Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sick and Tired

I am so sick and tired of hashtags.

Hashtags that announce or chronicle another tragedy.

 I am sick and tired of young mothers being raped and shot in the head. I am sick and tired of little boys like Tyshawn being shot in their heads, their little bodies riddled with bullets . I’m tired of young men dying in the street, their bodies full of bullet holes. Fathers dying,  their life being choked out of them.

 I am tired of young women visiting their grandmother dying of gunshot wounds while walking to a bus stop to go home. Young people with promise cut down by ignorance.

I’m tired of Tyesa Cherrys dying after going to a movie, killed by a bullet meant for someone else. I am sick of grandmothers, pastors and college students at bible studies being shot down in their own church. I’m sick and tired of young men going into elementary schools, college classrooms and movie theaters and randomly shooting and killing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Seeing Red About Starbucks Cups

I hear that some Christians are upset that Starbucks cups are red. The ubiquitous cafĂ© has chosen a simple red cup for the holiday months. Apparently some Christians feel Starbucks has declared “war on Christmas” because their holiday cups usually have a snowflake or some other holiday symbol on the cup.

These Christians reportedly are "seeing red" (becoming very angry) over Starbucks cups. I read one post where it said that Christians were encouraged to say that their name is Merry Christmas so the barista will have to say the abolished words when they fix their drink.

I hear Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has even weighed in on the matter, suggesting a Starbucks boycott and if he became president everyone will be saying “Merry Christmas” at every Starbucks.


Friday, October 9, 2015

From the Editor: Pain to Purpose

Have you ever been in pain? I mean real pain. Maybe it was physical pain. A constant ache that will not go away and nothing will alleviate. Maybe it is an emotional pain. Have you ever felt a stab in your heart that although no one has touched you physically you feel it in your chest and you understand why they call it a broken heart?

The pain of divorce or an unfaithful spouse. The pain of a wayward child. The pain of disappointment, rejection or depression. The deep pain of longing for a child and month after month the pregnancy test showing no pink line. The pain of longing for a spouse, someone to share your life with and to come home to instead of emptiness and loneliness. The pain of the death of a loved one.
Pain is a part of life. Pain is a part of the process.
We’re all in process. A process is a series of actions, changes or functions bringing about a result. Process is also defined as progress. God  has a purpose for the process. He is perfecting you. He has begun a good work in you and He’s going to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)
But  the process is painful. It doesn’t feel good. It hurts. But there’s a purpose for your pain. Just like the pains of childbirth produce the promise of a long awaited baby, your pain is giving birth to something God has placed in you. Your pain is going to produce his purpose, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sexual Healing

A prominent Chicago area pastor has been accused of sexually molesting a young lady who came to him for counseling. He has been charged and will have his day in court to deny or confess to the allegations. Published reports say that a confession was recorded by the victim and her mother. Published reports also say that the pastor made a "positive disclosure" to a detective that was consistent with the girl's story. We shall see. Innocent until proven guilty.

Unfortunately, I do not find it hard to believe that it is possible.

I know so many victims and stories of victims of those molested and raped--some right in the house of God-- by ministers, deacons, Sunday School teachers, fathers, stepfathers, stepmothers, and mothers who were supposed to be watching over their souls and instead violated them. Not just Catholic priests, but Baptist, Pentecostal and evangelical pastors who were representative of God to children who instead molested and raped them.

It’s an ugly thing to deal with and so often we don’t. We are dismayed at the downfall of a leader instead of tending to the sheep who have been mutilated.

I pray for the victims. For their healing. For their recovery from the egregious damage done, especially when someone in spiritual authority abuses that authority.

Too often, we show more care and concern for the perpetrator than the victim. The victim of the crime is left to the side and given the side eye, questioned and doubted, even as a child.

Do false accusations happen? No doubt. But there are also cases where by confession or other means, we know that a crime has been committed. And there are so many cases that are never reported.

Does the perpetrator of the crime need prayer, forgiveness, healing and restoration? Yes. But let’s focus on the victim first. They are the ones who have been harmed and wounded. Some have suffered and never recovered. Their view of God forever skewed by the evil trespass done against them.

The Enemy operates in darkness. I pray that God pulls the cover off and reveals those who are hurting his children so that others will not fall victim and those who have suffered will be able to start to heal. I also pray that the Church would help those who have been abused to heal.

In the Spring 2013 issue of the Well Magazine, an article dealing with healing from sexual abuse and the church was published entitled Sexual Healing.

One in four women and one in six men are or will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetime. Someone in the pew at church sitting next to you may have been a victim of rape. Maybe you suffered sexual violence or violation.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Spiritual Checkup: What are you feeding yourself?

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

What are you letting into your home, heart and soul through the televisions shows you watch and the music you listen to every day and every week?

Is their theme murder, adultery, lying, sex, perversion, homosexuality, misogyny? Is there anything uplifting or praiseworthy? Or does it glorify deceit? Does it feed your soul or your flesh?

What images are you letting into your mind that will replay all day? What beat and lyrics are in your ear?

Does it glorify God? What is your daily diet? Your weekly diet?

Do you spend more time on Facebook than in God’s book?

What are you feeding yourself?

Is it more God’s Word or the world?

How is it affecting your spiritual health?

God’s Kingdom or man’s Empire?

God’s power or man’s Power?

 The Way, The Truth and the Life or a “real” fake housewife?

God’s unfailing love or Love and Hip Hop?

The Great I Am or I Am Cait?

Keeping up with a lie and reality tv that’s not real?

 Eating what the world has to offer or the whole roll of God?

You are what you eat. Are you eating a healthy, balanced diet or a bunch of junk?

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Measure of Success

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Joshua 1:8

Lord, let me be successful by your measure, not man’s measure. Written in my prayer journal, January 28, 2015

I must confess. I struggle with feelings of failure. They are usually brought on when I compare myself with others or contemplate what others think about my life. I start to feel like what I have done or what I am doing doesn’t measure up. That I should have or could have done more with my life. That I should have gone to some of the places career wise that my colleagues did. I should have authored some books. Been a foreign correspondent.  Won awards for my work. That I am not successful.

When those feelings come upon me I have to remember what real success is.

Man’s measure of success is fame and fortune. Man measures success by your popularity, prestige and power. Man measures success by how many facebook likes you get and if your video has gone viral. Are you invited to the right places with the beautiful people? Are you known and your work admired?

It’s a natural thing. It’s the way we are wired. As people we want to be heard, seen and respected.
By man’s measure most of us fall short.

But even folks who we think are successful because they have more money than they can spend can be miserable. They may be popular and surrounded by people and still be lonely and depressed. They can be successful by the world’s measure and still overdose on drugs.

The dictionary defines success as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.  I believe that true success is fulfilling your divine purpose.

 What is our purpose? Ultimately, our purpose is to know God and look like His Son. But how that plays out individually varies. Different seasons may entail different tasks and assignments. But it is always the same purpose. To glorify God.  To show evidence of who He is.

The study notes in my Bible about the prophet Jeremiah say, “Success must never be measured by popularity, fame or fortune, for these are temporal measures…God measures our success with the yardsticks of obedience, faithfulness and righteousness. If you are faithfully doing the work God gives you, you are successful in his eyes.”

In the world’s eyes the prophet Jeremiah, John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul were miserable failures. Yet, we know that they were extremely successful because they did God’s will. Those are they eyes that matter most--God’s eyes.

When you are faithfully pursuing God’s purpose, you may not see all of the results in this life. People may not understand what you’re doing. You may be a failure in some eyes. Some results we won’t see until eternity. But keep working. Keep trusting God. Keep believing.

God’s measuring stick is the only one that really matters.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Soul Food

January 11, 2015

I’m in a nostalgic kind of mood
Thinking about soul food
Mother Green’s rolls
Christmas at Chew’s
Tables laden with food
Macaroni and cheese
Black-eyed peas
Potato salad
Homemade cakes and pies
A veritable feast for the eyes
Bobby Shelby’s brisket
And a buffet of food
On kitchen counters
Card tables
Soul food

Christmas breakfast at the Gray’s
How did so many folks get into that small room?
The best food in the world
Soul food

Food from the soul to the soul
Mixed with tears and laughter
Recipes passed down from slaves
Made with love by folks who knew
How to make a feast from just a few
Scraps and leftovers
Soul food
When there was a table for the kids
And they treated their elders with respect
Instead of terror
And adults acted like grown folks
A different era

Red Kool-Aid
Frappe punch
Watergate salad
In the church basement
A time when families like the Watsons were honored
To open their home for a late-night spread
After the revival
Houses filled with scents that were heaven sent
Soul food

Seasoned with love
And prepared with care
Like Mother Green’s coconut cream pies
Long ago ingested
But still alive
In my memory
My soul cries
For those days of old
More than just the food
The Gathering
The Memory

Soul Food

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Love Lifted Me

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” 
Psalm 18:16

When I was about five years old, my mother enrolled me in swimming lessons at the Y. No problem. I was a great swimmer—in my bathtub. I would “swim” in the tub, kicking my legs and practicing my stroke.

 When the day of my first lesson arrived, I remember being in line and some of the other children in front of me jumping into the pool. In hindsight, they must have already known how to swim. No problem. I did too, or so I thought in my five-year-old mind.

I confidently leaped into the pool. I soon discovered a swimming pool is not a bathtub and also that I could not swim.

Some 40 years later, I can still remember sinking, drowning, knowing I was in trouble. Deep trouble. The world was silent. I remember looking up and all I saw was water swirling above me like I was in the middle and at the bottom of a tornado.

Then I saw a hand, a large white hand, reach down. The hand grabbed me by the back of my swimsuit and lifted me out of the water.  I could hear the screams of the mothers who sat on the bleachers on the side. I had been rescued by the instructor. I was back. I was saved.

Have you ever been in deep water? Have the situations in your life threatened to drown you. The world seems silent and you are alone. Are you sinking now? Sinking into depression or despair.
Sometimes we think we can handle life but we have been in the bathtub, not the pool. When we get into the pool, we realize the water is too deep and we are unprepared. The circumstances of life can consume us. Sometimes they are circumstances beyond our control. Sometimes they are a result of our choices. Whatever the case, we are headed for destruction and death.

The truth is we were all drowning--drowning in sin.

The hymn “Love Lifted Me” states it like this:

I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I. 

Love lifted me. Love lifted me. When nothing else could help, love lifted me

God is up high but He reached down low and took hold of me one day. He saved me from my sin. I was on my way to death and hell. But God’s love lifted me, just like my swim instructor. His love lifted me because He loved the world so much that He sent His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Jesus the Christ, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

If you feel like you’re in deep water, look up. God is willing and able to pick you up. He will do it in amazing ways. He loves you.
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