Mama Fuller A Confidence Builder Sent From God

I define confidence as a feeling of self-assurance, a feeling that I can take on the tasks that God has put before me.

For me confidence comes from knowing that God believes in me, and knows that I can be better than I am right now.

Confidence also comes when God sends someone in my life to reinforce my God given talents with the expiations that I the potential to do great things.

Jamie Fuller, the Youth Director of our church, was a person who gave me confidence at an early and critical time of my life.

Mrs. Fuller, who we now call Mama Fuller, gave generously of her time and talents in producing plays, programs and services at our church.

With gentle firmness, Mama Fuller took a bunch of sometimes unruly, but very talented kids and gave us confidence – to go on stage, in a church in the Georgia Outback.

Mama Fuller also gave us the confidence to do well in the college classroom, the confidence to excel in the military, the confidence to win in the boardroom, and the confidence to be the kind of mothers, fathers and Christians that God desires us to be.

God understands the importance that confidence plays in our lives. That is why the Lord’s Word is filled with promises of strength and courage, if we place our confidence in Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:16 tells us to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, for when we do, we may find the grace to help us in our time of need.

God also understands that we need people, experiences and opportunities in our lives to give us the confidence that we lack.

  • God brought Aaron to Moses to give him confidence.

  • God brought Mordecai to Esther to give her confidence.

  • God brought Jamie Fuller to give me and all the kids she interacted with confidence.

We all need a Mama Fuller in our lives, a person anointed by God to give us the confidence we need do God’s will.

I hope you will take a moment and thank God for the confidence builders that the Lord has brought into your lives.

Thank you Lord for blessing us with talents;

Thank you Lord for blessing us the confidence to use those talents to achieve great things in your name;

Thank you Lord for blessing us confidence builders like Mama Fuller!

“I’m overwhelmed”

“I’m overwhelmed.” It’s something we hear often from frazzled parents to business owners, from pastors to everyday folks.

There’s just so much to do, so many details to notice and manage. Nobody wants to feel overwhelmed, yet what can we do about it?

Moses was overwhelmed. In Exodus 18, we see Moses working from morning to night to judge the disputes of “God’s chosen people.”

Because Moses wanted the Israelites to know and understand the law, he became a one-man Supreme Court. He personally solved the disputes of the people because each case mattered to him and to God.

No matter how well intentioned, being constantly overwhelmed took its toll on Moses, as it would on any of us.

Recognizing this, Moses’s Father-in-law, Jethro offers this wise counsel to him in Exodus Chapter 18, verses 17-18.

“What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you to do alone.”

God’s intention is for none of us to go it alone; that is why Adam had Eve, Moses had Aaron and Jesus had disciples. God used Jethro to give Moses an effective strategy to overcome being overwhelmed.

Let’s quickly examine three elements of this strategy:

  1. Stop Being a Micro-manager – Master the Art of Delegation.

By encouraging all decisions to be funneled through him, Moses fell into the trap that all overwhelmed folk land in, he became a micro-manager.

Jethro’s advice wasn’t to streamline the court.

His advice wasn’t to appoint people who would summarize the information for Moses, so that he could render quick verdicts. In this way, he would have kept his powerful position, as the only judge the people would know.

Instead, Jethro’s wise counsel was for Moses to give up some of his power, by delegating it to others.

The second and third parts of Jethro’s godly strategy to keep Moses from being overwhelmed answers the question, “How are we to delegate?”

  1. Train the People.

In Exodus Chapter 18 verse 20, Jethro perhaps encourages Moses to start the world’s first training and development program. He told Moses:

“Teach your people God’s requirements and pass on His laws. Show them the right way to live and the kind of work they should be doing.”

Moses trained leaders who would be given some of his authority, and participate with him in caring for the nation. Therefore, Moses became a more effective leader, and he was no longer overwhelmed.

  1. Know What Your People Can Do – Put Them in the Best Situation to Succeed.

In verse 21, Jethro suggests that Moses select able people – people who he knew had the capacity to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.

How can we know about the capabilities of people? Well, we can do it by helping people understand their spiritual gifts.

A spiritual gift is a supernatural ability given by God to the believer, for serving God’s people.

This week at our church (Hall Chapel and Mitchell Chapel), I taught about spiritual gifts. I invite you to learn about your spiritual gifts by following this link. (Spiritual Gifts Survey) You can take the same spiritual gifts survey we took at Hall Chapel and Mitchell Chapel, AME Churches.
I hope you will enjoy discovering the spiritual gifts God has placed in you.

As Jethro suggested to Moses, if you:

  • Stop micro-managing and start delegating
  • Train good people and put them in positions to succeed
  • Discovery your spiritual gifts
    Then, you will be able to endure, and you will not be overwhelmed.

My prayer for you this week is that you will take positive steps to avoid from being overwhelmed.

I would love to learn of your efforts, please drop me a line on my personal email: marben@marbenbland.com. I look forward to hearing what God has done in your life.

Until we meet again,

Blessings, Peace and Love!

Eddie Thomas – God’s Old Soldier Fades Away

On April 19, 1951, General Douglas MacArthur made a high-profile “farewell address” to a joint meeting of both houses of Congress.

One of America’s most renowned Generals during World War II, MacArthur summed up his military service with a lyric from an old British Army Barrack Ballad. Which most proudly proclaimed, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”

Eddie Thomas, served his country in both the United States Army and Airforce; he was what we in the military call a “soldier’s soldier.” While this old solider has faded away, he leaves a legacy as a man of fidelity, a family man, and a man of faith.

As a man of fidelity, Brother Thomas was a loving husband to his wife, Geraldine. They shared more than a four-decade bond of unquestionable togetherness and support.

One the last surviving husband’s in the enclave of Clinton, Georgia where I grew up. Brother Thomas kept fidelity with his community; he was always ready to pitch in with the work of house and home.

A demonstration of his fidelity was the simple fact that Brother Thomas was devoted to keeping his community looking military sharp! He always did his duty out there cutting the grass, regardless of the heat, or his physical condition.

As a family man, Brother Thomas cherished his role as father, grandfather, and great grandfather. His unvarnished advice – much of it based on his military experience – often cut to the heart of any matter presented to him. He was uncompromising, always telling the truth, and always available for family.

As a man of faith, Brother Thomas put on the whole armor of God. As a solider in God’s Army, Brother Thomas was ready for battle. He had on the belt of truth, the shoes of peace, and the breastplate of righteousness, as he carried the sword of the Spirit, studying the word of God in Sunday School, Bible Study, and church.

Brother Thomas knew that as a solider in God’s Army, he was not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies. Rather, his fight on behalf of the Lord was against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in heavenly places.

Because of the excellent solider that Brother Thomas was, he put on all of God’s armor so that he could stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

So now, on this week, we pause to celebrate the birthday of this nation. This is the nation which Brother Thomas pledged to protect; the flag which adorns his casket is a symbol of his commitment to that pledge. However, the question as we consider the life of this solider is this, what kind of solider are we?

In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus says,

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!  But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”

God want us to be hot soldiers like Brother Thomas.

Hot because he loved his wife and cared for his family.

Hot because he loved his community and cared for them, so much so that he was always willing to speak the truth, regardless of how unpopular it was.

Hot because he loved his Lord, and cared for the people of God, so much so, that he gladly put on the whole armor of God.

“Old soldiers never die, they just fade away…” Eddie Thomas this old solider who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty, has now faded away to be with his Lord.

Well done soldier, well done!

A Special Report

I can recall it like it was yesterday, I was ten years old, it was late afternoon on a Thursday. I was watching television with my brothers and sisters when the words flashed on the screen accompanied by the announcer saying in an authoritative tone, “We interrupted this program for a special report.”

In those few moments before the most trusted man in America made an appearance, my mind raced to what news would be in this special report.

Had America been attacked? Did an airplane crash? Was the earth quaking in some far off land?

In his first letter to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul – as with the television program I was watching that day – intrigues his audience by thanking them for setting a good example. He applauds them for their conversion, and he comforts these new converts by telling them of his sincere longing to see them again.

Then in chapter 5 verse 24, near the end of the letter during his blessing and admonition, Paul interrupts his own program with this special report.

“The God who calls you is faithful, and The Lord can be trusted to make it so” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-28 The Voice).

So what is the meaning of this special report?

The first thing we can glean from this special report is God has called us to a holy calling.

2 Timothy 1: 9, from the voice translation, tells us that
God has already saved us and called us to this holy calling – not because of any good works we may have done, but because of God’s own intention, and because eons and eons ago (before time itself existed), He gave us this grace in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King.

This special report from Paul is also reminding us that God is faithful.

Jeremiah 29:11-13, from the English Standard Version, tells us this about the Lord’s faithfulness to us:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, plans to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me seek me with all of your heart.”

Finally, this special report from Paul makes it clear that we can trust the Lord.

Psalm 37:4-6 from the English Standard Version says:
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and God will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in God, and God will act. God will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.”

We interrupted this program for a special report,

And the report is this:
God is calling us
God is faithful
And we can trust God

My Brothers and Sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things – because they come from our Lord in Heaven. (Philippians 4:8 The Voice)

This has been a special report.

Mother’s Day Prayer 2017

Pray with me please:
Dear Father, as we approach your throne of grace, we thank you for creating Mothers. We thank you for creating our mothers with unique combinations of gifts and talents. We thank you for sacrifices they make for us, both small and large. We thank you for the love they give us, which comes from you.
– We pray that you give each mother your strength – especially the ones who have experienced the loss of a child through death; those who are separated from their child by many miles, illness or prison.
– We pray that your grace will shine on the single mother who must perform the difficult task of being both mother and father.

Finally, we pray for the mothers who are alone on this Mother’s Day. We pray for mothers who are prison bound, whose children have left them, who are home bound and who are in nursing homes. We also pray for mothers who never had the honor of bearing children, but who nurtured many poor and needy children who crossed the threshold of their lives.

Father, be with us as we look at the relationship between Jesus and Mary, His Mother. May we learn your way to succeed at this relationship of love between a mother and her child.

It is in your wonderful Son, Jesus’ Name that we pray. Let us all say amen, amen and amen.

Marben Bland is the pastor of the Hall and Mitchell Chapel AME Churches in Sparta, Georgia

Mother’s Day Contentment

Mother’s Day is a time of great emotion, and as Sunday approaches, many of us are already feeling it.

Three of my friends lost mother’s recently, so for them and many others, this Mother’s Day will be a time of sadness.

For others, Mother’s Day is a happy time. It is when they show appreciation to mom, by lavishing her with praise, prizes and pedicures.

For me, the day and this week is a time of reflection. My mother who has Demetria turned 91 on Tuesday, This means the tables have turned; and now her children function in the role of parent and caretaker.

Philippians 4:11 tells us to learn to be content whatever the circumstances. At this point of my mother’s life, her memory is gone, her cognition diminished, her steps are getting shorter, but she is content with her circumstances.

It is the grace and mercy of God which has given me contentment regarding my mother’s circumstances. No longer do I think, “Why did this happen to such a wonderful, loving woman, who committed her life to using her powerful intellect to educate others?”

God’ grace has given me the magnificent gift of reflection. God’s grace affords me the time and space to reflect on the remarkable life she continues to live, and the continuous teaching she so generously provides for her children.

Therefore, on Mother’s Day the most emotional of days my prayer for you is contentment whatever the circumstance.

Marben Bland is the Pastor of Hall Chapel and Mitchell Chapel AME Churches in Sparta, Georgia.

Arthur Blank a Good Neighbor

Arthur Blank the owner of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons is not only an American success story, he is also a good neighbor.  

Born in the Flushing neighborhood of the New York City borough of Queens.  Blank has amassed millions improving neighborhoods as the co-founder of Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer. 
 
Blank also helped his neighbors through his philanthropic efforts, making a personal pledge to give away at least 50% of his wealth during his lifetime.  

His Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, helps neighbors around the world, and promotes innovative solutions to transform the lives of youths and their families.  

Formed in 1995, the Foundation has provided more than $300 million to many charitable organizations. 
 
Blank’s Rules for Neighborly Success
 
Arthur Blank credits much of his success working with neighbors in business, sports and philanthropy, to these six simple yet powerful rules:
 
1. Put people first.
2. Listen to the customer.
3. Include everyone.
4. Innovate continuously.
5. Lead by example.
6. Give back.
 
The Parable of the Good Samaritan and The Blank Rules
 
Loving and caring for our neighbor is the commandment of God and is a key element in our Christian faith.  
 
The power of these timeless rules from Arthur Blank is evident in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
(Luke 10:25-37)    
 
Jesus uses the parable in response to the question of a local lawyer who ask “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”   
 
Jesus responds to the lawyer’s question by asking him, “What is written in the law?” 
 
The lawyer reads the law back to Jesus by saying it is commanded that “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 
 
Looking for a loophole to trip up Jesus, the lawyer asked, “And who is my neighbor?”
 
In response, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan; this is where the Blank rules come into play.  Let’s look at the parable in a different way, by using the Blank rules for treating his neighbor.
 
Putting People First  

“There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.  A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds.”
 
Question:  Who followed the Blank rule of putting people (his neighbor) first? Was it the priest? Was it the Levite religious man? Or was it the Samaritan?
 
Listen To The Customer / Include Everyone

“He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning, he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill-I’ll pay you on my way back.'”
 
Comment: By giving the injured man first aid and taking him to an inn, the Samaritan was listing to the concerns of his customer without a word being said. 
 
Getting the innkeeper to help was smart; it expanded the care for this injured neighbor by getting others involved.  

How often as Christians do we take the “Lone Ranger” approach to loving our neighbor?  We should remember that even the “Lone Ranger” was never alone; he always had Tonto at his side.
 
Innovate Continuously

Comment: You may say what was so innovative about the Samaritan tending to an injured person?   Apple founder Steve Jobs, and noted innovator, said that innovation most often is not about doing something new. He said that innovation most of the time is about doing something that others were unwilling to do.

The Samaritan was innovative because he did something for “his neighbor” that the Priest and the religious Levite were unwilling to do. 

Question: How willing are we to innovate for our neighbor?

Lead By Example

Once the parable was completed, Jesus then asked the Lawyer, “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”

The lawyer responded, “The one who treated him kindly.”

Comment:  The Samaritan has set the example. 

Give Back

Then Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

Comment:  The Samaritan has set the example; now Jesus wants us to go and set examples for others.  

Final Thoughts

Yes, Arthur Blank is a good neighbor; some may argue that it is easy to be a good neighbor when you are a billionaire!  

However, let me remind you that Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”  

While I am not handicapping Mr. Blank’s afterlife, I am saying that all of us must be good neighbors, regardless of our resources.   

For when we live our lives keeping the commandment to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves,” we and our neighbors will all be the richer for it. 
 
Marben Bland is the pastor of Hall Chapel and Mitchell Chapel AME Churches in Sparta, Georgia.