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Friday, August 31, 2012

DON'T LEAD. DON'T FOLLOW.

We tell our children to be leaders and not followers.  On several occasions, I’ve repeated that admonition myself.  But, when I stepped back to consider those words, I realized how potentially destructive they are.

Have you ever met someone who is determined to be the leader, someone who refuses to take any position or task that implies follower status?  Such people are useless. 

Worse than useless, they drain the life from an organization, kill progress for any higher purpose, and force everyone into an orbit around themselves until either they have created a cult of personality, a universe in which they are the center , or the weight of their ego forms a blackhole into which the company, agency, ministry, or family implodes.

It’s not a question of styles.  Whether authoritarian or egalitarian, laissez-faire or micromanagers, we’re-all-one-big-happy-family or keep-it-strictly-business; any approach can work or fail.  It’s not a question of the approach.  It’s a question of the intent.

If we tell gifted or positioned individual that they must be the leader, we create a culture in which sabotage and self-advancement are the highest principles.  Look around.  Take a good look around.  See the damage such a culture causes. 

On the other hand, people who refuse leadership are differently but equally damaging.  People who desire to be followers shrink from responsibilities which they are the best equipped to fulfill.  They hide from or (sub)consciously fail at tasks for which they are uniquely gifted.  Those who strain to maintain their follower status end up crossing the line from humility to futility.  Such people would rather be useless than to be utilized in ways that draw attention to them---- even if they could benefit the mission in the process.

There’s nothing wrong with being a leader.  There’s nothing wrong with being a follower.  But the most desirable goal is to be a DOER.

Doers get things done.  

Doers achieve the goal.

Doers go and gather the resources necessary to fulfill the task.  Sometimes those resources include people to whom the doer must give directions.    The doer isn’t trying to make himself/herself the leader.  This just happens to be how the job gets done.

Doers do what needs to be done.  Sometimes that means following a better plan than their own.  Sometimes that means setting their better idea aside while the hierarchy sorts out its plan, not because they want to, but because a fight at that point won’t advance the ultimate goal. 

Doers don’t care about the title.  They care about the task.   

Sometimes a doer ends up with the title of "leader," but leaders who aren’t doers are empty egos.

Sometimes doers fill the official follower slots, but followers who aren’t doers are  deadweight.
 
Lead or follow, but help get it freakin' done!
----- Anderson T. Graves II

You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  (Mark 10: 42-45)

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.  (James 1: 22-25)

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
Call/ fax: 334-288-0577
Friend Pastor Graves at www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves
If you want to be a blessing to this ministry, contributions may be made by check or money order.
Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd.,
Montgomery, AL 3611

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A WORD TO THE WISE: Proverbs 28: 7. " Your Child Is Your Resume"


Proverbs 28: 7     Whoever keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.

Proverbs 28: 7.  When I was a child heading off on the day of a school field trip, a church outing, or another situation where I’d be among unfamiliar adults, my parents would say to me, “Now don’t you embarrass me.”

I thought that was pretty doggone arrogant of my folks---- like they were the center of the universe, like if I got in trouble the principal, or the pastor, or the police, or whomever caught me would actually think, “Hmmph.  His parents didn’t teach him nothin'.”

Well now I’m an adult, a pastor who’s been an asst. principal, and worked with police.  You know what?

When a kid goes out around unfamiliar adults and gets into trouble, the first thing that the authorities think is, “Hmmph.  His parents should’ve raised him better.”

Every child bears the family name and the family honor.  It’s a burden that we should not tell them is removed.  Rather we should prepare them to bear it. 

Our children need to understand that the entire family is judged by their individual conduct just as they are individually judged by the company they choose to keep.

With time and on-to-one interaction, a child can demonstrate his/her individual worth independent of his/her associates.  But before, until, and unless that individual interview happens, friendships serve as the resumes of the young.  The clique, the crew defines the kid.  The kid defines the family.

Maybe it is unfair, but it is what it is.

If you’re a parent, prepare your children to represent you well.  Your child is your resume to the world.  If your baby cusses his teacher or refuses to do her assignments, you have told the school that you are disrespectful, vulgar, and lazy.  Maybe you aren’t any of those things, but that’s not what your resume says.

Maybe it is unfair, but it is what it is.

If you’re a kid (or an adult), choose your friends to represent you well.  What is the best thing in you/ about you?  If I looked at your circle of buddies, would I even have a clue as to how fantastic you actually are?  If not, you deserve better friends. 

Maybe it isn’t fair, but it is what it is.
----- Anderson T. Graves II

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
Call/ fax: 334-288-0577
Email us at hallmemorialcme1@aol.com
Friend Pastor Graves at www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves

If you want to be a blessing to this ministry, contributions may be made by check or money order.

Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd.,
Montgomery, AL 36116

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

PLOTTING YOUR PLOT: A LESSON FROM JAIL


Tonight, I taught the brothers in jail about “plot,”  the elements of a story. 

I could have walked them through the formal sequence (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, & resolution), but they’re not going to be asked those kinds of formal literary questions on the G.E.D.   Instead we worked on answering the basic narrative questions: who, what, when, where, why, & how.  For that we used an old Sunday school lesson from the same books we use at church.

Our Sunday School lessons begin with a little In Focus story which is a fictional anecdote about some contemporary situation.  Our story tonight happened to be about a 15 year old boy who got arrested for fighting at school.   After the introductory story is a passage of scripture.  The scripture from our lesson was from Exodus chapter 3, Moses and the burning bush.

The brothers had to explain the connection between the In Focus story and the Bible story. 

They couldn’t find the connection until they broke down the who, what, when, where, why, & how in each passage.  Then they saw the connection.

The point I made for them, the point I want to share with you is this: When you understand the who, what, when, where, why, and  how of somebody’s story, you see how their story and yours are connected.  It doesn’t matter how different the two of you are. 

You may be as different as a 15 year old kid living in a 21st century surburb and an 80 year-old fugitive sheepherder in the Midian wilderness of 1446 B.C.  Still you both have committed wrongs for which justice is due.  Still you both want mercy.  Still you both have to stand before a judge and humble yourselves.  One of you approaches the bench in a courtroom; the other approaches a burning bush in the dessert.    Yet, your stories are connected.

When you can see the who, what, when, where, why, & how of another person’s story you can find a way to relate to them, to respect them because you appreciate the similarities of your stories rather than feeling at ease to hate them because you think, “We have nothing in common.”

When you understand the who, what, when, where, why, & how of your own story, you can see how you’ve allowed other people to “plot” on you and manipulate your whys with whos & whens & wheres to make you do WHAT they want you to.

When you understand the plot of your own story then you can change HOW your life goes by taking conscious control of the other elements.  When you understand your own whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys, & hows, you can pick up the pen of your life and make the next chapter of your story better than the last.

Yeah. In jail.  With a bunch of high school dropouts. 

These men are uneducated, but they’re not stupid.  They’ve done stupid stuff, but they’re not mindless.  Every brother who is currently in a city or county jail will get out. They can either get out wiser in positive things or they can get out more educated in crime. 

Support the ministries and programs that make them better than when they went in.   Because they will get out.
----- Anderson T. Graves II

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
Call/ fax: 334-288-0577
Email us at hallmemorialcme1@aol.com
Friend Pastor Graves at www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves

If you want to be a blessing to this ministry, contributions may be made by check or money order.

Mail all contributions to :

Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd.,
Montgomery, AL 36116

A WORD TO THE WISE. Proverbs 28:6 "Poor Folks in A Storm"

Proverbs 28: 6     Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

Proverbs 28: 6.  In 2005, Hurricane Katrina knocked out power to my entire home county of Jefferson Davis, Mississippi.  It was weeks before any state or federal assistance made its way far enough from the interstates to help my hometown family and friends.   The only 2 banks in the entire county were both shut down because they couldn’t process any electronic transactions.  (You might’ve had a million dollars  in the bank, but you wouldn’t have been able to access a dime of it.)

Folks in my hometown concluded that the rich people up in Jackson (the state capital) and Washington, D.C., didn’t care about the po’ folks down in Bassfield and Prentiss, Mississippi. 

Didn’t matter, though. 

Within hours of the last Katrina-spawned tornado, every country boy with a chainsaw, a tractor, or a truck was out cutting trees off the roads and of the roofs.

People with generators took their neighbors’ meat into their deep freezers, or they hooked up their generator to the air conditioner of the old sister up the road.  Young, healthy families sweat through the month without power so the old and sickly didn’t have to.

Folks fired up the grills and the cook pits.  When all the refrigerated food was gone, people opened up their smokehouses or butchered a hog early.

By the time my little country county realized that the rich folks weren’t coming in a hurry, the poor folks were already taking care of each other.

I don’t have a lot of extremely wealthy friends, and I wouldn’t mind having a few more.

But, I wouldn’t trade one of the country boys I grew up with, not one of the good-hearted but broke brothers I count as loyal friends----- not for a hundred heartless celebrities who might decide at any time that ignoring or hurting me is more entertaining or convenient than coming to my aid.

A poor man you can trust when the lights go out and the money’s not moving is worth a thousand rich guys who might flip on you.
----- Anderson T. Graves II

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
Call/ fax: 334-288-0577
Email us at hallmemorialcme1@aol.com
Friend Pastor Graves at www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves

If you want to be a blessing to this ministry, contributions may be made by check or money order.

Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd.,
Montgomery, AL 36116

Monday, August 27, 2012

THE WAY WE GRIEVE, THE WAY WE LOVE



In a few hours I take a long drive to help a friend bury his mother.  I go to help my friend grieve.

My wife, the counselor, helped me understand something important about such tasks.  She said, “People need permission to grieve in their own way.”

Sometimes people don’t understand their own hearts.  They run about manically, weep spontaneously, or withdraw into small, dark spaces; but they don’t know why.  Their behavior doesn’t help them process the loss, and they don’t expect it to.  In fact they have no expectations at all.  This pain seems permanent, and they’re just waiting for the inevitable madness.

Other people though know how they need to grieve.  Their ceaseless activity has a purpose.  They are organizing chaos to remind themselves that meaning can come from pain.  They are crying because the tears release pressure that they do not want  to carry beyond the funeral.  They withdraw so that they can think through their feelings, process and partition their doubts, reassess and reconfigure their future to include the absence of one they’d thought of as eternal.  Thus, they chart a path out of the madness and into the light.

When I minister to people in their season of bereavement, I try to discern whether their style of grief is chosen or imposed.  I empower them with overt permission to grieve their own way, and I ask family and friends to respect the face and form of one another’s grief.  

You can offer comfort to people anyway you want to offer comfort, but they can only be comforted in the ways that respect the way they grieve.

I’ve learned that as it is with grief, so it is with love.

Some people fall in and live in love much as one might fall into quicksand----unsuspecting, flailing, and panicking before surrendering to whatever fate happens to come.

Others understand the way they love and thus the way they need to be loved.  Respect the way those you love need to be loved.  When she says, “I need you to hold me,” don’t respond with the reasons she  shouldn’t need to be held.  She NEEDS to be held.  Your holding means love.

When he says, “I need to be alone,” don’t attack his solitude or punish him for it later.  He NEEDS to be alone.  Your distance in that moment means love.

Though there are surely many legitimately logical reasons why other acts of love are more romantic, mature, and convenient they are not for them acts of love.  They are acts of so-called romance, acts of condescending superiority, acts of selfishness. 

You can love me anyway you want, but I can only be loved the way I need to be loved.


---- Anderson T. Graves II

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
Call/ fax: 334-288-0577
Friend Pastor Graves at www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves
If you want to be a blessing to this ministry, contributions may be made by check or money order.
Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd.,
Montgomery, AL 36116


Sunday, August 26, 2012

HOW COULD SOMETHING SO RIGHT GO SO WRONG?

Adam and Eve were made perfect.  They were placed in a perfect place untainted by sin or error.  They were quite literally made for one another to be the perfect match.  But things didn’t stay that way.  If we will receive the Word, then the reasons for the fall of the first marriage reveal principles about marriage that can save our not-quite-so-perfect families.  

So, the question is: HOW COULD SOMETHING SO RIGHT GO SO WRONG?

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Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
Call/ fax: 334-288-0577
Email us at hallmemorialcme1@aol.com  
Friend Pastor Graves at www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves 

If you want to be a blessing to this ministry, contributions may be made by check or money order.

Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd.,
Montgomery, AL 36116
 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A WORD TO THE WISE: Proverbs 28: 5

Proverbs 28: 5     Evil men do not understand justice,
But those who seek the Lord understand all.

Proverbs 28: 5. In old comic books, men became villains when they deliberately chose evil.  They even chose names that said so: Dr. Doom, Professor Evil, Mr. Sinister.

In the real world, the greatest evils are perpetuated by men and women who think that they’re the good guys.  The Nazis thought themselves chosen ones commissioned by the gods to fight the evil Jewish threat.  The men who crashed hijacked planes into the twin towers looked forward to a holy hero’s death.  The doctors who secretly injected healthy Black men with syphilis and took notes as the disease ravaged their bodies and the bodies of the wives they unknowingly infected did so in the name of science and the greater good.

They all thought their atrocities justified in comparison to the historical or hypothetical bad that had been or might be otherwise done.   Thus they rendered truth, justice, and the holy way relative to themselves.

When truth is what you perceive it to be, you can lie to yourself and call it revelation. 

When good and evil are relative to the prevailing culture or the individual then charisma becomes the people’s conscience and fame becomes the voice of their god. 

And so, little boys stand before judges for the most despicable crimes and they honestly don’t know why everybody’s trippin’ so hard over this.

When we look to yourself as the standard for ourselves then our eyes deceive us.  We don’t even realize that our right is/ our rights are wrong and that we have become villains who call ourselves by heroes’ names.

But those who seek the Lord look beyond themselves, beyond the selves of others’ selves. 

Those who seek the Lord look to the Word of God----ancient, prophetic, and eternal. 

The Bible convicts us all, most democratically declaring that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  

The absolute fairness of God is manifest.  We are relieved of the burden of superiority because everybody needs a savior; everybody needs the same Savior.

There is none who does good, No, not one.

When we define justice for ourselves we just find how indefinitely evil we can be.

But when we turn God and seek first the His kingdom will and righteousness then we find all things finally adding up.
----- Anderson T. Graves II

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
Call/ fax: 334-288-0577
Email us at hallmemorialcme1@aol.com
Friend Pastor Graves at www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves

If you want to be a blessing to this ministry, contributions may be made by check or money order.

Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd.,
Montgomery, AL 36116

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A WORD TO THE WISE. Proverbs 28: 4

Proverbs 28: 4     Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them.

Proverbs 28:4. We have to be careful with “positivity.”  It’s na├»ve and dangerous to blindly support our friends no matter what they decide to do.

I mean, a crowd standing behind you encouraging you to take the next step in a life-changing decision you’ve made sounds like a good thing.  But, what if you’re standing on a ledge and you’ve decided to kill yourself?

As a Christian, I have to love you.  I have to forgive you when you wrong me. Jesus commands me to suppress the impulse to judge the worth of your soul, to presume that I can tell the what you will or won’t make of your potential.    

What I don’t have to do is tell you that’s it’s O.K. when you do something wrong.  It isn’t.  I am not supposed to praise you for the strength of your commitment to sin.  If you are a skilled and bold criminal then I should respect your gifts and your courage while simultaneously condemning the evil for which you employ your gifts and courage.

And you must do the same for me.  I don’t get better when people enable my faults and encourage my character flaws in the name of love or grace.    

As a Christian, I am commanded to pursue perfection.  Freakin’ PER-FEC-TION!   (Matthew 5: 48)

It’s a high mark, and I’m faaarrr from it, but it is what it is.    To get there I need help.   To get there you need help.   Helping one another grown in Chirst is sometimes more complicated than just hollering, “Good job!”

Sometimes you have to argue with the ones you love.  Paul argued with Peter (Galatians 2: 11).   Jacob wrestled with God/ The Angel of God (Genesis 32). 

As the people of God’s kingdom we have to learn how to wrestle with one another without drawing blades and devolving into civil war.    Christians must be able to hold Christians accountable, or the devil will have an ever longer list of hypocrites with whom to misrepresent the Christ’s church to the world. 

When we fail in this key aspect of Christian love, we become a nation of accomplices to each other’s sins.

It’s not O.K.  to say it’s O.K. when it’s not O.K.

Leviticus 19:17 You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 
----- Anderson T. Graves II

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
Call/ fax: 334-288-0577
Email us at hallmemorialcme1@aol.com
Friend Pastor Graves at www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves

If you want to be a blessing to this ministry, contributions may be made by check or money order.

Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd.,
Montgomery, AL 36116

HOW TO HAVE IT ALL & STILL HAVE JOY

We strive. We hustle, and we struggle.  We reach for goals, dreams, possessions, and all the things that should define success.  We try to have it all, but somewhere along the way most of lose something----our joy.  Does it have to be this way?  Is it possible to have it all and still have joy?

The message is called: HOW TO HAVE IT ALL & STILL HAVE JOY

Listen well.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
Call/ fax: 334-288-0577
Email us at hallmemorialcme1@aol.com  
Friend Pastor Graves at www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves 

If you want to be a blessing to this ministry, contributions may be made by check or money order.

Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd.,
Montgomery, AL 36116

Friday, August 17, 2012

SOMEBODY WHO CAN DEAL WITH YOUR JACKED-UP FEET

I don’t know if you’ve ever been part of a church foot-washing, but I just participated in my first.  It was a remarkable experience, especially for me because I was called upon to preach.  I was preaching in very unfamiliar territory, but God came through with a Word that only the Holy Spirit could put together.

Delivered for the 2nd night of Revival at St. Luke CME Church, hear a message about Somebody Who Can Deal With Jacked-up Feet.

Listen well.


Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
Call/ fax: 334-288-0577
Email us at hallmemorialcme1@aol.com  
Friend Pastor Graves at www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves 

If you want to be a blessing to this ministry, contributions may be made by check or money order.

Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd.,
Montgomery, AL 36116

Thursday, August 16, 2012

THE STARTING BLOCKS


When a sprinter takes his place at the starting line, he positions his feet in the blocks and relaxes.  He releases all the tension, all the worry, all the doubt from his body and mind.  In that moment of release, feet fitted into place, the runner is safe in his own lane.  He is -------------comfortable.

But when the judge calls out, “Runners take your marks,” the sprinter flexes.  His weight shifts againstthe starting blocks.  He is coiled, and every fiber of his being wants to launch away from the place where he is.  He is not comfortable there anymore.

When the starter pistol fires, the runner could choose to relax again, to shake away the tension and settle back into the blocks; but if he did he would lose the race.

Your comfort zone is not the place where you are supposed to be.  It’s the place where you are supposed to begin.  Tension in your comfort zone may be the signal that it’s time to go farther, to work harder, to become better.  Embrace the tension.  Use it.

If you don’t run beyond your comfort zone, you lose.

Brethren, I do not count myself to have achieved these things; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians  3:12-14)  
----- Anderson T. Graves II

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
Call/ fax: 334-288-0577
Email us at hallmemorialcme1@aol.com
Friend Pastor Graves at www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves

If you want to be a blessing to this ministry, contributions may be made by check or money order.

Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd.,
Montgomery, AL 36116

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

ACID RAIN (blogging Proverbs 28:3)


Proverbs 28: 3     A poor man who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain which leaves no food.


Proverbs 28:3.  Basic, common-sense principles of farming: Drought is bad.  Rain is good.  Drought means less food.  Rain means crops grow.

The environmental phenomenon known as “acid rain” violates those basic, common-sense principles.  Acid rain carries toxins , and when it falls it poisons the plants and the soil.  Acid rain in a season of drought is worse than no rain at all.

Poor neighborhoods, poor churches, poor families are stuck in a season of drought.  When a poor member of that poor community victimizes his/her neighbors he/she is like a driving acid rain. 

Drug dealers, stick-up kids, and shooters in the hood are not heroes.  They are not “keeping it real.” They do not have love for their communities just because their address is still in the community.  They are poison. 

Look around.  Are the families on the block blossoming or suffering?  Are businesses flourishing and hiring or closing and fleeing?  Is there joy and peace and hope, or year after year does the neighborhood feel more and more like a hungry grave?  The poor who oppress the poor are a poison rain.

That church elder who keeps the little, dwindling church under his/her thumb, who squashes every effort to grow, who breaks the spirit of every youth, who prevent new leaders from rising---- he/she is a poison rain.  

Those siblings, parents, or significant others who keep telling you that you will never do any better than they’re doing, who say that ya’ll are just hood rats or poor white trash---- they are clouds that rain acid.

Don’t drink the acid.  Don’t water your spirit with their toxic words.  Move your mind from under that poison cloud.  Bring in fresh water from a clean well.

And grow.

And bloom.

And smile.

Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive. (John 7:37-39)


 --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


Sunday, August 12, 2012

TO THOSE WHO MADE IT THROUGH THE STORM & TO THOSE WHO DIDN'T

Sometimes you go into the storm, but you don't make it through. Sometimes when the storm has passed for everyone else and they're rejoicing about how Jesus brought them through, you're smashed up on the shore or floundering in the depths, trying to keep your head above water.

Whether you are going through a storm right now, you have come out of a storm, or you went into a storm and didn’t make it safely out------ this message is for you.
 
Listen well.
Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
Call/ fax: 334-288-0577
Email us at hallmemorialcme1@aol.com  
Friend Pastor Graves at www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves 

If you want to be a blessing to this ministry, contributions may be made by check or money order.

Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd.,
Montgomery, AL 36116

Friday, August 10, 2012

A WORD TO THE WISE: Proverbs 28: 2 "Chaos & Leadership"

Proverbs 28: 2     Because of the transgression of a land, many areits princes; but by a man of understanding and knowledge right will be prolonged.

Proverbs 28:2. We usually think of chaos in a nation, community, or organization as an absence of leadership---like when the long-time dictator of some 3rd world nation is assassinated and civil war breaks out. 

But, take a closer look at the chaos and you’ll see that the problem isn’t so much an absence of leaders  as a surplus of leaders.  Chaos doesn’t occur when no one is in charge.  Chaos happens when everyone’s in charge.

Moses issued this warning to the nation of Israel as they waited at the edge of the Promise(d Land):    You shall not at all do as we are doing here today— every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes. (Deuteronomy 12: 8)

In other words, everybody can’t be in charge at the same time.

But that warning was forgotten by the New Testament manifestation of God’s people. 

People were looking at the apostles and saying, “Has the Lord spoken through them only.  Has He not spoke through us also?” (Numbers 12: 2)

Folks were advancing their claims to power by the argument “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them.” (Numbers 16: 3)

The scramble for prominence in the church created a competitive, chaotic worship experience, so Paul had to reiterate Moses’ warning  in 1 Corinthians 14: 26.

How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

Every church, every community, and every nation needs leaders at every level and in every area.  But, when all the leaders at all those levels and in all those areas simultaneously decide that they are the most important person in the place and that they should run the whole show, the result is------- chaos.

The apostles, originally all Jews in Jerusalem, did not scheme to supplant the Sanhedrin council members.

David, though anointed by God to replace King Saul, did not take up arms against Saul except as a last resort of self-defense, and even then David tried to protect Saul and his family.

John the Baptist did not press his legitimate biological claims to the office of high priest, nor did he demand official recognition as prophet laureate of the Jewish people.

Jesus is the Great High Priest, the King of the Jews, but He did not contend with Herod for the throne of Judaea or with Caiaphas for the leadership of the Sanhedrin Council.

Had Jesus and John, who were cousins and prophetic companions,  competed for those earthly titles then they and their disciples would have been in competition with one another.  Chaos.

The world promotes an animalistic concept of self-promotion in which you must wound your peers and destroy your predecessor so you can consume his/her power. 

Yet it shall not be so among you, “ said Jesus, “but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.” (Matthew 20: 26)

Godly leaders understand that we serve the people who are below us on organizational chart.    Sometimes that means we take blows from higher-ups so our people/ department/ congregation/ community/ students won’t be injured.   We spend our days and nights figuring out how to raise up those with less power than we have, rather than plotting how to replace those who have more power.

When the many leaders in an organization focus on service rather than status, then a chief servant naturally emerges from among them and is raised to higher leadership.  That leader isn’t the one with the greatest ambition, the most glamorous persona, or the most ruthless mentality; but he/she is the one who’s willing to serve when everyone else has quit serving.  True leaders are willing to sacrifice themselves when everyone else has run away to safety.  True leaders exist to bring comfort and positive change; not to create chaos so that they can ascend to power.

When a church, organization, community, or nation falls in love with worldly leadership rather than godly leadership the result will be an over-abundance of selfish leaders (aristocracy) and an absence of servant-leaders. 
The result will be chaos.
----- Anderson T. Graves II

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church
Call/ fax: 334-288-0577
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Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Rd.,
Montgomery, AL 36116