Wednesday, February 10, 2016

On Being Who You Are

I try to be mature and Christ-like in my interactions when dealing with people but it has always bothered me when people try to placate themselves and make a statement like I don't see color when I see you.

I walk away ferklempt because my skin color is part of who I am, but it is not the totality of me. It just happens to be the wrapping to this beautiful present that is me. When I get a gift, I don't say or think it doesn't matter the wrapping it's what's inside that's important. While that may be true as it relates to the gift, there are some gifts that are as elaborate and worthwhile as the gift itself. The wrapping is just as important as the gift, and you can't get to the gift before you deal with the wrapping.

My skin color is a part of me. I am Black and I don't have a problem with that, however in America, this is a country that has had a problem with my skin color. History shows it and present times display the bias that still exists. Every time I hear Black Lives Matter and the response is  All Lives Matter or White Lives Matter all I want to say is Black Live Matter Also - that's it.  When everyone regardless of race is treated equally we won't need to say, Black Lives Matter. The reality is BLM came about because of how Black people are treated in their interactions with the police. There is nothing that indicates that Black Men are more prone to lead a life of crime or are more dangerous than any other group of men - i.e. they're not born with a criminal gene or a savage gene, but that is the script that is replayed over and over in America.

I'm not trying to go into a societal discourse in this post, but there is a weight to being Black in America and if one isn't careful they could go crazy (BTW there are studies that support this). I take comfort in the fact that God made me and He knew exactly what he was doing when He made me. He looked at me and said, "this is good." This blessing from the Highest is what gives me confidence in my daily interactions. Regardless of what you think, I am worthy and will carry myself as such. I will not believe the script that plays out in this world but will believe what the Word tells me.

Black or white, you are worthy. If you're Black, I know it gets tiresome dealing with racism that is inherent in our culture; attempting to rationalize someone's negative behavior that has no basis in your reality; checking to ensure that you're not crazy; being called a derogatory racial slur because someone is angry....sometimes it's all too much. But we are not meant to carry this weight alone, so don't. Talk to trusted persons in your life, and pray for the wisdom to know how to act and deal with this in your life. After you've prayed, use the Bible as your guide for your actions and then have the courage to act. This is not a quick solution but a life long process.

I am dark but beautiful, O women of Jerusalem—
dark as the tents of Kedar, dark as the curtains of Solomon’s tents. Song of Solomon 1:5 [NLT]
There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[a] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 [NLT]
Black is beautiful.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Firm Foundation

There's a new TV show called "It's Not You, It's Men" where two famous men bring their insight to common topics; I would deduce from the title that the show is geared to women.  I'm not sure, I haven't watched the show but I do find the title of the show catchy and depending on my mood could relate to the sentiment in the title.

In any event, I read this recent recap where the topic was marriage.  I've provided the link because I think the 7 tips shared are spot on.

Marriage is a lifelong relationship; it's a relationship.  The other day when a tennis player who was part of the winning Men's Doubles Finals at the Australian Open thanked his wife during his speech, he said, "We've had good times and bad times, but thank you for being there." Sometimes in the bad times, we forget what we have; we forget to laugh and to just enjoy each other's company. Our vision becomes clouded by our immediate circumstances.

Writer Herman Wouk was asked what was the "secret" to his marriage of 60 plus years.  He said, "It was love that got us through. We put our heads together and figured out what we needed to do." This quote illustrates what we all know: love is an action; love is a choice.  When married, you've made the choice to love the one you're with.

In marriage, don't let tricky times or bad times shift your foundation; they shouldn't if your foundation is firm. And there's nothing wrong with acknowledging tough times but the beauty is you're not going through life alone. Tough times don't last, but tough people do.  I'm full of cliches today but cliches exist because they're true.  Regardless of what you're going through in life, and in your relationships, hang in there and make sure you have a firm foundation.
Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. Matthew 7:25 [NLT]

Is your marriage on a firm foundation? If it's not what do you need to get it there?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

It Ain't Over!

"It ain't over until God says over; it ain't over until God says it's done.  Keep fighting until the victory is won."

This song has gotten me through so many runs because when I think of the goodness, power, majesty, mercy of God and all of His other attributes, combined with a catchy melody I am able to run farther and faster. This song combined with other Gospel songs is the reason why I look forward to running - the music literally moves me and I feel like I am worshipping God as I run. I am worshipping God as I run. Running this Christian race will make you better; a better person yielding more spiritual fruit.

I didn't intend to become a runner, but
"Something Happens" to me when I hear the name of Jesus.

As I'm "Encouraging Myself", I reflect on scripture on where I am and where He's brought me from.

As I "Work It Out" physically, I see the correlation spiritually.

These songs are all over 5 minutes and some are as long as 7 minutes; that's a worthwhile goal - completing a mile before 2 songs are over.

Before you know it, you'll find yourself soaring spiritually and physically. Or maybe that's just me.

Here are some of my other favorites from my Pandora station:
  • I Got The Victory - Tye Tribbett
  • Jesus Can Work it out - various gospel artists
  • The Blessing of Abraham - Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers
  • The Presence of The Lord is Here - Byron Cage
  • We Lift Our Hands In the Sanctuary - Kurt Carr
  • Lord, You are Good (live) - Israel Houghton
  • Faithful is our God - Hezekiah Walker
  • I will Bless The Lord (live) - Byron cage. 
  • I'm Grateful (the reprise) - Hezekiah Walker
  • Praise Him In Advance - Marvin Sapp. 
  • I Smile - Kirk Franklin

I know the odds look stacked against you
And it seems there's no way out
I know the issue seems unchangeable
And that there's no reason to shout
But the impossible is God's chance
To work a miracle, a miracle
So just know

It ain't over until God says it's over
It ain't over until God says it's done
It ain't over until God says it's over
Keep fighting until your victory is won

He never said it would be easy
But you're a winner in the end
Jesus defeated all your enemies
Way before the fight began
But the impossible is God's chance
To work a miracle, a miracle
So just know

It ain't over until God says it's over
It ain't over until God says it's done
It ain't over until God says it's over
Keep fighting until your victory is won

When people say you can't, remember
(He can, He will)
When you don't know what you're gonna do,
Please remember
(He has the master plan)
He will free you from your sin
And give you peace within
So you better hold your head up high
You're gonna win
(You're gonna win)

It ain't over until God says it's over
It ain't over until God says it's done
It ain't over until God says it's over
Keep fighting until your victory is won

Keep fighting, keep praying, keep fasting
It ain't over, no
Keep pressing, progressing, keep moving
It ain't over, no
Keep reading, interceding, keep believing
It ain't over, no
Keep trusting, keep trying, keep travailing
It ain't over, no
Keep living, keep giving, keep going
It ain't over, no
Keep fighting until your victory is won

Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30 [NLT]

How does music help you? 

Monday, January 25, 2016

It Takes Two


Surprisingly, I like to read the comics. They make me laugh, keep me young and sometimes reinforce a life lesson. I've been reading Blondie since I could read. (BTW, it's pretty funny how cartoon characters never age). This cartoon today portrayed an important lesson - we're all imperfect. If two people end up in a squabble both of you were wrong. One of you may have been less wrong than the other but you were both wrong because you ended up squabbling and walked away with hurt feelings. Hurt feelings can be the beginning of a permanent split in relationships. I've been on both sides of this equation in my life.

It is surprisingly easy in a squabble to think that you were not wrong. I think we all like to think highly of ourselves. But as humans there's a cause and effect factor - your behavior influences my actions and vice versa. No one squabbles with themselves, and if we are squabbling we are raising our voices, and thinking about how to win. We are not being kind or loving in that instance. So even though your part in the squabble may be minuscule, you played a part and both of you ought to apologize so that restoration can take place.

Dagwood and Herbert are lifelong friends, so I'm sure after many attempts at restoration they figured out that dual apologies were in order. In our lifelong friendships and relationships, there's a lot at stake when we both can't say "I'm sorry" with sincerity. Sometimes the one who apologizes first is the one who recognizes their offense, or sometimes they're just trying to be the bigger person, recognizing what's at stake. Either way, it requires a degree of humility to apologize but our relationships are worth it. Let's not let small squabbles turn into generational rifts.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Philippians 2:3 [KJV]

Is it easier or more difficult to forgive those that you have a close relationship with? Do you always feel you're right in a squabble? Is it possible you're not?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Practical Advice - Unity

Unity - it is something that we all want; it is something that when we see it in action we wish it for ourselves. Beauty contestants wish for world peace - but the beginning of world peace is unity; all of us getting along.

We want unity in our homes, in our marriages, at work, in our friendships.

If you're a mother and you see your children constantly fighting, you wonder if they will ever get along.

When you see a couple who are constantly antagonistic toward each other - it's awkward to watch and makes you wonder.

How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! Psalm 133:1

When I read this verse, it always seems like a balm, a refreshing salve because the writer has also observed the beauty of unity in action and he likens it to oil running down a beard. I've never had a beard but I do have hair and when oil runs down the strands of my hair - it melts it, it makes my hair feel good; I want to keep touching my hair.

Unity in action is acknowledging each other, acquiescing when necessary, yet not losing yourself. Traits of vociferousness, obstreperousness, callousness do not lend themselves to unity. Unity employs basic respect and sincerity. Unity breaks down when we all stop trying.

Let's not give up on unity. As a believer, pray for unity in all of your relationships and the wisdom and courage to do your part. It's hard for us to be the people we want to be in our own strength; only with God's help can we make this work. May our callous hearts be melted by the oil of unity.

 How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting. Psalms 133 [NLT]