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.

 

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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….

A Few More Days To Go

Hillary Lost?!! 

So, she didn’t win? Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it) votes are being recounted.

What I had to do about this election and the chaos that has followed it, was to step back and take ownership of who is actually in control, because somebody greater than I, is. I needed to be calm and realize nothing is going to happen that isn’t supposed to.

And?!!

We are not going to die before it’s our time, and eggs aren’t going to stop being hatched, and the earth will revolve as long as He says so. Since I can’t control the outcome of a lot of things, including people, a deep look into me was necessary. Therefore, I’ve decided to spend the last few days of 2016 seeing how I can look towards a better 2017. More to follow.

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.

OLD WOUNDS: Forgetfulness A Blessing in Disguise

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Healed Scars of the Past

There are some wounds so deep, if you were to remove the harden scabs they’d begin bleeding so profusely you’d be unable to recover from them again. This is why sometimes atrocities of the past are purposely forgotten and deeply buried. One must seek God’s wisdom and his will before reopening such wounds.

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Open: Only if Need Be

These heartaches and burdens should only be reopened or explored if truly beneficial, never to satisfy personal or professional curiosity. Even God, once we are forgiven and accept His saving grace, remembers our sin no more. I advocate leaving some wounds closed so that one may be healed. Let the wound be so healed that it does not leave a scar.

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Proceed with Caution

However, if wounds of the past remain open and bleeding, and impacting every area of your life today, then by all means begin the opening process, so that going forward you can begin to apply the healing balm of Jesus Christ and be free!

 

Flower-FlickerScott Robinson-FlickerJelle Oostrom-Flicker

 

Shots Fired: Chicago!

Yesterday, I stopped by Calumet Park Elementary School with my sister to pick up my twelve and thirteen year old niece and nephew who are in the sixth and seventh grade. School normally lets out at 2:30; at 2:45 the school doors were still closed. No kids where milling about laughing, playing or making their way to the yellow buses as they stood empty. I knew something was amiss.

I got out of the car, which I didn’t want to do because I was still having problems with my left knee. As I walked towards the front door, I was met by a young lady who informed me the school was on lock-down. A shooting recently occurred near the school and the police officials advised the school authorities not to release any students until they felt it was safe to do so. Parents were allowed to go into the school and personally pick up their children. So, of course I went inside and asked for both my niece and nephew.

It was an eerie feeling as each parent gave their child’s name and grade to the principal, who then called each name over the intercom. Mary, Sharon, Latisha, Jason, please come down to the main door. Only one door was available for exit at the time. I felt as if I were part of a scene in a Lifetime movie.

Thankfully, the children were never at risk, nevertheless the prospect of violence was way too close for comfort. As I was speaking to the bus driver, who looked to be in his late fifties to early sixties, we shared comments that the wave of violence the black neighborhoods were experiencing was ridiculous. And, I felt this gentlemen’s sense of hopelessness about the problem and simply not knowing what to do.

The incidents of black young men senselessly murdering their own leaves me and many others overwhelmed. Yes we are praying, listening to WVON talk radio, and other news outlets talk about the problem. There are solutions being thrown out there to stop the violence such as making rap artist accountable for their lyrics, increasing job availability for youth, reforming the availability of services available for those released from jail, and other similar solutions. A WLS/ABC website has a list of resources aimed at providing solutions; however, immediate answers are not forthcoming.

This emotionally and spiritually deficit picture being painted of a tainted population and community of Black people is heartbreaking. It sends a message of pain, helplessness, and hopelessness as the violence appears to be escalating. And summer ain’t even here yet. At one time people felt horrible about war-torn areas around the world, but now no one has look that far. How about right out your back door or window?

Yes, Black lives do matter, but we are the first ones who must realize and embrace this. Who are the influences of today? Why aren’t they doing more, and  crying loudly and not sparing? We need to show our young brothers and sisters their transgressions (Isaiah 58:1). Who are these young people listening to? These are those who need to speak up and out. Many say they are not role models, but most are whether they want to be or not. Something revolutionary has to be done. HELP!