Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Open Your Family

Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us. James 1:27 (NLT)

Our children deserve the best. Unfortunately, too often we associate the best with material accumulations rather than with the opportunity to mature in safe, loving, violence and substance free two parent home. Statistically, African American children are less likely than Asians, Hispanics, and Whites to grow up in the home of their biological parents.

Reality in today’s society is that our families are fragmented by myriad socioeconomic challenges arising from systemic racism. Additionally, there are crisis and dilemmas created by the irresponsibility of individuals. Both of these scenarios affect the children presently and in time to come.

The result of broken families is our communities destabilize and erode further with each generation. The community base is the family and when that base crumbles, the complex concerns reach into each segment of the community. Children without a two-parent family home are served best in a stable and loving environment where they can develop the confidence needed to gain social and academic competence.

Historically, African Americans have embraced and nurtured those in need of family support, especially children. Family was not always defined by bloodlines. Children were admonished, encouraged, hugged, and supported by block parents, church parents, neighborhood aunties, barbershop pops, et al. Today we seem to have decreased in our extended kinship care.
Today, our children languish in foster care at disproportionate rates. We do not adopt at the same rate as Asians, Hispanics, and Whites and our children are hard to place because they are not the most sought after children. When other races do adopt our children, there is a concern that the children will lose a connection with African American culture, history, and the community.

As an adoptive parent and a former foster parent, I can definitively state that there is not a need for one to be wealthy to adopt. In addition to adopting, my husband and I have biological children and opened our hearts and home to various family members over the past twenty-five years. The outcome has been beautiful memories, great experiences, and children who are now compassionate adults.

I highly recommend extending yourself and family to save our community. You may not be able to save the world…start with a child.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Filling In

And so, since God in his mercy has given us this wonderful ministry,
we never give up.
2Cr 4:1

Before I realized it, I was picking myself up. I didn’t even have time to think,
“No this can’t be happening at work?”

As I was falling, I could see myself, it felt like I was witnessing a slow motion picture, but instead of the star role being acted out by someone else it was me. I had no control over what was occurring- it was a surreal moment at 2pm in the afternoon on the steps of Phenix Hall.

I really believed or no maybe I thought I had caught myself, but my dusty pant leg revealed another truth. My feet and upper body weren’t in sync- they didn’t cooperate as I held on to the banister just momentarily before my fall. I realized it was much too late. It wasn’t a terrible fall, but I knew it wasn’t a pretty sight. A student that stood at the bulletin board pretended not to see my fall. I knew she saw, and heard the thud. Silently I thanked her for letting me have a shred of dignity. But she could have at least said, “Are you ok?” It surprised me that she just turned her back as though I wasn’t there. The shock to my body didn’t initially feel bad, but as I write this devotional, replay the mental tapes and acknowledge that I knew I had fallen, I am feeling just a little achy.

Prior to the fall I answered the phone, listen to the requested instructions and there I was in pursuit (interpreting the spoken and unspoken requests)- carrying out the task of opening conference doors, greetings guests most cordially, opening window to let air circulate in the conference room, having small talk and awaiting the intended parties which were really suppose to be meeting. It was my mission to fill in- make the atmosphere more comfortable, smile pleasantly, answering the questions as best I could and respond intelligently –I at least hoped. Not as soul seemed to notice that my transparent halo was crooked, or that my clothes possibly were a little rumpled! So my mission was accomplished! None of the guests noticed as I reflected that just seconds before that conversation –I had literally and figuratively picked myself up off the stairwell, dusted my shocked body off and entered the department’s waiting area to greet our guests. Outwardly I was composed, inwardly I was shaken!

How often have you done the same thing friends? Fallen and had to quickly get moving! As I’ve heard it said, “Keep it moving!” or how about this one? “You don’t have time for sniveling, big girls/big boys don’t cry!”

I had fallen as I descended the stairs in a hurried pace. Many times in life as we are climbing so many ladders, negotiating many kinds of stairwells in our life we may get hurt along the way carrying hidden scars with the appearance of having it all together. I’d like to think that God desires that we view these stairs or ladders as personal challenges or trials we face in life. Some challenges we get through with ease and others that’s just not the case.

These challenges may be evident for others to witness as we go through, the operative word being through! Who dictates the time piece? Often it’s out of our control, or possibly it’s negligence or poor planning or maybe a mistake? Whatever it is, the duration may take us through days, months and possibly years. Some challenges are a cake walk others are no joke! These corporate ladders/stairwells, marriage ladders, parent ladders, spiritual ladders, religious ladders, depression ladders, drug ladders, the greed ladders, the sickness ladders, confusion ladders are often much too much! You fill in the blank and we miss a rung, miss the mark and fall. Hopefully not to our detriment! But be assured friends that God’s words in the 2nd Corinthians are a sure cure for our hurts:

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 2Cr 4:8-10(NIV)

Surely we’ve incurred set backs, a fall from grace, an awkward moment in life and you had no clue it was coming! You believed that your journey from here out was smooth sailing? So you thought your life was supposed to pan out in one way and then another route occurs-right before your eyes and there you are flat on your back looking up or possibly lying face down. In your spirit, break out in a warrior dance, praise Him, lift your hands and your hearts and know that you survived the fall and it didn’t kill you!

Thank God you survived! Thank God for the on lookers like the young student that saw me tumble and never uttered a word or a hand! Thank God that you too have enough spring in your spirit to look forward to the days ahead.

For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever!
So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.
2Cr 4:17, 18 (NIV)

Thank God I wasn’t left by the way side, crumbled! That’s for you and me-the Holy Spirit desires that we keep climbing, and not be shy about filling in!!! Now go on and enjoy the reminder of your day as you hum I’LL Make It by Hezekiah Walker!
Joyfully submitted by Linda Mose Meadows
Author of: The Blessedness of Believing
A Devotional Journey of Life's Lessons and God's Promises

I am waiting on the Lord...

God you have the answers that I desire. I do not know if I can accept, handle or receive the knowledge I pursue. I trust at your appointed time I will receive an understanding.
So I move forward into the future that I cannot see. I carry on with life and trust that you will bless me abundantly and that I shall live in peace.
Wars abound, famine and drought afflict the earth, people's hearts have hardness not compassion, and believers suffer emotional, financial, health and spiritual challenges. Yet in the midst of it all I have hope because you are sovereign. I trust you though I cannot see how you are working things out. I believe in you though my mind says why.
You alone are Lord of Lords and King of Kings. My questions are not comparable to your knowledge. In your time I will understand and say thank you Lord.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. Psalm 119:66

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Divine Purpose

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

I am a Christian who believes that I have surrendered to God’s perfect will for my life. That perfect will included discussing my life in an open book to the world. In spite of my faith and the fact that I surrendered to God’s will, I am having a difficult time today. I feel like a victim. I am anxious, fearful, impatient, and sad.

Although I am living in purpose my flesh and mind are wrestling with my needs and desires. I believe with my whole heart that I am living a life of purpose. I know in my spirit that I must wait on God to show up and be glorified after my divine purpose is accomplished.

I am a black female and I experienced discrimination while employed by New York State Department of Corrections. From 1993 to 1996 I was the victim of a continued hostile work environment, discrimination, and retaliation at Albion Correctional Facility. In this blog entry I am going to share my diary entries that include some of my emotions and thoughts as I completed my assignment from God.

EXCERPTS FROM –“A Case of Racial Discrimination and Retaliation a Real or Imagined.”

“Shortly after I filed my case without an attorney in 1997, God told me “You will be victorious in this matter.” I believed God because with God nothing is impossible. It was with this firm belief and trust in God’s promise that I was able to press on and exhaust all avenues for judicial redress.

May 24, 2001
Judge Elfvin issued a twenty-four-page court order that dismissed my Title VII case. The court order did not even mention the fact that seven of the declarations filed by the New York State Attorney General’s Office contained perjured statements.

Although my case was dismissed by the district court I held on to God’s promise that I would be victorious in this matter. After I got over the initial disappointment I was forced to start working on my appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

January 25, 2002
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an order upholding the decision of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. The Appeals Court agreed with Judge Elfvin’s order that dismissed my case.
I felt disappointed after I read the Appeals Court's decision. My faith was tested by the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Yet I hung on to God’s promise that I would be victorious. I believed that God would be honored even more after I successfully argued and won my case before The United States Supreme Court.

I still didn't understand the fact that neither court order mentioned the perjured non-retaliatory explanations presented in the Defendant’s sworn declarations filed in the district court.

The only explanation for the unjust rulings of both courts that makes sense to me is found in Exodus 7:1-6 (NIV) of the Bible:

AND the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharoah ; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

Thou shalt speak all that I command thee; and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.

But Pharaoh shall not heaken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they.

June 24, 2002
The nine Supreme Court Justices have wide discretion in deciding what cases to review. The Supreme Court Justices and law clerks of the Court review nearly 9,000 appeals that are filed each year and pick about 80 to decide.

I filed a Writ of Certiorari and nine Appendix (exhibits) with the United States Supreme Court. I was aware of the almost impossibility that my case would be reviewed but I worked countless hours preparing my Writ of Certiorari. As I typed the 40-paged Writ, I held on to God’s promise that I would be victorious in this matter.

November 4, 2002
Today The Supreme Court of the United States of America issued an order that upheld the Second Circuit Court of Appeals' decision not to reverse the district court's summary judgment order. I understood the reality that The Supreme Court of the United States of America reviews less than 100 of the approximately 9,000 cases filed with the Court each year. I didn’t understand the fact that my case wasn’t selected as one of the 80 cases for review.

After I received a copy of the “decision” I burst out in loud cries of anguish and disbelief. I cried out to God in pain and utter disappointment. How would I live when the very foundation of my faith received a near fatal blow? How could I go on with my life after experiencing such an unjust decision? How could I function in a world were lies prevail over the truth? I lapsed into something deeper than depression. I didn’t know what to think or what to do. I no longer had a job or the hope of being victories in my lawsuit. I felt like a complete failure.

Fall 2004
I read the “Purpose Driven Life” and received teaching on purpose at two different churches. After I read Rick Warren’s divinely inspired book it changed my life. I realized that I was victorious in my case because God’s purpose for my life was revealed to me.

My divine purpose is to shed light on employment discrimination in America. I believe that this light will reveal that Congress needs to investigate, address and/or amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Amending the Act again would prevent one judge from having the absolute power to grant summary judgment motions that dismiss discrimination and retaliation lawsuits.

February 18, 2006
I was born 52 years ago today. I have chosen this day to begin my journey fulfilling the divine purpose of my birth. I know that I was born black and poor on February 18, 1954, to write “A Case of Racial Discrimination and Retaliation Real or Imagined.”

November 12, 2006
Today I am currently writing on the retaliation I experienced at Albion. I am overwhelmed with anxiety as I continue to view extensive evidence of discrimination and the failure of anyone to help me. I am in tears as I type this.

This is the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial was dedicated. Oprah gave a moving speech in honor of Dr. King that reminded me that I must complete this book.

No American citizen should suffer the mental and physical anguish I experienced from New York State Department of Corrections employees, New York State Attorney General’s Office and with the American Court System.

November 17, 2006
I am feeling more empowered and stronger. It has taken me 3 days (30 hours) to write about the January 7, 1996 incidents. I am using the five-paged memo titled Lost Or Stolen ID as a guide. I am so thankful that I wrote all of those documents and kept them. God knew that I would need them. I must hold on to the fact that with the vision from God comes the provisions. It is 2:19 am and I am ending my writing for today. I worked 10 hours today on the book. It was a good day.

February 3, 2007
“I have almost completed the chapter of this book titled “My Summary Judgment Motion - Retaliation.” This has been a difficult chapter for me to write. The emotional pain of reliving every aspect of this ordeal is almost unbearable. Vivid memories including the initial discrimination at Albion, the failure of supervisory staff to correct it, the retaliation that I experienced, New York State Division of Human Right’s no probable cause ruling, New York State Attorney General’s filing of perjured declarations/affidavits, and Judge Elfvin failure to appoint counsel to represent me during my lawsuit are crushing my spirit and my resolve to complete this book and to fulfill my divine purpose.

I have gained strength, confirmation, and encouragement from various religious broadcast and sermons. In my determination to fulfill the divine purpose of my life I typed and saved a document titled “Confirmation of Purpose from Religious Broadcast”. At 12:40 a.m. I pulled up the document and read part of sermon from Bishop T. D. Jakes.

Bishop T. D. Jakes on September 20, 2006
“Man has nothing to do with God’s promise. People don’t have to approve it. You must know that God blessed it he that has begun a good work in your life will fulfill it until the return of Christ.

Fear the controversy but do it any way. Man has nothing to do with God’s promise. Don’t abort your baby you may have pain, not have friendships. Pain is an indication that birth is getting close.”

I am crying now as I type this. I truly fear what may happen to me after my book is published. I fear for my life but I know that God’s perfect will for my life will be fulfilled.

Bishop Jakes continued, “This is the time that you have to bare down, when opposition is getting strongest, you have to bear down. Great things are often born out of the system.” He cited the example of Mary and the birth of Christ. "The system will lock you out don’t wait for the system to make room. God birth a King in a barn. You must trust God promise to you.
Many people have given up on God’s promise because man has said there is no room for them. The greatness of the concept may not be ideal circumstance but it is still the promise. Redefine willing you have to be willing to be in an uncomfortable situation to get what God has promised you”

After reading Bishop Jake’s sermon I accepted his challenge and his confirmation of God’s promise to me. I will complete this chapter and this book because it is an assignment from God. I love you Lord and I surrender to your perfect will.”

The horrible experience of my Title VII case still causes me to shed tears. Only God knows how many other whole human beings have suffered, cried, and prayed to be treated according to the rules, according to the law, and according to the United States Constitution.

Thank you Holy Spirit for this revelation and the fact that I feel better now. I feel better because I realize that I suffered and am still suffering so that other people will not have to endure or experience my ordeal of discrimination and retaliation.

Vera Richardson is the author of “A Case of Racial Discrimination and Retaliation Real or Imagined.",+Vera

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Being Grateful for Here and Now

May the Lord of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Oh this is wonderful! That I am sure of is what was resonating in my spirit. Instead of continuing to work beyond 5pm, waiting for my husband to arrive so we could journey home, I had the bright idea to shut the computer down, close the folders and leave like others with common sense and prepare to end the work day. So there I sat on the bench, with book in hand, tote and lunch bag by my side and I began to breathe in and out. This was truly calming. I recognized the divine-the divine moment of the here and now.

God was truly in the atmosphere and I recognized immediately that He also dwelled in me, my very breath!

The trees swayed, the warm breeze was refreshing and the beautiful blue water that cascades and moves around the fringes of Hampton’s campus is truly a site to behold. So it just felt good to be outdoors and present in this moment.

I then opened and resumed my reading of BeBe Moore Campbell novel: Singing in the Comeback Choir. And reality of her singing career[is shared with] Maxine:

“When I was in my prime, I was so proud of my voice, but I didn’t really appreciate it. I’d hit a note that could crack glass and wonder how I got there. I’d be holding that note long enough to pass out and searching in the crowd to see if anybody important was listening. And I’d be all the way back down before I remembered that I hadn’t even enjoyed it: not getting there, not the being there, not even the coming back. I was so busy trying to get somewhere.” Pg 318

Did that ever hit me like a ton of bricks friend.

I read the passage at least three times. Glanced up and appreciated that there was a young man skateboarding, zooming past me. He moved effortlessly it appeared with ease and sheer enjoyment. Apparently he had mastered this skateboard. As I marveled at this student I really appreciated what God was expressing to me in real time! And really began to appreciate how triumphant we can live if we pay attention and value our life’s moments. Admittedly we can miss out on the important personal and developmental milestones-living! Wouldn’t you agree that the Holy Ghost is amazing?

Friends God has spoken through BeBe Moore Campbell’s character Lindy. Lindy’s drive to reach stardom, get from there to here, her drive to have a stellar singing career and grab the brass ring, was admirable but she understands that she missed the mark, missed the opportunity to celebrate all of life’s offerings and be content in the moment!

Well, indeed the revelation that Lindy had as she expressed herself was a healing moment for me. I too have hurried through life, desiring immediate changes and like Lindy have missed so many opportunities to spiritually tune in and rejoice along the way instead my focus was fixed on anticipating the next life’s issue, the next and the next!

It was cathartic- I read on and there it was-Lindy placed her hands to her mouth and kissed them. I then knew she who battered by racism, alcoholism, guilt and anger was finally appreciative, thankful in her soul for her life and her songs. This surely was a moment of personal worship-not about her accomplishments but of God’s tender grace and mercies.

Be joyful, always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

My spirit uttered, Lord I thank you! And my grocery list of thanks began to roll out of my mind! Lord I thank you for the finally being fifty and free. Free to look back and not wonder, I now know it was you who kept me! I won’t be embarrassed about my setbacks. I can stop sweating the small stuff and remember to appreciate all the simple abundance you’ve provided for me! I thank you because I know it’s a miracle to just be able to open my eyes and see! See all you want me to see, to feel all that I feel and to love all that I love. God I will never worry so much about reaching the plateau without being thankful for being able to scale the summit!
What is your spirit uttering? What of God’s grace in your life?

Today let’s get our spiritual skateboards out and move like that young man on campus, being assured, confident, healed, joyful, grateful and confident that God is the wind beneath our wings! And for those of us a little frail from the journey, fear not-be sure to breathe deeply and you enjoy the view!

“So I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them sing joyful praises forever.
Protect them,
so all who love your name may be filled with joy.
For you bless the godly, O Lord,
surrounding them with your shield of love.
Psalm 5:11-12

Joyfully submitted by Linda Mose Meadows Author of:
The Blessedness of Believing
A Devotional Journey of Life's Lessons and God's Promises

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Women United

Women United

As women, we often experience problems that are similar to those of men. However, these problems are complex and often compounded by the fact that we are women. There is no way to independently resolve these problems; we must unite to collectively present our case.

We must remove the barriers of race and socioeconomic status so that we come to the table as equals. I must want the best for you as you want the best for me; otherwise, we will resort to self-serving motivations.

United we can remove barriers of tradition, finances, government, education, and religiosity. In isolation we suffer anger, loneliness, and become easy prey for the enemy. Our strength and success is in our commitment to live honoring God by helping one another.

Numbers 27:1 One day a petition was presented by the daughters of Zelophehad-Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. Their father, Zelophehad, was the son of Hepher, son of Gilead, son of Makir, son of Manasseh, son of Joseph. 2 These women went and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the tribal leaders, and the entire community at the entrance of the Tabernacle.* 3 "Our father died in the wilderness without leaving any sons," they said. "But he was not among Korah's followers, who rebelled against the Lord. He died because of his own sin. 4 Why should the name of our father disappear just because he had no sons? Give us property along with the rest of our relatives." 5 So Moses brought their case before the Lord. 6 And the Lord replied to Moses, 7 "The daughters of Zelophehad are right. You must give them an inheritance of land along with their father's relatives. Assign them the property that would have been given to their father.

Notice the consistent collective action of the women. These five sisters never speak or act independently. The women are not all the same, sisters differ and disagree. However, the sisters are decidedly determined to resolve the problem together.

Do not accept the myth that women cannot get along. We can relate to one another and resolve to work together when we meet as equals and interact with integrity. There can be no hidden agendas or private coalitions in the midst of our unity.

Consider how great of a challenge these women faced in their clan, community, and from contesting their issue to the very leaders established by God. Note the women are not disrespectful to others nor or they divided in purpose. They present their case united.

Christian women today do well to model this approach in resolving the issues in our lives. If we want to live the abundant life, we must get over our pettiness and preferences so that we can speak with purpose and pursue the promise.

We cannot choose which sisters we agree with, divide into cliques, and think God will bless our silliness. We come from different education levels, political beliefs, family experiences, and spiritual maturity levels; however, we are sisters. Our Father in heaven will set our divine destiny and spiritual inheritance in order when we get together and work together.

A New Creature

Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ... (2 Cor. 5:17)

To me, this is one of the bible's most significant scriptures for the body of Christ. This scripture reveals what actually happened to us in the new birth and is a key to our Christian walk and development.

When I first recognized the meaning of this scripture, I had been a Christian for about 10 years. And for all of those ten years, I had spent every waking, (and probably sleeping) hour trying to be the best Christian that I could be. It was my utmost intention to be as Christ-like as I could possibly be, and to put to death the "old" sinful me.

It may sound funny, but when I caught the meaning of this scripture, my first thought was this, "Man, I've been trying to kill someone who is already dead." "And I have been trying to change someone who is already changed." Now, how futile can that be?

But what baffled me for a while was that if this scripture were true, then why did I find myself still sinful. Well, I think that the best way to answer that is to explain that the change this scripture is talking about is an inner change, and a spiritual one. So, in order to experience the reality of the change, the aim will have to be to get what is on the inside, (and what is spiritual) to the outside and what is in the natural.

Let's first take a look at what this change is and what God has made us when we accepted his Son. Then we will talk a little about making it practical and active in our lives.

First of all, the bible says that this new creature within us is a new man, (or woman) and started from a seed, just like every natural child starts as a seed in the womb of their mother. Peter said this about being born again and becoming a new creature,

"Being born again, not by corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." (1 Pet. 1:23)

This scripture brings a lot of insight into what happened to us when we were "born again," but I think the most important point is that we were born of the seed of God. And the seed of God, being incorruptible, is why we can live forever and also why we are Christ-like already. (See also Jn. 1:12-13)

Remember, our opening scripture said that, "...old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God..." There are no shortcomings or imperfections or inconsistencies in God, and because we are born of God and of his seed, there are no shortcomings or imperfections or inconsistencies in the new man within us.

I know that when we look at ourselves we may find that hard to believe. We may not see or feel that kind of remarkable change in our lives, but if you follow along with me, I will explain why we may not and how we can.

God's power is not released without our faith. For example, without our personal faith in Jesus, the new birth would not have taken place. And the same principle will continue in our Christian development as well. Without our personal faith; God's power and life, (though it is already resident within us), will not be released to affect our outer man... And here is how we can do that.

We are called as Christians to live by faith, not by sight, to walk according to the spirit, not according to the flesh. We are to believe of ourselves as the new inner man that Jesus made us to be, NOT as we see ourselves in the natural. (2 Cor. 5:7, Rom. 8:1-9) Paul the apostle said of himself,

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20)

Paul believed that his "old man," the sinful man that he once was, was crucified and died with Christ and that his "new man" rose with Jesus and now partakes in Christ's life and is made to be just like him. And Paul did this by faith. And it was Paul's faith that would enable him to live such a supernaturally powerful and productive life.

"For as he thinketh in his heart, (about him or herself) so is he." (Pr. 23:7 parenthesis mine)

Paul did not "try" to be Christ-like, for as we will see; that is futile. Instead, Paul believed that he was Christ-like "already" by virtue of the new birth. He chose to live by faith and not by sight, according to what God said about him, not what he saw in himself. And it is this same kind of faith that will transform you and I on the outside into what we already are on the inside. It is a process, and will take time, but it will work. (Rom. 12:1-2)

Our fight is a fight of faith, not of works; of believing not doing. If we try in our own strength to "do" we will fail. Paul said,

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do." (Rom. 7:18-19)

Paul wanted to do well, but because of sin in his flesh found no power to perform it.

The bible says that, "The strength of sin is the law," (1 Cor. 15:56) so the more demands we put on ourselves, the more we stengthen our problems. The harder we "try" to be like Christ, to modify our lives to be more like his, the harder it will be to be like him.

Trying harder is like making New Year's resolutions. It just doesn't work. Even the strongest of people have to continually work at resolutions to keep them. And once they stop working at them, the resolution stops. Consider also reformed alcoholics. Even the most successful have to struggle every day to stay free. They even claim to still be alcoholics even if they are controlling the problem. But God wants us totally free, and really transformed, so that our struggle ends and wholesome behavior becomes natural. And it is faith in God's word that will being real transformation, just like it brought real change when we believed in Jesus. And the more we develop our faith in our new man and in what God's word says about us, the more we will change on the outside.

Trying to be the best Christians we can be won't work, but believing that we are already the best Christians we need to be will work.

Our development as Christians is just like our salvation and the new birth, where faith alone will bring a transformation that we cannot bring ourselves. It is a new way of living and thinking, but faith in God's word is the way God gave humanity to tap into his life and supernatural power, (and into the new creature within us). (Eph. 2:8-9)

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of "Suffering (God's Will?)"

More information about this and an upcoming book, "Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing)," along with a short bio may be found at:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Juanita Bynum Marriage Back in the News Again

Juanita Bynum is back in the news again. Her publicist, Amy Malone, recently issued a public statement denying that she is in counseling with her estranged husband, Bishop Thomas Weeks. The statement was released through Essence Magazine, with whom Bynum appears to have formed a relationship after appearing on the cover earlier this year.

"Juanita Bynum would like to make it very clear that she is not in counseling with Bishop Thomas Weeks III, nor are there any talks of reconciliation as stated in the false article written by Doug Campbell," Malone said in the statement.

"As Dr Bynum has stated in the past, she feels that reconciliation with her estranged husband could be a tremendous testimony to the body of Christ; however that is not the case at this time."

In the release, Juanita Bynum's publicist also stated that she has cut ties with the Weeks family and that she was invited by one of members of Bishop Week's family to speak at a conference in Barbados. Bynum's publicist described her as "an anointed woman of God, and called to be a voice to the nation."

Juanita Bynum's marriage has been the source of public curiosity as of late, as she has been accused of marketing her allegedly abusive marriage for personal gain. Shortly after her husband, Bishop Thomas Weeks was accused of choking and stomping her, Bynum described herself as the "face of domestic violence". This led to an outcry by the Black American public and the Black Gospel community, many of whom felt that she was not sincere in her disposition.

Watch the video below as Juanita Bynum gets into a heated argument with Sheryl Underwood on BET:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Black Church or Mammy

The Black Church
in 21st Century America

Haggai 1:2 "This is what the Lord Almighty says: The people are saying, `The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord's house-the Temple.' " 3 So the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: 4 "Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? 5 This is what the Lord Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you! 6 You have planted much but harvested little. You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. You have wine to drink, but not enough to satisfy your thirst. You have clothing to wear, but not enough to keep you warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!
7 "This is what the Lord Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you! 8 Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord. 9 You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord Almighty, while you are all busy building your own fine houses. 10 That is why the heavens have withheld the dew and the earth has withheld its crops. 11 I have called for a drought on your fields and hills-a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olives and all your other crops, a drought to starve both you and your cattle and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get." (NLT)

As an ordained minister and Black woman, it troubles me to observe the causal disregard and indifference that all people have for the House of God. However, I am particularly weighted down with aggravation, frustration, and irritation with how the Black community has allowed the one institution that has seen us through the Middle Passage to present day to fall into fiscal, physical, and spiritual decay and disrepair.

Sadly, too many people are not cognizant of the Christian faith of some Africans prior to the Maafa or Middle Passage and simply accept the mythology that Black Christians adopted the religion of the slave owners and slave masters. This is the effect of being disconnected from world history and miseducated so as to perceive the only means of significance and success is to aspire to fit into the fictionalized accounts of American history that have for too long been formed around the need for white males to retain power and resources.
An analysis of Christianity will lead one to the logical conclusion that there were some Africans worshipping Jesus Christ. In what continent is Egypt located? Africa! When Joseph and Mary took Jesus into seclusion for safety, Jesus was taken to Egypt. In the New Testament Phillip witnessed to and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch. While there were indigenous African religions and there were Africans engaged in Islam there were also Christian Africans.
The Black Church as provided support for the Black community in myriad ways since its formation and yet the very beneficiaries of the sacrifices and services of the Black Church have left the church wanting and needing. Indeed, if the church is the Bride of Christ, we have treated the Black Church as ‘Mammy’.

We have refused to respect her and recognize her value. Her contributions have gone unappreciated. We have neglected her as we have climbed the ladder of prosperity laden with material acquisitions, designer labels, luxury automobiles, and fine dining. We have failed to continue giving at the same pace that out foreparents did during Reconstruction and the Great Depression despite the support of the Black Church to educate us, stand as refuge and arming stations during Civil Rights and Black Power movements. She prayed and toiled with us to gain equality in education and jobs and we neglect to give of our time, talent, and treasure. Oh, we extol her magnificent smile, and ceaseless rejoicing in song and uplifting sermon…yet, we do not return to her.

We run to her when the idols we created crash around us. We seek her protection when we have been exposed for behavior that may land us in monetary trouble or the prison cell. Often we acknowledge it was the Black Church that gave us the first opportunity to develop singing or oratory skills, taught us the power of unity and forgiveness, perhaps provided refuge and necessities during our season of poverty, or book scholarships that helped us through college. However, rarely do we return to serve her, lead her, and care for her that she might remain steadfastly available to another generation.

I am not equating the Black Church with God, He alone is our Priest, Provider, and Protector. However, we must have respect unto the vessel He chose to bring us through, to bring us over, and to help us up. We cannot and must not forget the Black Church and the ministries God used to reach us. Perhaps, if we return to the place we first believed we will recall how to apply the precepts and principles of God to our daily living. We will recognize that those same Godly lessons that edified, enabled, and empowered, our ancestors can help us today as we face oppressive issues with our economy, a society that prefers to incarcerate our youth than educate, children who live without healthcare, and too many of us who been lulled into apathy about our own situations. Perhaps if we return to God and meet one another once again to worship, fellowship, study, pray, and serve we will stop throwing pity parties and begin to work towards improving our community and the global community. Of course, that requires each of us doing our part.

No more hollow hucksters in the pulpit perpetrating as leaders, when their priority is living off of our misery. No more politicians coming by to visit ‘Mammy’ just to get votes. We will have to learn to live within our means so that we can meaningful sow finances into the ministries of the Black Church. I am a believer…I believe in God and I believe every word of God…
Therefore, say to the people, `This is what the Lord Almighty says: Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty.' Zechariah 1:3 (NLT)

Power and peace are in Jesus!

Pastor Kelly Oglesby

Monday, February 11, 2008

Weeks and Bynum May Get Together....Or Not

There is speculation and mixed reports that Juanita Bynum is thinking about getting back together with her estranged husband, Bishop Thomas Weeks. has reported that Bynum and Weeks have begun the process of undergoing spiritual counseling in order to reconcile their broken marriage.

The reports allegedly came from someone close to Bynum and Weeks. The anonymous source has stated that the two are undergoing spiritual counseling to fix their marriage. According to the anonymous source, "They both need spiritual healing from the Lord, but they're committed to rebuilding their marriage ... Please give them some privacy."

However, the report was quickly denied by someone even closer to Thomas Weeks, publicist Angelo Ellerbee. Ellerbee had this to say to EURWeb:

"Please allow this communication to serve as an official notice to your web page that what was posted today regarding my client, Bishop Weeks III and his estranged wife, prophetess Juanita Bynum is totally false, incorrect and untrue on the behalf of Bishop Weeks. However, Ms. Bynum chooses to position herself is up to her and her publicity firm. There has been no spiritual engagements between my client, Bishop Weeks and his estranged wife. I hope that you will be very kind in displaying this information on your site as soon as possible. I find it quite misleading and full of publicity tricks."

A similar statement was released by Amy Malone, publicist for Juanita Bynum:

"Juanita Bynum would like to make it very clear that she is not in counseling with Bishop Thomas Weeks III, nor are there any talks of reconciliation as stated in the false article written by Doug Campbell. Juanita Bynum Ministries received a request from Bishop Weeks' uncle, Bishop Leo Smith, to speak at his conference in Barbados this June. She also received an invitation from his grandfather and aunt, Bishop Thomas J. Weeks and Dr. Gwendolyn Weeks to speak at their two-day prayer revival in Boston ... she accepted both invitations. Her acceptances of the invitations are in no way a step towards reconciliation."

Some have argued that Weeks and Bynum have been using their relationship as a publicity stunt, sending out press releases and "positioning themselves" in the public eye.

"Perhaps if this relationship were more about God and love than publicity, it might have had a chance to last," says relationship therapist Mathew Couch.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


But strong meat belongeth to them that are of a full age, even those who by reason of use have exercised their senses to discern both good and evil. (Heb. 5:14)

What does "that" mean, and what is its importance to my Christian life?

First of all, and simply put, this scripture is saying that in our spiritual lives, (just as it is in our natural lives), it takes time and experience to recognize the sometimes subtle difference between good and evil, truth and error.

But why would it take so long and take so much experience to know the difference? Isn't truth and error, good and evil fairly easy to discern? Apparently it's not. Along with the scripture that I opened with, consider a another verse, one that may be familiar to you.

"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Pr. 14:12)

Now how can a way that is actually leading to death and destruction seem right? Simple, it's just not as easily discernable as we might think. Deception can be very deceiving. And as my opening scripture from Hebrews shows, this problem becomes even more relevant and more pronounced when spiritual, (and natural) truths become complex and of "strong meat."

When man sinned in the Garden of Eden, not only did death enter man's life (both physical and spiritual), but darkness came as well. Remember Jesus saying, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." That is, without Christ in our lives, we will have no perception of the kingdom of God at all; in short, spiritual darkness; thus darkness of the fullness of reality and a serious handicap. And sadly, this darkness will affect our lives even after we become believers. We continually need more and more light to see deeper and deeper truths.

That is why we need each other, and more importantly, why we need the Lord. Jesus knows the way things really are and he came to bring the light of these things into a darkened world. In fact, he said that he was the "light of the world," and that if we followed him; we would "not walk in darkness, but would have the light of life." (Jn. 8:12) Wow! That sounds pretty important to me, and it is. The better we comprehend Jesus and his word, the better our clarity and perception of life itself and how life works.

The bible says that "the entrance of thy word giveth light..." (Ps. 119:130)

The more of God's word we have in our hearts and the better we understand it, the clearer everything in our lives will become. Simply put, this is a very practical way of getting smarter and is intended to be so. God is very practical and he offers us his Son and his Word to enhance and enlighten our lives in a practical way, offering us restoration of what we lost through sin. It is now up to us to take the time and put forth the effort to learn about Jesus and to study his word.

Thanks to an invitation by Boyce Watkins, I have the opportunity to contribute to this blog, so in the future articles that I present, I would like to share with those interested some biblical principles and insights that I hope will be challenging and that will help exercise and sharpen our spiritual faculities so we can more and more discern good from evil and truth from error. Some of what I share may be new to you; and some may not. That really doesn't matter. It is the exercise and sharpening of our skill in recognizing the truth that does.

Truth is reality and the clearer our perception of truth, the clearer our perception of reality, making it easier to be successful in every area of our lives. And of course, the clearer our perception of truth, the easier it will be to recognize error, no matter how subtle or deceiving it may be.

Posted by John B. Agati
Author of a new book entitled, "Suffering, (God's Will?)

More information about this and an upcoming book, "Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How To Fix The Whole Thing)" along with a short bio may be found at:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Precious Diamond~Restored Hope

A Precious Diamond~Restored Hope

The Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars!And may the Lord, the God of your ancestors, multiply you a thousand times more and bless you as he promised!

Deuteronomy 1:10, 11

I am not sure of the moment, but I distinctly remember glancing at my ring finger on New Year’s Day, adjusting the ring so the middle of the set was centered on my finger. It was apparent something was different, but it had not registered in my mind for just a moment that my stone had fallen out of the setting. My heart was broken and I really tried not to focus on this occurrence, because it was New Year’s Day and this day marked new beginnings with positive outcomes. When I returned home, this beloved engagement ring has been detached from my setting and placed in my jewelry box. For now I wear the band. I realize that I need to take it to the jewelers, contact my insurance company, but just haven’t had the energy to deal with all of that.As I applied my make up this morning and reflected on the delightful news from our dear friends in Buffalo, I began to smile and said out loud, “Lord I get it now!” Let me try to explain.
Several days ago my husband inquired if I had responded to our dear friends email? They reside in Buffalo, NY. I’d like to think they are a relatively young married couple, but I am not quite sure if they see it on those terms. Actually they have experienced quite a turbulent time in the latter years of their marriage. They lost a diamond as well; their precious young son died tragically in a severe accident. This wonderful couple, very active in ministry has endured heartache, yet they are pushing through the day to day adjustments of a new life encompassed with unspoken cycles of grieving and living through the multiplicities of a former and a present life. Yet there remains great hope even during sorrowful moments. The baby boy’s sonagram says it all! They’ve been blessed with the pregnancy and expectation of an addition to their family. This is a wonderful gift from God, yet another delightful son to nurture and love.I am singing in my heart for my brother and sister in Christ.

Oh my friends this devotional is short and sweet and the Holy Ghost has made it simply plain that we may loose precious jewels of loved ones in our midst, but we can be sure that in Christ there is no finality, no ending that that dictates all is finished. The story has yet to be told about our friend’s family circle. The scripture that a friend sent me really speaks for the Providence of God’s nature-
The Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars!And may the Lord, the God of your ancestors, multiply you a thousand times more and bless you as he promised!
Deuteronomy 1:10, 11

Just as he has promised Moses, that too applies to our beloved friends, our friend’s friend’s and mine and your family circle of love! Certainly we will miss our loved ones, and never will attempt to explain away the hardship of our loss, but we can appreciate , remember and celebrate the life of our dear diamonds and live to tell the children that soon will be birthed, all about a joyful precious life and our restored hope in our Lord and Savior. I want to be there for the baby showers, birthdays and enjoy the family photos of our newest addition to the family.

For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
I think I’ll make an appointment to see my jeweler. May God continue to bless and keep you on your journey!!!
Joyfully submitted by Linda Mose Meadows
Author of:
The Blessedness of Believing
A Devotional Journey of Life's Lessons and God's Promises