LIFESTYLE, NEWS, INSIGHTS and FELLOWSHIP for the BODY of CHRIST
The MEMPHIS Project By Sonya D. Bradford
VOICES OF INSPIRATION Submit Nominations Inside!
HE WAS GOD ALL THE TIME By Reginald Boswell
Cover image is a reenactment of medical professionals invovled with The Memphis Project. INSPIRATION TODAY
s! n tio a in m o N it m b Su
VOICES OF INSPIRATION
o mark the 1st anniversary of the Inspiration Today eMagazine, the Church of God in Christ is saluting its members who unassumingly standout as “Voices of Inspiration” for all. These voices are the ushers, deacons, choir members, secretaries, bishops, pastors and elders of the church; anyone that you feel is making a difference in their own church or community, and inspiring others to do the same. At Inspiration Today, we want to know the “inspirers” of the church and introduce them to our readers.
Our goal is to discover and select various “Voices of Inspiration” in the following categories: The UNSUNG HERO Awarded to an individual who is a jack of all trades. This person can be found volunteering for the difﬁcult, unpopular tasks that most are unwilling to do. The GOOD SAMARITAN Awarded to an individual who, whenever assigned a task, goes “above and beyond” the call of duty to get the job done well. The COGIC KID Awarded to a youth between the ages of 12-16 who is making a difference in his/her local church, district or jurisdiction. The MOST INSPIRING SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER Awarded in recognition of innovative teaching that inspires attendance, participation, and biblical growth in Sunday School. The SEASONED SAINT Awarded to a senior saint in the local, district or jurisdictional level who best exempliﬁes holiness and inspires younger saints to live a life of holiness and actively work in their church and community. Must be at least ﬁfty years of age. 2 INSPIRATION TODAY
The JEREMIAH AWARD Awarded to a person who, in spite of individual crisis and hardship, has dedicated his/herself to the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ, laboring unselﬁshly and in obscurity within his/her church and community. MASTER OF MOTIVATION Awarded to an individual who possesses the ability to get any and all tasks done with ease, ensuring cooperation of those in their auxiliary or group at the local, district or jurisdictional level. GRAND GUARDIAN(S) Awarded to the parent(s) who has made personal sacriﬁces in his/her own life to ensure the training and nurturing of their child or children. The GREAT COMMISSIONER Award given for outstanding and noteworthy community outreach efforts by an individual serving as a representative of his/her local church. S.E. MITCHELL EVANGELISTIC AWARD Awarded to an individual who preaches the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ at every chance and opportunity.
VOIP VOICES OF INSPIRATION
ELIGIBLITY: Demonstrates a life that exempliﬁes the fruit of the spirit and a witness for Christ. Has shown dedication to the auxiliary, ofﬁce, position, and/or church group (e.g. choir, ushers, etc.) that he or she serves or participates in. Has outwardly demonstrated a genuine love for the Lord. Loyal, dedicated, obedient and supportive member of their local Church of God in Christ (COGIC) congregation. Adheres to the teaching of holiness. Open to members of COGIC churches worldwide. ENTRY DETAILS: All entries must be received in the Inspiration Today mailbox www.cogicicas.org by 11:59 pm Eastern Time on Friday, May 4, 2012. An entry must be a completely original work and not previously published or submitted in any other publication. By submitting an entry, entrant acknowledges that he/she has obtained the consent of all third parties whose persons or property are identiﬁed in his/her story. JUDGING DETAILS: A selection committee comprised of the writers, editors and staff of the COGIC Public Relations Department will select from the 500 word or less essays you present that describe why your nominee should be selected as a true voice of inspiration. Individual results will not be released. All decisions by the judges are ﬁnal. In our Anniversary Issue of Inspiration Today in July 2012, we will devote the entire magazine to the inspirers of our church. We will honor INSPIRATION TODAY these individuals by sharing their detailed proﬁles and introducing them to our readers as COGIC’s “Voices of Inspiration. ”
The Presidium of the Church of God in Christ Volume 1, Issue 1II
PUBLISHERS Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. Presiding Bishop Bishop Phillip A. Brooks, II First Assistant Presiding Bishop Bishop Jerry W. Macklin Second Assistant Presiding Bishop Bishop Wilburn W. Hamilton Secretary to the General Board Bishop Roy L.H. Winbush Assistant Secretary to the General Board Bishop J. Neaul Haynes Bishop Samuel L. Green, Jr. Bishop George D. McKinney Bishop Nathaniel W. Wells Bishop Sedgwick Daniels Bishop Frank O. White
Copyright 2012 Church of God in Christ, Inc. All Rights Reserved. No part of this electronic magazine may be reproduced without the consent of the Church of God in Christ, Inc.
INTERIM PUBLIC RELATIONS & MARKETING DIRECTOR Robert E. Coleman, Jr. EDITOR April Quillen WRITERS Chareรก Batiste Reginald Boswell Sonya Bradford Rick Cunningham Marcus Fenner Monique Fowlkes Kim Manning
Marion McNair David-George Newsome Queen Phillips Daniele Randolph Eugene Rivers Leonitta Turner Sandra Williams
ART DIRECTOR / DESIGNER / PHOTOGRAPHER Juan Roberts / Creative Lunacy
LETTER FROM THE
MY MIND IS MADE UP I recently had the pleasure of attending a 2-day medical research conference where there were discussions of some of the national clinical trials that are currently taking place for the ﬁght against cancer. I sat among scientists, researchers and other brilliant medical minds who were passionately engaged, deeply thinking, There was one clinical searching, and yet longing to solve cancer’s medical mystery.
trial that particularly stood out to me, regarding the use of Complementary Alternative Medicine (also known as CAM). This CAM trial discussed the use of interventions such as yoga, Tibetan meditation and acupuncture in order to help manage some of the adverse symptoms of cancer. As the doctor presented his data to statistically show how such therapies are helping patients, I couldn’t help but imagine how his graphs and charts would appear if “the power of prayer” had been added as one of his therapeutic interventions. I envisioned his graphs being noticeably askew with the “power of prayer” category clearly championing the others as the ultimate knockout intervention able to conquer such a heavyweight disease. I looked around the room and wondered how so many exceedingly intelligent people could neglect the use of the single intervention that TRULY changes things. What a blatant shame to overlook prayer, both medically and spiritually. For the Bible says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). I then awakened from my imaginative fog, reminding myself that I was not surrounded by Believers; and without belief in God, my thoughts, at least among that crowd, were merely my own pearls. When the conference ended, with all that
I had learned, I was most inspired to continue being a witness, praying always for my colleagues and the very gifted minds by which I’m surrounded on a daily basis. I thank God for the intellectual brilliance that only He is able to grant the scientists, doctors and researchers of the medical world. But I’m further inspired to ceaselessly glorify His Matchless Name for granting me a “made up mind” that longs to know Him, to serve Him and to know to pray to Him. Just the same, I pray that something in life has inspired you today. In this our third issue of Inspiration Today, we’ve endeavored to deliver to our readers another cohort of unique articles that we pray will enlighten your minds and capture your hearts. On behalf of the entire Inspiration Today team, be encouraged today and inspired always. Love and Life,
April E. Quillen, Editor
FINANCIAL FREEDOM FOR A SOUNDLY SECURE PEACE OF MIND Economy—it has almost become a bad word, hasn’t it? We are all aware that the ﬁnancial state of our economy is in disarray; yet we do not have to let that hinder us from doing what we can to achieve ﬁnancial freedom. In this article, you’ll ﬁnd tips and tools to get your ﬁnancial life back in order.
By Chareá Batiste - featuring Daniele Randolph
FIRST AND FOREMOST, we must remember how important it is to
pay our tithes. This is deﬁnitely not always an easy task, and it demands our full ﬂedged faith. Tithing, which is giving 10% of our paycheck to our church, requires dedication and discipline. Furthermore, it is not optional. Tithing is mandated in the Bible. Malachi 3:8 says, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings” (NKJV). If you pay everything and everyone else before you pay God, you will probably never have enough for your tithes. However, if you prioritize paying your tithes, God will bless you for your obedience and sacriﬁce.
SECONDLY, we must take a good look at our ﬁnances. We have to honestly assess where we are. This will be difﬁcult, but we’ll need to ask ourselves some hard questions:
Where is our money going? Are we overspending and living above our means? How much debt do we owe? How much do we have in our savings? Do we have any assets? Have we saved enough for retirement? Have we diversiﬁed our portfolio? If you can answer these questions truthfully, you’re making progress! INSPIRATION TODAY
FINANCIAL TIPS Thankfully, Daniele Randolph, a fellow Inspiration Today staff writer, has several tips to offer those struggling ﬁnancially. Due to Sister Randolph’s former background as a Financial Advisor, she has a wealth of knowledge that can help get your money back in order. Here is just a snippet of Daniele’s informative advice:
5 Steps to Financial Fitness 1. Know your money: Identify sources and frequency of income. 2. Budget: Create a budget and stick to it. Avoid pre-spending. 3. Create a Pay Schedule: Designate when ﬁnancial obligations will be met, such as once a month, every pay period, or as bills become due. Operate on a schedule that ﬁts your budget. 4. Plan Ahead: First, take care of your immediate household expenses and your short term expenses (an emergency fund with 3-6 months worth of living expenses). Once those ﬁnancial obligations have been met, start planning for the future (retirement, college savings, vacations, etc). 5. Follow Through: Living a ﬁnancially free life is only achieved through consistently working the plan. 10
Credit Clean-Up TIP 1: BEWARE OF CREDIT CLEAN-UP GIMMICKS
In recent years, credit clean-up companies have surfaced, offering unrealistic promises, such as erasing bad credit, removing bad loans and liens, and establishing new credit identity. These promises will never be obtained, and you can lose hundreds to thousands of dollars during the process.
TIP 2: REVIEW YOUR CREDIT REPORT ONCE A YEAR
Equifax, Experian and Trans Union are required to provide a free credit report once every 12 months. Visit www.annualreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 for more information.
TIP 3: DISPUTE INACCURATE AND/OR INCOMPLETE INFORMATION The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit reporting agencies to convey accurate information. Individuals have a right to dispute reported information, and agencies are obligated to investigate without charge. Agencies have 30 days to remove inaccurate, incomplete, and/or unveriﬁable information if the challenge is viable.
TIP 4: BEWARE OF TIME FRAMES
The road to correcting poor credit requires time and patience. Poor credit reporting remains reportable for seven years, while bankruptcies remain reportable for ten years.
TIP 5: PATHWAY TO GOOD CREDIT • • • •
Reduce debt to asset ratio. Consolidate your debt. Work with a credible credit counselor. Work with a ﬁnancial expert.
Hopefully after reading this article, you now feel empowered to take control of your ﬁnances. If you’re already on the right track with your ﬁnances, congratulations! Keep your focus, and you should be just ﬁne. If you are struggling to stay aﬂoat, just know that everything is a process. God truly wants us to proper. As stated in Ecclesiastes 5:19, “As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God” (NKJV). Now, let the church say amen! FOR FURTHER FINANCIAL INFORMATION, CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING RESOURCES: • Girl, Get Your Money Straight! (Glinda Bridgforth) • Debt Free for Life (David Bach) • National Foundation for Credit Counseling www.debtadvice.org CONTACT A LOCAL FINANCIAL ADVISOR Chareá Batiste is an aspiring missionary at Greater Victory Temple in Seaside, CA, where her pastor is Bishop W.W. Hamilton, Jurisdictional Prelate and General Board Secretary. INSPIRATION TODAY
I became all that you needed me to be and still, my love wasn’t enough! You’ve been unfaithful to me and our relationship. Yes, I’m aware of your secret love affair. Unlike your family and friends, I see through the antics you use to cover your shame, suppress the guilt, and mask the pleasures of satisfaction. I’m aware of the times that you’ve snuck away to fulfill the desires you think I’ve forgotten about. I’m aware of how you’ve chosen to spend less time with me and more time interacting in mindless activities. I’m aware that you think you’re punishing me by giving yourself away to another. I’m aware that you think you’re hurting me by limiting our conversations or ignoring me altogether. I’m aware of how you’ve attempted to replace By Daniele Randolph my love by seeking attention and validation from others. I’m also aware of the doubt and mistrust you’ve held in your heart because you felt I failed to come through.
A F F A I R
My Dear Love ,
From the beginning of time I was yours and you were mine. I anticipated your existence and relished in the thought of you one day loving me as I’ve always loved you. I would watch you from afar and look to the days when you would accept the love I’ve been patiently waiting to give. To my joy, the day came sooner than later and you proclaimed me as your true love. You sang my praises and shouted from the mountaintop to all who would listen, about how I gave your life new meaning and infused your existence with purpose. We would spend countless hours communing and fellowshipping with one another. You would share your dreams, desires, goals, hurts and failures, with trust that instead of judging, I would cover and lead you to the path of healing and restoration. In return, I accepted all of you, the good and the bad. I saturated you with unconditional love and I led you down the path of sufﬁciency (more than enough). Each day I existed with a desire to shower you with the good of the land. I became all that you needed me to be and still, my love wasn’t enough! You’ve been unfaithful to me and our relationship. Yes, I’m aware of your secret love affair. Unlike your family and friends, I see through the antics you use to cover your shame, suppress the guilt, and mask the pleasures of satisfaction. I’m aware of the times that you’ve snuck away to fulﬁll the desires you think I’ve forgotten about. I’m aware of how you’ve chosen to spend less time with me and more time interacting in mindless activities. I’m aware that you think you’re punishing me by giving yourself away to another. I’m aware that you think you’re hurting me by limiting our conversations or ignoring me altogether. I’m aware of how you’ve attempted to replace my love by seeking attention and validation from others. I’m also aware of the doubt and mistrust you’ve held in your heart because you felt I failed to come through. Tell me, how long will it be before you end this quest to ﬁnd what you already have? You were created for me! No matter how long and how hard you search outside of our relationship, I’m going to always be what you need. I understand that distractions will come and temptations will arise but I need you to be conﬁdent in the fact that we can overcome the world together. My sweet love, don’t you know that with a change of perception you will once again see that I am all you need? I know...there were times when things did not happen in the way or the time you wanted, but trust that I have and always will have your best interest in mind. The plans I have for you are to prosper you and not to harm you. I have plans to give you hope and a future. My love, let go of the things and the people that are keeping you from totally surrendering to me. Think on the days of old and recommit to love me with all thine heart, with all thine mind, and with all thine soul. I loved you ﬁrst, I loved you best, and I love you still. I am forever yours and I pray you choose to be forever mine.
Daniele Randolph is a member of Relevant Word Christian Church (Phoenix, AZ) and the Arizona Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction. INSPIRATION TODAY
Recap & Review
FORUM and GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE 2011
By David-George Newsome
St. Louis, Missouri -- Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. convened a meeting of male credential holders of the Church of God In Christ on Saturday, November 5, 2011, in the Ferrara Theater at the America’s Center. This was the ﬁfth time that Bishop Blake has spoken to this group during his tenure as Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle. The meeting began with several preliminary reports and updates from various representatives. Bishop Blake began his address with reviewing the current plight of African Americans. Some of the statistics that he shared included:
• • • • • • • • • • •
Only 18% of blacks are completing college, compared to 30% of whites; 25% of blacks live below the poverty level, versus only 10% of whites; Only 46% of blacks live in a family unit, compared to 81% of whites; Children living in poverty, especially from single families, are more likely to be incarcerated; White men are likely to live ﬁve times longer than black men; Black men are seven times more likely to go to jail than white men; Black men are 25% more likely to die of cancer and twice as likely to have diabetes; Black-on-black crime is the leading cause of death among blacks; Blacks account for one-half of all AIDS cases; The unemployment rate is 50% higher in black urban communities; 50% of black youth are not completing high school.
Bishop Blake encouraged all jurisdictions that had not already done so to connect with the Urban Initiatives of the Church of God in Christ. The Church, said Bishop Blake, has the answer to the issues that are plaguing the urban areas of America. Presently, more than 100 jurisdictions have signed up with Urban Initiatives. Bishop Blake reminded us that the Church previously came together in times of adversity and overcame INSPIRATION TODAY
many of the ills that attempted to take our communities out. Time and time again, Bishop explained, we came together to mobilize and strategize to make a difference. It is time that we do this again. We are stronger together. Bishop Blake also reminded those in attendance that the 105th Holy Convocation will be in session during the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election. He therefore wants to ensure that every member attending the 2012 Convocation votes absentee prior to attending the 105th Convocation. Bishop Blake next informed those present that the Mayor of Memphis, AC Wharton, along with other representatives, came to St. Louis to meet about the possibility of moving the Convocation back to Memphis. Bishop Blake’s response was that although it is his personal desire to have our Convocation in Memphis, the facilities will not allow it. This does now mean, however, that other COGIC conventions, such as the Women’s Convention, Men’s Convention, AIM, Pastors and Elders Conference, Bishop’s Conference or the Leadership Conference, could not be held in Memphis. Bishop Blake discussed the LaityYes campaign being chaired by Bishop Frank Anthone White. He indicated that our budget is heavily dependent on two things: 1) Credential Reports - which provide the bulk of the budget from April through November; and 2) Laity Report - which is the main support from November through March. He encouraged all pastors present to do their very best to encourage their church members to support the LaityYes campaign. For merely $1.67 a month, all members can make a signiﬁcant difference in the ﬁnancial lifeline of the Church of God in Christ. Next, the Presiding Bishop introduced the COGIC Honors program to those present. COGIC Honors is a membership program with incentives and savings for its members. There is an annual subscription of $29.99 with proceeds supporting the ﬁve core principles of the Urban Initiatives. The COGIC Honors card entitles the subscriber to discounts on prescription drugs, shopping, hotels, fashion and entertainment. 16
Upon initial subscription, a $25 restaurant.com gift card is sent to the new subscriber. If just 5% of the membership of the Church enrolls, it could equate to as much as $7,000,000 added to the annual budget. The ﬁnal moments of the meeting were dedicated to pertinent announcements and information regarding the Leadership Conference held in January 2012 in Sacramento, CA.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION During the 104th Holy Convocation, the General Assembly, the Legislative Body of the Church of God In Christ, met for the ﬁrst time without the leadership of Bishop James Oglethorpe Patterson, longtime Chairman who went home to Glory in June 2011. After the establishment of the rules and certiﬁcation of the House, with 2,036 delegates, the General Secretary of the Church, Bishop Joel H. Lyles, Jr., presented Presiding Bishop Blake, who asked for the pleasure of introducing the new Chairman of the General Assembly. Bishop Blake began his comments with reﬂections of the life and leadership of Bishop J.O. Patterson, Jr. He then presented Pastor James W. Hunt as the new Chairman of the General Assembly who received a warm welcome from the delegates who were present. Chairman Hunt began his remarks with thankfulness for the support shown since his elevation to the ofﬁce of Chairman. Next, there was a very moving and appropriate tribute to Bishop J.O. Patterson that included remarks from Sister Judith Patterson, the wife of Bishop Patterson. Other business of the General Assembly included: • Presentation and approval of the minutes from the 2011 April Call Meeting. • Chairman Hunt conﬁrmed that the operations of the General Assembly would continue by committees and named the committee chairs for the Nominating, Credential, Rules, Elections, Standards and Extension, Constitution, Resolutions, Job Descriptions and Remuneration, Budget Review, Screening and Executive committees. • Several resolutions were adopted, including:
Honoring Bishop J.O. Patterson, Jr. and Bishop Charles Harrison Mason’s direct descendants’ permanent membership of the General Assembly.
November 5-13, 2012. In addition, the General Assembly voted to return to St. Louis for an additional year in 2013.
• The election of the Vice Chair of the General Assembly was the next order of business, of which there were 7 candidates. After hearing from each candidate, the election was held and the ﬁeld narrowed to 2 nominees - Dr. Diana Chandler Banks and Bishop Lemuel F. Thuston. A run-off ensued with Bishop Thuston established as the new Vice Chair of the General Assembly.
• Bishop Samuel L. Lowe submitted his resignation as National Treasurer, after more than 20 years, due to his current health condition. Elder Charles Harrison Mason Patterson was elected as Treasurer to complete the current term.
• Joseph Clemmons and Thomas Jackson were retained as members of the Judiciary Board. • Discussions continue as to a uniformed process for Ordination in the Church of God In Christ.
• The committees charged with updating the Constitution were introduced and have begun their work in three areas: Legislative, Executive and Judicial. As you can conclude, the 2011 General Assembly session was busy yet productive! The next session will be held April 9-12, 2012 at Mason Temple in Memphis, TN.
• The Ascension Clause was approved, designating the ofﬁcial process to replace the position of Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle, should he be unable to serve due to disability and/or death. (Long live our current Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake! May the Lord forever keep and bless him.) • A resolution was adopted that speciﬁcally deals with the process to move the venue and city for the Holy Convocation and to call that week Holy Convocation Week, as opposed to Holy Week. • The budget for the period of April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013 was adopted in the amount of $9.8 million dollars. • The Board of Bishops endorsed the General Board’s goal of $5 million dollars for the LaityYes campaign in 2012. • 13 acres of land adjacent to our National Headquarters was received as a donation to the Church. • Urban Initiatives is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Church of God In Christ. More than 100 jurisdictions are involved at this time, with remaining jurisdictions encouraged to appoint a Jurisdictional Coordinator. • The dates for the 2012 Convocation were changed, by vote of the General Assembly, to
David-George Newsome is a resident of Muskegon, Michigan and a member of Grace For The Nations COGIC in Grand Rapids, Michigan (Admin Asst Tarence E. Lauchie, Pastor). He also serves as the Assistant Jurisdictional Secretary of the Michigan Southwest Third Jurisdiction (Bishop Samuel Duncan, Jr., Prelate). INSPIRATION TODAY
Image of Pentecost By Eugene F. Rivers III For much of the twentieth century, Pentecostalism has been seen by the world as unreﬁned folk religion disconnected from the modern world. In the last quarter of that century, this conception of Pentecostalism, as an isolated and irrelevant faith, underwent a signiﬁcant transformation as a direct result of the singular work and witness of Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. he biblical principle which is the basis for his successful ministry is found in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23, where the Apostle Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all men so that by all pos sible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.” As this passage suggests, successful biblical witness in today’s world, must not, if it is faithful to the biblical mandate, be hindered by backward-looking allegiances to obsolete religious tradition. It must be relevant to the unsaved in the current age. What has been revolutionary about Bishop Blake’s witness has been his commitment to arguing for the indivisibility of biblical holiness and God’s concern for justice for the poor. Furthermore, Blake has brought thoughtful reﬂection and striking intelligence to this work which is unprecedented in the history of modern Pentecostalism. Bishop Blake’s witness is part of a larger movement of the Spirit, as God works to translate the power of the Spirit into every domain of modern day life. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was another man with the required integrity, courage and wisdom to serve, as new leadership was raised up by 18
God for a given generation. Throughout the sixties, he waged a political struggle against the structural forces that were arrayed against black people, only dimly aware of the invisible principalities and powers which lay behind them. At King’s death, the theological liberalism, which no longer exhibited the philosophical or political strength to inspire a younger generation, was declining. In King’s bidding farewell from the pulpit of the mother church of Pentecost, the famed Mason Temple COGIC in Memphis, Tennessee, the Holy Spirit foreshadowed the transferal of the vision to the sons and daughters in which Joel 2:29 referred: “I will pour out my spirit on all people and your sons and daughters will prophesy, and your old men will dream dreams and your young men will see visions.” As Robert M. Franklin, President of Morehouse College, observed: “Within the Black Church, the nineteenth century was the age of the AME, the twentieth century was the age of the Baptists, and the twenty-ﬁrst century will be the age of the Pentecostals.” It would take forty years for the Holy Spirit to prepare the people to whom the mantel had been passed and to raise up the right man for this task. It was a calling which would require the revolutionary power of Pentecost, with signs and wonders following, to bring deliverance to the multitudes of black people. During this period, black political life became increasingly secularized with the emergence of a class of black elected ofﬁcials. The class orientation of black leadership, with its emphasis on integration, shifted upwards. The logical result was the effective
re-segregation of the urban black poor as the black middle and upper middle class evacuated the declining cities. During this intervening period, a young minister by the name of Charles Edward Blake was quietly building his community-serving West Angeles Church of God in Christ. Membership exploded in the seventies, accompanied by equally impressive ministerial growth and an extensive building project. With a congregation that required four services each Sunday, the 5,000-seat West Angeles Cathedral was opened on April 28, 2001, by Presiding Bishop G.E. Patterson. The church has been recognized as one of the fastest growing in the nation, with more than eighty ministry and outreach programs, including a Bible college, a counseling department, a school, and television and radio broadcasts. The most prominent outreach service, the West Angeles CDC, has developed nearly $50 million of real estate, and an operating budget of nearly $3 million in 2006.
ars conducts their historical research... what verdict will our descendants render upon their ancestors [if we stand] by silently as a generation of African children [is] reduced to a biological underclass by this sexual holocaust?” In 2008, Bishop Blake convened a Pan-African leadership summit to present an urban domestic policy agenda to the Church of God in Christ and the larger black church. This ﬁve point urban initiative consisted of mentoring, crime prevention, employment assistance, family and fatherhood skills and ﬁnancial literacy programs. Once again, it is the combination of spiritual warfare and the commitment to social justice that brings new power to the Black Church’s struggle on behalf of the black poor. In summary, Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. has emerged as the new prophetic voice. To quote Reverend Al Sharpton, “Bishop Blake... has emerged as the Prelate of Black America.” Bishop Blake’s achievement constitutes a model for a Pentecostal political theology of Christian Pan-Africanism. By expanding our understanding of holiness to include the Biblical concept of justice, and underlining the fundamental role of the power of Pentecost in achieving both, Bishop Blake is taking the church in a new direction. In bringing to bear the power of Pentecost on the issues of social injustice, the importance of personal holiness becomes even more critical. It is into the potent manifestation of this tri-partite ministry of holiness, justice and supernatural gifts that Bishop Blake is called to lead us.
As Robert M. Franklin, President of Morehouse College, observed: “Within the Black Church, the nineteenth century was the age of the AME, the 20th century was the age of the Baptists, and the twenty-ﬁrst century will be the age of the Pentecostals.”
n the late nineties, Blake, as a pastor and intellectual of irreproachable moral character and singular leadership abilities, was approached by Pentecostal activists and intellectuals to respond to reports of an AIDS epidemic exploding in Africa. The resulting research and organizing around the issue of the AIDS orphan crisis led to unprecedented media and governmental response, which gave the issue international prominence. The supernatural power to identify and engage the principalities and powers at work in this holocaust (Ephesians 6:12) that was at Blake’s disposal, was the key transformation from the Civil Rights phase of the struggle under King. In 2001, Bishop Blake founded Save Africa’s Children to provide concrete humanitarian support for 340 AIDS orphan care projects in over 23 countries on the continent of Africa. Blake’s prophetic call bears repeating: “When a future generation of black schol-
Eugene F. Rivers, III is Senior Policy Advisor to the Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ, Inc. INSPIRATION TODAY
Overcoming Subtle Seduction By Kim Manning
A FLEETING THOUGHT, A SMALL WHISPER, A QUICK LOOK, A SHORT SNIFF, A SIMPLE TOUCH, OR A TWIST OF THE TONGUE IS HOW IT CAN BEGIN. SEDUCTION IS THE NAME. How do I know that it is seduction? Merriam Webster deﬁnes seduction as “to persuade to disobedience or disloyalty; to lead astray usually by persuasion or false promises.” Seduction is all around us in this world through various means, such as TV, DVD, CD, radio, newspapers and books, bulletin boards, internet and other media. It is also present through people and the places that we visit. Sometimes, seduction is done so cleverly and subconsciously that we miss the subtleness of it. INSPIRATION TODAY
Since the beginning of the human race, man has been seduced. Remember the event that occurred in the Garden of Eden? In Genesis 3:1-4, we read, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the ﬁeld which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” The serpent, which is Satan, has been twisting the words of God since the Garden of Eden. God clearly stated that to eat of the tree in the midst of Garden would result in death; however, Satan, in all of his craftiness, twisted the Word of God and told Eve that she would not surely die. Isn’t that how Satan is still deceiving us even today? He is still subtle and shrewd in his approach, and somehow Christians still fall into his trap. If we know that it is our adversary who is persuading us to be disobedient and to turn our backs on God, then why do we still fall into his traps? The Holy Bible tells us that every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed (James 1:14). What things are seducing you away from your righteous and holy living, from your walk with Christ, and from following the Word of God fully? After you have identiﬁed and reﬂected on these things, let’s look at some strategies for conquering such temptations.
THE GOOD NEWS
We must remember that the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations (2 Peter 2:9). So, if and when we fall prey to seduction, we must recall 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” God 22
WEARING THE ARMOR OF GOD EQUIPS US TO KNOW THE WORD OF GOD AND LIVE WITH INTEGRITY AND HOLINESS . . .
will always provide a way out of temptation, if we know His Word, have faith in His word, and obey His Word. It is up to us to ﬁnd and take the exit route immediately. We must put on the whole armor of God to stand up against every scheme of the devil (Ephesians 6:11-18). Wearing the armor of God equips us to know the Word of God and live with integrity and holiness (verse 14); have peace, and be alert and ready for the battle (verse 15); exercise our faith to defeat every scheme of Satan (verse 16); and hold on to our salvation, while speaking the Word of God in all of our situations (verse 17). The blessings of wearing the armor of God are: (1) having the ability to stand against the enemy (verses 11-14); (2) having the ability to withstand all attacks of the enemy (verse 13); and (3) having the ability to quench every ﬁery dart (evil thoughts, lusts, passions, and all kinds of temptations) of Satan (verse 16). In addition, prayer is a very powerful resource, weapon, and force to use against the adversary. Scripture reminds us to pray always and to pray the Word (verse 18). Quote the Word of God when you are faced with seduction and temptation to destroy every trap that the enemy is trying to set-up for you. Remember that God will disappoint every device of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their work (Job 5:12). Fleeing seduction is the key. We must remember that our bodies are the temple of God and we are to keep our bodies sanctiﬁed and not deﬁle them (1 Corinthians 3:16-17), so that we can present our bodies a living sacriﬁce unto God, holy and acceptable, that is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1). We can’t stop seduction, but we can prevent it from taking a foothold and causing a stronghold in our lives by putting on the full armor of God and exercising prayer everyday! And tell yourself daily, “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Kim Manning, Ph.D. is the First Lady at Cathedral of Faith Ministries (Tallahassee, FL). She serves as the Education Ministry Leader and teacher of the Word in various capacities. INSPIRATION TODAY
TECHNOLOGY By Leonitta Turner Inspired and infallible, reading the Word of God is an important and sacred part of most COGIC church services. During a recent Sunday service, my Pastor asked everyone to hold up their Bibles and to repeat after him. I became dismayed when, from the pulpit to the back door, several laptops, tablets and smartphones were raised in the air. Silently I screamed, “Your Bibles people. He said hold up your Bibles!” 24
As a tablet user, the scene didn’t bother the Pastor in the least, and I was just as guilty. The reality is that with the advance of technology, the Word may be hidden in our hearts, but it is no longer limited to soft cover, hard back, and leather. It now comes in eBook, tablet and smartphone varieties. Mobile technology has advanced and has taken the place of pagers for the church nursery and parking lot, telephones for emergencies, and to the delight of many armor bearers, the pastor’s black bag. Technology has impacted the church in the past, but not so dramatically or swiftly. The overhead projector became a vital piece of church equipment in the 60’s, computers were the rage in the 70’s, and
in the early 90’s, with the release of Microsoft PowerPoint, pastors began to increasingly utilize technology in their services by incorporating slides into their messages and teachings. Data has become easier to create and manipulate. Congregants can now hear the word and visualize it in color, pictures and fonts. Weighing in at an average 1.5 pounds, the tablet has taken technology in the church to a different plateau. Laptops are too bulky for the pulpit, smartphones are small and loud, but tablets, among the cameras, emulators, and projectors used to stream information live all over the world, have found their niche. Laptops tethered ministers to the pulpit and were often distracting because of their sheer size and unstable battery life. Messages could be
football game. Smartphones are not intelligent enough to know when to silence a text or tweet. On more than one occasion, I have witnessed a speaker neglect to adjust their phone volume. It is disturbing to hear “you have an incoming call” or the National Anthem playing at the precise time the speaker is about to pray or crystallize a point. Thoughtful pastors placed their phones on vibrate but the result would often sound like a bumble bee on steroids. Recently, a visiting minister missed his cue because he was too busy reading text messages. While the tablet will not eliminate such distractions, its technology at least allows people to be more inconspicuous. In addition to the ability to be discreet, there are many positive aspects to using technology in the
tips. Those who enjoy reading the more complex King James Version can quickly look-up a word to gain a contextual understanding of the scripture. With smartphones and tablets, speakers can tweet in realtime an inspiration that God gives to them without interrupting the ﬂow of the message or the meaning of the sermon. Congregants can interact with the speaker and each other on another level, without disturbing those around them. Whether we like it or not, tablets and smartphones have changed the way that churches operate. Less than ﬁve years ago, when service started, it was disrespectful if your cell phone was not turned off. Now that smartphones and tablets have crept into the pulpit, you are more likely to hear, if you
altered in real time and information accessed rapidly, but if the speaker received the unction to preach in the middle of the aisle, their laptop wouldn’t easily move with them. Toggling between documents on a laptop was also challenging. Although several documents could be viewed side-by-side, screen and font sizes had to be monopolized. To maintain screen integrity, documents needed to be minimized or maximized for easy viewing. Frequently, exuberant praise by others in the pulpit using laptops was subdued because quite frankly, no one wanted to jump up and destroy an expensive piece of equipment. Although I’ve never heard anyone yell “touchdown”, I sometimes wonder when someone jumps up a little late if they were really following the sermon or watching a
pulpit. Ministers have convenient access to various Bible versions, commentaries, ministerial helps, and in many cases, the internet. The ability to access information swiftly makes for a more dramatic, powerﬁlled sermon. Technology also provides a powerful link to nontraditional and youthful congregants. Whether a smartphone or tablet, younger congregants love having the word on the go. A recent Nielsen survey titled “Generation App” purports that 62% of youth, ages 25-34, own smartphones and that SMS messages exceed the number of telephone calls made. Savvy churches are aware of such statistics and are using technology to connect with the younger generation. Note taking and sharing has increased because of technology and accessibility is always at their ﬁnger-
have your smartphones, please turn with me to...
IN THE PULPIT
Leonitta L. Turner is a member of Fresh Anointing Ministries Worship Center, COGIC under the leadership of Pastor Alvin B. Akins in Ladson, SC. INSPIRATION TODAY
A Healthcare Model for the Masses By Sonya D. Bradford
Coming to grips with the fact that local emergency room staff have become primary care physicians for many of the poor and uninsured, the Congregational Health Network (CHN) was established to break the cycle of sickness and mortality that had invaded Memphis’ urban community.
L to R: Perry Little, Faith and Health manager & Congregational Health Network director of Education; Shirley Perry, Navigator, Congregational Health Network, Germantown; Bobby Baker, director, Congregational Health Network
The church is often referred to as a “hospital” for the sick and the place where divine healing occurs after sickness has taken its toll – and so it is. However, in Memphis, nearly 500 congregations have united and committed themselves to taking a proactive hands-on approach to healthcare. Inspiration Today recently spoke with Rev. Bobby Baker, Director of Faith and Community Partnerships at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and Senior Pastor of Divine Faith Church, along with Dr. Perry Little, Director of Education for the CHN and Pastor of Gateway COGIC, both of Memphis, about this exemplary healthcare model, united by the marriage of faith and health at Methodist Hospital.
Inspiration Today: What is the Congregational Health Network (CHN)? Rev. Bobby Baker: The CHN is a partnership between the congregations, the hospitals and the community, aimed at developing person-centered care pathways. The four areas of health for the CHN are: the frail and elderly, mental health, chronic diseases and women and infant mortality. We believe that if we can move the needle of health in those four areas, we can elevate the level of health of the community. There are actually ﬁve care pathways that our pastors on the design committee came up with. The ﬁrst one is EDUCATION, and the key is to look at education as a pathway to care. That is, we want to educate congregations on disease processes, but we also want to educate them on how to navigate the healthcare system. We want to educate them on how a hospital works. We want to educate them on issues in the community that we believe will address the health of the community. Then we have a PREVENTION pathway. We ask our congregations to participate in some form of prevention in their congregations to make that a part of their way of life. We don’t prescribe what we ask them to do. Some congregations just have a “health moment.” Other congregations simply observe the national healthcare monthly or annual event. Congregations that have more resources available do blood pressure screenings, a variety of other screenings and host health fairs. We bring the resources of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and other community agencies to support the congregations in whatever prevention they are engaging in.
is hospitalized. We try to keep them connected with a congregation because research shows that those who are connected with a congregation have better health outcomes than those who aren’t. Lastly, we have an AFTERCARE model. This is where we extend an invitation to congregations to take part in the aftercare the patient is going to receive upon discharge from the hospital. We’re not referring to clinical care, but care-giving in terms of the needs the congregation can readily supply. If a patient needs help with feeding a pet, transportation to a follow-up doctor’s appointment, or assistance with the costs of medicine, these are the care-giving needs we aim to meet. Those are our ﬁve care pathways and the four interventions we believe will address the overall health of the community. We ask each congregation to assign at least two congregational liaisons. These liaisons work side-by-side with
The CHN is a partnership between the congregations, the hospitals and the community, aimed at developing person-centered care pathways.
[The INTERVENTION pathway aims at care prior to hospital admission. Such aims include ensuring that individuals have their own primary care physician, as well as access to resources, such as health clinics and substance abuse clinics.] Then there’s the ACCESS pathway. This is where we look at how people “access” what they need in terms of healthcare. Be it primary care, emergency room or home-health aftercare; we address all of those issues. We also consider the immediate needs of a person who 28
CHN’s fulltime employees who are known as navigators. It is the responsibility of the navigator to develop relationships with the congregations in the service area of the respective hospital. Our navigators spend part of their time inside the hospital seeing patients and making visits. The rest of their time is spent outside in the congregations and in the community strengthening those established relationships. Inspiration Today: Does CHN require the liaisons and volunteers to have a clinical background? Rev. Bobby Baker: No. We ask that our liaisons be persons who are involved in the life of the congregation, have a passion for this kind of ministry and understand privacy issues in terms of conﬁdential health information. All CHN workers are trained in privacy laws and must
be discreet in protecting patients’ personal health information. Inspiration Today: Who is the visionary of the CHN and how long has it been in existence? Rev. Bobby Baker: The visionary and CEO of the CHN was Mr. Joe Webb. He saw the need to develop a web of trust for the community and to advance healthcare within the community. CHN stems from his vision and has been in existence for ﬁve years now. Inspiration Today: Many lives have been transformed as a direct result of the CHN’s efforts and achievements. Please give us an example of what the CHN has been able to accomplish because of its dedicated staff of navigators, liaisons and volunteers. Whose story stands out to you most?
Rev. Bobby Baker: There was an elderly lady who was displaced by Hurricane Katrina. She moved to Memphis and into a high-rise apartment complex for senior citizens. After her arrival, she joined one of our CHN congregations and over the years, her health deteriorated. She began to frequent the hospital repeatedly and it was one readmission after another. Finally, Jean Evans, a CHN navigator, got the pastor, congregation and congregational liaison involved, because this patient had no family in Memphis and she was very noncompliant. One day Jean went by this patient’s apartment and literally found her on the ﬂoor; she was unable to answer the door. At that point,
Jean began to work with the chief medical ofﬁcer and the congregation to try to get her reunited with her family back in Louisiana, because she was no longer able to reside alone. This patient’s main reason for not wanting to move was that she didn’t want to leave her belongings behind. After losing everything in Hurricane Katrina, she was reluctant to be displaced again. The chief medical ofﬁcer at the hospital that treated her made arrangements for an ambulance to transport her to Louisiana. CHN Navigator Jean Evans worked with the patient’s pastor and congregational liaison and they packed up all of her belongings and had them shipped to Louisiana for her. It was a win-win situation for everyone because of the dedication of our navigator and the commitment of the pastor, congregation and liaison in caring for that member. Inspiration Today: There are over 488 churches in the CHN and out of that number; about 150 of them are COGIC. What can be done to increase participation among COGIC congregations and what would you say to compel any new congregation to partner with CHN? Dr. Perry Little: In the number of congregations will come as we establish a relationship of trust with perspective congregations, and when the hospitals and congregations develop a relationship of trust with each other. We want the hospitals to view the congregations with conﬁdence and assurance, believing that the congregations will uphold the covenant agreement and do everything it committed itself to doing to produce better health outcomes for the community. As we talk with pastors and bishops and they see how this relationship can be established together, we’ll increase the number of congregations. We’ve had great success in talking to new pastors and bishops. Recently, we signed up 160 congregations because they were very impressed with what we do. Inspiration Today: James 2:20 declares that “faith without works is dead.” How does this verse relate to the work that the CHN is doing?
Rev. Bobby Baker: Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is a faith-based institution. CHN allows us to really claim our faith identity in the community. It sets us apart as having more than just a cross on our building. We’re actually fulﬁlling the mission for which this hospital was founded upon, and that is to provide quality healthcare for the community. We believe CHN is really a God-thing that empowers us to go out and serve everyone in the community – even “the least of these.” We have a mission as a not-for-proﬁt hospital and we do more than $50M a year in charity-care for uninsured patients. The CHN enables us to continue that mission and push healthcare farther upstream, outside the walls of the hospital into the congregations, from the congregations into the surrounding communities and into the homes of the congregation’s members; and most importantly, into the lives of the individuals who are receiving the care.
Rev. Bobby Baker: Repetition. As in the church, we are constantly teaching and preaching the same thing over and over again. As people attend the classes, they become more aware of some of the things they need to do and make an effort to move forward in what they know to do. Dr. Perry Little: When congregations consistently present health information in a variety of ways and host health fairs, it helps to produce better health outcomes within the congregations and makes them more conscious to the fact that they must take action if they really want to see a change in their health.
We’re in the “Stroke Belt”, the “Diabetes Belt”, the “Amputee Belt” and we’re also in the “Bible Belt” ... we can make a difference in all of those other belts, and we lift that up.
Dr. Perry Little: Also, in tying that faith and work principle together within the ecclesiastical sense, that even as individuals partner with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, we say to the churches that as we produce better health outcomes within the community and in the church, there’s some work that’s going to be required on the end of the members and those who partner with us. As we educate and enlighten the members of the congregations on what they need to do to better take care of themselves, sometimes that requires a little work on their end to change their diets and to do other things that will help produce better outcomes. Inspiration Today: “When you know better, you do better” is a popular saying, but that’s not always the case. It’s been well researched that people of color are more susceptible to certain diseases, but many ignore the warnings and continue the same diet and lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to. How have your navigators and liaisons overcome this challenge within the CHN? 30
Inspiration Today: The Memphis Project has gained national attention and hospitals are sending representatives from all over the country to take a closer look at Memphis’ model. How does that make you feel?
Rev. Bobby Baker: It’s humbling to know that Memphis has something that people want. Memphis has an image crisis, in terms of how the city views itself, and is listed in a number of the nation’s categories that are not favorable. The CHN is one thing the city of Memphis can be proud of. Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, congregations and community agencies have come together and created a model that is a benchmark for systems around the world. As I said before, it’s a God-thing and God is working through this. I believe that given the next ﬁve years, we’re going to be able to accomplish something great. So to have visitors from around the world to come and look at this as a model is just fantastic! We’re in the “Stroke Belt”, the “Diabetes Belt”, the “Amputee Belt” and we’re also in the “Bible Belt”. I just believe that being in the Bible Belt can make a difference in all of those other belts, and we lift that up. Certainly everyone will not be able to implement the entire model because Memphis is unique in terms of congregations and faith, and we have a lot of it. But parts of what we do here can be implemented in any
system around the country if they have a desire to address community health. Inspiration Today: The CHN has also captured the attention of the Obama Administration and has been invited to the White House to present its program and ﬁndings. What does this prestigious invitation tell you about the impact the CHN has made thus far? Rev. Bobby Baker: We’ve been identiﬁed by the White House as a benchmark model because of the things we have been able to accomplish and document through the data we have captured. CHN patients have a proven mortality rate that is 50% less than those who are not a part of our network, and we compared patients with the same diagnosis and in the same age group. We also have 20% lower readmit rate for CHN patients, and we’ve documented that care for CHN patients costs less than care for non-CHN patients, even though the length of stays are roughly the same. The care of the CHN patient actually costs less because of the impact of the congregational liaisons working in the congregations and the building of trust with those patients. CHN patients are moved to go to the hospital earlier so they don’t require as intense care as non-CHN patients, and we believe that those factors are driving down the cost of healthcare. Analyzing the cost of copays is extremely important because Medicare patients are on a ﬁxed income. When they are readmitted to the hospital, another co-pay has to be paid. So keeping Medicare patients out of the hospital adds to their disposable income. The White House realizes that these things can be implemented and modeled around the country and we’re just grateful that the CHN was able to present this information to the world and demonstrate that it works. It’s very encouraging that it’s being recognized at the highest level of government.
between 600-700 new congregational partners. We’d also like to have about 2,000 congregational liaisons trained as community health workers, serving not only their congregations, but the communities that their congregations are in. These are ways that we can empower individuals in a community to take charge of their own health. When we take charge of our own health, we really take charge of our lives. Dr. Perry Little: As CHN moves forward with the educational process and congregations come aboard and the members attend the weekly educational classes held on Thursday night, we will see the number of participants grow, as well as the number of individuals who will complete the classes. Right now we have 247 people registered for classes on Thursday night. As we stretch out into Arkansas and Mississippi and the number of partner congregations expands, we can see the number of those attending our educational classes soar to about 500. We’re educating individuals to go back into the community and educate others in their communities and in their congregations too. Inspiration Today: After reading this interview, I’m certain more congregations will be inspired to join the CHN. Where can the readers obtain more information about the CHN? Dr. Perry Little: More information can be found on Methodist’s website at http://www.methodisthealth. org/about-us/faith-and-health/community/. All of the information pertaining to the CHN is listed there.
Inspiration Today: Where is the CHN headed from here? What are your future and long-term goals? Rev. Bobby Baker: Our long-term goal was adopted by the board of directors for the hospital system, and that is to elevate the level of health for this community by the year 2020. We’ve got 8 years to go and in those 8 years, we will attempt to broaden the network and push it out into Arkansas, Mississippi and surrounding areas. As a realistic goal, we endeavor to bring in
Sonya D. Bradford is a member of New Jerusalem COGIC in Springﬁeld, MA (Massachusetts First Jurisdiction). She is also a licensed evangelist and gospel announcer for 90.7FM WTCC. INSPIRATION TODAY
In this issue of Inspiration Today, we take the time to recognize one of COGIC’s brightest and gifted employees, Ms. Sherkietha Mitchell, who serves as the Registration Manager for the Office of Convention Planning. We asked Ms. Mitchell to tell us about herself, the 2012 Holy Convocation and how registration has been made easier.
By Eld. Marcus T. Fenner Inspiration Today: Ms. Mitchell, please give our readers some insight as to who you are and some of the responsibilities of the COGIC Registration Manager.
Sherkietha Mitchell 32
Ms. Mitchell: Well let’s see...first, I’m saved and I love the Lord and all of His children. I’m a 28 year old graduate from the University of Memphis, currently working on my Master’s degree. In my time as Registration Manager, our staff has made great strides in record keeping, office organization, and we are continuing to streamline the registration process. Every year we are getting better and better. The Convention Office went from a staff of 8 to a staff of 3 and has excelled in the area of process. For the first time, the opinions of the delegates are being heard, recorded, and implemented in such a way that makes attending a COGIC conference easier.
On a personal and spiritual level, my desire and passion is working with young ladies in the area of self-esteem. I am a 12 year supporter, teacher, and volunteer of the Young Women of Excellence. All my life, my mother, Evangelist Glenda Mitchell, and the late Carrie B. Thompson, impressed on me the beauty and elegance of being a lady, and I love it! Since 1999, Evangelist Joyce Rogers has allowed me to be a part of, and later work with, the Young Women of Excellence. Two years ago I started my own nonprofit called Young Women of Divine Purpose. YWDP is community based and focused. I want to give these young ladies what they are missing in today’s society - the joy of being smart, sweet, classy, and Christian. I created this group as an outlet for teen girls to redefine the term “black girl”. Our most basic function is to be supportive of each other and to create a safe haven for airing our inner hearts’ desires, goals and fears. Our greatest goal is to see the beauty in every girl and spread the gift of His love for us. Working with young women is the gift the Lord gave me, to understand without judgment, to listen with my heart and to empathize, because it could have, should have, and may have been me. The goals I set for Ms. Sherkietha were reached some time ago, I didn’t expect much. Everyday, as I sincerely open my heart, humble myself, and be quiet, the Lord shows me another step. My current goal is twofold: First, to be the change I want to see. I’m not only a Registration Manager but a mentor to those I have working alongside me. I want to see Ms. Eriell graduate! I want her to see what God sees in her. Second, I want to be the voice on the line the saints want to hear! I want to be REAL!
The second thing I would suggest is to read all registration instructions. They are available online and in paper form. Reading and reviewing these instructions will ensure that your forms are filled out properly. Once a registration and housing request is complete, more times than not, it will cost money to make major changes. For example, hotel changes are $150. Inspiration Today: How can registering be done easily? Ms. Mitchell: The easiest way to register is online. When you register online, you are able to see hotels and registration tiers in real-time. With that being said, most times, what you choose is what you get. Inspiration Today: How can those who register resolve problems or issues? Ms. Mitchell: There are two ways you can make changes. First, write it down and send it via postal mail or email. Second, go online to www.cogicicas. org. Once you log-in and view your profile, you will be able to make changes. The main thing is not waiting until the last minute. As soon as you know you need to make a change, do it and put it in writing. Unwritten requests are not honored requests. Inspiration Today: What are your goals as Registration Manager?
Inspiration Today: What are some of the job responsibilities of the Registration Manager?
Ms. Mitchell: My goal is making registration a professional and costumer friendly experience. Every year, saints and friends make preparations to attend the conventions with high expectations. I never want to spoil the experience. I always want each and every delegate to feel wanted, appreciated, accepted, and excited about attending any of our COGIC conventions.
Ms. Mitchell: The most vital information every delegate should know is to register early and online! Early registration allows more choices. Once a registration tier is sold out, there is no way to upgrade. And once a hotel is full, there is no way to add additional rooms.
Elder Marcus T. Fenner is a graduate of Duke University. He serves the Church of God in Christ as a member of the National Rules Committee, National Adjutancy, the Urban Initiatives, Standards & Extensions Committee and Resolutions Committee. INSPIRATION TODAY
Trichotomy OF Man By Marion McNair Human beings are comprised of a three-part division known as trichotomy: spirit, body, and soul. Your spirit makes you aware of God; it is that part of you that communicates with God. John 4:24 states, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him, must worship Him in spirit, and in truth.” Your body (ﬂesh) houses your spirit and allows you to be visible on earth.Your soul makes you aware of yourself. It contains your emotions (feelings), your will (ability to make choices), and your intellect (ability to reason). 34
The most valuable gift a Christian can give him/herself is the protection of their spirit, body and soul. That is one reason why it is important to know your Bible. Studying the Word of God teaches you how your spirit communes with God, how to tame your body, and how to govern your soul (emotions, will, and intellect). Genesis 2:7 states, “God formed man out of dust, and blew into the man’s nostrils the breath of life.” It is amazing to me how God spoke everything into existence until He got to man. Not only did God speak man into existence (Gen. 1:27), but God also formed and shaped man. Then God blew His breath into him (Gen.2:7). God’s spirit has no beginning or ending. When God blew Himself into man, that infusion became our spirit and man became a living soul. Therefore, when the natural body (ﬂesh) dies, the spirit lives on forever. If you are a Christian, when you die, your spirit goes immediately into the presence of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). But what happens to your spirit, body, and soul while you are living on earth? Do you remember the ﬁrst time you visited your doctor’s ofﬁce? The receptionist probably gave you a long questionnaire to ﬁll out. The purpose of the form was to identify any history of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer or any other life threatening problems in your family. Why? Because scientists have determined that some inherited traits (genes) may affect you personally. The doctor will test for those maladies that have a propensity to run in your family. Answering the questionnaire truthfully is important to your future health. You may not know all of your family history, but I can tell you who does, God and the devil.
The devil knows more about you and your ancestors than you because he has been observing your family for generations. The devil is acutely aware of your past and may have inﬂuenced the sin and weights that have plagued you and your family members. These weights and sins are endless. It could be fornication, adultery, lying, cheating, mental illness, gluttony, stealing, killing, chemical dependency, alcoholism, ﬁghting, and the list goes on. This is why Ephesians 6:11 tells us, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Another part of the trichotomy of man is the body (ﬂesh). The body houses your spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you.” In Gal. 5:17, we understand that the body (ﬂesh) is in constant warfare with the spirit. Your spirit wants to be saved; however, your ﬂesh does not. Your spirit is in a constant struggle with your ﬂesh (Gal. 5:16). That is why Apostle Paul said in 1 Cor. 9:27, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection.” God is not going to command your body (ﬂesh) to be obedient to His will; that is your job. In Gal. 5:24, Apostle Paul said, “Crucify your ﬂesh.” In other words, you have to become violent with your body (ﬂesh) to bring it under submission and make it conform to the Word of God. The third part of the trichotomy of
man is the soul. The soul consists of your emotions (feelings), your will (ability to make choices), and your intellect (ability to reason). Romans 2:2 tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” God will not tell you to do something you cannot do. So when the Word of God tells you to renew your mind, then you must take control of your life and command your emotions, will, and intellect to obey. Some people turn to drugs or alcohol to drown out the sorrows of their soul, the longing of their spirit, and the cravings of their ﬂesh. Yet, in John 16:33, Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Jesus is our example for how to live on this earth. Give Him your life and let Him control your spirit, body, and soul. Let’s pray...Dear Heavenly Father, You are my creator. You knew me while I was still in my mother’s womb. I open my spirit to hear Your voice. Help me Lord, as I yield my body and soul to You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Marion McNair is an Evangelist-Missionary at West Angeles COGIC (Los Angeles, CA) where she sings in the Mass Choir. She also teaches Biblical Studies at the Lynwood Women’s Correctional Facility.
y h Ware you r e h By Monique Fowlkes
Why were “you” created? What did the Potter have in mind when He decided to create you, His vessel? Millions of possibilities traveled between your parents and all of them died except for you . . . . why?
verything God does is strategic and purposeful. Know that you were created by God for a speciﬁc purpose. We were created to walk in the likeness of Him and to bear fruit. Genesis 1:28 reads, “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; ﬁll the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the ﬁsh of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every l iving thing that moves on the earth” (NKJV). We 36
are all called to bear fruit, but how we bear this fruit is speciﬁc to the call that God has placed on our lives. This calling is our God ordained purpose! How often do we take on jobs, both in and outside of the church, simply because the task comes easy for us, it pays well, the skills come to us naturally, someone tells us that it is the job we are supposed to do, or someone that we respect expects us to do it? So, we take on these roles and ﬁnd ourselves getting very busy being busy.
e r e
But is this the lifestyle for which God is calling? Living a life performing tasks “just because” creates a life of living beneath God’s fullest potential for our lives. God created you for a pre-ordained, speciﬁc purpose. God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; Before you were born I sanctiﬁed you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). Before your parents considered you, God already knew you and your purpose for existence. So you might say... I sing in the choir, I’m on the kitchen committee, I usher every 2nd and 4th Sunday and my pastor handpicked me to head the anniversary committee. I am doing a lot in my church! While there is nothing wrong with performing these tasks, you must ask yourself, “Is this what God has created, empowered and appointed me to do?” We sometimes confuse church work with the work of the church. In Matthew 21, we ﬁnd the story of Jesus cursing the unfruitful ﬁg tree. It reads: “Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city,
he was hungry. Seeing a ﬁg tree by the road, He went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then He said to it, ‘May you never bear fruit again!’ Immediately the tree withered.” Some ask, why did Jesus feel the need to curse the tree when clearly the tree could not have been totally unproductive? Was Jesus being a bit harsh? Fig trees can grow as tall as 50 ft and they can grow just as wide as they are tall. When a ﬁg tree is covered with leaves, it shades everything under it. It would have been a great place for a traveler to stop and rest in the shade of this ﬁg tree. Countless bugs and insects are known to eat and thrive off of the leaves of the ﬁg tree. Wild animals and birds would undoubtedly ﬁnd the limbs of that ﬁg tree a great place to build a home. So the tree was doing many jobs! However, perhaps Jesus thought, “You, ﬁg tree, are doing a lot of tasks but the purpose for which you were created by my Father was TO PRODUCE FIGS! You have been found outside of your purpose and therefore are of no use to me.” We are commanded by God to be fruitful.
nd so it is with us. We can do all of the jobs that we want, and even do them successfully. But until we tap in to what the Father has created us to do, according to the Kingdom, we are spiritually barren or fruitless. Matthew 7:16-23 declares, “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or ﬁgs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the ﬁre. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” This is why it is important to operate within your God ordained purpose and to operate in God’s timing. When He is ready to use us for the purpose we were created, we don’t want to be found ill-equipped. INSPIRATION TODAY
So how do we tap into our purpose? Get in His presence! The Father wants nothing more than for His children to operate at their fullest potential within His divine will. He wants to tell you exactly what He created you to do. Ephesians 1:18 reads, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people.” We must become in tune with our Creator through prayer, reading His word, applying faith and walking in the spirit, allowing Him to lead us in all things. We must shut off our natural ears and open our spiritual ears. When it becomes a daily habit for us to get in His presence and walk in His spirit, we develop a relationship with God, which positions us to birth that which He has put in us from the foundation of the world. When we get in His presence, we get our purpose! When we get our purpose, we get new focus! When we get new focus, we become more Kingdomminded. Roman 12:2 reads, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Then you will be able to test and prove that which is God’s will —His good, pleasing and perfect will.
owever, be mindful of this...you will not operate within your God ordained purpose without opposition. Because your purpose will be something bigger than you... • You will not be able to accomplish it without the hand of God (Philippians 2:13). • It will take you out of your comfort zone (1Chronicle 28:20). • It will require faith (Romans 4:20-21). • It will require discipline (Proverbs 5:23) (Roman 12:1). • It will require work (Nehemiah 6:1-3).
1 Corinthians 15:58 reads, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Do not give up! The last thing the enemy wants is for you to decide that you want the more of God and His perfect will for your life. He knows that God will underwrite, co-sign and sanction your actions. This means you will be empowered by the 38
unstoppable, omnipotent God! Because of this, the enemy will try everything in his power to stop you from moving into your purpose. When God told Jeremiah that He called him to be a prophet to the nations, Jeremiah’s initial response was, “I am too young” (Jeremiah, 1:5-6). When God called Moses to appear before Pharaoh for the deliverance of the children of Israel, Moses said “I have a speech problem” (Exodus 3:1-4:10). When God called Jonah to cry out against the wickedness of Nineveh, Jonah ran in the opposite direction (Jonah 1:1-3). Thankfully, these great men of God regrouped and fulﬁlled God’s purpose for their lives. Their decisions to move into God’s purpose totally changed the course of history for several nations. As we begin to operate within our purpose, we must remain focused and understand that it is God who is operating “through” us and not we ourselves. We must remain humble so that God may continue to use us for His glory. Ephesians 4:1-3 reads, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with lowliness and gentleness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” Whose destiny is connected to your decision to move into your God ordained purpose? How might you affect the next generation to come with your “total yes” to God? What generational curse might you cancel by operating within your purpose? What addict might you deliver by walking in your purpose? How many countless souls might be saved by your decision to pursue purpose TODAY?
Monique Fowlkes is a member of Prayer and Faith Temple COGIC (Philadelphia, PA) and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Jurisdiction.
What Are We Thinking? What Are We Saying? By Queen E. Phillips
There are three basic reasons why we, the people of God, should give serious attention to what we are saying and why we should be selective in our thinking. First of all, words are powerful. They not only give a voice to our thoughts but they can inďŹ‚uence our attitudes and actions. The type of inďŹ‚uence is dependent upon the condition of the heart from which words are spoken. This means that what we say will either be positive or negative, helpful or hurtful, wise or foolish, good or evil; our words will kill or give life (Proverbs 18:21). 40
Our thoughts come from our heart— (Greek, ‘kardia’, the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires, appetites, affections, purposes, endeavors; of the understanding, the faculty and seat of the intelligence; of the will and character). Jesus made it clear when He said, “What comes out of a man, that deﬁles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:20-22 NKJV). In essence, the spiritual condition of our heart determines our thoughts, which are then revealed in what we say and do. The above-mentioned scripture reminds us of how important it is to meditate on the Word of God consistently. When we meditate (think) on and digest (absorb) God’s Word daily, we receive spiritual sustenance for daily living. Remember when Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan with natural food because He was hungry? He said,
“It is written man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Just as
Our thoughts come from our heart—
we need nourishment for our physical bodies, we need the power of God’s Word for spiritual nourishment. We need its quick, piercing power to discern the hidden motives, thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). And, we deﬁnitely need the life-giving power of God’s Word to control our thoughts. Philippians 4:8 gives us a checklist to use to help us to control our thoughts: “...whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy— meditate on these things.” As we think on these things, and pray with thanksgiving, instead of being anxious about everything, God’s peace protects our hearts and minds. When our hearts and minds are secure in INSPIRATION TODAY
the peace of God, evil thoughts, negativity, harsh and hurtful words cannot dwell. Although wrong thoughts may come to mind, they cannot prevail over the peace of God and His Word that ﬁlls our hearts. Therefore, nothing corrupt comes out of our mouths, but only what is good for necessary ediﬁcation, that it may impart grace to the hearers (Ephesians 4:29). The second reason we are to give serious attention to what we’re saying is because our words impact our witness. What we’re saying can either negatively or positively inﬂuence our credibility as Christians. Certainly, as Christ’s ambassadors and representatives, we desire to make a life-changing mpact by speaking the language of the Kingdom and not the world. Therefore, our hears must be Holy Spirit-ﬁlled containers, overﬂowing with the good treasure of God’s Word, so that good and wholesome words will come forth with anointed power and authority. “...For a tree is known by its fruit...A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:44-45). In essence, what we say reveals who we are—our true character.
The third reason we should give serious attention to what we’re saying is because our words frame our faith. What we verbalize is often what we believe, based on what we hear and conceive in our minds. For example, the woman with the issue of blood heard, believed and said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be healed” (Mark 5:25-28). Whether good or bad, positive or negative, whatever we believe is what we say; and whatever we say is what we receive. In Mark 11:22-24, Jesus said, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have what42
. . . out of the abudance of the heart his mouth speaks
whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” In essence, ever he says. Therefore I say to you,
prayers are answered when we say what we believe and believe what we say. Consequently, if we believe the Word of God, we must speak the Word of God. So, when we’re praying, are we speaking in agreement with what God says? Conclusively, what power and privilege God bestowed upon us, to be “speaking spirits!” We have the Word near us, even in our mouths and in our hearts; that is, the Word of faith, power, love and hope. We can use this Word even to frame our world by what we say in faith. However, always remember that the consequences are dependent upon the spiritual condition of the heart from which thoughts are expressed in words. Therefore, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). What are we thinking? We are thinking saintly thoughts. What are we saying? We are saying godly things, to inspire and inform for Kingdom purpose and God’s glory.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly ...
Queen Phillips is a member of Mt. Rose COGIC (Crosby, TX), Dr. Ron Eagleton, Pastor, where she serves as a curriculum writer and teacher in Christian Education, as well as the leader of the Altar Counselor Ministry. INSPIRATION TODAY
GOD All the Time By Reginald Boswell
THE ESSENCE OF GOD IN JESUS All of creation patiently waited for the time in which a Messiah would render death void and restore immortality back to man’s destiny. The book of Genesis first revealed God’s intentions saying, “...it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15b). That would bring the peace that man has longed for since man’s loss of innocence. Freedom with God was intertwined in the victory that would be won once Jesus overcame death after being spiked with nails that pierced his heel upon the cross.
“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear you, him.” —Matt. 17:5b
God came to earth to conquer death. Satan captured the title deed of the earth through deception from our primogenitors, Adam & Eve, thousands of years ago. Adam and Eve were created to live forever, physically as well as spiritually. Nevertheless, God said that in the day that Adam would eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he shall surely die. Adam succumbed to temptation and disobeyed God. A foreigner named death was brought into their immortality. At once, they died spiritually after they ate, losing innocence and gaining consciousness, thus commencing the atrophy of the human gene. Death and the fear thereof has been wielded as Satan’s primary weapon against mankind ever since. Looking upon the situation, God stepped out of eternity into time and became the Messiah who came to destroy the works of Satan. In preparation, God chose the descendants of Jacob, renamed Israel (a Prince with God), to make a cultural setting that He may enter. A man named Abram living in Ur, a bustling metropolis in Ancient Mesopotamia, embraced monotheism and received a pledge that became the back-drop of the spiritual rebirth needed for fallen man. Abram became Abraham after he appropriated the call of God into a deeper relationship with Him. Furthermore, Abraham’s great-grand son, Judah, received a more precise promise that from his lineage, “a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” interpreted God with us (Isaiah 7:14).
SCIENCE IN THE MATRIX
Solomon, who lived 1000 years before the birth of Immanuel, entertained the riddle of the advent of Christ by comparing the works of God with the formation of a fetus in the womb of a woman saying, “As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all” (Ecclesiastes 11:5). Mary, a virgin from the daughters of Levi, was chosen to conceive Immanuel. Through the practice and science of medicine, it is a proven fact that the blood of a pregnant woman does not intermix with the blood of a fetus. Mother and infant blood types may even be different. In the placenta, the unborn is nourished by a pregnant woman after conception and a fetus has a fully formed heart and blood vessels after 16 weeks. Infants develop a distinct circulatory system with a distinct blood type. The blood type of Jesus, who was conceived of the Holy Ghost (Matt.1:20), was not from Adam, but was pure and incorruptible. Christ as the carpenter’s son was a son by heritage, designated in the lineage of Adam (Luke 3:23-38)
and given the title the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Such nomenclatures were accurate only when applied to heritage, and not biologically, because the fetus that formed in Mary’s womb was begotten by God.
THE HOLY SPIRIT & JESUS
John the Baptist had the awesome responsibility to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17c). The Baptist lived in a time called the intertestamental period (era between the New and Old Testament). During this time, the Holy Ghost was not inﬁlling individuals, but resting upon them, empowering them and conﬁrming their union with the will of God, just as the Spirit rested upon Sampson and David at times during the Old Testament. John the Baptist was an exception. He was born in the Old Testament period and preached in the intertestamental period and he was ﬁlled with the Holy Ghost. Mary and Elizabeth were pregnant at the same time. The Angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and told him that John would be ﬁlled with the Holy Ghost in Elizabeth’s womb (Luke 1:15). This ﬁlling happened in the presence of the unborn Messiah “...when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was ﬁlled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41). John the Baptist’s ministry was so powerful that it began when he was a fetus. When the fetus leaped in the womb in the presence of the unborn Messiah, it was ﬁlled with the Holy Ghost as the Angel predicted. Consequentially, Elizabeth was ﬁlled with the Holy Spirit, making her the ﬁrst person ﬁlled with the Holy Spirit that was already born. Her spiritual baptism afﬁrmed John’s ministry, even from the womb. The Comforter was not yet come except to the Baptist and his mother. It was not necessary for Jesus to be baptized with the Holy Ghost because He was already God. He was baptized by John in the water to exhibit a pattern of submission that all were to follow as an outward sign of an inner regeneration, signifying the further release from the power of Satan. When the Holy Spirit as a dove lighted upon Him and the heavens opened, God said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear you, him” (Matt. 17:5b).
Reginald Boswell is a member of True Light COGIC, Huntsville, AL, Alabama First Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, Dr. Terrell Harris, Pastor. INSPIRATION TODAY
Making Choices in Christ By Elder Rick D. Cunningham
Many factors in our lives inďŹ‚uence the decisions we make. By accepting that God has a personal plan for each of us, we can learn to make decisions according to His will. We can break the pattern of bad choices that keeps us in a cycle of regret and guilt. The assurance that we can make the right choices can be found in God.
God has given us tools to help us understand His personal plan for our lives. We have access to: • • • • •
His written Word Prayer His Holy Spirit His love in our heart His wisdom and power
In making choices, it is important to follow a Bible based plan of action. We can make choices in Christ that will help to enrich our quality of life. That plan of action should include: • • • • •
Identifying destructive behavior Being honest with yourself Facing the challenges to change Understanding God’s plan for you Using helpful tools for successful decision making
These tools, along with a plan of action, can guide our paths to a fresh relationship with God. As a Christian, it is essential that you allow God to direct you in every choice you make. “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6 KJV). In Psalm 85:8, the writer said, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saint: but let them not turn again to folly.” God has some good things to say if you listen to Him. Having put off the conversation and ways of your past, you can now reap the beneﬁts of living for the Lord and following His guidance in making your choices. The behaviors and mandates that you previously accepted as a policy guide for yourself have been deleted and you are reading from a new set of instructions, inspired by God. You are now able to walk in this newness of life. David said in 2 Samuel 22:21, “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.” You can also look forward to God blessing you according to your actions. Many of the good things that you desire are now truly available to you because you have chosen to seek them through God. You can now be assured that what you achieve will be according to the blessings of God. By having trained your mind to follow the guidance of God and His Holy Spirit, you are now able to live a life pleasing to Him. You can live a life which is spiritually, morally, and personally fulﬁlling. It will now be easier to enjoy every aspect of life because you know that all of your decisions were made based on trusting in and following God’s personal plan for you. One of the most reassuring things that we know about God is that He will not lie to us. If God has said He will do something, we can count on it to happen. In the
ﬁfth chapter of the Book of Matthew, Jesus was teaching the people how to live as God would have us to. Some of the topics that Christ spoke about were the concerns we have about obtaining treasures and having the basic necessities in life, such as food and clothing. Jesus made us a promise regarding those things. If we ﬁrst seek the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; all these things shall be added unto us. That, my friends, is a guarantee you can count on. There is no limit to how God can bless us or with what He can bless us. In the third chapter of the Book of Malachi, God told the nation of Israel that He would open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing that there would not be room enough to receive. In addition to that, the work that they had done in their ﬁelds, He would protect and ensure that their crops turned out right. Now that’s a life you can’t complain about. There is an end result to all that we do. By making choices in Christ we can live a life that will result in spending eternity with God in heaven. That is a double blessing...a life directed by God here on earth and then spending eternity in His glorious presence. By making choices in Christ you can move beyond self destructive behavior and towards contentment in Christ.
Elder Rick Cunningham is a member of the Southside Church of God in Chris in Jacksonville, Fl and is the Florida Central Second Jurisdiction Chairman of the Pastors and Elders Council. He is the published author of “Making Choices in Christ: Moving Beyond Self Destructive Choices and Behavior.” INSPIRATION TODAY
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What Not to Say to the Bereaved By Sandra Williams
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” —Matthew 5:4
These reassuring words were spoken by Jesus. If we didn’t have these powerful words, many of us wouldn’t know what to do during the most difﬁcult times in our lives. All of us come from different walks of life and have different challenges to conquer. However, one thing is certain: at some point in life, we will have to experience the valley of sorrow. If you live to any signiﬁcant age, you will visit this valley on numerous occasions. In fact, the longer you live, the more often you will make the visit. The interesting thing about sorrow is that when you are not visiting this valley for yourself, you are visiting to help someone else get through it. Some people are very good at helping others through it, while others are clueless as to what to say to the brokenhearted. I have heard many inappropriate comments during times of bereavement. Since our emotions are unstable during these times, it is quite possible that we react to these remarks with either laughter or anger. However, quiet hours when we reﬂect According to Bishop James in H.Gaylord, “Evangelism is the vehicleonbysome whichof wethe meet the vast spiritual and social needs of those in the communities which we have been called to serve.” haveonheard, feel sorryChurch for the of one Thiscomments concept haswetaken a life ofwe its may own actually for the Kelly Temple God in Christ, where Bishop Gaylord has served as Senior Pastor for the past 29 years, with the theme: delivering remarks.World. We may realize that theyBishop simplyGaylord’s did not holistic Ministering tothe a Hurting Thisthen theme encompasses philosophy of ministry, such as providing services and constant support, while emphasizing what to the know importance ofsay. personal development, balanced with a wholesome spiritual life. 50
The following remarks, along with many similar variations, should never be said to someone who is grieving: 1 Was your loved one saved?
This is inappropriate because if the answer is “no,” you will have brought an even more devastating thought to the mind of the bereaved. If the deceased was not saved, you can do absolutely nothing about it. It is also inappropriate because if the surviving party was not present when their loved one passed, they really don’t know if there may have been a last conversation with God.
2 How did it happen?
This is inappropriate because if the death was tragic, you will stir up more unpleasant memories. No one wants to relive a tragedy. If the surviving party feels like talking, the way in whcih their loved one passed will most likely be said.
3 God needed them to complete his beautiful garden in heaven.
This is just not true and therefore brings no comfort. God is in need of nothing. He is altogether self sufﬁcient. He certainly does not go around breaking hearts to fulﬁll a need in heaven.
4 Don’t cry. You’ve got to be strong.
It’s not fair to tell a grieving soul that they should not cry. We know that the scripture records that Jesus wept. Crying provides a release that is both healing to the body and the emotions.
5 Honey, they are now at peace. If you tried to bring them back, they would tell you to leave them alone. This statement can only be used if you know the individual and where they stood with God. If you did not know them, the words appear empty and useless.
6 It was just their time.
Can you imagine saying this to someone who loses their child tragically? The Bible says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). We know that God is sovereign, but let us not lay every work of the enemy to his charge. If we hear that someone is shot to death or overdosed, for example, we deﬁnitely should not use this line.
Now that we know what not to say, what can we say that is helpful? 1 Let the individual know that you are sorry for their loss.
It’s amazing what a hug, if the person is close to you, or a handshake, if they are not, can do to let a person know that you care. “I always pray before making my visit,” says Elder Marvin Ewing, Assistant Pastor of Kennerly Temple COGIC in St. Louis, MO. “I ask the Lord to word my mouth. When I enter the home, I give the bereaved a hug or kiss and tell them that I love them and I am praying for them.” Many times the fact that we are present speaks volumes.
2 Sometimes the fewer words spoken the better.
Job was so much better off when his friends just sat with him. It was when they tried to rationalize his great devastation that they treaded on unfamiliar territory. This caused greater injury to a righteous man. It’s alright for us to share with the grieving that we don’t quite understand their loss. We are not expected to know everything. What we do know is that our loving Heavenly Father knows and cares.
3 Don’t throw the whole Bible at a person when they are grieving. One or two verses may sufﬁce, as long as you are being led by God.
Tell them, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart” (Psalm 34:18). You can also tell them “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and inﬁrmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning” (Hebrews 4:15, Ampliﬁed Bible). Tell them of a similar loss you may have suffered, if it is appropriate. Only tell them if you have been healed of the hurt because they need to know that one day, their sorrow will be decreased. Pastor Frank Thompson of Harvest Church in St. Louis says, “People are more interested in your caring than your sharing.”
4 Let them know that you have come to help, not to ask questions but to help. Offer to help in some speciﬁc area of your specialty. This may include writing the obituary, making phone calls for them, preparing a meal, or cleaning the bathroom. Sometimes, the grieving will say no because they are embarrassed. Assure them of your sincerity and pick up a broom if necessary.
After the tragic death of a recent relative, I visited with the family for support. My husband and I mostly went to cry with them. “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15). 52
INSPIRATION INSPIRATIONTODAY TODAY
Remember what Paul said to the church in Corinth. â€œGrace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of Godâ€? (2 Corinthians 1:2-4).
Missionary Sandra Thompson Williams is a member of New Mount Zion COGIC, Eastern Missouri Jurisdiction, Superintendent Jessie J. Smith, Pastor and Bishop R.J. Ward, Prelate.
INSPIRATION INSPIRATIONTODAY TODAY