Friday, August 26, 2011

Push Pass Failure

I love new things don’t you?
What can compare to the smell, feel and touch of new shoes or leather
seats inside of a new car or the scent in a freshly painted house? But new gets old quickly; the shoes are
pushed to the back of the closet (with the rest of the ‘new’ shoes), the
leather seats get broken in-- we plop down on them without a second thought and
some days we just don’t feel like cleaning that beautiful house. It is our nature to give up on things
quickly, to grow bored and tired of what use to excite us.

God places within us dreams and visions; we are made with
purpose and on purpose. He is not a
creator of accidental inventions or experimental concoctions. He is the embodiment of intent and destiny. We awaken when we hear that voice urging us to
get up and do. And when the vision
becomes clear—oh my! In the days and weeks that follow we move and
are excited and can barely behave. With
the newness of this energy our capacity to create, build and motivate is
limitless. We start that business plan,
book or play or seek investors for that new business. We
cannot fail
. Furthermore it seems
like the entire world is on our side cheering us on and it’s as if we can do
anything but fly. Success belongs to us.

And then inevitably it happens—the pangs of life come into
play. The work is hard—sometimes
grueling, the folks that said that they would—don’t. The investment of time, work and energy seems
daunting and takes its toll. And we
think—it shouldn’t be this hard afterall
I’m gifted and God said this was mine.
We begin to back paddle or worse yet we seek
out a new venture (remember I said everybody likes new).

Listen to this—just because it’s God-given doesn’t mean it’s
not work. Remember Jesus’ great
sacrifice? That was not a pretty sight
up there on the cross. He knew we were
worth it. Your dedication and work is
worth it. You will fall, get tired, grow
weary and do a lot of sighing—maybe some crying. But grab hold to his hand and move. Move even when your cheerleaders pack up
their pompoms and go home, when folks question whether or not this really was a
smart move. Move, push, push. Learn to
become your own motivator and listen to that voice. Whatever you do, don’t
stop. You will not fail. Success belongs to you.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Christianity is Not a Religion

I often hear people say that we
shouldn’t make our children go to church or force our religion on them. In this
day and age it should be their choice. They
go on to say that it causes them to be resentful of the church and religion
when they are forced to go.

I remember as a kid having to
endure this very ritual. We practically
lived in church; Sunday morning and Sunday evening service, Tuesday night bible
study, Friday night service, Saturday evening choir rehearsal and then we’d do
it all over again on Sunday. I remember
walking with Mom on summer evenings with my older brother through the
neighborhood and seeing the other kids playing, riding bikes and thinking why couldn’t we just be like normal kids. I didn’t grow up to exactly hate going to
church I just didn’t like to. When I
became a teenager and got a job I simply stopped going. Sundays became another work day--then it
became a host of other things. Mom was
disappointed but she didn’t force me to anymore.

I think she believed as I now
believe that once truth has been instilled in a person, it doesn’t just go away. I’d been taught the word; I’d been prayed for
and nurtured in this truth. And attending
church all of those years was not simply a duty as far as Mom was concern. You see, Christianity is not a religion; a
host of duties and rules to dictate our lives.
Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus Christ. Of course, you cannot force relationship,
anymore than you can force a child to pursue a career just because you require
him to go to school. But being taught
about God, instills within us the knowledge of Him thereby giving us a foundation that is true and eternal.

Most of us don’t want to make
our children go to church, because we personally don’t believe in the absolute
power of Jesus Christ. We aren’t
convinced the bible holds infallible truth and furthermore we view going to
church as simply a duty or tradition. For
many, Christianity is a
religion. It is an option like soccer or
basketball. But yet, we would not allow
such choices with school attendance or visits to the doctor. And yes, I know
you think that’s being dramatic. Think about it--if you believe in the absolute
necessity of being saved--not just as a temporary guide to help us live moral
lives but as a permanent path to eternal life (remember when we used to talk
about heaven and hell?) why wouldn’t you require them to go?

As I grew older it would be
years before I began going to church and this time it wasn’t out of obligation,
but because of the things I remembered about Him; how he loves me
unconditionally, only wants the best for me and one day when I die he will take
me to heaven.

Perhaps your children will
wander away as young adults. You will watch
them go. But you must trust that the word
has taken root. If it is alive as we
believe it is it will continue to grow and take root long after they have left
home and will follow them wherever they go.
And even if they don’t quite get it right away we know it is just a
matter of time before it comes to them.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Abundance of Rain

I used to work for a large chain grocery store. Every day it was a chore to go to work. My coworkers were good people, caring, concerned and friendly, so it had nothing to do with them. Perhaps my irritation stemmed from the fact that I have a degree in journalism and I kept telling God that this job was such a stretch from my ‘natural gifts and talents’ that I needed Him to get me out and get me out now! I came to Nashville from Michigan hoping for better opportunities and it just wasn’t happening. And it wasn’t that I wasn’t getting calls about jobs. I cannot count the many times employers kept me in long, drawn out interviews, introduced me to all the “powers that be” as if they would be hiring me the next day. It seemed I had a knack for interviewing well, but not for getting the position! Many times I was so close, always second or next best thing. The irony was I wasn’t pursuing them; they were pursuing me! I prayed and prayed and confessed and fasted and waited and God would speak but always about something else. Agghh! Finally God quietly spoke and told me to stop asking for stuff and simply worship. Ahh...I hear the sound... So I worshiped. I worshipped out of shear will and obedience and didn’t ask for stuff. I worshipped when I couldn’t feel or see a thing. I diligently checked groceries, smiled and looked pleasant. Yes ma’am, no ma’am, please and thank you.

It reminds me of the story of Elijah when he went to tell Ahab after three years of drought and famine in Israel that God was sending rain. He told Ahab to go up and eat and drink. He said that he heard the sound of the abundance of rain. I imagine that this sound he heard was spiritual, an unction in the spirit that only God can bring, otherwise, why didn’t Ahab hear it too? Then Elijah bows with his head down on the earth and puts his face between his knees (I Kings 18:42 AMP) There, in worship mode he sends his servant to go and look up toward the sea. His servant says, There is nothing. And yet, there is Elijah who had just declared that not only had he heard rain, but, an abundance of rain. He sends his servant again—Elijah stays in a position of worship, by faith as if rain was certain. I imagine that after the fourth or fifth time, his servant may have been wondering what kind of trick was this. But time does not negate or take away from the promises of God. Time is not a gauge as to when or if he’ll come through. He is God. He will come through. And time shouldn’t determine our worship or praise to Him. As I began to worship every morning, my job search was no longer my master. Only God’s Word was. It was priceless, bigger and greater than anything in this natural place. His presence was all around me, in me. In worship, I began to remember his deliverances in the past.

Worship drew me closer to Him and I began to feel and sense his movement, His character. I could hear the sound of abundant of rain, in this dry place even when everyone around me kept declaring that there were no jobs.

One day I got a call from an employer. They pulled my application and wanted to schedule an interview. This time it felt differently. Now I could hear his servant say after looking for the seventh time...A cloud as small as a man’s hand is arising out of the sea...(I Kings 18:44)

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Emasculation of our Males

O.K. this is a word to all you mothers who talk to your young men with the same regard as one would a bit bull. I have heard you speak to your young boys with vicious words and hard tones that tell them they have about as much sense as a rusty nail. I have seen you popping them on the head or swearing at them as if they were some guy on the street. I have heard you nag and question them about every decision they make—as if it is impossible for them to move without your constant questioning and redirecting. Not only are you setting them up for failure but you are daily chipping away at their self-confidence, damaging their manhood and causing them to question their self-worth. Our males are being emasculated.

For many reasons Black women have this stereotypical persona as being harsh, unhappy and difficult. Based on our history, we have every right to be so; many of us are single moms raising babies on little income, we have dealt with the man that never stays, or the one that stays but is abusive or even passive. Yes, many of us have come up on the rough side. And raising boys is not easy. But we in turn pass this kind of hard, aggressive, angry attitude on to our children. They inherit our resentment, anger towards the world and all that is within it. They sense the fear in our voices and our behavior. Problem is, living under this guise our children’s self-confidence becomes warped. As they grow they doubt their ability to make a significant impact to the world. They never feel that they are good enough. They question life’s meaning or more importantly, how they fit in the scheme of things. Many wander aimlessly for years trying everything but the right thing.

If our young boys are not nurtured properly, they will find ways to create a sense of meaning. They will define manhood on their own terms—whether it’s through making money—any way they can—or making babies or simply making trouble. Just because they grow up tall and muscle-bound with a deep masculine tone in their voice does not make them confident or strong. They can possess the look and be as weak as a newborn. Our men are walking around with a hard demeanor, strong swagger but still as confused and angry as a caged dog. Our boys need to be told of their worth, their significance. They should be praised for doing well and redirected when they fall away. They should NOT be cursed at, slapped up side the head or left for their peers to give them direction.

Find strong, confident men with whom they can create a bond. Pray over them. Show them examples of strong men in the bible. Teach them to know God as father. Seek to discover their gifts and talents and help them to pursue them. Find ways to tap into their individuality. Because, dear mothers, we as women don’t want to date another woman-beater, or player whose self-confidence is directly tied into how many women he can sack. We don’t want your sons who are looking for welfare checks and babies’ momma’s food stamps, because he can’t figure out how to play in the game of economics and win. We don’t want to raise your sons while raising our own boys. When you send them out into the world, send them

Monday, March 14, 2011

Let's Talk About Sex

It’s time to start our own sex education with our daughters. With 71 out of 1,000 girls between the ages of 15-19 becoming pregnant in 2006 there is clearly something awry with our current sex education. Let us be honest, the schools have no real vested interest in the sexual health of our young people.

Years ago we called the sex talk the birds and the bees or the flowers and the trees. These archaic phrases alone imply that sex is merely an act that is done only for reproduction and any enjoyment we may or may not get from it is purely coincidental. Yes, technically that is what sex is about. But let’s face it; this is not what teens have on their mind when they engage. Talking about sex may bring up images of eye rolling, huffing and heavy sighs and slumped shoulders on the part of our young teenage girls. Yet, it must be addressed and we cannot wait until they’re sixteen, busty and curvy to start discussing it. Truth is, by 14 or even younger they’ve already formed their own truth about the whole thing—if they aren’t already having some form of sex.

Talking about sex is much more comprehensive than the act itself. The desire begins in the heart and the decision to act on it is more than just a moment in heat. It is a conscious decision on the part of a teenager to commit a part of themselves to another person for whatever reason they may have. So we must begin when they are very young. We start out by talking about self image and our purpose as created beings. The conversation should begin when our girls are knee-high and asking questions about the existence of God and where babies come from and why Johnny’s “thing” looks different than theirs. It is up to us as mothers and fathers to instill a sense of God-consciousness about their existence. This sense is directly related to our self-consciousness because we were created by Him and for Him. We must build up their self-love and appreciation of their body, mind and spirit. They are all important to God and they must be important to them. We should create an open-ended discussion not a probing so that the door swings both ways to talk and ask questions. Our talk about teenage sexuality is more than just about dos and don’ts and scaring them with myths.

Then, as they approach teen years talk about sex! Find out what they know, dispel myths. Don’t run from the truth—sex not only feels good but it can be a vehicle to get whatever we want; attention from boys, popularity and a good time. Sex can fill many voids—however temporary. The only way to make sure the principles of a sound, healthy self-image isn’t compromised with temporary fulfillment is to talk early and often!

Hormones will rage by the time they are sixteen. That long-term relationship with that boy is going to be tested. Kissing may turn into touching and touching may lead to intimacy. But if we teach early our girls will have what they need to make sound decisions. Before they get caught up in the moment they need to know beforehand that the moment will come. They should not be swayed to do something because they feel they pressured to take the relationship to the next level. Sexual intimacy it is an act which engages much more than our sexual parts. It includes our mind and spirit. It is giving of one’s self and must be a personal and deliberate decision based on what is good and right for both.

And pray. Even as tots, we should pray for the virtue of our daughters. Pray that God will cover them. Pray daily and nurture—build them up from the inside out. Our young girls deserve it.