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Forward, Not Backward!

By Craig E. Brown

With the two major political conventions now concluded, I found it interesting how these conventions seemed to have propagated contrasting themes. One convention championed themes suggesting, “We Built It,” “Making America American [again],” and “Going Back [To the Reagan Era?].” The other convention platformed themes suggesting, “Forward,” “Continuing the Hope and Change,” and “Don’t Go Back.” 
With that said, I thought on how the theme I chose for this year, “Still Moving Forward – Victorious and Unstoppable
,” along with many of the messages spoken during the 2012 CHSC National Convention addressed both “Moving Forward” and “Going Back.”  Here are some of my notes from my sermon on Saturday, August 18, 2012:

It is always okay, and many times enjoyable, to reminisce; to “remember when” in order to paint a picture of a particular point in time in the minds of those that did not have the advantage of being there. I can still remember my curly Afro, bell-bottomed (flair) pants, gold-plated medallions, the 5th Dimension (oops, on the altar I go), semi-platform shoes, and the Helms Bakery Truck delivering milk and orange juice (in those glass bottles), bread, and doughnuts. We all enjoy the “Bill Cosby” syndrome that’s in many of us. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed my father’s stories of his youth and his growing up in the Texas/Oklahoma Christ Holy Sanctified Churches. He was such a vivid story-teller. But one thing he never desired to do and that was to actually “live” (go back) again in those times he told stories about because going back has some baggage associated with it.

For some of us, going back would mean enduring the harsh reality of the racial culture of a particular time. Think about it. Not being able to dine in many restaurants (except at the back door). Not being able to shop in certain areas of the city. Not being able to go to school without the escort of law-enforcement. Even though I am only in my mid-fifties, I remember a very poignant experience while traveling from California to Oregon in the early 1960’s. Although I did not quite comprehend what was happening, I do remember our family being sat in a back room of a steakhouse and the waiter making excuses as to why it was taking so long for us to be served. We sat in that back room for nearly an hour and received nothing more than glasses of water, a variety of crackers, and only the smell of the steaks cooking in the kitchen. But this experience was minor compared to some of the experiences many of you may have. In fact, while attending the conventions in Beaumont, TX, I still remember when some of us did not experience staying in “hotels” (versus motels and the saints’ homes) until around the mid-1970’s. Only about 37 years ago!

The only time I advocate going back is when you need to correct something that was done wrongly (as in going back to ask forgiveness) or to pick up something you failed to grasp, like education (as in going back to school) or going back to the altar for more of God’s presence in or anointing on your life. Any other “going back” should be done at Disneyland (at today’s prices, of course) or watching black and white TV shows such as Bonanza, Gun Smoke, Leave it to Beaver, Mr. Ed, Gigantor (cartoon robot; my favorite), and I love Lucy. You cannot take the church back with today’s conveniences and knowledge. If you want to take the church back, then you must leave your ATM and Debit cards and go to Western Union the next time you run out of cash while your traveling. Drag your rotary-dial-thick telephone-twisted-up-cord from room to room the next time you want to make a call. Heat the oven (light it with a match) when you want to warm up some dessert or left-overs because there are no micro-wave ovens going back. Take those blue, green, yellow, or purple colored eyes out (contact lenses) and just wear those thick, bi-focal, cat-eyed framed glasses. Take your nails and hair back to the store for a refund and just wear pony tails. Want to make a phone call away from home or office?   Make sure you have plenty of change and go to the phone booth (pay phone) because there are no cell phones (smart phones or androids) in going back. Want to reach out and touch? Write a letter and keep plenty of seven cent stamps because you can’t use e-mail, Facebook, Skype, Twitter, or text messaging (they haven’t been invented yet.)   Get rid of the cordless microphones and the media presentation out of the sanctuary. Get your rub-boards out and just clap your hands and stomp your feet on the wooden floors because there are no Hammond organs, electronic keyboards, six-stringed bass guitars, or nice drums sets. Let’s get fans and swamp coolers to deal with the heat because there are no air conditioned churches back in the 40’s, 50’s and part of the 60’s. Men, replace your suits and ties and just wear overalls. Ladies, don’t wear those designer hosiery; just put on those thick, white stockings.  Keep plenty of maps in your car – no GPS systems.  Make sure you don’t scratch your LPs (albums) as there is no MP3 technology.  I can go on and on. 

 God’s people must always – I repeat, always – be in a forward moving posture. And, I am certainly not saying that “moving” is a walk in the park. There are some attributes of moving that may be experienced. Here are just a few.

  • Moving can be “exciting” – you’re moving to greater things, new things and places.
  • Moving can be “stressful” – because it takes energy to move; sometimes there are many sleepless nights as a result of packing/unpacking and organizing everything.
  • Moving can be “uncomfortable” – because you’re coming out of a state of complacency and familiarity; sort of like moving to a foreign country and now you need to learn a new language and learn the new cultures, etc.
  • Moving can be “scary” – you just don’t always have complete control over every situation. Things will “pop-up” out of nowhere; many times people act contrary, stupid, etc.
  • And, moving can be costly – there is always a cost associated with moving; it may be a material cost (financial) or it may be more of a personal/emotional cost such as leaving or losing friends or leaving fond memories behind.

No one wants to leave friends and family behind. No one really wants to do anything they may not have control over? Who wants to be stressed out or uncomfortable? But, if you are to be in the place that God wants you – the place you say you desire to be – you must sometimes experience the pains of “Moving Forward!” …          

When the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin were allowed to leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem, only 50,000 of 2,000,000 (the “Remnant”) chose to make the journey. Yes, some died along the way and there were some trials and tribulations but for those who made the journey, they went back to the homeland they were forcefully snatch from (remember, I said it is okay to go back in order to correct a wrong) and re-establish their lifestyle, language, and worship to God. They even helped in the rebuilding of the temple and the walls. They moved forward in rebuilding their lives but they had to “move” in order to get to the place God intended. And Jesus Christ was in the plan of moving forward.

I encourage you to move forward in the work of God and not be “just satisfied”. Don’t dwell on the past or go back. The people and elements needed to go back are no longer with us. And, as hard as it may be to accept, the truth is, the people we are trying to go back to would not even want to remain in that place – they would want to move forward as fast as possible. As an organization, we should not feel as if we have somehow arrived. We should not feel that it takes too much to move forward or that we should just stay in an exiled and stagnated state. God is with us and is already in the place He is trying to bring us to. Are you ready?  . . .  

Excerpts and notes by Bishop Craig Brown.