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RESTORING

THE

TEMPLE: MIND, BODY, & SOUL

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. [1st Corinthians 6:19-20]

The Reverend James C. Simmons, M.Div., Senior Pastor

RESTORING THE TEMPLE: MIND, BODY, & SOUL By Reverend James C. Simmons, M.Div., Senior Pastor Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. st 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The mission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) is to minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, and environmental needs of all people by spreading Christs liberating gospel through word and deed. The A.M.E. Church mission is holistic in that it is not limited to only providing ministry to ones soul. The A.M.E. Church is charged to minister to ones entire life: mind, body, and soul. Holistic ministry reflects Jesus earthly ministry. Jesus does more than minister inside the temple. Jesus meets physical needs like when He heals the woman with the issue of blood, provides Blind Bartimaeus his sight, or feeds 5,000 on the mountainside. Jesus meets emotional needs when he offers the woman caught in the act of adultery forgiveness or reminds reviled and persecuted communities that they are blessed. Jesus provides intellectual challenge to his disciples and the religious leadership that consistently fail to recognize His identity as the Son of the living God. Jesus feeds the hungry, Jesus clothes the naked, and Jesus opens blinded eyes. Jesus ministry is holistic. In an effort to provide Jesus holistic ministry to the Baber Family, Lent 2013 is themed, Restoring the Temple: Mind, Body, & Soul. The epidemic rates of obesity, anxiety, and depression in the body of Christ requires the church to provide leadership and direction in order to bring Gods people back to health and wholeness. The prevalence of health disparities in our communities mandates the church to teach and preach the liberating and holistic Gospel of Jesus Christ that brings restoration to our entire lives. The alarming trends and realities in our communities must provoke the church to sound the clarion alarm and proclaim, Revive Us Again! In conclusion, Restoring the Temple: Mind, Body, & Soul brings the people of God closer to God the ultimate aim of Lent. I invite each of you to join me in this journey to restore our temples and remove those things that prevent us from reaching our full potential in God. You can do it because there is absolutely nothing too hard for the God that lives within you!

SOUL:

Psalm 63:1 states, O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Our souls hunger and crave for spiritual depth that only a power beyond this life can fill. In order to quench our spiritual thirst, the people of God must approach Gods table, engage in perpetual communion and relationship with Him, and let His Spirit fill us. 6:15am Corporate Prayer: Each morning Monday through Friday at 6:15am, the Baber Family is called into corporate prayer. The prayer phone number is (605) 475-4000. The access code is 862191. In cooperation with the daily prayer, members are asked to engage the devotional guide since prayer is embedded in meditation on scripture (Majorie Thompson). Engagement with Spiritual Disciplines: Spiritual disciplines are spiritual exercises that one engages in habitually which bring one closer to God and thusly one becomes godly in character and behavior. Each member is asked to engage in a spiritual discipline in addition to prayer, daily reading the Scriptures and other disciplines in which you already participate. Perhaps engage in a weekly fast, commit to attend Church School, Class Meetings, or Bible Study, or weekly visit the sick or call them. A list of Spiritual Disciplines can be found on page 4 of this guide. If you have any questions or need guidance in the engagement with spiritual disciplines, please see your class leader today. BODY: Exercise to be fit, not skinny. Eat to nourish your body and always ignore the haters, doubters and unhealthy examples that were once feeding you. You are worth more than you realize (anonymous). Becoming healthy stewards of our bodies can prevent or reverse diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases. The restoration of our temple; therefore, includes becoming healthy stewards of our bodies. Health Challenge: The Health Challenge consists of a confidential weigh-in each week (Saturday morning at 10:00am) by a member of the Health Ministry, group discussions with nutritionists or other health experts, and/or group exercise opportunities each Saturday morning at 10:00am. Each member that participates in the health challenge will be asked to contribute $1.00 for each pound they gain each week during the health challenge. The winner of the health challenge will be based on the percentage of weight loss. The winner will receive half of the funds collected during the health challenge. The second and third place winner will receive prizes as well. The health challenge coupled with the Lenten diet will provide the restoration of our temple that is so desperately needed in the body of Christ. The Baber Family will engage in the following diet during the Lenten Season: o What Not to Eat or drink: Refined sugars, anything containing white flour, Processed foods (lunch meat, ramen noodles, easy mac,) no red meat, no sugared drinks, butter, margarine, NO FRYING ANYTHING, mayonnaise, ketchup

What to Eat and drink: Wheat bread, wheat pasta, nuts, whole grain cereal, granola, oatmeal, light yogurt, skim milk, lean chicken and turkey meat, lean fish, fresh turkey, shrimp, scallops, lobster, crabmeat, tofu, organic honey, WATER, FRUIT, VEGGIES, eggs, vegetable oils (safflower, olive or canola oil), olive oil based salad dressing, mustard No eating at least 3 hours before your bedtime.

MIND: Life is often filled with earthly noise, human voices and chaos. Noise, voices, and chaos often prevent alone time with our own thoughts and Gods still, small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13). Noise, voices, and chaos frequently thwart undistracted moments just to bask in Gods glory and presence. In a quest to restore our minds during Lent 2013, the Baber family is challenged to engage in daily periods of silence and solitude with God and set time apart for Me Time. Silence Silence is the voluntary and temporary abstention from speaking so that certain spiritual goals might be sought. Commit to spend at least 10 minutes each day in silence. This is time for just you and God to be alone. Turn off the telephone. Put the children to be. Shut the television down. Walk around the block if you have to! Just make sure you find space to be alone with God, to hear His voice, to seek His direction, and to allow Him to search you. Me time Failure to recharge ones inner battery and take stock of the direction of ones life often leads to fatigue, illness, lack of motivation, or even a nervous breakdown. Each member of Baber is challenged to find some me time each week to do something you like and enjoy. There are so many ways to unwind and relax like going for a walk, playing with a pet, engaging in a hobby, playing games or sports, reading a good book, getting a massage, going dancing, doing a weekend get way (but getting back in time for church), or just kicking your feet up in front of the TV. Please do something each week to recharge you! Lets Recap Mind: At least 5-10 minutes of silence each day Finding Me Time at least once each week Body: Health Challenge Diet & Exercise Soul: Engagement with new Spiritual Disciplines 6:15am Corporate Prayer The prayer phone number is (605) 475-4000. The access code is 862191.

Spiritual Disciplines Works of Piety Individual Practices reading, meditating and studying the scriptures, prayer, fasting, regularly attending worship, healthy living, and sharing our faith with others. Communal Practices regularly sharing in the sacraments, Class Meetings (accountability to one another) and Bible Study. Works of Mercy Individual Practices doing good works, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others. Communal Practices seeking justice, ending oppression and discrimination (for instance John Wesley challenged Methodists to end slavery) and addressing the needs of the poor. What is Lent? Lent is the 40 days (Excluding Sunday) between Ash Wednesday and Resurrection Sunday. It is a time for [A] a consideration of our human condition, including sin and its deadly consequences for both individuals and society, and [B]a time for an equally intense considering of the new possibilities offered to us in Jesus Christ and their implications for practical living. [L. Stooky] Contributors: Pastor Simmons wishes to thank all contributors to this Lent Devotional Guide. May your efforts draw Gods people closer to Him. Carolyn Bailey, Board of Stewards Baber A.M.E. Church Eugene Crews, Board of Stewards Baber A.M.E. Church Rev. Betsy Crumity, Minister to Women Baber A.M.E. Church Thomas Demond, Sr., Board of Stewards Baber A.M.E. Church Robert Dubose, Board of Stewards Baber A.M.E. Church Eugene Goolsby, Board of Stewards Baber A.M.E. Church Rev. Stanley Hearst, II, Pastor St. Paul A.M.E. Church, Waynesboro PA James Lawrence, Board of Stewards Baber A.M.E. Church Delmarisha Majors, Board of Stewards Baber A.M.E. Church Melanie Moore, Church Administrator Baber A.M.E. Church Richard Henry Moran, Jr., Lay Speaker Stanford-Albany St. UMC Schenectady, NY Demetrius Reynolds, Licentiate Baber A.M.E. Church Nichole Roberson Campbell A.M.E. Church, Washington, DC Mattie Ruth-Johnson-Brannick, Board of Stewards Baber A.M.E. Church Barry Smith, Board of Stewards Baber A.M.E. Church Rev. Delores V. Wynn, Assistant Pastor Baber A.M.E. Church

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 Richard Henry Moran Jr. Scripture Focus: Proverbs 23:21 "Both alcohol and food have a profound effect on your mental state. Alcohol has a depressive effect and lowers your inhibitions. Certain foods have a chemical makeup that can either make you feel calm or more mentally alert, depending on the food... The problem comes when both are done to excess and you are unable to control yourself. I learned recently that the root word of gluttony means 'to gulp.' How fitting! When I used to overeat, I was less concerned about what I was eating and more about getting it down as fast as I could to get to the mental effects the food would bring me. I was using food to self medicate. Is that true of you?" (http://www.takebackyourtemple.com/how-to-be-set-free-from-gluttony/) We find ourselves always on the run, frustrations build, people don't ever seem to cooperate, so much of our society is based on consumption, buying, acquiring - no amount of anything is ever enough! Remember the Prayer of St. Theresa of Avila: Let nothing distress you, nothing disturb you, Though all things fade away, God is unchanging. Be patient, for with God in your heart, nothing is lacking, God is enough. Thursday, February 14, 2013 Nichole Roberson Scripture Focus: Romans 12:2 As a child I always knew that I was a little different. My speech, my choice in activities and even my general appearance, made me stand out. This made me a very easy target to people who werent familiar with who I am. My response to the negativity I received from my peers was to change my behavior and to conform to what everybody else was doing. I rolled my uniform skirt up above the knee and began conforming to my surroundings. I would morph back into my old self when school ended and before my father would pick me up. One day, I was playing in class and I felt a tap on my shoulder. My dad was standing over me with a look on his face that was enough to kill an army. None of my friends warned me that he was in my presence and I was not prepared for the consequence I had to pay for my actions. I made the conscious decision to conform to my surroundings and never thought about the price of conformity. Living a life with God at the center means making some very difficult choices. When we decided to turn our lives over to Christ, we made the conscious decision to stand out from the rest. My dad made very clear that when I leave out the house I represent him. I was his child and I was expected to act as such. I had to be put in check and when we come to Christ we are asking Him to put us in check. He transforms us and we journey forward fresh and ready towards the will God has for each of us. We may be taunted, frustrated, persecuted and mistreated but Gods expectation of us is to love through it all. Remember that you are a child of God, you are His handiwork and you are predestined to stand out!

Friday, February 15, 2013 James F. Lawrence Scripture Focus: Proverbs 14:30; 17:22; 18:14; 3:8 Throughout the Bible there are numerous references to the importance of good physical, mental and spiritual health. But nowhere is that clearer, for me, than in the Book of Proverbs. There, Im reminded that restoration of the Temple starts with a sound mind and a positive spirit, which comes from the peace that we can only get from the Lord. Its the peace that we sing and pray about regularly. But experiencing it consistently isnt as easy as some may think. One minute you may think you have it, but something may happen in your life that makes you think youve lost it. But thanks be to God, He allows us to get it back. Its through the peace that only He can give us that we can have the discipline to improve the maintenance of our Temples. He can give us the willpower to resist gluttony, the wrong foods and too much wine. Most of us fall short, but our faith teaches us to get up and try again. He can give us the push in the mornings to work out before work or go for an invigorating run or walk after a challenging day on the job. Its no coincidence that a strong body and a strong mind work hand in hand. Its in the Word!

Monday, February 18, 2013 Reverend Delores V. Wynn Source of Authority Scripture Focus: Matthew 4:4 When attending a Christian Church you do so because you are eager to hear what God may have to say. You feel the need for guidance and you want not just an opinion of some individual but some sure definite, powerful and unchanging word that will assist you biblically and spiritually. In the Christian Church the word is basically and essentially the same around the world. You will hear sermons/teaching about the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. You will hear the wondrous story of Jesus Christ the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. You will hear about human sin and divine forgiveness, about righteousness, mercy and love. You will hear about Gods Kingdom and future life. If you were to hear teaching that contradicts these convictions, you would feel that you were not in a Christian Church. What is it that keeps the message of the Christian Church? It is the Bible. The Bible is the Churchs source of authority and it is to be its guide... Restoring the Temple: (your body) Mind, Body, and Soul. How? By a total spiritual and a total physical transformation which is available to believers. The challenge is to Love the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul and with our entire mind. The second command is to

love your neighbor as yourself. In our cultural, we are faced with both mental and physical health issues. We are seeking wholeness that only God can provide. Prayer: Lord, help your people to always love your Word and be thankful for your Church. Bless us to keep our temples clean and free from overindulgence in various forms of foods, drinks, sexuality immorality and other sins. Help me to always declare the Word of Truth with sincerity and power. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen Tuesday, February 19, 2013 Carolyn Bailey Scripture Focus: Psalm 139 The Temple is a building set apart for worship. In the Jewish tradition the temple was divided into three sections; the Outer court, the Womens court and the Inner court. If I had to compare I would say Body (Outer Court), Mind (Womens Court) and Soul (Inner Court). The Body is the lowest part of man as a triune being in which his spirit reside. In the body of a redeemed man the Holy Spirit resides. Its members are to be yielded to God as instruments of righteousness. The spiritual body once glorified will no longer be subject to sin or death. The natural body is subject to both sin and death. The word says let this Mind be in you which is in Christ Jesus. During this Lenten Season let us put first things first. Let us remember we should passionately pursue a relationship with Christ. How can that be accomplished? Through prayer, studying the Bible and meditating on His word. Jesus wants a personal relationship with us. We have to turn off the cell phones, TV, Ipods, Kindles, etc., and give Him some quality time. Now we move into the Inner Court of the temple (the soul). The soul, the inner nature is the essence of man. It houses the true nature, the part no human can see, feel or touch. Each individual knows their inner feelings, desires and aspirations. It is the true meaning of self. There is an old saying, to thine own self be true. Only you can know your own truth. Whether your walk is genuine or phony; whether you are so passionate about the cause of Christ you would lay down your life for Him. Would you be willing to spread the Gospel in your work place, neighborhood and community so that others might be saved, proving you are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ? During this Lenten Season let us examine ourselves. Search our hearts in order that our mind, body and soul will line up with the will of God in our lives. Let us not grow weary in well doing. Wednesday, February 20, 2013 Eugene Crews Scripture Focus: Romans 8:9 Our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, which dwells within us, which we have received from God. The temple God speaks of is our body. The body of the Lord is to be an instrument of righteousness to holiness. Therefore, our body is never to be made an instrument of sin. It is an

honor to the body that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead; and it will be an honor to our bodies, that our bodies will also be raised. We are to be clean just as a vessel fitted for Gods use. Being united to Christ as one spirit, and bought with a price of unspeakable value. A believer of Christ should consider himself as wholly the Lord's, by the strongest ties. We were purchased by God and we belong to him. God paid a precious price for our redemption. We are bound, therefore, to devote ourselves, body, soul, and spirit, as God directs in his name and not to our own gratification of the flesh. In Romans 8:9, it states that if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to God. So finally, in order to Restore the Temple with our mind, body and soul, we must have a relationship with our Lord and Savior. We will then be able to bring Gods people back to health and wholeness. Thursday, February 21, 2013 Barry C. Smith Scripture Focus: John 4:42, John 4:7-26 John 4:42-They said to the woman, We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world. When the Samaritan women had her experience with Jesus she was so excited that she went back and shared her experience with others in her town. She shared her testimony of her conversation with Jesus (John 4:7-26) at the well. Her testimony was so powerful that many in the womans town became believers that Jesus is the Messiah. There were others, that I feel, were moved by her testimony and the excitement she displayed but did not believe. You may say that her testimony aroused their curiosity about this man called Jesus, not necessarily Jesus being the Messiah. Like we do, we have to go see, whats the big deal or whats really going on. The Samaritans went to Jesus, urged him to stay with them and he agreed to stay two days. I dont know if he preached or prophesized to them as he did with the Samaritan woman but because of his words many others became believers. As it was then, so it is now, Restoring the Temple: Mind, Body, & Soul, all of us are instruments of the Lord. All of us have had personal encounters with God whether we acknowledge it or not. Like the Samaritan woman we have had personal encounters with God that have opened up our minds, had positive effects on our bodies that manifest itself in our spirituality, which is good for the soul. We should tell someone how Jesus have touched and changed our minds, how our body and spirituality have benefitted from the encounters. Someone may hear your testimony and become a believer and start the process immediately of restoring their Temple. Others may become curious about Jesus and go to where he is through prayer, meditation or the preached word.

Like the Samaritans from her town that urged Jesus to stay, his word and the Holy Spirit makes believers. Believers takes the necessary steps to restore their Temple which is comprised of their Mind, Body, and Soul. Friday, February 22, 2013 Mattie Ruth-Johnson-Brannick Scripture Focus: 1st Corinthians 6: 19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN! You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. These 2 verses, these 41 words, 150 characters hold so much power. Your body is a temple. When I looked up the definition of temple I found a building dedicated to worship. A place devoted to special purpose. When I think of a temple in my mind, I see a building immaculately kept, a place of reverence, tranquility and peace. So if our body is a temple why are so many of our temples defaced with graffiti, drugs and garbage? Now I know some of you say, Its my body, I can do what I want with it! But let me remind you, you are not your own! Some of your bodies are like the homes on the show, Hoarders. Your temples are cluttered, dirty and unlivable. The Holy Spirit will not dwell in an unclean place. Cleanliness is next to Godliness! Let us continue to walk away with reclaiming and engaging the work that God has empowered us to do. We should continue to seek out members, families and friends to help them think positive on issues in life. As the song says create within me a clean heart and renew the right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence oh God; Take not thy holy spirit from me. In order to restore the temple we must have faith. In Romans 10:17, Consequently faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Matthew 17: 20) Because you have so little faith, I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can say to this mountain, move from here to there and it WILL move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Monday, February 25, 2013 Thomas A. Demond, Sr. Scripture Focus: 2 Timothy 2:15 Many of us have been in church since we were children. And yet, we still fall short of the Glory of God, and err in our daily Christian life. Here is what I have found to work for me. Attending Sunday school, I have to prepare to teach my lesson. Students have to prepare to receive the lesson. Preparation consists of reading and studying one scripture daily, and then studying the lesson and its text for Sunday. The daily reading takes only a few minutes. So if it is preceded and followed by prayer, it may consume 5 10 minutes a day. This could be done in the morning, if you get up a few minutes early.

Now you have started your day with prayer and scripture. All day, your mind will ponder the scripture that you have read. Later in the week, a similar scripture might cause you to go back and reread a passage. By the time Sunday morning arrives, you will have prayed and studied scripture every day, and then you will be able to really discuss the lesson. This starts rebuilding your Temple. Your mind begins to think about Him daily, and you dont have time to be depressed or overeat or suffer from anxiety. Tuesday, February 26, 2013 Eugene Goolsby Scripture Focus: 2 Peter 3:18 A mind is a terrible thing to waste. That is why it is so important to use our minds to the best of our ability. God speaks to us through His Word and our prayers. We should read, study, and meditate on His word day and night. This strengthens our faith. This is how we become obedient to His will. The Lord also commands us to pray without ceasing. Prayer allows us to communicate with our heavenly Father on a daily basis and this brings us closer to the Lord. Getting closer to God teaches us that we must have faith in Him because without faith it is impossible to please Him. Our body is the temple, which the Holy Spirit, who lives in us resides, if no sin is in our lives. God paid his life for us so we can have a chance to be saved from damnation because of our wicket and sinful ways. We must honor God with our body which he has made in His own image. We must respect our body and not abuse it with worldly pleasures. The soul is our spiritual body that never dies. When we do not study the Word of God, our soul does not grow in the Lord. To restore our soul we must continue to feed it with the Word of God every second of our lives. Our soul lives forever and desires to connect with the Lord. Writing this essay, I have learned that reading and studying Gods Word is vital to our existence. It helps us walk with Christ in our daily life. The Bible is a spiritual book that gives us instructions of how to live a physical and spiritual life. The first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, all of our soul and all of our minds. Therefore, when we take the time to read His word and do his will we restore our faith, belief, and remember his love for us (John 3:16). Wednesday, February 27, 2013 Demetrius Reynolds Our Mind, Body, and Soul, Belong To Jesus Scripture Focus: 1st Corinthians 6:19-20 Many Christians still believe that it is ok to do as they please with no regards to Jesus Christ. But once we become born again we have entered into a relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore we are not alone anymore we cannot have the same Thoughts, Words, or Deeds, there must be change. Our body is now a temple, the dwelling place of Christ our Savior.

So when the devil wants to bring negative thoughts to the mind in a way of wrongful thinking, let the mind that is in Christ Jesus be in us. Our Mind belongs to Jesus. When the ungodly words try and rise up, let us remember who it is that dwells deep within. Our soul belongs to Jesus. Then there is the body that we so often sin against with our deeds. By putting food, or drinks that may not be healthy or even over eating, not fasting. Let us learn to honor our body, we are not our own anymore. Our body belongs to Jesus. Always know that we are in a battle, but also always know the battle is not ours. Its the Lords. That lives within us, and we win through obedience Thursday, February 28, 2013 Delmarisha Majors Scripture Focus: John 10:10 & Matthew 6:33 As we go through life we are faced with many trials and tribulations that leave us feeling emotionally and mentally drained. At times, we lean on our own understanding. We feel hopeless and powerless to change our situation. As believers, should we say we love God with all of our heart, soul and mind and sing the song, I surrender all but feed our body and mind a constant diet of filthy thoughts, shame for past sins, hatred towards our neighbor, unforgiveness, jealousy, self-doubt, fear of being rejected, worrying and feeling of insecurities. We also consume unhealthy food/alcohol/drugs to drown our pain. This can lead to depression, migraines, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and liver disease. Jesus came so that we could have life and have life more abundantly. We need to ask ourselves, are we really living life more abundantly? All of the above destroy our temple, which belongs to God. As believers this is when we should trust Gods word and know that God will protect us. The enemy has no power over our lives because God resides in us. When we destroy our temple, we have no energy to do the work of the Lord. Can we really be of serve, deliver the good news to the poor and oppressed and make them aware that For God so loved the word that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. The spirit within us is willing but the flesh is weak. To restore our temple, we must pray for strength and guidance. Come to terms with our past and ask God for forgiveness. Die to the flesh daily through faith by prayer, reading Gods word and demonstrating our love for our neighbors through words and good deeds. We have to remember that God is in control. We no longer have to feel hopeless or powerless. Jesus is the answer and he has the solution to every problem. Once you build your relationship with the Lord, you will still have trials and tribulations but you will know that all of your help comes from the Lord. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Friday, March 1, 2013 Reverend Delores V. Wynn Deny Myself Scripture Focus: Matthew 16:24 One of the most interesting subjects in our society is the word, myself. It is not unusual to hear such phrases as my ideas, my likes, my dislikes , my accomplishments, my place of worship, my home, my friends and the list goes on. All of these are important and precious to us. It is Jesus demand that is shocking to some believers that they must deny themselves and be intentional in following Him. This is a price to pay, During Lent, we hear talk about self-denial (individually and/or congregationally). One believer is giving up sweets, and one is giving up being on face book, and someone else is not eating meats. Is this what Jesus meant? No, he meant much more than that. To give up these external things for a short period (forty-days, twenty-one days, or ten days), is viewed as symbolic or as a mere token. What it really shows is that Christians can do without things even when not forced. Prayer: O God, bless the men and women and young people who have developed a deeper inner strength and a willingness to deny all things that hinders their spiritual growth. I give thanks to you for your love and taking up the cross for us. In Jesus name. Amen.

Monday, March 4, 2013 Nichole Roberson Scripture Focus: Philippians 3:13 As children some of us had the disgusting habit of picking scabs. We would fall, bleed, cry, scream and then mommy would kiss it and put a Flintstones bandage on it. Wed run back outside because there was still so much playing to do before the streetlights came on. A few days later, you peel that bandage off and the wound is still raw, but it needs air so the new layer of skin can form. When the scab has formed, a childs thought process tells them to pick at it until the scab is gone. Sometimes the wound would become infected and the healing process would start over from the beginning with a parental warning not to touch it this time. Picking at an old wound hinders the healing process. Some have taken this same bad habit of picking at old wounds into adulthood. Not with physical wounds but emotional and spiritual ones. So many times we carry bad decisions, regrets and horrible experiences with us so long that we never let go of this thing that has caused great pain in our lives. We never allow ourselves to properly heal from it. Instead we continue to pick at it, talk about it and obsess over it until we have allowed this sore spot to infect how we live our lives on a daily basis. We cant love like we should, worship like God deserves or participate fully in the beautiful future designed for us until we let God kiss our wounds. If you let Him he will be the comfort and healer you need Him to be.

Dont let your past keep you from having a great future. We are broken, scarred and hurt, but God is using that pain to position us for greatness we just have to allow God to take our brokenness. We have to get back up, dust off and stop picking with that wound because there is still so much to be done.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 Melanie Moore Scripture Focus: 1st Thessalonians 5:23-24 The Mind! We so often candidly use the phrase The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste, not realizing the real truth behind this phrase. Let us stop and thoroughly analyze how important the mind really is. The mind is the chief constituent of the body. The mind produces logical and rational thought. The mind is the most competent computer in the world. Thus leading me to say that whatever a person intakes into his/her mind will manifest in his beliefs, and therefore in his experiences (output). The word of God says For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he(Proverbs 23:7a) The Body! The body is a structure made up of cells thats purpose is to keep the mind and soul on earth. (If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:44b) When we look at Jesus who is the physical expression of God, we can see ourselves in similar fashion. Your physical expressions of who you are is conveyed through your body. It is through the bodys brain and five senses that your soul communicates with and experiences the physical world. The body needs to be rejuvenated daily in order for one to carry out Gods mission. The Soul! The soul is the essence of your being. The soul is your life. The soul lives forever. The soul is inclusive to practically everything that you are made of. Ones emotions, mind, gender, thoughts, character and a host of various other personality characteristics is a reflection of your personality. But the very heart of the soul is your will, aka free will. The soul overshadows the physical and spiritual worlds, being caught between the two. Daily your soul wrestles to oversee the body and spirit, in spite of the continuous battle with the flesh on one side and the plea of the spirit on the other side. Soul restoration is as essential as the air you breathe. Thus the soul can only find wholeness through communicating with its maker God which was revealed in Christ Jesus. In I Thessalonians, Paul, who is inspired by Gods Spirit, imparts what it takes to being whole. Through God, and only through God himself, he is the one who can change man, the whole man, if we want to be changed and we ask God to change us. All healing comes from within.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 Richard Henry Moran Jr. Scripture Focus: Micah 6:8

When We Notice What We Know When we endeavor to learn The Word of God, and the ways of the church, to bring ourselves closer to "Christian Perfection", there are times when we notice what we know. Recently, I noticed something when studying the book of Micah for Bible Study, specifically Chapter 6, verse 8 (Holman Study Bible): He has told you men what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: Only to act justly. to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God. Upon reading this, I recalled a study we did on the General Rules of Methodism: 1. Do No Harm 2. Do Good 3. Stay in Love with God Well if I "act justly", I will won't do any harm, "to love faithfulness", I would have to be faithful, and do things for others to display my faithfulness to the Lord, so I must do good, "and to walk humbly with (my) God", sounds like a great thing to do in my effort to stay in love with God! It is joyful, and inspiring to have those moments when you "put two and two together". It is even more beneficial to linger on those moments and meditate on the concepts that have been revealed. Just remember, every effort we make to understand God better, our relationship with Him and with others, is another step toward being the Christians we ought to be. Thursday, March 7, 2013 Reverend Betsy Crumity Lent noun (Concise Encyclopedia) In the Christian church, a period of penitential preparation for EASTER, observed since apostolic times. Western churches once provided for a 40-day fast (excluding Sundays), in imitation of JESUS' fasting in the wilderness; one meal a day was allowed in the evening, and meat, fish, eggs, and butter were forbidden. These rules have gradually been relaxed, and only Ash Wednesday the first day of Lent in Western Christianity, when the penitent traditionally have their foreheads marked with ashesand GOOD FRIDAY are now kept as Lenten fast days. Rules of fasting are stricter in the Eastern churches. Merriam Webster Dictionary To some the very mention about a 40-day anything let alone a fast is an interruption in a daily, monthly or annual routine. The 40-day restrictive suggestion is so confining that many people talk themselves out of participating in any activity that has the potential to box them in. Todays culture demands availability in every aspect of our lives via technology. For example, we must have access to our cell phone, our pods, and computers, 24 hours a day and seven days a week somehow that implies we have good relationships with others. Unfortunately, many relationships

are not so good and need reconciliation. Many people sleep with the cell phone on and will allow it to interrupt their lives at any given moment, to include prayer. Since many people rely upon technology for communication its unthinkable to communicate any other way. So the idea of Lent Season and the 40-day thing is just too confining. However, when I think about confinement I read the scripture when Moses and the children of Israel were literally confined to the banks of the Red Sea and the Egyptian army behind them. Even though there was no time line mentioned, I guess it was very stressful. Also, it was very clear that there was no accessibility to the other side for the only option was to cross the Red Sea. I stress this because, if there is ever a time we feel boxed in, is when our options are few, or our territory is fenced in, or the parameters in our lives limit the ability to our success. Prior to the Red Sea experience of literally being boxed in, there was a relationship between Moses and God. Moses had accessibility to God at anytime or any place, for any reason. So 40-days is just a number, when we think about who we have access to. Make the time for the love of your life, God! Friday, March 8, 2013 Richard Henry Moran Jr. Scripture Focus: Acts 5:39 Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! John Wesley It's not easy to keep on doing it right before God when no one else seems to care, when people question your every effort, and put up obstacle after obstacle. Sometimes the biggest obstacle is being surrounded by pleasant people who just have no fire for God. Ask God what it is he wants you to do, and then... listen. If He is for you, who can be against you? Monday, March 11, 2013 Nichole Roberson Scripture Focus: Hebrews 11:1 Living life requires more than the breath we breathe on the daily basis. We are human beings who are born with dreams, goals and aspirations. We go to school, we practice and we work hard to attain the very things we hope to achieve. Yet, no matter how hard we try we dont always see the fruits of our labor. We are presented with obstacles in our lives and it sends us on a detoured route toward our destination. Our faith is what gets us through when things dont work out the way we expect it to. Hope, faith and love share an overlooked requirement, bravery. Trusting God entirely is not always an easy thing to do, but we must be brave enough to declare for God I live and for God I die. We must be brave enough to believe even when our situation looks like we wont make it. We must be brave enough to hold to Gods unchanging hand when hell is

erupting all around us. Some of us have given up on ourselves, our dreams and living our lives because we have been shaken up and fear has us in its grip. God has allowed your life to unfold the way it has for such a time as this. Its time to live your dream, find the joy in the days we have on this earth and to unapologetically love one another with all our might. Even if you cant see it yet, be brave enough to believe. Freedom cannot reside in the same space as fear. You may not be able to physically see where youre headed but there is power in your vision, there is power in your speech and power in the word of God. God never promised us rainbows and unicorns for the rest of our earthly lives. Where there is light, there has to be some darkness. Where there are successes, there was first a failure. Where there is life, there has to be death. God promised never to leave us nor forsake us. He said all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us. Have the audacity to be a visionary in the midst of darkness, the heart to love completely in the midst of brokenness and the bravery to believe that it is done in Jesus name. Tuesday, March 12, 2013 Richard Henry Moran Jr. The Hymnal Scripture Focus: Psalm 57:7-11 This writer would like to share his perspective on the Hymnal. For such a long time I looked at the hymnal as a big book of songs I did not know. There were a few songs I knew the melodies, but mostly the book remained foreign to me. But in my "church go'in" I learned that there was the order of service, there were prayers, the Lectionary, and scriptural references for many of the hymns. I also learned that the hymns carry to us our theology through the lyrics. To me, when I purchased my own hymnal, and I was able to open it up whenever and wherever I wanted, the book became much more than a book of songs. It has become my "worship book"- in that I can sing the hymns I know the tune, pray the written prayers (especially on those days I feel like I cannot get a prayer through), use the poetry of the hymns themselves as prayers, as meditations. I just opened my hymnal, the African Methodist Hymnal, and flipped through and found a hymn I do not know (never read it, never sung it): #326, "What Various Hindrances We Meet." I read the words as poetic prayer and allow myself to receive a blessing from what it says: What various hindrances we meet In coming to a mercy seat; Yet, who that knows the worth of prayer But wishes to be often there? Prayer makes the darken clouds withdraw; Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw; Give exercise to faith and love; Brings every blessing from above. Restraining prayer, we cease to fight; Prayer makes the Christian's armor bright; And Satan trembles when he sees The weakest saint upon his knees.

Were half the breath oft vainly spent, To heaven in supplication sent, Our cheerful song would oftener be, "Hear what the Lord has done for me." Wednesday, March 13, 2013 Anonymous Member Scripture Focus: Isaiah 26:3 Being saved and sanctified is certainly a process and some of us dont like the process. We want to be different overnight. We want to see the fruits of our labor right now. Its these very thoughts that help us slip back into sinful ways. Patience with God working in me will later allow God to work through me. We need to let perseverance finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything It is when we finally let go of our own agendas that God is truly able to do amazing and wonderful things in our lives. Its how we discover the true heart of and core of Christianity - love. Jesus life here on earth was surrounded by the concept of love. Jesus hung on the cross for our sins out of love. Christianity is more than a label or title that is conveniently used to help us when we have a problem. God is not a magic genie that we can rub that will grant us wishes. Christianity has to become a lifestyle and for a lot of us our Christianity stays in that pew on Sunday morning. I can readily admit that I was that kind of person at some point, but sermons, bible studies, relationships with other members, and other methods have helped me develop in my own relationship with Christ. What we do in church has to leave with us when the benediction is given. We have to live the way Christ lived while he was here on earth. This doesnt mean being a mindless drone, but it means that we have to live up to the responsibility that we have chosen to accept. We have to love our neighbors like we love ourselves, we have to witness to others, not manipulate and twist the Word of God to support our own convoluted ideologies and perceptions. It means relinquishing control of our own lives and desires and turning them over to God. If we can live a life here on earth for God, imagine what it would be like when we leave this earth and live a life with God. We must learn about all of the things that may seem terribly pointless and useless because it connects us to each other. It will never be easy, but He did promise it was worth it. We can only take one day at a time. We all will be very broken, hurt, lonely and afraid at some point in our lives. Having a REAL relationship with God cushions the blow. We have all been created in the image of God and we must to choose to be a reflection of that image. We were purposefully put here on earth created to do phenomenal things and be phenomenal people. We have to learn to take the Gods word, His grace, and His mercy and put a value on that. If we can convince ourselves to truly value you Him and not some of the other

things we give our attention to we can truly live life and live it more abundantly. Then we can truly love others as God has loved us. Thursday, March 14, 2013 Reverend Stanley Hearst II Scripture Focus: Genesis 50:20 God's purpose for Joseph was not evident through the trials but Joseph maintained faith in the God of his ancestors and God kept him through the storm. Romans 12:12 tells us to be "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." When we remain joyful in hope, no matter the storm, test, trial or tribulation, we know that Jesus will bring us through. That faith in the Lord works patience for the next trial we know will come, so we learn how to remain patient in affliction. Part of the learning process is to remain faithful in prayer. Pray without ceasing. Stay in the presence of the Lord, and transformation takes place. Our minds are renewed, and we no longer see the storm through carnal eyes. We learn that there is a purpose for that storm. Joseph's purpose was to save many people alive. The famine that hit the land did not kill people because of his gift from God of interpreting dreams. Because of Joseph's gift many people were saved including his family. Joseph's RELATIONSHIP with God kept him when he was thrown in the pit by his jealous brothers. God kept him when his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites. God kept him when the Midianites sold him to Potiphar. God kept him when he was falsely accused by Potiphar's wife and thrown into prison, but even in prison" the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love; he gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. (39:21) I pray you see where I am going with this. We serve a God that is a keeper. Now matter what we are going through, Jesus said He would never leave us, nor forsake us. Rest in that comfort. Rest in the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Friday, March 15, 2013 Robert Dubose You Have to Face It to Fix It! Scripture Focus: Luke 15:11-32 This is such a great reminder that even when we stray from under the umbrella of our Father who loves us so dearly, God still wants nothing but the best for us. When we stray from God in our own rebellion, we hurt Him. In my own walk, I am certainly guilty of turning my back on God, sometimes in my own selfishness, frustration and stupidity. We sometimes reach a point where we want what we want, when we want it. Thinking that we know what is best and in reality we have no idea what we are doing. The comforting part of it all is that even in our disobedience, God is there with open arms waiting for us. The great part about straying is that it is such a humbling experience. When you realize where you went wrong, you can then go back and fix it. Monday, March 18, 2013 Reverend Stanley Hearst II Scripture Focus: Matthew 14:30-31 The strong winds will come, but we must stay focused on Jesus---- These winds represent a distraction, a trick of the enemy to keep our eyes off the Provider and onto our problem. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to steal our faith. In a split second, Peter went from walking on water to drowning in despair. How many of us have been in a situation like that. We are on top of the world in Christ, but a distraction comes, and momentarily we feel like it's

all over. We are human and emotions are allowed. We should not be walking around like 'SuperChristian', pretending like we are going through life without any issues; but we should always remember that Jesus is bigger than any problem we have. While Peter was sinking, he did the only thing there was to do, he cried out Lord, save me! Tuesday, March 19, 2013 Reverend James C. Simmons Scripture Focus: Philippians 4:8 John Wesley, the initiator of Methodism, states in his General Rules of the United Societies that one condition is required of those who desire admission into Methodist societies a desire to flee from the wrath to come and be saved from their sins. He further states: Whenever this is really fixed in the soul, it will be shown by its fruits. It is then expected of all who continue therein, that they shall continue to evidence their desire of salvation: FIRST by doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced. Two evils specifically mentioned by John Wesley in his pre-television and pre-radio timeline include: Uncharitable or unprofitable conversation; and The singing of those songs and the reading of those books which do not tend to the knowledge or love of God

John Wesley instituted these rules because he recognized the information that invades our minds directly affects our behavior. The images we see every day on television, on the internet, and around us often compete with God and the vision He has for our lives. The raunchiness and gossip and negativity heard in our music and from the lips of those around often stand in sharp contrast to the life and hope offered by God and His Word. The recourse to transform our lives from the worlds negativity to Gods possibilities is the renewing of our mind. In other words, believers must Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Believers must read things that talk about Jesus. We must watch things that talk about Jesus. We must talk to people that are talking about Jesus. And we must fellowship in places that lift up Jesus. In Philippians 4 the Apostle Paul concurs with this sentiment when he states: Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these thingsThose things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. Amen. Wednesday, March 20, 2013 Reverend James C. Simmons

The Book of Daniel records the siege and capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 605 BCE. In order to have hostages that keep Judah in line and to infiltrate pagan values into Israelite culture, the Babylonians take the best and brightest of Jerusalems young men to the Kings court for education and indoctrination. In this talented tenth of young men brought into the Babylonian empire are four young men named Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael, and Azariah; later renamed by the Babylonians Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Bruce C. Birch and Walter Brueggeman note in the book A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament, that the Book of Daniel offers a religious perspective on the crisis faced by those who are challenged to remain loyal to their faith. The short stories set a Jewish hero, Daniel, or other pious characters in situations of cultural conflict. These individuals are faced with stark choices. Will they adhere to Jewish practice or will they succumb to that which is foreign? On occasion, the choice is one of life or death. This challenge also faces us today. Will we remain loyal to our faith or will we succumb to the pressures of life? Will we grasp that which we have been taught or will all the sermons, Bible studies, and biblical lessons get thrown out the window at the first sign of difficulty. Will we run back to our past or will we keep our hand to the plow even when challenged. God proved to the Hebrew boys an invaluable lesson that we need today: If we remain faithful to God despite the challenge, God will deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of the hand of our enemies. That is the Word of God and it can be trusted. Thursday, March 21, 2013 Reverend James C. Simmons Scripture Focus: 2 Chronicles 7: 14 In 2008 gospel artist Kurt Carr released a single entitled, God is a Healer. This powerful song states: Sometimes life will hurt you but remember God heals God is a healer. Sometimes weapons form against you but theyll never prosper - remember God is your shield. He is waiting for your call; Waiting to shield you from your fall. And theres a place of rest and peace - in the sanctuary. Peace is waiting in the Sanctuary. I feel you moving in the Sanctuary. I feel a breakthrough in the Sanctuary. The presence of the Lord is in the Sanctuary. The Lord hears and answers prayers in the Sanctuary. The Lord responds to the cries of His people in the Sanctuary. There is a place of rest and peace in the Sanctuary. 2 Chronicles 7 records the completion and dedication of the Temple, in which The New Oxford Annotated Bible states: God approves the temple as an appropriate place of divine-human communication. Should king or people find themselves in duress, they may run to the temple and do four things: humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways. For his part, the Lord will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Two thousand years later the Lord still desires to forgive the sins of his people. The Lord still desires to heal our land. The Lord still desires to hear the cries of his people and respond to our duress. The Lord still desires to provide us with rest and peace. The Lord merely waits for His people to run to the Sanctuary, humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways. God states in Revelation 3:20: 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Friday, March 22, 2013 Reverend James C. Simmons Life After the Benediction Scripture Focus: Philippians 2:5 In African Methodism the Sunday worship experience intentionally commences with a Trinitarian praise commonly referred to as the doxology Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise Him all creatures hear below. Praise Him above the Heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! The doxology is intentionally lifted at the start of worship to remind those assembled that the purpose of worship is not to please self. Rather, the purpose of worship is solely to praise God from whom all blessings flow. This Trinitarian praise known as the doxology is additionally lifted at the conclusion of the Sunday Worship Experience to intentionally remind believers that life after the benediction should also praise God from whom all blessings flow. The fruit of our lips after the benediction should represent the nature and character of God to a world whose only bible is often those that profess to be a Christian. The meditations of our heart after the benediction should imitate the mindset of Christ to a world that is hungry for authentic love. [Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.] The world is watching us! Family and Friends are examining us. Our children are closely monitoring us. Does the life we live after the benediction reflect the behavior and confessions made before the benediction? Do the words uttered from our lips after the benediction match the words uttered before the benediction. Does our behavior after the benediction reflect or correlate with the behavior exhibited before the benediction? Johnson Oatman commissions you and I in his Famous hymn, Lift Him Up, to: Lift Him up by living as a Christian ought, let the world in you the savior see; then men will gladly follow Him who once taught, Ill draw all men unto me.

Holy Week Scriptures will Be Distributed on Sunday, March 24, 2013

CREED I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit Power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a Disciple of His. I wont look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. Im finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I dont have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, bow in His presence, walk with patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions are few, my guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I wont give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a Disciple of Jesus. I must go till he comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. MY BANNER WILL BE CLEAR.

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