Faithful Christians: Endure, Your Troubles Won’t Last


But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4: 7-9 NIV


For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 NIV


John1466 Assurance Way

Spiritual Encouragement & Empowerment

For Times Like These, Power Belongeth to God

“There is nothing too hard for God

Nothing, too hard for God.

Power belongs to God.”

HEZEKIAH WALKER


While the news you hear may cause you to fear, remember this: The ultimate power belongs to God.  No one else!  Nothing is too hard for God.  Nothing.

  • Omnipotent, the Lord is two other things as well: Omniscient and omnipresent. Therefore, his knowledge and presence make the ‘power in his hands’ a mighty force for you – and all his children.  If he were uninformed and absence (from most places) his true power would be greatly limited, right?

This gospel classic by Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir conveys the assurance that all Christians benefit from.  He has all ‘power in his hands’.  This post seemed the perfect way to end this blog’s third anniversary Series; 66 Assurance Way was launched on the third Sunday of September 2013.

  • For times like these, power belongeth to God. So serve and trust the Lord for the rest of your life.

I’ll end with the words that are powerfully sung at the beginning of this Hezekiah Walker song:

Trust in the Lord at all times
Pour out your heart before Him
Power belongeth to God

God has spoken once
And twice have I heard this
Power belongeth to God

Who can search His understanding
His thoughts higher than ours
All power’s in His hands
For my life He has a plan


Greg Silverthorne, 66 Assurance Way

Christians: Be ‘Unsilent’ About Things That Really Matter (2016 Election)

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, JR

 


In the 3 days following the 2016 Election, 3 NBA Coaches offered heart-felt statements that I found to be timely and vividly-expressive – and that I agree with.  While I can’t say that any of them are Christians, all three seem to be morally-grounded men.  While one of them is known to speak from time to time on social issues (Steve Kerr), the other two (Stan Van Gundy and Gregg Popovich) aren’t – but were refreshingly frank and fervent in their Election week remarks.  With the Inaugeration of the 45th President Friday, today seemed a good time to share what they said in the aftermath of the Elections.

When juxtaposed against Rev. Noah Van Niel’s Sermon five days after the Election featured in Sermon Says: Hopefulness, God’s Presence, & Racial Harmony, I think these four men offer an enlightening perspective on the last eleven weeks in this country.

Excerpts of the coaches’ statements, emphasis added, are provided below.

  • Stan Van Gundy, Coach, Detroit Pistons

  • Steve Kerr. Coach, Golden State Warriors

  • Gregg Popovich, Coach, San Antonio Spurs

 


Stan Van Gundy

  • You read how [Trump] was embraced by conservative Christians. Evangelical Christians. I’m not a religious guy, but what the hell Bible are they reading? I’m dead serious. What Bible are you reading? And you’re supposed to be — it’s different. There are a lot of different groups we can be upset at. But you’re Christians. You’re supposed to be — at least you pride yourself on being the moral compass of our society. And you said, ‘Yeah, the guy can talk about women like that. I’m fine with that.’ He can disparage every ethnic group, and I’m fine with that”.
  • Martin Luther King said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.’  I would have believed in that for a long time, but not today. … What we have done to minorities … in this election is despicable. I’m having a hard time dealing with it”.
  • I have been ashamed of a lot of things that have happened in this country, but I can’t say I’ve ever been ashamed of our country until today. Until today. We all have to find our way to move forward, but that was — and I’m not even trying to make a political statement. To me, that’s beyond politics”.
  • I didn’t vote for (George W.) Bush, but he was a good, honorable man with whom I had political differences, so I didn’t vote for him. But for our country to be where we are now, who took a guy who — I don’t care what anyone says, I’m sure they have other reasons and maybe good reasons for voting for Donald Trump — but I don’t think anybody can deny this guy is openly and brazenly racist and misogynistic and ethnic-centric, and say, ‘That’s OK with us, we’re going to vote for him anyway.’  We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking that this is where we are as a country”.

Steve Kerr

  • “I thought it took a lot of guts for Stan [Van Gundy] to say what he did and I think a lot of us feel similarly,” Kerr said.  For me, probably the biggest disappointment with this election was the level of discourse. There should be some level of decorum and respect and dignity that goes with the election. And it was like [that] went out the window. Maybe we should have seen it coming over the last 10 years . . . And I guess it was only a matter of time before it spilled into politics, but then you’re faced with the reality that the man who’s going to lead you has routinely used racist, misogynist, insulting words. That’s a tough one. That’s a tough one. I wish him well”.
  • I don’t know what else to say. It’s just the whole process has left all of us I think feeling just kind of disgusted and disappointed.  I thought we were better than this.  I thought the Jerry Springer Show was the Jerry Springer Show”.

Gregg Popovich

  • Right now I’m just trying to formulate thoughts. It’s still early and I’m still sick to my stomach.  Not basically because the Republicans won or anything, but the disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, and I live in that country where half the country ignored all that to elect someone. That’s the scariest part of the whole thing to me”.
  • We live in a country that ignored all those values that we would hold our kids accountable for. They’d be grounded for years if they acted and said the things that have been said in that campaign by Donald Trump. I look at the evangelicals and I wonder, ‘Those values don’t mean anything to them?’ All those values to me are more important than anybody’s skill in business or anything else because it tells who we are and how we want to live and what kind of people we are.
  • We didn’t make this stuff up. [Trump’s] angry at the media because they reported what he said and how he acted.  It’s ironic to me.  It just makes no sense.  So that’s my real fear and that’s what gives me so much pause and makes me feel so badly that the country is willing to be that intolerant and not understand the empathy that’s necessary to understand other group situations. “I’m a rich white guy, and I’m sick to my stomach thinking about it. I can’t imagine being a Muslim right now, or a woman, or an African-American, a Hispanic, a handicapped person, how disenfranchised they might feel . . . The race baiting with trying to make Barack Obama, our first black president, illegitimate. It leaves me wondering where I’ve been living and with whom I’m living”.

Links to their statements:

Detroit Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy goes off on Trump: ‘Brazenly racist’ (audio and transcript)

Gregg Popovich uncensored: Full transcript of thoughts on Donald Trump (audio and transcript)

Steve Kerr on election of Donald Trump: ‘I thought we were better than this’ (transcript)


While Steve Kerr’s was the most diplomatic of the three, they all show the profound power of being unsilent – i.e. speaking up when situation warrants!  While you may not be as prominent as a NBA coach, your refusal to be silent ‘about the things that matter’ is a good thing too. 

As Kerr stated “There should be some level of decorum and respect and dignity that goes with the election”.   When he thought the mood of his players the day after Elections was due to a game his team had just lost, Van Gundy quickly learned – from one of the basketball players- that it was about who’d won the Elections that was causing them to feel the way they felt.  Neither Popovich or Van Gundy felt like talking about the games their teams had just played after making their statements to the reporters. 

As a Christian, being unsilent means, among other things, casting your vote in elections – and being willing to speak up when the outcome is one you find morally troublesome.  Many, including these three NBA coaches and myself, feel this is such an election.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have posted on 66 Assurance Way on a topic I typically have avoided: Politics.  Regardless of who’s in the Oval Office, remember the one who sits high and looks low.  The Lord is our Shepherd!

To God be the glory.

 Greg Silverthorne, 66 Assurance Way

Sermon Says: Hopefulness, God’s Presence, & Racial Harmony

If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality

that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be.”

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Keeping the Courage to Be: Your Hopes, Your Dreams

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am personally the victim of deferred dreams, of blasted hopes, but in spite of that . . . I still have a dream, because, you know, you can’t give up in life. If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream. I have a dream that one day men will rise up and come to see that they are made to live together as brothers”. [Emphasis added]

These words are from the last Christmas Sermon (December 1967) that King delivered, prior to his assassination in 1968. The importance of having hope and having dreams are expressed in this sermon by the embattled civil rights leader.   Racial harmony is based in all people really ‘living together as brothers’.   Therefore, simply uttering the word Unity in a single speech doesn’t mean that a diverse, divided country is magically transformed!  In the 1960s, when I was a young child living in New York, or now.

Sadly, in 2017, nearly fifty years after the death of MLK from an assassin’s bullet, we’re still a nation that judges people too often on their color – not their character.   Men of God like the other man who I showcase in this post, Rev. Noah Van Niel, give me hope that MLK’s dream is still possible.  A deferred dream, not an impossible dream.  

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Your Soul: A Stronghold Against Hate and Fear

Rev. Noah Van Niel

But allow me to offer a little bit of hope, a reminder of what the soul actually is and how it is constructed and valued. It is not external, it is internal. It is not made, it is given. It is not earned, it is instilled. It is not of humanity, it is of God. And as such, it is not subject to the changing winds of culture or politics. It is more stable, more lasting, and more resilient than anything else we possess. Our lives are liable to be molded and shaped by all sorts of forces beyond our control. But our soul—that bit of God that resides in each of us—is unchanging in that it is always pure, and righteous and good and it is always there no matter how much hatred, or anger, or worry, or fear is piled on top of it. And it will, always, have the last word”. [Emphasis added]

In that God has the final say, your soul will have “the last word”.  Period.  End of discussion.  This powerful Sermon was delivered on the Sunday after the recent Elections (11/13/16) by Rev. Van Niel.  I thank my friend Thomas, who I profiled in “When Hate Arises, Silence is Tacit Approval: One Man’s Story, for bringing this Sermon to my attention.  I’ve personally thanked Rev. Van Niel for delivering a message I, and many others, needed to hear!

The eloquence and empathy of this young, white Priest was one of the most calming things I experienced in the days after the candidate I didn’t vote for won.  To this fifty-something Black man in NC (yes, NC . . . Pray for me!), God knew I needed something compelling, spiritual, and anointed to deal with the changes I was enduring.  Reflecting on this Priest’s words was part of my own post-election strategy to not loss hope – when the candidate I voted for lost (in the Electoral College).  

God’s presence in our souls is something no Christian should take for granted.  Your soul is a stronghold like no other!


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Strategies for Dealing with Life’s Storms

Leslie Vernick

The sermons of Dr. King and Rev. Van Niel serve as a foundation for the insightful strategies which Leslie Vernick offers.   In times of disappointment and discouragement, even the most abiding Christians may feel like they can’t go on.  Sermons, without specific coping strategies, may not have had the impact the Lord desired for this post today – my first in 2017.   

In “5 Ways to Stop Discouragement from Getting the Best of You” Vernick offers some spiritual steps that you can take when facing disappointment.   They are in my humble Christian opinion a very good complement to the pulpit-delivered words of King and Van Niel.   

  • After offering four ways that abiding Christians can be discouraged, Vernick offers “five (5) steps you can take when you start to feel the black cloud of discouragement swallow you up“.   With ‘the God in you’ that is your soul, with ‘that courage to be’, and your dreams, you CAN deal with tough times like a champion.  You can go on!   The steps, described poignantly in her article, are:

1. Be honest.

2. Take care of your body.

3. Pay attention to your thought life.

4. Train yourself to “see” life out of two lenses at the same time

5. Press close into God


Link to full Sermons:

 


Our soul—that bit of God that resides in each of us— is

unchanging . . . and good and it is always there no matter how much

hatred, or anger, or worry, or fear is piled on top of it”.

Rev. Noah Van Niel



Photo credits:

Bible – honorbound/fickr  (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson & Rev. King – U.S. Embassy New Delhi/flickr  (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Cross – Dave King/flickr  (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

4 Habits of God-fearing Christian Voters (2016 Election Results)

 

The way to God


We’re often reminded to ask ourselves, when we’re at a critical juncture, this simple question: What Would Jesus Do? Frankly, as I’ve reflected on the 2016 US Presidential candidate who was declared the winner, I’ve mused on a similar question: How Would Jesus Vote?  The spiritual voice in my head keeps telling me firmly that the man who prevailed on Election Day wouldn’t have been Christ’s choice.

  • If you feel as I do, this post is for you.  Can we talk?

While our faith in some of our fellow citizens may have been badly battered, we can’t let our faith in the Almighty waver.  We can’t. Scripture tells us that when we’re weak, he’s strong.  In times like these, strive to find comfort in those who voted like you . . . and the one who walks with you and me and ‘makes our path straight’. Acknowledge the Almighty, even on those days when you turn on the TV and see something about politics that makes you want to scream or cry.

  • To put it simply, when abiding Christians are presented with a mountain, they must trust that they’ll have the power to climb the unclimbable. They know they’re not climbing alone.

Four Habits for dealing with your Post-election mountain

How can you successfully deal with the huge mountain that the events of the last 35 days, and the campaign season which preceded it? There are 4 habits, four steps to climb the political/societal mountain that you, I, and those who voted for one of the defeated candidates should practice.

  1. Stay: Don’t flee and run from a challenging situation.   When you do choose to stay, be engaged, not paralyzed due to indecision – like a deer in a car’s headlights.  Those deers don’t fare very well, do they?   Stay engaged and face the situation at hand.
  2. Pray: If you do, a way to deal with the giant may be divinely revealed to you.   Guess what?   With some help from Him, you may even be able to take down the giant without casting a single stone!   The Lord doesn’t utter ‘void words’! (Isaiah 55:11).
  3. Slay: If you haven’t run or avoided asking the Lord for help, you’ll be in a far better position to deal with the situation – slay the giant.   Your ‘walking buddy’ will not leave or forsake you.  David (1 Samuel 17) knew this! You and I should too, right?

ChurchSign_voteLAMB


The 4th Habit is about what you can do for OTHERS.

  • Assist others, don’t avoid or abuse them.

This is based in the well-known Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25 – 37).   A Sermon my Pastor (Dr. Rev. James A. Webster) gave on September 18th on this parable revealed how people in life, when faced with ‘man lying on the side of the road’ situations, generally fall into one of three categories:

  1. Assisters (the category God wants abiding Christians to be in)
  2. Avoiders (crossing to the other side of the road)
  3. Abusers

You may be asking now: Who might be someone needing an assisting, Good Samaritan like me? Three groups of people come to mind:

  1. People who are the victims of post-election hate, racism, bigotry, or anti-immigrant hatred. You may be able to assist such people in a way that they’ll never forget. Ever!
  2. Like-minded Christians who need to be reminded to stay, pray, and slay. If this is a racially-diverse group, this has the potential to be mutually beneficially. There is great power in knowing that people who don’t look like you DO share similar feelings.  Even if they aren’t very religious, the things you hear from spiritually-grounded, moral people may make their day – or yours.
  3. Someone who voted for the man who was the victor, but who is now having reservations about the voting choice they made 5 weeks ago. This may be the toughest group to work with. However, what you do could change how they vote and live forever.  You may be the designated angel to convey the benefits of studying the Bible and using the What Would Jesus Do question to guide their life – and future election choices.

I can speak to the amazing power of interacting with those in the second group.   In the next post on this blog I will share a story of someone who helped people (1st group) who were the victims of racist and misogynistic rants.  Who says Good Samaritans only happen in the Bible?

  • A New England businessman, in a rowdy Southern bar on Election Night, got more than he could stand.

Peace be with you.

Greg Silverthorne

66 Assurance Way

 

Under the Umbrella: You ain’t alone! (Christian Faith)

“I command you to move today.
Because of faith, I have a brand new day.
The sun will shine, and I will be okay.
That’s when I told the storm!”


  • In the aftermath of the 2016 Elections, this gospel gem came to mind.  I love this song!  The lyrics are excerpted below.
  • At a time when it seems a storm of hate (not love) is rampant in the USA, I know that the Heavenly Father is under the umbrella with every abiding Christian who faces (or is at risk of facing) hateful or violent acts and talk – because of their race, immigration status, or religion.  Where is the love?
  • When God speaks, be assured he will tell the current national storm of hate and bigotry we’re facing to go away.  The battle isn’t your’s, it’s the Lord’s!  

  • Meditate on the lyrics and audio of Greg O’Quin ‘n Joyful Noyze’s song, “I Told the Storm”; this YouTube has over 21 million views by the way (that’s not a typo).  Know, like the 3 Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace, you ain’t alone. God’s there too!
  • Pray everyday for a cease in the ugly storms we’ve faced all over this nation (since Trump won).  What are you telling the storm?

Even though your winds blow.
I want you to know.
You cause me no alarm.
Cause I’m safe in his arms.

I command you to move today.
Because of faith, I have a brand new day.
The sun will shine, and I will be okay.
That’s when I told the storm!

Death can’t shake me!
Jobs can’t make me!
Bills can’t break me!
Disease can’t shake me!
You can’t drown me!
Cause my God surrounds me!  
That’s what I told the storm?

Hate can’t shake you!

Racism can’t break you!

 66 Assurance Way


Unemployed during Holidays: Jobless, Not Hopeless (Christians)

 

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Being unemployed on Thanksgiving isn’t fun.  In that I am without a job today myself, I wanted to showcase a great piece – by an insightful woman who was in the same situation herself (on Thanksgiving) not too long ago.

Lauren L. Moy captures well the emotions which are typical when a person is in a ‘jobless at the holidays’ storm.  She offers ways, tactical and faith-based, to best battle this storm too.

Never loss sight of who your Real Boss is! (Hint: It’s the one you worship Sunday mornings, NOT the one you’re used to seeing on Monday mornings) Trouble don’t last always.

Moy states that:

” . . . the ultimate way to beat the job search blues is to remember that as Christians we have our identity grounded in our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.  We are unconditionally loved by the God of the universe.   His love for us is not dependent on our performance or employment status.  Our security and significance are in Christ, not in our occupation.   I am secure in His love (Romans 8:35-39); I am His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10); I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10).

We are Christians first and then whatever occupation second . . .  Maybe I believed this in my mind but I struggled to believe these biblical truths in my heart.” [Emphasis added]

Read Moy’s full post (Unemployed at Thanksgiving).

Lauren Moy is a professional, certified Career Coach with over 20 years of human resources management and coaching experience.  She offers a candid and inspiring perspective on a situation that too many Christians, like me, are in today.

  • Millions are unemployed today, Thanksgiving.   Some will return to the workplace before Christmas.  Some will not.  If you are jobless today, remember ‘you are amazing no matter what‘! (prior post)   Like a fine BMW parked in a luxury dealer’s lot, not being sold doesn’t lessen it’s value.   Know you are the ‘ultimate working machine’ – and a child of God!
  • If you have a job, be thankful you do – and pray for, and encourage, those who do not.
  • I thank the Pathos Faith and Work Channel (Joe Carter post) for helping me discover this insightful piece.

SCRIPTURE (from Moy’s article)

  • I am His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

  • I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)

So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

  • I am secure in His love (Romans 8:35-39)

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”).  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.   No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The NLT version of scripture has been provided.


Even if you have a job, consider sharing this post with a friend or relative who doesn’t have a job today.  Let them know they’re not alone and that there’s hope.  Trouble don’t last always!

Happy Thanksgiving.    Grace, mercy, and peace to you.

Greg Silverthorne, 66 Assurance Way, 11/26/2015


Photo credit, Building Trades Unemployment Insurance Rally, AFL-CIO: Bernard Pollack/flickr (CC BY 2.0)