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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

FOR THE SISTER WHOSE HUSBAND WORKS TOO MUCH


For the sister whose husband works too much:    Listen to a man praise his wife as the most important thing in the world.

And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.  She shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.”   (Genesis 2: 24)

See how Adam praised his wife.  He affirmed their relationship as unique.  He declared that from now on her name would include his name because no one and no thing in their whole perfect world means as much to him as she does.

Neither Adam nor Eve had biological parents, so verse 24 isn't commentary.  It's prophesy.  Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined  his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2: 24)

God intended for husbands to give uniquely focused attention to their wives, attention that deliberately excludes everybody else, even your daddy and your mama.

So what's up with your godly man?   How do you get him to fulfill his prophetic role of paying attention to you?   You want some of that Genesis 2 love, don't you?

Let me help you, girl.

For women, attention is a sign of affection, and indication of genuine
love.  For men, attention is a result of shared purpose and camaraderie.

Your man, his clients, and colleagues work on the same projects, fighting the same  obstacles, and impacting each others' ambitions. That why he gives them his attention.

Good men are conditioned to respond negatively to people who try to distract them from their purpose. That's why he sometimes gets angry when you ask for more of his time.  His inner Adam tells him that he's supposed to tend the garden and name the animals, or whatever God has called him to do; and he interprets your need for attention as an attempt to move him off-task.

You and he share a unique relationship, a special love. Like no one and no thing else in the whole world, you have his heart.  But to get his attention, you have to share his purpose.

Which is how God intended it.  He designed the husband-wife relationship not primarily around romance but around shared purpose.

…In the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion… (Genesis 1: 27, 28)

Our human purpose is to be productive and to multiply until the image of God has dominion over all the earth. 

For a while in Genesis 2, Adam pursued that purpose all by himself.  Adam had a set of Divine rules and two jobs well before he knew what a wife was.  He was a good man, a man who embraced his purpose and its work.

Still, the Lord said, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2: 18).  Not good because God didn't just want a man who pursues his purpose.  God wanted a family that pursues their purpose, and so God declared, "I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

God didn't create Eve to ease Adam's loneliness.  God created Eve to share Adam's purpose.  No.  God created Eve to share in purpose with Adam.  The man of the family should lead the in fulfilling the family's purpose, but that purpose  doesn't originate from the man.  Purpose comes from God. 

Sisters, if you want your man's attention, be the one he can share his passion with.  Be the sounding board for his ideas.  Working together, articulate your mission as a family.  Be his partner in that
purpose.

As his partner you can remind him that regular rest is also part of God's ordained purpose.  As his co-laborer in Divine purpose you can say, "WE need some time away from the work.  Let's (Let us) get away for a few hours or a few days."  As his partner in purpose, you can even help him schedule a romance Sabbath, when you decompress together.  You know:  date night. 

Adam recognized that he and Eve had had both been blessed with the same purpose.  She "got him." This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. 

Therefore:  because she is one with me in my work,  I prophetically declare that I will give her my full and unique attention.

Therefore, because she is my partner in purpose I know that she knows what I'm going through.  I can share anything with her. "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." (Genesis 2: 25)

As it was in the beginning, so it is now.

Share his purpose, and you'll have his attention.

---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com
Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 
#Awordtothewise

You can help support this ministry with a donation to Miles Chapel CME Church.

You can help support Rev. Graves’ work by visiting his personal blog and clicking the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132
Fairfield, Al 35064

Monday, September 24, 2018

INVESTING IN THE BOSS'S KID

I wrote this post 4 years ago, on the eve of my daughter's 16th birthday.  Tomorrow she turns 20, and what I said then is even more true today.




Tomorrow my daughter turns 16.  For the last couple of hours I’ve been looking at her picture and feeling all wet in the eyes.

Which made me think about Eliezer and Abraham. 

Genesis 15: 1-3 says that Eliezer was the chief servant in Abraham’s household.

The household of a Biblical patriarch was a lot like a family owned corporation.  For example, in the house of Abraham, the patriarch had more servants (employees) than actual relatives by blood or marriage.

Yet the entire household depended on one another.  Together they weathered storms and famine.  Together, they fought marauders and rival tribes.   Together they would either prosper or die in the Canaanite frontier.  And when God gave Abraham the sign of circumcision in Genesis 17, EVERY male in Abraham’s house became a Jew---- the hard way.

But you could say that was all just good business. 

You have to be nice to the boss.  You have to work together.  If the company (household) fails then everybody’s out of a job.  In Old Testament days, being “out of a job” meant death or enslavement, so doing a good job was simple self-interest.  Genuine love wasn’t necessarily part of the job description.

But sometimes it was.

Before Abraham and Sarah had children, Eliezer was the designated heir of Abraham’s entire fortune.  So when Isaac, the promised son, came along Eliezer had no objective economic reason to love the boy. 

But he did.

We know that Eliezer CARED ABOUT Isaac because Eliezer INVESTED IN Isaac.

In Genesis 25, Abraham sent his chief servant to research and negotiate a marriage-merger for his son.   This was a lot of trouble.  There was no match.com to sign onto, no Instagram full of selfies to peruse, not even a postal system to send letters asking, “Hey, do you know any nice single women around Isaac’s age?”

Eliezer had to take ten camels and basically wander around the sparsely populated Canaanite and Mesopotamian wilderness looking for “the one.” 

And if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be released from this oath; only do not take my son back there.”…Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, for all his master’s goods were in his hand. (Genesis 25: 8, 10)

At this point Abraham was old and Eliezer had power of attorney over the whole family business.  All he had to do was “not find” the right woman or ship Isaac off to Syria and he could have taken over the family.

But he didn’t. 

Instead, he risked his time, the peril of his own safety (wandering around the dessert with a caravan of provisions at his age), and his personal self-interest; and invested it all in his boss’s child.

Then he said, “O Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. (Genesis 25: 12)

In my career as an educator and pastor I’ve worked with, for, and over a lot of people.  Especially on faculties when I was a department chair or administrator (boss), teachers had an economic self-interest in being nice to me because I performed their evaluations and managed their personnel files.

They didn’t have to really love me.  They didn’t have to really love my house, my family.

But they have.

My daughter turns 16 tomorrow. When I posted the announcement online and looked at the range of people who commented and liked I realized how expansive my household has really been.

Over the last 20 years, teachers, counselor,  pastors, co-workers, colleagues, church members, and employees have invested in their time, their gifts, their favor, and their love in me, my wife, and our children. 

They have gone far, far out of their way to protect my children when I could not be there to protect them. 

They have prayed for my family.  They have looked out for my wife.  They have sought our good when our good wouldn’t do them any good.  They helped me and mine when undermining me would have been easy and profitable.

I know what you did.

You loved my house when you didn’t have to.

Thank you.

Thank you all.

---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

Subscribe to my personal blog  www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com .

Email atgravestwo2@aol.com

You can help support this ministry with a donation to Miles Chapel CME Church.

You can help support Rev. Graves’ work by visiting his personal blog and clicking the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar.

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Miles Chapel CME Church
P O Box 132

Fairfield, Al 35064

Monday, September 17, 2018

QUESTIONING CHRIST’S AUTHORITY or CAN JESUS MOVE YOUR TABLES? (audio post)

This time you have a choice of titles for the sermon:  QUESTIONING CHRIST’S AUTHORITY or CAN JESUS MOVE YOUR TABLES?


Listen well and leave a comment.

If you can’t get the audio on your device, visit the main podcast page at http://revandersongraves.podomatic.com/

 --Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Bailey Tabernacle CME Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He writes the popular blog: A Word to the Wise at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com

Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar. 
Visit the ministry’s website at baileytabernaclecme.org

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Bailey Tabernacle CME Church
P.O. Box 3145 
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35403

Thursday, September 13, 2018

SILENT GRIND


Before the first pair of beasts marched into the ark, before the first raindrop of the new climate fell from the sky, Noah hammered and chopped and built for months, for years without a drop of rain.  He labored for an indeterminate time on what looked to all the world like a pointless project.

Before Moses challenged a monarch and freed a nation of slaves, he spent 40 years in the back country of Midian, studying under a shepherd priest but doing nothing publicly remarkable.

Before the day of shouting and tumbling down walls, the armies of Israel marched around the walls of Jericho for 6 days, saying nothing.

Before Nehemiah rallied a broken community to climb out of the rubble of their ancestors’ defeat and rebuild their own destiny, he spent days quietly observing and learning.

The last words of the Old Testament prophesy the coming of John the Baptist.  The 4 centuries between that pronouncement and John’s birth at beginning of the New Testament timeline is called “The Silent Years” and usually represented by a completely blank page.

Jesus’ entire adolescence is omitted from the Scriptures.  We know He learned.  We know He studied.  We know He travelled and experienced.  But we don’t exactly know what.  Those are the “silent years.” 

There are no overnight successes. 

The greatness you suddenly notice in the daylight is the result of many months and years you didn’t hear about and weren’t invited to see.   The unheralded hours of preparation.  The hours of training that weren’t posted.    The grind on mute. 

So take measure of your public life and compare it to your private prep.   Be sure that you do as much or more off-camera as you do in the public eye.  Resist the temptation to show it all all the time.  That is the pattern of greatness.  As the urban philosopher Lil’ Wayne said, “Real G’s move in silence, like lasagna.”

 --Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Bailey Tabernacle CME Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He writes the popular blog: A Word to the Wise at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com

Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar. 
Visit the ministry’s website at baileytabernaclecme.org

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Bailey Tabernacle CME Church
1117 23rd Avenue
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401

Monday, September 10, 2018

OPEN WINDOW: A Lesson from the 5th Plague


Blogging Exodus 9:1 - 7
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.
For if you refuse to let them go, and still hold them,
 behold, the hand of the Lord will be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep—a very severe pestilence.
 And the Lord will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel.” ’ ”
 Then the Lord appointed a set time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.”
So the Lord did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died.
Then Pharaoh sent, and indeed, not even one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh became hard, and he did not let the people go. 


The 5th plague was the death of Egyptian livestock in a very severe pestilence.  An aggressive bovarian disease with a 100% fatality rate swept through Egyptian herds, wiping out their cattle and herds within 24 hours.  It was an economic, cultural, religious, and health care disaster.   Usually, having made that observation we move on to the 6th plague.  The cows died. That’s bad.  Next verse.  


Hold up.  It’s not about the dead cows.  It’s about the window.

Window?

Yeah, window.

When Moses confronted Pharaoh, the prophet did not immediately call down death on the livestock.  He said, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.”  Pharaoh had a 24 hour “window” in which to prevent the death of an entire sector of his nation’s economy.

What did Pharaoh think about in that window of time?  Did he decide that Moses was bluffing?  Not likely.  He’d seen Moses turn the Nile into blood, call up frogs out of the river, produce swarms of lice and flies; and he’d seen Moses turn those disasters off like a spigot. (Yeah, I think they did have spigots in ancient Egypt.)

Maybe Pharaoh wondered if Moses would really escalate the miracles/ plagues this way. Previously all of the death had been collateral damage, side effects of blood, frogs, lice, and flies.  This 5th plague would be deliberate and direct mass extermination.

Possibly, Pharaoh wondered if Moses would risk his own people’s livelihood.  The previous plague, flies, had skipped the Hebrews in Goshen, but could Moses’ God really be that precise two times in a row?  

More likely, Pharaoh was just mad.  He didn’t even try to negotiate during the 24 hour window.  He just waited.  Even after the herds started dying, Pharaoh didn’t send for Moses to ask for relief.  He only sent for a report to see if Moses had indeed kept the Hebrew livestock safe from the pestilence. (Exodus 9:7)

Pharaoh looked out the 24 hour window and did nothing.  That’s why all the cows died.

Sudden destruction is seldom all that sudden. 

Even the worst people have a chance, a window of opportunity, to make a different choice.  Revelations 20: 21 (King James Version) calls this window of opportunity a space to repent. Sometimes God provides chance after chance for years.  Sometimes, months pass while people and circumstances try to nudge you away from your destructive path.  Sometimes, you get 24 hours to decide if your pride and stubborness are worth all those dead cows.

Like Pharaoh, we are all looking out an open window of opportunity.  You have 24 hours to make the moves that are possible in these next 24 hours.   You know what those moves are.  You know what choices you face, what direction you started along, and --- if you’re honest with yourself --- you have a pretty good idea of what’s gonna happen if you make the wrong choices between today and tomorrow.

I know you don’t want to.

I know you don’t think you should have to.

I know you’d rather do the other thing.

But think of the cows. 

Do the right thing while the window is open.

Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3: 15)



 --Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Bailey Tabernacle CME Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He writes the popular blog: A Word to the Wise at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com

Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar. 
Visit the ministry’s website at baileytabernaclecme.org

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Bailey Tabernacle CME Church
1117 23rd Avenue
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401

Saturday, September 8, 2018

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: A Lesson from the 4th Plague



Blogging Exodus 8:20 - 32
20 And the Lord said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes out to the water. Then say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.
21 Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand.
22 And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the land. 23 I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be.” ’ ”
24 And the Lord did so.
Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies. . .

The first 3 plagues had affected everyone in Egypt.  For a week, neither the Egyptians nor their Hebrew slaves could find a cup of water blood red and stinking.  The frogs had hopped through the palaces in Egypt and the slave quarters in Goshen.  Lice had chewed on the flesh of slaves, overseers, masters, and visitors to the country.  The wrath of God had fallen on the whole nation of Egypt in general.

But then God sent word to Pharaoh, “I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell. . .  I will make a difference between My people and your people.” 

When Pharaoh refused again to grant religious leave to the Hebrew slaves, thick swarms of flies invaded the homes and lands of ethnic Egyptians.  The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies. Corrupted in this sense means “contaminated.”  The flies brought disease.  The insects were just gross and inconvenience.  People died. But not Hebrew people.

The flies didn’t fly in Goshen because God made a difference between His people and the other people.

When the process of deliverance begins it feels like a general disaster.

Companies all over are closing. 

Kids in every community have lost their minds. 

Families in every demographic dissolve in an epidemic of divorce and infidelity.

Every faith and denomination is tainted with scandal.

Every political persuasion is guilty of hypocrisy against their stated values. 

The poor urban (black and brown) kids are addicted to crack and weed.  Rural white kids are addicted to meth and weed.   The middle-class and rich kids are addicted to heroin (and weed).  Old folks are addicted to opioids, and everyone else is on sleeping pills and/or antidepressants.



The plagues afflict us all.

They say “Misery loves company,” but if you’re waiting on God to save your people, shared misery doesn’t actually make your situation any better. 

But then.

Even while things in the country are generally miserable, watch for that moment when God makes a difference for you.

After the Civil War came Reconstruction and the Freedmen’s Bureau which made such a difference that the HBCU’s were founded, African-Americans were elected to Congress, and in 1870, a new, independent Christian denomination was founded, fully led and administered led by ex-slaves (the Colored Methodist Episcopal church).  God made a difference for His people.

After Vietnam and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s Affirmative Action and the Office for Civil Rights. The list of firsts in that period is to long for this blog post, but you see the pattern, right?

God’s people cry out to Him.  He sends them the promise of deliverance, but at first things just get worse.  Their enemies double-down on their attacks, and the outpouring of Divine wrath meant to get the nation to repent is a series of general disasters in which God’s people suffer, too.  But then, the story shifts and God starts making a difference between His people and everybody else.

We call that “a season of favor.”

What is the difference that God is ready to make in, among, for, and through His people?   What is the DIFFERENT approach to alleviating poverty that communities of faith can deliver?  What is the DIFFERENT approach that Bible-studying people can find to make the legal system a system of actual justice?  In the midst of all the disastrous news pouring out of every crevice of the country, what has God put in the church, in YOUR church, that will set apart your response and make a difference between how your people deal with the next crisis?  

Think about it.  Pray about it.  Because as surely as other plagues followed the flies in Exodus 8, another crisis IS coming after whatever next goes wrong in America. 

Be ready God’s people.  Be different.


 --Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Bailey Tabernacle CME Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He writes the popular blog: A Word to the Wise at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com

Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar. 
Visit the ministry’s website at baileytabernaclecme.org

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Bailey Tabernacle CME Church
1117 23rd Avenue
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

THE WORD YOU NEED, NOT THE WORD YOU WANT (audio)

A Communion Sunday sermon from Jesus’ original sermon about communion.  They didn’t want to hear it then, but we need to hear it now.  The title of the message is: THE WORD YOU NEED, NOT THE WORD YOU WANT.


Listen well and leave a comment.

If you can’t get the audio on your device, visit the main podcast page at http://revandersongraves.podomatic.com/

 --Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Bailey Tabernacle CME Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He writes the popular blog: A Word to the Wise at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com

Follow me on twitter @AndersonTGraves 

Click here to support this ministry with a donation.  Or go to andersontgraves.blogspot.com and click on the DONATE button on the right-hand sidebar. 
Visit the ministry’s website at baileytabernaclecme.org

Support by check or money order may be mailed to 
Bailey Tabernacle CME Church
P.O. Box 3145 
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35403