Category Archives: Cultural Critique

Jeez, get a room why don’t you

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I don’t like watching couples show affection in public. Once while visiting another state, I attended a church service where public display of affection was affirmed and welcomed.  One couple actually embraced and kissed during the service and I thought it was so inappropriate.  I mean I know you two love each other, but do I have to look at it.  When I see it even now, I mutter,  “get a room” in serious jest.

But in a moment of clarity and focus, I remember.  Once I was engaged in a moment of ecstasy with my true love; we were in public but we were also alone.  I knew people were around but my eyes were filled with her.  At that moment I didn’t care who saw me or what they thought.  That was our special moment to share together.  You see, love has no rules of a sort.  Personal decency for society’s sake is appropriate I suppose, but I wanted to kiss her every time I saw her, wherever I saw her.  I suspect it is no different with same sex couples either and I suspect they care as less about what I think as I did when it happened to me.

No I don’t like it when I see public displays of intimacy regardless of who does it.  But guess what, because I have been in love, I’ve learned to get over it.  Societal norms not withstanding, It’s not my business nor my right to dictate others expression of their love.  I looked myself in the mirror and said get over it; you participated in love too, you know.

 

My Mother’s Strength was My Greatest Need

I didn’t like my mother growing up. Well, that might be harsh. Let me say I didn’t know my mother growing up. There was no time for a relationship. My mother was more interested in respect and obedience than relationship. And so I didn’t like her because I didn’t know her. Here I was a dwarf of a child listening to this woman barking orders and swinging the switch to keep 13 children in line.

Mother was a strong disciplinarian; I assumed she wasn’t capable of loving me because in my eyes she just lived to beat me. I believe I got a beating for waking up in the morning and going to bed at night. The solution to every problem, mother had with me and my siblings was a good switching or backhand or belt or whatever was handy at the time.

Mother could be relentless in her discipline but reserved in her demonstration of love. No, I didn’t like my mother growing up. I didn’t like her because I didn’t know her.

There was no relationship worthy of Mother becoming my friend; someone, I could like. There little time for nurturing in that fashion. There was only time for work, church, and school. The fun we had included baseball, the beach, and festivals about town. She took us to relatives’ homes and allowed us to roam like children.

So I grew up rebellious at times and conforming at times. I stayed in some trouble and people would say I was a problem child because of my nonconformity. I was different; I was alone. I was in trouble at school but a saint at church. My school teachers would pull my ears but my Sunday School teacher would kiss me on my cheeks. I got baptized at 12, sang in the youth choir, and became an orator in plays and programs, a favored poet in my church. I got in trouble at school, in jail at sixteen, and pulled over for DUI as an adult. My troubles intensified when my best friend, my brother Dwight drowned at 15; I was 16 at the time. For many years my life was in a spiral of self-destruction through riotous living.

My mother, however, kept telling me she was praying for me. I didn’t like my mother because I didn’t know my mother. That is until I realized the length she would go to ensure my safety and prosperity in life. I was older before my rebellion turned into reconciliation. My mother talked with me when I grew up; she nurtured my longings and aspirations and became my biggest fan. Always there for the major accomplishments in my life and always visiting and calling to come see her grands. Mother became my friend; I was older; I understood. I realized she had always been, my mother!

Precious People Along the Way

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” 
― Donald Miller

One of Imagethe best things I have discovered as a pastor is that relationships are more important than missions, money, movements or any of that other good stuff.  As a church family, we are multi-faceted not monolithic and it is our charge to “love one another.”  Through constant worship and praise, fellowship, and changing dynamics we discover who each of us really are.  I’ve pastored several churches and the most memorable things are the people I’ve associated with.  I remember Mother Stokes at Rock of Ages; I cherish her because she adopted me when my mother died in 1994.  I remember Annie Ruth Jones, Woodlawn CME Church, she was loyal to me even when she knew I was wrong; she ensured I had space to grow and develop.  I remember Barbara Harris, Jones Chapel CME Church who was diagnosed with stomach cancer, but God healed her to the astonishment of her doctors.  I remember Paige Perry, Trinity CME, as she weeped and worried that her mother would die; but God lifted her mother up off that hospital bed and she still lives today.  I remember Mother Cornelia Ingram, St. Paul CME,  and Betty Henderson, Trinity CME, who held my foot to the fire and made me accountable.  And my Assistant Pastor (:-) Sister Marianne Acee, St. Paul CME who could get a plan activated much quicker than I could.  Sister Patricia Brassel, Lane Chapel CME, continues to teach me many valuable lessons about relationships and I am so glad to have a big sister like her.

Men were also formative in my journey as pastor.  Gene R. Dean, Larry Anders, Earnest Jarrett, Kenneth Wells, Alvin Jackson, Ronald Turk, Joe Cornelius, Theron Winzer, Willie Bradford, Jr., Green P. Lewis, Dr. Joseph Carter, Nathan Jones, Herman Lewis, Larry Anderson, Willie Prather, Travis Griffin, Malachi Cook, and the many other strong men of our church.  Al Devin Jackson, a young boy whom God gifted to play the piano who had never touched a keyboard, but who prayed and God answered the need of the church for a musician.  Now he’s young man leading music ministry at several churches.  Bishop Joseph C. Coles, my 1st bishop who ordained me deacon and prophesized over my life and ministry.  Bishop Otha H. Lakey, who sheltered me in the time of a storm and who became my father after my biological father passed in 1991.  Bishop Thomas L. Brown, Sr., my present bishop who showed the confidence of the church in my integrity by recommending me as Conference Treasurer.  These men taught me to be strong, courageous, and fair; they leaned in the trenches with me and helped me navigate through dark and deep waters. The list goes on and on.  My point is the people of each church where I have served helped in my personal development in so many ways.

In reflection, I cherish the relationships I’ve had over the years.  They have been more meaningful than any success in missions, money, or movements.  These people and others have been instrumental in teaching me how to love myself and God’s people.  Relationships matter; and when you view people as you should, each person you come in contact with has something to learn from you and something to teach you.  Never discount the value of any relationship you experience; they all matter!  What a blessed life I’ve been priviliged to experience thus far; and the best is yet to come!

Women’s Equal Pay Legislation

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From where I sit this is much ado about nothing. Capitalism is based on market forces of which salary negotiations are a part. Negotiation of salaries stems from the company’s obligation to its shareholders to make as much profit as possible. So, although a budget has been set which outline salary caps, what shrewd CEO is going to pay more than he/she has to whether its a man or a woman. The laws of capitalism demand certain principles to remain in effect of which negotiation for best price is key. I would think women would just need to learn about salary negotiations during the recruiting process and then demand more in wages and benefits rather than waiting on a law that cannot be enforced based on our government system.

Recently, an employee of the Sears Corporation was offered a job at $10 per hour.  She refused and counteroffered with $16; after much wrangling between her and HR, they settled on $15.  This woman knew her worth and set a fair market price on her services. She stood her ground and because the company valued her experience and expertise, they negotiated with her and together created a win-win situation.  

That is the way capitalism works and should be the way women help to close the wage gap.  Governmental regulations which mandate certain pay for certain jobs should not be included in the process when hiring salaried vs. hourly employees.

A Rare Jewel

A jewel in its natural state appears worthless; its value hidden underneath layers of hard, calloused material. It has to be cultivated with care and appreciation for the hidden value within. The person who cultivates the jewel must have a vision and purpose for the finished product. That person must commit to the time, patience, and passion required to unearth the its value for all to see.

The Bible reads: “Whosoever finds a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22

The word “finds” is used in the same sense of a person seeking a jewel. A true wife is a rare jewel, cultivated by her husband. When the husband first sees his wife she may not look valuable to others, but that husband sees her through spiritual eyes. He has a vision of her future as related to his own. He has purpose for her related to the vision God has given him.

A man cannot be so shallow as to marry a pretty face, a nice body, or even a cultured woman. External beauty fades and culture is related to the environment. A man should marry the woman whose inner beauty and strength, once cultivated, fits his purpose.

When a man marries “a help meet suitable” for the vision that possesses him, God will favor him and bless the family. That marriage will be strong because it will be based on a God given vision and purpose that is eternal.

Single men pray for God’s vision for your life, pursue that because your wife is along that path. Single women develop your gifts and remain flexible as you serve God in this world. If you want a husband and you’re doing God’s will, he’s coming. Let him find you pleasing the Lord for that is a sure sign you can please him.

Injustice for Jordan Davis

Jordan Davis stood his ground;  it cost him his life. His crime – refusing to obey a white man.

In March of 1857,   Chief Justice Roger B. Taney of the US Supreme Court opined two things: 1) a slave could never become a citizen; and 2) blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect. ..”  Our justice system has once again revealed that there are some among us who still feel the same way today. 

Wake up people;  freedom of blacks to exercise their citizenship is on trial!  The pot is being stirred for civil war among the races.  Harriet Tubman once said, “I had reasoned out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to,  liberty or death; if I could not have one,  I would have the other. ”

The youth have a right to be young: loud music, parties,  rebellion, risky behavior, insubordination.  We’ve all been young, and no one shot us for it. Adults just shook their heads at us or attempted to reprimand us.  They most certainly didn’t go get their guns, come back and shoot us.

People of goodwill must rally against this type of provocation. When good people remain silent during crises that demand a response,  we all suffer.  Dr. King, Jr. wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. ” 

This verdict is unjust!

What do I do when I sense sorcery afoot

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Do you sense something supernatural being used against you? Are you experiencing something surreal, something too real to be true? Have you ever sung “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right?” 

Anything that pleases you but displeases God is cause for concern. You may be engaged in spiritual warfare of the sorcery kind. You may have been bewitched (Galatians 3:1). 

Numbers 23 contains an excellent example of how God’s people, minding there own business, were targeted by Satan. But God intervened with a word. Hallelujah!

First, accept it as a real attack of the enemy. You are not dreaming or losing your mind. Throughout the Bible God’s people had to deal with witchcraft, sorcery, and divination (Acts 8 & 16). This tool of the enemy is used by enlisting both spiritual and secular people. It is a powerful tool because God’s people crave spiritual power. But Jesus cautioned against trusting in power. Jesus emphasized salvation as the surest source of victory (Luke 10:16-20).

Second, pray to God and communicate with all affected by this attack. When you sense someone is using sorcery against you, be still. Go to God’s Word, build your faith and pray. This is really a time for fasting and prayer. Also tell those mature enough in the Spirit to join you in prayer. If this attack is targeted toward destruction of your intimate relationships or ministry, talk to those involved about your intuition. Let them know that you are waiting on a word from the Lord. When you’re incapable of discernment about the next steps, sing order my steps Lord. 

Third, remain steadfast. In other words, keep doing right because it’s right. Do not work in concert with your emotions, especially those emotions that are contrary to God’s Word. Keep doing and being the person you were before you perceived you were under attack. When things seem too good to be true, they probably are. Stay true to what you know is God’s will and make no excuses not to do it. If you’re hurting someone whose done you no wrong and for no reason, believe me when I tell you the devil is out to destroy you.

Finally, let God’s Word lead you through the storm until God’s love delivers you. As Jekalyn Carr sings “Greater is Coming!” God is greater than any spiritual curse the devil can try to use against you. Faithfulness, persistence will be the key to your breakthrough. Our God is awesome, remember that.