Saturday, February 23, 2013
During the month of February, we'll hear about courageous African American men and women who risked a lot, in some cases their very lives, so we can enjoy the freedom we have today. Names like Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks are among the many icons who are featured on radio and TV during Black History month. However, during those dark days of slavery when slaves were forbidden to assemble for any reason whatsoever, there were still some who managed to shine the light of Jesus Christ and even became missionaries to foreign lands.
Here is a short list:
Peter Claver, born 1581 in Spain, became a Jesuit priest at age 20 and traveled to South America where he ministered to African slaves when they arrived in Cartagena, Colombia. He became known as "Slave of the Blacks," and "Slaves of the Slaves."
Richard Allen, born February 1760, founded the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in 1816. This church became the largest denomination of African Americans, sending missionaries to Haiti, San Domingo and Africa. Allen developed such a strong Christian faith he was able to convert his owner.
Henry Garnet was a Presbyterian minister who became the first African American to preach a sermon in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1852 he traveled to Jamaica as a missionary.
Peter Williams was a slave who purchased his freedom in 1785. At that time, blacks who belonged to white churches had to sit at the back of the church and could not bury their dead on church grounds. In 1796, Williams and other black church members decided to form their own congregation. In 1800 Williams laid the cornerstone of the Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church at the corner of Church and Leonard Streets in New York.
Betsey Stockton was born in slavery in 1798 in New Jersey. While working with the Reverend Nathaniel Todd, Betsey became a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Princeton. Betsey later joined a company of missionaries to the Sandwich Islands (present-day Hawaii) on a trip that lasted five months with no stopovers. Betsey became the first single American woman sent overseas as a missionary.
Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5 : 16). These brave pioneers could have settled for sitting at the back of the church and all the other indignities associated with their station, but instead they followed the great commission and did what they did to advance the kingdom of Jesus Christ on this earth. Can we emulate them in some small way? Will we let our light shine?
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Last week, we focused on qualities that a man would look for in a woman, and we looked at Ruth, a woman who got her man by exemplifying those qualities. Today, in keeping with the theme of love for this month, I want to look at qualities a woman would look for in a man.
The Bible highlights many mighty men of God who were good husbands and fathers, but nowhere do we get a love story as intense or as fraught with difficulties as the one between Jacob and Rachel. And for that reason I chose Jacob. Yes, I know, his very name means 'trickster', but as we read in the book of Genesis, Jacob proved to be not just a good husband but a man who walked with God.
1. A man of God. Jacob leaves home as his mother advised him, fearing that his brother Esau would kill him for stealing his birthright. On the first night of his journey, God appears to Jacob in a dream and promises to bless him and his seed. Jacob wakes up the next morning and consecrates that place to God. Later on, we'll see God's guidance and blessings following Jacob throughout his life.
2. A loving man. The next thing he does is kiss Rachel. I don't think this was a romantic kiss. The men of the town had told him that she is the daughter of his uncle, Laban, whom he's come looking for. The Bible says, "And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son:" (Genesis 29 : 11 - 12). It could be that Jacob is overcome with emotion at finding his cousin.
3. A hard-working man. Women love a man who is responsible and hard-working. Jacob certainly proves that when he says to Laban, "I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter" ( v 18). The Bible goes on to say, "And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her" (v 20). When a man truly loves a woman nothing is too much for him to do for her. Jacob is not only hard-working, he is shrewd. When Laban tries to rob him of his wages, Jacob manipulates the livestock, causing him to own more than Laban and increase in wealth.
4. A faithful man. Jacob is faithful to Rachel even though he has children by three other women. This has to be looked at in the cultural norms of the time. It was common for a barren woman to give her maid to her husband in order to have children. Laban tricks Jacob by giving him Leah, his older daughter, instead of Rachel, on his wedding night. This starts a long, agonizing chain of events which Jacob seems unable to break out of.
5. A committed man. Eventually Jacob takes his wives and children and leaves Laban's home for good. However, he remains committed to Rachel and Joseph, the son she bore him. When he hears that his brother Esau is coming to meet him, Jacob thinks Esau is about to wreak vengeance on him for stealing his birthright. As Esau and his entourage draw near, Jacob puts Rachel and Joseph at the back of the other wives to spare them from being hurt.
Ladies, your Mr. Right may not possess all the above qualities, but he should at least demonstrate the first and the last. Without those two, your relationship may be on rocky ground. If you are looking for Mr. Right, ask God to lead you to him.
Saturday, February 09, 2013
With Valentine's Day just a few days away, many hearts are turning to love. For those of us who already have a mate, we may be thinking of ways to make the day a special one. For those women who have not yet found your Mr. Right, you may be hoping that this Valentine's Day will bring you the man of your dreams. Whatever your situation, or season of life, why not look to the greatest love manual, God's Word, and see what tips you can pick up?
I love the book of Ruth, because here we meet a woman who has spanned a few seasons of life and returns to one she has already passed. She has been married, widowed and marries again in this book. We don't know what her first marriage was like, but it lasted ten years until her husband died.
So what lessons can we learn from the book of Ruth to help us snag (or keep) Mr. Right?
1. Faithfulness - After her husband's death, Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law suggests to Ruth and Orpah, her other daughter-in-law to return to their families and try to build a life for themselves. Orpah follows her advice, but Ruth decides to follow Naomi to Bethlehem, even though she is not Jewish as Naomi is. Listen to what Ruth says:
Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest , I will go ; and where thou lodgest , I will lodge : thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: (Ruth 1 : 16).
That's the stuff of which faithfulness is made - something every man looks for in a woman, and something which should come easily to you as a woman of God. Even if you are single, but are serious about the man you are dating, you should demonstrate faithfulness in your relationship with him.
2. Selflessness - This is one of the qualities that attracted Ruth to Boaz. And he let her know.
It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: (2: 11).
Your husband or future husband is watching the way you treat other people. Are you helpful? Kind? Caring? Do you put the needs of others before your own? The way you treat others will determine how you will treat him.
3. Hard working - No sooner had she and Naomi settled in Bethlehem, Ruth went out and found work gleaning in the corn fields. It just happened that she ended up in the field belonging to Boaz, who immediately noticed her. When he inquired who she was, one of the servants said,