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March 31, 2017, 12:49 PM

Marriage and Families

The area of Marriage and Families is a vitally important for Christians. Whether we are married, hope to be married, have been married, or hoping to positively influence our children and  grandchildren to have God-honoring marriages, we need to understand and live out the teachings of God’s Word concerning this area. 

For the Christian, the Word of God (the Bible) is our guide in ALL matters concerning faith and practice. In this crucial area of Marriage and Family, God, in His Infinite Wisdom and Grace, has not left us without direction.  From courtship, marriage, parenting and life throughout all of its changing scenes, God provides direction!  We should not, therefore, take our cues from the “world” but from the Word! 

Not only should our activities of courtship, marriage and family be guided by the Word of God but also our motivations in these areas.  The questions that should be asked are, “What are your real reasons for marriage?”  “What is the driving force behind your desires?” “Are they God-honoring or Holy Spirit-directed?” Allowing the Holy Spirit, through the Word, to reveal the “thoughts and intents” of our hearts is essential! Sometimes, because the motivations are flawed, the resulting relationships have no chance for God-honoring success! 

Many times the models and motivations that we have received from our families, friends, or the media are flawed. Therefore, when we use them are our guide, we are destined for failure.  Moreover, if we attempt to go around God’s way, we set ourselves up for ultimate failure!  God’s way is ALWAYS the best way!  Sometimes, we want to arrive at a godly destination but we take ungodly paths! This should not be!  Indeed, it cannot be, because we “reap what we sow”!  The Bible says, “If we sow to the flesh, [you] will reap corruption (Galatians 6:8). As we look at what the Word of God teaches, it is my prayer that it would begin to set aflame the hearts of those who read it or hear it, so that our Marriages and our Families would be pleasing to God! 

 

 

 

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December 7, 2016, 12:00 AM

Holiday Are to Be Holy Days!

The word “holiday” is really a blend of two words, “Holy Days”!   There are many days on our calendar that are fraught with Christian ideas, concepts, images, and motivations.  Among them are Easter (Resurrection Sunday), Christmas, and Thanksgiving!  The time of Easter is to be filled with the observance of arguably the greatest event in the history of creation—the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!  This event confirms that Jesus was who He claimed to be—“Immanuel—God with us!  He was, is, and forever shall be God in the flesh!  Similarly, Christmas is the recognition of His birth.  It is for us an indicator of His physical entry into our human experience.  He was always there with the Father. Then, He condescended to us; immaculately conceived, born of a Virgin, lived a sinless life, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and buried!  He lived as a man, although He was (is) God!  Although the Christian seeks to live in a state of perpetual Thanksgiving, during the Thanksgiving holiday, we set aside a special time of giving thanks to God for His gracious acts toward us! 

Yet, unfortunately, these days are not always celebrated as holy and sacred days!  Many times people, even some professing Christians, engage in activities or approach these times as anything else other than that which is holy! For example during Christmas, there is sometimes more of a focus on the giving gifts to each other rather than a focus on the gifts that we should present to Christ!  After all, it’s His birthday celebration.  Like the wise men who traveled from afar, we should bring gifts that reflect who is His and what He did or accomplish on our behalf.  The gold, frankincense, and myrrh represented Him as King, Sacrifice, and Priest!  Many times, we allow the world’s system and its godless priorities to invade and distort the holy emphasis that should be present! Also during Easter, many people focus on displaying new outfits, Easter eggs, and bunny rabbits!  Their minds, time, energy, and finances are consumed by these irrelevant activities.  Again, God and the Holy, the Sacred is marginalized and worldly pursuits and priorities take precedent.  Even the time of Thanksgiving does not escape this dilution.  Although the gathering of family to experience a delectable meal is not necessarily a bad thing, the problem is that often at these gatherings there is more of a focus on eating than giving thanks!  Some impatient family members may even be tempted to admonish a person to give a quick prayer so “we can eat” and miss the fact that God was again being marginalized.  Not even the exciting anticipation of a football game should be allowed to cause us to merely attach a thin veneer of spirituality on the event or to behave as if God the Giver of every good and perfect gift is an impediment to our families and/or the enjoyment of food!  After all, it is the Almighty, Gracious, Merciful, and Kind God who gave us our families, food, health, life, and strength.

What are we to do then?  We should set our minds and hearts to recover and maintain holidays as “holy days”!  When we gather to celebrate or observe these times, we should take decisive action to put God in the center! There should be a planned, focused, intentional time(s) during that “holy day” to focus on God and to encourage with whom we are sharing to do the same!  HOLIDAYS ARE TO BE “HOLY DAYS”!

 

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June 6, 2016, 12:00 AM

Removing Idols from Our Hearts

 

God often gets out attention through adversity!  Through these experiences one can learn much about his own heart, faith, and, most importantly, God!  What I have learned over and over again is that he is Faithful and true to His promises!  

Adversity can reveal idols that we may have in our hearts! (Idols are anything, person, or desire that has taken God’s place in our hearts).  More often than not, these idols are unconscious even to us but clearly known to the All-Knowing God! Since He is a “jealous God” who knows no rival and demands and deserves our allegiance, He will point out and challenge these “other gods” in our hearts! 

The process of removing the idols from our hearts can be painful, because very often we have depended on these idols for our sense of well-being.  So, when it appears that we may lose them or have to put them in a different place in our hearts, we can become anxious or fearful!  We then must learn to trust God to provide what we had been relying on idols to provide!  Trusting and obeying God is absolutely necessary!

Sometimes, if we are not careful, as the process begins we may find ourselves tempted to take some actions to keep the idols rather than trusting in God.  Often, God will say to us “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).  “Be still”---let your hands hang down; keep your hands out of it; stop wringing your hands; stop throwing your hands up in exasperation”!  “Be Still and know that I AM GOD”! 

Trusting and obeying leads eventually to the discovery that God is faithful, loving, kind, all-wise, all-loving, and powerful!  This is not simply intellectual assent or knowledge; we come to know this in our hearts, as God proves once again that He is God and that He is with us and for us! Thanks be to God who gives us the victory!

 

 

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June 6, 2016, 12:00 AM

Thinking Out Loud--Church, Politics & Race

Pastor's Blog

Dr. Jerome Symonette

I guess what I’m doing is “Thinking Out Loud”! I have been wrestling with a few thoughts lately concerning the Church, denomination, political parties, and racial ideology. 

Within the ranks of many Churches, many key leaders and members do not engage in personal soul-winning, although they verbally embrace the notion and necessity of evangelism (sharing the gospel with the lost).  Unfortunately, this abdication of responsibility is found even among some pastors.  Many would readily affirm the need to “Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2) but then ignore the biblical admonition given by the same person in the same book and chapter to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). 

Another thought with which I have been wrestling is concerning some denominational groups.  Among many of them the bi-vocational or small-membership Church pastor are celebrated as a hero and the very backbone of the denomination.  Yet, during the course of the State and National meetings, rarely are these pastors slated to speak to these gatherings or lifted as an example.  (It is reserved for the mega-church pastor who is capable of giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to Convention causes or whose congregation may be experiencing hundreds of baptisms yearly).   We say that a “successful church” is not measured by “bodies, budgets, and buildings”. Yet, programming and schedules subliminally convey another message in these settings.

During every news report about politics or new election campaign cycle, I become greatly disturbed by the awareness that none of the parties or their political associates really represent much of my biblical or Christian worldview, morality, or ethical positions.  The Republican Party seems to be focused on supporting big banks, industrialists, and the military-industrial complex instead of the poor or those who are experiencing racial and class injustices.  The Democratic Party, on the other hand, often support policies and programs to assist the poor and disenfranchised but support platforms that included such morally repugnant issues such as abortions, cloning, and same-sex marriages.   Both parties squabble over common-sense solutions and could not come to any agreement, because of their political polarization.  This was much to the chagrin of the larger population. 

My next thought has been concerning many of our leaders in the African-American community, particularly concerning the race narrative or racial prism through which the Black experience is viewed.  I had felt for a long time, particularly if you are biblically or intellectually honest, that African-Americans in America have blamed too many of their problems on racism.  There is absolutely no doubt that slavery, Jim Crowism, personal, systemic, and institutionalized racism have and continues to be a problem and have caused many of the negative plights concerning African-Americans.  Notwithstanding, in my view, the “victim card” is played too often as the reason for the sinful actions and reactions of African-Americans in the United States.  When a Black boy shoots and kills another Black youth, the immediate explanation should not be that racism and its resultant hopelessness are the causes.  Even when a White police officer shoots a Black man, our automatic explanation should not be that the White police officer was racist! (Although many times in the history of the United States, Blacks have been and continue to be subjected to racial injustice). The problem with the first example is that it does not hold the Black youth accountable for his own actions.  What if, for example, a Black person throws trash from a car window as he or she is riding down the street?  Do we blame the White man or hold the littering Black person responsible?   No doubt, racism should be one of many causative factors examined; however, it should not be the sole explanation or knee-jerk response for every negative issue encountered or depicted in the Black community! 

A better criteria for assessment would be right vs. wrong or truth vs. falsity.  These categories help us to more clearly see what is important, who is responsible, and what can be done concerning the issues of life!  Therefore, I’m espousing the poles of right vs. wrong rather than Black vs. White!  I am promoting the “Whole Counsel of God” and not just a few selected biblical verses, which supports our already settled opinions or particular political ideology.  I espousing God’s truth, God’s kingdom and righteousness.  Then, and only then, will we be able to see clearly and act comprehensively and definitively! 

I am seeking first (continuously, constantly) the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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January 14, 2016, 1:10 PM

GOD or a Genie!

What we think about God is often revealed in the manner in which we approach Him and what we expect from Him.  Sometimes, our image of God is often unconscious even to us.  This is true, particularly in the areas of prayer and worship!

Recently, when reading Stuart Scott’s book, The Exemplary Husband, I was struck by his description of four (4) popular views about God.  Scott wrote that God is often viewed as “A Kindly Old Grandpa or a Cosmic Santa Claus”.  In this case, God is seen as one who cannot bring Himself to really hold us responsible for our actions.  Instead, this god tends to overlook or ignore our sin.  If He is more like a Santa Claus, he is going to come through for us and give us what we want or what we think we need. 

Another view of God that Scott relays is one of a “Spiritual Psychotherapist”.  Those who hold this view live as though God only exist to merely help them feel better, function better and get more out of life.  He doesn’t give any directions or disciplines, because that would hurt one’s self-esteem.  This God is only an encourager!

For others, Scott writes, God is like a “Distant Orge”.  This view of God holds that God is someone who enjoys inflicting hardship on His children.  God is a reluctant and distant provider who is ready to punish those who step out of line. 

A final view of God (and one that had been on my mind and heart prior to reading Scott) is that God is some kind of “Domesticated Genie”.  Many people believe that God is obligated to grant their wishes. They will often use the name of God as some kind of magical incantation akin to “abracadabra”!  Scott writes, that “Man, in his own pride, thinks that if he is “good” or uses the name of God, he will be granted what he desires in life—maybe even be assured of heaven.  In this case, God is merely a means to one’s own end”.

Remember, God is the Sovereign Ruler of heaven and earth!  He is all-together Holy, Majestic, and Glorious! He has created us for His service and glory.  We are to submit to His will rather than attempt to impose or place our wills above His will!  God is just but yet God is merciful and gracious.  When we are in His presence, we should respond with the keen awareness of who He is.   A stark awareness of the other-ness of God ought to pervade our entire being—mind, body, and spirit! Anguish over our sinfulness, cries for forgiveness, humble and intense worship and loving obedience should emerge as a torrential flood!  The God of heaven and earth is not a genie whose primary focus is to grant us our wishes!  He’s GOD—we are here to be and do what He wishes! 

 

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