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KEEPING THE FAITH | Feeling overwhelmed? Remember, God knows

Just knowing that God was keenly mindful of me helped me to embrace the moment. Yet, not only does God know — he also cares.
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

Whenever I sense being overwhelmed, fatigued or inadequate for an assignment, Jeremiah 29:11 has always provided a mobilizing message with a not so subtle reminder, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Recently I drew much-needed strength for several upcoming assignments from the first three words uttered in this text by the Lord, "For I know." Just the awareness that God knows was more than enough for me. The rest of the scripture was simply bonus as it expressed success above situation and prosperity beyond circumstances. 

What was comforting was that God already knew what I could not even begin to articulate. God is so acutely aware of every detail and facets of my life including the very hairs on my head which are all numbered. Just knowing that God was keenly mindful of me helped me to embrace the moment. Yet, not only does God know — he also cares.  May the message in this song “He Cares For You” by Rev. Milton Brunson and the Thompson Community Singers encourage you on your journey 

God’s ways and thoughts are superior to our own. Hallelujah! My limited thinking already presents a deficit. In fact, I frequently attest that God has an economy that seldom makes sense. I have been in full-time ministry for more than two decades after eventually answering the call to leave an amazing secular position. I left that position at the same time we were finalizing an adoption and then discovered we would be expecting another baby. 

Our family of four would increase by two more within a matter of months. Who knew? God did! We have been blessed to raise our children to adulthood and now enjoy our grandchildren.    

Taylor Fortune Payne, a loving wife and mother, shared how Jeremiah 29:11 blessed her a few years ago to help her ultimately decide to remain at home to raise and nurture their children. She and her husband, DeMarrius Payne, both of Greensboro, N.C., prayed and asked God for clarity on what they should do, especially in an economy that suggests a two-household income is optimal. Yet as a family, they stepped out on faith with unexplainable confidence that staying home with the two young blessings is exactly what He had planned all along. 

God used that tiny gesture of the family’s faith to be a constant reminder of His goodness and faithfulness for generations to come. They understood a conditional surrender had to be supplanted by one that is yielded fully and without limits. Knowing the full context of Jeremiah 29, one may consider it trivial to even compare it to such a small moment in the grand scheme of things in their lives. Yet they expressed gratefulness that God uses every moment to draw us towards Him no matter how big or small in our eyes. 

The takeaway, whatever it is you are struggling with right now – Let Go and Let God! Take your hands off of it and surrender to Him. Whatever you think is too big or ugly for God to take care of — surrender. to Him. Whatever mistakes you’ve made in the past that haunt you as unforgivable, just surrender to God. He already knows all about it. Embrace Proverbs 16:3, “Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” Put your “Yes” on the table and let Him work out the details. 

Mahoning Valley African American Male Wellness 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 presents a question and answer opportunity, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

That said, it is my hope that you will join me for the annual African American Male Wellness event which will be Saturday at the Covelli Center. In addition to the regular health screenings, medical exams, mobile mammograms and dental clinics units, there will be free COVID-19 testing and vaccines available on site as well. We have taken precautions in light of the recent coronavirus resurgence. The 7 a.m. event is FREE and the entire community is welcomed to participate. 

Apostle Paul implores in Romans 12:1-2 “to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind He will find acceptable.” Many lament that they do not have the time or resources to practice healthy behaviors such as diet, exercise and rest. However, if you do not make time for wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.

Stop the Violence Prayer Walks

The 2 p.m. community prayer walks will continue each Sunday in August. Persons with mobility challenges are welcome to participate in a prayer gathering at the locations.

TODAY: The area of Boston and Glenwood with parking available at Bethel Church of God in Christ. Invited participants include Pastor William Burney, Word in Action Ministry; Elder Rose Carter, Christ Centered Church; Pastor Ross Johnson, Bethel Church of God in Christ; Pastor Cornell Jordan, Metro Assembly of God; Pastor William King, Price Memorial AME Zion; Rev. John Tate, interim pastor Third Baptist Church and Elder Martha Taylor, Metro Assembly of God. In the event of inclement weather, the gathering will be held inside at Christ Center Church located at Parkcliffe and Hudson Avenues.

Aug. 15: Metro Assembly of God, 2530 South Ave. In the event of inclement weather the gathering will be held inside the church.

The yard signs with the message “Stop the Violence, Pursue Peace” are available for pick up. While the signs are free, donations are appreciated to help purchase additional signs. T-shirts are also available for $10. You may contact New Bethel Baptist Church at 330-747-2125 to obtain signs or order shirts.  

In Pursuit of Peace Among Our Youth

Lighthouse Covenant Ministries, 1755 Shehy St., is hosting a Youth Roundtable Conversation on Thursday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. where Jeremyiah Womack and Cheyenne Huerta will serve as moderators. There will be a dialogue about all relevant topics concerning the current state of violence within our city. Youth and young adults between the ages of 14 and 26 are invited to participate in the exchange. Contact Apostle Michael Scott Sr. or Pastor Wilena Scott at 330-550-5028 for additional information.

We Are So Much Better Together 

I am advocating that we pray for an end of a toxic culture that is even evident and pronounced within the faith community. We need to galvanize our energies in collaboration — instead of competition — which will complement the work.

Four plus four equals eight, but so does six plus two! There are often more than just one solution to a problem. Do not discount others’ efforts because it’s a different approach, simply show your work. Remember Apostle Paul’s observations that while “one may plant, another offers water, it is ultimately God that produces the increase of the harvest.” We cannot dismiss one’s honest labor to plant or disregard the sincerity of another’s efforts to water. The harvest is indeed plentiful, but it is the laborers who are sparse. In fact, we are actually instructed to pray for more laborers to help to gather His harvest.  

The enemy will use the tools of bitterness, pettiness, tension and bruised egos to divide and conquer us. I hope I'm not inferring that I am holier than thou or sanctimonious. In truth, I am not above having my own petty moments which constantly requires me to check my own behaviors. However, I find it interesting that the issues that cause the most conflict are actually more ideological than theological in most cases. 

Terry Vicars, a dear friend and brother, expressed my heart by recently sharing, “Somehow we must find a way to put our egos in check and accept the goodness others have to offer and yes work together. We write one another off to the detriment of the people we yearn to serve. We must not ask for good news and then ignore it because it wasn’t wrapped just right — we so need to be there for each other every single time! God help us to put our differences to one side and to work together!” Let the Church say, “AMEN!”

The enemy understands there is power and strength in unity. Hence it is in his interest to separate us. A small stick alone can be easily broken, yet when bundled with other sticks are too strong to be broken. Imagine what could be accomplished with our collective energies. I am convinced that the church anthem “Better Together” composed by Youngstown’s own Pastor Cynthia Palmer Wright and Pastor John Luke Shumpert of Jacksonville Fla., reflects what “better'' should look like.  

From the north and the south
From the east and the west
There is a call 
Come one and all 
Bringing our best
Talents and skills
Our thoughts and ideas
Sharing our lives
Embracing each other
We all have so much to give.

Better together
Together we are better
Together we are stronger
Together we are wiser
Better together
Joining our minds
And joining our hands
Together we will stand...
Better together
We're better together.

Reach out and touch
Hold your neighbors hand
Push prejudice aside 
Let's try to understand
As different as we are
We are all the same
We laugh, we cry, we hope, we dream
Better lives and world to gain.

You're my brother, you're my sister
Come and take me by the hand
You're my brother, your sister
We can make a better land.

We can do it! Let’s keep the faith!

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and seven grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.

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