The Birth of Christ: Joseph Was a Believer (Part 2)


When a Sermon lingers in my mind, I know the Lord is trying to tell me something.  I felt compelled to share the Pastor’s Sermon on this blog on this Christmas Eve weekend.  A fuller sense of the Sermon I described in Part 1 yesterday is provided in this post.  

While focused on Joseph, the importance of believing as Christians was expressed as well by Dr. Coates in the Advent Sermon at his DC area church.

Mt. Ennon Baptist Church, Delman Coates Ph.D., Senior Pastor.

  • Sermon theme: Standing on a Promise
  • Scripture: Genesis 3:15 (God’s promise), Matthew 13:20.

Below are key points in that Sermon on December 10, 2017:

  • “Joseph believed, Mary conceived (Immaculate Conception), and Jesus Christ achieved“.
  • “Faith is an attitude”.  Believers like Joseph had this attitude.
  • Don’t trust what you see, trust what God said”.
  • Stand on God’s promises, not doubt.  “If you hear God’s voice, know he’ll ‘pay the invoice’ “.
  • God’s ways aren’t always our ways, so believe that ‘some how, some way’ he’ll deliver on his promise. Therefore, don’t worry about time. Trust he’ll make a way.
  • The first promise of the Redeemer lies in Genesis 3:15.
  • I’m acting as if it is so, even though it ain’t so, in order for it to be so“.

Merry Christmas from 66 Assurance Way

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The Birth of Christ: Joseph Was a Believer

I’m acting as if it is so, even though it ain’t so, in order for it to be so.


As part of a well-crafted, well-delivered Advent Sermon in Clinton, MD recently (12/10/17), we were told that Joseph believed, Mary conceived, and Jesus achieved. As the first part of a three-part Sermon Series, at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church, Delman Coates Ph.D. spoke on how Joseph was shown to believe.

The Black Baptist church has a membership of over 8,000 members. The choir sung as powerfully as their Pastor would later preach.  The Senior Pastor, Coates, gave a Sermon that was well received and, I suspect, remembered long after the congregants left the sanctuary.

  • Sermon theme: Standing on a Promise
  • Scripture: Genesis 3:15 (God’s promise), Matthew 13:20.

The third (11:45 am) worship service, which I attended with my three siblings, ended with the words which led this post. As Coates uttered them he realized, based on the reaction of those in attendance, that he had hit a nerve. He masterfully repeated them several times. It pulled together everything he had stated earlier in his Sermon – on the second Sunday of 2017 Advent. Only in the DC area for the weekend, I regret I will not be able to hear the other two parts of the Series!

What are the words that a Christian disciple who, like Joseph, believes in God should meditate on?

  • I’m acting as if it is so, even though it ain’t so, in order for it to be so.

Merry Christmas from 66 Assurance Way

When Hate Arises, Silence is Tacit Approval: One Man’s Story

If you are neutral in situations of injustice,

you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Desmond Tutu

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Watching the election results 8 years ago (2008) with my smiling, 76-year old father, seeing the election of the first Black U.S. President together, was a day I remember very fondly. Watching last month’s Elections (2016), given the character, campaign behavior, and temperament (alone) of the man who won, I was quite disgusted.  A 180 degree difference in my emotional reaction to two Presidential elections.

Unbeknownst to me, a 55-year old African-American man (Greensboro NC), a white, Boston friend of mind was in Atlanta on business on November 8th. Thomas, a friend and classmate (Brown University), was clearly -based on our text message exchanges- as disgusted with the outcome as I was!  However, those at the Georgia bar beside him on Election Night were elated – and engaged in a hate-laden celebration. The story he later shared with me, 4 days after the Election, is one I felt I needed to share with others.


He watched the election results while he was having dinner at a hotel bar in Atlanta GA. He was sitting in a room filled with Trump enthusiasts who were getting increasingly drunk, loud, and hateful (words) as it became increasingly more apparent that the man they’d backed, not Hillary Rodham Clinton, would win. The loud men in the bar weren’t locals, but out of towners from places like Texas attending a conference.

Finally the guy sitting next to Thomas, who was tall and ‘built like a retired football lineman’ my friend said, crossed the line, saying racist and misogynist things he felt he could NOT tolerate.  Some of the man’s fiery rage he told me was directed at First Lady Michelle Obama.  By the way, the married father of two would never be mistaken for a football player . . . or a NBA player for that matter.

They got into a pretty heated verbal exchange when my friend could not remain silent any longer.  He told me:

He asked me where I was from and I told him Boston, where we judge people by the content of their character not the color of their skin, their religion, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation.

In response to this he then yelled out “we have ourselves here a Yankee liberal”.  I ‘dressed him and all other Trump supporters down’ by calling them out for looking the other way on the hateful things which [the Republican nominee] had done; I rattled off a large number of hateful things that Trump had said or done. I told him my issue was less with Trump and more with his followers “like you” who now feel entitled to speak hatefully, as he had been doing for the previous 5 minutes.

Thomas was eventually able to end his verbal exchange with the ranting man without getting into a physical fight.

My friend went on to tell me later:

I had my chance to let off steam by calling out xenophobia, misogyny and racism. The hateful rhetoric then ceased.  I had made a bit of a scene so I went over and apologized, not for what I said, but apologized if I had caused her any problems with my making a scene.  The hotel manager pulled me aside . . . She said that she appreciated my calling him out and ending the hurt. The young black woman said that I represented her entire staff, who were all minorities except one white man.  Some of whom were in tears when the room of white Trump supporters started saying hateful things.

The hotel manager appreciated what he’d just done.  She actually gave Thomas a complimentary room upgrade to an executive suite.  Seems like, for this Good Samaritan, there was a better ‘room at the inn’ for his getting in the rowdy, hateful man’s face.

Frankly, I was impressed with what my friend chose to do that night. He risked getting hit or injured, or perhaps having to hit the man!  One of them could have left there ‘horizontal’ – for a trip to a hospital emergency room!  When I asked him about his motivations to do what he did, he stated:

While I will try my hardest to be respectful of Mr. Trump when he Is president, I will not listen in silence to hateful talk.  Silence is tacit approval”.

No doubting Thomas here!


He responded to a public situation he deemed to be intolerable.  Many I suspect would have kept their mouth shut or just left the bar altogether.  Sadly, hundreds of acts of hate have occurred in the 42 days since the Election. Thankfully the man I showcased in this post, just there eating dinner and watching TV in the Southern bar, chose to speak up – on behalf of the bar workers who were hearing the Trump enthusiasts that night.  My friend, in the presence of all of them, stood up to one of them directly – a loud, vulgar man running his big mouth.

  • My friend Thomas knew what was right and what he believed and didn’t hesitate to act on these beliefs. How would you have responded?
  • The twins of Love and Kindness can do a lot to offset Hate.
  • Sometimes people, be they morally-grounded people or abiding Christians, need to make split-second decisions to stand up against injustice. Some choose to speak up and assist; others choose to avoid. The words of Desmond Tutu, about the impact on justice of one’s neutrality, and the fearless Boston man whose story I’ve shared, “Silence is tacit approval”, are both powerful food for thought.  In the next post in this race relations series, more powerful words, from a gifted Episcopal Priest in the Boston MA area, will be featured. They speak to the role of one’s soul as a stronghold against hate and bigotry.

Greg Silverthorne

66 Assurance Way (12/20/16)


Photo credit: Via Tsuji/flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 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?

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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


With an ‘Exceedingly-encouraged Attitude’, be Hopeful (Christian Assurance)

  • This mindset allows you to successfully ‘tell your storms’ to cease.   

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  • What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see (Hebrews 11:1 NLT).
  • Therefore we do not lose heart.   Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.   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.   For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)


Again, having an Encouraged Attitude allows you to successfully ‘tell your storms’ to cease.  

Who is your Storm-stopping Helper?   Jesus.  

Grace, mercy, and peace to You.

66 Assurance Way


Photo credit: iStock

Just a Shadow, Yes Just a Shadow (Faith)

Psalm23_clarasRose


Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;

thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4 (KJV)

I love it when I discover an insight into a Bible verse that had previously alluded me.  Given how familiar the 23rd Psalm is, that a mid-Summer Sermon would give me a new perspective on ‘I walk through the valley of the shadow of death’ was even more joyful.

When a sermon, song, or scripture lingers in my mind, I sense that the Holy Spirit is trying to reveal something to me.   The scripture which led this post, Psalm 23:4, will be explored.

For starters, what’s a valley?   The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it two ways:

  • “An area of low land between hills or mountains”
  • “A low period, point, or level”

The Shadow of Death in your Valleys (July 5, 2015)

As I sat on July 5th listening to one of the Associate Ministers at my church, Rev. Percy Pass (Oak Ridge First Baptist Church), give a sermon I wasn’t sure what to expect frankly.  While I’d enjoyed the last sermon he’d given, anytime anyone other than my Pastor (Dr. Rev. James A. Webster) gives the Sunday Sermon, I’m not sure what kind of experience awaits.  The Scripture for the minister’s Independence Day weekend Sermon:  Psalm 23.   As Rev. Pass proceeded, I can say I was fully pleased with what I heard.  As I exchanged several approving glances with my smiling, 83-year old father, I knew I was not the only one in the sanctuary that Sunday morning who felt this way.

  • He made one statement in the midst of the Sermon that, as soon as he uttered it, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.   I am paraphrasing here:

David wrote about walking through a valley of the shadow of death, not a valley of death.

Rev. Pass put an emphasis on the word not.  Guess what?  The Lord puts an emphasis on keeping all his sheep safe and comforted!  

As I returned to my Church Journal (with my Sermon notes) a few weeks later, I realized how much I’d missed in reading this one familiar verse (Psalm 23:4) of the Holy Bible.  As my seasoned Pastor has said on many occasions: ‘I saw something new in reading this scripture this week’.

  • If he can say that, I don’t feel bad that all the meaning in every Bible verse I read isn’t revealed when I first read it.   Bible Study, in a group and solo, has it’s benefits!
  • An active member of a mid-sized Missionary Baptist church in the Greensboro NC area, I can say that I haven’t heard many bad sermons.  Rev. Pass’s sermon touched my spiritual heart.  Without it, the blog post you are now reading would never have been published.

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