What I’ve Learned from Prince

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Everyone has a color that makes them shine. Find yours and wear it well.

Get out there and be bold, courageous, proud, and passionate.

Refuse to settle for mediocrity.

Hone your craft.

Practice, perfect, perform.

Take risks.  Better yet, be risky.

Don’t follow the blueprint of mediocrity.

Create your own blueprint.

Dress to impress yourself.

Be generous with your talents.

Guard your privacy.

Recognize the difference in fans and friends.

Love passionately.

Don’t shy away from your faith, even if you’re ostracized for it.

Regardless of your stature, walk tall.

Start.

Fail.

Try again.

Grow.

Evolve.

You can take nothing with you when you leave.

Therefore, die as empty as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If…

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You talked about Charleston with your friends, but won’t talk with a member of another race and listen to their story, you are part of the problem.

If you stayed up late with your child to watch the NBA Finals, but you turn the television off and refuse to discuss Charleston with them, you are part of the problem.

If you felt for the families of the Charleston victims, but felt the officers who gunned down 12-year old Tamir Rice were justified in their actions, you are part of the problem.

If you sent condolences via social media regarding the Charleston massacre, but you continue to send black girls and black boys to the principal’s office 3-5 times more than you do your white students, you are part of the problem.

If you tell your parishioners to pray for Charleston, but refuse to preach on the current racism here in America, you are part of the problem.

If you honor Senator Clementa Pickney in his death, but disrespect President Barack Obama by calling him things like “boy” or “nigger”, you are part of the problem.

If you shake your head in shame at the senselessness in Charleston, but shake your head in agreement with politicians who want to amend the Voting Rights Act, you are part of the problem.

If your heart goes out to the people of Charleston, but you showed no emotions when Eric Garner cried, “I Can’t Breathe,” you are part of the problem.

If the blood in the pews at Emanuel AME bothers you, while the blood of Trayvon Martin on the ground in Florida caused you to lose no sleep, you are part of the problem.

If you quote Dr. King to help shed some light on Charleston, but refuse to fight for justice, you are part of the problem.

If Cynthia Hurd, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Depayne Middleton Doctor, Daniel Simmons,  and Myra Thompson need to be remembered, but black people need to just get over slavery and move on with their lives, you are part of the problem.

If you love black bodies when they walk onto the football field, the basketball court, and the stage, but fear black bodies when they are walking down the street, you are part of the problem.

If you say Dylan Roof is an isolated incident of a hate crime, but the 245 years of slavery, and another 100 years of federally supported segregation were “just the way things were,” you are part of the problem.

Until we all do our part, we all play in our part in creating an environment in America that continues to breed hatred, continues to breed racism, continues to breed denial. The choice is yours.  Will you continue to be a part of the problem, or will you join all the people trying to be a part of the solution?

It’s your choice.  What’s it gonna be?

CharlestonVictors

They Cheer For Lebron; They Fear Tamir

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According to Nike and Lebron James, the city is “all in.”nike-lebron-james-cleveland-cavaliers-together-01

It’s an emotional commercial showing people from various backgrounds uniting with the city of Cleveland and King James to believe that together they can all participate in bringing a NBA championship to the state Lebron calls home.

But Nike is good with getting people to purchase their products while simultaneously making you forget about the obvious contradictions.

Contradictions that many urban cities are facing.  The fact that people of all colors, shapes, sizes, and bank accounts can rally behind black bodies in NBA-apparel in professional sports arenas but those same people will watch a video of 12-year old Tamir Rice getting gunned down in 2.0 seconds by a Cleveland police officer and respond differently: “he shouldn’t have been playing with a toy gun…where are his parents…those thugs need to pull their pants up and learn some respect…”

Tamir Rice

And the contradictions go on and on and on and on in Cleveland.  The King is celebrated.  His image is protected.  The media hangs on his every word.

While Tamir, is vilified. This 12-year old boy that they thought was a man caused officers so much fear, that rather than taking their time, making sure they were at a safe distance, and taking the proper cover, they take Tamir’s life.

And when Lebron was a 12-year old man-child he was already making coaches and agents, salivate for the opportunity to brand him as their property.

He signs a $98 million dollar contract with Nike before he is even chosen by the league. He becomes Man of the Year.  He has achieved the American dream.  He is President Obama’s post-racial America.

His tattoos, his high-school education, his single-parent upbringing in an impoverished community do not make him a statistic.  They make him a King.

They made Tamir a target.

But King James is making his 5th straight Eastern Conference Finals appearance and has a chance to sweep the Atlanta Hawks in Cleveland in front of his home crowd, his family, his city.  The mood is electric.

While protesters yell from outside in the streets that “Black Lives Matter”, Lebron will do his pre-game ritual of putting his “Hands Up” as he prepares to shoot…

Lebron Hands Up

Tamir’s life cut short, while Lebron strives to cut the nets.

Two souls.  Two mothers’ sons.  To young, black men.

Two Americas.

Lebron and Tamir.

Both representing the same city.

One is loved.

One was feared.

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I Don’t Know Bobbi Kristina…

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And neither do most of you, yet that won’t stop people from posting, tweeting, pinning, and blogging about her, or her deceased mother, or her grieving father and family members.  People will continue to create memes, and share posts showing images of the Brown and Houston family.  Their suffering, once again has been put on public display by media outlets, fans, and opportunists looking to make a dollar.

I don’t know Bobbi Kristina, but I do know what it is like to experience a mother’s love.  I know what it’s like to be young, and completely mesmerized by your mother’s beauty and presence.  Growing up, I remember praying to one day be as pretty and as smart and as confident as my mother appeared to be.  I remember the way, I hated to hear family members remind me of how much I looked like my father, when all I wanted to do was look like my mother.  My mother, she always knew what to say, when to say it, and she never, ever gave up on me.

I don’t know Bobbi Kristina, but I do know what it is like to be a rebellious, uncertain teenager trying to find my way and trying to prove to my parents that I knew what I was doing with my life.  I know the feeling of being so angry at my mother while at the same time loving her just as much.  It is an emotion, that I can’t adequately describe, but I know daughters and mothers all over the world have felt those emotions-the weird, love and angry cycle that mothers who once were their daughters and daughters who will one day be their mothers go through.

I don’t know Bobbi Kristina, but I do remember being 18.  I was a college freshman and I was going through one of the most difficult times in my life.  I was depressed.  I was homesick.  I was heartbroken, but I still had my mother to rub my back and tell me it was going to be okay.  Bobbi Kristina lost her mother when she was 18.  I can’t imagine what I would have done if I had lost my mother when I was 18.  My mother has always been a consistent presence in my life.  She’s always been a phone call away and anytime I have ever needed her, whether through a card, or a visit, or even a text message, she figures out a way to get to me.  To imagine, finding my mother, the woman I most admire and the one I have always wanted to be and look like, in a bathtub, unconscious, and unable to communicate with me…I don’t know what I would have done.  I don’t know who I would have turned to.  At 18, to lose my mother would have been unimaginable.

I don’t know Bobbi Kristina, but I do remember being 18, 19, and 20.  They weren’t great years for me.  I thought I was in love.  I pushed the right people away, and I attracted the wrong ones.  I wasn’t sure of who I was or who I wanted to be.  It was a bumpy road, and yet I had my mother in the background, ready to come to the forefront whenever I called her.  Bobbi Kristina has navigated the last three years of her life without her mother.  I don’t know how that feels.  I don’t know how I might would have reacted to wanting to pick up the phone to call my mother, only to be reminded that she is no longer with me.  I don’t know how I would feel to desperately wanting to have one more day, one more hour, one more minute to see my mother’s smile, and feel my mother’s warm embrace, but not be able to.

I don’t know Bobbi Kristina, but I do know all about the beautiful, complicated, roller coaster experience called the mother-daughter relationship, and I guess in a sense I do know Bobbi Kristina, and I do know Whitney Houston, and I do know Cissy Houston, because they and we, are daughters and mothers, and mothers and daughters and we all share this catty, stubborn, soul-stirring emotion called love. Love can make you do crazy, unpredictable things.  Things, that only a mother and daughter would understand.

#PrayForBK

The Houstons

 

This Is What the NYPD Told Me…

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Finished up another interview with a member of the NYPD, a black male with 20 years of service…very enlightening. It may take a little while to compile everything, but here are a few quick takeaways from interviewing both a white, female police officer and black, male police officer, in NYC. This just skims the surface, but I hope it challenges you to re-think and think about the protests and the recent shootings of unarmed black men that continue to happen:

1. Both of the cops I interviewed admitted to being pulled over by other police. For the male cop, he says due to his undercover work, he had been pulled and stopped 100s of times. Although the female officer had been stopped much less, they both responded the same way.  They do not give the officers stopping them any reason to question their motives or challenge their safety.  They both responded that when they are stopped and when anyone is stopped or pulled, listen, follow instructions, and keep your hands where they can see you. The male cop also said his son, had been stopped 100s of times. He tells his son the same thing: if you have a complaint with a police officer, file it later…not during the confrontation.

2. Both cops (who are in different precincts and have no connection to each other), questioned where were community leaders, church leaders, and male role models for communities of color. They both expressed, that these neighborhoods have been “forsaken” and the youth “forgotten”. They both said it is not the police’s responsibility to “parent” these communities. They also both commented on the high number of black-on-black crimes and that black neighborhoods “protect” criminals by not providing information.

3. In the case of Eric Garner, both officers said the paramedics standing by and not offering Mr. Garner help was an issue that seems to be ignored. They differed slightly on Garner’s treatment. The female cop replied, he should have followed instructions. The black cop felt they should have double or triple-cuffed Mr. Garner, and after saying “I Can’t Breathe” 11 times, their responsibility to Serve and Protect him was ignored. The white, female officer said the cop who shot Jonathan Ferrell in Charlotte, was an idiot and needed to be fired.

4. Both cops also expressed the challenge of having young, immature cops who think they know everything and make decisions based on their ideas rather than protocol. One officer suggested raising the age as to when a person can become a police officer.  The male cop used the shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice as an example of protocol not being followed. Officers are taught in those situations to do three things: time, distance, cover. None of those things were done in that situation. He also replied that it is the officer’s job to de-escalate a situation, not to make it worse.

5. Both cops expressed the daily experience of their lives always being put at jeopardy with every stop or search they conduct.  They want to get home to their families too. In fact one officer said, “if you are between me going home to my family and you going home to yours, who do you think is going home?” They also both agreed there were some bad cops, just like there are bad teachers or bad doctors. This is why both vehemently expressed, listen, follow instructions, keep your hands where they can see you. Both officers also blamed media for unfair portrayals of cops and black males as all negative stereotypes. One was a huge proponent of PALS (police athletic leagues) so officers could “see the people as individuals.”

Lastly but unfortunately, race matters. “they see us differently” was stated several times in the interview and one of the officers said, “it is black kids shooting at us-not white kids…if I see a group of young black males walking on the street, yes I’m stopping them…”

‪#‎ToBeContinued‬

Guilty Innocence

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“But you must have been doing something suspicious…why else would they stop you?” My husband looked at me and although his body language was calm, his tone was much sharper: “Danielle, they pulled me and Tremayne out the car. They threw us against it, took out their guns and started asking us what we were doing.”

His voice is very tense and mellow now as he recounts the events leading up to his car being stopped by the police.

“We won our football game and one of the parents had promised us that if we won the game, they would pay for our meal. We were on our way to the restaurant. I was driving Mom and Dad’s car.  I saw the blue lights and I knew I wasn’t speeding so I was sure the cops had made a mistake. I pulled over and started to open my door so I could get out the car.  Thinking back, that was dumb to try to open my door.  I just didn’t know what to do.  I had never been in that situation before.  They came over and pointed their guns in our face and yelled, “Don’t move. Put your hands on the steering wheel.”  They opened my door all the way and Tremayne’s door, and told us to get on the ground.  They came over and handcuffed us and drug us over the road and sat us on top of the hood of their car.  People were driving by looking at us as if we were felons.  I was 17. I didn’t know what to do. I just knew we hadn’t done anything. All we were doing was going to get something to eat.”

I’m still incredulous at this point so I keep asking questions the way a women can ask those nagging questions that tears a man’s nerves up. “So did you get a badge number? Were you scared? What did else did they do?”

I know I’m nagging, but I had a hard time believing that the cops would pull over two teenagers and hold guns to their heads. We lived in eastern North Carolina. We didn’t live in the projects or the hood or any other suspicious neighborhood. Things like this didn’t happen, or so I thought.

“Danielle, they were pointing guns at us. I wasn’t thinkin’ bout no badge number. It happened so fast, I didn’t have time to be scared. We were driving. I saw blue lights. I pulled over. Next thing I know, I’m being handcuffed and dragged out my car. They are pointing guns. They asked for our IDs. They un-cuffed us, and they looked at us and said we fit a profile description. They didn’t apologize. They didn’t say anything else. They told us to get back in the car. We did, and then we left. I didn’t say one word to Tramayne. He didn’t say one word to me. That was my senior year of high school. I was 17 years old.”

Silence follows. Richard continues driving. Our 5-month old son, Richard III is sleeping in his car seat in the back, and my mind is going a mile a minute. I keep secretly thinking about what Richard might have done, to make those officers stop his car. The mother in me, had to know. If I could just find out what triggered those officers to pull my husband over, I could make sure my son was raised differently so it wouldn’t happen to him.

The only provocation is the color of their skin

Richard and Richard III

I couldn’t even allow myself to imagine  that one day some police officer could pull over my sweet, baby boy, drag him out of his car, and hold a gun to his head. I needed Richard to give me a way to make his story make sense, but I knew he couldn’t. He hadn’t left out anything. There was no other provocation on Richard’s part besides being a black male who fit a profile description. For those two officers, that is all the provocation they needed.

I can’t express to you how that makes me feel as a wife and mother to know that at any given moment, any given day, my hard-working husband and my baby boy, regardless of their character, can be criminalized due to no fault of their own. If they drive in the wrong neighborhood, wear a hoodie, wear the wrong hairstyle, dress the wrong way, look menacing, appear belligerent, fit a description, or crash their cars, they could be pulled over, arrested, searched, seized or shot multiple times. It does not matter that they are innocent.  They are guilty simply because of the color of their skin.

To add injury to insult,  because I am admitting in a public space that racial profiling really does occur, it will be perceived by some people that I am throwing the race card. It will be perceived that I don’t want to accept responsibility for my actions and I’m looking for someone to blame. It means I am making  the job of police officers more difficult by painting them in a negative light. Therefore, some people want me to stop talking about race.  They want me to  forget about the past and move on.  If only it was that easy.

What would you do in my shoes?  My husband is recounting his first run-in with the law, while my baby sleeps in the back seat.  Am I suppose to just sweep what Richard is telling me under the rug, and ignore the implications that it suggests for Richard III?

I guess we could strive to become the most hard-working, educated, well-traveled, articulate, wealthiest, and most powerful individuals in the world, but that does not mean we will ensure that me, my husband or my son escape racism or racial profiling.  Take a stroll on the Internet and read some of the articles and comments made about Our President.  Count how many times someone refers to him as a ‘nigger’.  What happened to Oprah when she shopped overseas?  The sales clerk wouldn’t even show her a purse because she didn’t think Oprah could afford it. Neither her fame or her fortune could protect her from racism.

Remember what happened to esteemed Harvard professor, Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. a few years ago? This former Yale and Cambridge graduate, was arrested at his own home near Harvard Square because the police thought he was an intruder. He showed them his driver’s license and his Harvard identification card, but they refused to believe him.  Dr. Gates has received over 50 honorary degrees, but none of those degrees protected him from the police.

Jonathan Ferrell was working two jobs.  He had attended college and was saving money to return.  He had never had a run-in with the law.  He wrecks his car in the wrong suburban neighborhood in Charlotte, N.C. however, and rather than become a victim of a car accident, he becomes a possible suspect.  A white police officer shot at him 12 times.  10 bullets hit his chest and arms.  Yet, to speak about my husband’s experience, is to play the race card.  Really?

I wish I could say that Richard had no more run-ins with the law, but I can’t. A few years ago, before we were married, he was pulled over again. At the time he was 28. He’s graduated college. He’s had a brief professional football career, playing in the NFL and overseas. He works in the teen ministry at his church. He mentors young males. He’s doing everything the media and so-called experts are suggesting black men do to stay safe.

It’s the middle of the day. Four cars surround my husband’s car. One car is unmarked. The other three cars are police vehicles. A white, police officer comes to Richard’s door. He accuses Richard of not wearing his seat belt. Richard insists he was wearing his seat belt. The officer ignores him.  Another white officer begins to try to question the other passenger, a teenager named Johnny. Richard instructs Johnny  to remain silent. Another white officer gets out his cell phone and begins taking pictures of Richard’s car and Johnny. The officer chides Richard about not being at work. Richard tries to explain that he’s a college graduate and he has a job. The officers don’t listen.  Richard is given a ticket for not wearing his seat belt.  The officers get in their cars and leave, leaving behind my husband to explain to Johnny that all policeman are not bad.  Do you think Johnny believed him? What do you think 17-year old Johnny told his friends about his incident with the police?  Can you blame Johnny for not being convinced that the police are there to serve and protect him?

I really wish we could all just be the human race, and once and for all tear down the social constructs of being black or white, but until I stop hearing stories like my husband’s, until I stop watching videos of men and boys being choked to death and shot down in the street, it behooves me to remember I am a black woman, married to a black man, and together we are raising a black son.  As much as I would like to forget my skin color, the police seem to find ways to remind me.

 

 

Unless the Seed Dies: A Tribute To Myles Munroe

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Having never met him,  I can still see him so clearly.  He is wearing a dark suit, arms folded.  One hand clinched together under his chin. His smile is sincere but not overwhelming, and above his head are words like “Purpose”, “Vision”, “Kingdom” and “Prayer”.

Bookcovers. That is how I learned of Myles Munroe.  As a child, my four siblings and I were so accustomed to seeing books authored by Myles Munroe all around our house. Dr. Munroe’s books would be laying on the dashboard in my father’s car, covering his side of the dresser,  nestled in his work bag, beside his cup of coffee, tucked in his brief case on Sundays, placed on top of the hamper in my parent’s bathroom, bundled on the dining room table, or sometimes wedged between the cushions of the couch.

We, along with people all over the world, grew up on the teachings of Myles Munroe. Whether he was expounding upon purpose, destiny, globalism, colonization, government, relationships or the Kingdom of God, after listening to his messages or reading his books, you felt aware of yourself and you felt better about yourself.  His words could convict and console, explain and encourage, reveal and rebuke.

Funny, the night that I learned of Dr. Munroe’s passing, Daddy had placed his copy of Rediscovering Faith: Understanding the Nature of Kingdom Living on my sister’s coffee table.  What was even more ironic was my sister had just taken Understanding the Purpose and Power of Woman off of her bookshelf so she could re-read it. There we sat, in the living room.  Me, my baby brother, my baby sister, and my parents playing with my 4-month old son, and my 5-month old niece when I broke our jovial mood by yelling, “No!” I looked up from my phone and everyone looked at me.  “Dr. Myles Munroe is dead.  He was just killed in a plane crash.”

Our room grew silent, but in my heart I continued to yell, “no” and in my mind, the questions began.  How could Dr. Myles Munroe, his wife Ruth, and several members of their leadership team be dead?  Where was God in this tragedy?  How could he allow so many important men and women to die so early and suddenly in their careers?  Could this be an attack of the enemy?  Could this really be God’s plan?  What about his son?  His daughter? What about his church? Surely, it wasn’t his time.  Who can teach the Kingdom like Myles Munroe?  There must be a mistake.  It couldn’t be their time.  Could it?

It was among my internal questions that I heard so clearly, parts of a scripture: “unless… it dies… it abides alone.” In its entirety, John 12:24 states: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”  

At first, I did not see the connection between John 12:24 and Myles Munroe especially because his life had been so fruitful.  I kept trying to shake it out of my head, but there it remained repetitively, repeating parts of itself: “It abideth alone…unless the seed dies.”

Unless the seed dies.  A seed unless it dies is just a seed.  However, a seed that is planted in the ground, grows and brings forth much fruit and even more seeds.

In flipping through my copy of The Burden of Freedom, I ran across the following statement.  Dr. Munroe wrote, “I expect to see millions of mature believers who are not afraid of a good fight before I die.  I’m talking about people who will take on the biggest challenges, quite aware of what it takes to win.  I long to see a generation who will embrace the spirit of responsibility and industry.  A generation who can handle failure and success effectively (p. 259).”

There it was in plain sight.  Dr. Munroe expected “to see millions..”  He “longed to see a generation…”  He desired to see more fruit.  The ultimate result of his life was not the production of books and audio messages.  The ultimate result of his life was to produce fruit and the only way to produce fruit is for a seed to die and be buried in the ground.

The books, the messages, were merely seeds–seeds buried in people just like me and my family who lived in a small, rural town in North Carolina.  A place completely opposite of the Bahamas, yet a place where seeds had been deposited.

I imagine Dr. Munroe was like a dandelion plant. The seeds of a dandelion plant travel with the help of the wind.  Guided also by the dandelion seed’s natural wing design these tiny, fragile units can flow through storms, across valleys and even across mountain tops. Throughout his travels, tiny, feather-like seeds, were blown off of him and deposited all over the world in the Caribbean, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, India, Europe, North and South America. Eventually, there were no more seeds left for the wind to carry.  The plane crash which initially looked like his greatest tragedy, became his greatest triumph.  Through his death, he will bring forth much fruit.

I believe the world is only beginning to feel the true effects of Dr. Myles Munroe’s life.  He was a carrier of the wisdom of God, and his death has only ignited millions of other carriers to “…take on the biggest challenges, quite aware of what it takes to win.”

Thank you for your commitment to die empty.  Thank you for pouring yourself out. Thank you, Dr. Myles Munroe.

The seeds of Myles Munroe have been planted in grounds all over the world...

The seeds of Myles Munroe have been planted in grounds all over the world…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Things Too Costly for Christians to Forget

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1.  You didn’t find salvation.  Salvation found you.  Romans 5:7-8 makes it very clear that when our thoughts were as far from God as the east is from the west, He loved us so much that he devised a plan to save us. This keeps us from becoming entitled. We love to point to today’s generation of youth and talk about how entitled they are…they want everything to be given to them.  Perhaps that is true but the church has to make sure it isn’t doing the same thing.  The youth aren’t the only ones suffering from the microwave mentality.  We also are guilty of wanting our blessings immediately while avoiding pain indefinitely.

2.  Just because we live under the New Covenant does not mean that the Old Testament is useless.  As Jesus himself said, he did not come to destroy the law but fulfill it (Matt 5:17).  Perhaps that’s too technical a verse, so consider the Old Testament as your former life before Christ.  You tried to improve on your own (remember when the children of Israel begged for a king rather than be under God’s rule?).  You tried to live by rules and rituals (see Leviticus) and you found accountability partners (try any of the books of the prophets), but only Christ could fill the void in your life.  The Old Testament is just a reflection of what we are capable of when we run our own lives.  To ignore it is to our own detriment.

3.  Prosperity is more than houses, cars, and clothes.  That’s the world’s definition of prosperity.  Prosperity for the Christian goes way beyond material wealth.  Prosperity according to the Bible is life-consuming.  That means you are just as prosperous in your relationships as you are in material things. If you have the house, the car, and the clothes, but no one can stand being around you (including your spouse and your family)…that’s not the prosperity that God promised the seed of Abraham.  That’s the prosperity that is making reality TV so popular because there is so much drama attached to it.

4.  God judges your heart. Remember Matt 5:28?  Jesus judged adultery not by the actual act, but by the person’s actual decision made to commit adultery in their heart.  We sometimes put so much effort in our outward actions to be Christians that we forget to purify our hearts. A tree is known is by its fruit and that fruit will be eaten by others.  If your core is nasty, your fruit will be nasty.

5.  The devil is real. So perhaps at one time we did go a little overboard about demons and demonic possession and the kingdom of darkness, but don’t be deceived.  The enemy is still on the job.  Just because you don’t mention him or acknowledge him does not mean he doesn’t exist.  He is still seeking to kill, steal and destroy and based on the state of today’s world, he is doing a good job of it.  Ignore him at your own peril.

6.  The Holy Spirit is not a sidekick.  The Holy Spirit is your access to living life victoriously so if you just put it to the side because you think it is spooky, you give away your power.  Go back and read John 16.  The Holy Spirit is here to comfort you and teach you all things.  The Holy Spirit is Jesus living within you.  He will never leave you.  He will always tell you the truth, and He will always guide you in the right direction.

7.  We are not suppose to fit in. This one is really hurting the body of Christ, because somehow we have believed that the more worldly we look and sound the more the world will be attracted to us, but it is creating the opposite effect.  Jesus made it clear.  Be hot or cold, but not lukewarm.  Lukewarm will definitely get you more followers on social media, but ultimately God is keeping tabs of how many followers you get for him.  Remember, we are suppose to be royal, peculiar,  and holy (1 Peter 2:9), not regular, popular, and hypocritical.

8.  Jesus is suppose to be Lord of your life.  This means he has total authority to tell you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.  I can personally testify on how easy it is to forget this.  We live in a society when it is all about independence and living your life on your own terms.  It is easy to accept Jesus as savior, but it is difficult to accept Jesus when he says take my yoke upon you (Mark 11:29-30).  Who even uses the word ‘yoke’ anymore?  Yet, this is the reality of being a Christian.  You no longer have the right to run your own life and to pretend like you do is some kind of miserable. It will eventually wear you out because Jesus does not require your some.  He requires your all.

9.  We are suppose to tell others about Christ. It is actually a direct command (Matt 28:18-20).  It is isn’t optional or relegated to members of the clergy.  More importantly, it should be easy to talk to other people about your First Love.  I have never had trouble telling strangers about my husband, Richard, but I have to admit, I have choked talking about Jesus. Really, there’s no excuse.  I do have a great husband, but nothing compares to Jesus, right?  So, why aren’t we sharing our faith more?

10.  It’s not about us.  It’s about Him. In John 12:32, Jesus says that if he is lifted up, he will draw all men unto him.  This verse refers to Jesus’ crucifixion, but it is applicable to everything we see occurring in the world today.  Divorce rates are sky high.  Children are killing their parents.  Homosexuality is the new normal.  The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.  Natural disasters are prevalent and the old are outliving the young at record rates.  What’s the solution?  Take another selfie? Build your own brand?   I don’t think so.  I think if we can just lift Jesus up through our words, our actions, our lifestyles and let him do the job he died to do, which is to draw all men towards him, we will see a lot of things change including ourselves.

This is Much Bigger than a Leaked Tape

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I’ve been silent about things before hoping that they would just get better on their own, that the person or organization would just grow up and learn to do better or someone else would handle it, but I finally have realized that it doesn’t work like that.  As long as a person can get away with something, normally they will continue getting away with it unless they are confronted.  Even after being confronted, if their comforts and pleasures are not eliminated, they normally will continue participating in the same behavior.

Whether it is the family member that continually molests loved ones, the clergy member that keeps falling into illicit affairs, the fast food restaurant that keeps chocking their food products with more and more chemicals and genetically modified crops, or the NBA owner who consistently discriminates, denigrates, and disrespects his players, coaches and tenants, our silence empowers them.  Our silence basically contributes to their success.

Initially, I became really angry with the NBA, both the players and the administration for being so silent for so long. Yet, who am I to judge when I too, have been guilty of being indifferent and happily ignorant in an attempt to protect myself.

If you only focus on the leaked tape, you miss the bigger picture.  Donald Sterling has been very clear about who he is and how he feels.  There’s plenty of evidence to prove that.  The greater question that we should all be asking ourselves on a personal and public level is why have so many people remained so vague and indifferent for so long? People within the NBA  and associated with the game keep saying, they are not surprised by Sterling’s comments and more and more dirt keeps being uncovered about Donald Sterling.  It is this “after the fact” information that bothers me the most. Things normally don’t get better with time and silence. Things normally only improve when there is confrontation, a fall-out of some sort, and swift action takes place.

The leaked tape is just icing on a very pernicious and bitter cake.  A lot of ingredients went into that cake’s batter, probably none more potent than indifference.  As Elie Wiesel, holocaust survivor and author, said during his speech before Congress and former President, Bill Clinton, in 1999: Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony, one does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it. Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response. Indifference is not a beginning, it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor.  

Donald Sterling has benefited long enough from the NBA’s indifference but he is not the only one benefiting from other’s indifference.  A lot of people, organizations, churches, institutions, and industries have benefited from the fact that they know when people have to choose between possibly losing some of their own comfort and convenience or standing up and confronting an issue, they normally choose to remain silent and do nothing.

So on behalf of Donald Sterling and all the others that have benefited from our silence and indifference, let’s eliminate this option.  Let’s force them to find another way to increase their bank accounts, meet their payrolls, and  maintain their lifestyles. We’ve given them a free ride long enough.

Do’s and Don’ts Every Black Parent May Have to Tell Their Son…

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1. Don’t ever walk alone in any neighborhood, ever. We will make sure we stock Skittles and all the iced tea you need.
2. Since you are an adolescent, it is possible for you to forget #1. If you forget #1 and you do venture out and a strange man starts falling you, don’t run. I know you may be scared but if you run, it may give the appearance that you have done something illegal.  Instead, maintain your stride, and try to smile (if you don’t smile you may be mistaken for being too aggressive).  As tempted as you may be to turn around, look straight ahead. By this time the sensors your father and I have surgically installed in you will have gone off. We will be there as soon as possible.  In the meantime just keep walking.
3. In the event that you ever get into a single-car accident, under no circumstances are you to get out of the car and go seek help. We have installed alarm devices to notify us if you are ever in an accident.  Even if the police arrive, stay in the car, don’t approach them because they may see you as a target. Remain as still as possible. I know you may be in pain but it is safer inside the car enduring your injuries than for you to get out and seek help.
4. Lastly, when you and your friends are out having a good time and you decide to stop at a convenience store, turn your music down completely BEFORE you pull into the parking lot. Don’t speak to anyone at all. Do activate the camera system your father and I have installed so we can survey the grounds. After we give you the green light, feel free to go inside and make your purchase, speaking to no one, and returning immediately to the car.
  If you can just follow these 4 steps we feel confident that you can have a happy productive life and live the American dream.
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