That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

“UNCLE!!!” he cried.

World, you did not win me to your way. You only bullied me into inevitable “clandestiny”  and code-speak. (coined that myself…) A Pyrrhic victory, to be sure, for what you will inherit will be wretched and uninhabitable.

I remember when, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t GIVE a damn,” was shocking. Now, with each new television season, a new word I can’t say is blasted in 5.1 audio. You win.

I remember when people would cringe even at the hint of two guys feeling an attraction to each other. Now, if I suggest that it is natural to tell my son that boys kiss girls, I am preaching hate! You win.

There was a time when morality was the default position and anything else was in need of correction. Now, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is not only a local mantra but a universal code by which to live. I give. Uncle. You can have your world. For now. But whatever standard you hold, whatever boundary YOU set, will be moved next. Go ahead — “You kissed a girl, and you liked it.” Throw your marriage away. Get high with your kid. Preach weak and watered-down Gospel for profit. Say f*&< on TV.

The God in whom you feign belief is real. And coming.

 

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December 29, 2010 Posted by | Christ, Christianity, False Prophets, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, Immorality | 4 Comments

Lest We Forget…

These last four or five months have been ROUGH! But happy.

Steve was born in the midst of a record cold snap, Kathy has been at home with us since December, and I’ve begun (and am almost halfway through) making my album. This past Sunday, my pastor, Bryan made a great suggestion: Write down the things God does when He does them in order that your kids will know when THEY go through — THROUGH — tough times.

Things have been all on my shoulders financially, and I welcome that, but it is hard to do on a hack musician’s pay! It is Kathy’s desire to take care of the kids and take Max to school in the mornings and be on point for all of his activities. That can’t be done in her current position.

She has what we call, only slightly facetiously, a “Slave Job.” It is decent employment if you need the money, but they treat their people like rented mules — there are a million ways to get fired, and taking off  to deal with child issues is one. They used to get bonuses and incentives before the company was bought out. There used to be programs to help ambitious employees move up. All gone. ALL the workers and lower-level management are black. Upper management — NOT black. Slave job.

 They have this unGodly points system that is blind to particular situations. My wife has come close to being terminated a number of times during rough bouts of morning sickness that had her throwing up for days on end.

They didn’t care. “Get to work!” Her Points Predicament had her going to workup until mere days before she was due.

Not too many black households are able to survive on one income. Ours is no exception. We are juggling bills so well around here that we both qualify for Barnum and Bailey status! But God is in the gaps introducing our ends to one another.

And on top of all this, we have the nerve to want to send our son to a five-figure private school!! Now, My parents are both public school teachers, and I am proud of my public education, and will stand no disparagement of it! But when we found out that Max will be learning Mandarin and violin and guitar and Spanish AND Christian principles and manhood — I was SOLD! (Or bought)

So, with cash being tight and all, this past week, I got a call for a gig on a day when I am normally off. Cool! The roof is leaking, and I can use THAT money to pay a man to patch it. I also had a session to do with a group led by a guy I work with a lot. He’s recording an album, and I am doing it for free. Or at least, for deferred fundage…

The session was at 1 o’clock, and the gig was at 4:30. I was doing only one song, so there should be no conflict. As I was getting dressed to do the session (I had  called the man with whom I was gigging to find out the dress code, but got no answer, so I figured I’d better dress up to be safe), he texted me his apologies and that the gig was cancelled!! As I was on my way out the doggone door! Thanks…

So, no money. Strangely, I wasn’t that angry. I got to the session and found that we would be doing FOUR tunes — not one!!! Seems that God knew what He was doing! Seems that He moved that gig out of the way so that I could show good faith to Scott and Marc who have done right by me.  I’m playing on CYNDI LAUPER’S FORTHCOMING CD!! Out june 22. Scott produced it, and Marc is playing on my project for not one nickel. Had I still had the gig, I would have had to break up the session.

So, we did the tunes, and I’m on my way out the door, and Scott says, “Hey, wait so I can pay you!”

WHAT?!!? Cool! I was cool doing it for nothing, but now maybe I would get enough to buy some oatmeal and bread and dishwashing detergent.

Scott paid me 2 1/2 times what I would have gotten on the cancelled gig! Jehovah suuure knows how to Jireh, don’t He?

See how God operates? He’s a show-off! That other guy could have — SHOULD have — called me days ago to let me know the job fell through. But just like in the Bible time and time again, God shows out: He Let Pharaoh and them get right up on Moses and the Israelites before He did His thing! He exposed the false prophets by having the stone altar DOUSED with water and burned rocks to ashes!

He often lets us get right to the edge of the cliff before a bridge just pops up out of nowhere, so that there will be no doubt who did it.

So, Max, Diana, Steve (and whoever may be next) fear not. God will catch you. And He’s cooler than ten James Bonds and a dozen Houdinis! Love Him like I do!

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Faith, God | 2 Comments

A 700 (lb.) Club in the Hands of a Pagan

Pat Robertson.

I don’t know if you read blogs. Or even the Bible, really, at this point. But if you DO read blogs — please shut up! You are once again, a stick in the eye of the body of Christ, and a stick in the hand of those who wish to beat Christianity into silent submission! At this very moment, those who may be on the fence about my Faith are, by you and your cold and uncaring ilk, shoved to the side of unbelievers. Shut up. Please.

The people of Haiti need aid. Resources. And Christian love. What they don’t need is dubious if not outright false pontification as to the origin of their current plight. You say that the Haitians made a deal with the Devil. That that is why the earthquake ravaged them.You wanna talk deals with the Devil?!? I don’t think you do.

There is no middle ground — as I’m sure you know — when it comes to which God to serve. Nations and empire are BUILT on such deals!! The fact that  black people populate Haiti is the bastard child, if you will, of such a deal. So is my country.

I always say that God blessed us not because of how we grew, but in spite of it. Perhaps Haiti is not a Christian nation as you and so many of your fundamentalist cohorts claim America to be. But, then, neither were the tax collectors, prostitutes, Roman soldiers, and various other miscreants and malcontents with whom Jesus spent His time. They, too, made deals with the Devil at one time. But He didn’t belittle them and pour salt on their scars. He healed them THEN said, “go and sin no more.” He preached to them after He met their physical needs.

The same type remarks were made about Jakarta. Jesus said, however, that calamities don’t necessarily befall a people simply because they are less holy.

And you, Robertson, have seen fit to interpret world events for the Lord a several times. see: Ariel Sharon, Dover, Pennsylvania… And don’t get me started on his eschatology.

Non-Christians use you, Mr. Robertson, to bash the genuine article at times like this. They will do that anyway, but why give them a false statement as a bat?

I’m a Christian. Not ashamed to say that. And hopefully my behavior doesn’t hide that fact. And my Christian views are pretty conservative. But when guys like Pat Robertson get rolling, I’m ashamed of HIM. Not for simply making controversial statements. Jesus did that. I’m ashamed for the cold, heartless — often inaccurate — things that spew forth right when calamities befall humanity. We are all human, if not all Christian, and the Christians among us should be above reproach when it comes to showing real compassion.

There is a time and a place for fire and brimstone. It is not when the gas is still flowing!

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Christ, Christianity, Earthquake, Haiti, Pat Robertson | 4 Comments

Paper Tiger

wow. So another known figure has to admit to “transgressions.” What is new?

A. Rod, Michael Jordan, Brad Pitt and his vampire, Ali., any politician, King DAVID and Bathsheba, every rock star, Meg Ryan, the wife from the Sopranos, Ted Haggard, Madonna, Jesse Jackson, O.J., Bill Cosby, Jamal Harrison-Bryant, Anne Heche, plus billions of other people.

It is a common occurrence, and while it doesn’t anymore surprise me, it still sickens me. I proclaim that I will never cheat on my wife, that there are too many steps involved — any one of which provides me the chance to stop and think…

So, what makes it so prevalent? Aside from the fact that the urge was designed to be as strong as it is in order that multiplied billions of us are reproduced? We are all sinners! Given time and opportunity, all of us have done what we shouldn’t have at one time or another. For me, absent an all-seeing God who taps me on the shoulder constantly, I would go, too.

The confidence I have is not that I am great — or even GOOD — but that God can’t die and won’t cast me over the side (a problem those who don’t believe in the perseverance of the saints must reconcile).

My lack of shock at Tiger’s confession does not mean that I am jaded and resigned to the plummet of morality. I happen to think that a God who can see the whole future KNEW that we would do what we do when He set down the Law millennia ago! And my disappointment is not that I thought him perfect. I’m just tired of seeing brilliant people be so doggone STOOPID! I’m tired of things like this giving man-haters seeming validation for their points of view.

Yes, men cheat. They cheat with women! Women cheat. People cheat. It’s not as though there is a lost continent somewhere where all the sluts are, and that that’s where rich guys go when they tell their wives that they have a conference in Toledo.

I’m sick of press gatherings and pubic apologies and beleaguered wives and feeding frenzies.

Maybe it’s because I was never a guy who had women chasing me around the room, but I can’t see how folk can be so monumentally dumb as to leave text message trails and voice mails on the cell phone of women with the moral depravity to have sex with somebody’s husband!!!

How can you be a genius on the golf course, and a buffoon in the battle of the sexes? Why did he get mixed up with hostesses and waitresses? I’m sure there were homewreckers out there with as much to lose as he who were willing to lay up and shut up!

I do have an occupation which provides me with ample opportunity to do what I want and get away with it. I see guys doing it all the time. (And I sometimes see them get caught!) I have a wife burdened down with children, so I don’t have to worry about her popping up on me unexpectedly. I get looks occasionally, and sometimes more than just looks. But aside from love and fidelity, fear would keep me in check. Fear of the whooping God would lay on me if I did that! And fear of not raising my kids, and of having my wife hate me. Fear of public shame and ridicule. Fear of having people throw this blog in my face and calling me a hypocrite. And fear of the ramifications of the damage to my Christian efforts.

A few years ago, a  married woman slashed the tires on my sister’s car. She worked with my sister and told her that her husband was a mechanic (a big, greezy dude). She saw the car in her driveway and lost it.  My parents wanted to meet with her and her husband, and I wanted to be there, too!

The woman apologized profusely, saying that it happened at the spur of the moment. When everybody else was through talking, I said what I had to. I told her husband that if ANYthing happened to my sister, since I would go to jail for beating up a woman, I would come to HIM, and that his best move was to make sure his wife acted rationally because his wife wasn’t the only one who could go crazy!

But my main point of attack was at her assertion that it was a spur of the moment act. I told her that that was not true. She had to look out the window, see the car, get angry, go into the drawer and get a knife, unlock the door and go outside, stab one tire, and walk allll the way around to the other side and stab another one!

At any point, I told her, she could have stopped herself. She could have realized that the car would be stuck in her driveway. And that she would have to pay for the tires, not being able to lie about who did it. And that she would still have to face my sister at work. AND THAT SHE WAS THE ONE WHO TOLD MY SISTER ABOUT HER HUSBAND BEING A MECHANIC IN THE FIRST PLACE!

she agreed.

I tell this story to emphasize the fact that there are many steps to adultery. There are countless chances to let the heat of lust die down and gather the senses — and the loins. You have to meet a person, have a conversation, get a number, DIAL the number, erase the number, drive to the meet-up, get the room, and do all the rest. An affair has even more steps. One has to really be unhitched from the conscience to do all that. And that is scary!

And simply getting caught — which is what always causes the confession — doesn’t automatically switch on what was shut off.

When I go to work at the nightclub, or most other gigs, I always take my palm pilot. I spend my breaks playing Scrabble. I know the guys think I’m this dull church boy, but I don’t care. That thing keeps my mind occupied. They don’t know me the way I know me! I see the women — can’t help it — but I don’t dwell on it.

My philosophy has always been to keep myself out of tough situations. It’s easier to get out of a puddle than a pool! When I was single, all I did was think about how fine this woman or that one was, and how I could break past the shyness to win one. But even then, I tried to keep myself from getting into debauchery. I know that was God, and while I usually listened to His voice, the times when I didn’t always led to pain.

To this day, I can’t see how guys do what they do out in the open, but I can’t go around moralizing. What I do do is take the opportunities presented to me to tell them about my methods and reasoning. It’s a lot more fun to not have to feel like Tiger feels now than to roll in the sack and lie about it and get caught and get cussed out by the wife and hire a lawyer and give half a billion dollars, the houses and cars and KIDS to her for some other dude to enjoy!

 But Tiger didn’t ask me.

It’s a lot more fun to win a Scrabble game than to feel like the stuff on the bottom of the oven on the inside because you messed up again.

It feels a lot better to envision a bright future than to spend your time wishing your arms were long enough to grab and change the past…

This is why I idolize God. I know I won’t ever have to worry about TMZ coming up with photos of Jesus and some random harlot drunk frolicking in the back of a Tahoe, or a voice mail of Him asking said harlot to erase her name from her phone. Jesus won’t ever have to “release a statement.” Only a Testament.

December 2, 2009 Posted by | A. Rod, Adultery, Advice, Christ, Christian Life, Fidelity, Integrity, Tiger Woods | 9 Comments

Scuse me, Mr. Magoo, could you tell me if my socks match?

I was made aware of this atrocity by my friend, Erin. It is an example of how some people don’t know, others think they know, yet others don’t know they don’t know, and still others know they don’t know but don’t WANT to know!

And what you wind up with is — to appropriately mix metaphors — a bowl of alphabet soup with nothing but Q’s, X’s, and F’s… a cacophony of indistinguishable noises like a radio station out of range… crowd noise at an arena full of drunken revelers.

From the beginning, Joel Osteen — a nice guy, to be sure — comes out to raucous applause with his trademark pasted-on smile and answers the standard pat question  (“What would you, a messenger from God, have us to do in these turbulent times…?”) with an even more watered down version of his inconsistent Word of Faith message… “Think good thoughts and good things will come to you.”

Joy Behar — with whom I RARELY agree — rightly calls his message “materialism,” saying that Jesus preached against that and ‘Christian’ Sherri Shepard jumps right in to contradict Behar! Now, she may well BE a believer, but we learn that love of material things is a no-no in the first week of Disciple School.

Granted, Behar’s challenge of Osteen was ostensibly a challenge to ALL of what she believes is Christianity and organized religion, but I would expect Shepard and Hasselbeck to be able to navigate the kiddie pool of Theology. I guess this may sound harsh. I don’t mean it to be.

At a certain point, folk who claim Christ ought to be distinguishable from those who want nothing to do with Him.

Whoopi Goldberg asked THE LOADED QUESTION: What about gay people?

That is a touchy issue, since people of a certain leaning would like to believe that their bent is proper. But what the organized lobby does — with the help of people who think they are fighting a good fight — is force you to either Advocate for their position or SHUT UP AND ACT LIKE THEY LIKE IT!

There was NO way Osteen could have gone through to the other side of  that issue unscathed. But when faced with a dilemma, it is best not to sell God out with a touchy-feely, nebulous answer! We must be sensitive to all, but that does not necessitate that we shade the hardness of Biblical truth.

They all knew that Osteen’s answer would not be that is in God’s perfect will to live out a homosexual lifestyle. He knew it was a trap. ALL Christians get that stuff. Jesus had traps set for Him by Pharisees, and He told the truth in ingenious ways.

When Goldberg asked, “does God HAVE a ‘best’?” I was done! (The first video I posted here had his answer to that question, but it was removed…) What does that even mean?!? Of COURSE He does! Even though that was a milquetoast answer, the question was more appalling, and let it be known that the panel, for the most part, didn’t want to really hear Truth!

It is Osteen’s responsibility (as it is ALL Christians) to be able to answer these queries with soundness and aplomb. He didn’t.

His “message” is no more a Christian one than is an Oscar acceptance speech. And just as we don’t look to “The View” for our doctrine, we should not look to the Osteens, Dollars, Hinns, and Copelands (and Bishop Don Magic Juans) of the world, either!

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Charlatans, Christ, Christianity, Joel Osteen, Televangelists, The View, Whoopi Goldberg, Word of Faith | 5 Comments

Hang on!!

I haven’t quit the blog! I pull it up every day to check in and to have it on hand when inspiration hits me.

But I gotta verrry pregnant wife and two toddlers taxing my time and stamina!

There is a lot to write about — Jon and Kate and divorce, hatred in politics, people dying, people being deceived by “religious leaders,” drama on my job, seeing old friends (and quickly saying goodbye to them),  — and I want to get to it while it is still current, but I can’t get to the forest because all these trees are right in my face!

I want to write about friends of mine who have legitimate questions about my Faith and why there are so many Bible versions, and why Jesus IS the only Way, and why other friends run to other faiths because of how they see so-called “Christians” treat the less-than, and I want to talk about my wife and the relationship we have and cultivate in order to ensure that we make it till one of us croaks… I want to tell folk about the boss I have who is a volatile hothead — but, I’d better not, because I’ve gotten fired a couple of times for speaking my mind (read: RUNNIN’ MY MOUTH!) — and how having all these kids impacts the newfound reserve I exhibit.

I want to tell about the funny things my kids do, and how blessed I am to be called “Daddy” by them.

And I will. But right now, I have songs to learn for church and for next week’s gig and for my regular gig, and I have to wash the dishes, and take the gum from Diana that she got out of my garbage can, and explain to Max AGAIN how Jesus died — and why — and how His death is different (and the same) than ours…

So please hang in with me!

Thanks!

October 18, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Christ, Life, Writing | 3 Comments

Saying “I’m wrong,” is All Right

Until you admit you are wrong when you are wrong, everything you try to do is going to fail. You don’t get to admit error in an arrogant, falsely modest, condescending, passive-aggressive way — I’m just a peon, all of you are really better at this than I am — while still continuing  the same course of action that caused the division in the first place. Sugary words mean nothing when accompanied by harmful actions.

I am speaking of a person in particular, but the principle is universally applicable. I can’t stand to be around people who are never wrong. (And Jesus ain’t just “PEOPLE”)

The reason I can have a continuously harmonious relationship with my wife is that we choose not to play these games with each other. If I am wrong — and she convinces me of it (chuckle) — I have no problem admitting it. How is it respectful toward her to KNOW she is right, but deny it because I don’t want to lose the high ground? All this will do is embitter her.

She shows me the grace to do the same thing. There have been times when I have had an issue or another with her and thought, “Oh, Lord, help me in this! I know she’s gonna push back hard, and we’re gonna have to rassle!” But invariably she will sit there silent after I’ve laid out my case. I’m thinking, “Here we go! She’s HOT!” and she will say, “You know what? You’re right. I was wrong” Just like that.

And what that does for me is make me more secure in the relationship! I grow to love her more because I know that no one likes to be wrong in a sincerely held belief, and to change a thought process is a huge thing. That she does that for me means that she really does love me for the long run!

Friendship is the same way. We all miss the mark. We all are selfish at times. We all shade the truth from time to time. We all simply make mistakes. But YOU, Dude to Remain Nameless, are never wrong. To pretend perfection only frustrates fellowship. I have friends who USED to be that way, and I USED to be friends with people who ARE that way.

What ends up happening is that you alienate those who seek to build a relationship. The fact that it is always the next man’s fault makes the next man take a hike.

When YOU play a wrong note, or show up late, or cancel an engagement, or miss a practice unexcused, there is always a reason. When someone else does it, it is a dearth of dedication or a lack of reverence for you or your endeavor.

What your feigned infallibility says to me is that you think I am either intellectually inferior or not important enough, worthy enough, to warrant the truth. The fact that you can lie to my face about the contents of a conversation that only you and I had, says to me that you respect me less than you would a slug sliding on the ground! It says that you think of your associates as women to be manipulated and that you are a player a la Bill Bellamy, just playing mind games to show your superior smoothness. Men don’t like that. Stop doing it. Real life is not a game of cat and mouse. Or dog and cat… Don’t try to play me like I’m some woman you’re trying to hit up in a club somewhere.

It takes strength to admit wrong. The strength to swallow all that pride and just say, “My bad,” and shut up and keep moving. Not the phoney, self-aggrandizing, “my only sin is that I care too much” kind of stuff you shovel out.

Do you know how angry you make people when you do that? You have “Proverbs” smeared all over you.

And if you drag God’s name through it, you commit the sin of trying to make Him an accomplice to your crimes. Don’t say you are doing His work if you treat His people like the dirt on your shoes. That’s just another player move. “I can get more followers if I say I am doing the Father’s bidding.”

As I said, this stems from a conversation I already tried to have with a guy I know. But we all know folk like him. If you don’t — then, it is YOU!

We would all benefit by learning to admit wrong, and to forgive wrong. I think that a lot of the problem lies in the fact that we often think that if we are found to be wrong in some way, people will think less of us or love us less, or cast us aside.

So, logically, if our friends develop the confidence of knowing that they will be sincerely forgiven, harmony will result. Nameless Friend, however… In the words of Celie, “…till you do right by me…”

And, no, I’m not talking about Stephen A. Smith. Although…

September 22, 2009 Posted by | Adage, Advice, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Common Sense, Food for Thought, Friendship, Marriage, Rant, Stephen A. Smith, Stuff I Hate | 2 Comments

As John Mayer said, “Keep me where the LIGHT is!”

So, let’s see… In a span of two weeks we have a congressman heckling the President in hallowed halls, Serena Williams gets all un-Jehovah’s Witness on a line judge, and Kanye interrupts a live broadcast to demand a recount.

And now everyone’s lamenting the loss of “civility.” As if it only JUST broke the surface! I was angry at Joe Wilson, ashamed at Serena, and ready to re-break Kanye’s jaw. But these latest incidents are not what we should be decrying. We lost our minds a lonnnnnng time ago! These people are just ratifying what this society has been lobbying for for years.

We wanted fewer restrictions on what was considered “normal” behavior. We wanted to be free to say whatever and hear whatever we wanted on the airwaves. (Remember when, “Frankly, my dear…” was controversial?) Now, you can see a naked butt and have it accurately described at 7 PM. No biggie. In fact, no sexual organ is off limits as to the basest description of it. I’ve heard pretty much all of them. Every few years another of those forbidden words — thirteen of them, I believe — is knocked off the list and available for my three-year-old to perfect. Yeah, I can turn the channel and turn the other cheek, but after a while there will be no channels left, and I’m out of cheeks! And I can’t disappear.

We wanted to be like France, Amsterdam, and other progressive European countries. We got it. We are in the process of being given over to our collective desires. They have legalized drug use and whorehouses set up like Macy’s (I’ve seen them). They have affairs like we have lunch in the afternoon. They have no sexual hang-ups. They have soap commercials with lathered up boobs floating on the water and no one gets uptight.

“If France jumped off a bridge, would YOU?!?”

We’re on our way, though! We have daycares in schools for all the students’ babies, we throw them baby showers rather than counsel kids on the seriousness of the problem they’ve created. Little girls dance like strippers, and every month another leader has to drag his haggard-looking wife in front of a phalanx of cameras to apologize for hooking up with a co-worker! 

 And rather than deal honestly with the growing issue, we laugh at Christians and call them sexually repressed. The deck is stacked.

 

When I was a kid, if we accidentally cursed in front of an adult somewhere, we could expect to get snatched up quicker than the Rapture! Now, kids cuss in front of me and anyone else with impunity. They know their little butts are made of gold. Thanks, Oprah! Your work here is done!

Marijuana and ordinary cigarettes have switched places. Weed is cool, but if you smoke nicotine, folk look at you like you’re fondling a kid!

You can’t tell a child in school his answer is wrong anymore. You can’t even frown at them. You surely can’t spank them! When I was a kid — we used to call them that. Kids — we didn’t have car seats. You put the baby up in the back window, the middle one in the front between Ma and Pa, and the other four or five were in the back somewhere. We could even ride in the back of pick-up trucks (I loved sitting on the hump or the toolbox!)! Now, if you have to get gas and you have more than two children and no debit card, be prepared to haul all those suckers into the Mapco! If Li’l Johnny’s nose starts to run, we rush him to the doctor. They can’t ride bikes in the street or play out of our line of sight.

My point is that we enact surface rules to seem as though we care so much more nowadays, but we poison their minds and make them weak and soft. We give them everything they think they MUST have, but we let them talk to us any way they see fit. (not MY kids!!)

We deify celebrities. They know they are unassailable. They can be on camera in a hot tub screwing around with the wife and the nanny, and it is all good! Cover of “People” magazine the next week! They can leave a heartbroken spouse, shack up with the co-star, adopt a couple of Cambodian babies and be labeled “Humanitarian Power Couple.” We are SO stupid!! They can get married and divorced like we change pants, and we rush to be just like them.

Things which used to be hands-down egregious wrongs, which were debatably errors recently, are now just fine — in fact — laudable! The only sin nowadays is to notice one. We’re eVOLving!

Don’t get me started on that! As if, just because a monkey has thumbs, we used to BE monkeys! Chairs have legs, too! Was my great-grandmama a Queen Anne?!?

The word “Stigma” has been stigmatized. We are ashamed of the word “Ashamed.” It’s wrong to say, “Wrong.” Saying “No” is a no-no.

But we want to have conferences and panel discussions because Serena cussed a heffa out in the heat of battle and denied saying what she said thirty seconds later!

Why should she edit herself (like I do!)? We gave her the license to do it. She re-invented the booty.

Why should we scold Kanye West for running up in an awards show choking a bottle of Hennessey like it was a lifeline and snatching a little girl’s moment away forever? He’s Kanye, fool! He makes the heads nod!

“Don’t judge me!” you all said. And NOW, you wanna judge what these folk did?!? On what basis do YOU judge? Your own  sense of right from wrong? Your own  standard? But don’t you remember, you’ve spent the last few decades stripping away  at that standard so you can say a$$ on teevee! Don’t start trying to make judgements now!!

These folk — and Joe, and Roger Federer,  and the town hall criers and the sexual lobbyists and the teenyboppers on stripper poles and the rest — are but acorns on a giant oak tree of iniquity that threatens to darken us all with its shadow.

Prince pushed the envelope back in the eighties, but now the IS no envelope. We got e-mail… And one heckuva virus!

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Celebrities, Celebrity, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Civility, Culture, Current Events, Glory, God, Joe Wilson, Kanye West, Rant, Serena Williams, VMA's | 3 Comments

When God’s will and mine, serenely intertwine

I have three sisters. No brothers. ALWAYS wanted one.

My father, who was raised as an only child and found out at age 35 that he was adopted, had three sisters and no brothers. One of them had died when they were in high school.

That is a long, good story that Kathy insists I write down.

I have a cousin whom I first met back in the late eighties. He and his wife, Shelene, own a martial arts training studio in Pasadena, Ca. Were he alive now, he would be in his early sixties and would look maybe 38.

He made a profound impact on me from the first. When I did a series of  gigs out west back in ’92 (during L.A. riots), he came and got me and showed me the sights and introduced me to family who treated me like a visiting dignitary. I will NEVER forget that. A few years later, he did the same thing, taking me to Venice Beach, his studio, Rose Bowl stadium, and many other places. We almost hit Kareem Abdul Jabbar when he pulled out in front of us.

He was a multiple-degreed black belt martial artist in many different disciplines, and trained with Bruce Lee. He trained English Mastiffs and Rottweilers to respond to hand signals! Very impressive! And with all of this, he was the most mild-mannered, peaceful dude you’d ever seen!

He and Shelene met Kathy soon after we were married at a family reunion that I missed because I am known for not missing gigs. (I missed out on a lot of things because of that. I’m going to change.)

They swept her up and made her like one of their own! But Kathy has a personality that will do that to you…

A couple of years ago, they said he had cancer. But when I talked to him, he said everything was fine. Never thought I would never see him again.

His death hit me harder than anything I had ever felt. I have been blessed to have all my cousins, both parents, all but one uncle, and all of my aunts still here. My mother’s father died when I was a child. I was grown when my grandmothers died, but one was in her nineties and afflicted with Alzheimer’s, and the other… long, tough story.

I could not go to the funeral. It was in L.A., and I couldn’t afford a ticket, and I had to work. But really, I just couldn’t bear to see my cousin not alive when I still had so many things to learn from him. The funeral was broadcast online, and while Kathy watched it and said how beautiful it was, I couldn’t do it. I lay in the other room — in earshot — and cried so hard my head hurt. All day. Between bouts of vomiting because Max had gotten me sick when he threw up all over me three days earlier. (And I had to go to work.)

His name was Steve Hearring.

 

I don’t think anyone in this entire world loves my daddy as much as I do. And I know he’s flawed. Who isn’t? But, as with God, my cousin, and all my heroes, I admire strength and power. That’s why leopards, bulls and rhinos are my favorite animals. And my father epitomizes strength and power.

Despite the rough time I had growing up (which is a positive story in light of the way things turned out between us) I always sought his approval and respect. I heard the stories about the things he did as a boy and as a man, and I wished I could be as tough and as calm. Indulge me one story…

Back when he was in his twenties, as a high school coach, he and his team had an Away game against a heated rival. My mother, known for her tactlessness in awkward situations, was — according to her — talking some trash in the stands.

Apparently, one of the guys behind her took offense. Someone pointed him out and whispered to my mom that he had a gun and ill intentions toward her. When the game ended (Home team won), my mother made her way to the locker room with the guy following her through the crowd. When she got to the locker room and walked in sheepishly, my pop, who was mad about the team losing and in no mood for foolishness, asked her what she was doing there. She NEVER went back there.

Out of fear for the OTHER guy(!) she refused to say. He made her tell him. Mom pointed the guy out still lurking outside the locker room.

Daddy acted out for me what he did next: Ma had an umbrella — the kind with the point on the end. He, unarmed otherwise, took it from her and went to find the dude.

The thug had his right hand in his pants pocket and Pops figured he was holding the gun. He went up to the guy, grabbed a handful of wrist and pants (He almost sprained mine acting this out. Adrenaline…) so he couldn’t get the gun out!, shoved the umbrella deep up into the soft meat under the guy’s chin and proceeded to threaten his very life with well-chosen words that I can’t repeat! He held the guy until the cops got him, and there was indeed a gun in his pocket!

It was all so unbelievably smart and strong! Even with his finger practically lifting me from the ground, I was smiling HARD! “That’s MY Daddy!” I thought! “Did I inherit any of those guts?” My daddy was like a cross between 007 and Jim Brown!

I’ve got a bunch of those stories — all true — and he won’t even tell me any more. He is so understated and modest about it all, saying that he was just crazy.

He was the biggest, the strongest, the toughest, the bravest, and the fastest, according to those who grew up with him. Yet he stressed reading and learning with my sisters and me. As did my mother. He took pride in figuring things out, he loves brain teasers and The Discovery Channel.  He got up every day and went to work, sometimes spending too much time working his players. They would have basketball practice at 5 AM before school AND after school. But he single-handedly turned them from chronic losers to winners.

He never called in sick, he taught me how to use wrenches and how to box. He taught me stuff that I don’t have the heart to do unless my life is threatened. He made me do push-ups, lift weights, run track, and fight when scared.

He hated, I’m sure, when I focused more on model cars and cartoons and being in the band than trying out for teams, but he loves it now. He was hard! Hard as steel.  Scared me to DEATH!! But he changed.

He learned and I learned. And from the first time I knew what it meant, I always said that I wanted to name my son not after ME, but after him! His name is Horace.

My wife had a very bad time as a child with her father. She says he wasn’t really one at all. From the moment she met my parents, she loved them to death. She raves about how great her in-laws are. But she loves my daddy to the point that I sometimes feel that I have not a wife, but a fourth sister as it relates to him. She sees him as HER father, and is not ashamed to tell it.

 

I love Diana more than my life. But when Kathy got pregnant this current time, I prayed hard for it to be a son. I never had that brother I longed for, and I wanted Max to have someone with whom to stand back-to-back in this sickening world. I wanted him to have that thing that brotherhood means.

I wanted Diana to have two boys to keep the fools at bay! I wanted to be a little bit like Jacob with all those sons.

And I wanted to give my father that legacy. I wanted his name to continue.  Since he was adopted, he was the only Williams. And until I got married and had Max, it was looking pretty bleak for the team! But God apparently said otherwise…

Now we can be sure that there will be more Williamses.

My sisters all named their kids after their maternal grandfather — which is cool! But what about my daddy?

And Kathy, having loved Steve so much for the same reasons I did, saw this as an opportunity to honor what she described as two honorable and strong men. She has already said that the new baby has the pressure of keeping that great name clean!

Two weeks ago, in a dark room, God granted our sweated prayers! We are having a boy. And it means so much more than just having somebody to throw to and wrestle with and teach about girls and smoothness and heartbreak and fidelity (although it is all of that, too!). It means that God actually DOES know me, and LIKE me, and that He does actually act in my life. He is faithful and true!

And if this minor thing is real, I shudder at the thought that He DID create the universe and that He meant — means — all that stuff in the Bible! He is not an illusion or a figment. He is my friend. In every profound way. I am undone.

With that, we await the healthy arrival of Steven Horace Williams!

I’ve got so much to tell him!

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Baby Names, Birth, Childhood, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Faith, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Heroes, Jesus, Kids, Parenthood, Parents | 2 Comments

God… One Egg. Three Yolks.

The past few months saw God step into my life and circumstances in tangible ways which amazed and humbled me. I have written about some of it… my horn situation comes immediately to mind.

He has provided me with gigs just when I needed them, He worked me through that nasty KWEST (jazz band) thing, He has counseled me in marital situations (more people oughta try this!), and He gave me another SON(!!!!) — about which I will post separately.

All of that set the stage for what happened to my family and me Tuesday.

Generally speaking, everybody loves their kids. No need to go on about who I’d kill and what fast-moving vehicles I would jump in front of about mine.

Max has this thing about coughing and throwing up. He gets it from his mother. He has a hair-trigger uvula. Mopping up his meals has become routine for ME. Kathy won’t do it, or else the house’ll turn into the theater scene from “The Goonies!” But he does not have any asthma or any other diagnosed health problem. He just can’t overeat. And sinus drainage sets him off after time.

Monday night/Tuesday morning I couldn’t sleep. (God) I usually turn in at about 4 AM. I was awake to hear that familiar sound coming from Max’s room. I could tell he was in the launch sequence.

I went in to get him, and as soon as I got him to the bathroom, he let loose.

It tears me up to see him like that and be so helpless. I just pray.

I put him back in the bed and he was fine.

Later that day, Kathy — who didn’t go to work because SHE was sick from being pregnant — was sitting on the couch with him and noticed him wheezing. And the space at the bottom of his throat was sinking in with each breath. (I have two nephews with asthma, so I knew the signs)

She sent him to me to have a look, and what I feared was coming to pass.

Normally, Kathy would have been dozing, but since she was off, she was rested. Usually, Max would have been taking a nap, but for some reason (GOD) I put Diana down and left Max awake. We would never have known!

I would have been gone to work by the time he woke up, but God orchestrated it all so that we would see what was happening.

Let me tell you… when I saw my little boy… wheezing and still smiling… out of breath but playing… I was like cornbread with no eggs in it!! Kathy was tearing up as I made the arrangements for us to take him to a doctor. I had to lie to Max while I got him dressed and while Kathy got Diana together. My son. So little, and such an overwhelmingly big part of my whole world. My son. My SON. Understand?

I had to push all the horrible possibilities out of my mind. No luxury to marinate in what-could-be.

I just prayed. And I told Kathy what I wrote earlier — that all His tangible blessings in the past weeks put Faith in our accounts for withdrawal now. We had seen Him be so true to us, so hands-on, so REAL! And NOW, in the midst of terror, we had to tell Him — and ourselves — that He was the same Person. That He would not operate so clearly in the verses and disappear in the hook!

The end of it is that Max is fine. He has one more day of taking medicines to return his little bronchial tubes and lungs to normal.

MY_boy!

We suspect that he picked up something from a child at church (which irritates me to NO END!!! Don’t take your sick kids to church! They can miss a Sunday!), or else dust or some other allergen in the house set him off.

God is going to HAVE to drive this vehicle for us! As hard as we try to protect our little people from life, we simply can’t. And we cannot live every day in fear of what MIGHT happen to them.

He is faithful!

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Faith, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Kids, Love, Parenthood, Parenting | 1 Comment

Yes, God is my Father, but He’s also my Big Brother

Back in May, I bought a new horn, remember? I posted a picture of it…

It came with some problems that I shoved to the back of my mind — not wanting to disappoint my wife, and not wanting to think that all the waiting was in vain.

It was made in Taiwan, which until recently had been known for making substandard quality saxophones. I did over a year of research on this particular brand and came to the conclusion that Taiwan was the new Japan in the sense that where they once had a bad reputation, they now were becoming leaders in the industry with brands such as P. Mauriat competing favorably with the big brands, Selmer, Keilwerth, Yamaha, and Yanagisawa — the BIG 4.

So, I contacted the “owner,” the guy who’s name is stamped on the bell of the horn, and placed an order. The main selling points were that these horns were of pro quality but two or three  thousand dollars less than what a comparable one would cost, and that I would have one-on-one contact and consultation with the main guy. You can’t expect that from Selmer!

The one I ordered was their newest model, a copper horn which was about a thousand dollars more than the ones I had been researching. It was way more than I had prepared to spend, but it was so unique… There was something about having something that no one else has.

I received an e-mail from the owner’s “partner” confirming my order. He told me that the demand for this new model was more than expected, and that I would have to wait at least a month. I ended up waiting almost four.

In May I finally got it! When I opened it, there were some problems… It had been damaged in shipping, and one of the key guards was bent. There was a lot of room for the horn to move inside the case, and it had obviously been bumped around.

I guess there was a look on my face, because as soon as I opened the box, Kathy asked me with anticipation, “So, you LIKE it?!?”

“Yeah,” I said, but there was something in the back of my mind…

The brace that holds the body of the horn to the bow was bent as well, and off track. I assumed this was all due to the shipping.

I got out my tuner to see if the horn played in tune, and it did from the lowest note until I got up to the palm keys (I realize that I am speaking in esoteric terms, but you’ll get the gist), where the Eb and E were waaaay sharp! This was disconcerting, but I attributed it to my not having a new tenor in eighteen years.

And there was a problem with the way the left-hand palm keys fit my hand. One key was too high, and another too low, making it hard for me to move with speed.

I got the horn set up by a technician who called it, “a beautiful lookin‘ little horn” disdainfully. I sneered at him and just wrote his opinion off to not recognizing the name. He fixed most of the damage and lightened up some of the springs, quickening the action a bit. But the ergonomics were basically unalterable.

Long story less long, I contacted the “owner” and his “partner” about the problems (and some others I haven’t mentioned here), and was told basically to keep them appraised. Not the first-hand customer service I expected, but I wasn’t eager to have to box up and ship the horn back and wait months more for it to return.

So I played the horn — which sounds a lot better than my well-run old Selmer — in good spirits ignoring that fading ringing in the back of my mind.

I had been steadily checking the internet for reviews of this horn by other players, when after work one night, I was reading and discovered that the two guys from whom I bought the horn had split!!! The owner was continuing to sell horns out of his home as usual, but under different names. The partner was now in the saxophone business on his own.

Not only that, but I found out that the split was over the very model horn I have!

It turns out that the horn was NOT made in Taiwan, but in CHINA! They are known industry-wide for making junk horns in pink and blue and red and orange that play way out of tune and are basically thrown together.

I did NOT spend all my money for a Chinese saxophone! Shoot, I had JUST grown accustomed to the idea of a Taiwanese one! All those nagging fears had been justified.

I e-mailed the owner in New York, and went to tell my wife what had happened. It was after 4 AM Wednesday.

The next morning, he called me. Now, this guy is not a shill. He has almost thirty years in the business making mouthpieces for well known heavyweights.

What he told me shocked me. He said that I did not buy the horn from HIM! That I bought it from the other guy, and that I should contact him if I wanted my money back, but good luck, “cause he still owes ME money!”

I was groggy from sleep, and did not say the things I would have said had I been fully coherent.

I e-mailed the other guy (I don’t really want to name names based on how this all played out) in Austin Texas(!) and asked what the process was for getting a refund since the horn was basically misrepresented.

HE responded that two months was too long for a refund, but that he would be willing to pay for any repairs. He vouched for the quality of the horn.

Now fully awake, I called New York and got into an only somewhat heated back-and-forth. I told him first how sorry I was that his reputation was being damaged and that this must be awful for him, but that to ME this was world-shaking because it was all the money I had, and that I make my living with my horn.

 He seemed to wash his hands of the matter, telling me repeatedly — as though ANYONE would see it — that I did NOT buy the horn from HIM, that I bought it from the other guy!! I threw every logical point at him: “YOUR name is on the horn! I ordered it from YOUR website with YOUR name on it! YOU advertised that these were YOUR products, and YOU stood behind them. I contacted YOU about buying a horn! He was YOUR partner (He was not my partner! He was just my distributor!) He worked on YOUR behalf…!”

He deflected every argument. “So, I’m basically screwed, hunh? I gave you guys my hard earned money for one thing, I got another, and I’m just screwed?”

“No, no, you’re not screwed. I’m gonna make it right for ya.” in his New York brogue. “All ya gotta do is contact the Attorney General of your state, blahblahblah, blast ‘im on the internet, blahblahblah and when I get proof that you’ve done everything you could, then I’ll see what I can do. Butcha didn’ buy the horn from ME, blahblah…”

I was a ball of stress! I felt awful. But through the whole thing, there was a calmness in me. As angry and stressed as I was, I said to God, “YOU gotta work this out for me, ‘cuz I can’t!” And I didn’t fly off the handle and start cussing folks out like many thought I should.

I had to play it cool withthese guys because they had my money and they were spread out all over the country. I had NO leverage. One wrong word from me, and they could just hang up the phone and act as though I never existed. I couldn’t make unreasonable threats and demands because I — as my father says — had my arm in a lion’s mouth!

I posted the bones of the case on a popular saxophone forum. Nothing slanderous and derogatory. By that night, I got a note from the ex-partner (the owner HAD publically called him that) suggesting that we try to come to a reasonable conclusion… maybe I could swap this horn with one of the ACTUAL Taiwanese models (which cost LESS money).

We talked on the phone, the ex-partner and I, for over twenty minutes the next day. He told me what he had in stock, the properties of the horn, and about all the controversy. He gave me a different perspective, of couse, from the one of the owner. Both of them were angry at each other, and I just happened to be the dude that bought th first horn in this new batch and got entangled on this mess.

He was extremely helpful, attentive, and apologetic. This was the kind of customer service I expected from the owner and NEVER got. It was Thursday.

By MONDAY I had the other horn. IMG_2089

It was GREAT! Undamaged, and in a cool case that allowed for no movement. And it played almost by itself! Big, booming sound, perfect ergonomics, and in tune all the way up. Just a great horn!

This was what I wanted all along.

All that was left was to work out the amount of money for the other horn. There was about a $700 difference in price, and the thought of that last pending battle gave me just the slightest anxiety. “God, work it out.”

Two days ago, I sent an e-mail to Texas, saying compactly, “I LOVE this horn! What is the next move from here?”

This was his reply:

I have been trying to think about what would be appropriate and fair to you regarding the situation you got caught up in.  

 I continue to believe the MAC 20 is also a great horn.  It is different but still a terrific horn.  I know you have had your MAC 20 adjusted and that you have it setup for you etc.

Derrick, I think in view of all you were put through that you should just keep both horns. The MAC 8 is my gift to you.  All I ask is that you be fair with your assessment with both horns on any reviews you may wish to write.  I am not asking that you say anything you don’t believe in your heart and if you really feel the MAC 20 is not a good horn you should simply state your reasons.  I respect whatever your opinion is good or bad.  

Blown away was I!! He went from “No refund,” to “just keep both horns!!!”

I never thought it would work out this well. At best , I thought I would have to make an even swap. At worst, I thought I would just have to come to love a horn I only liked. My wife would have felt forever that we got beat.

I can’t express the emotion that I felt as I read that e-mail. Not that I get to keep these two pretty things, these material items — but that through seemingly insurmountable circumstances, God pushed me out of my way and fought the unseen bully into submission.

He made me keep my cool, showed me the moves to make — the perfect balance of firmness and compassion — and he worked it all out.

Some may say that the guy in Texas only made a smart business move. I agree it was smart to treat a customer right.

Some may say that he only let me keep the horn because he wouldn’t be able to get rid of it. But I say that were that the case, why send me another one? The horn is in better shape now than when it was new, and he could have sold it as new, or taken a few dollars off it and gotten a LOT more than the difference in price between it and the one he sent me. But he let me have both.

GOD did this. And there is no remaining doubt in my mind that He really does fight for me. He really is concerned about the ins and outs of my daily life. He really does intercede.

I never had a brother. I had to fight my battles and learn all the hard knocks myself. But in God, I HAVE that Brother. In fact, He has ALWAYS been there… Like the time when that gang of boys surrounded me at the bus stop and had a three inch long pin a millimeter from my eyeball. I had to smooth talk my way out of that close call, and the LORD was in my ear telling me what to say.

He has always told me when to fight, and when to get out of the way and fight the bullies who were too big to engage.

Closer than a brother.

August 7, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Jesus, Music, Music Business, Near Misses, Saxophone, The Nature of God, Work, Writing | 2 Comments

Who’s God IS God? (or do they work by committee?)

A couple of days ago, on facebook (of all places), I became involved in a discussion on a hypothetical scenario:  If a Non-Christian saves 3 children from a burning building and dies…And a Christian saves 3 children from a burning building and dies…Who has the most favor from God the Christian or Non-Christian??

I was greatly distressed — but not surprised (is this possible?) — by the responses.

I don’t expect most people to be Christians. But it is sobering to see how unsaved so many of us are. And how unconcerned they seem to be at the fact.

These were black folk, and most of them seemed to filter their views through the screen of their race. That is, their pro-blackness seemed to take precedence over who God may or may not be.

The responses were relativistic and pluralistic. And, of course, the Christian POV was lambasted. We were called arrogant and short-sighted.

There were a couple who told the hard truth — No Jesus, no Heaven — but most of them put the emphasis on the goodness of the deed and judged that they BOTH should go to Heaven.

I said:

“I’m glad God is not like us, judging on personal merit, or else no matter HOW many good deeds I did, the stuff I did wrong would overwhelmingly condemn me!”
I naively thought that that was a debate-ending argument. I leaned back with pride and read and RE-read what I wrote. I usually try to formulate those kinds, but I constantly forget that most people don’t debate by the Marquis of Queensbury rules!
They went on, saying things like, “Who’s to say that Christians have a monopoly on what is the right way? I believe in Jesus, but who am I to be so arrogant to think that my belief is the only way to ‘The Creator’? Religion is what separates us and causes problems. I’m not bashing Christians– I grew up in the Baptist church — (So! If I grew up in a can would that make me sardines?!?), but who wrote that book? Was Jesus a Christian? There are people who have no religion at all who are more Christian that most Christians I know?”
 
I said: One thing I can’t STAND is arrogance! So that’s not me. But in matters like this, I try to say what GOD says, so when He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” I say, “Okay,” and get on board! If a dude can lay His life down and pick it up again, I tend to believe what He says.
God may not label us as WE label ourselves,
but He has this book called “The Lamb’s Book of Life” in which HIS are written. He sent His Son to save us, and if we reject Him, we get to spend eternity just as in life — separated from Him — according to our OWN will.
The end of it all for me is this: We all leave our fates in the hands of an Infinitely fair Judge! He will deal squarely with us all… even those in the remotest corners of the Earth (whom we seem to mention only during debates like these). I trust that He will judge us based on the degree of light and revelation we have through Him. All of us on FACEBOOK have heard the name “Jesus” and know what Salvation means.
 
I thought that was pretty good. But they just totally ignored what I said and continued with the idea that good deeds should be the measure of eternal life.
 
I guess I knew that that would be the way it would go, but I just wanted to leave no one with the idea that they had never heard the Gospel.
 
The guy who brought up the whole subject basically told me that I was narrow-minded and had my nose stuck in a book somebody wrote and corrupted, and that I pretty much bought whatever the preacher said on Sundays. He thanked me for being reasonable and told me that I needed to get out more and think more critically.
 
This was, to me, an hiLARious mischaracterization of who I am! No one scrutinizes what preachers say more than I! But as I told them:
Thanks, man! It is ALWAYS good to be reasonable! (I DO look at more than just what I hear on Sundays. Christianity is waaaay more than just a Sunday worldview! Plus, I have to try to understand where others are coming from and not be myopic. But at some point, a person has to reach a conclusion. Based on study and information. Nothing wrong with that.)
I don’t know… This kind of thing bothers me. It is the main reason why I write this blog. I hate to see people NOT GET IT!!! What seems so obvious to me is foolishness to those who are perishing, and I  just want them to see the logic and seamlessness of God’s methods as it relates to soteriology.
And I rail against racism largely because young, progressive black folk take the hypocrisy,evils, and mistreatment of our national history — and present — and cast Christianity out with the dirty bathwater. They assume — erroneously — that the White Man’s God (born in Africa!) must be bad because His messenger is bad.
We got work to do!

August 6, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Evangelism, Faith, God, Jesus, Race, Racism, Religion, Salvation | 6 Comments

What Groom Would want His Bride Insecure?

I’ve been having a discussion with a friend who was wondering about how we can know God will not spurn us. Or HAS not.

It is a feeling I have struggled with before myself, and as I was praying, the thought came to me: What kind of God would establish marriage as an unbreakable covenant and yet be so quick — according to many Pentecostals and so many others — to throw us (His BRIDE) over if we transgress against Him?

Throughout my time as a Christian, I have heard and read that the Body is the Bride of Christ. The analogy is clear and unmistakable. And while there are so many legalistic (possibly well-meaning) Christians who claim to believe that divorce is a sin that God hates, they would characterize Him as being so capricious as to divorce Himself from those he has grafted into a marriage of sorts.

This is really irritating to me! I have heard it so often said by these people that if you commit (not exhibit a lifestyle of) a certain BIG sin, “you GOTS to go to Hell!!!”

I mean, God is the author of LOGIC, and that is what I am applying here, according to the things He has shown in His Word.

He even made a prophet go out and marry, and not divorce, a harlot — a whore — a FREAK, to use the current vernacular, to mirror His relationship with Abraham’s seed. Basically us. What He was saying was, in essence, “You will repeatedly cheat on me (sin), but I will not leave you because I will not have it said that I break promises!”

 And Salvation is a PROMISE that is effective at that MOMENT, not once you die! 

Now, a Christian will not live a life that is characterized by sin, simply because a real Christian is a fruit-bearing entity. But the fruit will, from time to time, be infested with worms. Real Christians are being tended — watered — by God, and will therefore grow.

And just as I will not leave my wife, God will not leave those He has saved.

I used to wonder if she really loved me. I wondered about the possibility of her birthing children with me and then eventually taking them. The thought made me shudder. I don’t anymore. But just because I have her trust and assurance doesn’t mean that I treat her shabbily, or cheat on her, or neglect to esteem and value her! No license to sin!

And God, so much more perfect at relationships than we, would not have His bride walking around the house scared and trembling at the possibility that He might come home one day and say, for WHATEVER reason, “It’s over.”

This I say with confidence.

July 7, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Eternal Security, Faith, False Doctrine, False Teachers, God, Good Works, Legalism, Marriage, Relationships, Religion | 5 Comments

“Oh, How I Love Jesus…”

“…because He first loved me?”

Well, that’s how the song goes, but I was asking myself why I love Him, and I don’t think that that was why.

I’ve never seen Him face to face. I’ve never heard His voice.

Why do we love anyone? Because of how they look? For their personality? Are they cute or fine, strong or confident, vulnerable or expressive, smart or cool?

I think I loved my parents for the same reasons my kids love me: because I am there to provide them the attention and care and affection and provision and correction and comfort they need. I am there every day, unchanging, no matter what. My parents did the hard things without giving up, and would still readily die for me. Check one for Jesus!

I loved my wife because I saw her heart and her coolness, and I wanted to just be around her all the time. Check two.

I loved my children because they share my particular nature. Check three for the Lord.

I loved my uncles because they were so cool! They knew the right things to say at the right times. They were capable and competent and had muscles. Girls liked them. Check four! (Look at how many women there are in the church…)

I loved my friends — the REAL few — because they were down for me. No matter what I did, they would not abandon me. They put up with my immaturity and selfishness, and corrected it. Check five.

I became a Michael Jordan fan because he was flawless at what he did. He was singularly focused and mastered his occupation. Likewise, my admiration for certain musicians and public figures usually stems from the same root. Six.

I love my family because, to them, I am special. To them, I am who I think I am, that person the world ignores. They listen to me, they ask my advice, and they let me flourish. That’s a round, complete seven for Jesus.

Jesus is all of that and more.  I don’t care about how cute He is. He provides for me — even though I selfishly take the credit, He is never too busy to listen to me vent, and He died — DIED — for me!

Who cannot, upon seeing the heart of Jesus, come to love Him? He is selfless, giving, and attentive.

He was completely God, but completely man as well. He is in me, and I am in Him.

You can say what you want, but there is no Rat Packer, Bruce Lee, or Nat King Cole cooler than Jesus! Never rattled, quick-witted, and never at a loss for word or action. When His enemies tried to corner Him with sly words, He wriggled out with Truth. When they tried to stone Him, He simply slipped away. When Lazarus was dying, He did not panic or even skip a beat. And though He sweated, He didn’t let ’em see it. I just want to hang around Him.

He is a true friend, telling us when we’re wrong, but telling us how to fix it. He doesn’t water down a Truth to spare our feelings, but He will go through a wall for us. He gives loyalty and expects it.

He came to Earth for a singular reason. He had the hardest job in existence and finished it with NO help from any of us! The whole plan was executed with more synchronicity than all the 007, Indiana Jones and Danny Ocean plots put together and exponentially multiplied. Every contingency was accounted for with not a single hitch! SMOOTH!

We are the crown jewel of God’s work, and are worth — to Him —  all the pain and torment of a task such as this, yet it was done without hesitation before we even came to be. And awaiting us on the other side of this vaporous life is an eternity in which we will blossom to full gloriousness forever.

Who cannot love someONE who embodies every positive attribute such as this?

THAT’S why I love Jesus.

May 18, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Jesus, Love | 12 Comments

… He’s in the band.

My favorite athlete of all — aside from my father —  is going into the hall of fame!

Michael Jordan is finally making that inevitable step into sports eternity. And he is apparently not too happy about it. He feels that it is the final indicator that he will never, absolutely NEVER dress up and play again. I am sad for him (there is, here, an Ecclesiastical lesson about the insufficiency of wealth and fame), and I understand. The only thing my knees will let me see of my favorite sport anymore is to stand still and shoot free throws.

I am reminded of a time  and an occasion that cemented my love for what I do…

My father was a football player, a basketball player, and a track athlete. And ALL his friends expected his first-born and only son to be the same.

He set me on the path to athletic accomplishment very early! There are home movies of me at the age of three doing heel raises and push-ups. I could do fifty push-ups at four. I lifted weights on a regular basis before I was ten. I ran track in the Junior Olympics every summer. I would, as a pre-teen, finish off a tough weightlifting session with a three mile run. I used to have to run up and down our forty-yard-long back yard carrying one of my sisters on my back. I HAD to do all of this. And I hated it! I was given no chance to express a desire or aptitude for this stuff. I just came into the world doing squats and “side straddle hops.”

My pop and I had a really tough time. But he was only doing what he knew to do. No hard feelings, finally.

Although I loved actually playing the games, and was pretty good at them  — basketball and football and racing and baseball — I hated the thought of all that rigorous practicing! I was ruined.

And I was a runt growing up! My pop was 6’1 1/2” and about 250. He benched 450 and squatted over 700. I’ve got pictures! I, on the other hand, was shorter than my 5′ 4″ mother until the ninth grade. And I was about 5′ 10″, 155 at sixteen.

My father would always look at me, shake his head, and say, “You’re gonna be small…” with all the sorrow of lost dreams.

By the time I entered the military at twenty — between college stints — I was 6′ 3″, 218. I was a typical late bloomer! But it was too late for me to try out for teams and stuff…

It was only after my first girlfriend dumped me and cheated on me (with a guy who recently requested to be my facebook friend(!!!!) ) that I began lifting weights in earnest. On my own. I’m still trying to catch Daddy.

All my extra-curricular activities were music related. I was in the band. In school, you have the athletes, the smart kids, the dope heads and slackers… and the band kids.

My pop LOVES music!! He would play a song he liked over and over throughout the house for whole afternoons! He was always singing and beating on tables and pumping the car brakes to the beat of some song on the radio. But what he didn’t think, apparently, was that being in the band was in any way related to the music on the eight-track tapes he used to be known for making for people.

And when one of his friends or co-workers would meet me and shake my hand and ask, “So, you playin’ football like ya daddy?” he would interject, “No,” shamefully. And my mother, defiantly, defensively, would quickly retort, “He’s in THE BAND!” Proudly. Every time. And I would always ask her not to do that, saying that it was okay, and that her defense of me only made me look even softer than they already thought I was. But she never stopped.

When I was about to be drummed out of the junior-high band for overcrowding, it was my mother who went into some level of debt and bought me a horn so I could stay in. I still have that beat up horn. I played my first pro gigs with it. Where would I be now…

So, the denouement came with a conversation with a friend at a coffee shop years later.

I played there at Precious Cargo coffee shop on a regular basis. It was the place where I first learned to sing, lead a band, and talk to an audience. It was there that I learned that I was not the Charlie Brown I thought I was. The girls LOVED me! And no one was more shocked than I to find that out! I was just doing my thing, and I looked up and found out that I had FANS!

And one night, sitting at the bar, one of the friends I had made playing there pulled up next to me and shared with me an item that I will never forget.

“Man, you know you can play that horn! I’m just sittin’ here watchin’. Y’all got a lot of people comin’ here to hear y’all play, and this place ain’t even been open that long.” His voice turned melancholy.

“I really admire what you doin’. When I was in school, I was this big time football player. I was cool, and I thought I was the man! I used to dog folks who played in the band, man. I gave ’em a hard time. But now, I can’t do that no more. I can’t play football no more, but YOU can STILL do what you used to do.

I was absolutely undone! I had never looked at it like that. I can play my horn the rest of my life. On a high level. But Michael Jordan will never suit up again.

And my father is in competition with my mother to be my biggest fan…

April 10, 2009 Posted by | Basketball, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Current Events, Fathers and Sons, Hall of Fame, Life, Michael Jordan, Mortality, Sports | 5 Comments

New Adage

Life is just a bad neighborhood I have to go through to get home.

March 17, 2009 Posted by | Adage, Advice, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Jesus, Wisdom, Words, Words of Wisdom | 9 Comments

A Band Aid for a Head Shot

I watched this the other night, and the main line that stood out to me was the one I’ve heard a lot in the last twelve or thirteen years: “We want the number of abortions to be ‘dramatically reduced.’ ”

“Hardball’s” Chris Matthews used that line a lot when questioning Kenneth Blackwell, of the Family Research Council, “Can we reach common ground on the goal I think we all share of dramatically reducing the number of people who CHOOSE TO HAVE ABORTIONS?”

“I agree with you,” he says to Blackwell, “people are concerned about abortion, they don’t like the number of abortions…” that sounds like, “The whole thing is unseemly. Distasteful and discomforting. Let’s build a wall so we don’t have to see it.” Like some rich folk onMaahthah’s Vinyaahd discussing the plight of the diseased common masses.

“Is there a middle ground?” Matthews asked Blackwell, condescendingly glossing over Blackwell’s statement that a human being is being killed in the process, “Right, we got that. That’s what we’re talking about.”

When Blackwell stated — what is commonly known, and medically verified — that life BEGINS at conception, Matthews interjected twice, “That’s why you’d wanna reduce the number of abortions!” .”Reduce,” he says, which was his whole point in the discussion. He didn’t want to entertain the thought that abortions should be “reduced” to doggone zero. Just reduced. (So we can all feel better about ourselves!)

How about this: What do Matthews and other pro-choicers do when they hear about DNA freeing an innocent death-row inmate? How do they react when a convicted rapist is freed and proved innocent by the same method? Do they want the numbers of unjustly killed prisoners “reduced” to an acceptable number, or do they want unjust executions eliminated?!?

 A life is a life! It is in this way that the Left is as guilty of class-ism as is the Right! They artificially create separate classes of human beings based on viability and productivity. Kill a useless embryo to help Christopher Reeve or Michael J. Fox. But ALL have Personhood, and we don’t have the right to say who is more valuable than the other.

What did it sound like to Vernon Johns and Medgar Evers when scum-of-my-shoe-racists said to them, in the midst of their tribulation, “Let’s not try to outlaw stuff! Decent Christian white folk don’t respond well to that. Let’s try to see where we can find ‘middle ground’ on this here lynchin’ thang! How can we ‘reduce’ the number of lynchin’s, bombin’s, burnin’s, and shootin’-for-whisslin’-at-white-wimmin? How ,bout y’all jus’ git on tha bus an’ gwone back to maidin’ an’ janitorin’ an’ cottonpickin’ till we git tiss thang straightened out?”

“Right now, we have a law, the Supreme Court recognizes the right to choose an abortion in very late term…” Matthews says. But later, he says that “outlawing it’s not gonna work! You just keep threatening people with the LAW and you’re gettin’ nowhere! When you tell a person you don’t respect their decision, they’re not gonna respect your power!”

But aren’t pro-choicers expert at not respecting the decisions of mainly Christians to face scorn and derision to do what they have decided to do in following the God they serve?!? That statement is a sword, not a knife!

Very funny how the government is a stench in the nostrils of the Left as per abortion, but a sweet-smelling aroma in cases of gun control, the death penalty, and all matters financial.

All in all, abortion is — in at least ninety percent of all cases — the result of a moral failing. It is about the fact that sex doesn’t require a license or a permit, and it feels so good that no one is going to be told how to engage in it, and if somebody tries to say that some God limits its use, over the side with Him!!!

We want to do what WE want to do, and if the volume of the resultant screams and cries gets too loud, we’ll just plug our ears and press on.

March 9, 2009 Posted by | Abortion, Children, Chris Matthews, Christ, Christianity, Civil Rights, Conservatives, Current Events, Hardball, Kenneth Blackwell, Liberals, Morality, Sex | 5 Comments

“Mythologetics”

Mythologetics (mi thol e jeh dixn.    The vigorous defense of indefensible theological positions:

God wants you rich, and if you are poor, you are out of His will. God wants you healthy, and if you are sick, your faith is lacking. Jesus didn’t come here as God. God is subject to the will of man.

Jesus is NOT God. The Holy Spirit is only God’s “active force.” There is no Hell, one just ceases to exist. Our bible only has necessary changes, they were not made to support our particular positions.

There is no “Trinity.” (that word is not even IN the Bible) Those who believe that believe in three gods.

God was once a man, and man will be a God. Jesus and Lucifer are brothers in the spirit.

God is whatever we believe him to be, male, female, tree, bird, river. He IS all, and is IN all. There are millions of paths to what we call “god.”

Jesus was a great man. No less, but no more. Another in a long line from Moses to Muhammad.

Mary was divine, and different saints should be prayed to for certain needs. Forgiveness of sin requires that we, in part, do atoning work.

There IS no God! Evolution is the engine of creation. No further questions need be asked. The Bible is a well-written work of fiction.

If our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds, we go to Heaven. It’s kind of like a cosmic football game. And God knows my heart. I’m basically a good person. Sin is only that of which I personally disapprove. There is no Truth other than what I personally believe.

Everybody goes to Heaven… racists, adulterers, thieves, fornicators, homosexuals, liars… everybody.

God only asks that we be “spiritual,” that we be “spiritually grounded.” Whatever way we are born to be is the way He made us, and to try to change would be violating His perfect will for our lives.

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Atheism, Benny Hinn, Carlton Pearson, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, Faith, False Prophets, False Teachers, Hell, Hermeneutics, Homosexuality, Jehovah's Witnesses, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Morality, Oprah Winfrey, Pantheism, Paula White, Religion, Satire, Semantics, Sin, T.D. Jakes, TBN, Truth, Word of Faith | Leave a comment

More Time, and Righteousness, Credited to My Account

I’m not supposed to be here.

I’m not supposed to be typing, and double-checking, and breathing right now.

Saturday night, Kathy went to the store to get us something to eat. The line being too long, she left without it. Sam’s Club has these really big oranges in this really big bag for a really low price, and I had to have some, so I jumped in the car to go get them.

I am a lead-footed driver, and I like D’angelo. I was indulging in both. The expressway is about a half mile from our house, and I was on it quickly and and moving swiftly, about eighty or ninety, weaving past those without 265 horsepower at their disposal. The music was blasting and I was feeling pretty good, having spent a whole week with my wife and my babies. Being a husband and a father with so much now to lose, I don’t drive like I used to, but this was such a short trip…

I was in and out of the store in ten minutes. The off ramp where I get off does not merge for those — like me — going left. There is a two-lane stop. As I approached, I saw that an suv, a Tahoe, as in the left lane, and that the right lane was empty. I took the right lane so that when the light turned green, I could jump out quickly and beat the Tahoe on my left. I was racing the whole world and winning.

The music enveloped me — “…she’s alwayyys in my hair, my haiiiiir!” — and I was focused on that red light like a drag racer, ready to launch!

The light turned green! Ready… Set…

For some reason now, I didn’t hit the gas. There was no voice that spoke.

I couldn’t see around the hulking Tahoe from my Maxima, but I noticed that the Tahoe didn’t move either. I’m talking about a span of about one second.

Whoooooosh!! From the left, an eighteen wheeler, carrying death and dismemberment, barrelled through the intersection doing about sixty miles an hour!

Everything changed right then. I sat there at that light in the night at the tail end of a short meaningless trip and shook my head soaking in all that that momentary hesitation meant.

I pulled off slowly, and made my left turn, loing to the Tahoe, and like the aftermath of throwing a giant stone into a pond, the water of my whole life flooded in on me and overwhelmed me.

I thought about Kathy, who waited confidently for me to get back home not ever thinking that I was a pureed mass being poured into a body bag a half mile — and an eternity — away. I thought of how torn to pieces she would be for who knows how long.

I thought about Max, who loves me so absolutely right now, who calls ME every day when he awakes, who yells for ME at night when he has a nightmare, who needs ME to teach him all this stuff I can’t wait to teach him.

I thought about Diana, who smiles so wide at me when the cobwebs clear from her eyes at three o’clock every AM when I feed her, making sure she gets that extra meal she slept through earlier. I though about how she stops crying when I pick her up. I thought about telling her about boys and God.

I thought about how many times I have fed them and changed them and comforted them and taught them and loved them and watched them love me back. And I thought about the fact that no matter how much they love me, one small push on the gas pedal a few SECONDS ago would mean that They would only see me through pictures.

Max would ask, “Where’s Daddy? When’s Daddy coming back?” for days, weeks, and maybe even months, but with each passing second he and his sister would forget me a little bit more until in a short while they would remember me no more. Not at all. All the lessons and laughs would go unfulfilled.

I thought about my parents. I am the oldest and the only son. Gone. With just the slightest release of the brake pedal. I know how much they have loved me.

I thought about my three sisters.

And my few close friends. My church family who would have to hear the news on Sunday morning. I thought about all my musician friends…

My life didn’t flash before me. An alternate future played before me like a dvd on 3x. I saw my body crushed amid broken glass, twisted steel and torn rubber on the street while everyone I loved went on obliviously until the phone rang. I thanked God so much and so many times in that half mile ride.

I am supposed to be dead right now. That is not an overstatement. I am supposed to be as dead as someone mauled by a bear, or crashed in a plane. Based on the way I was driving and jamming — I’ve done it many times before — I was supposed to press that pedal, and no one but God stopped me. I should be sloshing around in a bag in a drawer. But I am not.

I walked into the house, put the oranges down, sat in a chair in front of my family, and cried. Hard.

Tears of  joy and sorrow. Boiling water and ice cubes in the same glass.

Shortly after I began to process everything, I thought about the biggest point of all:

As graphic a picture as the Lord had stapled in my brain, as close a call as I had, as surely as He had saved my life, He did MUCH more than that on a hill, far away!

The picture of eternity in hell is infinitely more horrible than a broken body and crying loved ones. Yes, He surely saved me — and my whole network of family and friends — from an excruciating circumstance, but it all becomes translucent in the face of that from which He ultimately saved me.

And everything I do from here out should be in light of that fact. I have the picture. I have the time. What will I do with it?

January 19, 2009 Posted by | Advice, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Death, Driving, Irony, Near Misses, Salvation, Second Chances | 16 Comments

Ann Coulter: Darth Vader with a Pope Hat on

Ann Coulter is a worse representative of Christianity than the Grand Wizard! Will somebody pleeeze tell her to stop invoking God in her tomes? She is a poorer example of a Christian than Mick Jagger is of health and vitalicky! (Popeye) A clanging cymbal indeed! But is she an accurate portrait of a Conservative?

She could simply read from the Book of John, and would make Christianity wither like tomatoes on a vine in the desert. Regardless if she stumbles upon a valid point every now and then, the arsenic dripping from her tongue poisons any possibility of wooing anyone to her position. Those drawn to her point of view/methods are the same carrion-eaters who have subsisted on the flesh of the weak from the beginning.

Is SHE the true face of conservatism? Is her “cookie crumbs in the bed” personality the attitude of true evangelical thought? I hope not, but those like she and Hannity and Limbaugh and the rest of the talk radio consortium seem to be the arrowheads of the movement.

When I learned the definition of a harridan, her face shot up in my mind.

My CHRISTIAN views are pretty to-the-book conservative, but I part ways when it comes to how political conservatives often treat people different than they.

 

There go the rest of my readers, I guess…

January 16, 2009 Posted by | Ann Coulter, Bible, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Conservatism, Conservatives, Current Events, Evangelicals, FOX News, Humor, Liberals, Life | 6 Comments

How I Learned the Bible

“How you gone just sit there and let all them people in front of you? I got somewhere to be! D&%n Good Samaritan! If you ain’t gone drive it, park it!” exclaimed my father, stuck in traffic behind a courteous slow driver.

“Ohhh.” I thought, putting two and two together… “A ‘good Samaritan’ is someone who helps someone else for no apparent reason.” My parents used to use that one a lot.

“G@d! Je$us! Man, PASS the ball! Quit being so d&%n selfish!!” Shouted my father at Andrew Toney, who played for the Sixers back in the day.

“Ohhh!” I realized, “Jesus is God in the flesh, and He committed the most unselfish act of all. I get it now.”

“If I come in this house and these dishes ain’t washed, It’s gone be Armageddon up in here when I get back!” Said my mother upon reaching the end of the rope.

“Ohhh! Armageddon is the battle that occurs at the end of the world!” I discovered after a few times of failing to meet a deadline due to procrastination…

“I don’t know why you askin’ ME for no money! I’m poor as Job’s turkey!”

“Ohhh!” I gathered. “Job was a man, like Daddy, who had had a lot of kids, and was incredibly poor at some point. And if HE didn’t have nothing, you KNOW his turkey was broke! Sorry for asking, Dad.”

Great teachers I had.

(How I learned Civics) “Bring less than a ‘B’ in here if you want to! It’s gone take a act of Congress to pull me off you!!”

(How I learned what color rice was)“Boy! If you don’t turn off that TV and do your homework, I’mma be on you like white on rice!!”

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Bible, Childhood, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, God, Humor, Life, Life Lessons, Parenthood, Parenting | 2 Comments

Merry Christmas

No profound or erudite or smartly worded phrase can embrace the so seemingly mundane birth of a poor baby to poor parents so many incalculable days ago.

No gift given to child or friend can equal the present wrapped in human flesh and blood.

No act of kindness one to another is as sublime as that of a willing shameful death on a tree that others might live.

No forgiveness of great transgressions says as much as one man’s act of substitution.

But to try is to admit that we know, in some small way, that this day, this time, is much more than we are able to signify.

Thanks, Jesus. I love You so much, but if I loved You with every ounce of my being, it would not be enough to exchange for the gift of kindness, forgiveness, and love You showed us all with one excruciating, blessed act.

December 25, 2008 Posted by | Christ, Christianity, Christmas, Faith, God, Jesus | 4 Comments

A Wolf Calling a Pit Bull Canine!

Phil, at Theology Today, put up this post. I am reminded of him predicting that Jesus Himself would be appearing on the platform with him, that by a certain year all homosexuals would be destroyed with fire, and that the dead would be raised by placing them in front of televisions on which he was preaching.

In response to criticisms, he said the following: (watch the video)

(It was right after this clip ended that Hinn said that he wished God would give him a “Holy Ghost machine gun” with which to shoot ’em all down. Hence the picture on Phil’s site…)

This dude, the PRIMARY source of skulduggery on Reverend television (I won’t call it “Christian”), has the raisins to say of Todd Bentley and others, that “signs and wonders do not prove what is being preached is truth.” !!! He is the ringleader of a fake circus of false healings and slayings in the Spirit,

and he is telling his entranced followers to watch for false moves of God, calling those who fall for this stuff, “simple-minded!” Wow. Can’t believe it!  What follows is part two of a six-part YouTube clip that I found at the aforementioned Theology Today. The hypocrisy and gangster-, pimp-type boldness just floored me…

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and whether you translate that “fear” to be supreme reverence or outright dread, Benny Hinn — on the strength of his own actions — has neither version!

December 3, 2008 Posted by | Benny Hinn, Charlatans, Christ, Christianity, Faith Healer, False Prophets, False Teachers, God, Hypocrisy, Pulpit Pimps, Rant, Religion, Televangelists, Todd Bentley, Word of Faith | 18 Comments

What’s Been on My Mind

I haven’t written anything here in a couple of weeks for a few reasons. (I thank you kind people for continuing to stop by in the meantime)

Some of the things I have posted in the past have had a slightly negative financial impact on me. No sweat. Christians are made of rubber, and rubber bounces rather than breaks.

The last few posts were getting kind of serious in light of the pending election, and I kind of had to breathe a little bit. There is a lot at stake here, and history is on the verge of happening, one way or the other. Some people hold tightly to their old ways of being.

At the risk of being mis-labeled, I wanted to talk about other tings than race for a minute, but all I saw in the news and around me — this crazy (or drunk, or both) white dude outside of Kroger said to me, “Ni@@er! F**K you, man!!”  I got kids to raise, so rather than kill this defenseless bigot, I called my wife, who told me to just go on into the store. — so I had nothing to write. Someone I know has already called this “An Angry Black Man Blog.” Yes, I am sometimes angry, and ALWAYS black, but I don’t fit the criteria for that tag. So I backed off for a moment.

Also, we went through a series at my church in which the pastors (we have three) took a poll of our most pressing issues and boiled them down to the “Big Ten.” Some of the topics were, God and politics, marriage, the end-times (I diverge on this one in a non-essential sense), and the top two, homosexuality and predestination.

I have my views on the whole Gay Rights issue which I have rarely expressed not wanting to be written off as a hater. I do think they (as an organization) play on this feeling and thereby further empower themselves and shut down debate. I am dead set against gay marriage, and I do not think one is born gay.

But I do not hate them. After the sermon on the subject, I began to think about how my “No Wiggle-Room” stance on gayness looked from the outside, and how I could be effective standing for capital “T” Truth while displaying appropriate compassion without seeming to give the “thumbs up” to the lifestyle. Complicated.

Christians — Evangelicals in particular — have lately been more apt to point the finger than to lend a hand. We are quick to point out errors in doctrine and separate ourselves from “The World” believing it to be a place not to be reached but to be repelled.

We, in our self-righteousness devoid of compassion, have given the non-Christian every reason to keep doing what he is doing while claiming to desire to make more Christians.

We picket and protest and put out warning notices for certain movies with unwholesome content. We keep our children from the slightest chance of interacting with “those” kids. We show not the least measure of the Godly love we claim emanates from Him. Why would a gay person want to come to us for advice on changing?

This blog has been a way for me to shout through what I see as maddening, increasing Godlessness in our society. I have been able to state my position unwaveringly and back it up with Scripture and common sense, the two being not mutually exclusive.

I have railed against crooked preachers, racists, lenient parents, atheists, black miscreants (more to come. Pacman Jones, grab your playbook and come to the office.), rappers, and stupid drivers. But I don’t want to come across as just another fundamentalist Christian close-minded fool. Unjustifiably. Truth without love is a bunch of baking pans falling out of a helicopter onto your driveway at 5 AM.

I have love, and don’t want that to be lost in all my diatribes. I think righteous anger and love can co-exist. Ask my boy, Max. The main reason I do this is that I hate to see people deceived. From withIN or withOUT.

But pastor Loritts’ sermon on how Christians deal with the gay issue — along with conversations with my friend and fellow church member, Kirk Whalum — made me think about how to be truthful yet winsome. It is easy to do face-to-face, harder to do on a computer.

I went to vote Thursday. At a white Church with nothing but pictures of stiff looking white folks on the walls. Not diverse in the least. I stood in line for exactly two-and-a-half hours! And I later found out that that was peanuts compared to other places.

What struck me was that the hundreds of people in that serpentine collective were engaged in dozens of conversations. The area was largely white and overwhelmingly conservative, but there were all races of Americans there. I’m sure assumptions were made as to who was voting for whom, but there was an air of joviality there. People who, moments before, had never seen each other were all of a sudden laughing and sharing life together in the midst of the most potentially explosive event in any of our lives. Events which could potentially put us all at poles even further apart than before. And there was civility, kindness, and even affinity.

Old white ladies who first voted in the fifties were engaged with black men who probably only ever voted once. There were, in those hours, no conservatives or liberals, but Americans. While the principals and their surrogates fought on like stray dogs over a bag of garbage.

I’m not a “flag pinon the lapel” guy. You won’t see a flag waving on my house. I don’t tear up during the National Anthem. Unless the singer is really great, or really bad (Carl Lewis). But as I wound my way through that maze, I was proud of that group of people. I was proud to be American. NotthatI’veneverbeenproudbefore!!!

American people can get along in spite of deeply held differences. I saw that. And, as a Christian, I try to show on this weblog that while I disagree with a whole lot of what I see and hear, I can do so without being hateful. I can state my case or cast my vote and still love my neighbor.

So, yeah, I’ll still rant, and still shout, “WOLF!” when I see one. I’ll still state my position on issues like race and abortion and Affirmative Action and crime and the rest.

But if I don’t love you, I’m wasting my time, and time is like buffalo nickels: There ain’t no more!

November 3, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, Christ, Christian Life, Elections, Evangelism, False Teachers, Food for Thought, Gay Rights, God, John McCain, McCain, Obama, Politics, Voting | 5 Comments

Supersized Jesus

Can somebody please explain to me what is up with the whole “One church in three locations” thing?? Is it just a black mega-church phenomenon? There are a number of these in my city.

It is just about the most irritating thing to see preachers like Michael Freeman , Bishop Paul Morton, and Brandon Porter (here in my town) advertise all their locations like they are opening Wal-Marts or McDonalds’. What, the Lord can’t call another preacher? Is the force of your personality so strong, are you just so popular that people won’t come unless YOU are there preaching? Can God not Get His Word preached unless YOU are the one doing it? We let these dudes get away with anything!

I have friends who play at these franchises, and they tell me how the pastor has to preach the nine o’clock service at one church, leave before the benediction to make the ten thirty at site two just in time to preach the sermon, and rush back to the first for a noon service, and finally preach a six o’clock at the third! Morton said that he takes a helicopter or a plane from one place in Georgia to New Orleans every Sunday.

How can you be any good to any flock at that rate? Let somebody else preach! Christianity looks like just another business when it is done like this. It looks like you are just collecting three paychecks.

One church here has one location that is in the middle of a community that is falling apart and rife with crime. Isn’t there enough work to do there without having to make a giant triangle across the county to “help” those in the outlying areas?

One might think that it is because you have to maintain your nearly million-dollar estate, with your five figure home theater and sound system, and I wouldn’t want anyone to think you were pimping the Gospel. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that because you are going so far as to suggest that people pawn their jewelry and such, you are struggling to maintain a lifestyle and that this is why you keep opening up new franchises. (You know who you are. I know, because I know the guys who installed your system, and I know what they think of Christ as a result of seeing how you live versus how your church communities live.)

Memphis, where I live, is a town with nearly one church per person! It makes me sick to see churches, often of the same denomination, within a rock’s throw of each other. Some of these preachers could shut down and work at one of the franchises. But nooooo! Everybody has got to be the HPIC! Just greed masquerading as shepherding. Even Jesus delegated! My goodness!

Why do we put up with stuff in God’s name that we wouldn’t let a cop or a congressman do if he were in our own family?!?

September 16, 2008 Posted by | Bishop Paul S. Morton, Brandon B. Porter, Christ, Christianity, Church Life, False Doctrine, False Teachers, God, Hypocrisy, Michael Freeman, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Rant, Word Network, Word of Faith | 11 Comments

Man of Steal

Kenneth Copeland,

Creflo Dollar,

Mike Murdock,

Benny Hinn:

Used to be that thieves wore masks and did their dirt in the dark. Nowadays, they do it in shiny suits, and on satellite teevee before God and millions!

I had tears of laughter in my left eye, and tears of sadness in my right watching this clip…

“Seeds” are not dollars, folks. “Seeds” are DEEDS. Don’t try to buy God.

Don’t let these guys with their “Aw, shucks,” cracker barrel twang, or their Philly cream cheese voices lie to you AND steal from you! You may not be able to stop one, but you can certainly stop them from doing both!

Steve Munsey:

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Benny Hinn, Charlatans, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, God, Jesus, Kenneth Copeland, Mike Murdock, Pulpit Pimps, Religion, Steve Munsey, TBN, Televangelists, Word of Faith | 8 Comments

This is Your Soul on “Ignorant”

I got this YouTube clip from my friend, Phil, at http://phillyflash.wordpress.com/

We sin daily, and I know that when I bend my knee tonight I will have to clear from my account all the sinful wishes I had for Todd Bentley when I saw him here kick a stage four colon cancer patient in the colon! People are so desperate and often so ill-informed, and this is how they are treated.

Actually, Bentley is just doing physically what all the hucksters do spiritually.

The Lord takes no pleasure in the fate of the wicked. I ain’t God, and I’m earnestly working on that aspect of myself…

Any questions?

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Charlatans, Christ, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, E. Bernard Jordan, Eddie Long, Faith Healer, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Florida Healing Outpouring, God, Joel Osteen, John Hagee, Joyce Meyer, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Paul Crouch, Paula White, Praise-a-thon, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Rant, Robert Tilton, Rod Parsley, T.D. Jakes, TBN, Televangelists, Todd Bentley | 14 Comments

“Badder Up!”

What are Paula White and Juanita Bynum doing these days? They haven’t been in the news or on tv as much lately. I see Paula every now and then doing her Oprah thing, and I guess Juanita is busy with her make-up line…

One would think that since they are not as visible the Devil has lost and given up.

Nope! Enter this Todd Bentley dude. He is following in their hollowed footsteps and is leaving his own “brand” on the scene. He looks like a biker or a circus performer with more tattoos per square foot than the entire roster of the Denver Nuggets, and more piercings than a dartboard in a bar somewhere in Hell’s Kitchen.

And as striking as is his appearance, his “teachings” are more disturbing.

His crusades from down in Florida (Why is it always Florida?) are always on, and his misled followers seem so sincere and emotional.

Just the other day, I saw this one guy — he was Asian. I don’t know his name — doing the Benny Hinn thing — laying folks out in a phoney display of “the Power of the Holy Spirit,” and he began telling this story.

They all have stories about what happened somewhere else. (2Peter 2:3) “In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.” Do none of the attendees recall this passage? Read all of 2Peter 2.

So, the “handlers” walk the next pawn up to the speaker, telling him — and us — that this man has been suffering from a bad back since a 1974 car accident. He has metal rods in his back and cannot walk straight and is in constant pain.

But now, praise tha lawd, he is better!

The barker, I mean, speaker shoves the mike under the mark’s chin for further elaboration… “I been in constant pain since ’74, but since I been coming to the meetings for the past few days, I can feel the power of the ‘anointing’ flowing through me, hallelujah!”

The handler intones, “Pastor, he says he’s 70 to 80 percent healed!”

As though this is some indication of the great and marvelous power of God!! No one seems to react as incredulously as I did! Can’t God heal all the way?!? Does He work in installments? Like buying a couch? Did the man Jesus healed take up his mat and LIMP away? Did the woman with the twelve-year bleeding problem leave Jesus with minor spotting? Did the blind man He healed need glasses? What’s UP with these folks?!? I mean, you don’t even have to know the Bible verse by verse to deal with these con men!

And that’s not all…

The speaker began to tell his story.

“I was in China just last weekend, and Saturday, this woman came up to me. She had a broken leg, and it was in such bad shape that they put a titanium rod in it, and she couldn’t bend it or move it or anything. Ohh, the anointing is so strong on me right now! She couldn’t do anything with that leg, and I tell ya, right before our eyes, the Lord melted that titanium rod and healed that leg just like new, and she jumped and danced all over the place!”

The crowd cheered in childlike anticipation, eating it all up like Apple Jacks.

“That same anointing is on me right now,” he said as he turned to the mark. “I feel the pow’r of GOD!!” He slapped the man on his forehead, and those handlers proceeded to — ever so gently, since he was only 70 to 80 percent healed — lay him out on his back softly on the floor.

And that’s the last we saw of him. Only his friends and family are there to see that he was not healed, just taken. Used.

My thing is this: For weeks now, everything Bentley and his cronies have been doing has been televised. Every “miracle” has been logged on video. Cameras are everywhere! If this is true, somebody tell me why there was no video of a woman having a titanium rod dissolved inside her leg in front of a multitude just this past Saturday?!?! We saw this dude with his bad back partially healed on video, we see four and five hour commercial-free healing crusades, but nobody has a camera to catch this great miracle.

I saw cellphone video showing Beyonce trip and fall off stage in Japan somewhere, I heard Obama talking about folks clinging to God and guns in some hotel conference room in San Francisco, Marion Barry was caught on camera smoking crack, I saw Paris Hilton use a racial slur at a house party, I’m sure there is some YouTube footage of Britney Spears scratching her butt in a truck stop bathroom, but someone rises up from the dead, or someone gets a long-broken leg healed and it’s aways somewhere else! There is always some story about some fabulous miracle that the television audience just missed! “Y’all should’a been there!”  No cell phones, no cameras, no verification. Yet the masses are always teeming like grunion on the beach, begging to be devoured, carcasses left rotting in the sun, of no more use to these emissaries of Satan.

Until the Lord mops all this business up, we will never be rid of the lying storytellers who prey on the unaware. If Paula falls, someone else will get up. If Creflo is toppled, another will be built up. Juanita will probably live through another ice age…

But, (2 Peter, 2:13) “they will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done.”

June 26, 2008 Posted by | Benny Hinn, Charlatans, Christ, Christianity, Faith Healer, False Doctrine, False Teachers, Florida Healing Outpouring, Juanita Bynum, Oprah, Paula White, Prosperity Gospel, Todd Bentley | 4 Comments

Pastor Peas

We have had, in this recent torrid election season, prime reasons why we should not vote for a person because of what faith they claim.

The Religious Right (I really think that, to them, the “RIGHT” is more than a compass point but a perspective. I don’t like it) hold so much sway in politics these days in terms of getting people elected and furthering certain agendas that now every public official has to have a personal pan pastor on his arm like a prom date in order to win, and put at ease, that sizeable body.

“He must be a good person! He parts his hair on the left side, he wears a blue suit and a red tie, and Jerry Falwell likes him!”

Maybe we ARE sheep!

John McCain, after losing his last presidential bid, was known to have cussed out that evangelical body. They didn’t offer him their ring to be kissed, and he felt they cost him.

So, this time, he was running around (like Jim Valvano after winning the NCAA champeenship looking for somebody to hug) trying to get what HE thought were powerful, influential pastors to use as cufflinks and flag pins.

Just to show how unaware McCain is, he chose two of the most theological off-base, Word of Faith, Prosperity purveyors out there!

Rod Parsley is one of the biggest names in the pulpit pimp stables. He raises money for TBN regularly, telling folk that, basically, sending money to TBN will activate the will, blessings, and power of God on their behalf. Basic “Give to Get.”

I saw this tactical shift of his a couple of years ago to issues of abortion and gay rights (two of my own sticking points) and I realized that he was aiming to do just what he has done; get aligned with this powerful constituency. He began writing patriotic books on winning back America and such, and to the untrained eye, he looked to be just as orthodox as Dobson or Stanley or the late Adrian Rogers. His doctrine, however, is still as foul as it ever was. McCain seemed to miss that. No. What made HIM jump ship was that Parsley made negative comments about Islam. That made him sever his ties. As if it is the responsibility of a “Christian” pastor to uphold the tenets — equally– of Christianity and Islam. Or any other faith, for that matter… I have friends who are Muslim, and I dare not water down the Truth of Christianity for the sake of harmony. I respect them, but do not have to believe what they believe, any more than they believe what I believe!

Then there’s John Hagee! This man is cut from the same cloth as the others — Copeland, Hagin, Creflo, Hinn– but he comes across simply as a “fire and brimstone Texas preacher.” What McCain didn’t know, or perhaps care to know, was that Hagee has said that the Jews came to Jesus to be the Messiah to them, and that Jesus “flatly refused!” WOW! He is known to be one of these guys who interprets the Bible with a newspaper. He predicts, with every new disaster, that that is a further sign of the Apocalypse, and that each new dictator on the scene was spoken of in Revelation. Never mind the huge pile of unfulfilled prophecies behind the curtain on the stage…

It is his belief (along with many other evangelicals) that the desire of God is for the current generation of Jews (were these people of Russian and Polish and German descent the SAME people spoken of in the Bible??? Just wondering) is going to suffer His wrath for the Jews who rejected Him two centuries ago. Hagee — and just about every other American Christian church — thinks that the Jews are to be herded back to Israel in order for the events in Revelation, Daniel, Thessalonians, and other parts of Scripture to happen. I believe it is called “Zionism.”

So, he is a “friend” of the Jews. He seems to make his living from that starting point. It is all he talks about. What he doesn’t say, though, is that these biblical events, in his understanding, mean that two thirds of the returning Jews are to be killed after all the Christians are “raptured” away, a la the “Left Behind” series of books, by Tim LaHaye.

Wonder if they would consider him a friend if they knew that…? Hagee, it seems, believes that the Jews can be saved without acknowledging Jesus as Messiah and Savior. Many Christians today believe this, it seems. This is another subject for another time. I am still studying on it.

He has also regularly appeared on the TBN telethons raising money to support a lie.

It would seem that McCain, who champions campaign finance reform and honest fundraising, would have stayed away from these two men just based on the fact that they have been involved in fleecing the weak in the most egregious type of fundraising there is!

Okay, then there is Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

There is an incendiary preacher here in Memphis, Bill Adkins, who preaches and conducts church in what appears to be the same way Wright did. Liberation Theology. They preach from an Afro-centric perspective rather than a Christo-centric one, it appears. They wear the dashikis and the kufis and lament the ills and injustices of black American life with a little bit of Jesus and the way of salvation and holiness sprinkled on the top.

Listen, to be honest, a lot of the emotion with which they speak, the mistreatment and alienation, echo in my spirit as well. I understand the idea of seeing America from the point of view of an abused step-child who loves the parent but calls him out on the realities of the relationship. But I don’t ever let that supersede my faith! In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free…!

The irony here is that Bill Adkins, the aforementioned pastor, used to be the associate pastor at my old church. He was there when I was a kid. He was over the vacation bible school program, and upon preaching the Gospel and explaining what salvation meant, I — a fourteen-year-old boy– stood up to be saved and baptized, and I made my sisters get up and come, too! In front of all those other kids! In other words, he led me to Christ, along with my family members. I looked up to him and sat under his teaching, but I don’t agree with some of the things he has said in his pulpit. Hmmm…

While a lot of what these guys preach have a secular truth to it, while in the speeches of MLK a lot of the same tones are touched, their theology can sometimes alienate rather than unify. While I may shout, “amen” to acknowledging the injustices, I have to be careful to remember that if I don’t forgive my brother, God said that He won’t forgive me! While I am an activist at heart, wanting to right the wrongs of The Man against mine, I must — if my faith is real — realize that God let’s nothing slide! He will get the revenge that I sinfully want to mete out.

But to be honest, my educated guess is that Obama, wanting to be in a position to do some good in the black Chicago community, wanting to be relevant to black folk who can sometimes be rough to folk who are not just like them, went to this church back then because it fit his criteria. This pastor had influence and charisma, and it was probably to Obama’s benefit to link himself to this inner-city black church. He probably wasn’t going to bible study on Wednesday night! He, as any other politician, was surely not sitting at church every Sunday!

The Mayor here is a member of my old church, and he was there maybe once every two months! 

It sounds opportunistic, yes, but I submit that all politicians are opportunists at heart. I have, over the years, seen dozens of people, white AND black, running for judge or mayor or congress or senate or the school board or sheriff or roach killer or night manager come to my church to beg for a vote only to leave right after they finish talking! 

Hillary didn’t need a pastor. Her church is Feminism, and they are their own gods. 🙂

If these candy dates were truly well-versed in the faith that they claim, they would NOT be in support of killing an unborn baby, or denying real help to those who can’t help, or sanctioning the wedding of two dudes, or racist policies, or teaching evolution, or  any other Democratic or Republican tenet that violates the way of God. Their Faith would inform and influence their decisions in a tangible, visible way. Both parties have Spiritual dealbreakers in their core principles. Jesus is neither Democrat nor Republican. Christians in the Bible pooled all the resources and doled them out as needed! (Hear that, bootstrappers?) But Jesus ain’t a Communist, either! I will vote, but I won’t vote based on who the Christian is. Otherwise, I’d vote for my pastor!

How can Christians be effective no matter which group is in control? That is the question.

My feeling is that we cannot look to any politician or party to be the governmental conduit through which our faith changes the world. These latest “pastor problems” highlight that fact.

 

May 28, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Barack Obama, Benny Hinn, Christ, Christianity, Church Life, Current Events, Democrats, Elections, False Prophets, False Teachers, Hillary Clinton, Jesus, John Hagee, John McCain, Kenneth Copeland, Liberals, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Religious Right, Republicans, TBN, Zionism | 4 Comments

Niagra Without that First “A”

I was a nigra Saturday night. A good ol’ fashioned, 1932 model, down home, Jim Crow, Miss’sippi nigra. If that offends you, imagine how it offended ME to not just READ it, but to LIVE it.

I play a lot of wedding receptions in the “Band I Don’t Want to Be In.” I hate playing them. The music is cheesy, the clothes are uncomfortable, the stigma itches, and we usually are treated coldly.

Most of the functions we do are white (as a way of denotation…) because for some unknown reason, black folk usually don’t have enough money, generally speaking, to pay a fair wage. We are ALWAYS hired by white folk.

The bandleader books most of our gigs through an agency. There is, on their website, a long list (photos included) of acts available to do any type of function requiring entertainment. Prospective clients can choose who they want.

The gig in question was at a country club. Yes, I hate playing at country clubs, too. The pictures on the walls NEVER have any black faces, as all of the members over decades have always been white. (A young debutante named Cybil Shepard was in one of them) It makes one of my particular hue wonder why we are viewed as we are… The wait staff is ALWAYS all black. Always. Not good enough to join, but good enough to cook and clean. Still. Thank God that God values service over status! I know we’ll fit in in Heaven.

Here’s where the rub is: As soon as we began to play, the bandleader stopped us, “Hey, hey, hey, y’all! When we git through playing, don’t nobody go eat none of the weddin’ food! We been told they got a room for us around in the back, an’ they gone bring us some samwitches to eat. So when we git through playin’, less jus gone to the back.” It may not have been as Stepin Fetchit as that, but it was real close!

I have played hundreds of these things over the years, and when this happens, it is clear what is going on! It is usually offensive enough to me that we are totally ignored until we play some “Motown” or the dreaded “Mustang-doggone-Sally”! (Who made that song the Beethoven’s Fifth of this era!?!?) We don’t even exist. But even then, most folk have had the decency, the courtesy, to let the band partake of the buffet! It is almost understood.

I must tell you that in my younger days, I was what would be — and was — considered militant. Militant not in a racist sense, but in the sense that I didn’t overlook acts of injustice, racial or otherwise. I never disliked white people, but I disliked CERTAIN white people! I was always Christian.

I would be the victim of some mistreatment or another and would try to rally friends to rail out with me and I would only get the chirping of crickets… and a cough from somewhere in the back of the room.

So, now I was hot. I was already frustrated at having to be here, but now I was in Medgar Evers mode. (Keeping in mind that I was to work as though for the Lord, and that this was somebody’s wedding day)

“So they want us to play music for them,” I thought, “They want us to display our natural gifts of rhtyhm and daincin’, but we can’t eat their food, or even remain in their regal presences once we finish?!” I was sure it would have been better for them had we simply vanished through the bottom of the floor rather than walk through the crowd to our quarters!

I’ve done gigs with this band where we were told to eat in the kitchen! (You better believe I didn’t eat in nobody’s doggone kitchen!) And I have done country club gigs where Amos and Andy tapes were stacked on a tv on the stage behind the curtain. This stuff is more the norm than most would care to admit.

So I walked, fuming, past a wasteful embarrassment of victualage to a room around in the back of the building to water, cokes, and– fifteen minutes into our break– cold-cut sammitches a pickle spear, and some random ruffles in styrophoam containers.

That was the black eye. This was the dirty word: After all that, after all the specific warnings not to mingle or eat, while we were performing the second set, a waitress was sent to the stage to tell the band, “to be sure not to eat any of the cake” when they cut it!!

Didn’t we already know this? Weren’t we capable of taking a hint in the form of a brick to the head? Did we not see the disdain with which we were held? The upturned noses? The downturned mouths? Why did they even hire us? Why not hire some white guys to do all these black songs and not have to worry about us ogling the young girls? “Don’t eat the cake!” I knew where I wanted them to put the cake. Prob’ly wouldn’ta fit though… But I only thought it. This Christian bit in my mouth…

Here is what made it worse for me: I am no stranger to this kind of treatment. But there were at least two members of my church in attendance. The church I rave about. This is no indictment of the church or the people. I know that any human organization will have to get the oil changed or the head gaskets replaced from time to time.

I met one member who was very nice. I didn’t even recognize him since we are growing. He thanked me, and complimented the band.

But there was another guy whom I knew by name. I see him and his wife at church all the time. He works with the the kids sometimes and is crazy about Max. When he passed in front of the stage, I thought, “Hey, I know him!” and tried to make eye contact. He “didn’t see me.” And he kept right on not seeing me the rest of the night. Even though — aside from the newlyweds– we were the focal point of the whole deal. I am the tallest guy in the band, maybe in the room, but he didn’t notice me. Or seemed not to… I just wanted to wave.

Now as the night played out, I thought: this is the world he REALLY lives in. Not the one where races are forced to live out the Gospel. Not the one where issues are lain on the table, splayed open for autopsy.

In this world, the only faces that matter are the paler ones, unless tanned to brownness from a trip to Cabo or Greece. He would probably not have recognized the waiter serving him who manicured his grass either. In this world we don’t exist unless we are on the news or approaching down a dark street or booming bass in the adjacent Crown Vic at the red light.

Maybe now I know how God feels… to not be there until and unless there is a problem…

Whether my church member ignored me or not, the problem was that he was, by appearances, friends with these people. Or a business associate. But he was in lockstep with the behavior that had us in the band — including my friend Marc who is white– feeling so less-than. This may sound unfair, but it seems that lately people are being held accountable for their associations, so… 

So here is where my activism kicked in. On the second set, we played “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” and during my solo, I shoved my horn way up into the mic and played boldly, “Weee Shaaall Overco-o-ome”! Dadgummit! On somebody’s wedding day. Guys in the band were howling! “He crazy, man!” The bandleader wasn’t laughing, though… Only a tight nervous slash of a grin/grimace. Even if I swing and only hit air, at least I swung.

On the second break, I noticed that the guys were huddled together outside, and when I approached them to see what “revolution they were cookin’ up,” I found that they were only telling a dirty joke about… well… a dirty joke.

Once again in the face of injustice, we were content to just let it slide. Once again when presented with the opportunity to strike a blow against racism, we found stuff to laugh about instead.

That, I think, is what has lead to the mistaken assumption that black folk aren’t hurt by things like being slaves or being poor and uneducated. “They are so resilient,” they say, letting themselves off the hook, “Look. After a whole day of whippins and work, they jus’ huddle under the sycamo tree an’ sing Spirituals. See, they’re po as dirt, but they still tell jokes and jus’ laffff! They don’t care what you do to ’em, they jus’ shake it off! Our nigras are happy.”

Maybe I should just let it go, too. But I rock these kinds of boats.

 I told them that I had to do something. So when we went back for the third set, we were told by the coordinator to announce the departure of the bride and groom. As they were leaving, I got on the mic and said, “Save me some cake! Is it okay to git some chicken fangers now? Can I have a couple of wings?” No reply. A small gesture to be sure, but they heard me, and they were exposed. I know it was a little bit unprofessional, but I had to let it be known, as I always say. It was kind of like dealing with a roomful of hecklers. Sometimes real life gets in the way of the minstrelry.

The bandleader was not happy that I did that, but the guys were.

As was said by Marc, the bandleader could have put a stop to that kind of thing a long time ago. All he had to do was tell the booking agents that if those kinds of requests were made, book another band. I don’t need your money. I don’t need the kind of money that comes with cork smeared all over it.

Yeah, I was a nigra Saturday night. According to them. I can live with what they think. But can they live with their secret shame knowing God, and now we, know?

 

May 19, 2008 Posted by | Arrogance, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Music, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Weddings, Work | 8 Comments

How About Making the BIBLE the Next Book Club Selection?

Oprah is a brilliant woman. This is indisputable. But it is possible for one to out ‘smart’ her own self. I think that this is what has happened here.

I also think that her experiences have led her to adopt a misconception of what true Christianity — which she here clearly rejects — is. For instance, in the video that follows, she says that when she heard a preacher talk about God being jealous, she began to question the Christian faith as it is conventionally practiced.

The point I think she missed there (which can be an indictment of the Church as far as not discipling members once they join) is that God is the only One who CAN be jealous! Jealousy is a sin on our part because we are not flawless! We make mistakes. We are not ALL- anything like He is. How dare we have a worship relationship with any one or thing ahead of Him?!? He is Perfect! The best thing for us, and the best thing to us. And we would cheat on Him with money, or pleasure…?

If there were another God, more than one, who was omni-everything, I daresay God would probably say, “Go ahead. Pick one of us to worship and praise.” But since there is not, He has the right to demand that we “worship” only Him.

Oprah, I think, made the mistake of thinking that the preacher meant that God was insecure. How absurd is that?!? I believe that if one has an understanding of how to reason through and interpret the Scriptures, these kinds of misunderstandings would not happen.

Plus… How about we give the God of the goodness-gracious universe the benefit of the ever-lovin’ doubt!!! Sure, He can stand up to micro-observation, but a true seeker will not be given a rock to eat. He would have given her the knowledge she sought had she asked. Instead, it seems that she gave more praise and credit to her intellect than to what is obvious to the common believer.

A few years ago, it was Gary Zukav, now, it’s Eckhart Tolle.

Watch this disturbing video…

And this one which goes a little deeper…

 

There is still hope for Oprah. She is probably, at the time of this writing, breathing slowly, in and out, in deep slumber. But she needs folk to beseech the Lord on her behalf for her to wake up and for the scales to be removed from her eyes.

The older she has gotten, it seems that she has gotten more and more outlandish belief-wise.

These practices are all touchy-feely-flower child-’68 San Fransisco-New Age-pantheistic-nebulosity. “The Jesus Consciousness”, “What we call ‘God'”. This is publicly shown stuff. She is not running and hiding from these teachings.

Just saying the word, “Jesus” (somebody get Osteen on the phone…) does NOT mean Christianity is being discussed.

“I am a Christian who believes there are many paths…” she says! How does that make sense? “I am a fish that believes that there are many different ways of breathing. I don’t think you have to stay in water.”

Well, you are either a DEAD fish, or NOT a fish! You cannot be a “Christian” and take “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” out of the Bible. Christianity is not a watermelon! You can’t just spit out the seeds.

This bothers me because I think — man-dogging aside — Oprah is a nice person. Funny and charismatic. And without a true saving faith, she is just as lost as any other pagan. And she is a Guru who is leading so many others to ruin. Think of those who have followed her over the years who are no longer living…

April 11, 2008 Posted by | Christ, Christianity, Common Sense, Eckhart Tolle, Faith, False Doctrine, God, Guru, New Age, Oprah, Oprah Winfrey | 9 Comments

How Beautiful, How Sad

How beautiful, how sad
The stark dichotomy
How grand, how Galahad
The thought occurred to me.
How does a man react
When told this solemn tale?
The hardest heart is cracked
The strongest legs will fail.

A Man devotes His life,
His every waking thought
To them that hold the knife,
And those that know Him not.
He knelt that we might live
Instructions were complete
“Receiving is to give.”
“Refrain from all deceit.”

He lived without a mark
No sin to stain His Name
Yet, His eyes braved the dark,
For us He took the blame.
Without His sacrifice
We’d all embrace the flame
And miss sweet Paradise
While burdened under shame.

What man of you would give
When faultless thought and deed
Your life that sinners live
To meet a glaring need?

So I accept the gift
In grace and in relief
For shoring up the rift,
But cannot dodge the grief
When thinking of the hate,
Of clenching teeth and fists
Of bruised and bleeding pate,
Of spikes through feet and wrists.

This necessary wrong
Has fire allied with ice.
I weep, yet all along
My thanks cannot suffice.

So beautiful, so sad
The circumstance, the cost.
But for He woolen-clad
We ALL are hopeless lost!

        1996 Derrick L. Williams

March 17, 2008 Posted by | Christ, Christianity, Crucifixion, Easter, Jesus, Poetry, Religion, The Passion, Uncategorized | 1 Comment