QUARTERLY JOURNAL
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Here’s the Thing

              If only I could get out of my own head…. l could walk in Victory, but here is the thing…….I have heard some preachers refer to their sanctified imagination in gist when preaching a sermon and one day while sitting at my desk at work I wondered, if using my sanctified imagination, what would happen if Faith and Fear got into a boxing ring on my behalf, who would win? Here is the thing, this kind of thinking is not something that we broadcast. It is one of the secret things if we are honest about it that we keep to ourselves. And we do not necessarily share it with anyone else. Anyway, real or imagined….in the Apollo Creed vs Rocky Balboa; or Ali vs Frazier fights each found the other to be a more worthy opponent. If nothing else you knew it was going to be a good fight, because of who was in it; and there could only be one winner. Here’s the thing, I’m not a boxing fan and I don’t buy into the hype, but I know a good fight when I see one. And usually the worthiest opponent, the one with the most training, the one who is most fit, and the one who is most tested…. wins. Many of us have been on this “Faith-Walk” for many years now. We have a working definition of what Faith is and how it works. We have the Bible, its references, and countless examples of how faith is played out in the lives of those who belong to God. They are and have been our shining examples, including Jesus Himself, but here’s the thing…. somehow when fear creeps in, or when we open the door to it, we fall into unbelief; quick, fast, and in a hurry. I want to be better. I want to believe more. I want to stop doubting. I want to stop being afraid. I want to stop holding my breath. I want to let go of what I have been holding onto that I think is my salvation, but here’s the thing… I am afraid……and I do not know if I can take a punch.

Pastor Jim, in our recent Spiritual Life Conference, made the most eloquent, impassioned, and factual case for Faith in Jesus Christ that I have ever heard. And it is not like I have not heard what he said before, but his persuasive, unapologetic offering stirred me and awakened my sleeping faith again, and I knew I had to get up again. My faith has been in the boxing ring so many times with my fear, that when the battle arises rather than fight, I have protected my faith by hiding it. Therefore, I am guilty of letting my fear win. Fear is a bully, and it takes us, hostage, in so many ways, and holds us for so many days until we are ashamed to admit it. When I have not had the solution to life situations concerning my health, my children’s well-being, or just life in general, I have held my breath, while fear punched the life out of me, even knowing that Jesus is a more worthy opponent. And here’s the thing, we all sat in silence for three nights, in Pastor Jim’s class, and listened intently to his proof that Jesus is a more worthy opponent, and that our faith is built on what God the Father planned for us, what Jesus, His Son purchased for us, and the protection that we have in the Holy Spirit of God, who continues to provide for us. We know that the Battle is already won, and in the end, we walked away in victory, proclaiming how good it was to have been there.

We often forget God’s presence and power when we face uncertain and difficult times. Our faith falters and we doubt that God is with us. Sometimes even doubting that He is real, and who He says He is. God knew that we would struggle with unbelief and He has spoken reassuring words to us through the Bible. When you begin to doubt and feel that you are not up for the battle we ought to “Let the Word of the Word Encourage us.” (Carol Antrom). Like me, I hope you will read these Bible verses and pray that God will renew your heart and mind toward who He says He is and who He says we are, and be encouraged as you see God move through all circumstances in life to grow our faith.

·         1 Thessalonians 2:13 – ”And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.”

·         1 Timothy 4:10 – “That is why we labor and strive because we have our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”

·         Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

·         Hebrews 11:6 – “And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

·         Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.”

·         Isaiah 35:4 – “Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘be strong, do not fear, your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution, he will come to save you.”

·         2 Timothy I:7 – “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”

·         Romans 8:15 – “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ”Abba, Father.”

So here’s the thing, using your sanctified imagination … if Fear and Faith got into a fight on your behalf…who would win?

 Submitted By Deaconess Irene Gardon



Faith – How I Know it Works!

If you have been a part of the Christian community for any length of time, you know that “Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV). Another version, says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV). If you have been a part of the Christian community for any length of time, you know that Faith has always been the mark of God’s servants, from the beginning of the world, and we know that where the principle is planted by the regenerating Spirit of God, it will cause truth to be received, based on the justification, sufferings, and merits of Christ’s sacrifice. What He has done, is the assurance that we can have, and it is in Him, whom our confidence lies. So, since we know this, why then do we sometimes doubt? Why is it that sometimes, we know; and sometimes we do not?!! It is rhetorical, and it is more of a question for me than you. Faith! How do I know it works? What is it that causes us to be firm in our “thinking,” and wavering in our stand? Today I had to come to terms with this again because I got some news that I did not necessarily like, and I found myself wondering…’Faith…. How Do I Know It Works? With all the evidence and proof that I have seen in my Christian Walk, and in my life in general, even without Christ, I feel that I should be at a place where the confidence that I have in Him, is without question. That thing breeds the question, ‘Am I trusting in Him, or Am I trusting in myself?’ It’s rhetorical; more of a question for me, than you. Because we do not live in a world unto ourselves, and we are part of a larger community, whether it be the Family of God, our own kinfolk, our lives will often overlap, and run into someone else’s, so that the trying of our faith is not limited to our own personal experiences, but theirs too. It could be that we are okay trusting God with our stuff …maybe; but when it comes to the lives of others or those that we are concerned about, does the faith works, there, too? Have you, ever wondered.?

My Big Momma (grandmother on my momma’s side) was a devout Christian woman based on what we knew about Christianity growing up in Alabama in the early 60s & 70s. She was a true missionary. She entrusted her entire life to Christ. Lord knows, she went to church all the time. Dressed the part. Sewed her own clothes. Paid her tithes. Took care of not only her children, but her children’s children, even dragging us (grands) to church, against our very strong will; and God knows she was a praying woman who loved her husband (who to my knowledge never darkened the door of a church). How I know faith works, is because today I am a devout Christian, and I believe it is because of the faith of Big Momma, to entrust us to the Lord. Aside from the fact that Jesus knew me, chose me, justified me before I was born, I believe that Big Momma held on to the conviction of things hoped for, and for that reason, I am saved today. Hallelujah! Big Momma did not live to see the evidence of her faith. She did not live to see the conversion of the many of us, her children and grandchildren, whose lives have been transformed.

When I got the news that my son had been downsized on his job, after 14 years of steady employment, I began to wonder if my faith would work, like my grandmother’s. Would it? When I got the news of a report concerning my daughter’s health, I began to wonder if my faith would work, like my grandmother’s. Would it have the same life-transforming effect? Would I live to see it? The same things that are the object of our hope are the object of our faith. It is a firm persuasion and expectation, that God will perform all he has promised to us in Christ Jesus. In faith, we can enjoy those things in the “now.” Faith is the guaranteed, proof to my mind, that I can believe what I cannot see, and may not live to see, because God has put His Word on the line. He is not a man that He can lie. I cannot see it, but by Faith, I believe that the situation concerning my son’s future is already set. It has already done. He sees this as an opportunity to pursue entrepreneurship, to start his own business; to be an owner and no longer an employee. I see missing paychecks and unpaid bills. I cannot see it, but by Faith, I believe that the situation concerning my daughter’s health is already done. She is confident that things will be alright, and she knows enough to entrust all things to God and not to worry.

I, the great woman of the faith like my grandmother, worry on one hand but pray on the other. I want things to be well for my children, and while I trust God with my stuff, I wonder if the same faith will take care of theirs. Truthfully, on some level, I feel like God owes me this one. That is not faith….is it? The Bible gives the most- true and exact account of the origin of all things, and we are called to believe it, and not to wrestle with a battle that is already won. Why do we struggle with “now faith,” when all that we see of the works of creation were brought into being by the command of God? It is rhetorical; and more for me than for you?

Submitted By Deaconess Irene Gardon



Unity – Part V

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ”

Ephesians 4:1-7 KJV

The Holy Bible tells us a about a rich man who expensively dressed in the latest fashions and lived in luxury every day; “There was a rich man who always dressed in the finest clothes. He was so rich that he was able to enjoy all the best things every day” (Luke 16:19 ERV). In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus Christ tells the story of a rich man who said to himself; “I have many good things stored. I have saved enough for many years. Rest, eat, drink, and enjoy life!” (Luke 12:19 ERV). Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in an August 27, 1967 sermon that Jesus called the rich man in St. Luke 12 a fool because “…he failed to realize his dependence on others”. According to Dr. King, the rich fool failed to realize that “…wealth is always a result of the commonwealth”. Commonwealth means that a group of people are united by a common interest focused on the general good or public welfare of the people. It probably could be argued that commonwealth is closely related to the word ‘UNITY’. The Saints in Acts 4:32 were ‘united’ in their thinking and in what they wanted; “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul” (Acts 4:32 KJV). The whole group of believers displayed such ‘UNITY’ that when they prayed, the place where they were shook and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31). We read about a demonstration of ‘UNITY’ when King Solomon and God’s people finished building the Temple and were unified in their praise and worship of the Lord. They praised and sang as one and as a result, the glory of the Lord filled God’s house; “It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So, that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:13-14 KJV). True ‘UNITY’ cannot be legislated by governments. As a matter of fact, God tells His people to not join with unbelievers and to separate ourselves from the world (2 Corinthians 6:14-17). God’s people are different and are the only people that can have true ‘UNITY’ because ‘UNITY’ is only found in the Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. All things were made by Him for Him and man’s original place was to commune with God but sin and disobedience broke that communion and the only way that it can be restored is by believing in the wonderful gift of sacrifice that Jesus Christ gave for us. Jesus brought us back into ‘UNITY’ with the Father and now we are one with Him. If you don’t know Jesus Christ, then now is the time to come home. Give your life to Him and He will give you true rest, true peace and make you truly whole. The Lord gives us One Body, One Hope, One Faith, One Baptism, One Spirit, One Lord, and One God. We are one people in Jesus Christ. That is true ‘UNITY’.

Submitted by Trustee Stanley Ridley