Trying to Gain the Whole World

Posted by Al Hathaway Tuesday, June 30, 2009 0 comments

The Bible asks the question, "what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"


This age old question found its answer in the sentencing of Bernard Madoff. 150 years in confinement, stripped of any financial assets, and destruction of your family name is no question the losing of one's soul. Abandonment by wife, family, and friends is isolation of the worse kind.

Common street talk would say, "if you are going to steal, steal big." I would pray that any who would give this idea serious thought; reflect on how quickly from discovery of the crime, to the sentencing of the crime, and to the complete ostracizing Madoff received. If he was asked the honest question, "was it worth it?" I'm certain he would say no - the price was too high to pay.

My mother would say, "honesty is the best policy!"

Yes it is!

Your Debt is Cancelled

Posted by Al Hathaway Sunday, June 28, 2009 0 comments



The conversation continues about the debts owed by the estate of Michael Jackson. Some say he owes over $400 Million Dollars, but MJ was a shrewed businessman and purchased the catalog to all the Beatles songs. A catalog that some say is valued at over a $1 Billion dollars.

If that is the case because he made a purchase long ago, all his debts will be cancelled out by the value of the asset he bought.

God knew that each of us would have a debt we would have to pay; therefore, Jesus Christ purchased our debt on an old rugged cross long ago. Because of His death and resurrection our debt has been cancelled out and we are all set free.

Someone should say, Thank You Jesus!

With a Child's Heart

Posted by Al Hathaway 0 comments

Sometimes our adultness gets into the way of our enjoying this beautiful experience which is fleeting - life. Reduce your stress level, spend quality time with love ones, and pay attention to the beauty God has placed in everyone's life. Live life with a "child's heart."



Oh for the joy of living without worry or care!

Vicarious Living

Posted by Al Hathaway Saturday, June 27, 2009 2 comments

God made each of us unique and special. Too often persons seeks to see yourself through the life experiences of others. Hence the Michael Jackson phenomna where people sought to dance like him, dress like him, and even look like him.
God made each of us unique and special. While it may be popular or faddish to get caught up in the marketing of a personality. It is dangerous to live vacariously through others experiences. No one can be you; and you can be no one else.

Now that Michael Jackson has joined the celestrial choir, may all the people of the world live life to their fullest potential and be the best person they can be: like none other.


"We are wonderfully and marvelously made. The handiwork of God's hands."

The Significance of Excellence

Posted by Al Hathaway Friday, June 26, 2009 2 comments

As we continue to reflect on the life of Michael Jackson, we must conclude that he was committed to excellence in his professional career. The mystic sage, Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman, once wrote that “Commitment means that it is possible for a man to yield the nerve centre of his consent to a purpose or cause, a movement or an ideal, which may be more important to him than whether he lives or dies.”


When one looks at the collective legacy of Michael Jackson in film, television, music, performances, and business; you are left with a stellar record of excellence and commitment to his field of work. Never settling for mediocrity, he pushed himself, producers, and team to demonstrate excellence.

We have much to learn from this type of commitment to excellence. We learn that excellence is an international language. We learn that excellence is a commitment to lifelong learning. We learn that excellence fosters a culture of copycats who gain new incites into their own physical, mental and spiritual being.

Thank you MJ for teaching us lessons that will stand the test of time.

Life is Fleeting

Posted by Al Hathaway Thursday, June 25, 2009 0 comments

I join the world in mourning the death of Michael Jackson. A child prodigy who lived his life in the public arena under the scrutiny of the world's media. With his unique gift of music and creative genius, he captured the imagination of children and fans throughout the world. He lived an eccentric life, but he lived nevertheless to the fullest extend. A world traveler his ever changing face was known throughout the planet.



One can only say that Micheal Jackson squeezed every moment out of the time God gave to him. An anonymous poet once wrote, "That we only have a minute, only sixty seconds in it. Forced upon us, can't refuse it. Didn't seek it, didn't chose it; but its up to us to use it. We will suffer if we abuse it. Give account if we lose it. Just a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it."


Being Equally Yoked

Posted by Al Hathaway 0 comments

A biblical ideal in relationships is the concept of "being equally yoked." It's where two individuals are bound in such a way that they operate as one in mind. spirit, and body. Too often it is difficult to walk a path together where each side of the road is equally divided. Most often every relationship requires the other party to give sometimes. Can one give in without losing one's power to say no, cease, or move over? Can one give in and not be relegated to a secondary position? This is the dilemma in relationships: how does one share in the emotional, spiritual, and financial ups and downs, but still remain equally yoked? Yoked in such a way that in tragic and triumph, in pain and passion, in calamity and celebration: you are inseparable, indivisible, and indestructibly united together.

The joy in relationships is the divine quest to continually work it out knowing that the end result is a bond, an adherence, and a unity of spirit and purpose that will stand the test of time.


The Honeymoon should never end!

Posted by Al Hathaway Wednesday, June 24, 2009 0 comments

The mistake is sometimes made in relationships where they start off like a rocket and soon sputter to the earth. The couple ends up in an emotional roller coaster without an ability to achieve any equilibrium in the relationship. If moods swings dominate your relationship, I would suggest that all parties take a time out and remember the Honeymoon when it all began. The sparkle in your eye when your mate walked into the room. The aromatic sensation you felt when their favorite cologne or perfume scented the air. The whirlwind space of your initial time together when all the possibilities of love and life where before you.


At last your true love is in your life and I submit that the honeymoon does not have to end. True love is an endless search for romantic possibilities. It should never become routine. The needle that gauges your life should always point to excitement and intrigue. Life is lived to its highest potential when you always perceive that it will present new possibilities, new horizons, and new adventures.

A three stranded cord is not easily broken: you, your mate and God. The Apostle Paul says it like this, "What can separate us from the love of God...nothing" I conclude by saying what can separate you and your mate from a honeymoon experience in life - nothing.

Our Future begins tomorrow with our children

Posted by Al Hathaway Monday, June 22, 2009 0 comments

After Father's Day and the Monday blues our attention turns to the children of the community who find themselves looking for non-existent summer jobs, waiting for opportunity to knock on their door, and seeking to escape the violence that is all around them.

Indeed we are forgetting a basic lesson of Jesus when asked what is the Kingdom of Heaven like? He responded by placing a child in the midst of them and remarked that the Kingdom of Heaven is like this little child.

This continues to be our challenge to create safe and nurturing places for our children, to develop homes and communities that are wholesome and safe, and to foster a willingness to teach and train our children at every level of their educational career.

A young man remarked to me the other day after earning his dual JD/MBA that he had been in school for twenty years. He was 25 years old and saw his academic career beginning at the age of 5 years old. Are we willing to support our children through a 20 year educational cycle? I believe using the resources necessary to support 20 year educational careers is far being than a 20 year sentence in a correctional facility.

Let us resolve to become mentors, encouragers, and parental figures to the children of our community. They indeed are our future!

Richard Smallwood and Vision - Total Praise




The Worship experience of Sunday is over. The clock is now ringing for you to get up. The work day is about to begin. The stress of too little income and too much outgo impacts many families during these economic times.

Yesterday was Father's Day, but today is a work day and "baby needs a new pair of shoes."

How are you feeling now you know you are returning to the drudgery of work and the monotonous routine of doing the same thing and getting the same results?

On one hand work is an exchange of time for money. Everyone needs money to survive. But do you find your work experience fulfilling? Do you find your workplace enhancing? Or do you drag yourself into your work site with an attitude that if anyone ticks you off; they will get a piece of your mind.

What happened to your Sunday praise? What happened to your worshipful sense of the presence of God?

God continues to inhabit the praises of his people.

Wake up! Get up! Move on up to a higher level of praise!

Leave home with made up mind that "this is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Always and at all times give God - "Total Praise!"

Father I stretch my hand to Thee

Posted by Al Hathaway Saturday, June 20, 2009 3 comments

Father's Day creates a variety of feelings among families, children and mothers. Depending on the responsiveness of your father, his availability, and dependability; emotions range from indifference to adoration. It is unfortunate that for some the image and reality of a biological father causes dismay. Some are so fortunate that they have experienced the love, affection and support of a strong male figure in their home - their father.

The word reminds us that "if father and mother forsake you the Lord will take you up." That's why we did not create ourselves, none of us are mistakes, and we are all God's children. Fearfully and wonderfully made, God deposits into each of us His Divine Essence. So on this Father's Day, be willing to proclaim: "Father I stretch my hand to thee, no other help I know."

Indeed you will find the comforting love of a Heavenly Father who only asks that you place your hand in His hand and be blessed.

What is soul?

Posted by Al Hathaway Friday, June 19, 2009 0 comments


Dr. W.E. B. Dubois, the sage for all ages, wrote in his seminal book, "The Souls of Black Folks" that, "one ever feels his twoness, -an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder... this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self." In the mind of Dubois, the better self was defined as one's soul.

What is soul?

For the Christian believer it is the life force or the spark of life that uniquely comes from God, belongs to God, and returns to God.

How is the soul expressed in one's lfe?

You find it in the creative instinct to produce something out of what is apparently nothing. The ability to take the raw gifts that God has given you and produce families, music, art, community, spiritual freedom, economic systems, academic institutions, and government structures. It's in the writings that are lyrical and poetic. It's in music that speaks to your inner being and illuminates your darkness and connects you to your anchestrial heritiage. It's in the stride of a proud people seeking to achieve in spite of the odds. It's in the worship and praise of a people who know that their God is able.

What is soul?

It is the spiritual force of a people who are transforming America and the world into a better place that is ordained by God.


Creating a Quiet Place

Posted by Al Hathaway 3 comments

In the lives of everyday people it is sometimes difficult to find a quiet place.

A place where you can go "up on the roof" and get away from the confusion, the hectic pace, the issues that confront one's life, or the maddening noise of our modern society and our cultural lifestyles.

Where is your quiet place?



Where is your place of spiritual healing? Where do you go to recharge your batteries? Where do you meditate? Where do you pray?

One of the most amazing places to seek peace is through the work of Rev. Dr. Robert H. Schuller. His ministry has spanned over 50 years and through his creative genesis and with divine inspiration has made a bold attempt to develop a quiet place, a spiritual place.

A place where persons of all faiths and religions can go and find solitude, peace and pray.

His religious philosophy is strongly influenced not only by the Biblical account of Jesus, but also be the "power of positive thinking."

Therefore, through the design of The Crystal Cathedral and its campus, you catch a glimpse of a place, a vision, a spiritual kingdom that seeks to usher one into the presence of God.

Yours may not be on such a grand scale. It may be a secret closet. It may be an altar in the corner of a room. It may be an attic space.

Nevertheless, everyone should set aside a space, a place, a destination made Holy by prayers and praise where God can come and visit you and sup with you.

Jesus is always standing at the door knocking waiting to be invited into your heart, mind and soul.

Peace!

When you need an anchor?

Posted by Al Hathaway Wednesday, June 17, 2009 0 comments

Usually the sea of life is tranquil and peaceful, but all too often you experience frustration, anguish and issues.

Have you ever had to deal with "issues"?

Those are the experiences and moments in your life when it seems that things are out of your control. Those experiences and moments produce feelings that raise your stress level, creates tension, and sometimes produces anger. The sea of your life is now moving into turbulence. Your ship is going through rocky waters. You are bouncing upon life's waves.



What hope do you have that these moments of frustration, anguish and issues will subside? What cure, temporary it may be, is there to these kind of feelings? When you neither want to get out of the bed, nor leave the house to face your turbulence: because you know in your mind that you are about to blow a fuse, give someone a piece of your mind, pull your hair out, or jump from the highest mountain.

Have you ever had to deal with issues on the outside or issues on the inside? Issues on the outside allow you to find some peace in the solitude of your abode. But, issues on the inside create the need to leave your abode and seek comfort on the outside.
Neither situation is good for you or your love ones.

The danger of issues on the outside is that you may bring that tension into your home and boil like a pot on a stove waiting for something to tigger an explosion. On the other hand, issues on the inside that forces you outside create the atmosphere for justifying acts of indecency or acts of violence.

Where can you find some piece in the midst of life issues?
Where can you find safe haven for your soul?

The Word of God. "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. "

This word of comfort reminds you and me that Jesus is always available; that you always have a source of release from the pressures of life, that tensions can be eased, that issues can be resolved, that anguish can be calmed, and that in Him you can experience an inner peace - called joy.

"The joy that surpasses all understanding"

That's good news that whatever anguish you may feel, whatever waves you may encounter; you have an anchor, you have a rock upon which you can stand, and you have a shield against all that would seek to steal your joy or disturb your peace.

Even I feel better now, knowing that that true blessed assurance is understanding that Jesus is available, "just when you need him most."


Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor

Posted by Al Hathaway Tuesday, June 16, 2009 0 comments


Rev. Dr. Gardner Taylor challenges preachers (and hearers) of the gospel to center the focus of their message on Jesus Christ. He rightly concludes that for some the focus has been on themselves and the prosperity of the era. The sense of the "suffering servant" has been lost. The sense of self-sacrifice has diminished. In a era of "I'm number one." We are losing in sermonic messages that Jesus is the answer to our troubles.

It is fulfilling that the sage of the pulpit is still challenging preachers and hearers to the truth of the gospel message, "Jesus Saves."

Can I get a witness?


Calendar

Posted by Al Hathaway Monday, June 15, 2009

About Me

Posted by Al Hathaway


The Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Hathaway, Sr. has the distinction of being the 10th Pastor in the 159 year history of Union Baptist Church. He was elected in February 2007 after serving for three years as the Assistant Pastor. Reverend Hathaway has a Ph. D. in Philosophy of Religion from The North Carolina College of Theology and Doctor of Ministry degree from the United Theological Seminary. He earned his Masters of Arts in Church Ministries and a Certificate in Urban Ministry from Saint Mary’s Seminary and University. He is a graduate of The Harvard Divinity School’s Summer Leadership Institute. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from The McKendree School of Religion.


He also studied Philosophical Theology at what was then Coppin State College and was the first President of its Philosophical Theology Club. He is the recipient of the following fellowships: National Civic League, 2001 Pfrozheimer Fellow and Maryland Historical Society, 2005 Lord Baltimore Fellow. Rev. Hathaway is a graduate of Baltimore City College High School. He is a member of the Academy of Homiletics and the Society of Biblical Literature.On April 12, 2012, Dr. Hathaway was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers of Morehouse College. 

Dr. Hathaway is a member of the following Board of Directors: Maryland General Hospital, UrbanAmerica New Market Tax Credits, Greenline Community Ventures, LLC, HarborBank Shares's Community Development Entity, Downtown Partnership, Safe and Sound, Center for School Mental Health, and The Advisory Board of Coppin State University's Helene Fuld School of Nursing. He is the President /CEO of Union Baptist Church – School, Inc.

He is a contributing author of “Children’s Mental Health: Partnering with the Faith Community” in the book: Providing Mental Health Services to Youth Where They Are: School – and Community-Based Approaches. (New York: Brunner-Routledge. 2002); “Reaching Out to School and Community Stakeholders to Improve Mental Health Services for Youth in an Urban US Community,” International Journal of Mental Health Promotion. (Volume 4 Issue 4 – November 2002); "Enhancing child and adolescent resilience through faith-community connections." In C. Clauss-Ehlers & M. Weist (Eds.) Community planning to promote resilience in youth. (New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishing. 2004); “When Your Change Comes” in the book: Memories of Mother. (www.XulonPress.com. 2007); “When Affliction is Good!” the African American Pulpit. (Winter 2008 – 2009); 81 of his sermons are posted on SermonCentral.com.

He authors daily inspirational messages entitled, “Daily Walking, Working and Winning by God’s Word” at www.alhathaway. com.

He is a Professor of Early Church History in the Harold A. Carter Determined Biblical and Theological Institute.
Rev. Hathaway’s wife the lovely and talented Kathleen Brice was a career employee of The Department of Defense. They are the proud parents of two outstanding children: Alvin Jr., a JD/MBA graduate of West Virginia University who works for Texas Instruments, and Adaria, a Master of Science graduate in Telecommunications who is studying for her Doctor of Education Degree at Morgan State University.


Contact Me

Posted by Al Hathaway

"How to Pray with Power"

Posted by Al Hathaway 0 comments


Beginning Sunday, July 5, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. The Summer Sermon Sizzler Series will feature a 9 week Sunday series on "How to Pray with Power" ending on Sunday, August 30, 2009.
Many people are faced with the dilmema of knowing they need to pray, but are asking amiss (James 4:3) KJV. Some find their prayers hindered because of some addiction to sin from which one first need to be released. Some find their prayers blocked by harboring ill will towards another.

This one hour Sunday Sermon Series will create a breakthrough in your prayer life by understanding, "How to Pray with Power."

Visit Union Baptist Church, 1219 Druid Hill Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland and experience the power of our anchestral heritage, experience the power of an answered prayer, and experience presence of the Living God.

What to do after the game?

Posted by Al Hathaway Sunday, June 14, 2009 0 comments

In sports there is an interesting phenomena created by identifying with a team to such an extend that one believes the success of the team impacts one's own personal reality.

Hero worship is taken to the nth degree - such that persons study, mimic, and learn the personality of their favorite player. They wear their jerseys. They download their pictures. They follow their every public move. That particular player becomes a vicarious extension of their personality.

In some sense that's fine. It good to escape one's reality and to seek experiences that uplift and momentarily change the tenor and tone of one's existence. But the question that always lingers in my mind is, "what do you do after the game?" What does one do when your favor player receives their enormous check, lucrative endorsements, and fabulous vacations? How do you feel when they disappear out of sight to return to the privacy of their own lives?

I believe one feels a void in their life when their favor sports figure takes a break from the public arena and issues no more press releases, makes no more public statements, and avoids the media for a period of time. I suggest that one feels a vacuum, an emptiness, a lessening of their persona; now that their favor sports figure takes a respite.

What do you do after the game is over?

Do you take the time that you allocated to watching your favor sports figure and now get up from your couch and exercise? Do you take a break from the mind numbing cable wide screen television set and read a book to exercise your mind? Do you cease the constant snacking on junk food that has bloated your belly, and/or hardened your arteries.

What do you do after the game is over?

Do you take the time you were separated from your love ones watching the endless series of action and now spend that time in meaningful conversation with them? Do you increase your volunteer time in activities that improve our society and community?

Or, do you just enter a perpetual state of inactivity?


It is exciting to watch the best physical specimens performing feat of athletic prowess that cause everyone to say, "wow!" But I believe it is more fulfilling to engage in activities that enhance your own well being versus being a spectator of other's fitness and economic programs.

We have evolved into a culture of inactivity, ineffective interpersonal communications, and a lessening of common community concern. We are a culture of spectators. Watching life go by and vicariously thinking we are involved.

Now that the game is over. Access your own personal life story and insert physical activity, mental activity and community activity in your program. You will find that others will watch you perform on the stage of life and cheer you to victory over the forces that create a sense of inertia and inactivity.

Play Ball!


This morning I woke up to a dark house. The power was out and there were no lights, no A/C, no refrigeration, no cable television, no music ... it was awful. Waking up in the darkness without a source of power is a terrible feeling. Baltimore Gas & Electric had an emergency phone number to call when you have a need. I called the phone number and the attendant informed me that a worker had been dispatched. After a period of time the power came on.

In life you will experience moments when you are in darkness and it appears that you are disconnected from the source of your power.
The good news is that God's prayer line is always open and you can call Him when you have need. Life has taught me that He will dispatch an angel on your behalf to attend to your needs.

Thank God that He is the source of our strength and the answer to all of our needs!

The intersection of the Faith Community and Hip Hop Culture

Posted by Al Hathaway Saturday, June 13, 2009 0 comments

Increasingly those of us in the faith community are wondering how do we interact with and possible influence those members of the Hip Hop community.

Time should lead us to understand that every generation has its defining culture: Lindy Hop, Be Bop, Birth of the Cool, Bohemian, Hippie, Gangster, etc. It is appears that each generation matures from its early definition into a more societal acceptable mode. In other words every group grows up and becomes the status quo.

So it is with the Hip Hop Culture, a phenomenon that has transformed the nature of a cultural fad's cycle and become incorporated into the mainstream.

Therefore, the question really is: "how does the church community communicate with its young?" This has been and is the age old question of the church.

I firmly believe Jesus' proclamation, "that if I be lifted up, I will draw all men (people) unto me." We have attempted to package Jesus in our own likeness. But, he has his own distinctive features. He is a friend to the friendless. One who "stickest closer than a brother." He is a comforter when you need him. He is an advocate when you are voiceless. But most importantly he is a Savior who will rescue the lost, the perishing, and the weak.

That's why we can never give up on our youth, because we are the beneficiaries of people never giving up on us.

Talent will take you; where character will not keep you

Posted by Al Hathaway Friday, June 12, 2009 2 comments

In our society we see so many stories of very talented people with extraordinary skills become entangled in difficulties that call their character into question.

Bishop Walter Thomas made this salient statement that, "talent will take you; where character will not keep you".

Care must be taken in life to insure that your word is your bond and that you practice what you preach. Recent stories describe the tragic predicaments talented people have found themselves in because character flaws crop up that become an albatross around their necks.

You only have to look at the situation of Michael Vick who lost the opportunity to play in the NFL, who lost millions of dollars in salary and endorsement, and who eventually was imprisoned for a character flaw involving dog fighting. The list of Rap Stars seems never ending as they wrestle to become the leader in their field, only to fall prey to the same circumstances they were seeking to escape, i.e Little Kim, Tupac Shakur, and Biggie Smalls.

Returning home from the Hampton Minister's Conference and its electric atmosphere of praise, preaching and prayer; I was confronted with a telephone inquiry asking me what my opinion was about a front page article in the Baltimore Sunpapers describing the appointment of Mr. Brian Morris. I was not able to respond to the article. I was still driving on the highway. But after I returned home, I read the article. My first reaction was that the appointment of Mr. Morris to the position of Deputy CEO did not meet the "smell test." The smell taste suggests "does the aroma of a transaction smell sweet or foul." Unfortunately this matter smells foul.

Personally I like Mr. Morris. But on a professional level, I wonder what Dr. Andres Alonso was thinking to make such a high level appointment without an executive search, without posting the position, or without subjecting Mr. Morris to more than a brief interview.

Can Mr. Morris perform in the position? That is not the question.

The situation smells foul because Mr. Morris played a major role in the hiring of Dr. Andres Alonso and voted in favor of a very lucrative and secure contract for him. To have Dr. Alonso hire Mr. Morris for a $175,000 position without establishing hiring standards, or qualifications smells "fishing."

I would pray that all efforts are made to air out the details of this appointment to insure that the public's best interests are served.

Hampton Minister's Conference

Posted by Al Hathaway Tuesday, June 9, 2009 2 comments


The experience of Hampton is best explained by believing that the Kingdom of God can inhabit the earth. As one moves through the crowds of people, you find friendly faces and warm spirits everywhere.

The Baltimore Clergy and Choir Personalities are in full force. There are friends from the family of faith everywhere. The presence of Rev. Dr. A.C. D. Vaughn who is able to call everyone by name is amazing to witness. He is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for The Hampton Minister's Conference for life. A testimony to his collegiality.

I sat in awe at the first lecture of Rev. Dr. Brad Braxton, Senior Pastor, Riverside Church of New York. He is a capable brother who is intellectually and theologically sound. The morning and afternoon weather was pleasant. The evening's weather is clouding, thundering, and raining. Nevertheless, the spirit of the Lord is here. You can feel it in the atmosphere.
Picture Credit: Giancarli for News, Daily News . NY Local. April 27th 2009

How to Rebound From a Knockdown

Posted by Al Hathaway Monday, June 8, 2009 0 comments

Today begins a new day in ministry for me. It is the day that I integrate technology as I daily communicate with you to encourage your "Daily Walking, Working and Winning by God's Word."

Today is also the day that I travel to the Minister's Conference in Hampton, Virginia. This is the largest conference for minister's in America and is regularly attended by over 4,000 ministers and 2,000 choir members.

As I begin this blog, "Daily Walking, Working and Winning by God's Word" I will seek to response to a question posed by a person looking for answers to one of life's dilemmas: can a persons turn their life around, if you stumble are you able to pick up where you left off, or "How do you rebound from a knockdown"?

The word of God is always my guide.

Pick up your Bible and read II Samuel 24:14 "And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man."

What is clear about life's struggles is that you will not win every battle. Every time you get into the ring of life does not mean that the referee will raise your hand in victory. Even though you may feel ready, even if you feel that you are strong, or even if you feel that the odds are stacked in your favor; sometimes in your life you will be faced with the awesome reality that it is you who is lying on the mat knock down, but not out. Given this set back, set up, or set out; you have a decision to make. Do you crawl out of the ring on your hands and knees, do you wait for your corner man to bring a stretcher to haul you away, or do you get back on your feet, dust yourself off, shake yourself loose, clear your head, and get back into the fight for your life. One thing is certain. The decision you make will have lasting ramifications for your life. Therefore, how do you rebound from a knockdown is an important question to answer.

There may be someone who is reading who understands what I am saying. Nobody but you knows what you are facing. Nobody but you knows that you are losing every round and that the end is eminent. Unexpectedly you have received the news. You are not winning, you are losing. Your family is in chaos. Your relationships have gone haywire. Your children are acting absolutely crazy. Your outgo exceeds your income. You are walking a tightrope and your balance is unsteady. Your are not winning, you are losing. And suddenly out of nowhere comes the crushing blow, the critical punch, the crucial moment that turns the tide out of your favor and you are faced with the awesome reality - I have been knockdown, but not out!

How do you rebound from a knockdown?

Allow me to take another perspective on this matter. I am a product of the sixties which I believe was an exciting period in the life of this country and our people. We realized that a man can't ride you back, if you don't bend your back. We realized that there was no reason to accept second class citizenship. We realized that we didn't have to ride in the back of the bus. Out of the sixties arose a mighty warrior - Muhammad Ali. He could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. He was a heavy weight boxer who had a unique style of fighting in that he could hit you and avoid being hit. He could dance. He could float. He was poetry in motion. He was pretty. He was handsome. He was strong. He was Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali could predict the round when he would knock out his opponent. He was one of the original rappers. He used his oratorical skills to provide color to a brutal sport.

Muhammad Ali had made the American government upset with his stance on the Vietnam War. When he was asked to step forward and be inducted into the Army - he refused. He was stripped of his boxing license and the championship he had earlier won by defeating Sonny Liston. For three years, he couldn't fight. There arose another boxing champion - Joe Frazier. But Muhammad Ali would say he was the people's champion. After he was permitted to obtain his boxing license he fought two tune-up fights in anticipation of a match between him and Frazier - the Fight of the Century.

It was held in Madison Square Garden in New York. Everyone was there. The whole world watched on closed circuit television. I watched too.

It was an epic struggle. Muhammad Ali danced and punched. Joe Frazier ducked and swung. It went for fifteen rounds without a clear winner. The people who liked Frazier thought he was winning. The people who liked Ali thought he was winning. Suddenly in the fifteenth and final round in the first seconds; Frazier threw one of his famous left hooks. Everyone saw it.



We expected Ali to avoid that ferocious punch. But it caught Ali flush on the jaw and he was knock downed. Ali was lying on his back with over 300 million people watching. He lost that fight, but won the people's hearts. He was faced with a decision in the ring that we are faced with in life; how do you rebound from a knockdown.

The 24th Chapter of 2nd Samuel provides us with insights and suggests an answer to this question. The Chapter begins with a biblical and theological dilemma. It suggests that the Lord moved David to number the people of Israel and then punished him for doing it. That appears to me to be contradictory. God has asked you to do something and then is angry with you for doing it. Possibly the writer did not provide enough explanation. But the writer does share something with us for he writes in the second verse that Davide provides as the reason for numbering the people, "So I may know how many there are."

God told you to do something for him and you take credit for doing it. One thing is certain God is a jealous God and we should never take credit for what rightly belongs to him. That's why we must say, "Praise God from whom all blessing flow." We must always give God the glory and not take credit for what he has done for you, in you and through you.

This biblical and theological dilemma is increased with the parallel reading of this story found in I Chronicles 21:1. There it states that Satan rose up and incited David to number the people. And the Lord was displeased with David.

This apparent contradiction is not problematic for me. First, we must never refrain from giving praises to God. Second, we must never give place in our hearts, minds, and spirits to the devil. Which ever course you follow, you can be certain that God will not approve.

The second observation one makes is why was David so intent on numbering the fighting men of Israel. He forgot that in his early years that God was not concerned about the number of people, just the commitment of people. God knew that one could chase a thousand, and two could put ten thousand to flight, it God was with them.

David didn't remember the story of Gideon when he fought the Midianities. The Lord had told Gideon that he had too many men to go into battle. He said that if you won the battle with the number of men you had, you would think that the victory was yours. So God said to Gideon ask the people who are afraid and allow them to leave. A large number left. God said there are still too many. Then God told him to take the men down to the brook and have them drink water. Some got on their knees and stuck their faces in the water and others lapped the water like a dog. God told Gideon to take only the 300 men who lapped the water like a dog and go into battle.

God won the battle with the Midianities even through Israel was outnumbered and had just a few men.

David should have remembered that when he was a young boy he fought Goliath with only a few stones and a sling.

David should have remembered the words of Jehoshaphat, "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. Be not dismayed for the battle is not yours, it's the Lord."

But David decided to take matters into his own hands and now God was angry with him.

David's prophet Gad, comes to him and tells him that God is angry and that he will have to pay a penalty for his sin. All sin has consequences. He gives David three choices:

1) You can have famine in your land for three years
2) You can flee for three months from your enemies
3) You can have a plague in your land for three days

David is stuck - the punch is coming and he cannot avoid it. He understands that "his arms are too short to box with God."

He has been knockdown off of his high horse of ambition, knockdown off of his sense of ego, knockdown from his esteemed position.

He is faced with a life changing decision, "how do I rebound from a knockdown."

As you read this story you may see your life's situation. The walls are closing in. The argument has escalated into a feud. The relationship is being ripped apart. The sense of peace is lost and confusion is the order of the day. The loose action you took has now come back to haunt you. The brief moment of pleasure is now a long night of horror. You are losing it. The game of life for you is almost over. What do you do?

Examine David's options:

To rebound from a knockdown, you must realize three things:

1) You do not fall into the hands of man.

a) You don't fall into the hands of your friends - you friends can't help and most things they are in the same boat you are in.

b) You don't fall into the hands of your family - your family has tried time and time again to get you to see the light, they have given up on you.

c) You don't fall into the hands of your foes - your foes, the haters, your enemies delight in your misery, they are of no use.

2) To rebound from a knockdown, you must fall into the hands of your Father God. God is the only one "who can pick you up and turn you around and plant your feet on solid ground." God is the one who loves you so that "His mercy and goodness will follow you." God is the one who cares for you.

To rebound from a knockdown don't fall into the hands of your friends, don't fall into the hands of your family, don't fall into the hands of your foes; fall into the good hands of the Father - God.

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