your time here is up. Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life. God desires for you to live a great life, but that’s not even possible if you don’t put Him first. When you really know Him for yourself, nothing will ever mean more to you than Him and being in His presence; You cannot know God without taking the time to dig deep into His Word and without simply opening up your mouth and praying to Him. Surrender all that you have to God. How can you live a life of true contentment without the One who granted you life to begin with? You can’t. I’m young, so I understand how easy it is to lose your appetite for God and desire to be like everybody else. But after a very short while, I come back to the realization that no one can make me
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whole and that nothing can satisfy my soul and my spirit like the love of Jesus can. He constantly reminds me that I am His and that I was created to be different. He also reminds me of my purpose to worship and to live a life fully devoted to Him, and that
gives me joy. I know that all things are working together for my good because I love God, and I am the called according to His purpose. I am intentional about putting Him first. In Jeremiah 1:5, it tells us that even before the Lord formed us in the womb, He knew us and that He set us apart. Don’t let anything or anybody cause you to forget that. You were called for greater. The epitome of greatness is God—not a car, house, job,
a relationship, fame, fortune, or success. Be satisfied with God’s love and your relationship with Him because after it’s all said and done, when it’s all over, what will matter is what flowed from your heart, how you changed somebody’s life, and how you let His glory show through you. Share your light with others, and let God be glorified through everything you say and do. If you have to let go of something that’s holding you back from a closer relationship with God, let go! If you have to let go of some relationships, let go! Holding on is not even worth it. Personally, constantly remembering how great God is keeps me going. As the songwriter said, “Some folk would rather have houses and land. Some folk choose silver and gold; but these things they treasure and forget about their souls. I’ve decided to make Jesus my choice.”
Taylore Gills is the Youth Editor for FAITH Magazine. Follow Taylore on Twitter @tgills_
WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF? ON HER DEBUT SINGLE,
GOSPEL RECORDING ARTIST LADONNA AYERS ENCOURAGES YOU TO FULFILL YOUR DESTINY
What inspired you to write What Are
You Afraid Of?
The inspiration and catalyst for this song came from a question asked of me by my pastor, Rev. Dr. Claudette A. Copeland: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” After much thought and introspection, I decided that I first needed to admit to myself what I was afraid of. After being truthful to myself—while sitting on the beach (which is the CD cover)—the song began to take form and come to life, and What Are You Afraid Of? was birthed. How do you want the song to impact listeners? Fear affects us all, regardless of race, age, social, or economic status. Fear is paralyzing and if not faced head on, it can and will inhibit and debilitate you. It blocks you from fulfilling your God-given destiny. I just want people to overcome their fears and believe they can do anything they put their minds to. Why do you believe so many people are afraid to move forward in their lives in pursuit of their dreams? I believe trauma, past failures, and/or unfulfilled dreams cause a person to stop believing and stop dreaming. They fear that they will fail again or believe they are too old and don’t have enough time, so they just stop trying and settle into the belief that it will never happen.
LaDonna Ayers was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where her late father was a pastor in his early years. As preacher’s kids, she and her six siblings had no choice but to be involved in church as musicians, singers, and whatever else they were forced to participate in. She says of her background in church that she has sung in numerous gospel groups and many church choirs, but she has always enjoyed singing with her sisters the most.
How can people move past their fears toward the life they really want? For me, it was first writing down my fears and then taking small steps toward overcoming them. It is also crucial to surround yourself with honest trustworthy people who believe in you, encourage you, and want to see
you succeed―those who can see beyond what you can see. Were there any fears you had to move past to begin and complete this first single? Whew! Yes! If you listen carefully to the song, you will hear some of those fears. Because of my own aborted dreams and personal tragedies, I was afraid to dream again. I stopped dreaming, and my life had no meaningful purpose. Your dream is your heartbeat; it keeps you alive.
What Are You Afraid Of?
is available on iTunes and Amazon. LaDonna is putting the final touches on another single called I Give You Praise and will have an EP released soon. Keep up to date on the latest from LaDonna on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @ musicintheayers
SUMMER 2016•FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 29
MINISTRY “I needed to be with the right person, and I knew that she was the right person.” Bishop Blue
“...the way God was taking him, he needed me in his life to help him get there.” Pastor V
Bishop Alfred Blue, Jr. and Pastor Veron Blue are the founders and pastors of Family Life International Ministries in San Antonio, Texas. This husband/wife team is transparent and enthusiastic as they share details about doing ministry together and how they make it work. MODERATED BY DIANE HANNAH
FAITH: What brought the two of you to San Antonio? BISHOP BLUE: I got hired here. We both lived in DC, and I couldn’t find a job there. I moved here first and then I went back home to DC, and we got married. FAITH: What was it about Pastor V that caused you to realize that you wanted to marry her? BISHOP BLUE: Veron had this really great sense of dignity. She really loved herself, and she did not have an aura that implied she was looking for someone; that was one of the many things that attracted me to her. I knew I wanted to have a family, and I wanted to make a difference, so I needed to be with the right person, and I knew that she was the right person. PASTOR V: I love my husband, and when we were dating, I thought he was great as I do now. The thought I had when I decided to marry him was that the way God was taking him, he needed me in his life to help him get there. FAITH: He mentioned your sense of dignity. Many females lack self-worth. To what do you attribute knowing your own value? PASTOR V: I really got it from being in relationship with God. I had come from a broken home. My father was absent, but he was 30 FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM•SUMMER 2016
present, so I did not see a good model of marriage. It just really came from knowing who I am in Christ and knowing who He is in me. I knew that I had the ability through His power to help my husband become everything that God called him to be. BISHOP BLUE: And I was not thinking about there being a calling. After we were married, I was just like let’s pay these bills and get established. I was all about being a good man and building an inheritance for succeeding generations. FAITH: Did both of you know that eventually you would launch a ministry? BISHOP BLUE: Yes, we were both in full-time ministry prior to moving here, so we kind of knew it was going to happen. God had spoken to us and let us know that we would start a church. Initially, Veron had no desire to become a pastor, but as we were growing in the things of God together, she was exploding, and God told me to ordain her. When she would speak, it was so dynamic. I would be like, “I don’t want to preach anymore. I just want to serve her.” PASTOR V: My husband is my biggest fan. His love for me empowers me because it’s so pure; it’s not a controlling love, and
he loves me enough to let me be who I am, yet give me his wisdom and truth. Love does not allow you to feel intimidated; he’s not intimidated by my gift. He’s like, “Go, girl!” A husband ought to love his wife like Christ loves the Church. The love that Christ has for the Church is not a controlling love; it’s an empowering love. My husband’s love for me is very empowering, and it makes me feel safe. BISHOP BLUE: The glory of the husband is his wife. The more tremendous my wife is, the more of a tribute it is to me. So when my wife does great things, it’s really not her glory; it’s for the relationship. And when a husband accomplishes great things, it’s not his glory; it’s also for the relationship. Within a relationship is the only place that glory is really meant to be equally shared. PASTOR V: I think one of the things that’s really first and foremost in our marriage is that I love my husband, but he’s not my god, and I think some wives make their husbands their god. They will not speak truth to him. I think that is one of the most powerful elements that we have in our marriage—that we speak truth. I love my husband; I deeply reverence and respect him, but
“Where are you not honoring God?” Don’t talk to me about she’s supposed to submit. This presupposition about the man being head of the house is all predicated on submission to the Lord. It’s not just wives submit to your own husbands. It’s submitting to one another in the fear of God, so out of reverence for the Lord, when my wife says something that’s right, the conversation is pretty much over. Not dogmatically, but we both know the Word, and if what she says is right, and I didn’t handle something right, I will apologize. PASTOR V: There’s no drama in our house. BISHOP BLUE: We get in the bed, we love on each other, say good night, fall asleep, and have peace every day. PASTOR V: It’s difficult for a wife—if not impossible—to truly submit to a husband who is not submitted to God. Because of fear, she will never give him 100% because she knows he is not submitted to God and that he is vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy, so she’s got to keep this little space in her life so if he acts a fool, she will remain stable. FAITH: As a couple, how do you two handle the outsiders?
“This presupposition about the man being head of the house is all predicated on submission to the Lord. It’s not just wives submit to your own husbands. It’s submitting to one another in the fear of God...” I will say what I see. As wives, we are the helpmates who help our husbands with their blind spots. BISHOP BLUE: In decisions that I make as a man, I defer to my wife. I don’t let her make decisions for me, but when she feels something, I trust it. PASTOR V: Jesus died for His wife. If a man is not prepared to die for his wife—die to his ego, his selfishness, all that he wants to achieve in life, their marriage is not going to make it. My husband has died to a whole bunch of stuff, and that’s why our marriage is the way it is. We both have to die, but he really dies. FAITH: How do you two handle the difficult times in your marriage? PASTOR V: One of the things I tell women in the Marriage Ministry is that you can’t just come at your husband because they don’t know how to handle that. I’ll say, “Honey, we need to talk. Do you have some time tonight?” And you give him time to process and time to talk with the Holy Spirit. By the time the two of you have that conversation, the Holy Spirit has already spoken to him everything that he needs to know. So when you start talking, he’s like, “Yep, you’re right. I need to change this or that.” FAITH: Assuming he hears and submits to the Holy Spirit. PASTOR V: If not, that wife would be unequally yoked. BISHOP BLUE: When Paul says, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church,” there was a presupposition that you were fully submitted to the Lord, so when I talk to two saved people and there is strife, my first question to that husband is,
PASTOR V: [Laughs] First of all, when women come to our ministry and they recognize the bond that my husband and I have and they see the position that he has placed me in, they will leave, and they won’t return if their plan is to come and connect to him. Once they realize that we are one and that he has me in very high esteem, then they don’t want to stay. We actually had someone join this church, and she wanted an appointment with my husband. When she understood that she had to come through me, she said, “This is not the right church for me.” Verbatim. And she never came back. Most people want the pastor but not the pastor’s wife. We are one, and you get both of us. My husband says that from the pulpit all the time: “You can’t want me and not my wife. You can’t want my wife and not me.” BISHOP BLUE: I want people who come to this church to know that I love my wife. PASTOR V: Also, we have women who come to this ministry that think I’m powerful or whatever, and they’ll say, “Pastor V, let’s start a ministry together. I want you to travel with me.” I have turned down many invitations to go start organizations. BISHOP BLUE: Hey, can I say something about women in the church and the drama that goes on between preachers and women in the congregation? [Continues] One of the things I wanted as a man was for the church to be a place where women felt dignity. PASTOR V: And safe. BISHOP BLUE: As an example, some of the movies that are on television depict brothers in church who don’t love God. They (continued on page 34) SUMMER 2016•FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 31
PASTOR CHARLES FLOWERS
FAITH OUTREACH CENTER INTERNATIONAL
“If we don’t articulate a clarion voice from the pages of Scripture―a loving diction about certain issues―the Church will become more irrelevant than she already is.”
MODERATED BY DIANE HANNAH Faith Outreach is a multicultural church, is that correct? Yes. I grew up in a Black context; I was born again in a Black Missionary Baptist Church, and that was all I knew growing up. But Diane, I fell in love with the Hispanic culture as a freshman in high school, and there were no Hispanics around North Carolina at that time. We soon got an exchange student from Spain and a Spanish speaking teacher; something about the language and the culture just swept me up, so I learned Spanish. I’m not fluent, but I learned the language and the culture and just kind of felt like I had a calling to the language and people, and this is the manifestation of that calling— pastoring this church, Faith Outreach Center International. It’s 65% Hispanic, another 25% White, and then Black, and Asian. As pastor of a multicultural church, how would you describe your leadership style? I don’t lead any differently than I would if I was the pastor of a Black or White church. I think leadership weighs more heavily on principles that are weightier than race. I do a boot camp also, and in that boot camp, everybody’s needs are the same. They need structure, they need discipline, and they need a sense of vision; whether you’re White, Black, or Brown, you need that. I think being able to communicate those principles beyond the whole race thing is what attracts a lot of non-Blacks to this congregation. What are issues facing society today that you believe the Church needs to address? Racism has raised its head. There are matters 32 FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM•SUMMER 2016
of biblical justice and social justice such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues. These are matters that the Church has a responsibility to speak to from a biblical worldview context. If we don’t articulate a clarion voice from the pages of Scripture―a loving diction about certain issues―the Church will become more irrelevant than she already is. What are your thoughts on the Church and political polarization? The template of two major political viewpoints has been pressed down on the Church—the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The democratic temlate has captured most—if not all—of minority churches, and the republican template has captured most—if not all— of White Evangelical churches so that within the context of the Body of Christ, we are now segregated by a political stratification. Plights of the Democratic Party require that you stay silent on the issue of sexuality; it will let you speak about poverty issues, but its policies have never solved the poverty dilemma. What it has done is create a new type of slave—the slave that is now dependent on massah’s check for their own lives—and the Democratic Party is happy with that because that gets them the votes, and the people keep getting the money. Democratic leadership is also happy with that remaining the case in minority churches, mainly Black churches. See, Black churches are willing to lay on the altar of sacrifice family, one man and one woman for life, the life issue, and other concerns because every week they are facing people who are dealing with poverty. So if the Democratic Party will deal with the poverty issue, the Black Church will be silent on the issue of marriage, silent on the issue of life, and silent on whatever else the Democratic Party wants the Black Church to be silent on. The Republicans
on the other hand, are ominously silent on the issue of poverty, and their silence says that they don’t care about impoverished conditions. The White Evangelical camp looks at the minority church and asks, “How can you be a Christian and be silent on the issue of the sanctity of life and on the issue of marriage?”without knowing that the minority church is looking at them and asking, “How can you be a Christian and be silent on the issue of poverty?” If the Church is going to fix something, we have to be able to harmonize our own voices and say from a biblical context “thus sayeth the Lord” about poverty, “thus sayeth the Lord” about life, “thus sayeth the Lord” about marriage, “thus sayeth the Lord” about economics, “thus sayeth the Lord” about education. You mentioned that racism has raised its head. Are you suggesting that racism has been hidden somewhere underneath the surface and all of a sudden it has come out into the forefront? Yes, the notion of raising its head really is talking about it resurfacing from where all iniquity resurfaces which is out of the weakness of humanity; in that weakness of humanity lies dormant every destructive and volatile issue that has ever been on the face of the earth. It is not eliminated because flesh is not eliminated. So, at any time, given the right stimulus and the right provocations from elements in the environment, those things can raise their heads again. I’m not a conspiracy guy, but if you take a larger look at things that keep raising the racial tension, it’s movies like The Butler, The Help, 12 Years A Slave, and The Book of Negroes, for example. All of those keep raising the issue, and you’re raising an issue among a populous who no longer thinks critically; but emotionally. So if an emotional issue is raised in the (continued on page 37)
PASTOR JERRY WILLIAM DAILEY
MACEDONIA MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH
“The enemy will go after the pastor because he or she is highly esteemed, and in many cases, pastors begin to feel as if they are above reproach...” Who was your mentor in ministry? I’m a third generation pastor; my grandfather and father pastored over 50 years. My father had a major influence over my life, and when he would go away to preach, I wanted to go with him because he was so impactful. What is something that is extremely important to you? Family. I treasure my relationship with my wife and my children. I’m a grandfather of 6, and I love it. How do you keep the Sunday morning worship experience relevant to a multigenerational congregation? As the pastor of grandparents, children, and grandchildren, what works for me is the love factor. Love reaches grandmother. Love reaches mother, and love reaches the grandchild. Our motto at Macedonia is “Macedonia is a church with an exciting ministry where love is intentional and discipleship is our goal.” That has been the capstone. If you are at Macedonia on any given Sunday or anytime of the week, you will experience the love component of this church. Some people feel that if they can just come to church and feel the presence of Christ, that they will have what they need to cope with whatever they are facing in their lives. It is so important to me that we reach people with the love of Christ by demonstrating the love of Christ. What is your perspective on women preachers? I was not on that woman preacher bandwagon for a long time. I’m a product of my environment, and even though some of my closest friends and classmates were women at Eastern Baptist of Philadelphia where I went to seminary, that’s just not where I was at that point. And I told Dr. Claudette Copeland at one time that if there was anyone who was going to tilt the scale and bring me over, it would be her—that’s why I didn’t listen to her—and she got me.
God can do whatever He wants to do however He wants to do it. There are respected individuals on both sides of spectrum; it’s how you interpret it. I don’t think it has to be a gender bias, it’s just your interpretation. I’ve seen too many evidences of God working with godly women to say He can’t do it. What is an issue about the Church that concerns you? One of my greatest concerns right now is the Church trying to maintain her relevance with all of these cultural changes that are taking place where folk want to change clearly what the Word says and justify it. You can go to church and be comfortable in your wrong. That frightens me that there is no conviction anymore; nothing is considered wrong. If you’re living in sin, I don’t think it’s my job when you come to Macedonia to make you feel good. That’s the danger I see today because it’s happening even in the pulpit. How do you believe it can be avoided? The Word makes it clear to be as wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. Be on guard for yourself, and don’t think that the things others fall victim to can’t happen to you. You have to be prayerful and careful. You have to surround yourself with people who love you and who love the ministry and know that your fall could ultimately affect the fall of others. Satan doesn’t have to shoot a hundred people if he can get one person who has influence over a hundred people. The enemy will go after the pastor because he or she is highly esteemed, and in many cases, pastors begin to feel as if they are above reproach. They take their eyes off the goal; and like Peter, they begin to sink and others see them. That’s the danger with being in a high profile situation. It’s like the clock on the tower. If it stops working, everybody sees it, and you can’t ask, “Why are you talking about me because I’m just like everybody else?” No, you’re on the tower, and when
MODERATED BY DIANE HANNAH you are on the tower, you’ve got to understand that the risk factor is greater, so your prayer life needs to be greater. We have to be careful. I keep the one I love close by me for protection of my ministry and my calling in that regard. What advice do you have for young pastors? Love the Lord visibly, where it’s obvious. Love your family visibly, where it’s obvious. And love the members that God has given to you visibly, where it’s obvious. Don’t tell me you love me, but I can’t tell. If you love me, there ought to be some evidence. I love the Lord, so there is some evidence. I love my family, so there is some evidence. I love my church, so there is some evidence, and I love my calling, so I do everything in my power to be better. I still study the Word, and I also find time to get away. Also, it is important for young pastors not to feel entitled. Personally, I don’t need fellas carrying my books; I think armor bearers are fine when they are in their proper place, but not because you’re better, so you need an entourage with you. That becomes celebratory ministry. I don’t need an entourage, but I don’t mock those who do. I just didn’t come up that way. What did Christ do to demonstrate His greatness? He served. He took a towel and washed His disciples feet, so I am touchable. Don’t get too big where people can’t touch you.
For more information about Pastor Jerry Dailey and Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, visit Macedoniatx.com SUMMER 2016•FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 33
(continued from page 31) are in church every Sunday, and they are scheming and plotting and getting with sisters in the choir. In those shows the brothers don’t have any dignity; they don’t have any respect for the church, and they don’t respect women. It is a very negative imagery of men, and unfortunately, we’ve fed into it historically by the behavior that we’ve seen in Black churches in particular. Not uniquely, but as we think about that realm of influence, I wanted the church to be a place where women just felt proud. The pastor’s eyes weren’t moving around; the elders weren’t looking people up and down. And I knew that the only way it could be fostered was if I modeled it. I wanted people to see me with my wife; I wanted people to know that I care about the women in our church as daughters. I’m not just a pastor or preacher/teacher, but I’m also a spiritual father, and that was something that evolved in my understanding. I really did not realize initially the vulnerability of both parties—the minister and the person that’s being counseled. In highly volatile or emotional circumstances, you can’t help but have your heart go out. Whether the pastor is male or female, that
relationships that is detrimental? PASTOR V: Compromise. I can always tell when a single woman in the church has met a man because she changes her routine immediately. If she was coming to prayer, she stops or she cuts that in half. If she was coming to Bible study, after she meets the man, sometimes she’s there and sometimes she’s not. Within a matter of weeks, her flow with God changes in the church. The first thing we tend to do is compromise our relationship with God, and the moment you do that, compromise remains in your relationship whether you’re dating or married. You have now told him that you are willing to change who you are for him, and you have now just made him your god. That’s a mistake that so many women make; they change their values. The moment you do that, you’ve already lost. So don’t complain when things happen after the marriage; you compromised, so he expects you to just tolerate anything. As women, we compromise who we are, we compromise our values, we compromise our dreams, we compromise everything to accommodate the man in our lives. BISHOP BLUE: To accommodate the unproven. PASTOR V: You don’t even know who he is.
Compromise was never in our relationship. area needs to be guarded, so we generally put some guidelines in place at Family Life. We just know that these environments have statistically become places—not necessarily through intent, although sometimes through intent—of vulnerability and wrongly engaged in, and we don’t want that to happen. There was a time when someone did have wrong intentions; I didn’t see it coming, but my wife did. By the time I saw it, it was so blatant. PASTOR V: Usually wives are discerning; God gives us that discernment, and we can sense when somebody’s motive is not right or proper towards us; you can feel the spirit. After church, they make a beeline for him, not her. There are signs, and you can tell when a woman is attracted to your husband. There are too many games in churches, and we allow the subtle games to go unchecked; those spirits of lust like to play games. If you check all of that stuff, then it doesn’t have a chance to manifest. BISHOP BLUE: There have been people who came to this church and said that they were wondering what kind of man I was and what was up with me. When a man has power and influence, he can use it the wrong way; it can become the wrong thing. Their testimony later would be that they watched and saw that I wasn’t that kind of person, and they appreciated the fact that I treated them like a daughter. FAITH: What relationship advice do you two give to singles in your church who desire to get married? PASTOR V: I tell the women to marry someone who is hungry after God. If you marry a man who has got his career together, he’s got his money together, and his business, but he does not have a heart after God, you’re going to have such a hard time and wish you had never married him. Pray for him and love him, but you do not marry him until he is submitted to God. FAITH: What is something that you feel women do in 34 FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM•SUMMER 2016
BISHOP BLUE: If he’s proven that his heart is right with God, he will not let you compromise; he will want you to keep your relationship with God intact. And I think every man has to cultivate his own relationship with God; he has to know that he is sold out to the purpose of God and not looking for a woman to fulfill him and vice versa, God wants both individuals to be whole and so committed to Him that they bring that level of commitment into the relationship. BISHOP BLUE: Another thing is that we’ve seen leaders compromise, and there seems to be a mentality that the standard is lower because the leader fell; no one raises the standard. There are people who have the platform to say that “this is an atrocity; our brother (or sister) has fallen into sin, but we are going to love them, we are going to surround them, counsel them, stabilize the family, and help see them through this.” But it begins with saying that “this was wrong, it was sin.” Call it what it is. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. PASTOR V: After we started dating, we never wavered from our commitments with the church we attended at the time, and we didn’t compromise our relationships with God; we were even more faithful as a couple. Compromise was never in our relationship.
Bishop Alfred Blue, Jr. and Pastor Veron Blue are the Founders and Pastors of Family Life International Ministries in San Antonio, Texas. Find more information about their ministry at Familylifeint.org. For great soul food in San Antonio, visit The Family Life Bistro, located at 5814 Rittiman Plaza.
Christians Returning To Their
Hebraic Roots By Dr. LaSalle Vaughn
he Church has been crying out for the next great revival. People are seeking more of God, but don’t know what’s missing. In many cases, pastors have turned to unbiblical practices to help fill the void. Their actions have added to misguided attempts to manufacture revival. On April 13, 2009, the cover of Newsweek Magazine was entitled “The Decline and Fall of Christian America.” Our world no longer resembles the world of Jesus. There was a community of Jewish believers that celebrated the feast days, obeyed the Torah, and observed the traditions of their faith as Jesus did. Jesus is a Jew! If Christianity came out of Judaism, how did we get so far off track? Here are a few facts. 1. In 325 A.D., Constantine convened the Council of Nicea where it was decided that God’s holy days would be replaced by man’s holidays. 2. Eusebius, the Father of Church History, wrote Ecclesiastical History. He believed the Church was the New Israel. 3. In 1542, Martin Luther wrote a book entitled Against the Jews and Their Lies. We have not replaced Israel. The Hebraic roots of our faith are relevant today. The next great revival is Christians returning to our Hebraic roots.
will happen in the lives of believers. His people will begin to study God’s teaching and instruction—the Torah—and then He’ll send the spirit of Elijah and restore all things. My book, The Next Great Move of God: Christians Returning to Their Hebraic Roots, explains how God is beginning to restore all things. Here is an excerpt: “A man had two sons. The younger of them them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them.” (Luke 15:11–12) By analyzing the parable of the Prodigal Son in light of the Torah, there are some interesting parallels to God and His dealings with His children. Like the father in the parable, God has divided His wealth between two sons. The older son represents the house of Judah, or the Jews who stayed with their father. The younger son, who took his share of the estate and ventured off to a distant land, represents the house of Israel, and in my opinion, the Church. “And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.” (Luke 15:13–16)
“Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite After leaving God’s teaching and the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:4–6) instruction, the younger son (Israel/ Church) was scattered into the Assyrian Many churches teach that God will send nations. They worshiped idols, became Elijah the prophet in the flesh, which will intoxicated by the world, eventually denied cause children to return to their natural the Jewishness of Jesus, and rejected their fathers. This Scripture has a profoundly heritage. Because the Prodigal Son left his deeper meaning. God is sending the spirit father’s house, he experienced a famine of Elijah. His people will turn their hearts of God’s teaching and instruction. The back to their spiritual fathers: Abraham, younger son (Israel/Church) must come back to Isaac, and Jacob. Malachi tells us that before our forefathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the Messiah’s return something significant because a famine of the Word is coming.
“Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord GOD, when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11) Like the younger brother, we’ve left the Torah and are feeding ourselves on garbage. If you’re not in a church that studies and preaches the entire Bible, you too will become impoverished for the Word of God. Even though Christianity is based upon biblical Judaism, many Christians deny the Jewishness of Jesus. New Testament scholar, David Van Biema, stated “If you get the [Jewish] context wrong, you will certainly get Jesus wrong.”
“Even though Christianity is based upon biblical Judaism, many Christians deny the Jewishness of Jesus.” “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” (Luke 15:17–19) The Prodigal Son realized his need to be restored to his father. When we realize we have to go back and be restored to the hearts of the fathers of our faith: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to the Torah, we too will have come to our senses. Dr. LaSalle R. Vaughn is the Pastor of New Life Christian Center in San Antonio, TX. For more information, Christiancenter.com. SUMMER 2016•FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 35
(continued from page 13) people of faith, and the Church needs to espouse a vision that links divine justice with social justice. How does that change begin? I think it starts wherever the insight is. There has to be a real community. We understand that within a family model the parents are supposed to be the parents, but love dictates sometimes that the parents listen to what the children are going through. So it takes love; it really is the ethic of love. Being divinely inspired enough to meet people where they are. Love will make you meet the need and show you how to use your power, how to use your influence, and how to use your leadership. And if the Church is to survive, and if Christian witness is going to ever burn bright, itâ€™s going to take love and vulnerability to be open enough to say that we can link our heads and hearts together and still call ourselves the Church.
Dr. Stacey Floyd-Thomas is Associate Professor of Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt Divinity School.
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(continued from page 32) midst of people who think emotionally, volatility is the result. So do you believe there should be less movies that remind us of the history of our ancestors as slaves in this country? I think we should have something more educational instead of entertaining on those issues and not just during Black History Month. It would be far better on an educational platform than on an entertainment platform which makes people infuriated in their emotions causing them to go out and do stuff. When something happens like what occurred in Ferguson, it is within that same emotional context that movies like those mentioned have stirred up emotions. However, as was stated by many regarding what took place in Ferguson, that issue, though existing, is far removed from being the major issue in the Black community; it is not the major issue. What would you say is the major issue? Black on Black crime. 97% of Blacks are killed by Blacks. How do you think that churches should address Black on Black crime? This is an advantage of a segregated Sunday morning hour. The church takes the responsibility to preach relevantly about what is going on in our communities. And if that trend is going to be broken, it is going to be broken because people of faith demonstrate a different lifestyle, and they promote that different lifestyle within their own contexts. Is it also important in a multicultural context such as yours to address Black on Black crime? Yes, absolutely. And we do; we address those principles that govern all people everywhere at all times. For example, because this is not a Black church in populous, I wouldn’t spend a series talking about a Black issue. I would spend the series talking about core principles that apply to all people. Whereas in a Black context, they can and should point directly to that issue and then see what can be done to change it. Do you think it is more beneficial for churches to be multicultural? We know that Sunday morning is the most segregated time in the country. I think there is some good and bad to that. The bad is that we never get to experience another person’s culture. If I don’t have some knowledge about their culture, I’m going to misunderstand them. If I don’t understand their context, it causes me to be less sensitive; sometimes it’s just through ignorance―just not knowing about those things. That’s the disadvantage. The advantage is that it does perpetuate cultures. The Black church perpetuates the Black culture, just like the Hispanic church will perpetuate a Spanish culture. The book of Revelation talks about the last days, and it says there is an enumerable company of people coming out of every kindred and nation and tongue and people. So heaven is reflected in a multicultural setting. If that’s what we’re going to experience then, I think it’s advantageous to experience it now. Charles Flowers is the Pastor of Faith Outreach Center International in San Antonio, Texas. For more information about Pastor Flowers, visit Faith-outreach.org. SUMMER 2016•FAITHMAGAZINEONLINE.COM 37
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