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Anchor Up!

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Imagine: you are on a boat, floating from one direction to another, alone in the middle of the ocean. You look out and see others floating in the distance. Some are far; others are close. Maybe it’s your mother, sister, or friend. It could possibly be a colleague, partner, or former lover. You yell to them when your boat starts sinking. First it tips to the left. Then it tips to the right. The lower you sink, the louder you yell for help. You wave your hands and send flairs. Only a few people hear you, but no one will be able to reach you fast enough. Your resources are limited; your hope is waning. Your vessel is sinking lower and lower. What do you do when you’re stranded?

The spectrum of most human experiences ranges from the miraculous to the mundane. Occasionally, we all endure a situation that is torrential. It threatens to throw our journey off course. It is in those times of turmoil, and possibly when we’re the most complacent, that we feel especially vulnerable to losing our faith. Rest assured that the best way to stay the tide is to ANCHOR UP. God has blessings stored for us in heaven. In his letter to the burgeoning church of Ephesus, Paul writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). He confirms that believers in Christ are chosen to receive God’s grace, mercy and blessings.

Throughout the bible, many of God’s servants look high unto the Lord to find the solution to the world’s problems. When Moses was leading the disgruntled Israelites to the promised land, God called him to the mountain in Sinai. There God delivered the Ten Commandments, the laws for his people to live by. For generations, the lowly have looked high to derive their strength and power. David, a prominent warrior and king, wrote: “I sought the lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant their faces are never covered in shame” (Psalm 34:4-5). David felt triumphant, as he had escaped both King Saul and the perceived fear of Achish, king of Gath, by pretending to be crazy. Even King Nebuchadnezzar, a great king of Babylon, was forced to adopt the God of Judah. One night he had a terrible nightmare. He called on many priests to interpret his terrible vision. And only Daniel, his captive, could interpret a meaning according to the Most High. After enduring his fate to be driven away from his people and forced to graze the earth like cattle, the bible records: “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.” He prayed, “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:34). Jesus, himself, went up onto the mountain of Capernum to give his first sermon. There he explained the traits of true followers of God, explaining the beattitudes and telling many parables to expound on his message. He begins, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). We must be humble so that the Lord may fill us with his heavenly spirit and provide us with the strength to endure all trials and tribulations that rock our boat.

Sinking into fluid terrain is a symptom of conforming to the world. Most people spend very little time thinking about another, so earthly connections to human beings may only help you for a specific reason in a specific season. By relying on other people, you will inevitably experience times of loneliness or vulnerability. Find your solace and peace in the Lord. ANCHOR UP! The tumultuous ebb and flow of this lifetime only serves to build a bridge between you and the One source of truth and everlasting existence. When Jesus knew his time on this earth was coming to an end, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” (John 17:1). Like Jesus we must live according to God’s plan so that we may be lifted up. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” You will come to see that obedience to God’s will guarantees bountiful blessings beyond earthly measure. Always remember “The high is for the lowly!” (Lowly by Cece Winans).

Best  regards and many blessings to you and yours,

All Nations Baptist Church

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New Year, New You: Don’t Miss Your Cue!

As Christians we’re all guilty of doing what we think is right and we fall short. One of the most prominent spiritual leaders in American history, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, once said “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” God’s power is so divine that he has stayed the same since the beginning of time; and yet, he continues to create every living being to grow and mature in his image. The good news is that He never changes, but you can. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He provides the sturdy foundation upon which our spirits anchor.

Once we decide to live based on God’s truth, He has a plan predestined for each of us. On this New Year’s watch night, as we look backwards to remember from where the nation is coming on its journey forward we can refer to the great words of famous abolitionist and statesman, Frederick Douglass: “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others rather than to be false and incur my own abhorrence.” Truth was established in the beginning, but fraudulence has endured throughout the ages. The devil was there with Adam and Eve in the Garden, and he continues to perpetrate lies that cloud our judgment and keep us far from the blessings he has planned for us. For example, everyone in a choir is expected to sing at the right time. It’s your duty as a member, to know when it’s your turn and what note to sing. When choir members are in-sync, they can properly take the song from words with a beat to a for ministry. The second you let the devil step in and distract your thoughts from giving God praise in all that you do, you miss your cue and let God down. In life, people operate the same. One has to be aware of their cue, the moment when God gives you an opportunity to put your faith in him for the greater good.

Religiosity, acts of devotion to God, should be sincere. Not just playing your part in the body, but being a part of the body in mind and spirit. Angela Davis, activist and scholar, once stated, “It is important not only to have the awareness and to feel impelled to become involved, it’s important that there be a forum out there to which one can relate, an organization-a movement.” The Holy Spirit has endured through the ages to bring His people like out of turmoil, temptation, and defeat. God never intended for us to stay the same and he never meant for us to become self-righteous in our understanding of his expectations. Proverbs 3:5 states, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Together we can uplift his teachings and way of life to heal our families and communities. Men and women, young and old, can work together and make the presence of the Holy Spirit stronger across the world.  Just like one light doesn’t dim the other, one voice can’t mute another. When we choose to be complacent –to stop growing in the word, seeking perfection according to his will and rebuking negative cycles of the world –we threaten the vitality that He promised.

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No matter what anyone says or does, He sees the best in you. Famous social critic and author. James Baldwin is quoted as saying, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Despite the cold shoulders, or dry hugs, side eyes and mean mugs; be the change God wants to see. Let him change you.

 

 

Picture credit: National Museum of African American History and Culture

 

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Happy New Year!

All Nations Baptist Church

Birth of a Christian

blog imageMany people believe the misconception that they can maintain spiritual balance while separating themselves from God’s people. And then there are those who have been taught that they can fast and pray, vehemently, for their petitions to be accepted by God. But, how many people follow through on what God reveals as his plan for them?

In the moment you learn that Metro transit has delays or you just got word that the requirements for your job are changing, are you able to identify God’s work? Unless you have allowed God’s word to penetrate the depths of your soul and clean out the mucky residue of sin, your answer is probably no.

Like newborn babies most of us can only see what’s in front of our face. Infantile in our approach to the world, we rarely comprehend abstractions placed in our path throughout the gauntlet of life. But, how can you receive insider information –be aware of the journey charted for you– if you aren’t hooked to the main line, anchored to God’s buoy?

Reading your bible is the best way to intimately understand God and His expectations. I Peter 2:1-2 states, “Therefore rid thyself of malice, deceit. hypocrisy envy and slander of any kind.” Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” Aside from the human body’s congenital need to get bigger, there is no maturation without acquiring knowledge. Similar to early childhood we should attune our senses to that which is most fulfilling and sustainable so that we may grow into His image.

In Hebrews 5:13-14 early Christians write, “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Disciples of Christ must read their Bible constantly with the diligence and conviction of warriors training for battle, eager to be molded into new creatures, better, more advanced versions.

Saints, God desires for us to have a relationship with him, forever and ever. Our thirst for truthful knowledge can only be quenched by His word, a renewable source overflowing with infinite opportunities to become acquainted with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Importance of Black History Month from a Biblical Perspective

Understanding the importance of Black History Month from a biblical perspective suggests an inquiry into the worth, value, and significance of an ethnic group in God’s broader and ultimate plan for humankind. What is the greatest value God assigns to people of different racial hue, creed and color  to communicate His divine will? Many of the references made in the Bible about Black people involve us in the midst of cultural struggle or some disadvantaged, oppressed position. The Cushitic culture consisted of mostly dark skin people known for their historical presence in bondage or in servitude. On the other hand, there are some instances in biblical history where people of color held highly esteemed positions. However, when weighed in the balance, there are a disproportionate number of examples of blacks in servitude compared to those in regal positions.

As a Post-modern prophet, deeper theological questions come to mind when pondering the legacy of darker skinned people from biblical times to this present hour. How long must Black people be depicted as inferior? How Long? After all, God who is the Holy Spirit has a record of using  people of varying skin hues and colors to work His divine plan since the beginning of time. What does scripture indicate about a people who are seemingly excluded from God’s plan of Grace based on their ethnicity, and skin color? What does it say about God if He permits people of color to be viewed throughout history as a suffering, oppressed and burdened people? Is Jesus not the savior of the entire human race? In the bible, can we find dignity of a people, who have been written out of history or historically marginalized? How can history be properly depicted when the majority of Bible commentators and European artists rarely sit down behind their  canvass and paint, with lively and vibrant colors, a powerful and potent picture of Blacks in the Bible.

The exclusion of Blacks from being a positive presence in the Bible has led some in the disenfranchised black community to be skeptical of the Bible’s relevance as well as garner a healthy suspicion about the role of the Black church. Black History Month is not merely a time to remind people of the inestimable contributions of blacks in America. Biblically speaking, it is significant to note that the experiences of Black people demonstrate more solemn and sacred purposes. It is important to note the fact that Zipporah, Moses Midianite wife,  was Black and so was her father Jethro. Lucius, Barnabas and Simeon of Antioch were men of Black lineage. Acts 13:1 says, “Now there were in the church at Antioch certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene who had been brought up with Herod the Tetrarch, and Saul. Niger refers to “Black” African nations which resided around the region of Niger in biblical times. Nimrod, the son of Cush and the first on earth to become a mighty warrior, was a Black man. According to Gen. 10:8-12, Nimrod was also credited with constructing and establishing a city government in the Mesopotamia region. Phinehas the grandson of Aaron is said to  have been a “Nubian” high priest. Also, the Queen of Sheba, an Ethiopian, held high rank under Solomon’s reign. The biblical record is replete with the presence of Black people.

If perhaps for no other reason, black history is necessary for those who do and do not read the bible carefully to paint a different picture than mainstream society and give a varied perspective, providing positive characterizations of black people’s existence. During this year’s Black History Month we should feel great pride in knowing that our God is no respecter of one person. In Acts 10:34-35, Brother Peter had to come to the conclusion that God shows no partiality. Whoever seeks God with reverence and commits to his will is important to God and His eternal plan. Many Jews in Peter’s time supposed that God favored them over all other ethnic groups, some had the false impression that their ancestry was a sign of superiority. But when our God, who is the Holy Spirit, considers the people made by His hands, the walls and barriers come down so that all of God’s people, Black, White, Brown, Yellow, Red, etc. fully understand the one important aspect of God’s character which is He does not favor and has never favored one race over another. He loves all people in all times.

Be blessed,
Reverend Dr. James Coleman,
Pastor, All Nations Baptist Church