World Black History Month

Frederick DouglassThe month of February has been designated as Black History Month in the United States of America, a time to celebrate, honor and recognize the achievements and contributions of its citizens of African descent. Traditionally, African-Americans specifically and a good part of Americans of other cultural orientations generally will take some time to pay tribute to our fellow citizens of African descent. This year, 2014 brings the realization that Black History has broken the chains of American history to find its rightful place in world history and all are openly invited to share in this expanded annual celebration.

It is important to remember the Black History makers and the profound contributions they have made to every facet of the global society; arts, business, culture, computers, education, entertainment, healthcare, jazz, literature, medicine, music, poetry, politics, religion, science, sports, theatre, war and peace. The contributions of these wonderful men and women who sacrificed so much for so many cannot be overstated and certainly should not be marginalized or diminished with the passage of time. Although, every generation has its own history Black History is no longer the shadowy companion of world history, but is fundamental to and a foundation of the history of humankind.

Alvin Ailey Atlanta1aaThe United States Census Bureau states there are 44-million African-Americans living in the USA today and another 4.2-million persons of African descent from Africa, the Caribbean Islands and Europe. The United Nations Survey of Global Populations estimates there are 1.3-billion Africans in a global population of 7.142-billion people. On the surface this may not seem as a vital statistic, however on closer examination it reveals that 1-in-6 persons on the planet is either African or of African descent. The USA is unique in this consideration as the only nation that has set aside an entire month to pay homage to the nation’s largest racial minority and third largest ancestry group (citizens of African descent).

African-Americans and their historic contributions to humankind are as inseparable and indistinguishable from world history as the Atlantic Ocean. Although, separate pages tell of the painful journey of 12-million African survivors to the Americas during the dark days of the Atlantic Slave Trade it is forever bound in the same book. The history of the African Diaspora continues to be recorded on a canvas of white sails with a multi-colored and multi-national background of blood, sweat and tears. The hope of a brighter future is our inheritance, and we shall not be denied. Abraham Lincoln said; “The Almighty has a purpose of His own.” The world cannot afford to squander the rich treasures of the African legacy nor allow others to devalue it to turn back the hands of time, if only as far back as yesterday.

I urge you to join your African-American sisters and brothers, frieMan Prayin2nds and neighbors, fellow workers and acquaintances as we celebrate happy endings with periods of love found, hatred restrained, hopes renewed; dreams realized and prosperity to be shared. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate any man, but to win the friendship and understanding of our fellow-man.” The history of people of African descent in America may be incomplete and inaccurate to a degree, but it is by no means insignificant. I pray that you have found this little note on Black History inspiration and encouraging. There is so much to celebrate!

Grady Norman Greene, Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ

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New Beginnings

“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again” (Proverbs 19:17).

The New Year, 2014, is filled with Come Grow w-Us2promises of new beginnings, new resolutions and second chances. In a moment of quiet reflection we count our blessings and the abundance in which God has bestowed them upon us. Some may reflect in deep humility while others proudly boast, it is wise to be grateful and generous. To whom much is given, much is required.

One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people can be. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?” “It was great, Dad.” “Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked. “Oh Yeah” said the son. “So what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.

The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.  We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us they have friends to protect them.” With this the boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks dad for showing me how poor we are.”

All too often we tend to forget what we have and concentrate on what we don’t have. In the words of Fred G. Sanford, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” it’s all a matter of one’s perspective. It makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for all the blessings we have, instead of worrying about wanting more. “For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded Offeringwithin me” (Psalms 109:22).

Christmas and the New Year that comes shortly thereafter is about more than the material, it is about the things that matter, tending the wounded heart, loving our poor earthly neighbors and being honest with ourselves. Although we may think of ourselves as middle class, upper class or just classy, in the classes Jesus taught the subject always focused on remembering those individuals who are less fortunate than we are. Be blessed until the blessed call you blessed and bless someone in Jesus’s name throughout the year, he will bless you.

Grady Norman Greene                                                                                                                         Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ

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Happy Father’s Day

“And he arose, and came to his father, but when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:11-32).

Fathers-day_Fathers’ Day through the years has been a great time to sermonize Jesus’ parable of “The Prodigal Son” found in Luke 15:11-32. To keep it simple I am going to share with you five important actions of the son and of greater importance the five actions the father.

Son’s Actions versus Father’s Actions

1. The Son asked for what was rightfully his the Father gave him that which was rightfully his to give to his child.                  2. The Son left home of his own free will, the Father allowed him to leave with his blessings.                                                           3. The Son squandered his blessing in bad company, the Father recognized him from a great distance.  4. The Son came to his senses after realizing his error,  the Father ran and embraced him with a fatherly kiss. 5. The Son asked for forgiveness, the Father granted him forgiveness and full-restoration.

Does this sound like a father you know? It sounds like the Heavenly Father I know! He knows His own—He knows us going and coming—he recognizes us because we are made in His image. Every father can see himself in his children. Our Father said, “I will never forsake you, repent of your sins and return to me.” It is a father’s prerogative to be loving and forgiving or not to his children.

The good news on this Fathers’ Day is our Father does not have to run and meet us and embrace us. He is here with us He has never left us we leave Him. “To whom has the Lord extended His arm?” He has extended it to all will allow Him to embrace them. The Prophet Isaiah tells us “The Lord (Our Father) waits to be gracious to you; therefore He exalts himself to show mercy to you.” Why continue to suffer?Fathers Day

Have you made the decision to accept Jesus Our Christ as your Lord and Savior? By so doing you become equal members in the household of God. The Apostle Paul teaches, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:14-17). Today is Fathers’ Day and good day to let God embrace you, kiss you and love you in a way that no other father can.

Fathers bless your children. Children, “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:2:12). This is the only commandment of the Ten Commandments with a promise. Have a Happy Father’s Day.

Grady Norman Greene                                                                                                             Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ

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You Cannot Beat God Giving

“Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.

Thine, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all thaPraise01t is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.
Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.

Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? For all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.

O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own” (I Chronicles 2910-16).

Grady Norman Greene
Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ

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Many Stones Rolled Away

“And they said unto themselves: Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher?” (Mark 16:3). 

Yesterday, Easter (Resurrection) Sunday, as part of the Easter worship my dear Pastor, Reverend Lisa Dempsey came up with a wonderful plan to have the congregation involved in the conclusion of the sermon. The altar would be stacked with stones that have names of the many things that Christ removes from our life as we discover our resurrected Lord. She offered a few to get me started, (disbelief, discouragement, lost hope, bitterness, grief). I could have stopped here, but that would not have been wholesomely truthful.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200Sunday morning, depending on the number of rocks gathered and the number of responses, the congregation were to be given an opportunity to come up to the altar and remove a stone, and call out the word on the stone. Her thinking on this activity was divine, she hoped that hearing the “words” we all contributed and seeing them removed from the altar would be a powerful visual. Powerful it was, it engaged us in the power of the resurrection, and served as a reminder of the celebration of new life and freedom that has been given to us through Christ at the empty tomb. 

“Fear not ye, for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified” (Matthew 2:5). Here’s some of the stones that have been rolled away from my life: doubt, self-doubt, shame, remorse, regret, temptation, covetousness, pain, fear, suspicion, ambition, distrust, hatred, guilt, disappointment, selfishness, self-righteousness, stubbornness, ambivalence, boasting, cursing, disbelief, ignorance, jealousy, contempt, mean spirit, narcissism, pride, violence, want and the list goes on. For those of you that are or are not seeking Jesus it is my prayer that this list helps, it is by no means complete. We all have a stone or stones that only Jesus can roll away. 

I was not the lone contributor to the stack of stones, several other members contributed VLUU L200  / Samsung L200also, there were forty (40) stones for the picking and proclaiming. This group activity reminded me of Thomas Merton, an Anglo-American Catholic writer and  Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani writing: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does, in fact, please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. 

Therefore, I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” It is wonderfully comforting to know Jesus made certain that we would
never have to face the perils of stones alone. Jesus, our Savior on the cross removes the stones, if we would allow ourselves to carry them no farther than to the foot of that Ole Rugged Cross.

VLUU L200  / Samsung L200

“And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away; for it was very great” (Mark  16:4). The stones in our lives whether in our minds or hearts are not too great for Jesus to roll away. A sad truth is that too many will not muster the courage to ask him into their lives to roll away the stones. If you have not asked Jesus to come into your heart and roll away your stones, today is a good day and yesterday was the best day of all. He is risen, he is risen indeed. “And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher” (Luke 24:2).

Grady Norman Greene, Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ

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