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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Our Nature

                                                       Our Nature

     Going through life by making mistakes and trying to make the world jealous. Who are you and who am I? Who are we to be the one that want to love someone and yet have the fear of loving them? I often question my destiny and I sometimes question my faith. Yet and still I yearn for strength. I yearn for guidance. My heart wants to pour out so many of these troubled thoughts. There's so many troubled feelings; from the shaking and trembling inside my very being. My hands are reaching
Sade Collins
higher because the giving has given in. 

      The sense of not being able to control the very thoughts and those feelings run through my veins so deeply. Again, I question my faith. I even question my direction, for I am sometimes afraid to win and I am also sometimes even more afraid to lose. It is in our nature to question the very things that we face in life in general.  At times, I may need a little bit more reassurance,  my mind tends to wonder off here and there. 

      My heart tends to wonder too. The jealousy escapes from my soul, the envy emerge, from within,  the enemy walks so near, he’s always trying to make me lose sight of what's ahead.  Struggling, trying to gain control of my innermost thoughts inside of my being. I reach out and I pray. “Lord take these reigns, lead my heart, and lead my mind”!  At times, I'm not so sure of what I know about my destiny and purpose for my very life.  I don’t always truly understand the directions that God is leading me too. Yet and still it doesn’t stop me for praying for HIS mercy and guidance. 

       I am a willing vessel that is trying to survive off of God’s terms, but I don’t know how, and I am still trusting HIM. Finding the answers to those questions steers me into striving for more... ambitions in life... It is in OUR nature to question the things we face in life. My desire is to learn how to become the virtuous woman, that the bible talks about.  I want to discover the woman that God has intended for me to be, but at the same time I am afraid. I am afraid of losing myself, afraid of not knowing what to expect, or what’s going to happen next.  

       Its all in our nature, to be afraid of not knowing the answers to all of our questions.  FEAR, wasn't something that God, gave us, so I am learning how to trust Him in everything. Yet we hold back so much out of fear. As human beings, we hold back on living the lives we’ve always dreamed of, we hold back from our destiny, we hold back on self love and self realization. We hold back on our family and friends, we hold back out of the lack of trust, the lack of love, lack of faith, and so full of fear and yet and still, we are humans.  Fear shouldn't be apart of our nature.
            Our nature is the ability to survive. The strength to endure, to achieve,  to believe and to understand the seeds that have been planted into the root of our very own being.  In search of that paved road, in search of the answers to those many of questions; but yet and still we settle, we tend to become complacent, we tend to give in and lose sight on what makes life ALL worth living. Search your soul for that feeling is there. For its in fact in your nature.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Greatest Inspiration

My Greatest Inspiration

Recently, we have been witnessing a string of injustices around the US. It has literally put a spotlight
Erika Whitehead
on underlying racial issues & reset the African descended people’s mindsets, at least 100 years back. In school, we’re taught to obey the laws of the land & those in authority. We’re also taught about civil rights activist & peaceful protests in Selma, Birmingham, & Washington D.C. It never occurred to us that we would become witnesses to protests in Ferguson, MO, Detroit, MI, Seattle, WA, New York City, NY, & Washington DC simultaneously. Unfortunately, we also witnessed what was suppose to be peaceful protests, occasionally turning into upheaval, because of raw emotion (& sometimes ignorance).
Our hearts have either become numb or raw, depending on your viewpoint of the current situations broadcasted by the media. My view? The standpoint of the grieving families & parents. I immediately began to mourn as a mother, aunt, niece, sister, & friend. My heartstrings had been pulled & are still being pulled because a parent has lost a child, a wife has lost a husband, & a child has lost a father. I watched as the media tore apart the stories & the courtrooms disarmed America’s mindset of judicial equality.
All the while, I watched the panged faces of the parents, who through it all, maintained a stiff back, head held high, & speech laced with grief, compassion, & strength. It’s a battle that can only be won on a spiritual playing field, because the battle is not with justice, but the spirit of injustice & lawlessness, that’s running rampant among us. Our nation has been thrust into a state of panic, because it seems that terrorism is on our own soil. Parents are afraid for their male children, fathers/husbands are subjugated to inconsistent law practices of police officials, & countless other civil atrocities are swept under the rug to save face in the sight of other countries. When do we (the US) stop paying attention to what other people think of us, & concern ourselves with the well-being of our own people? We are quick to tell other countries how they should follow our “stellar” example of democracy & justice, when we can’t get it together ourselves! 

I’m inspired to MULTI, INTER, & INTRAGENERATIONAL  ACTION! Many people have protested but then go back home, curse out their children & ignore calls from the school or PTA meetings, they choose not to vote, they barely pay taxes, BUT they can tell you the latest episode of several reality shows or the latest in music & fashion. I’m not called to organize protests, sit ins, etc. but I am called to make an impact for future generations. I’m called to educate my children, nieces, nephews, & any other young adult on how to evolve & to stay in a state of continuous evolution. This kind of knowledge must be as deep-rooted & ingrained as the history in the books we’ve studied in school. It also must be influential, anticipatory, & attainable. We must become more than what we are at this moment. What does it mean to become? Merriam-Webster’s defines become as begin to be; grow to be, turn into; qualify or be accepted as; acquire the status of; to come, change. Lately, our nation has become bitter & resentful towards justice, authority figures, laws, elected officials, & generally most everything that democracy is suppose to entitle us.

When do we become evolved into what God purposed us as a nation? What will it take? I’m determined & inspired to find out! I believe a social awakening is happening before our eyes. Blinders are being removed (or established) & stigmas are being torn down (or rebuilt) depending on your stance. It’s truly about personal choice. We’re at a pivotal point where our youth can still be reached in ways that will contribute to a more conducive & productive future. It’s up to which direction we (adults) choose to take. Which will you choose? It begins with us becoming willing to evolve into something better, something relevant, something historic…not what we see today with the looting, shooting, & riots.

Lord, show us the way to act, not react!


  We have been created to be sensual beings. Not so much as to be led by our senses, but to enlist them in our appreciation for all that God has given us. Our sense of hearing, taste, smell, sight and touch are avenues that are to be taken in order to bask in the splendor of the Creator and His creation. There are myriads of brilliant colors that are pleasing to the eye and many levels of sound all around us. There are countless delicacies to tantalize our pallets and bouquets of fragrances to tickle our olfactory nerves. And, there are varying degrees of textures that will not leave our sense of touch bored and disenchanted.

God has taken into careful consideration, our “need” for things to appeal to us. We are not left without a witness and a testimony of His greatness. Evidence of His existence is all pervasive in our tangible world and those intangibles that have yet to be discovered.  We are inundated with things to be explored … we will never stop being amazed at what He has done; however, the Bible tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. All that we unearth has been and what was discovered is yet to be seen. God is aware of what we do not know. He is never surprised because He is in every living thing. The atmosphere is alive with Him. Therefore, what we experience (at any given point of our life and living) is God.
He cannot be missed. We are made up of living matter, so what we see is God. We breathe in the air around us, infused with life forces. In Him we live and move and have our being. We cannot escape the Creator of all living things. In what we would consider the absence of sound, is still sound … it is just outside of our natural selves to experience it; therefore, God can be heard on all levels. Imagine if this is the reason that God wants us to step outside of our “natural” inclinations – so we can enjoy and experience Him in new and amazing ways. There is so much that is missed when we think that God is just what can be experienced sensually.

It is true that if we were just to experience God on the level of what we can observe, we would never run out of reasons to give Him glory. However, it is not where He desires for us to remain. We are not to approach Him with what can be perceived. He wants to reveal to us those things that cannot be ascertained through our carnal discoveries. Therefore, He speaks to us in the deepest parts of ourselves; that place which cannot be engaged by our five senses. We use what we can sense, naturally, to spark a level of curiosity that beckons us to lift ourselves above. He wants us to come up higher and go deeper.
So, as we continue to discover and uncover that which can be sensed and manipulated, let us not forget to marvel at His splendor. We have our five senses to help us appreciate the Creator. He has given us these things to spark wonder and awe. Every natural sight and sound is filled with Him. As we think on these things, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.

Change Your Devotion!

  Change your devotion!

I am often asked if I feel different now that I have accepted my calling into ministry and the answer is no, but I can say that I can see the difference. Let me tell you what I mean. Before I accepted my calling, I knew that God loved me, there was never any question, but when I made my devotion to Him known; I saw a difference in His devotion to me. When I made my devotion to God clearer, I could then see His
La Kisha Johnson
devotion to me to clearer. 

It was almost like the fog that was over my spiritual eyes had been wiped away the moment I truly committed myself to Him. Please understand; I was in church, I went to bible study, I studied the word for myself at home (sometimes), I encouraged folks, I prayed for people, and I did right occasionally, but I wasn’t as devoted as I should have been; to God. I was still running from His calling, still doing some worldly things, still straddling the fence when it was convenient for me, still acting as if I had time to get it right; still not being devoted in my devotion although I seemed to have it all together on the outside when inwardly I was a torn up mess.

But oh, the enemy was rejoicing because he was winning. How? Well, he was getting a part of me. See, as long as I was partially devoted to God, the enemy had a part of me. As long as I was partially committed to God, the enemy was fully committed to me. As long as I was somewhat committed to worship, the enemy was wholly committed to me. As long as I was slightly committed to the message, the enemy was solely committed to my mess.  As long as I was a little committed the enemy was fully invested because all it was going to take was a little while longer for him to get me, so he thought. This is why I had to fully devote myself to devotion with God because I found peace there. I found joy when I fully devoted myself to devotion with God. Everything I thought I had couldn’t even compare to what I gained when my devotion became devoted!

I had to look at it like this. How can I expect God to do anything for me if I couldn't do anything for Him? That’s like me expecting a check from my job without working. It doesn’t work like that and being devoted to God doesn’t mean you have to stop living your life, stop having fun and all of that; stop believing the hype! This is why you have to study the word for yourself.  Being devoted means God is the head of your life. Being devoted means you love God more than you love the world.  Being devoted means you’ll drive your car to church because you don’t care about the number of miles you put on it. Being devoted means you go to worship no matter what the weather is like.  Being devoted means, you worship no matter what your circumstances are. Being devoted means you’ll worship the Lord and you don’t care who is looking. Being devoted means you’ll go where He’ll send you without knowing the address. Being devoted means you’ll pray for folks without even knowing their name or situations. Being devoted means you preach to a dying world even when folks say you can’t! 

Honestly, I dare you to change your devotion towards God! If you change your devotion towards God, I guarantee you’ll see clearer His devotion towards you. His devotion towards us never changes, it sometime gets hidden in the mess of things called our life, but it never changes. His devotion towards us never changes, we sometimes forget about it in the midst of our mess, but it never changes. Change your devotion and you’ll see!  

Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

The Ultimate Giving Experience

 The Ultimate Giving Experience
When you are on your way to any location, you never know what’s in store for you. To be a part of "The Ultimate Giving Experience", I recommend you head to Bellevue Baptist Church for the 39th Annual Singing Christmas Tree, 1941: A Christmas in Memphis. This play will be the third musical in the Singing Christmas Tree (SCT) trilogy, which includes Christmas plays from the last two years (and are available for purchase).

Once arriving, enter through the West Entrance, where you can purchase your ticket. More than likely, your eyes will be drawn to a Christmas tree about ten feet tall and a 1940’s era automobile that takes you back 73 years. As I approached the customer service line, a man approached customers with three tickets. Once I requested the interest to purchase one ticket, the friendly women called the
Miriam Gossett
usher back to give me a ticket that was donated by a kind donor.

During the introductory greeting from the Minister of Music, Mark Blair, the audience learned that this is the first time the Singing Christmas Tree has been written to take place in Memphis, TN and there are more than 800 people involved in the production (500 of them being students, high school aged and younger).

The show opens, music begins, and the first character you meet is sweet and passionate, Maggie McPherson (played by Trisha Huntley) from Ireland, at the New York Harbor, overjoyed to travel to Memphis and call it her new home. The curtain drops with a bang, and visible is what we have all been waiting for, the 44 foot Christmas tree, with its 100,000+ lights that can hold over 100 people. The crowd goes wild for its radiant and dazzling designs and patterns.

As time progresses we meet, dedicated and loving, Jacob Rogen (played by Jonathan Schmidt), a single father of 5 who prays with his teenagers every night and whose main priority is for Jesus to be the head of the home. The many different personalities of Jacob’s children liven the set on a personal level. Even with the time difference of seventy plus years, it seems as if the Rogens are in your living room playfully bickering over the radio, cracking jokes on each other, seeking relationship advice from Father and one another.

As the scenes proceed, everyone is excited for Christmas! There is ballroom and western/square dancing, and occasions where there were over 100 performers on the stage. Due to celebrating the Musical city of Memphis, with the different themed music,  the costumes ranged from poodle skirts, cowboy boots, ballgowns and Bugle boy soldier attire. Many local references were made such as the Peabody, and of course Elvis Presley (which brings a pleasant surprise to the show). There were also flying monkeys, bears, and reindeers, giant puppets and live animals.

Tragically, it is December 1941.... and the bombing of Pearl Harbor occurs. Peter Rogen states that "He needs an angel" and helps his children understand the horror of the situation by saying; "No one wins in a war". To brighten the moment quickly Peter leads by stating, "Let's go to Bellevue", and we are immediately in for a special treat. Dr. Robert G. Lee, the pastor at the time, begins his sermon with his thick accent and assuredness in the Lord, "We woke up in confidence that today would be the same as tomorrow. But know that Jesus Christ is the same”. We are again reminded that we can still have joy, no matter what happens and the story of the best gift given to earth, Jesus, is told.

The actors are given a break and Bellevue's Pastor Bro. Steve Gaines gives everyone a moment to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior or recommit their life because we have all sinned. And then magic happens, the community still has the joy of Christmas, Peter Rogen is given his angel, the family receives some good news from the war, friendships are made and we are reminded that even through life's challenges there is always hope and God will never forget us.

The script has many lessons such as being patient and waiting on God, and being angry with God is even mentioned, with a reminder that God cares about our dreams because we are his children.

During this season, friends, let us remember that it isn't all about us, but about a perfect God who sent and gave us His perfect son, Jesus, so that we could be redeemed. And that my friend, is the ultimate gift. We give because we love. We are full of love, because of our Savior. And we must also share His story to those that need to hear.

I received a full giving experience on my night of attending the Singing Christmas Tree: I was given a ticket, a backstage tour, the opportunity to speak with prominent members of the show, and even as I was leaving an 18 year old young lady chased me, believe it or not, to give me a gift card. It was totally out of the blue. I tried to refuse the gift but she said she wanted to give more during the season. That totally touched my heart and we can all learn something from her. I pray that you will be encouraged during this cold season, to still give if you can, because he gave and still gives. 

With this being the 39th Annual Singing Christmas Tree, I look forward to seeing the 40th Anniversary edition next year and hope you can join me.

Bellevue's Singing Christmas Tree

Remaining Performances
Thursday December 17 and Friday December 18 at 7pm

Ticket Information

Price Range

$5, $8, $14 and $20

MasterCard or Visa | Select your seat. Print your tickets.

(901) 347-5500
MasterCard or Visa | $1 shipping/handling fee per order

Information Center
Located in the West Lobby at Bellevue Appling
Monday–Friday I 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Sundays and Wednesdays I before and after each service

Ages birth–3 years
$6 for one child, $10 family maximum Reservations can be made when purchasing tickets. There are no refunds on childcare.

Wheelchair Seating
Because all aisles must be kept clear, special seating areas have been designated for wheelchairs. To purchase tickets for wheelchair seating, please call (901) 347-5500 or come by the Information Center.

Bellevue Baptist Church

2000 Appling Rd

Cordova, TN 38016

901 347-2000

The show is broadcast live during the performances at
It will also air on WMC-TV Channel 5 on December 25 at noon.

Behind the Scenes, A little Deeper
After the show, once introducing myself to the Lighting Director, Ron Robertson, I was given extreme hospitality and the opportunity to meet the Assistant Technical Director/Front House Audio, Kevin Britt who gave me a backstage tour.

A Snippet from the Stage Manager/Backstage Coordinator, Sandra Dyer

Ms. Dyer advised that she and her husband are both involved in youth ministry at the church. Rehearsals for the youth  involved in the production began in September and they met on every Sunday. I asked her how she manages her personal life with rehearsals and other SCT related events, she answered this is her life!

Sitting in the audience, it was evident that all of the cast and production members represent Jesus Christ with excellence through their performances.

 Here are just some photos of the experience enjoy.

Candid Shots at the Singing Christmas Tree

Tuesday, December 16, 2014



Patty Rhule Senior Manager, at the Newseum by Daood Obaid. 
Patty Rhule, Senior Manager at the Newseum
Daood Obaid: Patty Rhule, provide for those of us the genesis of the Newseum’s niche, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution?

Patty Rhule: The Newseum’s CEO met with the secretary of the Smithsonian several years ago, and came up with the idea to team up for this exhibit as part of the Smithsonian’s “Our American Journey” project. “One Nation With News for All” tells the dramatic story of how immigrants and minorities used the power of the press to fight for their rights and shape the American experience, and still doing so today.

Daood Obaid: With so many publications on the market, exactly convey the selection process allowing to share its place in The Newseum, “One Nation With News for All," new exhibit?

Patty Rhule: Ethnic media is a powerful force in the United States today. There are more than 3,000 ethnic media outlets, offering news in languages from Amharic to Hmong to Yiddish. One in four adults turns to ethnic media for news. We wanted this exhibit to be not just a historic exploration of how ethnic newspapers helped to shape the American story; we also wanted people to know that ethnic media are an influential force today.

Our exhibit research team reached out to New America Media news service and other resources to compile a list of 100 pioneering newspapers, radio and TV stations and Internet sites that reflect the vibrancy of ethnic media today. We include our interactive map of 100 pioneering ethnic media outlets that visitors to “One Nation With News for All” can explore.

Daood Obaid: Are private tours available, and if so, what do they entail?

Patty Rhule: The Newseum offers highlights tours of our museum, depending on the availability of volunteers who lead them.  They are free with admission to the Newseum. In addition, visitors can schedule private tours at an additional cost,

Daood Obaid: Personally Patty Rhule, your viewpoint as to why the Newseum is such a major attraction?

Patty Rhule: The Newseum explores the great stories of our lives in vivid exhibits and original films. Located on Washington, D.C.’s historic Pennsylvania Avenue, the Newseum has seven floors, 15 theaters and 15 galleries of amazing artifacts, photos and compelling stories. We display eight sections of the Berlin Wall to tell the story of how the free flow of information led to that wall going up after World War II, and also led to the fall of the wall in 1989. We also display all of the Pulitzer Prize-winning photos since the awards for photos were first given out in 1942. Our News Corp. News History Gallery explores 500 years of news history, with artifacts such as the door that led police to the Watergate break-in that ultimately cost President Richard Nixon his presidency, as well as more than 350 historic newspapers from the Newseum’s collection of more than 30,000 print objects.

We have regular changing exhibits, including “One Nation With News for All,” and our FBI exhibit, which focuses on the sometimes contentious relationship between the FBI and the press and displays the Unabomber’s cabin and engines from the planes that were struck down by the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

We have an interactive gallery where visitors can try their hand at being a TV news anchor, or they can pretend to be a news photographer. We also have a 4-D film, where visitors experience key moments in journalism, including live news coverage of the bombing of London, by putting on special glasses and going for a ride through history. There is something for everyone at the Newseum.

Daood Obaid: And your role as Senior Manager of the Exhibit Development?

Patty Rhule: I oversee a team of writers and editors who produce the changing exhibits and update permanent content in the Newseum.

Also, One Nation With News for All is open through Jan. 4, 2015.

Thanks for your interest, Daood!

 Patty Rhule | Senior Manager, Exhibit Development NEWSEUM 
555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. | Washington, DC |

Prayer and Procrastination

Prayer and Procrastination

“In Jesus name, Amen”.  That is how a Christian’s prayer usually ends.  After that is said and done, it is supposed to be just that; done.  God in Heaven has received your request, He hears your cry and He knows your heart.  Somehow though, we have been tricked to believe that doing just that is enough.
John Keenan, Don Savant, Poet
Yes, God does hear your prayers and He answers them at His will.  Yes, we are to give everything to Him and allowing Him to provide for us, but nowhere does it say to do absolutely nothing.  Many of us have been in some type of waiting room at some point in our lives.  We will sit and wait for as long as we can stand it. 
 After that period has passed, we have to find something productive to do.  We will grab magazines, play with our phones, and jot down notes or whatever will occupy the time during our wait.  However, when it comes down to our blessings, we will pray and wait.  While we wait, we do nothing.  When nothing comes, we pray harder.  When the desired results are not yielded from that process, we begin to get upset.  We pray the same prayer over and over again that He has already received and yet still, we sit there waiting. 

 We procrastinate and become idle in the forward progression of our lives.  It has been said over and over again that if you do nothing, you receive nothing.  God is waiting to see some sort of activity on your behalf.  When He sees you doing absolutely nothing, pretty much twiddling your thumbs while looking up at Him asking why He has not moved, His answer will always be, “After you”. 
You cannot put in for a new position on your job with the expectation of getting it without proving that you are worthy of that position.  There's work to be done that will show and prove that you are worthy of it.  The same applies to God.  He will not move you into something He feels that you are not ready for.  In the book of James, it states that faith without works is dead.  That means you can pray, and you can believe, but if you sit around doing absolutely nothing, then nothing will be gained.

For a writer, the only way to ever sell books is to first write one.  That process includes, thinking, planning, praying and working.  If the work never gets done, then the book never gets done ,but still, you will sit and wait while thinking about how many books you want to sell.  Each one of us has a dream, but sometimes we refuse to wake up and make it come true.  Pray about it and ask God for guidance.  

 Ask Him to help you through the journey, but realize at the same time that in order to go on a journey in the first place, something must move.  In order to get anywhere, there is a need for transportation.  It doesn’t matter if you are walking, riding a bus, taking a taxi cab, boarding and plane or a boat; something has to move.  In the case of your blessings, goals and dreams seeing the light of day, it is you that has to move.  

When you pray for and about things, know that God hears you and continue to walk in it.  Continue to do what is required of you to make you a qualified candidate for that blessing and when you are blessed, do not keep it to yourself, share it with those who may not be familiar with what a real blessing looks like.  Procrastination will always keep you from procuring the position that lies within your purpose.

The Parable of the Sower…”Some fell on rocky places…”

The Parable of the Sower…”Some fell on rocky places…”

Greetings So Fyh readers and subscribers, as promised I will attempt to exegete the Parable of the Sower, in particular…the second part of the parable which states, “Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil.  It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root” (Matthew 13:5-6 NIV). 
Winston Howard
 In my Biblical Study and Professional New Testament teaching of this Parable, I have found this part to be my favorite part because I  believe many Christians find themselves relating more so to this particular “seed”. I think it’s important to note here the concept of sowing seeds before we delve into the second part. Sowing seeds is what farmers do in a broadcasting motion, i.e. they take a handful of seeds and cast them out in a sweeping motion and the seeds fall where they may.  The Sower does not pick a particular spot in the ground and meticulously put the seed in the ground, but instead the “numbers game” is implemented.  In other words, when one seed is planted, a lot of prayer and hope goes into that one seed that it might take root, spring up and produce fruit. However, when many seeds are broadcasted out, the Sower or Farmer is particularly concerned with the seeds that do take root, spring up and produce fruit while understanding that not all will, thus playing the numbers game. 
As I said in my opening, I believe that many Christians find themselves relating to second part of this parable because when a non-believer becomes a believer, that person is filled with promise and enthusiasm that is rooted in their new-found acceptance of Jesus Christ. They sprout up very quickly, looking to get involved in all things church, like participating on the Usher Board, Youth Ministry, Kitchen Helper, and many others. Then…life happens! In other words, the heat of this world scorched their enthusiasm.  So, what does this look like? It looks something like this…You miss Bible Study because you’re tired from work, or you get tickets to a sporting event or show that happens to be performing on Sunday so you skip church and choose to go to the event, or worse, the event is on Saturday night and you’re too tired to get up and go to church on Sunday. It happens to everyone, and it still happens.  The difference is the depth of the roots of the believer.

 In the second part of the Parable, despite the enthusiasm of the seed (believer), if he/she does not allow for the seed to take root he/she can’t grow and have the strength needed to live in a world of uncertainty like ours. There will be quick growths that are short lived because of the shallow commitment to Jesus and allowing personal life experiences to take precedence over the one who gave us life and guarantees us eternal life for all who believe.  This is not an indictment on people that go out on Saturday nights, or skip church to go to a sporting event or watch it on TV. Beside, the bible tells us to enjoy the fruits of our labor (Psalm 128:2), but the Bible also tells us we should “seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all these things will be given to us as well.” (Matthew 6:33 KJV)

God is well pleased that we get enthusiastic about Him and want to show our love for him, but he wants us to be sure of our faith and know why He is worthy of our praise. To do this, we need to know more about Him and we do that through the study of his word. Going to Church is a start, but it’s not all you need to do. Preaching can be inspirational and put us on the right path, but the teaching and interacting of like minded Christian believers is what will help your roots to grow. I’m reminded of a story I heard concerning preaching and teaching.  Both are important, but it’s the teaching that keeps you engage and growing. The story is entitled “It’s not the Sizzle…It’s the Steak”.

  In this story, the preaching is represented by the sizzle, and the teaching is represented by the steak. Imagine when you go to dine at a restaurant that serves fajitas and you’re sitting at your table looking over the menu and from a distance you hear a sizzle.  As the sizzle get closer, it grabs your attention because first off, you don’t want hot grease popping on your head and secondly, they’re fajitas and everyone looks to see how visually appetizing they look, smell and sound. So, you decide to order the fajitas. If the fajitas are bad, you might still continue to frequent the restaurant (go to church), but not order the fajitas (go to bible study, Sunday school, etc…). 
 But if the fajitas are good, you will not only continue to frequent the restaurant (go to church), but also continue to order the fajitas as well (go to bible study, Sunday school, etc…). So you see, the sizzle grabs your attention and make you look, but the steak keeps you coming back. God is well pleased when we study His word as stated in 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Studying God’s word is how we grow and just like a plant, we can’t grow strong unless we first take root.  Get rooted in God’s word, and watch how you can grow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Parable of the Sower…”Some seeds fell by the way side”

The Parable of the Sower…”Some seeds fell by the way side”

Greetings So Fyh readers and subscribers, I am delighted to bring to you a very familiar Bible Scripture but with a more directed
Winston Howard
focus.  In the next 4 issues, I will attempt to fine tune your understanding of this parable and how it relates to us as Christian Believers and the way we live in this chaotic world of ours. 

Chapter 13 of the Gospel of Matthew begins with Jesus teaching the multitude by sea side.  It’s important to note here that when Jesus saw the multitude was increasing, he got in a boat and launched out while the multitude stood by the shore.  This is important because Jesus was following the Hebrew tradition of teaching which was in a seated position.  Since the multitude was so great, everyone would not be able to see and/or hear him if he stayed seated on the sea side.  Thus, by getting in a boat and launching out, everyone would be able to see and hear him teach.  Matthew then begins to tell us that “he spake many things unto them in parables.” (Matthew 13:3, KJV) What follows in one of the most famous parables in the Bible also known as The Parable of the Sower.
 As promised, I will attempt to decipher the 4 parts to this parable, the first being And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up” (Matthew 13:4, KJV). So, what does this mean? Indeed, even Jesus’ disciples who understood the parable, assumed that the multitude did not as demonstrated in their asking, “why do you speak to them in parables”. Jesus is the Master Teacher and He knows how to get through to people.  If you think back to the most influential teacher you had at any level of your  education, you would probably say that they taught in a way that you could understand.  Jesus taught the same way…in a way that people could understand.
Jesus explains this parable in verse 18 and 19, “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds:  The seed that fell on the way side represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. 

Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.” In my own parable to the parable, let’s take a situation that many Memphians are familiar with and perhaps many others through mainstream and social media, that being the incident that happened at a Memphis, TN Kroger Grocery Store parking lot in which a mob of kids (teenagers) seemingly assaulted and attacked an innocent citizen just for the fun of it.  According to statements taken from an unidentified witness, “They were playing a game called ‘point them out, knock them out’ where they would point someone out and attempt to knock them out or fight them. There was no real reason behind it.” (Source: Many people weighed in on this isolated, yet presumably epidemic issue among the youth of Memphis via sounding off to anyone who would listen.  Stating things like, “where were the parents”, “are they gang bangers”, and of course the Obama haters think that it’s his fault.
The Seed Sower
But here’s the glaring and yet visually impaired truth of the matter…Jesus said in this parable, “for they look but they don’t really see.” (Matthew 13b, NLT) The truth of the matter is, there will always be some people like this, those that fall by the way side.  The Sower is the Word of God that everyone (the seed) has an opportunity to embrace.  Jesus knows that not everyone will embrace Him and His message just as the Sower knows that every seed he casts is not going to land on good soil.  Some of it will be tossed by the way side and will be nothing more than an easy meal for the foul (evil).  Notice that Jesus does not identify birds of Prey, He just says “foul”.  This imagery is often viewed or depicted as a Crow or Buzzard, but it could be any bird…even the cute Sparrow.  This world is a deceptive world control by the Prince of the Air (Ephesians 2:2).  Everyone has the same opportunity to accept and follow Christ, thus being seed that falls on good soil (stay tuned…we will talk about that one in the 4th installment ;-)). 

So you might ask…”if there will always be people that fall by the way side, as those teenagers in the Kroger Attack, then what do you want from me?” I’m glad you asked.  One of my favorite Christian Family movies is “Facing the Giants”.  There’s a scene in the movie where the coach of a losing football team is stopped by a teacher in the hallway of the school.  This teacher was walking down the halls touching every student locker and praying for every student as he touched their lockers. When the football coach asked him why he does it, there were many of the students he didn’t even know. The teacher told him the story about a farmer who desperately needed rain for his crops to grow. He knew that God would one day send the rain, but he needed to
Facing the Giant
make sure that his field was ready to receive the rain. 
The teacher went on to say that farmer prepared his field daily in hopes that the rain would soon come. In the teacher’s story, the field is the world, the seed (children) is planted in the field with the hope that when God showers his blessings in the form of rain, the seed (children) would receive and take root and grow.  He knew for this to happen, he had to prepare the field daily, pulling weeds, scaring off birds that tried to eat the seeds, cultivating the soil so that it’s not hard and callous.  This was work that needed to be done every day and still no guarantee that when the rain came, all of the seeds would take.  But the farmer’s responsibility was simple…prepare for the rain.  When we’re dealing with seeds (children) that may fall by the way side, we should continue to prepare them for God’s glory.  No farmer plants his field with the expectation that he will lose everything, but he also understands that not all of the seeds will take. 

We can’t guarantee that what happened at Kroger won’t ever happen again, but we as believers in Christ must diligently prepare the youth to live Godly lives. This is done through preparing this world as a farmer prepares his land…cultivating it by helping to remove all malice, hatred and strife, thus reducing the number of seeds that will fall by the way side.