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KEEPING THE FAITH | Prayers can be conveyed in many ways

It does not have to be a rigid and formal structure. God wants to have an intimate talk with us. 
RevLewisMacklin032020
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

Our prayer language can be conveyed in many ways. It does not have to be a rigid and formal structure.

Case in point, many of John Roedel’s conversations with God, crafted at the beginnings of the pandemic, have a confronting ease.  He has authored several verbal encounters between him and God which are relatable. However, his most recent exchange has been trending recently on social media platforms. The engaging dialogue is not mindless chatter but an empowering reminder that God wants to have an intimate talk with us. 

God: Hello, my love. 
Me: I'm falling apart. Can you put me back together?
God: I would rather not. 
Me: Why not?
God: Because you are not a puzzle.  
Me: What about all of the pieces of my life that are falling down onto the ground?  
God: Let them stay there for a while. They fell off for a reason. Take some time and decide if you need any of those pieces back.  
Me: You don't understand! I'm breaking down!  
God: No — you don't understand. You are breaking through. What you are feeling is just growing pains. You are shedding the things and the people in your life that are holding you back. You are not falling apart. You are falling into place. Relax. Take some deep breaths and allow those things you don't need any more to fall off of you. Quit holding onto the pieces that don't fit you anymore. Let them fall off.  Let them go. 
Me: Once I start doing that, what will be left of me?  
God: Only the very best pieces of you.  
Me: I'm scared of changing.
God: I keep telling you — YOU ARE NOT CHANGING!! YOU ARE BECOMING!
Me: Becoming who?
God: Becoming who I created you to be! A person of light and love and charity and hope and courage and joy and mercy and grace and compassion. I made you for more than the shallow pieces you have decided to adorn yourself with that you cling to with such greed and fear. Let those things fall off of you. I love you! Don't change! Become! Become who I made you to be. I'm going to keep telling you this until you remember it. 
Me: There goes another piece.  
God: Yep. Let it be.
Me: So … I'm not broken? 
God: No — but you are breaking like the dawn. It's a new day. Become!! Become!!

I remain thankful that God’s ways and thoughts are superior to my own. Proverbs 18: 21 reminds that “the tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” In short, our words can heal, our words can cut. Our words can brighten someone's day or they can trigger someone's worst qualms. We must speak words of life and affirmation over other people and especially over ourselves,  

This week commit yourself to only speaking words that reflect positivity. We can be so quick to be critical of self and others. We can be honest without being harsh. It is very easy to be judgmental and speak critically. However, your world will begin to shift when you go from pessimism to positivity.  

When I consider just how blessed I am, there are times when I am walking around my house, and I just start telling God, “Thank you.” Not because everything is perfect or I have few problems, but there is an overwhelming reality that in spite of the zaniness of life, God nevertheless has been good to me. 

This life will have ups and downs, heartbreaks and breakthroughs, fulfillment and failures. But focus on maintaining a grateful heart because the more I live, the more I am convinced that my outlook controls a lot of my destiny. If you expect negativity and bad things to happen, they often do. They become a self-fulling prophecy. Likewise, if I anticipate goodness and mercy to follow me, it often does. Seeing God's goodness is always a choice. Embracing God's blessings is also a choice.

Practicing What I Preach

Last week I made an appeal that the toxic culture within our community needs to be banished. During the recent prayer walk, I recapped my thoughts of the article with a friend. I expressed a specific need for conciliation and the desire to connect with a colleague. Literally a couple of hours later, at another event, I was approached by the very gentlemen I wanted to contact. Yes, a God Moment. We had an open and honest conversation which provided understanding. The enemy uses the tools of separation and confusion among people for one reason: It's effective and it works when we let it. There was a mutual commitment to foster both a personal and professional relationship. 

Stop the Violence, Pursue Peace efforts

The 2 p.m. community prayer walks will continue each Sunday in August. Persons with mobility challenges are welcome to participate in a stationary prayer gathering at the locations. We were recently blessed with the active participation of Deacon Eugene Mickels, Third Baptist Church, who proudly acknowledged that he was 94 years young!    

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

Saturday, Aug. 21: Now Youngstown, in collaboration with The Youngstown Police Department and CIRV, will sponsor “Increase The Peace Family Day” at the Youngstown Amphitheatre from noon to 5 p.m.

The community-wide 24-hour fast and prayer schedule continues until Aug. 31. Do not let the rash of recent violence give a false illusion that it’s not effective or the enemy is winning. You may contact New Bethel Baptist Church at 330-747-2125 to secure a prayer assignment, yard signs or order shirts.  

Gospel Extravaganza  

A gospel musical celebration will cap off this weekend’s Black Cultural Celebration on downtown’s City Plaza at 7 p.m. tonight. I am honored to serve as the evening’s master of ceremonies and worship leader. I will be sharing these duties with Minister Chris Gunther, producer and creative director of the Chris Gunther Show. We will be blessed with the gifts of psalmist Evangelist Monica Phillips and the Singing Shepherds. The Daniel Brothers, gospel recording artists from the Dayton area, will be special guests. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the gate.

It Takes A Village 

Kudos to Rev. Todd Johnson, pastor of the Second Baptist Church in Warren for the creation of an interactive literacy program for young males ages 6-12 years olds. Black Boys Read Ohio is the online presence of an initiative that promotes literacy and reading comprehension in young African American males. Pastor Johnson’s stalwart energies are commendable as he constantly pours into these talented lives. You are invited to join the virtual experiences to hear the empowering stories read by attentive and engaged young men. It is an awesome way to spend Friday evenings at 8 p.m. 

Dear God,

I’m grateful that You are God.
Who watches over me each day I stand in awe to your majesty;
Help me to have peace in knowing that You are concerned and love me.
May I have the opportunities to boldly share and keep my faith. 
In the strong name of your Son

Amen

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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