That NEW Adage

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

God’s Mysterious Ways Often Become Clear to Those who Wait

I was born in Florida and grew up in Memphis. I always took pride in the fact that I was born where my father was born, and while I am proud of the music heritage Memphis has, the town always left me disappointed in almost every other area. Racism is in the DNA, the politics and general mindset are archaic and mired in a ditch, and crime is stratospheric. Education is teetering over the abyss, and job opportunities are scarce.

There are thousands of world-class musicians and artists, but in order to be heard by the world one must leave.

As a child, my parents stressed education and diversity of interests. We had books on a wide array of subjects — geography, animals, trees, national parks — and we were given an appreciation of things like nature and solar systems and music and vocabulary and sports and writing and drawing. I wanted that for my progeny as well. The kids with whom I grew up had the most mundane desires and often ridiculed me for liking “white boy stuff” like books and chess and the like. And it was only because I had parents who were teachers and who values education and home-training that I could represent myself fairly well when speaking formally.

Once I got married and had kids, my wife and I always hoped to move to Nashville so that she could have better employment choices and so that the children would not have to go through what I went through. But I wasn’t going to move with no musical contacts and have to wind up getting a job in a factory or a call center somewhere. I wanted to be established first.

Before we moved here to Las Vegas, work was drying up like water in the Serengeti in June. I want to be this famous saxophone player and songwriter, and Memphis was showing itself to not be the place for ME. People just don’t call sax players first for jobs. We are non-essential extras. Kathy was on maternity leave and didn’t want to go back to that dead-end job, and finding a new one — even though she is a college graduate — was proving impossible. Bills were piling up with no prospects of being paid… Life was miserable. We were constantly knocking on God’s door begging for assistance with waning faith.

The best thing about Memphis for us was our church and our families.

My daughter and youngest son have eczema (it had taken a lot of Diana’s hair, and her skin was always breaking out), and my eldest son has problems with all the pollen and such in Memphis. We were also wondering about how they would develop when they started school. I’m a proud product of the public school system, but things are so different now… Homeschooling was not an option for many reasons. I wanted my kids to be broad-minded but proud of their heritage and culture, and Memphis is such a racially polarized town.

Fast forward to now:

Everyone is FLOURISHING!

I have worked in Vegas numerous times over the years, and I never was overly impressed — not being a gambler. The Strip is beautiful, but I thought once you got past that, there was nothing else to see. How wrong I was!

This is a wonderful place! Mountainous (which I always wanted) and picturesque. There is actually an attractive quality to the desert. And there are a thousand things within a few hours’ drive… The Grand Canyon, San Diego,  Hollywood, Hoover Dam, San Francisco, Yellowstone, Yosemite…

The area is incredibly diverse, so my kids won’t have to suffer life in a racist fishbowl to the degree that I did (although…). And they will have interests that extend beyond the usual — TV, video games, and a 9 to 5. They will see so many things that we wouldn’t have been able to afford to show them.

The area is spread out enough that a good neighborhood is not one block away from a bad one like back home. The architecture is interesting, and the weather is more to my liking because I HATE being cold!! And there are more work opportunities for me here if my current gig plays out. I make three times what I made back home, where saxophone players are considered “options” like heated seats in a car, or 50 inch plasma televisions, or shiny, spinning rims.

I feel exactly like a biblical figure saved by God from a famine, a flood, or a fire. He got us out of a place that — for us — was becoming desolate and depressing. He uprooted us and lined events up in so obvious a way that we had no doubt that God was orchestrating them. And then, He showed us what would have been. It is almost spooky, knowing that there is actually Someone else — who we cannot see — in the room doing stuff! God changed so much for us! We paid off our car early, got my son in a great school, got a second vehicle big enough for all of us, and we got a bigger, more comfortable home with nice amenities. Diana’s hair is thick and full, her skin is soft, and Max doesn’t have nearly the issues with allergies as back home. My kids are blossoming before our eyes like dogwoods. Kathy is exercising — even running — and is much, much happier with life than she was a year ago.  And we both have drastically changed our eating habits in order that we may be here for the kids. Little to no salt and sugar, smaller portions, no sherbet :-(, no candy, and no fatty foods.  We have both lost a lot of  lbs. in the past three months. I’m actually writing this between weightlifting sets…

All this came from my saxophone, which was another answered prayer.

But there is a problem… In order to achieve all this we had to move 1,600 miles away from every single person we love! It is incredibly difficult to juxtapose missing mothers, fathers, siblings, church members, and best friends with the advantages existent here. It is like our arms are running while our legs are walking leisurely.

We used to have Sunday dinners at my parents’ house weekly. They got to see the kids on a regular basis, something I never had with MY grandparents and always wanted for my children. Moving so far away meant that they would no longer be able to see the children grow up and develop. They would not be able to see them at the drop of a hat. That alone made this the hardest decision I have ever made in my life. While my folks are happy for us, I KNOW they’re heartbroken but won’t admit it. In order to function, I have to try to not dwell on it too much…

Before I got married, I saw my parents five or six times a week. I would come home from road gigs and go to their house in the middle of the night and sit at the foot of their bed in the dark and tell them stories about what happened and we would just laugh… Once I got married, though, I stopped all that in order to be true to the biblical mandate to “leave and cleave.” But we still had Sundays when we, my sisters, and my nephews would all get together after church. I had a weakness for Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice cream, and Mom knew that and kept a ready supply for me in her freezer. I treasured those days and never thought about them ending.

But I think about biblical times when, if a family moved away — as so many did — it could mean they would NEVER see their loved ones again! At least we have planes now. My parents moved away from their childhood homes — my father moved almost as far away as I did. That, in part, was why I wanted my kids to have relationships with their grandparents, since I never really did.

Weighing the pros and cons, though, tipped the scales in favor of the move. There were just TOO many signs, answered prayers, and obliterated obstacles! And I couldn’t show myself to be the true head of this family if I couldn’t bear the excruciating pain of leaving “Mama” to give them a better life. I’m not naive! I KNOW this is Vegas with all its attendant pitfalls and dangers. But you should know — as I now do — that Las Vegas is waaay more than The Strip!

I feel stressed sometimes, as the Disciples and the wandering children of Israel did even in the very presence of God, but He has shown Himself  gracious and faithful. My job is precarious in the sense that I have only EVER been fired by THIS particular organization, but God is bigger than all that, and if He brought us out here which He obviously did, He did not do so as some cruel trick knowing what all is at stake… Following Him is like riding out on the wing of an airplane; frightful but exhilarating, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

May 25, 2011 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Fear, God, God's Hand, Life, Life Lessons, Marriage, Parenthood | 7 Comments

Writer’s Block…

I have been trying for MONTHS to think of some new stuff to write about… Libya? Japan? Charlie Sheen? Life here in Vegas? Missing my family back home? The grace of God through three babies and no health insurance at the moment?  Praise-a-Thon? Anti-Christ du jour?

All of the above?

Bear with me.

March 31, 2011 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Life, Work, Writing | 1 Comment

“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.

 

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

Vegas — Part Deux

The reason I haven’t been able to blog for months is that, as I said in the prior post, I was whisked away to Las Vegas to a two room apartment with no computer access.

The BB King’s club in Las Vegas has been open since the end of 2009, and they have had a number of bands, none of which fully satisfied the owner who is from Memphis. He wanted to stock the club with Memphis musicians in order to give the various locations the same sound the the original one has. Back in April, the house band there (of which I was a member) was informed that we would be flying to Vegas for a month to get that location on its feet.

We got right up to the point of leaving when circumstances beyond anyone’s control caused the job to fall through. I was highly upset, mostly because we had just had a baby (number three!), and Kathy was still on maternity leave, and I was the only one bringing money in. We lost a LOT of money when the gig fell out.

God was surely chuckling at our anxiety, knowing what He was about to bring to pass!

We were getting by on my pay from the house gig and from jobs that would pop up right when the last breath of air was running low. God was really training us on how to rely strictly on Him! By the end of the month of June, options were thin.

Prentice, the trombone player in the Memphis house band was picking up and moving to Vegas to join the band there. Actually, a few of my Memphis musician friends were going.

The lead singer — unbeknownst to me at the time — had signed on, the bass player from my church was to be the bandleader, and the drummer was a long time associate as well. I was at Prentice’s place to look at some of the furniture he was leaving and, having heard that the Vegas band was having some horn section issues, I decided to put in a bid for doing some work out there…

“How is the band out there?” I asked playing dumb.

“They’re okay, but the sax players are apparently not cutting it. They’re not playing the stuff the way we do it, and they are constantly subbing out,” he responded.

“Oh. Well, if you talk to Tommy (the owner), tell him I’d be willing to go out there for a month and get them on their feet. I’ve played with Larry (the front man) for nine years, and I know his arrangements, and made up a lot of the horn parts. Make sure you tell Tommy that!”

Prentice was surprised, “You would?!? You would really go?!? Man, that’d be great!! Yeah, I’ll tell him!” Prentice is a good guy, and he looks up to me, so I knew I had an advocate in him. Turns out, I had a LOT of advocates!!

By the time I got back home an hour later, my phone was ringing! It was Thursday. I was in Las Vegas Saturday afternoon!! Making four times what I made at home!

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Christianity, God, God's Hand, Music, Work | Leave a comment

Signs that Jesus is Putting His Socks On:

There are things happening in the country lately — some funny, some sad, some scary —  that make me SURE  that the LORD is about to crack the sky. We’re at the place now where Gomorrah was when God destroyed it.

1. Seminary student Omarosa’s reality show! “I have an insatiable sexual appetite,” she says as she proceeds to frolic in hot tubs and boudoirs with numerous men.

2. Disgraced preacher, Jamaal Harrison Bryant as moderator/mediator/meditator on said show.

3. People — in the news and in regular life — stealing peoples’ husbands and parading around proudly, pregnant.

4. People I know having “threesomes” and acting as though that is just another way to do life.

5. Snuggies

6. Relativism

7. Sandwiches with fried chicken buns — with CHEESE for meat!

8. Companies that make soy beans AND pesticides.

9. Thus, the FDA.

10. Insurance companies

11. Politicians.

12. Cell phones.

13. Cell phones in CARS.

14. Auto tune

15. Singers with “abs.” But no voices.

16. Gosselins.

17. Real Housewives of Atlanta, or of the NBA, or of the Jersey Shore, or…

18. Booty Pop underdraws.

19. The “Shake Weight.”

20. The NORMALIZATION of everything! Cursing, shacking up, same-sex, promiscuity, un-wed pregnancy…

21. The abolition of shame.

22. Pay RADIO!!! Air is next!

23. Hydrogenated oils.

24. Photo shop.

25. Tolerance.

26. 82 lb. four-year-olds.

27. A robotic, asexual-seeming, married ex-vice president under investigation for trying to forcibly hook up with a matronly, portly, middle-aged masseuse in a hotel room.

28. Raves in football stadiums.

29. Christmas shopping stampedes ending in deaths.

30. Militias.

31. “The Tea Party.” right. We all know what that is.

32. Sequels.

33. Kids not getting spanked — or sternly spoken to, even — because childless talk show hosts and doctors named SPOCK frown on it.

34. The resulting disembowelment of every aspect of society.

35. Celebrity rapists.

36. Cellphone video.

37. Gospel plays.

38.  Open marriages.

39. Lady Gaga

40. Oily oceans.

41. A $750,000,000 divorce settlement, amounting to 75% of a man’s net worth for a woman whose only experience with a golf club is when she swung it at her husband.

42. Guys with a BILLION dollars to lose hooking up with every loose broad, sister, skeez, dame, doll, tomata, heffer, chick, shorty, wench, chicken head, freak in captivity!! And leaving them voice mails with his name!! He might be a golf player, but he ain’t no player!!!

43. Twilight.

44. Blago.

45. John… Edwards AND Boehner.

46. Drunken college frat parties.

47. Tar Balls. Something entendre-ish about that… foreboding.

48. Botox.

49. Fifty-year-old women with unexpressive doll faces and fish lips.

50. $12 doggone movie tickets!!!

51. Something called, “Brangelina.”

52. People all over the place predicting the end of the world.

It is not necessarily one thing, but the accumulation of these — and so many others — that spell doom for this world. I’m not scared of it, though. I just want folk to straighten up and get right with God. He’s not gonna be happy when He gets back and sees what we did to the house!

July 1, 2010 Posted by | Apocalypse, Christianity, End Times, Eschatology, Faith, Humor, Marriage | 2 Comments

What can I get for two smashed flies?

The last two weeks have been very tough.

Three weeks ago, my wife went to a sort of family reunion that her folks have every year around Memorial Day. I wasn’t able to go because I had to play in an annual Marvin Gaye tribute the same day. (I wish I could post the audio. We had a six-piece horn section, with strings and four background singers! It was AWESOME!)

In attendance was an uncle (my mother-in-law’s brother), who  rarely visited, due to numerous factors — he lives in Denver, and he has been involved in self-destructive behavior. According to my wife, he was very bitter and angry. I say “was” because while at the reunion he demonstrated a dramatic change.

He was kind, joyful, and he went from person to person apologizing for years of hurt and damage. He had gotten saved and was part of — and resident of — a church mission in Denver where people struggling to get back on their feet came to live and worship. He was known to go out into the streets and preach the Gospel to drug addicts and alcoholics.

Kathy told me about it when she got home.

A week later he was dead.

Just like that. Kathy called me crying and saying that someone had shot him. MURDERED him. A man that he had mentioned, Leon, had been “bothering” him incessantly — taking his things and provoking him. He told his family about it at the reunion. This was corroborated by Uncle’s friends. Leon, who had a gash on his forehead, shot him twice in the stomach. In the kitchen of the church!!! The police arrested Leon.

And Kathy made another trip down to the country for a funeral of a murdered man ten days after he had been the source of so much joy and relief. A man not even sixty years old, and not sick, in a box built for someone — anyone — else. It was horrible! There was, through the anger and anguish, comfort and amazement at how God allowed Uncle to neatly organize and stack his affairs before calling him up.

Insult was added to injury, however, when Kathy got a phone call as she was walking into the funeral home for the wake. They let him go. They let Leon go, saying that it was SELF DEFENSE, substantiated by the cut on his head!!! So just as family members had steeled themselves to view the body, the Denver police unleashed the cruelest cut of all!

I am angry. We ALL are. It is said in the black community that black life is worth decidedly less than white life. I have seen schoolmates killed, neighbors killed, and the perpetrators received “11/29”. Less than a year, or no time at all for killing another black person. I have said and heard it said in fights and arguments that, “if I kill you, I’ll be out before they bury you!” and I saw it happen two weeks ago!

I think about Natalie Holloway, and The Runaway Bride, and countless other white men and women who go missing or are killed by their husbands, or are abducted. The world stops spinning. “Inside Edition,” and “Nightline” run them as lead stories, while all I see about my wife’s uncle are the racist comments left by so many online cowards: “Way to go, Leon! That’s TWO niggers off the streets!! Let ’em all kill each other!” I had to make Kathy get off the computer. She was torturing herself.

It is amazing that a man can be shot in the belly in the kitchen of a church mission only to have the investigation wrapped up before the wake, with the killer released because he was defending his life!!! Against what? Why did he have a GUN?!!? What about unlawful possession and/or discharge of a firearm? Throwaway People, I guess.

Curiously, my wife’s own inquiries revealed that:

A. The “Pastor” of the mission got into an argument with Kathy’s uncle right before he left, the argument ending with Uncle’s declaration that he was leaving the ministry.

B. The “Pastor has been under investigation for shady practices.

C. Leon was heard more than once threatening to kill certain people at the mission, Uncle being one.

D. The “Pastor” has — get THIS — taken out life insurance policies on his congregants (homeless and down-and-out people with no one else to fight for them) with himself as the beneficiary!!!

Smoking guns indeed!

It is cold comfort to know that if I suffer the misfortune of being slain, I don’t have the intrinsic worth to get the necessary attention. Justice’s blindfold has a slit in it when it comes to me. And mine.

June 22, 2010 Posted by | Christianity, Death, Life, Life Lessons, Race, Racism | 1 Comment

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

Kid Slaps Mother. When is the Funeral?

Okay, by now, you’ve probably either seen or heard of this… This kid slaps his MOTHER!!!

The first thing I did when I saw this was blame the mother — that’s right, the mother — for creating an environment where her kid THOUGHT that he could slap Mommy and survive. I could rant on all night about this, but perhaps I won’t…

This is another problem with the Oprahfication of America. We have to tell ourselves that the best way to raise children (whose brains don’t even function fully properly until well past puberty) is to REASON with them!! Adults reason. And even then, not always successfully!

This mother is being all nice and calm while the offspring of her body is flying apart.

I’ll tell you what — if any of my children (or anybody else’s) swing at me on camera, I’ll erase them and start drawing new ones!

There’s an analogy I heard a long time ago that I apply in rearing my kids: A man was at the circus and noticed that the elephants  — full-grown behemoths — were chained to wooden stakes that were hammered into the dirt. They could have easily pulled them up, but the slightest tension made them give in and stay put.

The visitor asked their trainer how this was possible.

“Simple,” he replied. “When the elephants are babies, we chain them to stakes that are embedded in the ground too deep for them to pull up. By the time they are strong enough, their memory of not being able to pull them up supersedes their knowledge of their abilities.”

One day my sons will be bigger and stronger than I. So I have to be invincible in their eyes in order that they don’t try me. There has to be fear until there is respect.

I thought my father would literally beat me to death if I challenged him. I thought he was crazy. (he was.) When I grew up and mentioned that to him, he laughed and told me that that was exactly the objective. I had to think that if I exceeded his boundaries, the price to pay would be final. That kept me away from drugs, theft, cutting classes, sneaking the car keys, drinking, sex… All the egregious sins, until my sense of not wanting to disappoint my parents was all I needed to basically keep me in line.

They reasoned with me only to the point that I was able to understand. I was not allowed to ask them where they were going when they left the house, or why I had to eat certain detestable foods, or “why” anything else they chose to have me do. I was allowed to voice my concerns and speak my mind, though, within certain limits.

I could not interrupt them when in conversation, and I could not join in adult tete a’ tetes. But they engaged me and respected my personhood — within limits.

Kids have a place. That is a dead notion, I know, but it is alive in my household, and never will a child of mine even bring to mind the idea of hitting ME! And my WIFE is the crazy one!!

There are worse things in the world than a butt-whupping, and this kid is going to experience a lot of them.

Raise your kids, folks! They are not born grown, and you do a disservice to them to treat them as though they are. Would you fly in a plane piloted by a person who only watched instructional films to learn how? Why, then, do you let Oprah tell you how to bring up children?

You watched that video and got mad at the boy. Well, I submit that he is only a product of his environment, and is functioning as designed.

April 13, 2010 Posted by | Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Discipline, Kids, Oprah, Oprah Winfrey, Parenthood, Parenting, Spanking | 7 Comments

In the words of the great prophet, Rodney King…

Sweet Jesus y’all, can’t we all just get along this eeenin’?!?

Whether you fall on the conservative side of the issue or the liberal, can we all agree to be at least HUMAN in expressing displeasure? Does it take spitting on people, calling people racist names, and carrying loaded guns and signs about watering trees with blood?

And when somebody gets killed, it’ll be, as we used to say, a lot folk throwing rocks and hiding their doggone hands!

There are arguments to be made on both sides of the health care issue. I for one don’t want to be forced to buy something if I can’t afford it. Car insurance is bad enough, but I understand that. But I can’t be entirely angry about people unable to be made healthy now getting a chance to walk and breathe without pain.

I have been in the position of needing to go to a doctor and not being able. As a Christian, I cannot just be all up in arms about it. And I have heard too many times that that is the Church’s job, not the government. Miss me with that!!! The Church can do a lot about a lot and still sits idly in many ways! That is just a passing of the buck.

The government had to make Americans let slaves go, and a hundred years later, let them be FREE! While many Christians fought those fights, the majority — as today —  elected to show shameful selfishness instead: “I worked hard and got what I needed! Let them do the same!” (Regardless of the innate systematic inequities.)

Now, it appears that the REAL truth is blooming like turnips. Peoples’ lives are being threatened, and epithets are being hurled in Birminghamian waves. And what worse thing can you do than to spit on a man?!!? Spit on ME and I won’t be able to take Communion! One reason will be because of the pending charges! And all this from the “Party of God.”

I haven’t read the thousands of pages in the bill, and neither have you. We listen to Rush (is he gone yet?), Beck, Olbermann, Maddow, Boehner, and Clyburn and we believe the way we are inclined to believe, and we run out and pass it along.

Forgive me if I take it a LITTLE personal when I see the black first lady compared to a chimp, and when I see the first black President called all manner of animal and devil spawn. All this talk of “Taking America back…” from whom? From WHOM?!? Who took it? You mean black folk? Surely not! I know that Evangelical, Christian, God-fearin’ folk would not resort to such thinly veiled rhetoric…

But here we are. And believe me, I live right in the middle of a nest of white American conservatism! Across the street from me lives a (purportedly traumatized) Vietnam vet who claims Christ.

When it looked like Obama was going to get elected, he came to me in a hushed voice and asked if I had enough ammo, guns and fresh water, because an economic collapse and anarchy were in his words, “a mathematical certainty” based on what he had been reading and hearing on conservative talk radio. He has hundreds of gallons of water stored in his back yard. He has been driving around town for a little over a year with a beg tin sign hanging from his back bumper all about Obama and how he is going to bring about Armageddon or something. And he put four huge hooks in his roof and put a sign up there bigger than a taxi cab ad, saying, “OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST” Now, HE is the one I’m watching! Not the liberals! I would not be surprised to see him coming out his front door with a duffel bag full of mayhem. And I got a wife and three babies to protect, so…

His next door neighbor is not much different. He’s a perpetually angry little fella with a hair-trigger temper! I see it all up and down my street.

What about God? Isn’t He our portion? Our strength and refuge?

How can those so supposedly at odds with the government so fearful at the “loss” of it? Who scares me more, my own NEIGHBORS, or a bunch of folk who want to send the poor and the sick to a DOCTOR?!!?

And don’t give me that “Isolated Incident” junk! EVERY incident is isolated unless you back up to the doggone moon to get some freekin context!! (I laughed when I wrote that…)

Words are more than just words. To educate you Word of Faithers out there who misuse the quote, THIS is what was meant when God said that “the power of life and DEATH are in the tongue”!

I yield the balance of my time…

March 28, 2010 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Christians, Conservatism, Conservatives, Democrats, Health Care, Politicians, Politics, Race, Rachel Maddow, Racism, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh | 2 Comments

“Yesterday”, Today, FOREVER!

I hope this is not a long post…

I just got through watching a Toni Braxton video, and one line of her song, “Yesterday” stuck with me: “I just don’t love you no more…”

It’s as simple as that nowadays. I just ain’t feelin’ you, so, I’m out! Just like that. You come home from work, and she”just don’t love you no more,” so get your stuff, put it in a bag, and go sleep on your boy’s couch while we divvy up all the assets.

I believe she and her husband are seperated, but that is not the main point of this post. The point is, if the only thing a marriage has holding it together is whether one spouse STILL LOVES  the other, it is doomed! I can’t sanely live as a married man from day to day, year to year, if I am depending solely on that girl in the other room back there to continue loving me with her own resources.

There has to be another driving force. I, likewise, cannot say with confidence that I will not leave her or cheat on her if I am relying on my own feelings to be the glue. Kathy knows, and I know that while — yes — we do have enourmous affection and tremendous passion, and all the other touchy-feely stuff for each other, it is the unwavering unmoving, unchanging hand of God that gives us the assurance of “till death…”

Feelings change. That’s why when I see shows like “Entertainment Tonight” talk about how much “in lovvvve” a particular couple seem, I get the stirrings of rage that make me want to take all of them by the collective collar and counsel them on the real aspects of true love. People who base marriage on how they feeeel today should put the lawyers on speed dial. Don’t marry someone because you have passion alone for them. Marry because you will be committed to loving them more than you love yourself until you die! “Love” being an act and not a feeling.

If you don’t think you can do that — don’t.

If you believe that God will sustain you when your feelings wane, jump in with both feet! It is not an absence of lust that will keep you — or her — from cheating.Muscle maintenance  will not keep her chasing you around the room. (an EX-girlfriend saw my arms in short sleeves once, and said threateningly, “don’t loooose it…” *She gone!*)

I could say a lot more, but it’s 2:25 AM, I’m tired, and the baby is crying. And I love him. GET it?

January 28, 2010 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Jesus, Love, Toni Braxton | 5 Comments

Steven Horace Williams. And the Tempest on which He Came

Now, thanks be to God, I have three children! TWO of them sons!

Steve — named for my lost cousin, and my father — came into this world Tuesday morning amidst a whirlwind of activity.

Usually, when I play gigs, all I have to do is show up and blow. However some church members recently asked the church band to play their wedding reception. And they asked if I would play the wedding, too. I wound up being the point man for the function, which meant I would have to meet with the couple, get their requests for material, negotiate the price, get the music out to the guys, and hire the sound man and players. (Most of the church guys had other gigs.) A lot of extra work.

Now, when I took the job, I didn’t put it together with the fact that it was happening FOUR DAYS AFTER MY BABY’S BIRTH, and that Kathy would be having her third c-section! I just looked at the fact that it was January, and as I had been jobbed out of my New Year’s Eve gig, the money would be cool.

We have experienced record cold temperatures the last two weeks or so. Weekends are tough for me. I usually don’t get to sleep Saturday nights until 5 AM, and I have to be at church at 7:30. We have two services, and I’m usually done at 12:30 or so. I then go home, help Kathy get the kids fed, and we usually go to my parents’ house for dinner. I try to get a nap in there somewhere, and we’re home by 8 to feed the kids again. But I don’t get to sleep until about 4 or 5.

Mondays used to be my recovery day, with the only work I had to do was raise the kids. But the club switched our night from TUESDAY and Thursday to MONDAY and Thursday.

So, with all that, I went to work Monday night, and got to bed after 5 since I was too nervous to sleep. We had to get to the hospital at 7:30 for the birth. I was dead tired, and it was 15 degrees outside! By 10 AM, Steven Horace was here! Another nine-pounder!

After a long day of visitors and everything that comes with having a child, late that night, I decided to brave the sub-twenty degree weather to go get something to eat.

There was no one on the road. The car was driving funny, and I thought it was because the engine was still cold… I pulled into the turning lane to get out and see if a nudging fear I had was legitimate, and I found a blown-out tire! I rode verrry slowly down the turn lane looking for a place with enough light to get my thoughts together, and found a church parking lot. Kneeling on the ground to get to work, the cold crept up into my bones and took residence!

I was done and back on the road in about twenty minutes. But now, the thought in my mind was that tires for this car cost almost $300! And we just had a third baby in three-and-a-half years! I was juggling figures in my mind. And a snowstorm was in the forecast, so I couldn’t be driving around with a donut on the front of a front wheel drive car.

I had a rehearsal the next night at 11:30 PM, so I would have to take the car home, turn the faucets on to keep the pipes from freezing, say hello to my kids (who were being kept by Kathy’s mother Tuesday and Wednesday), get my truck, and go to the rehearsal. As I arrived at the club, the “CHECK ENGINE” light popped on!! What next?!? This could be big, or it could be small. But with single-digit temperatures and possible snow, 2 AM wasn’t the time to gamble!

After — prayer– and practice, I headed home. I had to spend the night at home because Kathy’s mom had to work and couldn’t keep Max and Diana, so I had to get them up early, dressed, and fed, and take them to my folks’ house to stay until Saturday afternoon. Soooo tired. After I did all that, I went back to the hospital for a couple of hours with Kathy and Steve before I had to leave for my Thursday gig.

I drove the truck, so after work, I went back home to check on the house, turn on the faucets, and switch back to the car since I needed it to take Kathy and the baby home in the car seat.

Now, all during the week, I’m corresponding with the groom, the sound man (who thinks he might have pneumonia!!) and the guys in the band. I had to make CD’s with the tunes on them, and e-mail others out to guys with whom I couldn’t contact. I had put together a GREAT collection of players!

Friday was even busier than the other days… After getting Kathy and the baby home, I left right out to get a tire for the car. The wedding gig was far out, and I couldn’t trust the truck to make it. After I got the tire, I came home, got the directions to the venue and headed straight back out to the wedding rehearsal! I wasn’t even home ten minutes!

And it was about 8 degrees outside. On the way home from the rehearsal, I treated Kathy and myself with Papa John’s!

So, we’re sitting at home, chillin’, after a long week, eating pizza, and I get up to go wash my hands, and the doggone water won’t come on!!! The pipes are frozen!! It’s Friday, and my troubles are just starting. Kathy: “Oh, yeah… Mama told me something about the water wasn’t running…”  Would’ve been cool to know that a whole lot earlier in the day. (in fairness to Kathy, she turned the bathroom sink on, and when it worked, she thought everything was cool. But THAT sink never froze.)

I turn up heat, turn on blow-dryers, space heaters, and the ENTIRE STOVE to try to get the water running again. My friend, Tim, came over to help, and I wound up going to Wal-Mart to buy a replacement line for the kitchen sink — which, being next to an outer wall, was the biggest trouble spot.

More running around and less rest for me. And the next day, Saturday, was the busiest day. And the bride and groom and all their visiting family didn’t care about my problems! The show must go on.

I got up very early to go and pick my kids up from my parents’ house, and would head right out to a noon set-up and soundcheck. The wedding was at 6, and the reception was right after at 7. I wouldn’t be coming back home until about 11 PM when it was all over.

Kathy called me at about 2. I thought she was calling to tell me that the faucet was running again. She was at home with three children, 3 years old and under, four days after having a baby cut from her womb, and I had booked a gig at the wrong time!

“You need to come home! You need to come home RIGHT NOW!! There is water coming down through the cabinets and all over the kitchen!! Water is gushing all outside!!!” I could hear my kids laughing and oblivious in the background.

It took me twenty minutes to get home (at 100 miles an hour!), and I couldn’t get the water turned off at the street because the valve was faulty. By the time a plumber got there, another thirty minutes had passed!

When would it end?

The plumber gave me an INCREDIBLY low price and said he would NOT have to cut through the walls! Kathy stopped crying when I told her that.

Turns out, he had to tear the cabinets out and cut through the walls. Still incredible price though!

My wonderful parents came and got Kathy and all three kids, and I went back to the gig.

The drummer got pulled over for speeding and we had to stretch two tunes for twenty-five minutes until he got there.

The gig was cool. Everybody was happy, the band got cash, and the sound man didn’t fall out. And I had to turn around and get up for church with one hour of sleep, work Monday… I still haven’t rested. And Kathy is just as tired, plus major surgery.

The thing is, though, that with all the drama and running around, I had to do… I never got frustrated. I usually would crack a LITTLE bit, but not this time. It was like God opened the valve — pun intended — a little at a time so that by the time the BIG disaster happened, I had built up enough confidence in His work to know that He would come through.

So, my second son, Steve, rode in on a tidal wave of action and turmoil and amid it all, he is the epitome of peace. I can learn a lot from him.

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Action, Birth, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Drama, Family, Gigging, God, Music, Stories, Work | 8 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

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

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

The Squeaky Wheel Gets FIRED! *edit

I still blog, but I’ve been busy. Partly, dealing with the following:

Unfair treatment is often a sign of Salvation.

I used to play in this Christian jazz band but the leader let me go in a shady, dishonorable way.

While I was extremely angry at first, it was not for being fired, but for the lies that clouded the firing.

I had many issues with his leadership, and told him so on a number of occasions.

And because I work on ONE of our TWO rehearsal nights — and thought I would have to quit because I suspected that he would not be willing to accommodate me — he made moves (unbeknownst to me) to replace me, rehearsing my replacement while I thought I still played the one time a month gig.

After many heated words and seething anger, I have let it go. I am much clearer of mind not having to deal with the stress of learning so many tunes to only play only once a month. And I don’t have to any longer be bothered with trying to deal with subpar leadership and untruths.

 I have learned great lessons, chiefly that all that glitters is not necessarily Christian, and that God works His wonders through our suffering.

I am further motivated to win — to let fulfillment of potential supplant righteous vengeance. To let achievement be the counter-punch to that slap in the face.

While my desire is to name names and point fingers and give details, God has allowed me — through the THIRD version of this post — to just state the silhouette and move along.

THAT’S what I’ve been doing.

Oh, and I got my new horn!

My Horn

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Advice, Christianity, Life, Life Lessons, Live Music, Music, Work | 7 Comments

Speak now, AND Forever Hold Your Peace!

I really don’t care about beauty pageants. I used to care about the swimsuit portion, but I’m somebody’s husband now. I know that they integral to the lives of many, but I don’t care about them any more than beauty pageant lovers care about the current NBA playoffs.

I DO, however, care about issues of religious freedom and theological accuracy.

And this past weekend crystallized the problem I have with the — existent — gay lobby. A judge in the Miss USA pageant, Perez Hilton, openly gay, asked the contestant from California a loaded political/religious question about her view of gay marriage, and she responded gingerly in the negative.

All involved say that her answer cost her the crown since she was in the lead at the time. Since that moment, she has been the pig at the luau. The judge — whom I never knew till now — went on-line and excoriated her, calling her a dumb bit&h, as well as, I’m sure, other spicy epithets.

How dare she?!? he exclaimed. This was a non-political show, and she should have just given a non-political answer! (Ignoring the fact that HE WAS THE ONE WHO ASKED THE DOGGONE QUESTION IN THE FIRST PLACE!!)

 I know that some who read this will write me off as hating gay people and being pervertedly concerned with what people do in their bedrooms (and in nightclub bathrooms and airport stalls and at rest-stops and in Overton Park here at home), but I insist that I cannot be a Christian and hate ANYbody!

I am concerned that my faith is being challenged and attacked in attempts to change it as people change. I am concerned that I am not forced to sell God out and endorse any behavior that He forbids. God invented marriage. HE invented the parameters, and regardless of the concrete fact that heterosexuals make a mockery of it, I — and Miss California — should not be forced to give approval to people like the militant Hilton.

You can do what you want to do, but you can’t make me like it. Any more than I can make YOU like the Christian faith practiced in full strength. Why do you even care if some Christian doesn’t think that you doing that stuff is proper? You will still do it, won’t you? I have friends who do drugs, and they know that I think drugs are stupid, but they don’t ask my opinion. I’ve got friends who have babies out of wedlock, who have one-night stands, who drink and drive, and who talk like women. They don’t ask my opinion or permission. So, don’t you, Hilton, Rosie, and the rest of you militants, ask me whether I think it is cool that you do what you do. Just do it!

I don’t look at a gay person any differently than I look at anyone else in terms of behavior. Sin is sin, and it is sin. You sin, I sin, all God’s chillun got sin!

But this is what they do… they call people “bigots” — a joke— and call them gay-bashers, and phobes for simply disagreeing, which is a basic. human. right.

If gays are so much more caring than other people, as a group, why is it that the gay powers that be move so swiftly to destroy those who disagree with them? Just let a straight actor or musician say that homosexuality is sin! Watch what happens! You’ll find their careers next to Amelia Earhart’s luggage!

Why are they who shout “tolerance”ironically so INtolerant? What they mean is, “approval!” What is that word for those who would force one to think the way THEY think…?

We Christians are expected to not waffle on tough matters. We should not be mean or harsh or disrespectful, but steady and firm. We can be caring and sensitive to those in alternative lifestyles of whatever type without okaying the behavior.

We have been — historically — burned, eaten, and relentlessly assaulted for taking strong positions, and God didn’t relax His Standard. Miss California did just that.

No, God doesn’t NEED me to defend Him, He EXPECTS me to!

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Culture, Current Events, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, In The News, Marriage, Miss USA, Perez Hilton | 9 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

I built it — where ARE they?

I haven’t stopped writing. I am just busy. And a little frustrated.

I’m raising two kids, trying to start a band — this blog got me (thankfully) fired from the other one — learning what it takes to master my horn (thanks, Kirk!), and trying to be fully worthy of the gifts I’ve been given. I’m playing in a jazz band that works once a month but takes a lot of my time, I just finished a demo, and I’m attempting to be worthy of the great wife I have who lets me do all I have to do to get what I need out of life.

I am frustrated because most of the people who used to visit my little hole here in cyber-space have stopped coming by after the first week in November. Hmmm. But I have not changed… My moral stances are just as conservative as they always were. And my views on those with less-than are just as NOT conservative. I am just as biblically conservative as I ever have been, and my opinions on Christian fellowship among ALL Christians are just as liberal, if you will. Yet, for some reason, I don’t have the company I used to have.

I don’t have but two or three friends — despite what facebook says — and I don’t see them much. Life gets in the way. I am not a social butterfly like my wife. I don’t get asked to hang out a lot. So this blog, in addition to being a journal of sorts, and a way to hone writing skills, is a way for an extreme introvert like me to interact in a non-intimidating fashion with people of like and UNlike mind.

But after the abomination, I don’t get a lot of visitors. The weather must not be as fair as it was on the third of November.

I still have a lot to say, and I will say it. I love writing this blog!  However, I also have a lot of things to get done, and I want to do proper justice to them all. Thank you who do for continuing to share your valuable time here with me. Please continue to do so.

February 20, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, Conservatives, Elections, False Teachers, Frustration, God, Liberals, Life, Obama, Words, Writing | 13 Comments

I Need to Get the Baby Language Filter

“What you watchin’, Max?”

“Bunbah Beh-pan, Daddy!”

“What? ‘Bumbah Bed Pan?’ ”

“Nooo! ‘Bunbah Beh-pan!!’ “

“Ohhh. “Sponge Bob Square Pants’!!”

“Yeah!” (can’t you speak English?!?)

I can speak English, but I’m still working on Baby.

February 12, 2009 Posted by | Baby Talk, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Life, Max, Parenthood | 4 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

Back on the ‘Tation

Want to guarantee your residential subdivision stays all-white?

Put the word, “Plantation” in the name! Baileyville Plantation, Brentwood Plantation, Plantation Estates, Deerfield Plantation… No self-respecting brother, I don’t care HOW much money he has, will be caught living there!

I just heard an ad for one on my local Christian radio station. Slick move, guys. Verrrry slick.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Conservatism, Conservatives, Humor, Race, Racism, Segregation, Stereotypes | 2 Comments

Are We Who WE Say We Are, or Who GOD Says We Are?

I’m just saying…

This is not to be insensitive to those who are gay, but can a Christian pleeeeze be allowed by you to rightly, sincerely practice his faith?!? Would you, who strive so ardently to exercise your rights, seek to deprive someone like me from expressing mine?

I was just watching Rachel Maddow — an openly lesbian show host — lambasting, or just basting — Obama for daring to align himself, however tenuously, with “controversial, immoderate, Falwellian” pastor, Rick Warren. “He believes in a LITERAL interpretation of the Bible! He believes in Creationism!! He’s an extremist bigot! (just like all the rest of those Christians!)”

Warren has done such abominable things as uphold the Christian sanctity of marriage and compare abortion to the Holocaust!!! What horror. How dare a Christian PASTOR, allied to the word of God, actually uphold what that Author prescribed and proscribed!

They have (gay organizations) been up in arms since election day about Proposition 8, and have been angry with black folk for voting against it. In essence:

“We voted for your thing (Obama), so we expected you to quid us pro quo on our thing (the right to change the God-invented definition of marriage from one that can actually PRODUCE MORE HUMAN BEINGS to one that makes us feel good on the inside).”

Hmmm… Funny how they are cool with that exchange, but on fire about Blagojevich…

The left have been just as angry at Obama in the last few weeks as the right. Maybe he IS going to shake it up.

He says he is a Christian, the President-elect, and as such shouldn’t he be allowed to practice his faith? I mean, regardless of his job, a man can not — and by law MUST not — cast his faith out the door, be it Christianity, Hedonism, Islam, or Atheism! And the bottom line is that any plain, honest, and un-convoluted understanding of Christianity says that certain behaviors are wrong.

And gays, being the sensitive and caring people that they are would not, I KNOW, ask someone to change the way he thinks in his own mind and heart just to have him say “I am of the opinion that whatever you do is fine, and I will assent that opinion with my vote.” I know that the warm and loving gay community would not force a man to — in that man’s mind — sin willfully, stage a mutiny, against the Captain of his very soul just so they can engage in sexual intercourse in whatever way they are lead.

I am not insensitive to the desires of the human heart. I know those words will not lessen the anger of any gay person who will read them, but I mean them. Of course I know people who are gay, and who are in agony. I have family members who feel sexually attracted to the same sex. And I love them. I am not, by that same Christian edict, permitted to cast a soul into loveless oblivion because I disagree with their way of life. But my arm will not be twisted to make me say that what I, I, believe to be wrong is now right. I think I am, doggone it, mature enough to disagree with a behavior and still like a person! Goodness!

Just as I know that you, gay community, do not dare suggest that you HATE those with whom YOU disagree. “Hate.” Ever throw that word around? Can we just stop tossing gasoline on a fire and quit using such an extreme word for a difference of durn opinion?!? You guys have the whole nation punked! Scared poopless. It is almost admirable!

Obama claims to believe the Bible. As such, he will be allowed by the gay community — I KNOW — to believe that way in his heart. “Thought Police?” Ever used that term, Maddow?

In my opinion, you can do whatever you do. You can drink till you pickle yourself, take every drug known to man, hook up with prostitutes, lay up with men or women, wear long dresses or short skirts, dreads or braids, or smoke Camels — you can pinch my nose, tie my arms and feet and pour the Kool-Aid down my throat — but you can’t make me like it!

Man ain’t even got a toothbrush in the White House yet, and he’s gettin’ killed on every side!

This is, though, the other side of the coin of this momentous election: While it is great that this country has taken so great a step, certain groups of people were dancing in the streets because they thought — or knew — that the lid was off that girl’s box and anything is about to go!

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Barack Obama, Christian Life, Christianity, Civil Rights, Culture, Current Events, Evangelicals, Faith, Gay Rights, Morality, Obama, Political Correctness, Politics, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Prop 8, Rachel Maddow, Religion, Rick Warren | 8 Comments

Work and Family: All I Do

Max, Diana, and Ryan   Max       Diana  Work

Sundays @ Neil's  Gotta Be Somebody's Baby!

  I'll Kill a Brick!

                 On the Job

 

KWEST   I've got a better son than my parents have!

Rich, Ryan, DJ, Allissa, Max, and Diana  

Election night. 

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Babies, Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Daughters, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Daughters, Fathers and Sons, Home Life, Kids, Life, Marriage, Music, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 6 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

Ingreat?

I want to be great.

I struggle with this. I know that God says that He will give His glory to no man. I ask myself constantly if the reason I have not yet achieved my goals is that I want to be glorified in some way. Maybe God knows (I want to say, “Maybe God THINKS,” but I know He doesn’t wonder) that I would not be as humble as I need to be if He allows me to do the same things as those as whom I know I am at least as good. (prepositions! whew!)

Or maybe I simply have not worked hard enough.

I play music and I write words. I often think, when I see humorists and columnists and hear certain saxophone players, “I KNOW I can do this! I’m at LEAST that good! Why can’t I get a break?” I know I’m kind of good, but I want to be great. And not obscure. And I begin again to wonder if what is blocking me is simply my thought process.

Maybe my thinking has to change… Maybe I have to think more about what greatness will mean for God than what it will do for me.

From day one I have been Charlie Brown. I was the insignificant kid, the ridiculed kid, the unremembered kid. I was the one who the girls looked at from the edges of their eyes. I was the one who either ate alone at lunch or went and found others with whom to eat.

I was never at the center of the action, always at the outer ring. Never the life of the party.

When I started to play music, it wasn’t to get girls or to be cool. I just wanted to learn how to play an instrument — something no one in my neighborhood did. All through school, the fact that I could hear a tune and reproduce it and improvise a little bit did nothing to initiate me into that cool musical circle.

When I grew up and began doing it for a living, my mother, who worked at my high school, would ask me to come back and play for assemblies. My own band director (with whom I rode to school EVERY DAY for three years!!!) was shocked when he heard me, remarking to my mother, “I had no idea Derrick could play like that! When did this happen?”

He had not bothered to notice or nurture my talent. He never pushed me. While the cool kids were taking theory classes and playing in the jazz band, I was at home picking out Grover Washington and Spyro Gyra solos. Teaching myself.

When I was in the eighth grade and on the verge of academic mediocrity as a student in the first Optional School class in Memphis, my English teacher brought a knarry tree stump into the classroom and asked us to write a story based on what we saw. I, thinking myself a failure at English, got the highest grade in the class. In me was born the love for words I now have. I changed at that moment. And a lot of the arrogant kids in the class looked at me differently — although being good at English doesn’t make you cool.

Writing didn’t become cool for me until I began getting paid to write love letters for guys — something I was scared to do for myself for a long time.

This very blog is all about me trying to be great. It is more than a geek with a computer corrupting journalism. It is me trying to not just rant, but to make literature. I want to leave my children with something that shows them that their father did not just consume resources, but that he THOUGHT. I want to not get to God’s throne and have Him disappointed because I left unused some gift He gave to me.

I want to MATTER — to be necessary. I want to be great in His eyes AND send my kids to college. Can’t you do both? There is the rub… That which makes ascent uncertain…

Being so consistently rejected bred in me this thing, this need, to prove them all wrong. To prove to — whomever — that I was worthy of note. Not of exaltation, but just valuable enough to be heard, to be listened to. It is the same drive, I think, that led Michael Jordan to prove wrong the coach who cut him when he was a kid. The same drive that made my father put cement and a pole into buckets to make his own barbells back in the fifties when kids laughed at him and called him scrawny.

I hate being treated as “less-than.” HATE it! I am the first one to esteem my neighbor as greater than myself, as long as my neighbor doesn’t presume to assume that position! I’ll get in the back seat as long as you don’t insist that I belong there. It is for this reason that arrogance is one of the things I hate most in the world.

 I want to show all those who belittled me and dismissed my contributions that they are what is wrong with the world. (But it doesn’t consume me as much as it may sound)

Maybe in a twisted way, though, that is revenge… I don’t know. I mean, I don’t have a desire to hurt anyone, or to repay in like fashion, so maybe it’s not vengeance. But maybe my thinking is wrong. Maybe I need to focus more on how GOD would be proved worthy of note if these things happened for me the way I want them to… I know I am not arrogant — I am PROUD of how humble I am! I make way too many mistakes to have an exaggerated idea of myself.

God, however, sees things in a different way than do I. Maybe my thinking is out of synch with His. Maybe if I can figure out how greatness and fame intersect, that last door will open.

Or maybe it is just not time yet.

I know He has not closed the door though, because I have continually been able to support myself, and because step by agonizing step, I have done a little bit better. I have worked with some pretty big acts and have played as though I belonged there.

We all live and eat by having people give us money to do something we are good at doing. Our gifts make our way for us. That is all I want. No Bentley, no floor length mink, no gaudy jewels. No breathless fans or VIP status.

Just ample recompense for art rendered. Commensurate compensation.

Lord, I don’t want Your spot or your shine. And if I don’t speak up enough, it is of shyness, not of usurpation. Create in me that right way of thinking, and even closer fellowship with You.

I’m not so haughty, reader, as to think that my life is so compelling that you just HAVE to know about it. I just hope the words are interesting enough to keep you reading them.

November 26, 2008 Posted by | Arrogance, Artistry, Christian Life, Christianity, Fame, Food for Thought, Glory, God, Greatness, Humility, Life, Music, Saxophone, Words, Work, Writing | 9 Comments

The Devil You Know

Last week, while Christians were lamenting the loss of the Lord’s party and portending the end of the world because a pagan black Muslim OBVIOUSLY managed to circumvent the will God by being elected president, a far greater slaughter was being perpetrated on those who sought to find salvation.

Ravenous wolves were feasting on the poor of pocket and of knowledge via satellite in front of the ENTIRE world! And Christians did nothing. They sent up no hue and cry. They shed no tear. They kicked no dog. They tossed no popcorn. They cried no foul. They mourned no loss.

Rather than trust in the sovereignty of God and even for a moment consider the source of the joy, they cried, “God must be dead!” Rather than speak for those unable, they turned the channel on the carnage and let it go on unseen.

TBN was broadcasting their periodic “Praise-a-Thon.” (I call it the “Preys-a-Thon”) I am often asked why I watch this trash. I do it because it is like having the devil’s walkie-talkie. I do it for the same reason the feds bug mafia phones.

The most valuable thing we own is not our 401k, our homes, our economic stability, or our very lives! The most precious thing we own is our soul. And with souls dangling over the abyss, Christians cry and launch invidious invectives while these heartless hyenas prey on the desperation of those who have been taught to do church the wrong way for years.

They wrench passages out of context and hit the undiscerning over the head with the wrench.

Evangelicals claim to love God and thereby, His people. Especially the unborn. How noble. The unborn have one advantage over those who in ceaseless waves place their own butts into the gaping mouths of roaring lions: The unborn are not in danger of the flame.

While Godly people were crying in their chai tea about an OBAMA(!) having the gall to get elected, these “mend” and “womend” of God were sinking their fangs deeper into the souls of the seeking. Preying on greed and ignorance. And no one raised a finger to stop it.

You know why they are pimps? Benny Hinn, Paula White, T D Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Steve Munsey, Rod Parsley, Eddie Long, the Crouch’s, and the rest? Let me tell you who may not know one of the things a pimp does; A pimp pushes the envelope. He will say to himself, “I’m gonna see just how far I can go with this female… I’m gonna tell her to do the craziest, nastiest thing I can think of (hear me, R. Kelly?), and if she does it, I GOT HER MIND! And once I get that mind, thass IT! I can get anything I want! I can get her to do whatever to get money and give it to me. I’m the baddest pimp out there, an’ I’m gonna prove it by buildin’ up the biggest stable out there!”  I know guys who have done this! (I’ve been to college. YOU know it’s true!) I have seen and heard withering things.

A pimp has an ego that is never filled.

I have seen it. I have heard preachers brag to each other about how they “preached ’em under the pews!” They brag about who has the biggest congregation, the most cars, and yes, the most women.

Listen to this;

And this;

This stuff is the equivalent of a guy telling a girl, “Let me (perform all manner of perversion on your body — I cleaned it up).”

I guarantee you these guys were backstage afterward comparing (biceps). They were bragging,“Man did you see how those phones lit up when I quoted Matthew to ’em? They eat that stuff up! I’m telling you, the more predictions you make, the more they love it! At the end if I told ’em that at the ascension, Jesus turned into a crow and flew to the moon to build timeshares, they would have knocked each other down to sign up! They want MONEY, baby, money!! And it takes “money” to get money! My congregation gave me a Rolls Royce Phantom when I told ’em the Trinity was nine people and Adam could fly!”

Pimps! Pimpin’ h&es an’ slammin’ Catlack doe’s*

And rather than fight THAT fight and save SOULS, evangelicals were crying and expressing fear (and bigotry) because their candidate lost. God  lost. Do you know how many evil kings ruled over Israel? My goodness! Sunday, five days after the election, my pastor in an effort to quell growing despair and disrespect, quoted 1 Peter, 2: 13, which basically commands us to respect the authorities placed in charge. I was not allowed even twenty-four hours to enjoy the fact that this country had taken such a great step. It was like wrecking a new car as soon as I drove it off the lot. Regardless who you voted for the fact that America grew to this point deserved more from the Christian Right, who is already tagged with the label of not caring for minorities.

We need to get our priorities in line and do something about those who do ETERNAL harm. GET THIS TRASH OFF TV!!

 

*doors

November 11, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, Benny Hinn, Charlatans, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, Elections, Evangelicals, Evangelism, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Jesus, John McCain, Paul Crouch, Paula White, Politics, Praise-a-thon, Pro-Life, Pulpit Pimps, Race, Religion, Religious Right, Rod Parsley, Steve Munsey, TBN, Televangelists, Word of Faith | 50 Comments

Caught Between Iraq and a Hard Place…

Just as I began to berate the Republicans for “enabling” racism, the word came that noted militant, arrogant atheist, Christopher Hitchens has endorsed Obama, ridiculing Palin for her Christianity!

I’ve always said that I can’t fully embrace the GOP because they give “aid and comfort” to racists. And Hitchens’ endorsement reminds me that the Democrats also provide God-haters a soft spot to land.

I have many, many problems with Palin, but her professed faith is not one.

October 14, 2008 Posted by | Atheism, Barack Obama, Christianity, Christopher Hitchens, Conservatism, Conservatives, Current Events, Democrats, Elections, God, John McCain, Politicians, Politics, Republicans, Sarah Palin | 3 Comments

If I ever get caught in a hurricane, my name is Freddie A.I.G. Mac! Bail me OUT!

  

“Are you poor, helpless or destitute? Are you of  dubious descent? Are you in trouble as a result of bad choices or fate? Bail yourself out. The government is not for that kind of thing.”

 

“We are for small government. Help yourself. Get a job, quit being so lazy! If you are sick and can’t pay, TOO BAD!! Only the Strong (read: Privileged) survive. It is not our job to help you and throw hard earned taxpayers’ money at you.

“But, as sure as Freddie is a Mack, Fanny may! If you have lobbied to have less government oversight and subsequently taken advantage of the ignorance of the weak… If you have thereby caused the biggest financial crisis in eighty years…  If you have bet the farm and lost billions for investors while enriching yourselves… Well, have we got a DEEEEAL for YOU!!! 

 “Are you in the wonderfully crooked Insurance Industry, taking the monthly payments of millions, STILL charging them unattainable deductibles and raising the rates, and trying every dirty trick imaginable to get out of paying up? Here’s what we’ll do for YOU and ONLY you: We will get seven hundred, yes, seven HUNDRED billion with a “B” dollars and BAIL YOU OUT!!

“Hold on… China is on the other line…”

  

   

OHHHH. Now, I get it. I was wondering which “government programs” were cool. Yeah, it is vital that we save the valuable companies. Were they to fail, we would face untold calamity.

But we can let poor, lazy, inherently violent, drug addicted, ghetto minorities go under. We can just build more jails and cemeteries (separate ones!) and house them rather than improve public education, even though that is far cheaper and more Christian. We can let them all kill each other in their own communities. That won’t affect us. We bail out companies, but those rotting in flood waters have to bail themSELVES out. With rusty buckets.

We just should not have to have our taxes go to helping people we don’t even like. NO. Let’s take a TRILLION DOLLARS(!) and help our own kind. God Bless America.

Pay now, or pay later, but we ALL pay. 
 What follows is what is increasingly becoming one of the VALUES by which I vote: 

Matthew 25:31 “When32 the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 25:32 All33 the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 25:33 He34 will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 25:34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 25:36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 25:37 Then the righteous will answer him,35 ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 25:38 When36 did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? 25:39 When37 did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 25:40 And the king will answer them,38 ‘I tell you the truth,39 just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters40 of mine, you did it for me.’

25:41 “Then he will say41 to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! 25:42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. 25:43 I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 25:44 Then they too will answer,42 ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?’ 25:45 Then he will answer them,43 ‘I tell you the truth,44 just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ 25:46 And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Strong stuff!

September 24, 2008 Posted by | AIG, Bailouts, Bible, Christian Life, Christianity, Conservatism, Conservatives, Fanny Mae, Freddie Mac, Hurricane Katrina, Hypocrisy, Mortgage Crisis | 19 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

What They Taught Me

Boys love their fathers. I am no exception. No one loves his father more than I love mine.

But my mother is equally as excellent in my eyes. They taught me so much — they still do — and now that I am a parent, I want to be the same thing and show the same things to mine.

I know that in this age, it is not as vogue or common to have parents or be parents. If that is you, feel free to change the trend and use my example. There are many more, but these are the ones I can recall.

1 Tough it out. My folks never quit anything. They got up and went to work well or sick every day. I didn’t miss more than a dozen days of school in twelve years.

2 “Don’t let nobody hit you and you not hit ’em back!” My MOTHER told me that before my father got the chance to! Life doesn’t put up with cowards.

3 “Burn the midnight oil.” Ma drilled this into my head. And I saw her raise four kids five and a half years apart from top to bottom while teaching school in the daytime, night school at night, and getting her Master’s degree!

4 Share. Daddy was tight with his Tang (remember Tang?), but to this day, I can’t say, “Ma! That waffle iron is great!” without her trying to give it to me! And when I needed eye surgery in my late twenties and didn’t have the money (I was just starting out as a road musician), my pop paid for it out of his pocket.

5 Know how to fix stuff. My daddy showed me how to work with tools, fix faucets and change alternators. Even though he didn’t have a father to show HIM.

6 Don’t procrastinate. My mother would scold me to death on those perpetual Sunday nights as I wrote my term papers and handed the pages to her to type at three and four in the morning.

7 Be helpful. Be willing to give until it hurts.See number six.

8 Don’t ever hit a girl. I had three big-mouthed sisters. I failed at times, but I got it before it became crucial.

9 Know the answers. My folks stressed education. Bad grades were met with pain, and later with disappointment.

10 Sit up front and shut up unless you have a question. “I’m sendin’ you to school to learn, not to be no clown!” The night before my first day of school.

11 Read. Read everything.

12 Do YOUR job. No matter if no one is looking. Don’t let the next man have to carry your load. Got that from Ma.

13 The worst thing in the world is a thief, and a liar is the second. Ma.

14 Don’t kiss behinds. (I cleaned that one up) Yep. Ma.

15 Family sticks together. If your family member is in a fight, I don’t care if he’s winnin’, you pick up the biggest stick you can find a knock the…Nosy neighbor, Mrs. Burrell to my mother: “Allie, high come I jus’ saw yo’ kids walkin’ up tha street carr’n sticks an’ thangs’?”  I was in a fight up the street.

16 Stay married. No matter what. December 23, 1963 and counting…

17 Don’t argue in front of the kids. Don’t yell. They never did.

18 Don’t be weak. Don’t show fear.

19 Speak up! I still hear my father saying this in my ear!

20 If something’s on your mind, get it off. And be through with it. I get this from my mother. It kills Kathy, but she knows it is a good thing.

21 Nobody’s better than you. But treat them like they are.

22 Don’t half-do a job. (Cleaned that one up, too.)

23 God knows your max. “The Lord doesn’t put more on us than we can bear.” Ma says this to me every time something bad happens. I can’t stand to hear it, but I know she is right.

24 Choose wisely. There was a family that lived on the corner when I was a kid. The husband was always beating his wife up. He would beat her, she would leave him, and every time, she would return. He shot her. She left him, and returned. I remember overhearing the grown folk saying that he was going to kill her one day.

One summer day — I was watching my sisters since my folks were at work on their summer jobs — I was outside on the driveway when I saw the oldest daughter, Cynthia, run out of the house in her night clothes shouting, “He killin’ her! He killin’ her!” She ran across the street to her best friend, Bridget’s house.

Sure enough, there he was, in the living room (the front door was open) stabbing her to death. I was about eleven. I saw it happen. When the police came and got him — he didn’t try to run — he had on white painter’s overalls that were now more red than white.

When my folks got home, my father sat us all down and told us to choose our mates and our friends wisely or else the same thing could happen to us. It’s a cold, hard world.

25 Be loyal, even if they are not. My folks seem to go to a funeral a month now. And when my mother’s rather, I’ll say… “elitist” co-worker got sick, my mother went and served her like a slave, only to have her continue to treat Mom like she was less-than. Ma was confident that SHE did the right thing.

26 Don’t raise brats. My father saw a young child acting bratty and resolved to not let that be the way his kids would act! I can’t stand a brat!!

27 Dance. Be social. If you’re shy, fake it.

28 Don’t let an unlearned lesson come around and hit you in the back of the head. Learn from the past. My mother was abused as a child. She vowed not to treat her children that way, even though that is how the pattern regenerates itself.

29 Fat meat is greazy! Ask your black friends.

30 If you’re gonna fight, don’t talk about it. Do it. In my ninth grade summer, my sisters and I were made to walk, every day, to the park that my father oversaw as his summer job. It was in the serious hood! Kids from all around went there in order to stay out of trouble. My sisters and I were Fauntleroys compared to these kids! It was ROUGH!

In me, they smelled raw meat! I was bullied every day in front of my own father. Being who he was, he must have been thoroughly ashamed of me. It wasn’t that I was scared, I just hated to fight. One kid in particular, Tyrone (his name WOULD be Tyrone, hunh?), made it his mission to build a reputation off of me.

Nothing he did got me to fight. (He never hit me) One day, though, my baby sister was riding a skateboard down a steep hill, and purely to provoke me, he pushed Kim off the board.

Every kid in the park ran up the hill to tell me what happened and to see the fight they knew was coming.

My pops, whose JOB was to keep order, leaned calmly on the monkey bars and watched…

“Yeah, I did it!” Tyrone proudly proclaimed. This was it. Everybody was looking, and I was nearly blind with rage. I put up my guard as daddy had shown me years ago.

Tyrone started swaying confidently, back and forth. “You ain’ gone do nuthin’, punk,” smiling.

Left hook — POW! The world seemed to stop. Tyrone was in the dirt, getting up.

Left hook — POW! He went down again, rubbing his right jaw and blinking back tears. He got up slower this time. He wouldn’t swing. He just stood there with his hands up.

From behind me, I heard a familiar adult voice, “HIT him again! H*ll, HIT him. If you gone fight da**it FIGHT!” His exact words. I turned and looked at my father, the keeper of the peace, urging me on to beat this kid up. “Aw, h*ll! He waved his hand and walked away in disgust.

My heart wasn’t in it, and Tyrone’s heart was in my pocket. It was over. I had won, and hadn’t even taken a lick! I heard the kids who had taunted me all summer consoling Tyrone, ” Man, he didn’t even wanna fight you.”

I thought they would hate me, but they didn’t.

Talking to my father years later revealed that he, in all his ruthlessness, wanted me to beat the brakes off that kid to make up for all that stuff I took all summer. He was proud of me, though.

I had learned: Keep your mouth shut, and don’t put your dukes up until you know you gotta fight. And those who do the most talking often have to eat the most words.

31 Protect your home. I was never more secure than when at home because I knew Daddy was the baddest beast in the forest.

32 Work hard. Don’t make yourself look bad.

33 “Keep your name clean like it was when you got it!” Ma PREACHED that!

34 Don’t bring home no dumb girls. First thing they ever told me about girls.

34 Show love. That’s all they did, and all I try to do.

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Adage, Advice, Boys, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Kids, Life, Life Lessons, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents, Proverbs, Quips | 4 Comments

…On the Other Hand…

“Sarah Palin doesn’t reflect the views of most women! She is not in favor of abortions even in the case of rape or incest!” (Most Democrats on many cable news shows)

I ask, “How is this a bad thing?” These women act as though it is traitorous to womanhood to not believe in killing a baby! Let me ax you this: “If YOU  were in the womb as a result of a rape or incestuous act, would YOU want someone to stab you in the back of your skull and suck your brains out?  Or would you want to live?” (Hospitals are so full, doctors are so rich, because people — fetuses, too — want to LIVE! That is the default position.)

Wouldn’t YOU, as the viable fetus, want the CHOICE(!) to decide for yourself?”
Pregnancy may be about the woman, but abortion is about the baby. It is about the BABY.

I know it may look as though I’m contradicting myself, but I’m not. I’m with Palin on this one. If we were picking a President based on the issue of abortion solely, I would surely side with her.

Democrats don’t endear me with this kind of argument. Neither do they when they say, as they so often do, that, “She has some awfully extreme views, like Creationism…”

Whoaaa! Hold it! It is far more plausible — and provable — that somebody created something, than to say that something created itSELF! 

They kill me acting as though their extreme, radical views on life and God are shared by everyone — at least everyone rational.

Once again, if we were choosing Presidents based on how the world was made, I would be a Republican. But to choose that party would be like trying to eat ice cream after it had been dropped in a sandbox!

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Christianity, Conservatives, Creationism, Democrats, evolution, God, Liberals, Politicians, Politics, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Religion, Religious Right, Republicans, Sarah Palin | 67 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

I’ll Just Stay on the Couch.

My pop called me yesterday and told me that NBC (msnbc) had demoted Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann for, I guess, inordinately biased commentary during coverage of the Republican National Convention. They did this at the urging of the GOP. Wow.

So, Republican officials are so bothered by partisan coverage that they go to the trouble to (and have the power to) have the two top msnbc anchors publically embarrassed in this fashion?

I don’t deny that they are, in many cases over there, in the tank for the Democrats — and Obama in particular. The aforementioned, as well as Rachel Maddow, David Gregory, and many of the guest pundits, don’t hide their leanings.

But my point is this:

FOX News does the same thing! Hannity, O’Reilly, Brit Hume, FOX and Friends, and practically all their guests don’t just lean TO  the right, they lean ON it. Heavily. In fact, Hannity has basically said that it was his job to make sure McCain gets elected. In order to get a real picture of how the race is really going, you have to do your own homework and look at all of it.

I have a point of view. YOU have one, too. Being on teevee doesn’t excuse one from being human, it seems.

For me to join a party — either one — means that I have to swallow a lot of stuff I wouldn’t eat at gunpoint. To call myself a Democrat, I would have to be cool with folk like Maddow and Maher ridiculing me for my hard and fast stances on Creationism, God, gay marriage, and abortion. I would have to deny the very existence of “sin” and play ball on a team populated by atheists, anarchists, feminists, and folk who have no moral compass whatsoever.

To call myself a Republican, I would have to be at ease riding on a bandwagon alongside people like this. And with people who live on my very own street who drive by me while I work in my own yard and stare at me as though I am made of the stuff I am spreading on the grass! To call myself a Republican, I would have to align myself with many people who would claim to serve God while harboring hatred in their hearts for anyone of a culture or ethnicity different than theirs. I would, generally speaking, have to be like the Jesse Lee Petersons, Ken Hamblins, and Larry Elders of the world and act as though racism is either non-existent, or entirely black folks’ fault. I would have to look the other way when they do things to people that I find heartless and un-Jesuslike.

 Yesterday’s move crystallizes the problem I have with those in power on the Right. They spent months decrying Obama’s lack of experience, and in a purely — transparently — political move, selected a very nice lady with five children and conservative views who had presidential qualifications slightly better than my high school guidance counselor! And just as they tried to make me think that stuff running down my back was rain (Iraq being part of the search for 9/11 justice), they tried — with astonishing, dismaying success — to tell us that Mrs. Palin was the absolute best choice to very possibly be President. I like her. I really do. But I like my mama, too, and she ain’t qualified to run this country!

The thing is, when black folk down the line have been up for high-profile positions, the first and last thing brought into question was their qualification. We have had to jump through a million hoops (even to the point of having to take tests in order to vote!), to become coaches, general managers, business owners, college students, and doctors.

You can say whatever you want about whether Obama has the right political positions as far as taxes, abortion, homeland security, or health care, but you can’t argue (convincingly) that the man isn’t qualified through his education and public service history to be President.

No one was talking about “Executive Experience” until Palin got selected.  Republicans say it so much that they forget that McCain himself  has none. By that reasoning, Palin should be running for the head job!

Another thing: I am 6′ 3″ tall, and over 240 lbs. All my adult life, I have had to play the role of “Mr. Nice Guy” in order to put white folks at ease. Black folk are generally not intimidated by size. When I go into a store, or into a business situation, unless I am in a hostile environment, I make an effort, mostly unconsciously, to not be mean-looking. I don’t want to perpetuate any stereotypes.

Obama has had to run as well as he has without resorting to the same tactics Hillary and McCain used against him. He has the added burden of being tagged with the “Angry Man” label. Michelle, his wife, has likewise been hit with the “Sassy Black Woman” tag. While both sides use ads that exaggerate the position of the other, there has been that extra little bit of spice in the GOP spots.

And the convention was filled with the kind of divisive rhetoric that makes a lot of people like me not really feel welcome at the party. I know this was just fine with some on the convention floor…

I’m sorry. When I close my eyes and think, “Republican,” (not “conservative”) I see “Sean Hannity” with his “Great Americans” and his leading questions designed only to corner and squash his opponent. I see Karl Rove — who should be in jail — Ollie North — who should be in jail — and that racist Mark Fuhrman — who shou — you know what I mean. How do they always end up as guests on FOX?

The Democrats had their share of ad hominem stuff, too, but as objectively as I tried to be, it seemed that the Republicans shoved the knife in deeper. I want people to deal with the issues, not see who can make the snidest, cleverest remark. Especially when one side cries “foul” and has people on the other side fired for trying to play by the same crooked rules! And they call the Democrat thin-skinned.

The extreme jingoism, masked as patriotism, was unsettling to me. “DRILL, BABY, DRILL!!!!” “USA! USA! USA” “GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!” (and NOplace else) They claimed Obama had a Messiah complex, but it suuure looked like there was some flag-worship/monument-idolatry going on in Minnesota. And what was up with the 9/11 video in the background?  Would a Democrat have been able to use that footage as a badge of honor in that fashion? Rhetorical. Don’t answer.

It was all “win at any cost.”Why else would the party of traditionalists and evangelicals who think that a woman’s place is best in the home raising her kids choose a woman with a whole slew of young-uns and the busiest job in her state? For the first time in history? When the other side had millions of angry, disenfranchised women with nowhere to go? That was a brilliant, slick move. And it is working. I don’t fault you for supporting her. But if Obama had a degree in journalism and mayored a town of five thousand, he wouldn’t have made it past Iowa! Can you say “flip-flop?”  Maybe if he pronounced his name, “O-Bamma” like Alabama…

It is as though there are two separate countries at war with one another to decide who will get to exercise power. It really saddens me.

Yes, Olbermann makes me cringe. But Hannity makes me want to fight!

The point is that to get into bed with either party means compromising certain of my “Essential Issues.”

So, rather than do that, I’ll just stay on the couch.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Barack Obama, Christian Life, Christianity, Conservatives, Democrats, FOX News, Hillary Clinton, Hypocrisy, Jesse Lee Peterson, John McCain, Larry Elder, Liberals, McCain, Obama, Politicians, Politics, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Race, Racism, Rant, Religion, Republican Convention, Republicans, RNC, Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity | 5 Comments

Forgive Us Our Trusspasses…

Kathy had to sing at a wedding this past weekend.

At the rehearsal Friday, the bride-to-be informed her that the woman who was to sing The Lord’s Prayer ghosted her, and she — right then — begged Kathy to sing it.

Having grown up COGIC, she said that they never “sang” the song, that they only recited it in prose form (Amelodically, if you will). She came home and told me this, and my heart went out to her. I HATE doing weddings! I have played a bunch of them, and have seen my share of calamitous mishaps.

Like the time I did a wedding with my best friend, Kevin, who sings

The building had three walls of brick and a fourth one of glass. Thirty feet high and probably a hundred feet long. Of course the wedding party would make use of that wonderful view of nature as a backdrop. They were all set up in front of the window.

Everything went smoothly right up until the preacher began doing the vows.

There were, on this late spring day, trees right outside full of birds chirping and singing. Something must have startled them.

In one synchronous move — you know how birds do — they all took flight. It was at a very quiet and solemn point in the service (maybe somebody was praying…).

At the very moment when they would have slammed into the window, all the birds veered right.

All but one.

Now, Kevin and I should have been deep in prayer, I’m sure, but we weren’t.

One near-sighted bird missed his turn and hit that window like an open hand —SPLAPPA! — and, just like a cartoon, slid down about twenty feet to the ground. It was very quiet in there.

My boy and I were THROUGH! He sniggled and tried to catch it but didn’t. I think some snot came out a little bit. I held my breath and started praying myself like somebody had sprinkled some anthrax in the room. People started looking at us. Glaring at us. “Silly musicians.”

In order to play it off, at times like these I always start fiddling with my mouthpiece, or my reed, or something to distract me from all the laughter that is dammed up inside my mouth. It was cool in there, but I was sweating and thinking that if I closed my eyes no one could see me.

There was another time where this arrogant lady singer who thought she knew it all and didn’t bother to show up for the wedding rehearsal, and she waved off any pre-ceremony run-through with the piano player. As a matter of fact, she said haughtily that she would be doing the tune a capello. When it all got going, she got lost, and with her hand at her side, waved for the piano player to start playing. He flipped through the wedding program, and acted like he didn’t even see her!
When she got through dropping that stinkbomb, you could have heard folks thinking up in there it was so quiet!

So, back to Kathy…

I had a gig and couldn’t be there as intended, but I couldn’t stand the thought of my girl up there laying eggs and getting laughed at. So we spent hours trying to get that melody ingrained in her head. I found some clips of people on YouTube singing it. Some were good, some were… not. But we found two that were good enough to give her the gist.

She sang it, and sang it, and sang it. And Max started to pick it up, too. Kathy kept running through it after I left for my Friday night gig, but by the time I got home at about 2 AM, she groggily told me that the melody just didn’t sink in. I sang it with her, and she did fine, but when left on her own, she was sort of all over the place.

I was feeling bad, but I told her that since I had prayed for her, she would do fine. The Lord didn’t want her to be up there messing up the song He wrote!

I had an idea! I would write the words on paper, and put lines above each syllable to indicate whether to go up or down, or to stay on the same note as the one before. Like such:

We tried that for a while, but as she doesn’t read music, and the lines above the words didn’t tell her what notes to sing, it didn’t work. And she was now falling asleep.

I had one final epiphany: I went into the living room and got my old micro-cassette recorder (which I still use to write horn lines), re-wound the tape to the beginning, and sang the song in a key in which I thought she would be comfortable. I went and woke her up and gave her my plan knowing she wouldn’t go for it. It was too risky.

The wedding started. Kathy was in the back left side of the room by the DJ table. When her turn to sing came, she took her ipod earphones, stuck one in her left ear under her hair, away from the crowd (She could do this because their backs were turned until she got going.), she ran the cord down the side of her dress somehow, and plugged it into the mini recorder which she held behind her back, looking all formal and stuff! She pushed play.

“Baby! We sang that song!!” she told me on the phone afterward.

“We? Who else sang it wit you?”

“YOU!! I said ‘we’! I hit that button, and we rocked it! You got a little ahead o’ me at one part, but I just waited till you paused, and I caught up wit ya!”

She was so happy. And so was I. I couldn’t let my baby fall.

Yeah, she cheated. WE cheated, but I can’t help but think that the Lord was leaning on the windowsill chuckling at His kids.

September 3, 2008 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Embarrassing Situations, God, Humor, Life, Marriage, Music, Singing, The Lord's Prayer, Wedding Songs, Weddings, YouTube | , , , , | 6 Comments

This’ll Be Funny in a Few Years

I’ve been quite busy since Diana got here. (When she starts doing stuff, I’ll be writing about it. She’s just lying there being cute right now.) I haven’t had the freedom to write a frequently as before.

I want to tell you about what has been going on musically lately. Aside from the fact that I have NO movement on my record and starting my band.

I’ve been playing in a band called KW’EST, headed by bassist, Charles Johnson, which plays jazz (fusion) with a Christian focus. This is a different group than the one I gripe about.

We played a gig this past Sunday night that we do at the same place on the third Sunday of every month. The last date was interesting because of everything that went on surrounding it.

When Diana was born, I pretty much did all the nighttime stuff (and much of the daytime stuff, too) because Kathy was recovering from a c-section. Being a night owl made it a little bit easier until the weekends came and I had to work. Most of my work starts on Fridays, but occasionally there is work during the week, too. Plus, there are always some rehearsals and sessions that come up… Sunday mornings were especially rough because I play in the band there, and we have to be there at 8 AM and play both services. We are usually through at about 12:30. I got NO sleep on Saturday nights (not one minute!) because Diana required a lot through the night. She was not happy with being out of the womb! And the foreclosure crisis and astronomical gas prices had her so upset that she could not sleep.

I dealt with this arrangement knowing it would be only a few months before she began to sleep through the night. So on Sundays, I would usually get three or four hours when we all went to my parents’ house for dinner.

When Kathy was set to return to work, however, her shift was changed (this is one of the many dastardly aspects to her job!) yet again. Now, she has to get up at 4:45 AM(!), and so she has to go to bed soon after we really get rolling with family stuff at the house. Our agreement with taking care of Max was that she would do the nighttime stuff, and I would do all the daytime stuff.

Being a person who has always — since childhood — stayed up past two or three in the morning, I had to try to adjust. I have failed. I routinely stay up till past 4 AM against my own will. Obviously, though, my work schedule makes it logical that I watch Max during the day.

“What does this all have to do with music?” you ask. Bear with me.

I quietly made the decision that I would put Max to bed when the time came (he sleeps later than the norm so that I can.), and that I would care for Diana too so that Kathy could get some sleep. She routinely gets about four or five hours.

So, that being the case, I get two or three hours a night on average.

About four months ago, Kw’est booked a recurring gig, and I received three or four cd’s full of music, 95% of which I had to lead. Max won’t let me practice. He tries to climb into my lap every time I pull my horn out, and he pushes and pulls on the keys (and scrunches me in the scrotum, dads) to the point that I can’t get anything done. So when can I learn this catalog of tunes that I have never heard before?

So, to the present. Last weekend ( August 15-16) my family had a reunion in Nashville three hours away.

When my folks — and wife — asked me about going, I said that I would go if I didn’t have a gig. I don’t miss work. I got that from my parents. The band, A-440, in which I regularly (seldomly, lately) play usually has a lot of weddings and private functions this time of the year, and I wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t miss one.

As time passed, though, I thought about all the family functions I had missed over the years, and how many of my beloved relatives I had not seen in so many years, and I decided that we would go. I wanted them all to meet my kids, too. I would just have to miss whatever gig came up. So I thought…

Actually, what happened was that three weeks ago someone called me about doing a job, and I said, “I don’t know. I heard we are workin’ that night. Let me call you back in an hour to see if we are.”

I found out that I couldn’t reach the boss because he was on vacation with his family.

When Kathy heard THAT, she flew off the tracks while she was chopping onions; “Awww, so HE gits to go on a vacation with HIS family while his band is sittin’ at the house, huh?!? Y’all ain’t hardly worked all summer, and he’s been constantly workin’ wit everybody! (that was true) You sittin’ around here talkin’ about you not gonna go see your family that you ain’t seen in years, and you gittin’ ready to turn down some work bein’ laid in yo’ lap cause you got integrity! ‘Cause you tryin’ to keep yo’ word!”

“Well, I jus…”

“You betta call him back and tell him you’ll do that gig!!” And that was that on that!

My bandleader is what we black folk call, “triflin’ ” when it comes to handling the business. A-440, I mean. We would routinely not find out about a gig until the day before. And that was if WE called to inquire! Not to mention allll the other stuff that frustrates the “goodness” out of me.

So I decided then to go to Nashville on Friday and return Sunday, the 17th, to make church. I knew I would be tired, but by now, I was used to it. I could get a couple of hours Sunday afternoon before my Sunday night gig with Kw’est. Or so I thought…

Thursday, Kathy and I realized that due to some “financial mishaps” we were waaay short on some bills that were due to be removed from our account on Friday, the 15th.

“I can’t go to the reunion, ” I told Kathy. She refused to go without me. Okay, so now, we aren’t going. I would not get to see cousins I played with as a child. I would not get to see the uncles and aunts who love me so much and whom I love so much in return. This was my knee jerk reaction. After a couple of minutes of thinking, I called the bandleader. Now, by this time I had already told him that I would not be able to do the Saturday night date.

“Hey, John, this is Derrick. You find anybody to sub for me Saturday yet?” I asked.

“Naw. I got some possibilities, but they ain’t called me back yet.”

“Well, call ’em back. I can’t afford to miss Saturday, so I ain’t goin’ to the reunion.” Now, here, I expected a sympathetic reaction something like, “You ain’t goin?!? Aw, man, I hate to hear that. Thass my bad! I know we ain’t been workin’ that much, but I’m gonna do better…”

What I got was: “Aw. Thass cool! I had called Alan, but he didn’t answer the phone. I’ll call him back and tell him ‘thass okay’.” No regret at all in his voice.

“What time does it start,” I asked.

“8:30 at the Germantown Country Club.”

“Cool. I’ll see you then.” I hung up.

When I told Kathy how the conversation went, she made the “Sister Mouth” and said, “Um” skeptically in the back of her throat and left it at that. (Ask your black friend.)

Upon further thought, and council with the Holy Spirit, I decided we would go to the reunion and just leave at about 4:30 in the afternoon. Which was right when everything was getting going good, it turns out.

I made arrangements to get some money till the weekend was over.

So, I was up all night Thursday night to make sure Diana got fed at about four, which I do every night, and Kathy went to work Friday morning. I got about two or three hours of sleep before Max woke up, and when Kathy got home, we packed and left.

I drove through the rain (I got sleepy about thirty minutes in), and we arrived at about ten. We fellowshipped with family, checked into the hotel, and I got to sleep sometime after 1 AM. I thought I would finally get eight hours of sleep. I thought…

Diana, used to that 4 or so AM feeding woke up angrily at five griping about all the negative campaign ads airing on TV. She, being so dependent on outside help, is a Democrat right now.

So after getting four hours of sleep, I wasn’t able to fall back.

I felt like I was going to have a breakdown. We went to the picnic, and as I said, right when everyone was getting settled in for a day (and night) of fun, I packed up my dejected wife and crying son and drove the three hours back to Memphis to do a gig at a place I hate with a band I don’t enjoy for some money which I shouldn’t need but do.

The gig was over at 12:30 Sunday morning, and I had to go buy diapers afterward because both kids were out of them. I got home at about 1:30, and had to at least listen to the material for church Sunday morning and the gig Sunday night, practically every song of which I had to lead. When did I have time to learn these songs? When did I get to sleep? Well, at least I would get a couple of hours after church, right?

On the way home, I got a text message from Charles, the Kw’est bandleader, stating that since the band wasn’t able to rehearse Saturday (I was excused from that one), we would have to rehearse at 2 o’clock Sunday afternoon! No excuses.

Okay. At least I would be able to come back home and get something to eat and maybe lie down for an hour. So I thought.

The saxophone is the quietest instrument in the band, relying on the vibration of a three inch reed to produce the sound. Everything else is amplified electrically except the drums, which are loud enough by themselves. So, in order to be heard in a group setting, I need a microphone!

When we got to the rehearsal, which was at the venue at which we were playing, there was no sound man, so while everyone else had their own amps, I had to resort to simply blowing harder in order to be heard. The drummer asked me to turn and face him because he still couldn’t hear me.

One keyboard player — we have two in the band — neglected to show up till over two hours later. (When I called him at 3:40 to see whee he was, he was at home asleep!) Two problems; HE was the one who needed the most work, AND the rehearsal was supposed to only last for two freekin’ hours!!! Rehearsing during soundcheck is a professional no-no.

We ended up having to run over everything we had already done when he got there, and it ended up being a four hour rehearsal for a three hour gig!

And I didn’t get to go back home. No food. No sleep. And I haven’t slept for almost five months. And I have already played two church services, and a four hour rehearsal with no microphone. My mouth is SHOT! (imagine squatting for four straight ours…) And I have to be up front entertaining people, playing unfamiliar material confidently and alertly. But “The show must go on.” No excuses.

Oh, yeah, and the person after whom I have patterned my entire professional life is going to be there. And my tank is empty. Here is my chance to have Kirk see me in the environment I claim to be born for, and I have been sapped of all my mental and physical strength. And HE is the one I remember saying that to get that big shot is to be prepared at all times. I wasn’t hoping that he would sign me or anything like that. I just wanted him to know that I was ready. And I wasn’t. And no excuse was sufficient. People spent their money on a product, and they don’t want to hear, “Oh, the food isn’t as good because the cook is sick.”

I couldn’t even remember the horn line to, “What You Won’t Do For Love,” which I’ve been playing for fifteen years! My brain was fried. I felt that I had let myself and the band and the audience down. And the sound man was taping the show! I kept thinking that I surely didn’t want to hear that monstrosity.

Kirk (Whalum) sat in with us and played the paint off the walls! He was great. My parents, sisters, and church members were there in force, and they loved everything. I remember praying to God during one song that He get me through this night because I couldn’t hold myself up. I think He carried me.

The one thing about playing music is that when the audience is caught up in the moment, they can sometimes see the colors but can miss the lines that separate them. Ask Simon Cowell. Listening to a recording can often tell a different story.

The sound man forgot to tape the show! Look at God!

There is no overarching moral here. I just wanted to write about my weekend. But I DO know that God lets adversity occur in order to tone up the muscles. And I don’t mind that. I’m getting pretty strong in my soul bone lately!

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Children, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Humor, Life, Music, Parenthood, Playing Music, Work, Writing | 6 Comments

O’Reilly and Darwin — of Like Mind*

The conservative ideal of self-reliance is, oddly, out of line with the Christian idea of helping those less fortunate and IN line with the evolutionary tenet of the survival of the fittest!

Bill O’Reilly himself said, with derision, that being a liberal means using government programs to “level the playing field.” WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?!?  Who doesn’t want a level playing field? And why not?

This is the definition of a paradox.

God said for us to cast our cares on HIM. He said that HE would make straight that which was crooked.

The Israelites out of Egypt received the ultimate affirmative action! They were allowed to pillage the government and take whatever they wanted! For 400 years of oppression and horror they got more than a level playing field. God Himself was their constant defense and provision. He had to MAKE Pharaoh do what he had consistently shown he would never do on his own.

How about this; Jesus, the King of Kings, (Isaiah, 9:6) embodied affirmative action for us all! We who were lost at the starting gate (Adam), and losing the race from that day till Zero A.D. were allowed to catch up because of a Supernatural quota system that took a “Chosen People” and moved them to the front of the line of eternity.

We elect, who are just as wretched as anyone else, will be separated from those who have ephemerally reveled in the wealth of excess and given that which we did not toil to get. All based on the recognition that without a Hand UP  we could never, ever get what we should have had because sin would never of its own will give up its advantage.

This is the thing that makes me part ways with the conservative movement. The other stuff is cool, but a person who claims to be “Evangelical” yet ignores the obvious fact that some people have had the path swept clear for them while other people don’t even have a butter knife to clear the jungle obscuring theirs leaves me skeptical.

Hey, I’m just saying… Since the Religious Right, Evangelicals, seem to be in a three-legged race with the Republican Party… It looks like there is a whole half of the Christian message that has been overlooked.

And don’t blast me with a bunch of racist stuff! I just noticed the fact because I saw it in the actual BIBLE!

 

*No, I am not a liberal.

July 28, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, Bill O'Reilly, Christian Life, Christianity, Civil Rights, Conservatives, God, Hypocrisy, Jesus, Justification, Racism, Republicans, Sean Hannity | 17 Comments

Ruth for the Ruth Less

We’ve been going thru the book of Ruth at church (http://fellowshipmemphis.org/index.htm). One character is named ”Orpah,” and I believe that she is the namesake of our teevee icon Guru Oprah.

While listening to the sermon, I was struck by another parallel:
In the opening chapter, Orpah and Ruth, being recently widowed, propose to leave their pagan homeland and go to Judah with their likewise widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. Shortly into their journey, Naomi stopped and insisted that the two younger women go back to their own familiar land and let Naomi proceed to Judah and suffer alone. It was rough for unmarried women back then. Really rough.

You know the story: Ruth refused to abandon her while Orpah decided to do what was prudent in her own eyes and return to her native land of Moab. Orpah went “back to her people and her gods.” (Ruth 1:15) Who knows to what Godless debauchery she returned.

It seems that Oprah Winfrey has done the same thing as her near-namesake. Rather than proceed down that Singular, hazard-laden path of righteousness, she has appealed to her own intellect and sense of what is proper and led an opulent pagan life where god is all and in all. She appeared to walk the trail for part of the way, but when pressed, she turned back. She has, through what seems logical to her, concluded that there are many ways to get to “what YOU call god.” Oprah has, I’m sure, at some point heard the Gospel. But she instead chose to live a lifestyle that on the outside appears beautiful, with the cocker spaniels, the flower-print throw pillows, the country estates, and the flourishing business. “Surely all this must be of God, right?” (The devil’s distractions shine like diamonds! How else would he ensnare so many?)

Oprah has simultaneously demonstrated that it is, to her, more prudent to shack rather than marry. And to admonish others to do so as well. She has advocated single motherhood. She props up whatever guru-du-jour — Eckhart Tolle, Rhonda Byrne, Gary Zukav, etc. — to advance her own intellectual idea that anyone who claims to be god is God and that Truth is the individual possession of whoever sincerely believes something. Lately she has amped up her efforts in this area in her “Course in Miracles.”

 And any God who says it is wrong is the only God who is not God!

I know it may sound like I don’t like Oprah ( I think she has damaged men, though), I actually do. But as the point of our Ruth series is “Hope for the Hopeless,” there is for Oprah and anyone swayed by her teachings hope yet.

I just thought the parallel was interesting…

July 16, 2008 Posted by | A Course in Miracles, Christian Life, Christianity, Eckhart Tolle, False Teachers, Marriage, Monotheism, Oprah, Oprah Winfrey, Pantheism, Ruth, Salvation, The Secret | Leave a comment

In Fidelity

You can’t fix an old car by driving another one.

Work on your own.

July 16, 2008 Posted by | Adage, Advice, Cheating, Christian Life, Christianity, Fidelity, Marriage | 1 Comment

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

Look at You, America!

Medgar Evers. Shot dead in the back in his driveway in front of his family. Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman. Civil rights workers, murdered. Four little black girls. Blown up in a church, for goodness sake. King. Shot in the face. Black women and men, sprayed by fire hoses, chewed by german shepherds, beaten with sticks, spat upon, hanged, burned, castrated, terrorized, cheated, miseducated. All these atrocities and countless more in attempts, mainly, to keep black people from that one central symbol of human, American freedom: The Vote.

The crux of the Civil Rights Movement was the right for black people to vote. Voting was the most direct route to economic fairness, education, and basic human rights, and both sides knew it! That was probably why there were so many trumped-up rules and restrictions. That was why so many black folk, and sympathetic white folk, died premature deaths. Voting is more “America” than that fabled Apple Pie.

I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. And I am not a “Bill O’Reilly Independent,” either. I have true non-negotiable differences with both parties.

I don’t support a woman’s “right” to have an abortion any more than I would be expected to have the “right” to kill my two-month-old daughter sitting next to me. But I also think that there are life-and-death repercussions for systematically leaving whole segments of the population to perpetually, generationally fester and prey on each other. Spiritually speaking, I think there are souls being lost in poverty, gang and drug-infested areas of America, and frankly, God says that loss of the soul is more serious than loss of the body to death.

You think white girls are not getting pregnant, too? Look at the “Girls Gone Wild” phenomenon. Look at Ft. Lauderdale and Cancun during spring break. Come with me to an Ole Miss frat party! I submit that if their conservative daddies were not paying for so many abortions, the white out-of-wedlock-birthrate would look like the black one.

I just don’t think that either party is the “Party of Christ.” Were that so, eight years of George Bush would’ve done something to curb — not advance — gay rights and abortion. Twenty years out of the last twenty-eight of Republican presidency would have decreased some of the moral ills that plague us. Practically speaking, Republicans don’t appear to love God any more than do Democrats…

This is not about for whom I am voting or endorsing. Don’t dismiss me as just another Brother voting for a Brother because he is a Brother. I don’t do that. Besides, we black folk have been voting for white guys for years! We don’t tend to discriminate like that. We get or surgeries from white doctors, we get our teeth pulled by white dentists, we get our loans — when we can — from white bankers, we buy our homes — or rent them — from white realtors, we fly planes piloted by white pilots, and on and on…

We even worship a white Jesus! And we don’t care! (melody: I Dreeeam of Genie…) “I wor- ship Je-sus – with the light – brown – hair…!”

But there is a reason why so may blacks were Brooklyn Dodgers fans. There is a reason why so many black folk moved to Detroit to work in the auto industry back in the day. They gave us a chance. That is the reason why so many blacks vote with the Democrats.

But never did I really think that even democratic white voters, West Virginia notwithstanding, would en masse vote in favor of a black dude with an African name for the highest office in the most powerful nation! I am nonplussed! My wife cried her eyes out as she listened to his ostensible acceptance speech. This was US up there! Our dead sharecropper, housekeeper grandparents. Our lynched great-uncles and stepped-on progenitors.

I am so proud! Michelle Obama was skewered for daring to hint that her American experience was anything but idyllic. But as someone who was — and occasionally is — persecuted for my pigment, I totally understand her perspective. I have never been ashamed to be an American. In fact, when I was in the military and overseas, I was almost overconfident in my Americanness! But black folk see the country from under the stairs. I am overjoyed that America has come this far in this struggle to take an unknown black guy and rocket him past a woman who started this race five feet from the finish line.

I really feel like an American now, like I have a chance, however remote… And if you ave a problem with me just now saying that, I am not bothered. 

I never once thought I could tell my son that he could grow up to one day be President. Now, I can. My folks told me that if I applied myself, I could be a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer. They never told me I could be the President, though. If they did, it rang hollow like knocking on a pressboard dinner table with an aluminum spoon. That ceiling was plaster and concrete! They never thought this day would come. In a way, the nomination is more significant than the general election would be. It speaks of possibilities, of what might be, of living on stars.

When he first got into the race, I was totally dismissive, not believing that this country would ever let a Negro run the show. And then he won the Iowa caucus… I never thought I would see it.

The Republican machine can be treacherous though. Sean Hannity, et al, will not go gently into that good night to be sure!

This nomination definitely does not kill all racism, not even most of it, but it shows that the ship is actually turning.

Hank Hanegraaff, a theologian whom I admire greatly, and from whom I have learned a countless amount, often is known to have said that “the Bible says nothing about race except to run the race.” The problem that I have with what appears to be only lip service to the realities of racial disharmony is that he does not address the fact that we still have to live. We still have to “do life” in this country. How does his statement make those people feel who have had to start from a mile behind the starting line? How does that statement play out in this current predatory lending crisis? How does it work when I have to read racist jokes written by co-workers in a black magazine? What does it do when a racist neighbor confronts my wife?

It is fine to say that when you get to come and go as you please, and play golf at whatever country club you please without stigma, but it does me little good when I have police walk up on me with their hands on their guns because my tags were out.

And the Bible certainly does deal with race! Moses’ own sister was struck with leprosy when she rebuked her brother for marrying a Cushite — a black woman. And Peter, Jesus’ own disciple, was reprimanded by Paul for showing racial prejudice towards non-Jews. So, while Hanegraaff is a kind of mentor to me, his seeming dismissal of racial issues hurts those like me who expect a prominent “evangelical” to echo the heart of God on the practical application of Christians on everyday racial issues.

It makes it look as though “evangelicals” don’t mind us serving the same God as long as we do it from our own neighborhoods, our own churches, and with our own women. Surely this is not the case!

But regardless of the political ramifications, regardless of how this affects potential Supreme Court demographics, how doggone cool is it that people of all hues can truly look past exterior differences and cultural unfamiliarity to nominate someone unlike themselves? THAT is America! That is a glimpse of what this country can truly be! Irrespective of how you see the role of government, how great is it that the most historically oppressed group of people in this country can be finally equal enough to win the nomination of a major party in a cycle when the OTHER major party has so alienated people that it is highly likely that the latter will likely lose power?!?

No, Obama is not someone to whom I would look for Spiritual guidance, but neither was Reagan or Nixon or Clinton or Carter or Bush. Maybe Huckabee, but definitely not Romney or Gore. But we are not electing pastors. We are trying to find someone to competently run this nation’s business. To govern and legislate justly in the best interest of every American, not just the rich, the Spiritual, the privileged.

Race doesn’t determine my politics. But I refuse to be angry that someone who lives life through the same prism that I do has a chance to sit in the Top Chair.

I am exceedingly proud to finally, really, be able to tear up my Three-Fifths of a Man card and step into this full surrogate American humanity.

This is like Joe Louis versus Max Schmeling. Jesse Owens versus Hitler. They run, they fight, for themselves, but for the rest of us, too.

So, gimme five, America! On tha black-hand side! You got soul!

June 4, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Barack Obama, Christian Life, Christianity, Civil Rights, Conservatives, Democrats, Elections, George Bush, God, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Martin Luther King, Obama, Politics, Pro-Life, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans, Sean Hannity, Vote | , | 8 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

Max’s Mother’s Day Sentiment

This is the card Max “wrote”* to Kathy yesterday:

This is Max

*Actually I wrote it (he dictated…) with my off hand. It took almost an HOUR! My hand is still hurting! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 12, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Humor, Kids, Life, Mother's Day, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 2 Comments

Be Married Every Day. Every Day.

Marriage ain’t got a motor! You gotta push it for it to work.

Marriage is like a plant. An indoor plant that needs water every day. You can miss one day, and it’ll be fine. You can miss two days. But if you go a week, the leaves will start to brown around the edges. Before you know it, it’s dead, leaves like corn flakes all over the floor to be divided up by judges and lawyers.

I push my wife. Lovingly. Sometimes it irritates her, I’m sure, but I have seen relationships slowly turn into bland cardboard facsimilies, and I am bound to not let that happen to me! I don’t want to wake up one day and have my wife look at me (or not) like a stranger on an elevator. I tell her how I feel probably hourly. If I don’t say it, I show it. She doesn’t always feel like talking about where we are and what needs to be repaired. Why the Lord would give me someone who is not excessively expressive I don’t know… But I refuse to let her take a day off from being married to me. I won’t let her coast through our relationship.

Some people might call this too much. But I have witnessed too many relationships — of all kind — fizzle and falter because someone thought they were in a comfortable place.

Before I got married I NEVER turned down a gig! Never. That was a commonly-known thing about me. I was single for a long time, but when I got married, Kathy showed me how I needed to take time to do things with her now and then which made me have to miss work. Even though we couldn’t afford it. I realized that little things like going to a movie, or going out of town to visit her family kept the marriage-ball rolling.

I ask her often to tell me how she feels about me, not out of insecurity, but partly to help us both stay aware of who we are to each other. I tell her that we should have periodic, “State of the Marriage” meetings so that we don’t let the moss of discontent build up over time. I have seen what a miserable wife looks like. And I have too many friends and co-workers who think they have it made at the house while their wives are mentally already gone. If mine leaves me, it durn sho* won’t be because I didn’t let her know how I felt. Or that I cheated on her on my gig and somehow rationalized that that was different than being in a relationship!

You can’t fix your leaky roof by shingling somebody else’s!

Over time, the list of wrongs committed can grow long and bitter. At some point we have to just stop.

And start from scratch. Wipe the slate clean and forget about pointed fingers and “you did this, so I did that,” and “you stopped doing this, so I went somewhere else and got that.” We have to go back to square one, forget the hurt and remember the love and the pledge, and just listen.

Pain is a circle with no beginning. There is always a reason for why who did what to whom. The Devil does actually do his job. He wants discord. Those things don’t matter. What matters is restoring a bent and broken relationship. Stop trying to win. The only way you win is to both reach the finish line together.

When I feel a need to bring up something uncomfortable, even though I know it may cause trouble, I do it. I can’t help it. My mother gave me that. I refuse to let a minor irritant grow into poison ivy.

The beauty of this all is that she lets me do this where others have chastised me. Sometimes you have to be the right person to find the right person…

These are things that most of us know. I’m no guru. Far be it from me to give advice with all MY flaws! But even though I make mistakes, I at least know what the answers are.

We know these things, but we just choose not to do them. We’d rather not pick the lock on a closed door than walk through an open one.

 

 *Certainly

April 30, 2008 Posted by | Advice, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Marriage | , | 4 Comments

“He’s Quite Reticulate.”

“I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. Ahhh… I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House. Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.” 

Hillary Clinton.

Why is it that the same people who blast black people for poorly elocuting the English language always seem to give people like Obama, Jesse Jackson, and most black preachers so much faint praise for being “eloquent”? How can both generalities be simultaneously true?

Up until the Iowa caucus, calling someone black “articulate” was thought to be a gauze-covered racist insinuation. (“Wow! Look at that! That monkey can pick a banana from a coconut on demand!”) 

When did being able to artfully arrange words become a weakness? Especially in politics! All politics IS is freekin’ words! (Campaigning anyway…) All any of them do is talk! About what they have done, allegedly did, will do and won’t do! Don’t try to be like Aesop’s fox and act like the grapes are sour just because you can’t reach them!

To the extent that Obama and I share the same race (and gender), I am insulted when I hear this from Clinton. Most of what I do is word-based! Am I to think that deftly using language is a bad thing? Maybe I should just shut up and go get a job at the Post Office. And deliver other peoples’ words…

Regardless of political affiliation this tactic is offensive. It has nothing to do with abortion, Affirmative Action, gay rights, or Christian Rights (hint hint…). Win based on YOUR attributes, not by misrepresenting the strong points of your opponent! 

April 25, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, Barack Obama, Christianity, Conservatives, Hillary Clinton, Liberals, Martin Luther King, Politics, Race, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans, Words | Leave a comment

A Porpoise-Driven Life

Are you like me? Do you sometimes find that you live your life like a dolphin, holding your breath the overwhelming percentage of the time waiting for trouble to come?

I have to constantly tell myself that my Faith is the engine that drives me, and that God will see me through whatever disaster awaits me at the surface. I often am not able to enjoy even long periods of peace for holding my breath dreading the next calamity.

“Max might get sick.” “Diana might get bitten by the giant Great Dane that lives next door.” “My parents might die soon.” “Kathy or I may get fired.”

Things could happen. Things will happen. Bad things will happen. The point is that they will happen whether we shy away or stand there.

I am telling myself and you that it is okay to live in the face of the wind. God is able to transport us through what travails may come, and if we spend our time flinching from a blow that may or may not be on the way, we will miss the joys of life; watching kids grow and become independent, seeing parents become grandparents, relying on the Lord for sustenance when men cut you loose. “Fight back,” my daddy used to say, “They gone hit you anyway, whether you flinch or not!”  You might as well get some licks in.

Life is so much more good than bad, even for the most unfortunate of us, when we have an Eternal Point of View that sees through pain and around obstacles. Life is so much more Florida than Seattle.

All is not lost for the Christian even at the point of death. But you only die once. You live forever. Trust God. He is hurt when you don’t. I have to tell myself this from time to time, so I figured I’d tell you, too.

Come up for air.

April 24, 2008 Posted by | Advice, Christian Life, Christianity, Death, Depression, Faith, Family, Fatherhood, Fear, God, Life | 3 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

“Paging Dr. Pepper!”

So Joel Osteen says that Mormons are Christians.

Yeah. They’re Christians just like Dr. Pepper is a doctor! Like Col. Sanders was a colonel.

Read this transcript from a Fox News story:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,318054,00.html

And Osteen is a preacher like Mr. T is an actor!

April 2, 2008 Posted by | Charlatans, Christianity, Faith, Joel Osteen, Prosperity Gospel, Word of Faith | 8 Comments

The Rest of the Story

I said that when I got more time, I would write more on what happened when Diana was born. Seeing how things have been this last week, I know now that I’ll NEVER have any more time!

Kathy began having real contractions Wednesday night. By Thursday, they were coming steadily enough so that our friend, Megan who is trained as a labor and delivery nurse, took basically her whole day — Excuse me. Both babies just woke up yelling and crying from different rooms at the SAME time!!!— to walk Kathy through a nearby park in order to bring on the true labor Kathy wanted. (Our last birth was a c-section, and Kathy really wanted to have a conventional birth!) Megan homeschools her kids, one of whom was sick, and she forsook that all to spend hours helping my wife!

Thursday night/Friday morning at around three, She started to have strong contractions at from six or seven minutes apart to four or five. Even though I’m a night owl, going to sleep at around three or four every morning, I was really sleepy. Kathy was taking one of thee thousands of showers she had been taking all day to soothe her pain when I finally fell off to sleep. As soon as I did, she came into the room and said that she was ready to go. Wishful thinking made me stay in the bed.

“When I get dressed, I’m goin’ to tha hospital, whether you’re ready or not!” she said, rummaging through her drawers. It took her forty minutes to put some clothes on. It takes longer when you have to stop and pray to Jeessussss every four minutes…

“Oh,” I croaked, “You were serious?”

“Yeah! This is IT! The contractions have been four minutes apart for an hour.”

We got to the hospital at 4:45 AM. Megan, the angel, had met us at the house and followed us. My parents, who were going to keep Max for us, were waiting for us when we got there. They took him home with them shortly after Kathy was admitted.

Kathy was scheduled to have a c-section on Saturday, but she and her doctor wanted her to try to have her “the regular way.” Max was a c-section baby, and weighed in at nine pounds, six ounces! She was more than a week past the due date and the baby was only getting bigger. We felt now that the Lord had answered Kathy’s fervent prayer in the affirmative with all these labor pains and stuff.

Kathy’s friends, Heather, and Lisa, who took all those pictures, arrived at between 6 and 8 am. They both have families, and left them to stay with Kathy. Her mother came to town to stay with us for a week, and got to the hospital at around 9 am. We all thought that, at this rate, she would be having the baby by no later than twelve noon or one at the latest. HA!

I had a gig that night which Kathy had no problem with me making, and since it started at 10:30 that night, we both knew I would make it ok. HA!

Her contractions were coming steadily (every two or four minutes) for hours, and she took them like a champ until around 10 am or so when she asked for an epidural. This involves injecting an anesthetic through a catheter inserted into a canal in the doggone spine! And how is this better, I wonder…?

To make a long story long, Kathy endured the process of physical and mental stress (which was probably worse) until 7:30 pm. The doctors and she were trying to wait for her cervix to dilate to the point where Diana could pass naturally. “I don’t want to be gutted like a fish!” Kathy would repeatedly say, only partly in jest.

Just as with Max, it would never happen.

Through all of this, Heather and Lisa stayed! Hour upon hour of stress, tedium, pain, and varying opinions on what to do and they just called husbands, arranged for kids to be picked up, and stayed right there with her. Never had we experienced such friendship and dedication. Even after I left to work, (musicians don’t have workman’s compensation! No play, no pay! Kathy’s maternity pay is a little bit less than her regular pay, so I had to go get it!) Megan returned, and Lisa and Heather stayed into Saturday morning until I told Kathy to have them go home!

I am so blessed (Kathy, too…) to have people who love my wife so much. She is not from Memphis, and used to fret about not having ties here. This is an answer to that prayer, because she has friends now from all strata who love her like family!

Yes, they attend that church I rave about. (And Heather wants me to tell you that in spite of the name, she IS black! 🙂 )

It was obvious after all these hours that Diana was not going to push her way out. There was a lot of back and forth about what should happen, so the nurse — at Kathy’s request — cleared the room. Kathy, now crying,  called me back, and while I had a whole line prepared — excuse me, Diana just started to wail again — about how God knows better than we do what is best, and that this is His will, and that we have to get in line with that will… But she wasn’t crying about having to have another c-section. Suffice it to say that she was worried that her friends’ feelings would be hurt through all of this.

So, after much travail, much of which would be politically and socially improper for me to tell, Diana was pulled into this world at exactly eight o’clock looking just like her brother did, and suspiciously like a little Eskimo lady. (Kathy spent four years living in Alaska…) Actually, my grandfather had a white father and a Cherokee mother, so that is why they come out looking so U.N.

I spent an hour or so with them and left for my gig with my wife’s blessing. They started late waiting for me.

For the next two weeks in what is apparently a tradition in many churches (NOT the one I attended!), we will be receiving meals cooked by different women in the church. When this happened with Max, we were blown away! It is a wonderful thing to see the Body of Christ work in such fluid and effective fashion.

And just as we cannot do anything to warrant God’s Sacrifice and favor, we have not done anything to deserve being loved in so great a way by so many!

April 1, 2008 Posted by | Birth, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Church Life, Family, Fatherhood, Kids, Life, Love, Marriage, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting, Pregnancy | 4 Comments

For Unto US (Kathy and Me) a Child is Born

Diana, our new daughter, was born on Good Friday! She weighed nine pounds and one ounce, and was 21 1/2 inches long. Even though she was in pickle juice for nine months, she is beautiful. (She looks like the little “Ice Age” baby) Kathy was basically in labor from Wednesday on, and we went to the hospital at 4:45 AM. Diana was born by c-section at eight PM!

Many beautiful things happened, but as I am just getting home and getting adjusted to the exponential increase in work and DEcrease in sleep, I will have to write about it all in detail in a day or so.

You can see pictures of the process at  http://kiralisa.wordpress.com/2008/03/22/a-precious-baby-is-born/where my friend and churchmember, the great photographer Lisa Thomas, has chronicled our experience.

March 24, 2008 Posted by | Birth, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Kids, Life, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 16 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

Use COCKY in a Sentence.*

Guys I grew up with had the funniest way of butchering words, with their “domino pigeons” (doberman pinschers) and “speed thermometers” (speedometers). Scratching a chalkboard would make your “flush cross,” and a luxury automobile was a “Catlack.” They used to say “Holy GOAT.” As in, “Eric caught the Holy goat last night at the revival.”

 I pictured my friend chasing this funky billy goat around some hay-covered pen and tackling him in a cloud of dust. I figured that there must have been a cool reward for catching it!

There were WAY more than six degrees of separation between these guys and a dictionary!

Today, people still have misconceptions about God, the Holy Spirit. Jehovah’s Witnesses call ”it” an ”active force,” like electricity, while many Charismatics think He only functions to pounce on you like a vampire and make you fall out and flop around like a catfish in a rowboat!

We, as Christians who ardently seek to defend our Faith from those who would wish to distort it, must be sure to accurately define the terms we use — especially when dealing with essential matters like the nature of God — when dealing with our neighbors. 

So, when you hear Juanita call herself a “prophetessss,” or when Creflo says “ye are gods,” or when Paula, Eddie, Crouch, Benny, or the rest of the “pack” use the term “sow a seed,” see what they mean by these words, and see what the Bible says. Find out what the Word of God says about the “power of the tongue,” and “healing,” and God’s sovereignty, versus what the Word of Faithers say.

Or else you could wind up on the wrong end of that Eternal Stintchin’ Cord! An’ you don’t want that!

*”My daughter thew my COCKY down tha sink!”

ed. I, of course, am not belittling my own people here. I grew up in this environment, and so have a shared experience which makes it not mockery to laugh at things which I used to do myself. The grace of God allowed me to have two teaching parents who insisted that I learn and that I navigate the waters between a colloquial way of speaking and an orthodox one.

March 5, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Creflo Dollar, Evangelism, Faith, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Frederick Price, Humor, Jehovah's Witnesses, Joel Osteen, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Language, Paula White, Pulpit Pimps, TBN, Word of Faith, Words | Leave a comment

Two Bears and a Cub

The Parents were both sleeping soundly when out of the silence, a horrified — and horrifying — cry shot like lightning through the dying darkness. The Mother immediately leapt into action, while the Father lay there not moving, thinking he was dreaming and praying it was not the Baby.

The Mother returned to the bed with the Baby in her arms. The Baby, wide awake now, and smiling, was unconcerned with the fact that the Father had only just two hours ago gone to sleep, and had to get right back up in two more small hours.

The Baby was talking to the Mother in a cute, nineteen-month-old kind of way and the Mother, unaware that the Father could hear it all, whispered back to him in an effort to soothe and drowse him.

“O-Mommee!” he said, as though he just realized she was there.

“Go to sleep, Baby.”

“Ohh Kayyy,” he whispered, resigned. This went on for minutes, as it does when he has a nightmare and the Parents go get him to put him back to sleep.

The Father was desperately trying to hold on to the greasy rope of sleep that slid, ever more rapidly through the fingers of his mind. His head was facing away from the Action and towards the clock, whose ten-foot-tall numbers screeched in neon, “5:38 am.”

“Well,” said the Father to himself, “Almost two hours… That’s a LOT of time left to sleep.” As though he would drop to sleep that very moment. The thing about sleep, though, is that you don’t get to experience all that good time when you are asleep. You go to sleep, and the next second, the alarm goes off. It doesn’t FEEL like eight or ten hours just went by.

In the waning darkness, the Baby realized that the Father was right there. “O-Daddee!” he said, elated.

Something that felt like a little Baby arm smacked the Father on the back of the neck.

“Don’t hit the Daddy, Baby. He has to get up in a little while.” It was a little Baby arm, then.

“Ohh Kayyy.”

They went back to their back-and-forth.

“5:47 AM!”

“I know, “ the Father retorted sharply, on the inside.

Something that felt like little Baby fingers began to wrestle through the tangle that is Sleeping Black Father Hair. “Aaa Da-Dee!”

“Leave your daddy alone, Baby,” said the Mother in a vain effort to forestall the inevitable. “You suuure love your daddy, don’t you?” she whispered rhetorically, as much to the air as to the Baby. The Father heard this and thanked God for giving him stewardship of a son who thought absolutely the world of someone so unworthy as he.

The Father, like the rolling of a tidal wave, at the rising of some leviathan, gave up on sleep and turned over and took in his arms this thirty-five pound wriggling onesie full of all that the Parents hold dear. “Come on, Baby. Time to go to sleep.”

Ohh Kayy!” smiling.

The Father began what was known as “The Kansas City Shake” which no baby could resist.

“Go to sleeping, Baby,” he said, in a lilting,  nonspecific, somewhat French, somewhat German accent.

His eyes soon began to slide closed. The Baby’s eyes did, as well.

In the bluing light of the morning, something like a little Baby arm reached up and lay on the Father’s neck. The Father looked and noticed that it was, in fact, a little Baby arm. And the Baby was asleep.

“6:24 AM!”

“Da-Dee…”
 

March 3, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Kids, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 10 Comments

Lest We Forget…

 I deal a lot with the topic of racism on my blog. I hate it. As a Christian, I find it impossible to juxtapose racism and true saving faith. As a result of a posting of Pastor Ben Parkinson’s sermon a couple of weeks ago, I received some comments from a couple of fellows which pull the curtain back from what is hidden in the hearts of many. I don’t know if they claim Christianity, but I think that their views are echoed by many who populate white evangelical churches.

I have met some truly wonderful people in this blogging endeavor — white black and otherwise —  and I want to be clear that I know that they and multitudes do not share these racist perspectives!

It is just that, in the Utopia that is my diverse church, I can easily forget that not all people have the desire to love honestly and openly.

Mr. Roach, whose comments follow, is one of the people who has poured cold water on my way of thinking and reminded me of racism’s thriving heart. He is a conservative in the vein of Hannity, Limbaugh, Buchanan, Rove, and yes, even Reagan. He has been kind enough to openly share the true nature of a lot of the rhetoric we hear nowadays. His comments (part of the thread entitled, “Go, Tell it in the Suburbs”) follow a lengthy discussion on Affirmative Action, reconciliation, and reparations, etc. You may check it out further to get the context… Please excuse his language. I did not edit any of it.

We paid at the office, home boy. Have you seen a rich white person’s tax return lately! Wow, it’s a lot of dough going to welfare queens, midnight basketball, and paying for all those section 8 housing vouchers.

 To this, I replied:

  1. Who are you, Mr. Roach? Do I know you? Did we grow up in the same neighborhood? Or the same city?
    How is it that I am your “home boy”? Or ANY kind of “boy”?
    No, I’s ain’t privy to you white folks’s bidness, NawSUH!
    But I know THIS: There are a whole lot more white folk on welfare than black folk!
    I know that a whole lot of white folk know how to manipulate the tax laws so that they don’t pay nearly as much as they (you) should! That’s a lot of your hard earned tax money going to military defense, too, buster! Law enforcement, fire departments, etc! Thank you, Mr. Roach, for not scurrying back into the cracks while the light has been shed on your (and so many other of your compatriots’) true feelings, as is the norm for those like you, Mr. Roach.

So, you think that you have summed up what the black experience is, huh? Section 8 and basketball. You got us all in a bag, huh? I think YOUR comments sum you up, buddy.

There is a whole lot more behind why blacks in this country are in the state we are in, and your either admitting it or throwing up racist smoke screens do nothing to change the facts.

  1. And one more thing: Basketball was just fine when it was George Mikan and Bob Cousy, wasn’t it? It was just fine when black folk were not allowed to play against whites.But now, since it is not being dominated by those who look like you, Mr. Roach, it is turned into a racist cliche! Just like dancing, singing, and ANY other activity that ALL people love to partake of! If you don’t get to be the best at it, the SUPERIOR one, why not just act like Aesop’s fox and act as though you never wanted the sour grapes anyway! Turn something great into a negative.Michael Jordan is “naturally gifted” but Larry Bird “works hard.”Why don’t you tell us what YOU want, Mr. Roach. Tell us where YOU want black folk to go and where YOU want us to go. As if we don’t already know. Since we can all jump so high, I guess it would be peachy with YOU if we leapt to the moon, hunh?Comment by maxdaddy | February 27, 2008 <!– @ 3:24 pm –>|
  2. Roach continued;

Actually, I don’t want you to go anywhere, unless you hate this country like Michelle Obama. Then you can move to the country of your choice.

I just don’t want to see any more affirmative action. Do well in sports, you’ll get people’s respect. Do well because affirmative action, and white people think what you worry they think: These black people around us sure are kinda dumb, incapable, privileged, and all the rest. It’s little different than nepotism or legacies; if you don’t get somewhere on your own merits, you’ll never have the respect of others, nor will you have self-respect.

Midnight basketball, incidentally, is a feel good social program designed to reduce urban crime. It gives kids a place to go. It also has never been shown to have any effect whatsoever. I don’t care if blacks do well in sports, but to make a big deal about sports over other more attainable middle class jobs is silly, and it leads to a lot of young people haveing unrealistic “hoop dreams” that would better be directed into hard work in algebra class. 

Affirmative action doesn’t threaten me. I’m a lawyer and I make a lot of money. Affirmative action, however, is unjust. It also makes people like Michelle Obama feel bad about herself. Affirmative action is the mirror image of Jim Crow. I support merit, IQ tests, and treating people as individuals when individual information can be found out through things like standardized tests, GPAs, etc. For this reason, high IQ Asians have done very well, in spite of the supposed epidemic of white racism. Why is that do you think?

As for whites resisting blacks for centuries, that’s certainly not true of all those whites–including my relatives–who came over around 1900-1924 is it? I mean, we were broke and I’m the first one to go to college, so I don’t feel too bad about rich Southern plantation owners because they have nothing to do with me and my bloodline or family. I do know, however, that I like blacks that act like white people, and I don’t like whites that act like (most) black people. I like civilized behavior, and most majority-black areas don’t have it. But I’ll give anyone a chance, particularly if he does well in school and is as smart as his white competitors. But I see no reason to cut blacks any breaks with affirmative action. Slavery was 150 years ago. Jim Crow ended at the very latest in 1965. It’s time to take some personal responsibility for your individual and collective circumstances. Racism didn’t make a cult of the pimps in the 70s. Racism doesn’t make blacks call “doing well in school ‘acting white.’” So get the fuck over it already, grow up, act white (i.e., civilized), and you’ll do just fine.

emphasis added

Comment by Mr. Roach | February 28, 2008

I am sorry if this disturbed you. Imagine how I feel. I know that every day I leave my front door, or turn on the TV I face the possibility that my neighbors, or the guy walking in the store ahead of me, or the mechanic, the real estate agent, the waiter, the potential boss, the cop, or the LAWYER all feel the same way. Yet I am not bitter, not hateful, not perpetually angry, not the victim, and not the failure. It is life. It is my America, OUR America. This Roach, Mr. Roach, has done me a favor!

February 29, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, Arrogance, Black Life, Christianity, Civil Rights, Conservatives, Diversity, Larry Elder, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity | 41 Comments

What Fred Said

“Why would the Holy Spirit want to live in a body that can’t see out of the eyes, or hear through the ears?”

Frederick K.C. Price in outrageous/unbiblical defense of his (and the entire Word of Faith movement’s) position that all Christians are to be without infirmity and can demand that God heal them. This was before his own surgery, by the way…

February 27, 2008 Posted by | Charlatans, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, False Doctrine, False Teachers, Frederick Price, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Myles Munroe, Paula White, Pulpit Pimps, Rod Parsley, Word of Faith | 4 Comments

God is the Fireman

God is the fireman.

We just put the ladder against the wall.

In other words, we don’t save anyone, not even ourselves. God does.

What we do is provide the tools — the hands and feet. 

February 26, 2008 Posted by | Adage, Christianity, Eternal Security, Faith, God, Jesus, Metaphor, Proverbs, Redemption, Salvation | Leave a comment