The Dream Continued

dr-martin-luther-king-i-have-a-dream-speech4Today we commemorate the faith, unwavering leadership, perseverance and service of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as he lead our country through turbulent and violent times in the fight for civil rights. Fifty years ago today on August 28, 1963, King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to deliver his powerful “I Have a Dream” speech, a theme that continues to reverberate until the rights for all are realized.  We’ve learned that King’s original written speech did not contain the infamous “I Have a Dream” sequence, and was ad-libbed as he stood before the crowd on the National Mall. I believe he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to deliver those words—words that are drawing and impacting people to carry on today. His words inspire us to not leave things as they are. In times when his messages or presence were not always met with kindness and challenged the status quo, we celebrate Dr. King who was most certainly a “Voice Against the Grain.”

Desperate to Know Your Future?

Are you desperate to know what your future holds? Who you will meet? Who will be your spouse? How your particular situation will be resolved? Where you will live? What you will achieve? When and how you will die?

It’s normal to ask these and other questions. Some people will seek out fortune tellers, hand readers and tarot card readers in hopes of gleaning the inside track to their future. These folks don’t know your future either. For people such as myself who like a plan, I love to know the “who, what, when, where, why and how” which provides great comfort for structure and predictability, but leaves little room for surprises. Knowing our future would not allow our faith to grow or the pursuance of hopes and dreams. God is the only one who knows the future. HE is the beginning and the end; the Alpha and Omega. Though we seek to have all the answers to our future, God tells us what we need to know in His Word. He tells us who He is, who we are in Him, and other details about what we can expect in this life. His Word gives us a confidence about WHO HE IS, which is the most important detail about our future. We must entrust the other specifics about our day, to Him.  That is FAITH in ACTION.

On this note, I invite you to read Herbert Bowen’s devotional below which summarizes this topic wonderfully. Thank you Herbert for sharing this message with us.  -Nicole

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Ecclesiastes 10:14- “They (fools) chatter on and on. No one really knows what is going to happen; no one can predict the future.”(New Living Translation)

NO ONE CAN PREDICT THE FUTURE. If we could, we would know the date of the Lord’s return, or perhaps the time, place, and date of our death. If we could, we would make all the right decisions, locate our soul mate (if such person exists), and be sustainably wealthy. The fact is, is that our lives would be in utter ruin if we obtained that foresight. The weight of knowing everything before it occurred would burden our spirits. Our passion would turn to apathy and our ability to anticipate would diminish. Our fervor toward the future would discourage us, as we were called to “encourage one another, as the day of his return draws near” (Hebrews 10:25).

Therefore, look forward to new ventures and relationships. Look forward to the life God has predestined for you. Look forward to growing and sharing your trials and triumphs because our future lies in the hands of God, the Almighty.

Hallelujah and Amen

 

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 24, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.

Be Watchful of Faulty Shepherds and Helicopter Upgrades

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

“Ticked” is the politest word I can use to describe my feelings in reading the following article. Houston megachurch pastor Bishop I.V. Hilliard of New Light Christian Center asks his members to sow a “$52 favor seed” to upgrade his helicopter with new blades. He said the upgrade would save the church $50,000 in future costs (but why is this his choice of transportation??).  According to the article published by BlackEnterprise.com, Hilliard sent a newsletter to members, saying their blessing in return for the seed sown would be a “breakthrough favor” within 52 days or 52 weeks. For the low, low price of $52, of course. He said he heard the small voice of the Holy Spirit instructing him to seek this special seed.

Whaatt?? Help me shut my mouth. Enough with the promises of prosperity. Did Jesus need a helicopter to accomplish His purposes? Would Jesus ask those 5,000 on the hillside in which he fed loaves of bread and fish, to please sow a seed for upgraded shoes and donkey to help Him on his travels??

New Light Christian Center megachurch pastor Bishop I.V. Hilliard (sunglasses) exits church helicopter   for which he now seeks a financial seed from members for a blade upgrade.

New Light Christian Center megachurch pastor Bishop I.V. Hilliard (sunglasses) exits church helicopter for which he now seeks a financial seed from members for a blade upgrade.

Here seems another example of a wayward pastor fleecing God’s sheep. It’s unfortunate that it happens. But remember, places of worship are run by who? A: Flawed human beings. So, problems will inherently arise. It’s our job here to expose you to what God says about corrupt leaders.

Trust and know God will take serious measures against such people.  When God judges shepherds/leaders, it is to deliver His people from the hands of deceptive leaders—particularly those who only seek to profit off their flock. Certainly, flawed leadership will deter some people from coming to church (understandable) or from seeking God. But remember—God isn’t the bad guy. Those who perpetrate the fraud, indeed are. Because God is Sovereign he is able to save and reach hearts beyond the church walls. Don’t allow poor leadership examples to keep you from having your relationship with God.

In Ezekiel 13, God tells of his condemnation toward false prophets.

In verses 13:2-3, 8 God instructs Ezekiel, 2- “Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the LORD! 3-This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! 8-Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign LORD. 9- My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations.” The New Living Translation reads, “destruction is certain for the false prophets following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!”

Ezekiel 34:2-5 reads, 2- Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3- You eat curds, clothe yourselves with wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4- You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the wicked. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5- So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for wild animals.”

Case and point- “djgrandstand,” a former New Light Christian Center member, posted this comment on the article:

“I was a member of this church back in like ’94 I think. Then it was still in a strip mall. I left the church because I noticed over time the entire sermon was always becoming about prosperity… But the final straw for me was when Hilliard refused to help a member in need but had the nerve to ask for the helicopter in the first place. I knew then something wasn’t right. I was out done. That was the last time I was an official member of any church.”
God is displeased with such fleecing and corruption. These folks need to repent and step aside. God is raising up new witnesses whose eyes are wide open to the deception and willing to call it out. As God’s elect, we are to instructpreserve and provide for His people. We are to be salt and light. God doesn’t say anything about us asking others to come out of their pockets for a new helicopter blade. A good shepherd will first and foremost seek God’s will and care for His people. Period. We need to truly revisit how the church should look and operate. 
Believers: We can’t blame this entirely on the faulty shepherd. We also have a shared responsibility from becoming victims of such abuses. More of us need to study and know God’s Word and ways for ourselves so we can quickly recognize deception before it ensnares us. As Hosea 4:6 ascribes, “My people perish for a lack of knowledge.”

Blessed in the City

Hebrews 11:10- “Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

This scripture should strike a chord in all of us, as we all have been through the revolving door of instability. Where will I live? When will God let me sew the seeds that I have planted? How is it possible to live like this? When hope looks like a vapor dissipating in the wind, is it possible to have trust in God when planting our roots seem impossible? Therefore, what is faith?

Well, faith restores our hope, allows blessings to overflow, and brings us peace. For there was a time when we were poor, but now are humbled at the sight of abundant wealth coming toward us. Once we were racked with pain, but now exceeding joy has flooded our hearts. Once we were lonely, but now companionship has brought us warmth. In essence, if we live faithfully like Abraham we too will be blessed in the city that God designed for us. Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 23, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.

Patience in Hardship

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

James 5:11- “We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.” (New Living Translation)

Job lost every possession, along with his family and health. Therefore, what can a man gain by trusting God who cast such misfortune on his servant? Matter of fact, why does God keep us chained within the doldrums of despair? Why must the stench of poverty and helplessness of good health beset our souls? If we followed God’s Word and did honorable deeds, shouldn’t our rewards be joyous, instead of disfavored?

See many Christians don’t know or have the patience to understand that the moments of sadness eventually lead to happiness. Now your life opens up and your business creates unforeseen revenue, you become more stable, and your relationship is loving and God fearing. Hence, look for peace and understanding in hardship and you too will find the silver lining within the clouds. Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 23, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.

Watch Your Words Diligently

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Our words have power. The tongue can be a demoralizing or uplifting tool. We’ve all been in situations where a heated discussion with someone got the best of us. Often we wish we could take those words back, but we can’t. To combat this, we should prayerfully seek more wisdom, exercise self-control, strive to listen more and consider our responses with love and truth before speaking the words. Even in my boldness, I seek to exercise wisdom in choosing my words. Today’s post is from the devotional book Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. The devotionals are rooted in scripture and presented in the perspective of Jesus speaking to you. Today’s message encourages us to “watch our words diligently” so as not to harm one another or ourselves.

WATCH YOUR WORDS DILIGENTLY.  Words have such a great power to bless or to wound. When you speak carelessly or negatively, you damage others as well as yourself. This ability to verbalize is an awesome privilege, granted only to those I created in My image. You need help in wielding this mighty power responsibly.

Though the world applauds quick-witted retorts, My instructions about communication are quite different:  Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Ask My Spirit to help you whenever you speak. I have trained you to pray—“Help me, Holy Spirit”—before answering the phone, and you have seen the benefits of this discipline. Simply apply the same discipline to communicating with people around you. If they are silent, pray before speaking to them. If they are talking, pray before responding. These are split-second prayers, but they put you in touch with My Presence. In this way, your speaking comes under the control of My Spirit. As positive speech patterns replace your negative ones, the increase in your Joy will amaze you.

words hugging womanAccompanying Scriptures: Proverbs 12:18, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (New International Version)

Pride, Humility and Wisdom

Proverbs 11:2- “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (New Living Translation)

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Herbert G. Bowen, VATG Guest Blogger

Pride is defined as a dignified sense of what is due to oneself. Wisdom is defined as knowing and doing what is right. Neither can correspond with one another, nor can they be placed juxtaposed to one another. Pride is nothing more than a person’s reaction to entitlement. Pride is the downfall of man. Pride leads a person to believe they can accomplish great feats based off their own merits. Compliments and praise don’t soothe the ego of a prideful person, they inhibit them. Wise words from learned men are seen as animal fodder, to which no instruction can be gained. In order to crush pride God must humble us. Whether it’s living lowly to understand the significance of Gods future blessings, or losing a business opportunity due to stubbornness. In either scenario, our pride must be worn like scars reflected in a mirror to remind us of the mistakes we have made, and the lessons needed to keep our feet from stumbling. Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  At his current age of 23, Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.

Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.