Monday, April 16, 2018

BLESSED AND NOT LUCKY

Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration held on March 17, the traditional date of death for Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland. The Feast day of Saint Patrick, actually and interestingly commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. This day is celebrated by attending parades, wearing shamrocks, wearing green, and even drinking Irish beer and whiskey that has been colored green, with many attending Catholic Mass or Service.

The shamrock was introduced into the St Patrick's Day tradition because it was a plant that was originally utilized by St. Patrick to remind him of the trinity due to its three-leaf formation. It was during the early 1900's or the early 20th century that the reference to the bible was completely eradicated from the historical account. This was a period in the history of the Irish that was filled with political unrest and famine. The Irish were considered one of the most unfortunate people in the world.

This was the period of time that the usual entrance of commercialism resulted in the shamrock being reduced from a reference to the Trinity to a symbol of Good Luck in order to sell greeting cards.

You should also remember the original Irish name for leprechauns who are figures of folklore is “lobaircin,” meaning “small-bodied fellow.”

Widespread belief in leprechauns generally stemmed from Celtic acceptance of fairies, tiny men and women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their private treasure. The belief was that if a person was lucky enough, these diminutive figures might be fooled into unavailing the location of their treasure. This sounds like many individuals in the world today that would utilize trickery to protect their treasure verses trusting God as well as those that would even seek to enjoy monetary gain obtained by trickery.

I am glad we are taught clearly from the word of God that we are blessed and it has nothing to with LUCK! God created giving so that we can be blessed. Giving was not created to get money for the church or for God, but it was created to remove selfishness and greed from our lives.

God told us that the quality of our heart is a function of what we are willing to support financially. In Matthew 6:21 we are told, “For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” This means your heart will be where you are willing to place your money. In Deuteronomy 30:19 we are told, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that you and your seed may live.”

This says that being blessed is a choice we all have that God has placed before each individual. We have chosen to be blessed and giving is the avenue through which God has created to facilitate blessings in our lives. We are all aware of the principle that says whatever you give, you are going to get more back in return. Consequently, once we learn to give we will be compelled to give good things so that more good things or blessings will accrue to our lives.

 We are blessed and not lucky, so let us commit to doing what is necessary to attract God's best into our lives!

-Bishop Tommie A. Murphy

How Mentors Can Bless Your Life

One of the most significant relationships that a person can experience is that of a mentor.  A mentor serves a great purpose in the life of the person they are mentoring.  Mentorship helps to prepare the person for various challenges that life will bring.  They serve as a source of guidance, correction, and encouragement.  The mentee have a model in living color to demonstrate how to be successful.  What an honor and a privilege it is to have an individual who is connected to you that can help you navigate through difficult times.  A mentor relationship can last for many years.  I was instructed by my pastor 22 years ago to mentor 5 people and to be mentored by 3.  The idea was that as I was pouring life into mentees, mentors were pouring life into me.  I still serve as a mentor to 1 of the 5 mentees.

I would like to take this time to appreciate my mentors: Bishop Tommie Murphy, Pastor Wayne Johnson, and Pastor Craig Pickett.‬ ‬My life has been revolutionized by their decision to engage in selflessness and to be there for me when the need arose.  I am blessed to have all 3 mentors currently connected to me.  The Bible declares in Proverbs‬ ‭11:14‬ “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” ‬‬

-Elder Edward M. Blevins

How Giving Has Blessed My Life

In America today, when people say they were blessed because of their giving money to the church they very often mean that because of their giving, God miraculously poured out money or some other valuable materials that they needed and/or wanted.
I would agree that it is hard to give an example of someone in the Bible who was godly and materially wealthy, but was not a liberal giver. For example, in Genesis chapter 14, Abram gave a tithe to the man of God and due to his giving of tithes and offerings; God gave him great material goods. But I'd like to look beyond the very valid examples like Abram, and focus on an additional blessing that comes to all of us, rich and poor, when we give unto the work of the Lord.
One alternate translation I've heard for the word "Blessed" ("makarios" in Greek) is to be happy.
One of the things that have caused me to believe in giving to God's churches has been the attitude I've witnessed when I would see my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents give to ministry. The happiness (or blessedness) you could see on their faces when they gave would make you think that someone just gave them a birthday gift. Yes, they knew that God would bless them materially if they maintained a liberal heart, but the immediate happiness they exuded had much to do with their joy in being able to share in supporting a godly ministry that they loved and believed in.
God really doesn't need my money, but when I give to the godly ministry I'm affiliated with, it's as if I'm sharing my substance with Christ, the one whom I love and hold most dear above all relationships. Because of that love, when I give, my happiness (blessedness) is immediate and manifests before I receive any of the miracles of material blessings.

Regards,
Shawn D. Jackson


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Marriage Talks With The Murphys...Thirty-Six Years and Counting

-How Many Years have you been Married?

36 years and it will be thirty-seven years (May 16th at 3pm)

-What is the one thing that has kept you together this long?

Always keep the LORD in the center of everything you do. In any marriage it’s not about you. It’s no more YOU it’s US. We are one. When you’re saying something or doing something say sorry. It doesn’t take anything from you. It makes it better. The enemy is always there to kill steal and destroy. Give life to the marriage. HAVE FUN!


-What do you think is different now about marriage nowadays vs back then?

You can write a book about that. From a generational stand point people in previous generations were more open to meeting people earlier in life. The commitment level was different; there was a more of a biblical view of marriage historical than it is now. The lifetime commitment is more prevalent back then than it is now. More people today are more interested in their PERSONAL happiness than in GODS’ happiness. That’s why I believe people do two things now, they wait longer to get married because they are interested in getting a career and being established and then the time they have left they are willing to devote to marriage. We that don’t understand is that time is your life is meant to be experienced with whomever you decide to spend the rest of your life with. There doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming commitment to marriage because they have established that they were doing well without the partner vs a covenant/a life. There’s more internally focused individual’s verses a focus on pleasing God in the context of your marriage.


-What would you say to persons who are in engaged to be married?

Pastor-The first advice is talk with your pastor, for the purpose of seeking Godly counsel, concerning marriage so that they understand or have an opportunity to clearly understand marriage and the biblical requirements (Ephesians 5:31) of being married. Parents should have influence but never authority. You always honor your parents but they don’t run your marriage YOU DO. (Ephesians 5:21).
1st Lady-It’s very beneficial to be a member of a church and also to have counseling w/your pastor. You don’t want any hidden agendas. That way as your pastor is speaking with you, he's coming from the word to let you know why the different things are essential for your marriage.

-What does Love look like?

1st Lady- God is love, it’s not about you.
Nobody has ever seen him; it’s doing the right things and always being considerate of the other person.
Pastor- God is Love. Nobody has ever seen God. So nobody really knows. If I had to give an answer then love looks like total and complete unselfishness. Always considering the other person before considering yourself. Love is an action word. Love is grace and truth.

-If you could tell yourself anything when you first got married what would it be?

All the things we’ve said in the interview. We didn’t know any of this stuff! Get counseling because we didn’t have it. Consider your spouse above yourself. Don’t be selfish. Learn to love!

-How has God impacted your marriage thus far?

Pastor- My testimony is that God has literally revolutionized my approach to marriage. Before truly inviting God into my marriage I tried to conduct our marital relationship based on my view and not the biblical portrait of marriage. When I developed an understanding of the biblical view of marriage my marriage literally transformed.
1st Lady- Reading the Bible and knowing/learning what it is supposed to do. Being unselfish and being devoted and committed to God. Knowing who you are causes the transformation. Now you just are following the Bible according to marriage. When you do that you can always keep God First and you can’t go wrong with that.

-How do you exemplify Proverbs 4:23 in a marriage?

1st Lady-You know what you’re true feelings are, a lot of time the enemy comes in and plants doubt! Knowing who your spouse is; TRUST is important! If you’re always doubting or spectating where is the trueness of the person you are married too? Just be truthful about things especially about things that you feel.
Pastor- Guarding your heart is important. Your heart provides the foundation for everything that you do. It encourages us to always apply the word to our thoughts Philippians 4:7-8. To be mindful about the things that you dwell on. If you think negative things it will destroy; if you think positive things then you will thrive. Keep your heart. You don’t allow the enemy access to your heart. 2 Corinthians 10:5 whenever there are images in your mind that does not align with the word of God cast them out! That’s guarding your heart. Taking the thoughts that the enemy throws at you and casting them out. When the enemy does this they are thoughts that do not edify God or your marriage. You only want to allow the things you think to be those that align with the word of God. The battle for marriage or a successful marriage is won in the mind and in our thought life.

-Advice to singles.

Pastor-Look for a person who is Godly, saved and active in ministry who’s life reflects a submission and adherence to the principles of God.  First thing a young person should look for is a place in Ministry to be faithful to and serve whole heartedly. Submit yourselves whole heartedly to the kingdom of God. Ruth was found while working. While you are laboring to advance and to build the kingdom observe other persons like yourselves of the opposite sex that is visibly and demonstratively likeminded.
1st Lady- Look for someone that really going after God and being faithful
Pastor - The biblical rules of engagement where relationships are concerned is that a man finds a wife; but for her to be able to respond to potential suitors. She has to give assessment to the individual that’s inquiring of their interest.
1st Lady- Good character.


Dinner With The Blevins


Blevins
-How Many years have you been Married

Twenty-two and a half, twenty-three years on June 30!

-What is the one thing that has kept you together this long?

Miss'y- Our desire for one another and relationship with God.
Elder- Both are number one and being committed to the institution of marriage that God ordained.

-What do you think is different now about marriages or people getting married nowadays verses when people got married back then?

Elder- Not a difference but more so people not staying together.
Miss'y- Marriage used to be sacred, people don't stick it out. It was taught that you stay because that's marriage. There’s also a lack of commitment to the institution of marriage, they approach it with a selfish mindset, if they don't get what they want then it's over verses my job is to serve you as a spouse as unto God.

-What would you say to persons who are in engaged to be married?

Elder- Understand that marriage is a lifetime commitment not a sentence, YOU CHOOSE out of your own will to enter into marriage.
Miss’y- There are no back doors, you can't go in looking for a way out.

-If you could tell your self anything when you first got married, what would it be?

Elder- You don't always get out the deal what YOU want. It’s not about you; don't engage in this thing selfish. The way you get what you want is giving the other person what they want. Luke 6:38 "Give unto others as you would have them give unto you."  1 Corinthians 7:3 "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and like wise the wife to her husband.". Marriage is a covenant not a contract. You engage as if it is a commitment not a contract. And that you remain committed to the covenant in spite of the experience.


-How has God impacted your marriage thus far?

Miss’y- He makes ways out of no way
Elder- "The husband of the article declares this: that as a result of his wife's faithfulness and commitment to God his level of trust and faith in God has increased." SO REMEMBER GOD FIRST!

A Conversation with The James'

-How long have you all been married?   

  39 years!



-What do you think is different now about marriages or people getting married now a days verses when people got married back then?


The culture is different, everything is rushed! This generation has a different idea of what marriage is. The morals are different. People valued marriage more 40 years ago. Men aren't in the home as much as they used to be, because men haven't grown up with their father's. The father taught the morals necessary for men today. We don't have a lot of that today. My son actual thanked me for being there as a father because my son worked with children who didn't have fathers and they had a lot of dysfunction in their lives. Also because of the lack of  father's being in the home young men can't learn from them and in return don't know how to treat the young ladies. They respect the house of God. People act or react real quick. They don't want to wait. They didn't have marriage counseling back then either. 



-What do you think is one thing that made your marriage last this long?


Keeping God First and Great communication with one another. Faith in Jesus Christ. If I want to please God then I have to please my wife/husband. Our foundation in Jesus Christ is what sustained us. We raised our kids in the church. We relied solely on God. Church is very important for the Family. The enemy's goal is to destroy the foundation of family. We raised our kids richly because we raised them in the Lord. And our kids say all the time that they appreciate that. Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it"



-What would you tell an engaged or dating couple today?


Seek the counseling from your pastor, keep things between each other, put God First, always encourage one another. Proverbs 11:14 "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety" Pray about it. Don't rush. Ask and Seek God. The wedding is minute compared to the life you'll spend with your mate.

Dating couples: observe how the parents are, you can learn everything by observing the people around them before you decide to move forward with that person. Biblical portrait of marriage is your goal. Don't compromise to marry or be with anybody. 





-How has God impacted your marriage thus far?


Kept us together, we didn't know what marriage was at first. God taught us how to be and stay together. The Bible teaches us how to love our wives/husbands. My wife is my best friend. Having that relationship with God has kept us. I don't want to displease the Lord so I never wanted to mistreat her. Praying for one another. Encouraging one another. It's just gets sweeter and sweeter everyday.

Monday, January 15, 2018

In The Words Of Bishop Tommie A. Murphy

On November 12, 2017, I was blessed to be consecrated to the office of Bishop in the Churches of God in Christ. This is the second largest Pentecostal church in the United States and it is arguably the largest Pentecostal church in the world.  The Church of God in Christ is second in the United States in size by membership to the Assemblies of God Churches, which as you all know was birthed out of the Churches of God in Christ.

These facts among others clearly make this episcopal ascendency a significant honor. I have been a part of this church since February 1978, when I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. It was several months after this when I was attending UNC-Asheville as a first semester college student, and serving in the church as a deacon, the Lord spoke to me one Friday night and told me that if  ”I took care of HIS business, HE would take care of my business.”

I committed to obeying God's voice and since that day the Lord has continued to do great things in my life. I experienced elevation and promotion both secularly and in the episcopacy. I mention this because of the imperative (necessity) to convey that this blessing is certainly not something I would say I deserve, but a position I would declare I am able to experience by the grace of God!

This ascension means that I will continue to serve my leader, Bishop LeRoy Jackson Woolard, the Prelate of Greater North Carolina Jurisdiction in my current capacity as one of his Administrative Assistants, Greater North Carolina Jurisdictional Chief Financial Officer(CFO) and as the Superintendent of the E. C. Cannon Memorial District.


This, as all things that happen in my life positively, I give God ALL the Glory!  It has certainly been one of the most humbling experiences of my life, and I thank God for the entire New Bethel Church family for making this moment for my wife, daughters, and me so incredibly precious.