Saturday, June 23, 2012

God came to visit...

For The Choir:

What would you do if God decided to visit you? Not just anyone, but YOU? You had a wonderful conversation and actually wrote a lot of it down. But, you didn't believe what He said so you tested Him. You went to great lengths to try and make Him out to be a liar or a lunatic. You even went to some other people and told them who you had in your house and they didn't believe either.

He showed you so many God-like things that it was hard to not believe but still you did not. You kept looking around for evidence that would prove that this person was NOT who He said because you just couldn't believe that God would visit YOU.

Then, He said "listen, I'm going to leave fact, I'm going to be killed because, well, I love you and I have to find a way to make you believe this. You replied, "Listen, you don't have to do all that! Don't you think that's a little extreme?"

He said, "No, not at all. Anyone can die; in fact, ALL men will die. But, to make sure that you REALLY believe it, I'm going to have some of the best killers in the world do it, just to make sure. I'm not going to "swoon"...I'm not going to have anyone take my place...I'm going to actually DIE.

And then, just for YOU, I'm going to rise from the dead. Then, I'm going to go to about 500 people from all over to show them that I'm alive. In fact, I think I'll have lunch with them!"

You say, "Dude! Come on now. A man can't do that!"

He says, with a wink, "Exactly."

Then, He said be over there in the town square in about 43 days, about noon...

Well, you listened to the nightly news and you heard about this man being publicly tried, judged, and executed. You were so sad because He seemed like such a nice fellow. But, you remembered what He said about being in the town square.

So, you go and there were hundreds of people...those people He said that you told about Him coming to visit you.

As you approached, there He was...alive??? What??? One dude actually had the gall to put his fingers in the holes in His hands. He then looked over at YOU...smiled that you remembered to come...and then, with that same peaceful smile, He rose and left. No strings. No pulleys. No tractor beam (smile).

As He rose, He said, I'm going to prepare that mansion for you...if you believe me now.

As for ME and my house...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Over that last hill...

The Physicist keeps looking for explanations. 
The Biologist keeps looking for explanations. 
The Archaeologist keeps looking for explanations.
 The Scientist keeps looking for explanations. 

The Christian just smiles...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pride: a man's Kryptonite!

One of the things that causes us the most grief is one's overwhelming and distorted sense of pride. Pride is one of the most toxic things that a person can keep and, unless it is reversed, is a sure cause of spiritual death.

I'm not talking about being glad for another person's accomplishments or being happy for someone for their blessings. I'm not even referring to being "proud" of your own record which may reflect that you've done your best. For those deeds, accolades and applause are due you in every respect.

I'm speaking of the sense of entitlement that places you above everyone and everything in your worldview. The Pride that causes one to be self-centered, or malicious, or even malevolent in the directing extreme attention to themselves. The Pride that causes one to force people to recognize them beyond whatever another may have accomplished no matter how much greater their accomplishments are in relation to yours. The Pride that insists that YOU are all that matters and that announces to the world that "its all about me now."

Pride is a disease that has no cure available from the outside. I have dubbed it the e coli of personality disorders. It truly does eat away at your heart slowly, surely, completely as well as makes you blind to all that is outside of the blinders that you've placed upon your head.

Pride is the evil that poisons the relationship well...that doesn't allow there to ever be an "us;" only a "me" that must be satisfied.

With Pride, there is no such thing as humility unless it is defined as "look at what 'I' did for you and this is how you repay me?" With Pride, you find yourself as Khan in Star Trek that says that you would rather "rule in Hell than serve in Heaven." With this sense of Pride, your life partner is only a convenient appendage who is there to serve at your whim.

Pride is narcissism run amok!! The Old Spice commercials say it all: "Look at me; look at your man; now look at me." Narcissism via Pride makes you go into debt and make you a slave to the people who own your promissory note but you can't see that because you have puffed yourself up through the external trappings that accumulating "things" serving as a costume to your foolishness.

Prideful people are the ones who demand that "you cannot judge me!" Isn't it cute that the ones saying this are the ones who KNOW they're guilty of being too proud in a negative way but just don't want to face the jury?

With some Men, it is the sense that you do not owe anyone a view of your inner self, not even yourself. It is your Pride that doesn't allow you to go to the Doctor to check up on things that may be killing you such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, or that dreaded exam to check for an enlarged prostate.

With some Men, it is the condition that prohibits you from ever saying that we are wrong; only misinformed and made a decision based on this misinformation. With Men, it is the inability to "lose" gracefully even if it means that you "win" in the end. Being competitive beings, we just say "it is what it is."

Well, why does it have to be that way?

Who has given us this horribly bad advice that we are to be stoic with our emotions to the point that we starve the women in our lives of the nurturing that they must have? Why can't we acknowledge their position in our world that has PROVED that we can't do without them?

Sadly, Men suffer from this in a unique and particularly damaging way. Women do as well but at least women will listen to someone who is telling them what their sense of Pride is doing to them and will take the time to correct it.

Most Men cannot and will not do this and I submit that it is strictly due to extravagant self pride.

What should/can we do about it?
  • First, admit that you are not all that! There is enough evidence to prove that point if you will only listen.
  • Second, repent of this by confessing your arrogance to those to whom you have visited this plague! Let them know that you were "not yourself" or at least not who you should be at the time. When you apologize, be sure to beg for forgiveness!
  • Third, live a life of atonement. Humble yourself before all and elevate them above you. This is the hardest part because it asks you to do something contrary to your nature. But, that's the idea! You can't keep living this way because to do so sentences you to a life of solitary confinement bereft of human interaction because you've driven everyone away.
Fortunately, the cure to this disease is within one's own grasp. Simply look in a mirror and ask how you would feel if you were treated this way or contrast yourself with someone who is MORE proud than you are and you will see yourself from the outside in in a new and revealing way.

A life made bankrupt through Pride creates future trapdoors with only bottomless pits beneath them. As Faust found out, you can have the world but at the cost of your soul.

Eternity is a very long time to be alone...and the wost part of a prison sentence is solitary confinement, yes?

is it truly worth it?

A Cork in the Ocean

I am a huge fan of astronomy...the vast and enormous universe is a place that is so wondrous that it can actually stupefy your imagination. We are all familiar with terms like light years, and supernovae, and black holes. These are not only terms that dwarf our sensibilities when it comes to just how far away some things are but just how dangerous it can be to be out there with them.

Then, as a Christian, I think in terms of just how unique our planet Earth truly is. How it can only accommodate our species. How it can be uninhabitable if there was no moon, or we were say, 1,000,000 miles closer or farther away from our son, or if the amount of water on our planet was different. If those things did not exist, neither would we.

We walk out and feel secure on our piece of earth, our sidewalks, or our highways but in reality, all of this place called home, is like a cork in a bottle in a very angry ocean.

We are hurtling through space at millions of miles an hour; we rotate on our axis at 1,000 miles an hour; we have an electromagnetic field which keeps the harmful rays of the sun from baking us like a roast.

We bob along in this galactic lake along with billions of stars with some of those stars possible having planets, and our galaxy is in a much larger ocean with billions of galaxies containing trillions and trillions of stars.

We can always conjecture whether we are alone in this vastness, or if there are other forms of life. We can always theorize what caused all of this to happen in the first place or if there is a divine hand in it all. We can all doubt and deny or otherwise.

But, the truth of the matter is that we are living in a fragile environment. We pollute, we alter, we cause mutations. We have dominion per our Bible but we are also supposed to be stewards of this place as well.

One can look at how we get along or don't and we can examine the causes of discord in our lives on this bobbing cork and feel important. But, in the universal scheme of things, we are nowhere near as important as we would like.

Please keep your lives and interactions in this perspective. It may seem like a very large world to our finite lives and it can take one of our entire finite lives to see it all but do not feel so important that you lose sight of just how precious this world of ours truly is.
  • My faith tells me that in spite of all of this enormity, I was created by someone who cared enough to pull me from the staggering probabilities of life that He could have made that day but it was me that He did.
  • My faith tells me that He created this place just for us.
  • My faith tells me that He wanted to show His love for us but teaching us universal constants to live by.
  • My faith tells me that when we decided that we didn't need Him anymore, He loved us anyway and gave us a way to come Home to Him.
My faith tells me that I have a lot to be thankful for in light of this...and I'm going to go and show my gratitude by being obedient today.

Enjoy your Sunday, my friends who believe as I do!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life from the ICU

Imagine if you will that you are sitting in an intensive care unit where critically ill or damaged people are coming in all day long. You may be there as one of them or accompanying someone who has been brought there. You see the anguish of the people who are waiting for some word, any word, about those they love as to their condition. You yourself are waiting word about the condition of your own companion.

You sense the dread that these people must be feeling and you empathize with them because you are there for the same reason. Perhaps you wish you could just go over and offer some comforting words to help them. Maybe you need someone to come over and put an arm around you or maybe pray with you.

To put all of this into another perspective, when you are in that intensive care unit, the rest of the world mists away and you are only focused on the doctor's next report. Nothing else matters and all of your emotions are homed in on the condition of those who are unfortunate enough to be in this room--with you--on this day/night.

If we view the world, our world, as an intensive care unit full of people who have an urgent need of someone, anyone, to care for them, what would our worldview be then? Would be more sensitive to what role we can play in their recovery, or do we only concern ourselves with our own immediate needs.

In this unit, there is no escape. The sounds, the smells, the clock that never seems to move, is our only perspective. Only when someone is cared for will they then be able to go home. Or, maybe Death has come and claimed someone and your senses are caught in the whirlwind of grief from those waiting in vain for good news.

Or, can you imagine that they have NO ONE there?! Or, YOU have NO ONE there?

Interestingly, I teach my First Aid students that the stroke victim who has collapsed on the floor with their eyes closed is able to hear everything going on around them but they are powerless to cry out. You can only hope and pray for someone who is nurturing enough to come forward and help.

We live in dramatic and perilous times. Many lives have had their own intensive care unit moments...maybe every day. No, not critical where life and death hang in the balance but in critical condition spiritually and they are in a room where there are only two ways out.

With a perspective that you and only you are available to assist, what can you do? What will you do? Will you do nothing or will you do whatever you can?

I would hope that if I were in your intensive care unit that you would care enough to see that I had a fighting chance to live the rest of my life just because you were there for me. Not because it was from any sense of duty but because you loved me.

To quote from a book I am reading, "Could we learn to love like that if we realized that every day of life is a day in the waiting room?"

Be a blessing, and be blessed...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Guide to Dating: Don't Do It!

Before I was married, I never had a lot of girlfriends and, being very shy, I wasn't in the hunt as so many people were/are. As such, I really didn't date a lot. Perhaps because I didn't make a lot of money and I wasn't one to "date around" I didn't have the resources or the inclination to go through a bunch of women on such a grand scale.

But, I did have a lot of fun wherever I went and with whomever came with me. I often invited friends to all meet at a certain spot and let's just have a good time. Hmmm? I guess those were precursors to the Meet & Greets?

But, I digress...

Having watched a number of people go through the dating game, I often marveled at how they were able to do it. In many cases, these dates were not going to lead to relationships. In far too many of them, the fencing that would take place to see who would "win" by either having sex that night, or some other night, as long as it was on their terms, became utterly painful to watch.

But, is that the be-all and end-all of dating? After spending $200 or more to impress some woman that one just met, and having "nothing" to show for it seems pointless. That "nothing" doesn't mean that he took her to bed necessarily. What about a relationship, or at the very least, a friendship?

After having $200 or more spent on her with virtually every step of the way a possible grounds for a veto seems Draconian to me. If the man does spend this kind of money and impresses you with his style and grace, what does that get him? What does that get you?

What if neither of you were very good in bed? What if the woman expected the man to pay every time they got together? Sure, this is the 21st century but there are some women who believe it a manifest RIGHT to never pay, or offer to pay, or offer to take him anywhere.

What if that was only a Zip rental car?

I enjoyed reading a blog today that touches on some of the stuff I just posted but this is not a retort to her blog. Much of what she wrote is salient and solid advice.

Rather, I want to suggest something a little more radical than the whole dating dynamic.

I am going to suggest that you don't date at all. When I did meet girls with whom I would eventually enjoy a relationship, I made it as pressure-free as possible. I wanted to get to know her, and her to get to know me. We didn't have to go to the finest restaurants, or the most expensive plays, etc. Those came later when I wanted to indulge her...not up front.

We would go dancing. We would be around my friends, and I would be around hers. I would much prefer being at a card party, or playing Taboo, or something like that were we didn't have to be "all that." She would see me for who I was and vice-versa.

Having seen each other in a public, safe, and secure setting, we could comfortably be alone with each other doing the simpler things. Walking along the Potomac in Washington, DC, or on Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh, or along the shore at Sandy Point State Park near Annapolis. From my point of view, if I found her worth my spending my money to honor her, not impress her, but to show her that she was important enough for me to take some of my treasure and treat her well, was to come later...after I got to know her...and could trust her.

Does that make me cheap? Am I a tightwad?

From whose point of view are those labels coming??

My sense of dating is that there is so much pressure up front--
starting with asking for the date, going to a place that is impressive to further the possible lie that each is trying to portray, and then gauging the success of it all by whether she slept with him and if either of them were any good at it, and at every point along the way, one misstep is grounds for a Boomerang-type of reason to reject them.


Personally, I always thought that a woman would be more impressed by the honest brother who was prudent with his money and believed that he had a future that could include a marvelous woman BY HIS SIDE and not in his pocket. The man would be appreciative if a woman took some of the pressure off by inviting the man to something...anything. How refreshing that is. The pressure is off of BOTH of them.

In an honest exchange, on a non-Hollywood-type of date, you are free to express yourself with true PDAs, and steal a kiss or something that shows appreciation for the privilege of spending time getting to know each other. Trust me, ladies, men LOVE this when they don't have to feel like PDiddy all the time. At the outset, you sought to get to know someone, to be a friend, and the gift of making love and becoming lovers (or more) will flow from all of that.

To be sure, and I do hope there is a woman who will say (with honesty) that she doesn't do this. Needless to say, I'm not suggesting that the majority of women --or men, for that matter, do this.

But, for those that do, where has it gotten you after all this time? Still "single" and "happy?" If you're happy, great...just don't bemoan the monster that you helped to create as a reason for where you are.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm Tired of Being "Black"

No, not as I am but as people want me to appear.

There is a certain level of negative expectations when it comes to "Black" people. They are lazy; shiftless; criminal; pathological; overly lustful; leeches on society; and on and on and on. Of course, this is not true of all of us and I dare say that I, and a whole LOT of my friends and acquaintances are NOT this way but what does that matter?

But, when a crime occurs, the first thought among people, including our own, is that it MUST be a Black person who did it. How convenient this is for those who want to wield the "Bogeyman" card to scapegoat us as those most likely to do the things listed above.

Further, we tend to believe it ourselves. Why not? What do we see nearly everywhere but people misrepresenting the rest of us by their "out loud" behavior. Black people on the whole are NOT gang members and are not hip-hoppers. Black people on the whole are generally quite conservative socially and politically because of our church upbringing but that matters not when you hear the spin masters associate being "Black" with so many negative things in our society.

There is nothing inherently wrong with being liberal, or conservative for that matter, but in the eyes of certain observers, being "Black" and either of those two labels is a brand that denotes negativity among any who hears it.

So, where is the middle ground here? How can one be "Black" and, well, anything and not have a stigma attached to it? Who has created this definition that weighs around our collective necks and paints all Blacks, light, dark, or in between, as an anchor on society? Who says that Blacks can be "only one" thing, be it an athlete, a rapper, a gang member, or whatever association one wants to put on being "Black?"

We were the only ethnic group brought to America against our will. We were stripped of our racial identity and forced to be what our slave masters wanted us to be. We tried our best to fit in, didn't we? We "processed" our hair, and still do in a manner of speaking. We paint our faces to lighten our color. We dressed like those who enslaved us. We tried to be everything they wanted us to believe we should be but it all falls short because we are just "Black" and there is nothing that change that.

We condemn our basest instincts but do nothing to collectively purge them from our subconscious. We still like being called the N-Word as a term of endearment even though it morphed from a Portuguese definition of what it meant to be Black and being Black then became a slur.

I am not in a position to write a comprehensive history of my people but I am sure doggoned tired of being "Black" as it is now depicted. Further, I'm tired of being placed in this trick bag by someone else...anyone else. There's enough blame to go around but when we are our own worst enemy, I think that the first finger of blame has to be pointed at ourselves.

I would much rather be Black in the sense that we are a noble people replete with skills extraordinaire. We are a resilient people capable of dominating our circumstances with verve and elan. We are a people that is dire need of a new set of lens to view ourselves from another view that does emphasize what is good and wholesome about who we are.

We need to not only trumpet this but we need to INSIST that those negative images that are preferred by others is not preferred by the rest of us. We need to identify the ethos that is most dominant about us and make people remember that THIS is who MOST of us truly are and not what you see on the evening news, or documentaries about gangsters, or that youngin who speaks in a way that you wished they came with closed captions.

We, as we are manifest here in the United States, are no longer Africans because if we truly were, we would not condemn the true Africans who come here for standing up straight, who speak proper English, who hold fast to their dignity, as if this is some foreign concept for us. So, save your "African American" label for someone else. No, we are BLACK people...people of a hue that is so rich and lustrous that it needs to be glorified for what it is, and not how it is unlike those who are not. We (I hope and pray) prefer to be Americans who are Black and not some subset of some species incapable of doing and being our best no matter what.

We need the majority culture to realize that diversity does not minimize them but magnifies all of us as being what America was always supposed to be and not what racial attitudes and politics forced it to become.

So, do not see me as some Silhouette with no face; no features; nothing to understand. See me as a person of worth. A person with superior skills. A person with a sharp intellect because I took the time to develop it.

Black person: see yourself in the same way! Being smart is a Black thing. Speaking THE language in a proper universally understood way is not a "White" thing but an American thing because, in the end, this is all we have to bank on.

America: quit trying to pacify us but allow us to hold ourselves accountable. Whether one is Black, or White, if you continue to enable people by your paternalistic behavior, ANYONE would become what you claim when you say that we are inherently a sub-species.

If "the system" is arrayed against you, create your own system to counter it. Who says that we must be subject to anything that is not good for us? Who says that anyone must be allowed to profit from the misery inflicted upon any group of people? The drug kingpin would be nothing at all if they were assured that your miserable life would improve. He is counting on you to believe that nothing will change and that he has the escape for you.

Why do we have so many children out of wedlock but also abort more of them than anyone else as well? What's going on here??

If it has been proven that smoking will kill you, why do we smoke more of the kinds of cigarettes that are masked with menthol than anyone else? What marketing scheme thought of this?

Why do WE allow our health to suffer "disproportionally" from everyone else? Is eating healthy and living risk free supposedly a "White Thing" too?

What is it about OUR neighborhoods that says that they must be trash-ridden, dilapidated, and lacking dignity? Does physical poverty have to translate into spiritual poverty too?

Yep, being "Black" is something special, isn't it? So special that we have become addicted to our own worst instincts when your own people insist that you have to be so they can accept their own failings. Misery loves company, remember?

Something needs to happen to change these perceptions and they needed to have been done yesterday.

I'm sure that someone will counter what I've posted here and that's fine. Give me your proof that we don't have to live this way and that we can do it without blaming anyone else, and I'll be happy to listen. But, I, for one, will no longer accept this definition of being "Black" because I will not let you label me thus.