TOO MUCH

Over the last several years, two business entities have grown exponentially in Chicago. One is public storage facilities and the other is kidney dialysis centers. Totally unrelated businesses, but they do say much about the mental and physical conditions of Chicago’s residents. People are gathering to themselves way more than they need, and wreaking havoc in their bodies with unhealthy lifestyles.

When Is Enough Too Much?

What exactly are people putting in public storage containers? Okay, there are some practical reasons for its use such as downsizing, temporarily staying in smaller living quarters, and needing a place to store valuables. But what’s in your container?

Public Storage

Folks Just Can’t Let Go of Their Stuff.

They’re emotionally attached to inanimate objects. They’d rather hold on to their stuff, than give it away to charity or even to family members who actually need it. What’s the point? Enlighten me. You just purchased new appliances, but you keep the old ones in case you will need them again? So, you pay $90 a month for a storage unit. It’s been three years! You’ve already purchased new appliances twice!

Get attached to your children, your spouse, your parents, and even your God. But for goodness sake, let go of your stuff. If you haven’t used it in a year, then it’s time to hand it over to someone who can. And let’s not consider the stuff you have in your attic, basement, and garage. When your physical space is cluttered, it says something about your mental space as well. With so much clutter is difficult to make decisions and have control and authority over your life.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Recently, a new dialysis center popped up on 108th and Halsted on the south side of Chicago. It took over a Walgreen’s building. I noticed these centers are popping up like grocery stores, everywhere. And the only reason for these centers are that folks have either lost the functioning of their kidneys or it’s grossly compromised. So, I am like dang, what’s up with that?

Why are people eating themselves to death? Food is for life. When does a pork chop taste so good that you want to subject your body to exchanging blood three times a week to live? This is not normal and certainly not the way God designed our body to function.

Kidney Dialsis CenterYou’ve Got Other Things To Do

The process sounds gross: “It’s a treatment that takes over your kidney functions if those organs stop doing their job. Your blood is put through a filter outside your body, cleaned, and then returned to you. ” This is why yearly physicals are important. You might feel okay, but your blood pressure is wack, and you don’t even know it. Yearly physicals also check kidney function, and if you know you have some messed up habits, all the more reason to have yourself checked out. Don’t be scared! Knowledge is power. Fear DIALYSIS, not the doctor.

Consider This

The rise of public storage facilities and kidney dialysis are indicative of ills that plague society. Things, your stuff and the over consumption of food and unhealthy lifestyles are not what’s important. You and relationships with family, others, and God are what you need to cling to.

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:20

Still In Love With LOVE

It’s the end of 2016 and this was my year of love; all my years were years of love but this year even more so. Given the divisiveness, distrust, disgust, despair, and disasters that have been the recent landscape of this America, it provoked me to wonder if love has anything to do with anything. A line to one of Tina Turner’s song runs through my mind asking the question, “What’s love got to do with it?” And my answer was then and now still is, everything.

marvin-gaye Marvin Gaye’s question “What’s going on?” rings loudly in my ears. Has the world taken love and buried it under a rock somewhere? Has it become a gift obtained conditionally from conditional people. Yes, I have a hard time loving everybody. I have a hard time dealing with personalities, relationships, family, friends, and coworkers who are sometimes very difficult to love. But I haven’t and I will never give up trying to spread love instead of hate.

 

love-makes-the-world

Deon Jackson in 1966 recorded the hit song, Love Makes the World go Around. It’s why we live, why we do what we do for ourselves and for others; Love is simple yet complex, and something we can’t live without, at least not happily. We must endeavor in 2017, those that make it across the river, to understand what it means to love.

The Apostle Paul said: “I may be able to speak several foreign languages, and even the heavenly language of tongues, but if is without love my words are incoherent and no one understands them. Even if I am an eloquent speaker or preacher, and can dissect the mysteries of the gospel, if I do it without love I am an empty vessel. Even though it is a blessing to give above receiving, or be willing to die as a hero, these acts without love add nothing to my spiritual bank account: I am considered bankrupt!” (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

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 The ultimate lover: Jesus, and Because of Love He gave himself. We are not finished yet, let’s take this spirit of love with us into 2017 and beyond!

Peace….

Put voter apathy in the trash were it belongs – Vote!!!!

 

I realize that a lot of mud has been slung in the presidential race. I know that our choices are weak, and the decision for many has come down to the lessor of two evils. Be that as it may – please vote for Hillary Clinton. If you don’t vote it’s a vote for the Trump person. It does matter if the evilest one wins (I mean Trump).

hillaryWhy Hillary Should Get Your Vote

The KKK endorses him in their newspaper. The fraternal order of police endorsed him. Neither of the organizations are friends of brown and black people. He will appoint one or more United States Supreme Court justices, which could literally bring back “Jim Crow” and even jeopardize the freedom of many citizens of color. Don’t stay home and then complain when your Section 8; link card; federal education grants, pell grants, and other government benefits are taken away. I am just trying to get ya’ll off your butts and vote!

God Is In Control-BUT!

I know, God is in control, but even Jesus paid taxes. Don’t be lax, and say that God don’t want you to participate in the political process. I believe he most definitely does. There is a better choice. No I do not agree with several moral issues in the Democratic party, but that said, let’s not be completely stupid. VOTE! VOTE Early.

The polls are showing that black folks are staying home, please, please, your grandparents died so you could vote. Put voter apathy in the trash were it belongs.

Okay, I’ve said my peace. I had to. This is a critical moment.

Let The “Chuch” Say Amen

Recently I attended the church I spent my young adult years at. The reason was a bit sad because Deacon Fred Berry was called to glory by his maker, God Himself. Deacon Berry is one of the significant legacies of New Hope Baptist Church, 2301 Rhode Island, Gary, Indiana. He was in a sense the Shepherd for over 50 years in the official office of Chairman of the Deacon Board, but oh, he was much more than that. On August 13, 2016 he once again united New Hope Baptist Church’s membership as we gathered together in one place to say our goodbyes.

As I sat there taking in the joy of seeing and hearing my choir sounding like the choir of yesteryear, “my heart was glad and my glory rejoiced” and inside I almost burst I was so full. To put the icing on the cake was when our prized choir director, Michael Berry who was also one of Deacon Berry’s sons, upon the unction of the Holy Spirit, got up and directed the old New Hope Mass choir at his Daddy’s service! (Lord Do It!) And Oh the joy that flooded my soul!

Andre Crouch wrote a song and some of the lyrics said, “Take me back dear Lord, to the place where I first believed.” For about three hours, I went back. I took a journey to a time when “chuch” was church! When sermon series were unimportant, when every first Sunday you could hear the same sermon about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and not grow weary of the hearing it (Reverend Clarence Loddell, made it sound like music every time). I went back to the third Sunday musicals and I heard Mrs. Mary Barnes and Ms. Bertha sing,” There will be peace in the valley for me someday, and I’ll be changed from this creature that I am.” I remember, New Hope Mass Choir foot stomping and toe-tapping songs Mississippi style… “There’s a lily in the valley bright as the morning star.” It was here that I first got the “Holy Ghost” and “shouted.”

And I realized as I sat there soaked in the glory of the past that over the last several years this is what I’ve been searching for in today’s church. I miss the gospel of Jesus Christ in the church. The basics seem to have disappeared, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Too much emphasis is placed on entertainment, and trying to mirror how the world does it. The Gospel is the same, but we’ve changed. Yes, even though we’ve dug deeper and biblical scholars have researched, studied, analyzed, and taken apart the gospel, we’ve become so fixated with dissecting God’s word we’ve made more complex than it needs to be. It’s not. Remember, Jesus took unlearned, uneducated men, and solidified a relationship with them, so much so that they spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

In the new church, “Dr. Watts” songs and hymns are replaced with “praise and worship” songs lead by the best singers in the churches worldwide. But, I missed the Deacons praying as service began. What happened to those meaningful catch phrases of Dr. Watts?

                     I love the Lord, he heard my cry, and pitied my every groan

                     Long as I live while trouble rise, I’ll hasten to his throne

                     I’ll let you know, before I go, what shall become of me

                   I’ll wait until the spirit comes, and move at God’s command

These are just a few of the ones I remember. I am sure you can call out a few of your favorites too. Now many services are organized and timed to perfection. It’s a get in and get out mentality; worship should only take a specified amount of time. Letting God have his way during service might take too long.

Lately, I have been going from church to church trying to capture the spirit of what church used to be. I haven’t found it yet. I say that because I know it’s still out there somewhere, and I believe by the grace of God, it’s coming back. I don’t want to have to go a “homegoing” service just to have church again, and to feel that God is truly in the room.

There seems to be a thought process running through the Church: anything goes, this is inappropriate. Go ahead, somebody got to say it! The saying, “come as you are” to church has been taken to a whole other level. Since when did God say, it’s okay to sag your pants and show your underwear in church? Because it’s the style; it’s in vogue; air-bodi doin’ it? This goes to both men and women, wearing “skin tights” shirts, jeans, skirts, and whatever in church. Why does everyone need to know what God gave you?

It was once understood that “come as you are” meant once saved then you’ll learn better- NOT! Because the world is in the Church. In the effort to bring in the unchurched, we’ve become lost along the way. We feel the need to look like the world and be like the world. I say we, because I’ve been guilty too. But, the Word says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).

The New Testament opened up with these words from Jesus, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  He knew us and He began with a strong message. Put away your foolishness, because I am here. I have come to save, heal, deliver, and set the captive free. Yes, you are allowed to be you, to live and have fun, and to have a life. Just remember, who you are in Christ Jesus. He promised us an abundant life (John 10:10).

As I end this long blog note, and keeping in mind that I’ve attended church maybe ten times this year and that’s including funerals/homegoings, I believe God may be calling some to minister differently or to seek other ways to impact the world for good. I ask myself now how can I impact God’s Kingdom as I go about my daily life? I think reaching, teaching, encouraging one person at a time is meaningful. Church today has changed so much to me, but that’s because I am old school and it’s hard to get with the new church. Anyway, staying close to God and his Word will, I believe, lead us to where we need to be. I want to be in fellowship with a church membership, but I can wait until God says when and with whom.

Self-Cleaning: Getting Ready for 2016

WasherCleaning Last Year’s Debris

Washing machines have several wash cycles, from normal to gentle, and from delicate to self-cleaning. I recently put a large area rug in my washer; I wasn’t sure I should have, but I did it anyway. The result, it left a good deal of debris in my washer. It was quite a mess, but at least my rug was clean.

As the year comes to an end I’d like to share two observations; usually washing machines clean other things, but one Thanksgiving I set mine to clean itself. As the machine was self-cleaning, I begin to think about the upcoming holidays, and maybe our self-cleaning is part of releasing stuff taken on last year.

God is allowing us to take debris from the old year, cleaning out the internal trash and garbage collected in our minds and spirits in 2015 and putting it all behind us. Like the washing machine, we need to clean out our interior, so we can have room to accept the new bundles for 2016. By self-cleaning, we are getting ready for the supernatural coming our way.

Whatchalookingfor?

The second thing pertains to the upcoming new year, and how Thanksgiving and Christmas is a time God has set aside to prepare or introduced us our upcoming future. Beginning with Thanksgiving preparations, God knows we need time to reflect on things which occurred last year, perhaps a new job or career, perhaps a move, perhaps a divorce, perhaps a new love or a new life.

Many things were introduced and experienced in 2015, and our wise and gracious Father gives us a moment to introduce us or get us ready for 2016. I feel some of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are about looking forward.

Sixty, Sexy, and Getting Better—Aging Gracefully Beyond Sixty

Oops-you’re Sixty!

Where exactly did those forties and fifties go? Aging can sometimes sneak up on you, especially when you’re having fun, are productive, and just plain busy. You paused for a brief moment and realized you’re beyond what’s considered middle-aged. It’s a high probability that marriage, children, grandchildren, and other wonderful events have resulted in more years behind you than likely before you. Relax, it’s quite alright. Aging gracefully beyond sixty is attainable and actually a pretty awesome place to be.

This is the age where you can put regrets behind you, develop fully your inner beautiful, and teach others life lessons that proved to be important to you.

No Regrets 6489623615_a330c191fb_z

Why bother with past regrets? The fact is, the past remains unchangeable, and regrets may ultimately bring you into a negative space, which can be emotionally unsafe. When reconciliation, forgiveness or making things right is a possibility and if your inner spirit pushes you towards this, then by all means move forward. However, if these things aren’t a reality for you, then you must forgive yourself, resolve yourself, and free yourself so that you can move peacefully forward to an emotionally healthy place as you age. Then you are helping yourself and others in a positive and holistic way.

Being Beautiful

5437070898_cee17ac7df_mAging gracefully involves nurturing an inner beauty that will radiate in your smile, personality, and the way you interact with people. Beauty is truly what lies within your heart. A beautiful soul shines through.

Facing the reality of becoming a physically mature person will ease the gradual transition of an aging face and body. If you’re fortunate enough to migrate into your 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond, take into consideration that reduced energy, wrinkles, lines, and gray hairs are generally inevitable.

Of course, you don’t have to take these changes lying down. Stay active, engaged, at your best weight, and eat appropriately, but also understand outward youthfulness at some point will mature and reach refinement. Retaining the beauty that lies within, the beauty that relates to attitude, character, spirituality, and graceful maturity is the one that truly matters.

Teaching Others

Whether you like it or not, you are someone’s mentor. A young person’s eyes are on you. They are examining how you respond in certain situations. How many times have you heard someone make a remark about how a mother, aunt or grandmother influenced a specific area or idea about something? So make the best of life’s lessons and pass down positive tidbits. Be aware of what you say and do, and how it will impact those paying attention to you. Aging is about taking responsibility for future generations and understanding that your life matters in so many ways to others.

The great thing about being 60 is even though you’re leaving a great deal behind you, it’s also an entryway to some wonderful experiences yet to be realized in front of you. Regrets and forgiveness are reconciled. You are more decisive, thereby making decisions and choices that are healthier, emotionally and physically. The word grace refers to elegance and refined movement; it refers to the free and unmerited favor of God; it refers to honor by one’s presence. Therefore, embrace aging gracefully beyond 60; it’s an awesome mantle to carry.

Image via Flickr by Jason Howle; Image via Flickr by Justin Vidamo;

Stay In Focus–No Matter What!

Understanding the importance of “firsts” 

We hear this so many times, but it is really critical to keep first things first. Determine your true priorities. These are the things that will make a difference in your life. If you leave these goals, dreams or everyday responsibilities unattended, nothing happens, nothing changes, and nothing is accomplished. Change will be unrealized unless you take action; unless you pick up the pieces and put them back together.

Losing Focus

When you lose focus, stuff falls apart, it can’t fix itself without you, without your intervention. Listen to the small voice which gently, and sometimes not so gently, prods you to take action and move onward and forward.

Don’t allow a new path to overwhelm you.

Claim who you are! God made you incredible, even if only among your circle of friends and acquaintances. Just because the world doesn’t know your name, only means this is not your direction. What are your life’s priorities? Don’t get busy with insignificant tasks so that you become distracted and forget on purpose what you really need to do. Only you can reach inside to determine your firsts. When you leave them neglected, it influences everything else in your life.

 

Move from your so-called comfort zone

Because you are miserable in that space anyway. Take authority over your priorities. Stay focused – examine where you are spending your time and energies and how this aligns with your destiny.

God Made you Carefully – He made you uniquely you! Focus on that!