Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Initiative: Living to Win Series

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.

Are you living to win?

I’m not talking about the type of “win” we’re accustomed to hearing about—winning an election, winning a contract or even winning contests. I’m talking about living life to win--the type of victory that Jesus Christ speaks of...making a positive difference in the lives of others through unselfish acts.

He said, “I died so that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” He did it for us…you and me. Now that's winning unselfishly through love!

And if some of you think Jesus Christ is ancient history…think again. Even stock traders use history as their guide, according to Investopedia.

His opponents thought that crucifying Him would end his power, rumors of an everlasting life or the innate jealousies leaders had about Him. Instead, after thousands of years later, Jesus continues to create top of mind awareness, and the bible remains as the top selling book of all time--even after 2,000 years! No company, no politician and no marketing genius can compare...but they continue to try.

With a new book less than a month old entitled, “Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works,” written by two of today’s well-known business thinkers, former P&G CEO A.G. Lafley and co-author Roger Martin, who also advises CEOs on strategy, both explain the strategy for winning through the choices you make.

Under Lafley’s leadership, P&G’s market value increased by more than $100 billion dollars with guidance from Martin. They explain that strategy forces us and organizations to make specific choices about the future in order to achieve the outcome you want.

It requires clarity of hard thinking, creativity, courage and personal leadership. It’s about making tough choices to get on the path that will lead you to winning. In fact, the Mayo Clinic exemplifies that mindset by transforming the world of medicine. It sought to win by becoming the vanguard of medical research. Today, its strategy excels. Its reputation speaks for itself.

Similarly, applying the same biblical strategy, Jesus Christ emphasizes to trust in Him and to walk in the path He has set for us, He gave us the principles to win, while warning, “Don’t lose your reward.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6.

In short, knowingly or unknowingly, biblical wisdom is frequently referred to and echoed by companies, politicians and the best business minds. The paths you choose to walk in really do matter. In the end, based on the path you’ve chosen, you will be judged according to your deeds (Romans 2:6), regardless of who you are or your status in life.

So, choose to win. Walk in the right path. Leave a positive, long-lasting legacy from generation-to-generation. Don't lose your reward!

What strategy are you following?

You shall know a tree by the fruit it bears…create good fruit.


Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful...that's what matters to me.

Steve Jobs

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Background Checks for Gun Sales

"But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." 
2 Timothy 3:13 NKJV

Just as First Lady Michelle Obama said today about the case of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton who had been shot in the back, Jan. 29, as she was spending time in a park with her friends: "Hadiya Pendleton was me and I was her. But I got to grow up and go to Princeton and Harvard Law School and have a career and a family and the most blessed life I could ever imagine."  

Excerpts reported yesterday by Associated Press:

Residents said the man first killed his son and his mother before leaving his house and then began shooting his neighbors. They expressed shock, describing the suspect as a nice quiet man living in one of a dozen modest homes that make up this village set on a lush green hill covered with fruit trees.
"He knocked on the doors and as they were opened he just fired a shot," said resident Radovan Radosavljevic." He was a good neighbor and anyone would open their doors to him. I don't know what happened."

This could have been Anywhere, USA. It wasn’t. It was in Serbia, where shootings are relatively rare but weapons are readily available from former wars.

Yes, we all know tragic stories will continue, just as DUI will continue regardless of driving laws. Background checks won’t turn bad to good. But at least it’s a beginning of having authority to say “no” to the bad and “yes” to law abiders. The final nod is up to our elected officials in Congress, who were chosen based on background checks themselves.

“…one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” Philippians 3:13

Monday, February 25, 2013

Initiative: Time

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to break down, and a time to build up. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 NKJV)

Yes…a season and time for everything. Although we know about the looming, merciless cuts scheduled for March 1st that will affect children, parents, grandparents and great grandparents nationwide, we also realize how the NRA ignores ways to combat gun violence but wants to keep its fear-mongering alive, regardless of truth. These moments speak loudly, but God speaks louder. The season of life continues.

On Saturday, February 23rd, my family set aside time to focus on celebrating my grandmother’s 99th birthday. Understanding that she has seen 99 tomorrows, she still upholds her Godly wisdom and smile.

Despite the glaring reminder of tomorrow, which makes some happy, some sad, some nervous, some hopeful and some anticipating a better day, my grandmother now values time based on the time allotted to her by God to bring others into the fold. Just from my grandmother’s birth alone, nearly 200 of us mostly in the East and West--from daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, grand children, great grandchildren and now great great grandchildren—have emanated from her alone. Leaning on the universal law of “do unto others as you will have them do unto you,” my grandmother continues to exemplify a conviction that we can only pray to have.  

My mother reminded me that my grandmother used to think she was going to die at an early age, one of the first of her siblings, but God had other plans. Instead, she has outlived all of her 10 brothers and sisters, her friends, her physicians and her heart problems. She thanks the Lord at all times for her life, health, strength and family. Her current physician now says when she leaves us, it will be from “old age.” We all call her blessed.

Her contagious, peaceful smile creates happiness all around her, as she recited one of her favorite poems she knew since age 12:

“Some people idle about the Lord, of many different kinds. Some people think to serve the Lord is just a thought in mind. But let me tell you my dear folks it’s not as you suppose. This God I serve is a living God, I feel Him in my toes [all over me]. Romans 8 & 11 says we know the Bible is true. And if you have that Spirit that raised up Christ, it will also quicken you.”

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV

So as the clock ticks to the sequester March 1st deadline of expected cuts, job losses and maybe eventual government shut-down, my grandmother would remind me that perhaps Congress missed the point that God’s ultimate commitment is to people and fulfillment of His word, not to political ideologies. She would ask about their rationale: “Why call me Lord, Lord and do not do the things I say?” Luke 6:46

But I dare not upset my grandmother with this news. She would only think of how the elected officials she used to rely on to do the right thing by the people are no longer acting for the benefit of the people. She would only pity their souls and the judgment that would come to each and every one of them for the pain and suffering they would cause, as Washington Post indicated.

“He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.” Proverbs 14:31

“No matter what’s going on in our lives, the clock will continue to tick regardless of beliefs,” said Pastor G. G. Womack. “We finish our years like a sigh. Guard and listen to the conscience God has given you. Besides, one thing for certain is that whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.” (Proverbs 21:13) “We all know the value of lessening our reliance on the government, but that will come in due time, not by March 1st,” he added. “Remember, as Ecclessiates says, there is a time and season for every purpose under heaven. Overnight miracles from man do not exist.”

In honor of my grandmother’s time here, she argues that you cannot avoid relating to God:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16. “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

Monday, February 18, 2013

Initiative: President's Day

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:1-2

Presidents’ Day! What a fitting day to celebrate God-appointed births of George Washington, February 22, 1732 and Abraham Lincoln, February 12, 1809. Initially recognized only as Washington’s birthday, because of the proximity of their birth dates, both dates are celebrated as Presidents’ Day.

With obvious commonalities, they both agreed that government laws are needed to keep our moral compass in check. Washington, a great military leader, and Lincoln, author of the Emancipation Proclamation, had profound effects in society, emphasizing morality and American freedom for all men.

Fast forwardlawlessness has run amok. Just as God created the 10 Commandments thousands of years ago as our tutor, today, our government has proposed enactment of new laws in an effort to curb gun violence.

Exemplifying the way to govern by looking out for the interests of others, both of these great Presidents fought for what was best for our society. Their mercy and love of humanity showed in their actions, as they unselfishly put themselves in harms way for the benefit of our country.

As principled men, both believed that we are free to pursue happiness but with limitations by pursing the good and avoiding the bad. Laws discourage certain types of actions, such as criminal behavior or failing to care for one’s children, as Washington advocated. As PBS explained about Washington’s stance, knowing right from wrong requires education, i.e., parents educating children about morality.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Children…so precious, so innocent. Born knowing nothing but what they learn from us. Even the Bible says, “Then Jesus called a little child to Him in the midst of them…Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” Matthew 18:2-5.

Believing she was birthed into a nation of “we the people” unity, justice, freedom, safety and protection under the U.S. Constitution, adult reality explodes with divisions, uncompromising bipartisanship, accusatory backbiting, ongoing gun violence and now threats of looming sequester cuts that could cripple our nation. Despite it all, Congress adjourned for a week-long recess.    

What led us astray? How do we explain to our children the wayward behavior of our elected officials today, yet simultaneously teach them to obey authority?

Besides, this is Presidents’ Day!

Instead of examining ourselves, perhaps we are distracted and blinded by the retail ad sales clutter to commemorate Presidents’ Day sales on this federal holiday. Or, are we distracted by political skirmishes confusing the real meaning of Presidents’ Day? 

Whether you believe or not, God has the ultimate authority and control over our last breath.

Pastor G.G. Womack warned about examples of God’s wrath throughout the Bible for disobedience to His word, including famines, earthquakes and signs in the sky. God will not be mocked. Regardless of what you do, you will be held accountable.

“The government must abide by ‘the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.'" - George Washington

God bless America.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mandatory Sequester?

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

Here we go again...Another plea to Congressional leaders: Bipartisan compromise, please. Act for the benefit of the country.

On March 1st, we have a “mandatory sequester” or automatic 10-year federal budget cuts of $1.2 trillion. These cuts represent a threat to our national security, the economy, education, public health, small businesses and jobs.

"About 70,000 young children would be kicked off Head Start, 10,000 teacher jobs would be put at risk."

“Up to 2,100 food safety inspections might have to be canceled.”

And how would that affect the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank that distributes food to organizations with food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, senior citizen sites, child care centers, youth programs, group homes and social services programs for the disabled? Located in one of the wealthiest states in the country, New Jersey, which has more than 750,000 residents at risk for hunger, half are children, said Phyllis Stoolmacher, director, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, Ewing, NJ. “Here, in Mercer County, NJ, over 25,000 residents struggle to put food on the table each and every day.”

"Federally assisted programs like 'Meals on Wheels' slashed and 125,000 low-income renters put at risk of losing government-subsidized housing."

"Some 100,000 formerly homeless people, including veterans, would be removed from their current housing and emergency shelter programs..." etc.

It’s not about people looking for hand-outs, it’s about the realities of our country.
There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. Deuteronomy 15:11, NIV

Despite the looming cuts, two-thirds of the wealthiest people in the U.S. added to their fortunes, boosting their average net worth by $400 million to a record $4.2 billion.—Forbes.  Plus, although still volatile, on Feb. 1st, the Dow had broken the 14,000 barrier since 2007!

Nice…but wait a minute. The same political ideologies still persist.

Excerpts from Chronicle of Philanthropy, 2/10/2013 (“How America Gives”)

Middle-class Americans give a far bigger share of their discretionary income to charities than the rich. Households that earn $50,000 to $75,000 give an average of 7.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity. But those who make $100,000 or more only give an average of 4.2 percent of their discretionary income to charity.

Those who live in the same zip code with others making more than $200,000 per year give an average of 2.8 percent of their discretionary income to charity. But when more than 40 percent of that same group making more than $200,000 per year live in economically diverse communities, their charity giving increases to 4.2 percent.

Forbes indicated the importance of finding new ways to do as Andrew Carnegie did. Once called a “potent force for the common good,” Carnegie developed the gospel of wealth. By 1911, Carnegie had given away over $43 million to libraries and close to $110 million for other causes. He formed the Carnegie Corporation of New York to give away the $150 million that remained.

The Carnegie Corporation's mandate was to "promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." Carnegie lived up to his word and gave away his fortune to socially beneficial projects, such as universities, colleges, schools, public libraries, and educational entities--including public television's Sesame Street.

 “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7


Rebuild…Move Forward

Let’s investigate ways to shift our thinking and renew our minds. Instead of maintaining a reliance on the federal government, let’s rely on God to give us the wisdom to address ways to build a new business model for social services. The end result would be to create more small businesses that would lead to additional revenue and jobs from private sources. 

In agreement with the Forbes article, Pastor G.G. Womack said, “The time is now to begin walking a new path.” And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...” (Romans 12:2, NKJV)

The way it was....

The ascending spiral of greatness in America has risen because industry has produced wealth, which in turn has supported educational institutions, which in turn have supplied leadership to industry in order that with each succeeding generation it might produce more wealth. – Former U.S. Senator Wallace F. Bennett (attended public school and college, was in military and served in Senate 1951-1974)

The way it is...
With a background in the nation’s cities, Bruce Katz, vice president of the Brookings Institute, said local governments should be thinking hard about how to encourage giving because “we don’t have the welfare programs that we have had in the past. The need for individual giving is greater than it has been in modern memory.

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecc 3:1),” said Pastor G.G. Womack. “Now is not the time to be penny-wise and pound foolish, but it is time to exercise Godly principles for the sake of your own souls. With an impending deadline fast approaching, it’s time for Congressional leaders to act to avoid the March 1st sequester deadline. We pray for Godly wisdom.”

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 NKJV

Monday, February 4, 2013

Initiative: Food Bank Fire Power

Phyllis Stoolmacher
33 rounds in 15 seconds: "That much fire power should be limited to police and military,” said Phyllis Stoolmacher, director, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, as she reflected on the Sandy Hook Elementary School carnage in Connecticut during the interview about feeding hungry children in New Jersey. “Law abiding citizens who already own those firearms, let them keep their rifles. But it’s time for change. I don't see a need for the general public to have dangerous military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition," she said. 

"It's common sense to have universal background checks and better access to healthcare for the mentally ill by destigmatizing it. I feel for the families of those slain children in Connecticut. That is why I work so hard for the good of our children. They need our support to keep them safe and nutritionally fed," explained Stoolmacher.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. (Eccl. 3:1)

Not only is February the second month of the year to demonstrate commitments to resolutions many of us made at the beginning of 2013, it is also Black History Month. Initially started in 1926 as Negro History Week during the second week of February by Harvard-trained Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) to promote contributions of blacks to American society, he strategically set the week. He purposely set the date to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln, February 12, 1809 and Frederick Douglass February 17, 1818. (Perhaps this was Woodson’s demonstration of his own resolution.) 

By 1976, the U.S. government expanded the one week to four weeks. Now it is known and recognized as Black History Month. Former President Gerald Ford said, “We can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

As part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s inner-circle and his vow to continue Dr. King’s work for the poor, Hosea Lorenzo Williams (January 5, 1926 – November 16, 2000) founded Hosea Feed the Hungry, Atlanta, GA in 1971. As a Civil Rights leader, ordained minister, philanthropist and politician, Williams founded one of the largest social services organizations in the U.S. that set aside holidays to feed the poor and the hungry.

His work continues in varying ways with food banks nationwide.

Started in 1987, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank volunteers sort and assemble food items that will be delivered by truckload to feed the hungry throughout Mercer County.
“Hunger reaches into every household touched by poverty. In New Jersey, one of the wealthiest states in the country, more than 750,000 residents are at risk for hunger, half are children. Here, in Mercer County, NJ, over 25,000 residents struggle to put food on the table each and every day,” said Stoolmacher.

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:37-40

Preparing for movement of food deliveries at Mercer Street Friends Food Bank warehouse

“Most of us have never had to go to bed on an empty stomach. But for those who do, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank is here to help.”

Phyllis Stoolmacher, director, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank for 25 years

“If you can’t feed your nation, everything else is irrelevant,” said Phyllis Stoolmacher, director, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, Ewing, NJ. She added that the military must be fed well to maintain their strength. The workforce must be fed well or they will end in poor health, creating increased sick days, impacting productivity and reduced employer revenue. She emphasized that people need to have food to live and to succeed. Besides, she added that children, who are our future, won’t be able to learn on empty stomachs, which would negatively impact our society long term.

“I am thankful for the help we received from the federal government. If it were not for the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and NJ State Department of Agriculture, we would be unable to help as many families as we do today,” said Stoolmacher.

The USDA provides 30-40 percent of the food Mercer Street Friends Food Bank receives for distribution to the needy.

Mercer Street Friends Food Bank started out distributing 80,000 pounds of food annually. It increased to 3 million pounds but is now down to 2.5 million pounds.

Every week the food bank distributes 40,000 to 50,000 pounds of nutritious food that goes to food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, senior citizen sites, child care centers, youth programs, group homes and social services programs for the disabled--to feed those who would otherwise go hungry.

“Send Hunger Packing”

“For kids at school, I felt okay with the breakfast and lunch programs the NJ State Department of Agriculture provides to schools at reduced prices for at-risk children Monday through Friday,” said Stoolmacher. “But the question that lingered on my mind was, ‘What happens on Saturdays and Sundays when the kids are not at school? Do they get enough to eat over the weekends or do they go hungry?’”

Mercer Street Friends Food Bank partnered with local schools to make sure children do not go hungry during the weekends, creating the “Send Hunger Packing” program.

With the “Send Hunger Packing” program, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank provides nutritional food in a back pack on the weekends when school is in session.

“They give this back pack to children who live in households where there is little food to eat on the weekends when school is not in session. This program reassures us that the children will not go hungry on the weekends. Instead, these children will have food to eat each Saturday and Sunday throughout the school year,” said Stoolmacher.

“We give the back packs to the children on Fridays stocked with food that children can easily serve and eat themselves. The children return the empty backpacks on Mondays. School officials have reported to us that they have already noticed happier children who are able to focus on learning instead of their hunger. That makes all of us happy,” said Stoolmacher.

Back pack with nutritious food given to at-risk children to take home on weekends.

Mercer Street Food Bank research indicates that hungry children cannot learn and are more likely to be in poorer health than children from homes that have access to adequate, healthy food. In addition, hungry children are more likely to perform poorly on achievement tests, repeat a grade, have higher rates of tardiness and absenteeism from school. It has been proven that hungry children are more likely to have more difficulties getting along with their peers, be more anxious, hyperactive and have greater needs for special counseling.

New Target: Preschool

Excited, Stoolmacher boasted, “last month, we added a preschool program beginning with 90 children as part of our ‘Send Hunger Packing’ program. Now, they, too, have food for the weekends in their back packs that we stock with nutritious food. Similarly, we give them back packs on Friday; they return the back packs on Monday.”

Ashamed to admit need

Stoolmacher explained that some families are too embarrassed to admit they need help to feed their children. So instead of publicly identifying families, school teachers, school nurses and guidance counselors lend a helping hand. They discreetly identify the children they know who come to school hungry or who express they have very little food in the house. They meet with the parents to explain how the program works and seek parental approval to have their child participate in the program.

Food distribution is limited to Mercer County 501c3 registered food bank members who serve the hungry through their food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters or social service programs.

Stoolmacher explained that Congress appropriates money to the USDA. The USDA uses that money to buy and provide 30-40 percent of food to feed the hungry through organizations as Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, which is one of six food banks in New Jersey. The allotment is based on unemployment and poverty figures of each state.

Volunteers sort and assemble food items. No candy, no soda, low sodium, low fat.
The NJ State Department of Agriculture also plays an active role in helping to feed the hungry in NJ. For the children, its allotment is based on household income and poverty figures of particular areas within the state to ensure a fair and equitable distribution.

Community Resource Liaison Brian Peterson oversees volunteers in warehouse as they sort food items.
Besides help from the federal and state governments, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank helps people apply for SNAP benefits (a/k/a food stamps). It also seeks grants, retail store donations, donations from farmers and growers, food industry donations, private donations and volunteers.

Located at 824 Sylvia St., Ewing, NJ, Mercer Street Friends Food Bank serves as the central packing, sorting and storage location for approved 501c3 charitable organizations in Mercer County with food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters that serve children, needy families, the elderly, the disabled, the homeless and the indigent since 1987. To help, call 609-406-0503.

“He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.” Proverbs 28:27

Coordinating food delivery to Mercer County 501c3 food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, child care centers, senior citizen sites, youth programs, social services programs for the elderly.

He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done. (Proverbs 19:17NIV)

“Just as the body will breakdown and die without food, the soul will do likewise without God,” said G.G. Womack, II, Pastor. “But He answered and said, ‘It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,’” Matthew 4:4.

(Photos taken by amateur Darlene Womack)