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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

YOU BETTA WATCH YO' BACK!

I used to think that my father was paranoid.   Turns out he was just-....right.

Pops told me that you can’t trust anybody.  “They betrayed Jesus, boy.  You know they gone betray you.”
Pops said, “It’s not a deal until it’s in writing, and signed, and you got two copies.”
My father told me that most of the people who say they want to help you, don’t.  That the folks who come running to you for help will go running when you need help.  People lie.  Nothing’s easy.  And everybody who tells you that they got an easy way is lying.

Basically, my father taught me to always watch my back.

I thought he was just being paranoid.  Well, he’s no more paranoid than our Heavenly Father. 

In Isaiah chapter 30, God warned His children about trusting every spirit and spiritual advisor who claimed to have an enlightened word. 

 “Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin. (Isaiah 30:1)

The Lord told them that their so-called friends were going to turn on them, but they wouldn’t listen.

[They] walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice,to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, And to trust in the shadow of Egypt!  Therefore the strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame, and trust in the shadow of Egypt shall be your humiliation. (Isaiah 30: 2, 3)

Israel brushed off God’s advice as the paranoid ramblings of prophets who didn’t understand what it was like.

They were "a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the Lord." (verse 9)

But God didn’t recant His advice. He didn’t let the true prophets back off from the true Word.  God, our Father who art in Heaven, continued to tell His people:
   Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
    “This is the way, walk in it,”
    Whenever you turn to the right hand
    Or whenever you turn to the left.  (Isaiah 30:21)

A Word behind you will continue to speak.  The Word, the Lord will speak. Listen to the Word that has already been given. Pay attention to the Word behind you.  If you want to see the Truth, then all you have to is turn around and WATCH YOUR BACK.

God warned His people, and He told them point blank they would suffer for ignoring His warning.  And they did. But God also promised that no matter what they went through, no matter what pain they brought on themselves by ignoring their Father’s good advice, in the end Father God would always be there for them.

The Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you (verse 18)

This world and the systems of this world do not love God’s children.  No matter how much they
promise to bring us peace and justice and prosperity and happiness, they will always, inevitably turn on us. 

That’s what God said. "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but   I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they           persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also." (John 15: 19, 20)

Turns out He is..... right.

“They betrayed Jesus, boy.  You know they gone betray you.”

Love people.  Don’t love the systems of this world.

Learn, master, and make use of the systems of this world.  But never, never trust those systems to do right because it’s the right thing to do.

Be a good worker, a good citizen, and a good neighbor; but never compromise God’s Word to conform to the current cultural definition of “good.”

Spend quality time every day in prayer.  Spend quality time every day with your Bible.  Tune your ears to the Holy Spirit and the Scripture He inspired.

Then, when the sound of the world becomes loudest, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.  

Until you die or Jesus returns, remember what Daddy said.

Love everybody. 

But watch yo’ back.

---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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

TAKING IT TOO FAR

The prophetic book of Zechariah opens with God telling His people in Judah that, The Lord has been very angry with your fathers. (Zechariah 1: 2)

Judah had violated His covenant and God had used the armies of surrounding pagan nations to punish them for their sins, but when God talked about the pagan instruments of His judgment, the Lord said: I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease; For I was a little angry, And they helped—but with evil intent.” (Zechariah 1: 15)     

The NLV paraphrase puts it more plainly.

I am very angry with the other nations that are now enjoying peace and security. I was only a little angry with my people, but the nations inflicted harm on them far beyond my intentions
  
It was God's will for the nations to to check Judah for their sins, but then they took it too far.

In the book of Isaiah, God used Assyria to punish Israel-Samaria, but then Assyria began to say“By the strength of my hand I have done it, And by my wisdom, for I am prudent; Also I have removed the boundaries of the people, And have robbed their treasuries; So I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man.
My hand has found like a nest the riches of the people, And as one gathers eggs that are left, I have gathered all the earth; And there was no one who moved his wing, Nor opened his mouth with even a peep.”

Sometimes it is our legitimate, God-given role to deliver a chin-checking message.  But that role is only for God's time, for God's purpose, and within the limits that God has set.  When we start punishing, avenging, and making people pay or our own reasons, or because we think we’re so much better than they are, then we, like Assyria and the other nations, have taken our role too far.

Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Lord has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks.” (Isaiah 10: 12)

We’re supposed to Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2)

We are supposed to encourage Biblical standards of behavior.  There are even specific conditions in which after repeated attempts to reconcile relationships and deliver a brother/ sister from sin, the church can and should remove someone from fellowship.

But,  we can take it too far.

When we use our authority to punish for the sake of punishment rather than as part of a plan for reconciliation, we take it too far.

This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.  Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him 
(2 Corinthians 2:6-8)

When we speak or act as if we have the authority to assign someone’s eternal status, we reach into God’s personal jurisdiction.  We’ve taken it too far.

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4)

When we require certain styles and preferences (or changes in style and preference) as conditions of fellowship, we take it too far.

Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. (Romans 14: 3,5)

We should be wise and well-versed in the times, but when we change the Truth of God’s Word to impress people and increase popularity, we take it too far.

For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. (2 Peter 2: 18, 19)

When we go beyond calling out sin and decide it’s our job to hurt sinners, to make them pay, to force Christ or the appearance of Christianity on others, we have gone beyond evangelizing.  We’ve taken it too far.

And as Jesus and the disciples went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Jesus. But they did not receive Him…and when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”
But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village. (Luke 9: 52-56)

My job and yours as disciples of Jesus is to deliver the Word, not to deliver final judgment. 

Our job is to speak the truth into many ears, not to cut off the ears of those who won’t listen (John 18: 10-11).

We cannot speak the truth without offending some people, hurting somebody’s feelings, and flat out pissing off a bunch of folks---- outside of Christianity and in the church.  

Offenses must come.  They were offended at Jesus.   We have to speak the Truth, but we must never set out to hurt people. At the same time, we have to accept that people will set out to hurt us because we speak, live, and represent the Truth.  We must not do the same back to them.

The Bible clearly states that it is better for us to accept suffering than to cause it.

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.  
For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:14-17)

People will stumble at the name of Jesus, but we have not been commanded to beat them down in His name.

When you take punishment, judgment, and vengeance into your own hands, many Christians will applaud you, you will feel powerful and justified, you will experience a kind of primal satisfaction at fighting back.  And when that happens, you have just taken it too far.

When we take it too far, we stop being God’s servants and we present ourselves as rivals for His status as Judge of all men.  That's over-reaching with the whole child of God, live and reign with Jesus thing.   I'm telling you, you don’t want to relate to God on that level.  God has thrown down archangels and Babylonian emperors for doing that.  

When God's servants take it too far, God then has to check His servants.

Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it?
Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it?
As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up,
Or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood!  (Isaiah 10: 15)

By the grace of God, I will never back off from defending God's Word.  I pray  that I will have the strength to answer plainly in those times when the answer is plain and say, "Yes.  That's wrong." When my choices are (a) give in to the cultural and legal pressure to endorse what God has condemned or (b) suffer for standing on the Word to which I was called,   I pray that God will have His way so mightily that I can rejoice in my suffering.

And, I pray that when I am angry (and I get like that sometimes), when I know that I'm saying is accurately what God said, and I have the sword in my hand, that instead of cutting of the sinner's ear, I will sheath it and stand with Jesus, and trust that if it needs to go any farther, Jesus will take it there.

I will stay in my lane. 

---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



Blogging through the Articles of Religion: OF GOOD WORKS, featuring guest blogger: Tony Ares

Article X - Of Good Works

Although good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and spring out of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree is discerned by its fruit.



I have no better words to explain good works than those of my long-distance brother from another mother, Tony Ares.  
The following is an article in it's entirety from Tony's afreshword.org 

Rich Son, Poor Son

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭8-9‬ KJV)
One of the hardest spiritual obstacles that Christians have to overcome is the “works based” mindset. Today many so called Christians are going to church, volunteering and giving money in order to get to heaven. They work to get to heaven, instead of working gratefully because of what Jesus did to get them to heaven.
An analogy or metaphor that I have embraced is that of the rich son and the poor son.
A poor son is taught to “grind” because he has to if he wants to be successful. The poor son is defined by his works. If the poor son doesn’t work, he is assigned a room in his private version of hell on Earth. The poor son is dependent on himself and his labor to make it on this planet.
The rich son is born successful. He is taught to work hard not to be successful but to be thankful! He is thankful for the family that he was born into. The rich son is not defined by his works but his family name. (Think Rockefeller, DuPont or Kennedy.) If the rich son doesn’t work, he will disappoint his Father and besmirch the family name, but he will still be in the family and he will still be loved. The rich son works hard because excellence is his identity. The rich son works because of who his daddy is.
We should go to what we call ‘church.’ We should help in the community. We should witness the Gospel. We should give. We should do all of that! We should do that because it’s what a true Child of God does. It is our identity. We should never do those things in order to “make it”.
I was raised in a poor neighborhood. I identify every day with the working class or the poor man. Physically Jesus wants us to be empathetic to the needy. From a soteriological and spiritual perspective though, I am retraining my brain to think of myself as a rich son. Why?
-Cause my daddy in heaven is RICH!
-I am going to heaven, not because of my works but for the family name….Jesus!
I work hard for the family business not to be saved but for the love and appreciation that I have for my daddy!
(paraphrase of Galatians 4:1-7)
Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves an inheritance for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they own everything their father had. They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set. And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were like children; we were slaves to the basic spiritual principles of this world. But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
- See more at: http://afreshword.org/search/rich#sthash.iD5bPjaC.dpuf

Sunday, December 21, 2014

HOW IT ALL BEGAN (A Christmas Sermon)

Birthdays mark the date when our lives begin, but Christmas, Jesus’ birthday is different. For one, December 25th probably isn’t even the day Jesus was born.  But more importantly the day Jesus was born, was not the day Jesus began.  Which means that Christmas Day isn’t the day the Christmas story began, and the true beginning matters----- a lot.

The sermon is called: HOW IT ALL BEGAN.
                    

Listen well.

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 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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

If... Then...


This is what He said:  "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7: 14)

This is what we hear:  "if people who call on My name will pray then I will hear from heaven, and will forget their sin and heal their land."

Notice the difference?   Read them again.

We expect----heck, some people stand up and DECLARE--- that God will fix what’s wrong for us.   Why? 

Why would He?

Are we called by His name? 

To bear His name is to be a member of His household.  To be a member of His household is to obedient to His authority.  Are we obedient to His authority?  Really?  Even when He authoritatively tells us to do what we don’t wanna and to quit doing what we enjoy?

Are we the people called by His name, or are we just the people who call His name when we want something?  Cause those people are houseguests, not member of the household. 

Do we humble ourselves?  Or do we exalt ourselves as blessed, highly favored, anointed, royal, etc., etc.?

I’m not saying that the saints aren’t all of those wonderful, Biblically rooted things.  I’m simply pointing out that when we focus on the exalted aspects of our Divine identity, we’re not in the place where God said He’d hear, forgive, and heal.

We pray.  Oh, we do pray.  But when we pray, do we seek His face, or do we seek His fortune?  Do we want a deeper experience and understanding of God for God’s sake?  Or, do we want deeper blessings from God for our sake?

Last questions.  Be honest, now. 

Are we turning from our wicked ways? 

Are we, or are we turning around looking for ways to justify our wickedness?  Do we come to Him weeping and confessing, “Lord, we have done wrong.  Lord, I have done wrong”?  Or, do we come to him with 3-ring binders full of reasons why what we’ve done shouldn't be called wrong and shouldn’t be held against us?

(It’s the White man’s fault. 
I was born this way. 
My parents gave me PTSD. 
My student loan is too big. 
My income is too small. 
Other people are worse than me.
Obama.)

How can you or I turn from our wicked ways when we don’t see what’s so wicked about the way we are? 

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Now here’s the hard part.

God will hear our prayers.
God will forgive our sin.
God will heal the brokenness and injustice in our land.

But first…

But first, we have to:
1)      Submit to His authority
2)      Genuinely humble rather than exalt ourselves
3)      Love Him and seek Him alone
4)      Be real about how wicked and stupid WE have been

---then He  will hear from heaven, and will forgive our sin and heal our land.

And if not, then He won’t; and 50 years after this movement we’ll be talking about how sad it is that nothing has really changed.    

---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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A LOOK TO KILL FOR

This guy is named Markus Kaarma.  He lives in Montana, a very gun-friendly state.


 In April of this year, after his house was burglarized twice, Markus caught  a 17 year old intruder in his garage.  The intruder’s friends later told police that they all went “garage hopping,” meaning that they broke into people’s garages and stole stuff.


When Marcus caught their friend in his garage (not walking past on the sidewalk), Marcus shot  and killed the 17 year old intruder.

This is the 17 year old Markus Kaarma shot and killed, at night, in his garage, trespassing and attempting burglary. 

 His name is Diren Dede.  He was a German exchange student.



On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old  American-born student, was shot and killed in the street by a local resident who disregarded police orders not to follow the 17 year old.  He wasn’t trespassing. He wasn’t on the shooter’s property.  The shooter pursued him because he “looked suspicious.”

Trayvon looked  like this.










The man who killed him looks like this.











In both cases, the shooters argued self-defense under their state’s version of “stand your ground. “ In Montana, it’s called the “castle defense,” as in a man’s home is his castle.
In both cases a young man is dead.  In both cases an adult took that young life.  In both cases, something less than 9mm bullets or shotgun rounds could have settled the situation.

This guy was acquitted.  

On December 18th, Markus Kaarma was convicted of deliberate homicide.  (In case you forgot, that was the case where the serial burglar was caught inside the garage trying to steal stuff.)

It seems that only one of these young men looked suspicious enough to kill.



---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 and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).


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



IMPOSSIBLE FAMILY



The more you love people the more it hurts when they hurt you.  That’s why the pain of family betrayal is so nearly impossible to get over.

Now think about what family did to Mary, Joseph, and Jesus .

When Mary became pregnant with Jesus, she had done nothing wrong.  She hadn’t violated the law or dishonored her parents’ teachings.  But they thought she had.  If Joseph hadn’t intervened the men of the village, including Mary’s own father, would have publicly stoned her.  In fact, Mary’s father would have been expected to cast the first stone in his daughter’s execution.

Imagine how you would feel if you knew that your own father had been seriously contemplated bashing your head in with rocks while you were pregnant.   That’s the thought Mary carried with her to Bethlehem.

After Joseph agreed to take Mary as his wife,  they were still ostracized.  Mary couldn’t stay with the other women, so she walked from Galilee to Bethlehem with her new husband.

In Bethlehem their entire extended family turned on them.  They were alone, in the dark, in the cold. When Mary went into labor none of the women in Bethlehem came to her aid.  Not one auntie.  Not one cousin.  None of them.

They went back to Nazareth but soon returned to Bethlehem, probably because no one back home would hire Joseph. 

Imagine that.  You’re a new husband.  A new father/ stepfather.  You’re an honorable man who has done nothing but honor your vows to God and to your fiancĂ©, but you can’t get a job.  Not because of the economy or the market, but because your own people, the folks you grew up with, won’t hire you.

After all those years, all the things you’d done for so many people in your family (cause a man who’d stick with Mary is a man whom everyone in the family would call for help) this is how they treat you.

At every turn, it was strangers---- shepherds, Eastern magi, and Egyptians---- who had encouraged and supported them.   Family had given them nothing but pain.   Years later, when the family returned from Egypt, Joseph didn’t want to go home to Nazareth.  He wanted to return to Bethlehem.

But when Joseph heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth (Matthew 2: 22-23)

Too much wrong had been done by these folks in Nazareth.  Too many so-called loved ones had turned their backs in their moments of greatest need.    After years--- YEARS--- the family was too broken to heal.

But with God, nothing is impossible.

In Luke chapter 2, when Jesus was 12 years old, he, Mary and Joseph had established a family tradition of traveling to Jerusalem for Passover.    

His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. (Luke 2:41)

But Mary, Joseph, and Jesus weren’t alone.  They made the yearly road trip in a caravan full of family and friends from Nazareth and the surrounding area.

By the time Jesus was 12, the extended family were all so close that Mary and Joseph thought nothing of Jesus spending the entire day off playing with friends and cousins.

Supposing Him [Jesus] to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. (Luke 2:44)

In the few years since their return to Nazareth after the death of Herod something impossible had happened.

A broken family had been healed.

What happened? 

Jesus happened.

In Nazareth, “the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” (Luke 2:40)

The entire family loved Jesus, so they stopped looking sideways at Mary and Joseph.  No one really believed their story about not having sex until after Jesus was born, but they loved Jesus so much that they let it go.  The Nazareth family didn’t necessarily accept Joseph’s theology of the Messiah, but they loved the boy anyway.

1 John 4 teaches that genuine love for God will manifest as genuine love for each other.

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. (1 John 4:20, 21)

We might not agree on doctrine.  We might still think you were wrong for what happened back in the day.  But if we can all just love Jesus, then He will heal the hurt between us.

I know.  I know.  After everything they did and everything you did, reconciliation is impossible.  That’s O.K.

It was impossible for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to reconcile with their family in Nazareth. 

But it’s Christmas, and with God nothing is impossible.

Merry CHRISTmas.

---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


Sunday, December 14, 2014

IMPOSSIBLE CHRISTMAS (part 1)

And God said to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed.  He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3: 15)

We can’t be sure how well our proto-parents understood human reproductive biology, after all, at this point in history, there had not been any human reproduction.  Well, except for that one time God used Adam’s bone tissue to clone a female version of him (Genesis 2:21, 22).  But Adam was unconscious when that happened, so anyway.

Adam and Eve may or may not have realized what we do: that  Genesis 3:15 is impossible.  Biologically and legally a woman can’t produce the prophesied male “Seed.”  

Biologically impossible
In the non-scientific vocabulary of the Bible, the seed is a euphemism for either offspring or sperm.  Women don’t mthe former alone, and they don’t produce the latter at all .  For a woman to bring forth a male seed to the serpent’s head, you’d have to have a pregnant virgin. 

And that, as everybody well knows, is impossible.

Legally impossible
One of the conditions of mankind’s punishment for Adam’s and Eve’s sin was patriarchy.  God declared that part of the woman’s/ women’s sorrow would be that “Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”  (Genesis 3:16)

Generally speaking the Paradise of gender equality (equality, not equivalence) in Eden was replaced by a hierarchy in which women wanted but never quite achieved the same level of authority their husbands enjoyed.”

That’s why the line of inheritance was traced through male descendants.  (By the way, if you’re looking for an example of Divine reprieve from that clause in the Curse, read about the daughters of Zelophedad in Numbers 27 & 36). 


The point is that even if a virgin did miraculously conceive and give birth to a male seed, the son still wouldn’t have had the legal right to fulfill his destiny.  The law only recognized the rights passed on through the male line.

Genesis 3:15 calls for a virgin-born child whose “father” isn’t his biological father but is from the same genetic line as his mother.

That’s freakin’ impossible.

Except, there was this one time.

Biologically (im)possible
One day the angel Gabriel appeared to an betrothed but unmarried virgin named Mary.  He  told Mary that she would conceive asexually and have a son who would be named Jesus, and “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32, 33)

“Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ “ (Luke 1:34)  Basically Mary said, “That’s impossible, Gabriel.  I’m a virgin, and that ain’t about to change.”


Gabriel’s responded,  “For with God nothing will be impossible.”  (Luke 2:37)

The same God who formed Adam directly from African dust and Eve from Adam’s tissue sample, formed a body for Jesus in the unfertilized womb  of a Jewish virgin.

“For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Legally (im)possible
Matthew 1 and Luke 3 list two different genealogies for Jesus.   Matthew gave us the line of Jesus adopted (i.e. legal) father, Joseph.   Luke gave the lineage of Mary, Jesus’ biological mother.  If, as traditional history maintains, Mary was an only child or the oldest of only daughters, then her husband would have been her dad’s legal heir.  Which is why Luke 3:23 calls Joseph the son of Heli, even though Heli was Mary’s dad.

So legally, in accordance with the culture of the times, Jesus was the proper heir of the Davidic line of promise going all the way back to Adam and Eve and that impossible prophesy in Genesis 3:15.

“For with God nothing will be impossible.”

The impossibility of impossibility in God became the theme of Mary’s life and perhaps the family’s motto.   Surely she taught that motto to her eldest son, her miracle baby.    We can hear echoes of that theme in Jesus’ teaching.

In Matthew 17: 20, when the disciples began to doubt because they’d failed to cast out a demon, Jesus said to them, “if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

In Matthew 19: 25, when the disciples worried that Jesus’ they would not be able to live up to Jesus Divinely high expectations, they asked “Who then can be saved?”  But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

From the very beginning, when mankind first begin to screw up God’s directions, the Lord made a point of showing that He could do the undoable.

Your biological, medical, or physical situation may be actually be impossible.

But with God nothing is impossible.

Your situation under the law, in the culture, according to the social expectations may be genuinely impossible.

But with God nothing is impossible.

You may be in a state of absolute spiritual darkness and lostness with no possible outcome but despair.

But if God can make a virgin conceive without losing her virginity, then God can bring your lost soul back into fellowship with Him.

If God can make two lines of genealogy meet at just the right moment to fulfill the impossible requirements of a fallen world AND a prophetic destiny spoken when the world was freshly fallen, then God can save even you and me when we know that it’s impossible for us to be saved.

You see, with God nothing is impossible.

Merry CHRISTmas.

---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

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