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The Favor of the Lord

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Pastor E.A. Deckard

by Pastor E. A. Deckard
Special to the NNPA from the Houston Forward Times

“God can cause opportunity to find you. He has unexpected blessings where you suddenly meet the right person, or suddenly your health improves, or suddenly you’re able to pay off your house. That’s God shifting things in your favor.” Joel Osteen

Forward Thinkers, Happy New Year to you all. I’ll end the year of 2014 by declaring that each of you will flow in the “favor” of the Lord in the year of 2015. Forward Thinkers, before you make any New Year resolutions, first make up your mind that 2015 will be the best year of your life and that all of your decisions will set you up to walk in the favor of the Lord.

Forward Thinkers, I’m declaring favor in your family and finances and I challenge you today to release the faith needed to receive the favor of the Lord in both your family and finances.

Forward Thinkers, remember, without faith it is impossible to please God. We know faith comes through the Word of God so let’s finish 2014 studying favor in the Word.

Isaiah 61:2 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.

Forward Thinkers, I’m excited to announce 2015 will be the year of the Lord’s favor for all those who apply themselves to living out the promises found in the Word of God. Forward Thinkers, you can get ready to operate at a different level because after all you’ve gone through, the Lord is promoting you into the year of the Lord’s favor. Forward Thinkers, the year of 2015 can’t be filled with complaining or excuses because, favor does not flow in negative atmospheres.

Psalm 90:17 17 May the favor[a] of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.

Forward Thinkers, notice in order to receive the favor of the Lord, the Lord must find you working on something. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., once said, “the belief God will do everything for you is not faith but superstition”. Forward Thinkers, in the year of 2015 put your faith to work and watch how the favor of the Lord will find you and advance you in all you do. The key is in all you do because many will miss out on the favor of the Lord because they lack a strong work ethic.

Forward Thinkers, why would the Lord grant favor on an idle set of hands?

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 6 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”[a]

Forward Thinkers, I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor; now is the day of salvation. Are you ready to walk into the favor of the Lord?

Forward Thinkers, I challenge you to declare in the year 2015 that no more unfavorable results will occur in your life.

Forward Thinkers, your prayers will finally become your realities in the year of the Lord’s favor. Forward Thinkers, I challenge you to dream big and work hard and prepare yourself to leap into the favor of the Lord.

Forward Thinkers, you must allow the bible to become your final authority if you desire 2015 to be your year of operating under the Lord’s favor. Forward Thinkers, let’s continue to search the bible and discover the favor of the Lord.

Genesis 4:4 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering.

Forward Thinkers, many have asked the question: why did the Lord look with favor on Abel’s offering and not Cain’s offering. Forward Thinkers, the bible declares Abel brought the Lord his best but Cain simply brought the Lord his leftovers. Forward Thinkers, in the year of 2015 you must make up your mind to bring your best to the table of the Lord’s favor. Forward Thinkers, remember, faith without works is dead and we can no longer operate with great expectations until we commit to operating with the spirit of excellence.

Genesis 6:8-9 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. 9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.

Forward Thinkers, I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that Noah was described as being a righteous man who spent quality time with the Lord and the Lord showed Noah favor. Forward Thinkers, I know we have all heard favor is not fair but I need you to understand the route to favor is fair. Favor will not seek a lazy unrighteous man in the year of 2015 therefore we must get our house in order NOW.

Forward Thinkers, Noah walked with the Lord and ended up walking in the favor of the Lord. Forward Thinkers, who are you walking with?

Exodus 33:12 12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’

Forward Thinkers, Moses gives us an example of how to tap into the favor of the Lord. Forward Thinkers, I challenge you to stop focusing on what you don’t have and examine the lesson of Moses to receive the favor of the Lord needed to change your situation.

Forward Thinkers, Moses asked the Lord to teach him His ways so he could continue to find favor with Him. Forward Thinkers, in the year of the Lord’s favor we must have teachable spirits. Forward Thinkers, without a teachable spirit you will remain stuck in the struggles of your past.

Leviticus 26:9 9 “‘I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.

Forward Thinkers, in the 26th chapter of Leviticus, we are shown the rewards of obedience to the Lord’s Word. Forward Thinkers, notice obedience ushers us into the favor of the Lord. Forward Thinkers, the Lord desires to grant us with increase but we must understand the connection between our obedience to the Lord’s Word and the release of the Lord’s favor in our life.

Luke 1:30 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.

Forward Thinkers, Mary found favor with the Lord to complete your Kingdom assignment. Forward Thinkers, the Lord will grant you unusual favor to accomplish the assignment He has laid out before you. The question is: do you have the faith to accept and begin the assignment while trusting the favor of the Lord to show up.

Isaiah 49:8-11 8 This is what the Lord says: “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, 9 to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ “They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill. 10 They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water. 11 I will turn all my mountains into roads, and my highways will be raised up.

Forward Thinkers, in conclusion, the year of 2015 can be your year to receive the favor of the Lord, but we must commit to doing our part.

Pastor E. A. Deckard is the Senior Pastor/Founder of the Green House International Church located, 16711 Ella Blvd. Houston, Texas, 77090. To contact Pastor Deckard for speaking engagements contact him at pr.ghic@gmail.com or the church website www.ghic.net.

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Activism

Amos C. Brown Fellowship to Ghana Begins

The students come from colleges and universities throughout the United States. Leaders from the NAACP and the Church of Jesus Christ are traveling with the students. NAACP leaders include President Derrick Johnson and the fellowship’s namesake, the renowned civil rights leader and NAACP board member the Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown of Third Baptist Church of San Francisco. From the Church of Latter Day Saints are Elders Jack N. Gerard and Matthew S. Holland of the Seventy, along with their wives, as well as the Africa West Area Presidency.

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Students with the Amos C. Brown Fellowship to Ghana visit the Jubilee House in Accra on Aug. 2, 2022.
Students with the Amos C. Brown Fellowship to Ghana visit the Jubilee House in Accra on Aug. 2, 2022.

This trip is a collaboration between the NAACP and the Mormon Church

Forty-three students are in Ghana for 10 days to experience Ghanaian culture, learn about their ancestral heritage and become ambassadors of racial harmony.

This group — part of the first Amos C. Brown Fellowship to Ghana — is the fruit of a collaboration between the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In June 2021, Church President Russell M. Nelson pledged $250,000 for this fellowship. This and other initiatives the two organizations are engaged in, President Nelson said, “represent an ongoing desire of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to teach and live the two great commandments — to love God and neighbor.”

The students come from colleges and universities throughout the United States. Leaders from the NAACP and the Church of Jesus Christ are traveling with the students. NAACP leaders include President Derrick Johnson and the fellowship’s namesake, the renowned civil rights leader and NAACP board member the Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown of Third Baptist Church of San Francisco. From the Church of Latter Day Saints are Elders Jack N. Gerard and Matthew S. Holland of the Seventy, along with their wives, as well as the Africa West Area Presidency.

“Welcome to Ghana. We’re so grateful that you are here,” said the Church’s new Africa West Area President Elder S. Gifford Nielsen on Monday night during a welcome dinner. “I was listening very closely to the opening prayer. And there was a plea for light. And the way that you find light is to connect hearts. And so, in the next 10 days, to all of our fellowship students, and to our leaders and anybody else who has any part of this, as we connect hearts, get out of our comfort zone just a little bit, we’re going to have an even more amazing experience.”

The Rev. Dr. Brown said, “Words fall far too short for me to define and convey to you the significance of what we are doing.” He added that “this momentous occasion is not about one man. This embodies what a dream team has brought to pass.”

In interviews after the dinner, several students talked about why they wanted to go on this trip.

“[I thought this fellowship] would be a great opportunity for me to get out of my comfort zone, to see outside the American lens, to see what it would be like to not be a minority for once,” said Lauren George, a student at San Francisco University. “I thought that would be a life-changing experience that is necessary for me, because in my field of work, I want to be able to be as innovative as possible.”

Carter Martindale of Utah said, “the purpose of the fellowship, of talking about how we can better address racial divides, how we can better love our neighbor as we love ourselves, is really important just in general in America.”

This report is from the newsroom of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

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Activism

Groundbreaking Ceremony for the St. John Missionary Baptist Church Family Life Center

The Family Life Center, a vision of Dr. Kevin B. Hall, pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church, is one of many he has for the City of Richmond. It is a multi-million-dollar project the church is undertaking without plans to borrow additional funding. Future visions of St. John and Pastor Hall include shelter for the homeless, affordable housing for seniors and temporary housing for the formerly incarcerated as part of a re-entry program.

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Deacon Edward Kimble, Cory Holloway, Deacon Art Johnson, Pastor Kevin B. Hall, Kaliyah Hall, Richmond City Councilman Demnlus Johnson and Deacon Steve Porter. Photo by: Joe L. Fisher
Deacon Edward Kimble, Cory Holloway, Deacon Art Johnson, Pastor Kevin B. Hall, Kaliyah Hall, Richmond City Councilman Demnlus Johnson and Deacon Steve Porter. Photo by: Joe L. Fisher

By Peggy Alexander

Dr. Kevin B. Hall, pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church, and church leaders were joined by Richmond City Council members, congregants, and residents of Richmond’s Iron Triangle community to celebrate the official groundbreaking of the St. John Family Life Center at 29 Eight St. on July 16.

The Family Life Center, a vision of Pastor Hall’s, is one of many he has for the City of Richmond. It is a multi-million-dollar project the church is undertaking without plans to borrow additional funding. Future visions of St. John and Pastor Hall include shelter for the homeless, affordable housing for seniors and temporary housing for the formerly incarcerated as part of a re-entry program.

“The Family Life Center will be adjacent to the current sanctuary at the North Campus, which will consist of a gymnasium, game room (for the youth), and weight room.” It will be a positive, safe space for community members and congregants to have fun and fellowship. Also, an additional parking lot will be across the street from the St. John Family Life Center. The estimated completion time is 12 to 18 months.

The official groundbreaking ceremony was conducted by the following church leaders, youth and council members: Pastor Hall; deacons Arthur Johnson, Edward Kimball, and Steven Porter; trustee Sister Corry Holloway; Audio-Visual Youth Ministry member Kaliyah Hall, granddaughter of Pastor Hall; and Richmond City Councilmember Demnlus Johnson.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, earth was shoveled three times in unison by the participants. Many were in attendance at the morning ceremony.

St John is one church located in two communities (662 S. 52nd St. and 29 Eighth St.). Our goal is to share the love of God by evangelizing the sinner and equipping the Saints who are edifying and enjoying one another, to exalt the Savior. Please come worship with us.

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Activism

COMMENTARY: Abortion — A Theological Issue and Christian Responses

The abortion debate has profound implications on how theological views are preached and taught in individual churches, homes including seminaries. The pews are split. Some say abortion is murder, while others say, the woman has a right to control her body. This leads to the question: How does your faith shape your position on abortion? What Bible passages do you cite to justify your position?

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Rev. Dr. Martha C Taylor
Rev. Dr. Martha C Taylor

By Rev. Dr. Martha C. Taylor

We are living in a world where controversial, complex issues, disagreements, debates, misunderstandings are looming large. There are controversies on gun control, vaccines, living wages, Black lives matter, animal rights, religious freedom, health care, white supremacy, voting rights, Trump, Ukraine War, Covid spreading, mass killings and the congressional January 6th sedition hearings, to name a few.

In an earth-shattering decision on June 24, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade. Justice Alito wrote “Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views. Some believe fervently that a human person comes into being at conception and that abortion ends an innocent life. Others feel just as strongly that any regulation of abortion invades a woman’s right to control her own body and prevents women from achieving full equality.

Still others in a third group think that abortion should be allowed under some, but not all circumstances, and those within this group hold a variety of views about the particular restrictions that should be imposed. The Court’s decision held that there is no longer a federal constitutional right to an abortion, and going forward, abortion rights will be determined by each state. In. other words, abortion does not automatically become illegal nationwide, however in states that ban abortion, it could result in a felony and doctors could face prison time.

The abortion debate has profound implications on how theological views are preached and taught in individual churches, homes including seminaries. The pews are split. Some say abortion is murder, while others say, the woman has a right to control her body. This leads to the question: How does your faith shape your position on abortion? What Bible passages do you cite to justify your position?

Some profess to preach and teach a prophetic liberating gospel, yet when it comes to the theological and moral issue of abortion, they take a stance that they will not make a comment in public. This raises the question of who really speaks for the church. Can bishops, pastors, lay ministers, elders, and Sunday School teachers be expected to reflect the thinking of the membership? Does the membership dictate what can be preached? In the words of a well-known pastor, do we just deal with the sweet now and now, and not the nasty now and now? I believe he got it right. Are you a prophet who will speak on difficult sensitive subjects, or do you skirt them in favor of not upsetting the pews with realities that may be painful to some?

We must deal with moral sensitive issues without injuring the freedom of women. I believe the question of whether the church should be involved in social and political issues is not that difficult. The more difficult is why it should be involved and how, and more importantly using scripture to justify their position. What about those who take scripture as a means of justifying their position on moral issues. History informs us that enslaved women were forced to have sex with their slave masters as a means of birthing more slaves; the slave owners used the scripture, “slaves obey your masters.”

With regards to abortion, some declare that God said abortion is murder, though they cannot find a thread of evidence in the bible to back their statement and rely on the commandment “thou shalt not kill.” Some pastors have interpreted scripture to say, God does not want a woman preaching or teaching. Some pastors are taking scripture out of context on the pretext that the Lord is speaking, when it is highly possible their interpretation is a misinterpretation. This all suggests that people sometimes appeal to the Bible and other religious sources in selective and self-serving ways: They come to the Bible with their previously held moral assumptions and seek to find something in the Bible to justify them. The Bible does not talk explicitly about abortion, pro or con in any kind of way. It’s just not there.

Overturning Roe assumes that some life, some bodies, are worth more than others — that some bodies can and should be restricted, controlled and used at will.

In the coming months as states create new abortion restrictions, the same kind of underground movement of women searching for safe abortions most likely will become a reality again. Will Christians accompany these women? Or, will the loudest Christian response to abortion continue to be the Religious Right, shouting from their place of privilege, piety and power? Dr. Obery Hendricks, biblical scholar and activist reminds us, “some Black Christians can be some of the most religiously conservative people in America.”

Continue to pray for Brittney Grimes, our daughter, sister, friend.

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