STOPPING BY KING’S MEMORIAL ON A SNOWY EVENING - A WINTER’S TALE
He stood wrapped in overcoat and long scarf, arms crossed, before the monument of the great man.
Dr. King, with arms crossed, gazed down at him, like a father welcoming his returning son.
Both were bathed in the wintry light.
The Tidal Basin, a frozen mirror of fire and ice, caught the setting sun nearby.
Newly fallen snow had formed a mantel across the great man’s shoulders and covered folded granite arms.
Like some Black Prince, deep in thought, he pondered the towering figure staring back.
He’d come to pay homage, to show respect.
Seeking counsel, wisdom, to pay a debt.
A wooded grove, harboring distant secrets, formed a silent backdrop to the snowy scene.
One by one, thoughts filled his mind.
Whose woods are these? He looked around.
The spot where you’re standing is hallowed ground.
There's no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friend.
“Tell them about the dream, Martin!”
If I can help somebody as I travel along, my living shall not be in vain.
The dream’s the thing. Martin Luther King.
Winter in America, Lord knows. The darkest evening of the year.
Keep pressing. A dream deferred is not a dream denied.
Ask and it shall be given. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.
Wait! Did MLK just move?
The statue seemed to turn towards him and dab.
The shifting ground didn't make a sound. What?
King’s voice rang out along the Mall,
"Now, don’t forget about the dream.”
A shooting star raced cross the sky.
When he turned around, King stood right where he’d been before.
Towering. Heroic. Majestic.
He, definitely, didn't need to think twice.
The pilgrimage had been well worth the price.
© Kenneth Lillard
EDWARDS FAMILY REUNION MESSAGE
By Rev. Dr. Kenneth E. Lillard
This message is being shared on the occasion of the celebration of the Edwards Family Reunion held in Portsmouth, VA this Labor Day 2015 Weekend. This Sunday, September 6, 2015, The Edwards Family is fellowshipping at Diamond Grove Baptist Church, Suffolk, VA, where Rev. Dr. Calvin A. Lillard is the Pastor.
Text: Ephesians 6:2-3, "Honor your father and mother." This is the first commandment with a promise: so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. ~ Apostle Paul.
Giving Honor to God, I greet you in the Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Good morning! It is my honor and privilege to share a brief word with you on this Blessed Labor Day Sabbath.
First of all, I wish to acknowledge and recognize the Anointed Angel of this House (Diamond Grove Baptist Church), the Mighty Man of God, and one of America's Great Preachers, Rev. Dr. Calvin A. Lillard.
Also, I wish to recognize, the wind beneath his wings, First Lady Helen Lillard.
In addition, I wish to acknowledge, the Diamond Grove Baptist Church officials, officers, and the entire Diamond Grove Baptist Church Family.
I wish to recognize all of the distinguised guests, and especially the members of Edwards Family, who are celebrating their First Edwards Family Reunion on this Labor Day Weekend.
Finally, I wish to acknowledge and recognize all the Ministers of the Gospel, who labor so diligently in the vineyards to share God's message of Love and Salvation. Amen.
On behalf of the Edwards Family, and as an Edwards Family descendant, I wish to sincerely thank Rev. Dr. Calvin Lillard, and the entire Diamond Grove Church Family, for so graciously, opening up your arms, and showing such warm hospitality to the Edwards Family, who fellowship with you, in love and peace, on this wonderful Sabbath Day. We sincerely appreciate you, and truly thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
You know, the Edwards Family and the Diamond Grove Baptist Church Family have something very important in common. We are both members of the Family of God! We are both part and parcel of the Body of Christ! So, that makes all of us brothers-and-sisters-in-Christ! Amen. And Psalm 133:1 reminds us, "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." Amen!
And that brings us to our message:
Hebrews 13:2 says, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this, some have entertained angels without knowing." And I believe there are some angels in the house today. Amen.
Matthew 10:41 says, "Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and whoever receives a righteous person, as a righteous person, will receive a righteous person's reward." So, additional heavenly blessings are, definitely, in store for the Diamond Grove Baptist Church Family, since we know the LORD is already blessing you, continually.
I just stopped by to share with you three (3) brief points on the importance of family. I promise I won't keep you long!
1) Exodus 20:12 says, "Honor they father and mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD Thy God giveth thee."
And as the Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:2-3, this is the first commandment with a promise. Your days will be long upon the land which the LORD Your God has given you. And God does not break His promises. Tell your neighbor, "Neighbor, O Neighbor, God does not break His promises!" Amen.
If God said it, that settles it. And you can take that to the bank, saints! When a family honors it's parents and it's forefathers, especially like the Edwards Family is doing today, know that there is definitely a blessing with your name on it, waiting for you. I declare and decree many blessings upon you, financial blessings, healing blessings, blessings on your children, homes, families, and businesses, and most importantly, spirtual blessings. In the Blessed Name of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!
2) A family that prays together stays together! Think about that for a moment. Some of us are, only, here because of grandmothers' prayers sent heavenward late in the midnight hour. The Bible says that "The effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much." ~ James 5:16. So, Family, let us continue to pray, one for another. Pray for health, pray for wisdom, pray for salvation, pray for those caught up in conflicts, pray for those going through trials and tribulations, and pray for all of those who wished to be here today but could not due to circumstances beyond their control. Pray that the LORD would smile upon them today, touch them with His favor, and grant them deliverance in Mighty Name of Jesus Christ. Amen!
My beloved mother, Rev. Dr. Rosetta Lillard, who was John and Molly Edward's granddaughter, and a mighty Woman of God, often told me that her mother, Georgia Edwards, who, herself, was a mighty prayer warrior, prayed that all of her children would be saved. So, Family, let us pray for all of those who do not know the LORD in the forgiveness of their sins that they might be saved. For we don't want any to perish. Let no one be left outside of God's Ark of Safety. Amen!
#3) Finally, the Apostle Paul instructs us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, "Therefore, encourage one another, and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." So, let us support and encourage one another. Extend a hand of assistance to your brother-and-sister in Christ. Forgive one another, as God has forgiven you. The Bible says, "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Jesus died for us." ~ Romans 5:8. Amen!
Family, God has a purpose and a bright future for your life. The Prophet Jeremiah tells us, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~ Jeremiah 29:11.
So, go in love, and peace, and joy, Family, for a truly bright future awaits you!
May God Continue to Bless You Richly!
Let the church say Amen!
What the enemy intended for evil, God will turn it around for your good. ~ Genesis 50:20
On Wednesday night, June 17th, a 21 year-old white gunman brutally gunned down nine (9) African American church goers at a Bible Study at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. Investigators labeled it a hate crime.
The entire nation was totally shocked and repelled by this senseless, horrific massacre! The church goers had welcomed the stranger, who’d walked into their Wednesday night Bible Study, with opened arms. They had no idea that he would, very shortly, kill them with a hidden firearm. Nine loving Christians were martyred while sharing Jesus’ Gospel of love and redemption with an unknown stranger. (The names of these nine Christian martyrs are included at the end of this article.)
Amazingly, many of the relatives of those who were killed forgave the confessed murderer in a court proceeding. One relative affirmed, in her statement of forgiveness, “Hate won’t win.” What an inspiring message! Those relatives set a monumentally high standard of compassion and forgiveness that, quite frankly, not many of us could, conceivably, hope to attain. It is this, almost impossibly high, standard that was set by the crucified Christ who, from the cross, prayed concerning his executioners, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” ~ Luke 23:34
The question immediately arises, “What would possibly compel one human being to gun down nine other human beings who had shown him nothing but love and kindness?” According to investigators, the confessed killer stated that he wanted, by his actions, to start a race war in America. He intended to ignite a national conflagration of hatred, violence, and mass killings.
However, the Bible says, What the enemy intended for evil, God will turn it around for your good. ~ Genesis 50:20. Rather than being rent by violence, and greater racial divisions, Charleston, SC has, instead, chosen to embrace peace and love, not violence and hatred. Miraculously, the City of Charleston has begun the difficult process of coming together in worship, and solidarity, across racial, ethnic, political, and religious lines!
In the wake of the Massacre at Mother Emanuel Church, and with the spotlight of the nation, and the world, firmly fixed on South Carolina, the Governor stepped forward and called for the Confederate battle flag, long a symbol of division and bigotry, to be taken down from South Carolina’s state capitol grounds, and put in a museum. Amen to that!
What the Charleston gunman intended for evil is, indeed, beginning to be turned around for good! The gunman’s bloody and horrific act of despicable evil is, now, ironically, bringing together people of good will, of all backgrounds, colors, races, and creeds for the greater good of the community as a whole. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously stated, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Love is beginning to drive hatred out of Charleston.
Make no mistake, Charleston’s problems, racial and otherwise, are far from over. And the same can be said of South Carolina, and of America. There is, definitely, still a long way to go to achieve an inclusive society that reflects the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality for all. However, Charleston, for the moment, appears to be heading in the right direction, and perhaps there are some lessons of love that we can learn from her journey along the way.
The nine red roses at the top of this article are dedicated to the memory of the following nine Christian martyrs felled at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Charleston, SC on June 17, 2015:
Please feel free to share your thoughts on the events in Charleston, SC in the comments below.
Today, September 4th, marks the 'Kick-Off' of the new NFL Season. Excitement is in the air! It's a brand new season. The reigning Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks face-off against the talented and very hungry Green Bay Packers. Who will come out the victor? What are the expectations for the season? Will Russell Wilson and the Seahawks repeat as Super Bowl Champs? That is the question!
For many students, teachers, and administrators, this week is the beginning of a new school year filled with many new expectations. And, pretty soon, the green leaves of summer will give way to the reds and gold of autumn. And, so, like the new NFL and other seasons, new seasons come into our lives as well. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
How can we prepare ourselves, so that our new seasons will be truly Championship Seasons? What can we expect in our new seasons? How can we best be successful, seize new opportunities, and share in the excitement that new seasons bring?
First, there is one thing we know, that every new season, definitely, brings - CHANGE! The Seattle Seahawks will be facing totally new offenses and defenses this year. All of those new changes will make it more difficult for them to repeat as champions. The Seahawks will have to make adjustments, and deal with the uncertainty of change. As we enter the new seasons of our lives, we, too, face the uncertainty of change. And uncertainty, the unknown, very often elicits anxiety and/or fear.
However, the Bible reassures us, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." ~ Deuteronomy 31:6. Have faith and trust in God, and He will see you through whatever uncertainties your new season brings. (See 2 Corinthians 5:7). You don't have to be stressed out nor anxious as you enter your new season. If God be for you, who can be against you?
Secondly, a new season brings new challenges. Last year's game plan is not going get it, if the Seahawks plan to repeat. They're going to, definitely, need a new game plan to meet the new challenges of the new season. To meet the challenges of our new seasons we need wisdom - new strategies and game plans. James 1:5 tells us, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." We have to pray, and ask God for the wisdom we need to meet all our new challenges, and He will supply us with those winning strategies and game plans. (See Philippians 4:19).
Finally, a new season reveals new champions. Will the Seahawks get new Super Bowl rings at the end of this new season, or will a new champion be crowned? What are the chances of you becoming a champion in your new season. Through your own strength, it may be difficult, and even appear impossible. But the Bible says, "Humble yourselves before the LORD and He will lift you." ~ James 4:10. "Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." ~ Matthew 19:26.
So, as you enter the new season of your life, go in with great expectations. Enter with a championship attitude. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." ~ Philippians 4:13. Yes, in your new season, you, most definitely, can be a champion in Christ, if you truly believe! ''Nevertheless, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." ~ Romans 8:37.
Have a Fantastic Championship Season!
Until next time,
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." ~ Proverbs 9:10
So, what did you do on your summer vacation? We all get asked that proverbial question, starting in our earliest school years, right? Well, this summer I engaged in a wonderful, productive, and exhilarating experience. I successfully completed the #proverbschallenge - a project that entailed reading the 31 chapters of the Book of Proverbs, one chapter each day, during the 31 days of July. Whew! It was (how can I say this?) truly a revelation!
During those '31 Days of Wisdom' - I wrote a blog post on the #proverbschallenge ('Get Wisdom and Be Blessed - Proverbs')*, kept a daily journal (recording ah-ha moments), and periodically, posted on FB, Twitter, and IG (Instagram). Other #proverbschallenge participants were also posting their responses, comments, and insights on social media including, incidentally, gospel-great, James Fortune and FIYA.
It was a remarkable experience, absorbing the wisdom of the Word of God daily, while interacting with, and sharing insghts and perceptions with others embarked on the same journey.
Here is my final post on July 31st, the last day of the challenge.
"Good Morning, Everyone! We did it!! Yes, we've completed the #proverbschallenge!! Today marks DAY 31 of our '31 DAYS of WISDOM.' We can, now, shout the victory! HALLELUJAH!!! It's been a great Summer 2014 experience. Congratulations to everyone who completed this amazing journey through the 31 chapters of 'Proverbs' during the month of July. And, today, we finish strong with Proverbs 31:10 ~ "Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies." PRICELESS!
Saving the very best for last, the 'Virtuous Woman' has been saved for the final chapter of 'Proverbs'! Webster defines virtue as moral excellence and righteousness; goodness. The 'Virtuous Woman' combines the ideas of moral goodness, excellent fitness, and profitable activity.
The 'Virtuous Woman' aka the 'Proverbs 31 Woman' is depicted as the ideal woman: perfect wife, faithful helpmate to her husband, loveable, economical, enterprising, and wise. And above all, she is a God fearing woman! (See Proverbs 31:10-31.) The expression "price far above rubies" refers to bride price, a treasure given in exchange for a wife in many ancient and traditional societies.
The 'Virtuous Woman': 1) can be trusted; 2) takes her duties and responsibilities seriously, and performs them with excellence; 3) is a prudent manager; 4) takes excellent care of her household; 5) is, both, generous and a woman who builds wealth; 6) is gracious and discreet; and most of all, 7) fears the LORD. Among the many admirable qualities of the 'Virtuous Woman' are the following: faithfulness (Proverbs 31:26, 31:30); appreciation of marriage (Proverbs 31:11, 31:12); mothering and nurturing (Proverbs 31:28); protective (Proverbs 31:27); healthy (Proverbs 31:14, 31:15); one who serves (Proverbs 31:12); enterprising and financially savvy (Proverbs 31:14); industrious (Proverbs 31:13); excellent homemaker (Proverbs 31:27); and fine (Proverbs 31:22). The 'Virtuous Woman' is, definitely, a woman of integrity, giftedness, and positive influence, in both her home and her community!
Some scholars have speculated that the 'Virtuous Woman' represents the Christian church, with Christ being the bridegroom, husband, and head married to her. This is a question that can, certainly, be discussed. What's important, however, is the fact that the 'Virtuous Woman' is so significant that she been included in the Biblical canon. And that, in itself, is reason enough to give her our apt attention and careful consideration.
Once, again, congratulations to the all the 'wise' who have completed the '31 DAYS OF WISDOM!' It's truly an honor to have shared this incredible journey with you in God's Word through the Book of 'Proverbs.' Continue to study the Word of God, and build upon the wisdom you have gained during our journey together. And don't forget to celebrate your remarkable achievement today! May God Continue to Bless You Richly with His Wisdom! Be Blessed, Fam!"
One of the many incredible things I learned from the #proverbschallenge is that the fear of the Lord is, truly, the beginning of wisdom. Solomon, the author of Proverbs, instructs us that in all our getting, get understanding. I will remember the Summer of 2014 as my Proverbs Summer, the summer of wisdom and understanding. Thank God for Proverbs!
What did you do on your summer vacation?
*Published as a blog post on this site 07/18/2014.
Until next time,
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Proverbs 9:10
You are cordially invited in join us in the '31 Days of Wisdom Challenge!' During the month of July 2014 we're reading the Book of 'Proverbs' aka 'The Book of Wisdom.' There are 31 days in the month of July, and 31 chapters in the Book of 'Proverbs'. It's a match made in heaven! One chapter each day. Bam! #proverbschallenge
So, why read 'Proverbs'? 'Proverbs' is 'The Book of Wisdom', and there is a blessing promised to those who embrace wisdom. "She [wisdom] is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed." Proverbs 3:18.
Wisdom is, indeed, the central theme of 'Proverbs'. Webster defines wisdom as "understanding what is true, right, or lasting; good judgment; a wise outlook, plan, or course of action." So, it's, definitely, a wise investment of time to read, or listen to, the Book of 'Proverbs'. (Some digital versions are available as audio books.)
If you wish to become wise, associate with the wise. 'Proverbs' (The Book of Wisdom) has traditionally been attributed to Solomon. Solomon was reputed to have been wiser than all the men of his time, unsurpassed in wisdom and knowledge. And 'Proverbs' has been called a 'Manual for the Art of Living' because of it's treasure of practical wisdom for everyday living!
When reading 'Proverbs' be sure to take the time to savor each morsel of incredible wisdom found within its pages. Don't be in a hurry to rush through it or you'll miss some incredible insights. 'Proverbs' is truly food for the soul - the real 'Soul Food!'
As you journey through 'Proverbs', take a moment to meditate on each pearl of wisdom found within each of its 31 chapters. Hold each proverb up to the light, and examine it from different perspectives. You'll see something insightful and new each time!
Here are some tips to keep in mind while reading 'Proverbs':
1) Before you begin, ask God to give you wisdom and insight into His Word.
2) Read each verse through, and let it soak in. Let it marinate in your spirit.
3) Look up a commentary on each verse that resonates deeply with you, or that, perhaps, you don't quite get!
4) Think of examples that illustrate the point the proverb is making. For example, consider Proverbs 15:1. Abigail calmed David's anger with her gentle and judicious words (1 Samuel 25:24-26). In contrast, Nabal's harsh words to David's camp stirred up David's anger (1 Samuel 25:10-11). Words have power!
5) Apply the proverb to your life. Think of at least three (3) ways the wisdom found within the proverb can benefit you, your family, or your team.
6) Keep a daily journal of your journey through 'Proverbs', recording your thoughts, applications, and ah ha moments! Review your 'Proverbs Journal' periodically to harvest new insights and, possibly, share wisdom with others (especially through social media).
"In all thy getting, get understanding!" Join in the '31 Days of Wisdom Challenge.' Get understanding! It's, definitely, not too late to get started. It will be a truly great Summer 2014 reading experience that, without a doubt, will be a blessing. And you'll be a lot wiser on July 31st than you were on July 1st!
Get Wisdom. Get Understanding. Be Blessed!
How has the wisdom of 'Proverbs' blessed you?
Until next time,
"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1
Can you believe MEMORIAL DAY has come and gone already? And, yes, the official start of Summer is here! (Summer, officially, arrived at 6:51 a.m. EDT, on Saturday, June 21, 2014.) Just a few weeks ago, all of my Facebook friends know I was posting pictures of my snow covered deck. Today, sunshine splashes over that same deck, and the aroma of lemon, spices, and grilling fish wafts on the air. There's, definitely, been a shift in the atmosphere. It's a brand new season!
All the classic signs of summer are in the air. Overhead, I see the long, precise, V formation of honking geese flying north. Kids are outdoors, riding bikes up and down the street. The days are growing longer. People are heading to the beaches. Concerts in the park. Baseball. And joggers are everywhere! The undeniable signs of summer are all here.
And so seasons in our lives change, as well! Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time and a season for every purpose under heaven. One season ends, and another one begins. But how can you tell if it's a new season in your life? Do you know the precise date that you left childhood and entered adulthood? Middle age? How do you identify and measure the changing seasons in your life?
Just as with the arrival of summer, God provides us signs, as well, when we're about to enter a new season in our lives. You begin to get that inkling, deep down in your spirit, that something is shifting. You may fell constrained, confined, closed in by the status quo. And, yes, there are times when the status quo can feel very safe and comfortable because we know it so well. But you know you need to change in order to stay fresh and to grow, otherwise, you begin to get stale, and stagnation begins to set in. That undeniable inkling, that hint, that still small voice in your spirit is a sign you're about to enter a new season!
As you sense God bringing you into your new season, don't be afraid. He'll hold your hand every step of the way. "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8. When you begin to sense that the status quo is not enough, you'll know your new season is near. When you begin to feel the need to spread your wings, you will know that your new season is at hand. You'll know that It's time to venture out on the water!
So, as you leave the winter of your discontent, embrace your new season of hope and great expectations. Pursue that dream God has placed in your heart. Write that book that's inside you. Be healthier, stronger, financially fitter. Step into your calling. It's time to step out on faith! Embrace your future. Remember, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. It's a new season - your new season to venture out on faith!
Until next time,
Hi! I'm Kenneth Lillard, author, ordained minister, and motivational speaker. This blog is an expression of some of my thoughts and opinions. I'm glad you stopped by. Hope you'll share some of your comments while you're here. Be Blessed!