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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WELL, YA'LL ALL LOOK THE SAME TO ME

Sometimes kids feel pressure to join the neighborhood gang.  The kids may be overtly threatened and ordered to join the gang.  Once they've joined the conscripts wear the same colors, follow the same rules, and participate in the same criminal and self-destructive activities as the guys who volunteered.  

The police, the rival gangs, and the other members of their gang treat the forced members exactly the same as they treat the volunteer members.  For all intents and purposes, they are the same.
When you complain about people in the church who don't want to change, who aren't really about Jesus but are just about their little cliques of power, who are hypocrites and who don't seek after true Biblical spirituality----- you're right to complain about those people.  
But, when you just go along with the same old thing cause you don't feel like dealing with them; when you silence your own voice because you don't think they really want to hear what you have to say; when you suppress your gifts because they don't appreciate them; when you decide to stop showing up and just let them keep on making all the decisions like they always have------ then you have essentially let THEM force YOU to wear their colors, follow their rules, enable their decisions, and imitate their complacent behaviors.

You've become one of them.

There is no neutrality. 

Fight for God's Word. Fight for God's will.  Even if you have to fight with God's people. 

 
---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 Hall Memorial CME Church in Montgomery, 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).
To hear sermons, read devotions, and learn more about the ministry at Hall Memorial CME Church, visit www.hallmemorialcme.blogspot.com .
You can read more on Pastor Graves's personal blog at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com  .
If this message helps or touches you, please help support this ministry. Send a donation of any amount by check or money order.
Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Road
Montgomery, AL 36116
 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

LET JESUS HURT YOU

Jesus is indeed the Prince of Peace.  But, Jesus Himself declared, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” Jesus is our Savior and our Healer.  But, Jesus also said that,   “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”

These seeming contradictions require us to look beyond the church clich├ęs and caricatures of Jesus and to see Him and His mission more deeply.  Hear what Jesus Himself said about the necessary role of pain in the plan of salvation.

The message is called :  LET JESUS HURT YOU

Listen well.
 

---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 Hall Memorial CME Church and the executive director of SAYNO (Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization) in Montgomery, Alabama.

Call  334-288-0577
Email
atgravestwo2@aol.com
Friend me at
www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves

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

If you enjoy our work, please help support our work in the community. Send a donation of any amount by check or money order.
Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Road
Montgomery, AL 36116
 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A WORD TO THE WISE. Proverbs 31: 13. "She's Got Work to Do"

Proverbs 31: 13     She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.
Proverbs 31:13.  The American concept of a “stay at home mom” is fascinatingly unbiblical.  The Bible does not teach this idea--- at least not the way we generally interpret it in America.

The Biblical ideal is a woman who brings value to the family.  Yes, she is a woman who brings good, godly VALUES to the home; but right now I’m talking about how she brings personal, spiritual, emotional, and financial VALUE.

What the Bible depicts would be more accurately expressed by the phrase “WORK from home mom.” 

The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is an entrepreneur, a shrewd negotiator, a manger of resources.  She’s a BOSS.   And she loves the role.
She has domestic skills, but she is not a mindless domestic.  She is comfortable in the sewing room and in the boardroom.     (Which, if you think about it, is a pretty good complement to the ideal man who can afford a Mercedes but also mows the yard and changes the oil.)
The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 works with her mind and with her hands  just as the man was doing when God made woman, back in Genesis chapter 2.  
God’s design for husband and God’s design for wife are perfectly matched to bring value to their home.
The Bible does not exalt the image of a woman just “staying” at home  because she isn’t allowed to go do anything.   Go back and read again Titus 2: 4, 5.  Older women are commanded to mentor younger women and to
… teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (King James Version)
A “keeper,” not a stayer.  A “keeper” was a guardian, a protector, the commander of the gate, the inspector of goods, the first line of defense until the army could get there.  A boss. 
A wife’s job is to help her husband bring value to the home.   
Much love to those women who can do that from the home address.   But the value has to come in, even if you can’t “stay” at the house and get it.
(And that is the difference between a Biblical housewife and a cultural trophy wife.)
Sometimes a woman has to go beyond the home to get that value and bring it back.   She has to go bring it from afar. (Proverbs 31: 4)
But home is still homebase, still headquarters, still the place where she comes back to stand with her husband, pool what they have, and build something greater.
At least, that’s how the Bible puts it.

I’ve kept you long enough, sister.  Go on, girl.  You’ve got work to do.
--Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and leadership development. 
 
 
Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church in Montgomery, 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).


To hear sermons, read devotions, and learn more about the ministry at Hall Memorial CME Church, visit www.hallmemorialcme.blogspot.com .

You can read more on Pastor Graves's personal blog at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com  .
If this message helps or touches you, please help support this ministry. Send a donation of any amount by check or money order.
Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Road
Montgomery, AL 36116

Proverbs 31: 13. "She's Got Work to Do"

Proverbs 31: 13     She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.

Proverbs 31:13.  The American concept of a “stay at home mom” is fascinatingly unbiblical.  The Bible does not teach this idea--- at least not the way we generally interpret it in America.
The Biblical ideal is a woman who brings value to the family.  Yes, she is a woman who brings good, godly VALUES to the home; but right now I’m talking about how she brings personal, spiritual, emotional, and financial VALUE.
 
What the Bible depicts would be more accurately expressed by the phrase “WORK from home mom.” 
 
The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 is an entrepreneur, a shrewd negotiator, a manger of resources.  She’s a BOSS.   And she loves the role.

She has domestic skills, but she is not a mindless domestic.  She is comfortable in the sewing room and in the boardroom.     (Which, if you think about it, is a pretty good complement to the ideal man who can afford a Mercedes but also mows the yard and changes the oil.)

The virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 works with her mind and with her hands  just as the man was doing when God made woman, back in Genesis chapter 2.    God’s design for husband and God’s design for wife are perfectly matched to bring value to their home.

The Bible does not exalt the image of a woman just “staying” at home  because she isn’t allowed to go anywhere or do anything.   Go back and read again Titus 2: 4, 5.  Older women are commanded to mentor younger women and to
… teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (King James Version)
A “keeper,” not a stayer.  A “keeper” was a guardian, a protector, the commander of the gate, the inspector of goods, the first line of defense until the army could get there.  A boss. 

A wife’s job is to help her husband bring value to the home.   

Much love to those women who can do that from the home address.   But the value has to come in, even if you can’t “stay” at the house and get it.
(And that is the difference between a Biblical housewife and a cultural trophy wife.)
 
Sometimes a woman has to go beyond the home to get that value and bring it back.   She has to go bring it from afar. (Proverbs 31: 4)
But home is still homebase, still headquarters, still the place where she comes back to stand with her husband, pool what they have, and build something greater.
At least, that’s how the Bible puts it.
 
I’ve kept you long enough, sister.  Go on, girl.  You’ve got work to do.
--Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and leadership development.


Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church in Montgomery, 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).


To hear sermons, read devotions, and learn more about the ministry at Hall Memorial CME Church, visit www.hallmemorialcme.blogspot.com .

You can read more on Pastor Graves's personal blog at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com  .
If this message helps or touches you, please help support this ministry. Send a donation of any amount by check or money order.
Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Road
Montgomery, AL 36116

Sunday, August 18, 2013

THE LESSON OF THE GIANTS

In the movie “Jack the Giant Slayer,” the people of the kingdom have lost their faith in the old stories of giants.  So, when the giants show up again, the people are totally unprepared. 

In a similar way, we Christians have forgotten the stories of giants past.  So, when giant-sized trouble comes, we don’t know what to do.   Follow me on a journey through the Biblical account of giants.  Hear the wisdom embedded in these ancient stories and see how you can apply these ancient accounts to your life right now.   Learn THE LESSON OF THE GIANTS.

Listen well.

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---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 Hall Memorial CME Church and the executive director of SAYNO (Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization) in Montgomery, Alabama.

Call  334-288-0577
Email
atgravestwo2@aol.com
Friend me at
www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves

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

If you enjoy our work, please help support our work in the community. Send a donation of any amount by check or money order.
Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Road
Montgomery, AL 36116
 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

WHOM DO YOU REALLY LOOK LIKE? (WHO'S YOUR REAL DADDY?)

The church wants unity.  We preach about it.  We sing of it.  We have workshops and conferences dedicated to the pursuit of unity in the church.   But can unity in the church be a bad thing.   Consider the concept of Christian unity from a slightly different perspective.

Hear a message delivered on the final night of revival at New Hope CME Church.   Based on the theme of “gaining strength through unity,” you are challenged to open the scriptures and ask yourself:   WHOM DO YOU REALLY LOOK LIKE?

Listen well.


---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 Hall Memorial CME Church and the executive director of SAYNO (Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization) in Montgomery, Alabama.

Call  334-288-0577
Email
atgravestwo2@aol.com
Friend me at
www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves

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

If you enjoy our work, please help support our work in the community. Send a donation of any amount by check or money order.
Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Road
Montgomery, AL 36116

 
 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

PANCAKE BREAKFAST






TRANSPARENCY & INTEGRITY

Imagine if the CEO and board of directors of Walmart held their meeting on the sales floor of an actual Walmart, right there in front of everybody.  No one could claim that the company wasn’t being “transparent.”

That is basically the scene in Luke 12.  Jesus has a sit down discussion with His disciples, but He holds that meeting  in the middle of an innumerable multitude. 

What this scene leaves to us is a powerful lesson about how we should live as followers of Jesus Christ, a lesson in TRANSPARENCY & INTEGRITY.

Listen well.


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---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 Hall Memorial CME Church and the executive director of SAYNO (Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization) in Montgomery, Alabama.

Call  334-288-0577
Email
atgravestwo2@aol.com
Friend me at
www.facebook.com/rev.a.t.graves

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

If you enjoy our work, please help support our work in the community. Send a donation of any amount by check or money order.
Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Road
Montgomery, AL 36116
 

Friday, August 9, 2013

HOLD ON. IT'LL BE WORTH IT.

If you do ministry, mentoring, education, or community outreach; or if you don’t give what you do a title and you just try to live right and help people however you can then eventually you will learn some uncomfortable truths.  Eventually, you will see things in people that will break your heart. Eventually you will understand the minor prophets and you’ll pray something like Habakkuk did.

Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me. There is strife, and contention arises.  Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds. (Habakkuk 1: 3, 4)     

Don’t give up.  Don’t let the sense of uselessness overtake you.   You asked, “God, why do you show me all this?  Why do I have to know how messed up these people really are?” 

It’s O.K. to ask these things of God.  But, don’t ask them as rhetorical questions.  Listen, because God has an answer.

Look among the nations and watch.  Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you. (Habakkuk 1: 5)

God says, “Hold on.  Keep learning what I’m teaching you.  Keep seeing what I show you.  I know what I’m doing.  You can’t see it now.  Just keep doing what I’ve already told you to do. 
You’ll see.  You’ll see.  It’s going to be sooooo worth it.
Seriously, it's going to be so good you wouldn't believe me if I told you.”

Hold on.  It’ll be worth it.  You’ll see.

---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 Hall Memorial CME Church in Montgomery, 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).


To hear sermons, read devotions, and learn more about the ministry at Hall Memorial CME Church, visit www.hallmemorialcme.blogspot.com .

You can read more on Pastor Graves's personal blog at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com  .

If this message helps or touches you, please help support this ministry. Send a donation of any amount by check or money order.
Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Road
Montgomery, AL 36116

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

WHAT IF THE PROBLEM ISN'T OUR PRAISE?

One of the things I do when I'm studying the Bible is look for words, phrases, and ideas that are repeated across the passage(s) I'm reading.

I compare the uses to see if there's a common message or a meaningful pattern. 

Now I caution that when studying the Bible we have to be careful about snatching pieces of verses up and attaching them to other pieces.  It's tempting to cut and paste verses and snippets with no regard for context just to support a personally pre-established point.  The purpose of Bible study isn't to prove your or my point, but to discover God's point.

However, analyzing for repetition can reveal precious gems of truth. Case in point:  Psalm 50 and the word rebuke.

In the New King James Version, rebuke appears twice in Psalm 50----- in verse 8 & in verse 21.  Take the 2 clauses where "rebuke" is used and put them together, and you get the following statement from God: 

I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, …but I will rebuke you.

If you walk through the entire chapter, this repetition connection turns out to be a pretty accurate summary of the main idea.  (It doesn’t always work this way, so you always have to read the entire passage for context.)

Basically, the voice of God speaks from Psalm 50 and says, “You know, your praise isn’t the problem.”

God says, “I’m not upset with you because of the form and phrasing of your worship.   Right now, that’s not really a big deal to me.  Keep your rituals.  I don’t need your sacrifices.  I’m unhappy with you, but not about that.”

God says, “I’m ticked off at you because:
you haven’t genuinely given Me glory (Psalm 50: 14, 15);
you’ve made Me promises that you haven’t kept (verse 14);
you live evil lives and then act like you can name-n-claim My promises anyway (verse 16);
you disregard and disrespect My Word (verse 16);
you enable and endorse sin in others (verse 18);
you talk all kinds of filth (verse 19);
you lie like lying is what you’re supposed to doggone do (verse 19);
you talk about everybody and stir up drama, even in your own family (verse 20).

"And," God says, "because I didn’t strike you down, you have the audacity to claim that I ‘understand’ and ‘know what it’s like’.  I’m not a pimp.  I’m not ‘cool like that.’ I’m GOD.”(VERSE 21).

Like most preachers in my immediate circle, I love energetic, moving, well-delivered praise and worship.  I think the gifts that lend themselves to praise should be nurtured and allowed to minister to God’s people.

Yet, in some churches we have become obsessed with music and shouting and saying all the right things in unison.  We say, “when praises go up blessings go down.”  We admonish people to just “praise your way through.”  We instruct people in the appropriate ways and times to shout because there is “power in our praise.”

We rebuke our congregations for not making enough noise or showing enough energy. 

And yes, sitting there like a bump on a log can be an expression of stubbornness and an unwillingness to submit to the Holy Spirit.    But it’s just as true that exuberance can be faked and performed out of an unrepentant and hypocritical heart or a shallow and selfish understanding of the concept of “blessing.”

But, maybe it’s not quite that big of a deal either way.

Maybe the problem isn’t the way we praise God.
 
Maybe, the problem is our lack of commitment and genuine submission to God’s commands.
Maybe the problem is that we don’t study God’s Word with depth and consistency.
Maybe the problem is we’re too O.K. with who we are when who we are is sinners.
Maybe the problem is that we’re not scared of God anymore.
So, when God steps in and chin-checks our church, our family, or ourselves; consider the possibility that it wasn’t because we shouted too much or because we didn’t shout enough. 


Maybe God’s chastisement has more to do with the way we live everyday than with the song selection last Sunday.

I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, …but I will rebuke you.

Maybe the problem isn’t our praise.  Maybe the problem is our sin.

---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 Hall Memorial CME Church in Montgomery, 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).


To hear sermons, read devotions, and learn more about the ministry at Hall Memorial CME Church, visit www.hallmemorialcme.blogspot.com .

You can read more on Pastor Graves's personal blog at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com  .

If this message helps or touches you, please help support this ministry. Send a donation of any amount by check or money order.
Mail all contributions to :
Hall Memorial CME Church
541 Seibles Road
Montgomery, AL 36116