Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

Matthew 6:24 – No one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve GOD and Mammon

Sometimes, beloved, the attraction of wealth, the lure of financial benefit makes us do irrational things. Yes, we need money. We want to get paid. We want some money. And there are those in the church who are handicapped by the love of money. And as the Word says, the love of money is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10). The word Mammon in the text is defined by Webster’s as material wealth or possession especially as having a debasing influence. Debasing is to lower the value of or reputation of someone or something or to make someone or something less respected.

I’ve observed and heard the news as 100 Black pastors gathered to meet with Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. The announcement of this meeting ignited a firestorm of controversy in our community as folk assumed and prognosticated that perhaps these pastors were money hungry and preparing to fleece the flock. Some folks, if not most, objected to even entertaining a meeting with Mr. Trump because of the tenor of his rhetoric. He’s a racist, some say. He’s too abrasive and offensive others say. Others saw the meeting as yet another example of how the black church, in their opinion, is selling the black community out, fleecing the flock, ripping us off. After all, they say, why would the pastors meet with a man who spews racially charged venom and espouses overtly racist perspectives except to go behind closed doors and get paid. Mammon.

Others say that “Trump is not who the media portrays him to be” while even others say yes, let’s wait and see what comes out of the meeting. Indeed Black America is not this monolithic segment of society. Black America is not following one and only one train of political thought. There are a variety perspectives and opinions. The Black Pastors are not going to influence the entire population of Black America.

From the start, this story vexed my spirit because the first headlines trumpeted and proclaimed that these 100 were endorsing Trump. This endorsement was a hard pill to swallow for many if not most in the Black community. It felt as if this 100 were bought and paid for. Others would say this was another example of “Pimp Preachers” who would sell out the well being of their congregations and communities for the almighty dollar.

Soon after the endorsement headlines came the correction. The 100 were meeting with Trump and not endorsing him. Ok, now that was better, sort of. Then the headlines came that Trump had cancelled the meeting. Shortly afterwards another headline – the meeting is on again. Then it was off again. It was an absolute mess. The pastors called it a “miscommunication” but the public was getting restless, angry and very critical. Social Media was afire with displeasure. Yes, The influence of the black church, the reputation of the pastors were being reduced and denigrated right before our very eyes and in the community’s court of public opinion. Debased.

In the end, a meeting and press conference was hastily held and I am still trying to assess its purpose. What were the goals and objectives? What was the agenda?

After the meeting I began to see the sound bytes and news inserts that featured pastors who were in attendance. Preachers struggling to wax philosophical about the content of the gathering. But these interviews only underscored and contributed to the debasing of the office of the pastor and the influence of the black church. It is clear that they went into the meeting without a clear agenda. No platform. It was freestyle rooted in ego. And some of the pastors who spoke on national news platforms to defend and explain the meeting were probably excellent preachers, however they obviously had no community development experience or perspective. No urban policy exposure. No social justice experience. The news reports were full of empty rhetoric and shallow cliches.

So I began to contemplate this spectacle and wondered  where Jesus was in the pastors movement. What does the word say about this?

It’s my opinion that the pulpit is not the proper place to advance political endorsements. Indeed the Black Church should present itself available, present and active in the pursuit of social justice. The church can be a catalyst to institute programs which will enhance economic justice and be committed to alleviating poverty as tangible expressions of the kingdom of God. For me, the pulpit is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ – the risen savior. But when it comes to politics we should inspire and encourage the people to exercise the hard fought right to vote. However, we should abstain from the telling the people who to vote for. Even if it wasnt true, the appearance of this meeting is that the pastors were seeking a financial consideration in exchange for political support. After all, Trump did say he would “remember them”. Mammon.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, giving of thanks for all men, for kings, and all who are in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of GOD, our savior who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Yes, we are instructed to pray and intercede for everyone even politicians for it is them that we count on to maintain law and order in this society so that we may lead quiet and peaceful lives. This, the scripture says is good and acceptable in the sight of the LORD. And Jesus said in Matthew 22:21 to render, therefore to Ceasar what is Ceasars and to God the things that are God’s.

Even as we are citizens of God’s Kingdom, we are still encourage to abide by the laws of this society and as such we can participate and have a voice in society. In this area, the Black Church is central. It is the beacon of hope, the voice of reason, the lightning rod of liberation in our struggle against social and political oppression. Or at least that was our reputation. We follow the teachings of Jesus to establish a peaceful march towards equality in this nation. A peaceful march in spite of unmitigated violence and hatred against our people. Our struggle has been like Jesus’ walk on earth. They hated Jesus. They sought to kill him. Silence Him. Yet Jesus kept preaching, walking in love. These days headlines are full with those who would hate us even unto death, yet we walk in love.

They tried to trick and discredit Jesus. In Matthew 22:15-40, Jesus had become so popular and influential that the Pharisees threw some trickeration in the game seeking to find a way to discredit Jesus. They sought to trick him into doing crimes so egregious it would require a death sentence. Likewise there are those who would seek to kill us, discredit us and annihilate us yet we still excel, build, achieve and create in love. Still we rise!!! Our community is being deceived into thinking that we are less than unwanted. We are tricked into promoting violence, misogyny and wanton sexual immorality that discredits our place at the table of equality in America.

The church today is tricked by the lure of TV, and materialism,the trappings and titles that lead men towards the love of money, which is the root of all evil.

The people look to religious leaders for peace, order and insight to their spiritual lives. In Church economics, this is the point of currency exchange. Crassly spoken, the people will pay to know and learn what GOD thinks. They will pay to be inspired by the word of GOD. This “payment” is the support of the church. The support of the work of the LORD. This is just. And there are biblical guidelines as to how the church goer should pay and how the church leader should steward the money. Yes, the people must support the work of the church. But sometimes money becomes the main thing that the church leader focuses on. He or she becomes a lover of money. Likewise some leaders become so consumed with power that they appoint themselves as the voice of a population of people. A voice that can influence votes, be a catalyst of action for the candidates. Be subject to the candidates behest, thus serving the candidates or political leader and not the true head of the Christian State – GOD. This is religious oppression.

Oppression because the church leaders are called to a meeting with a political candidate who thinks that the flock carries political opinions like the church leader or they believe the church leaders can influence the flock to embrace the ideology of said candidate. And the benefit of promoting the candidates ideology is money. After all I’ve observed, I believe the attraction of wealth and the lure of financial benefit draws the pastors to Donald Trump. Mammon.

We have to use religion to inspire love, grace and mercy. The prophet proclaimed  “Is not this fast I choose to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free. And that you break every yoke.. ” We are here to facilitate spiritual freedom.

When Jesus boldly claimed to be the messiah in the synagogue in Luke 4:18 as he shares that he is come to proclaim liberty to the captives and set at liberty those who are oppressed.  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD…  Freedom!

As Ministers of the gospel there is more at stake than politics. When Jesus speaks of liberation is liberation of the soul – of the core essence of his people. To present ourselves as the one voice of the people, a person who can influence and cause the Body of Christ to vote a certain way is to inflict religious oppression on the people and this is not what Jesus wants us for us. We are God’s people so we live by the spirit not the law.

In the end, we have to pursue social justice. We have to promote love and peace in our communities. We have to let our light so shine so that the community will know that Jesus is love. That we are a beacon of hope. A beacon of hope. A catalyst for Freedom. To move forward in a private meeting with one who on the outside appears to be against the very essence of your struggle for equality in this country, one who would return to the breaking of your spirit without an agenda, without preparation is to present yourselves as lovers of money. We  cannot serve God and Mammon.

Trump and the Pastors? A debased influence.

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General Jeff Skid Row Activist

I’ve just come in from the funeral of Charly Lendeu Keunang aka Africa. It is the culmination of a very long and sometimes stressful journey. You may remember Charly. He was gunned down on the mean streets of skid row by the Los Angeles Police Department. It was a shooting that took place amid the national epidemic of police involved shootings that finds black men dead in cases where other methods could have seemingly been utilized. The shooting was deemed justified so once again, officers get away with what appears to be murder.

Allow me to briefly share and describe the Journey that’s got us here today.  On Sunday night March 1, I saw the news.. you saw the news… millions saw the news… I saw the youtube video.. you saw the youtube video… millions saw the youtube video. There was a struggle…. LAPD shoots and kills a homeless man on Skid Row….

The narrative quickly emerged that this man attempted to take an officers gun – a feat that seems nearly impossible in my eyes especially as one is getting wrestled, tazed PLUS 6 rough and tumble LAPD officers are there to take the man into custody. Besides the officer’s armaments are designed to prevent such an easy snatch…..

The narrative quickly emerged that Brother Africa was a mentally ill homeless man living on Skid Row…. They said he did time in the penitentiary… They say he used a stolen identity… The positioning of the entire narrative was designed to discredit and say to society that this man was someone who we could just throw away and forget about. It gave the general market a chance to say ok. well.. it’s ok that they killed him. No one knows him anyway.

Charles Keunang, the homeless man who was fatally shot by police on Skid Row, was laid to rest at Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles Saturday, May 16, 2015.

Concerned citizens gathered in the sanctuary of Holman United Methodist Church to honor the life of Charly L. Keunang (left), killed by LAPD on Skid Row

It is here that the LORD moved in my heart. Skid Row is a troubling place to be.. It is rock bottom for many.It’s the proverbial no-brainer to note that something happened in the man’s life that got him to Skid Row in the first place. So why focus so much on his past? Why so assertive to advance such a denigrating description of Africa? Why assassinate his character? Does this give way to society’s approval of the hard hand of deadly force used in this case by the LAPD? Because the man made certain choices in life does this give you cause to shoot to kill? Africa is a child of God.. even in his condition… Even in his struggle of life on earth, God loves him…. Jesus loves him… and so I was led to personally go out on Skid Row to seek the answer to the question who is Africa? How did his neighbors and loved ones in context of the Skid Row community know him? Where is his family?

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Charly’s grieving mother….

For 8 evenings I went out on Skid Row talking to residents of the street… I called my activist friends… I called General Jeff – I know he is active on Skid Row.. I called Najee Ali – I know he’s going to be on the case… I even called Reverend Andy Bale of the Union Rescue Mission…. What are we going to do? What do you know? I believe there is a different narrative than what we are hearing on the news… This is a human being we are talking about.. In spite of his choices, in spite of his condition this man needs to be funeralized…. He needs to be memorialized…. If we don’t act he will be thrown away… another anonymous homeless person discarded by the system…….

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Rev. Kelvin Sauls, Pastor Holman United Methodist Church

Jeff and Najee urged me to go to a meeting held by the Community Action Network where they introduced me to Pete White. And so we went to work…. Seeking to have a memorial service. Reverend Andy Bale used his
influence to put me in contact with the highest level of the County Medical Examiner’s office…. I wanted to find out what they would do with the Body… It was through this contact that I learned Africa’s true name. It was through this contact that I learned that Charly has a family. It was through this contact that I learned that Charly was Cameroonian. And that the family had enlisted the support of David Singui to handle their affairs in this tragic time.

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Minister Gregory L. Johnson             West Angeles Church of God in Christ     KJLH Radio

I had to searched the internet to make contact with David, and in that search I met Cameroonians from Arkansas who told me that they could find him. The next day, they introduced me to Emanuel Nahslai one of the family’s legal representatives. David reached out to me and we connected and began this journey together. I was led by the Lord to reach out to Rev. Kelvin Sauls who up until this point I had not formally met but I knew that his church broadcasts on 102.3 Radio Free KJLH where I serve as the Marketing Director. I also knew that he is from South Africa and could be a powerful catalyst for the mobilization of Africans and African-Americans in this case.

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David Gedeon Singui President, Cameroonian Community-LA

And so two months later, we are gathered together… Africans, African-Americans and those who are concerned about black life… Those who would say no to unbridled Police violence.. Those who agree that Charly Lendeu Keunang deserves the dignity of a funeral… the dignity of memorialization and the unity of community to bring peace and offer condolence to his family…. We have found Charly… and we honor his life

And so, weeks have gone by since the now infamous “I’m not gay no’ mo'” video went viral. In case you missed this wildly popular urban pop culture story of the moment, let me recap: the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) held it’s 107th Holy Convocation in St. Louis. It was a glorious time with the Church impacting the community through its actions and spirit filled expressions of the Word. After a spirited and albeit controversial sermon which preached against the sin of homosexuality and other “in-church” sexual immoralities, a young man rushes to the pulpit and proclaims that he is “not gay no’ mo’ “…. He enthusiastically shouts that he is “delivert” and doesn’t like “mens no mo’ “, he likes “wimen wimen wimen wimen” . After this young man avows that he will not carry a purse nor wear make up, the church erupts into a state of holy dancing and high praise…The scene becomes fodder for the worldwide web, generating millions of views, countless memes and endless cartoons parodies including a pretty snazzy smooth R&B song which incorporated a sample from his proclamations from the altar. It was pure comedy. Unfortunately at the expense of the Grand Old Church of God in Christ and the young man’s life decisions.

Wow. Our Church is faced with deeply distressed and troubled times. The fact that we are even having this conversation shows us what time it is. The fact that openly gay, “flaming” homosexuals were bold enough to parade around the Holy Convocation surely must show us the times in which we live. The fact that the preacher has to call them out in such and aggressive and arguably oppressive manner reminds us that these are perilous times. The fact that the preacher had to call out other preachers for the perceived endorsement of the lifestyle speaks volumes. The fact that our Church was placed in a position of mockery and comedic insult shows us the season in which we live.

In order to completely understand what exactly occurred that night, we must put it in context. The proclamations of bow tie boy came at the end of a sermon which preached against the presence of homosexuals in the convocation and in the local churches. There are a LOT of homosexuals in the church. They were at the convention and this ain’t new news. It’s the same if not worse at the Gospel Music Conventions I’ve attended as part of my career. And so the Man of God called them out. The original sermon and entire rant against gays should be viewed, but it is no longer available. This snippet is mild compared to the entire context. Supt. Carter started out strong but then went left. He used inappropriate language in calling out the homosexual lifestyle – period. It’s not what he said, it’s how he said it. (“I hope you bleed out yo’ butt!” – c’mon people!!)

Without the benefit of social media, I wonder what was the reaction to Evangelist Frances Kelly’s message at the 62nd Holy Convocation Women’s Day as she talked about Musical Homosexuals and Sissies  Surely the consciousness of the nation is much different from those days. Two generations later and the issues are still the same. We haven’t put a dent in the proliferation of the homosexual lifestyle, and why not?

There’s a LOT of homosexuality in the world today. They are gaining power and influence. In the same week that the “I’m not gay no’ mo'” video was going viral, esteemed Television Producer Shonda Rimes was taking social media heat for blatant, explicit and unapologetic gay sex scenes in the wildly popular TV series “Scandal” starring Kerry Washington and “How to Get Away With Murder” starring Viola Davis. Our consciousness is being bombarded by the gay lifestyle and we are increasingly unable to do anything about it. You better start reading those letters and memos you get from your children’s public schools, because they are sharing with you that some of the literature will be geared to children who have two mommies or two daddies…. This, my friends is reality in our society.

I know we have to speak about this from the pulpit. But how? When we ridicule them like Superintendent Carter, we chase them away. There are so many stories of gay folk who have lived a life of listening how they would be condemned to hell as they sat in church. This condemnation often came with no alternative or support if they wanted to walk away from their lifestyle. There are those if not most who say they cannot help how they are…. If true then the churchspeak will turn them away permanently… these are counted then as lost souls….. Conversely If we speak to them in love, then the laity interprets this as being too supportive and engaging of their lifestyle.  But our job and main concern are souls. We are tasked with bringing people to Christ. And if that is our job, does that mean we just throw away the souls of the homosexual? what about the sexually immoral? the sex addict? the prostitute? the adulterer? Do we avoid preaching the Gospel to them? and how do you know who they are? Dudes are married and having sex with men on the side. And some of these guys are preachers!!! We live in deeply distressed and troubling times.

Yes, There are so many homosexuals among us that we are now challenged with how to minister to them. We are not to judge because God will judge us all no doubt. But if we are called to minister and facilitate deliverance, then how exactly do we deal with the homosexual? How do we deal with the rapist, the sexual immoral, the adulterer, the pedophile? All of these are in the world and yes in our church!!! yea even in some of our pulpits!!!

In my opinion, as I contemplate this moment, Supt. Carter’s condemnation from the pulpit has an adverse affect opposite what we intend it to be. And you know what? if we are charged to love one another, then we must love the homosexual… however, we HATE his sin. I actually agree with the content of his speech, but I disagree with his choice of words in PORTIONS of his message. I mean, the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality as sin. However, it isn’t unforgivable. Isn’t redemption available to them just as it is available to us? Can’t the homosexual become a new creature in Christ? If we have faith, if we believe in miracles and the healing power of the Holy Ghost, isn’t it believable that maybe just maybe bow tie boy really got delivered?

And so, Bishop Charles Blake, the Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ made a powerful statement in response to the controversy. In it, he admonished the speaker’s sermonic style. He apologized to Andrew Caldwell, the young man in the video. We must be merciful and so apologizing for bow tie boy’s ordeal in terms of the international ridicule this caused.. is painfully proper in my opinion. Listen carefully, Bishop said we do not by any means compromise our position in matters of sexual immorality.. that said, we have to walk in love even when dealing with the homosexual. And so if the young man got delivered, then I think we should painfully apologize and set the stage for support, counseling and all the other needs this guy and others like him may need as they renew their mind and walk in this new consciousness. I know there are some who are like, naw! he just need to burn!!! but then if you look back on your sins, there are those who would say the same about you… But God…..

There are those who are begging the question about apologies for past sexual situations that have harmed families and people.. I agree, something should be said or done by the church to address this – I don’t know what that is, but something has to be done or said that will help bring a sense of healing to those hurt by the men who would defile the pulpit to take advantage of people sexually.

One thing I found quite profound in this whole “I’m not gay no’ mo'” phenom is to watch the response videos that some in the gay community put out.. the YouTube trend was for these gay people to watch the service and react on camera and post it on youtube. A recurring theme I heard on this is a point of concern. There were homosexuals who are from Memphis or who had been to and observed Convocations whether in Memphis or St. Louis. These dudes stated that they find it to be fertile ground for seeking and finding people with whom to engage in homosexual acts. Why is that? What this says to me is that while folk are so busy being so saintly and sanctified in the main – criticizing, quoting scriptures and pointing fingers, some of these same folk are living a lifestyle of sexual immorality and perversion. so many saints engaging in this lifestyle secretly? These homosexuals also pointed out that they would engage in homosexual sex with someone they picked up at the host hotel and then attend the convocation service the next day and see their sex mate in the pulpit participating in the holy service…. In the end, while we so busy judging and pointing out who’s right and who’s wrong, condemning, sending to hell all those who we see engaging in this lifestyle, why don’t we check ourselves and make sure we are living as God would have us to live… Let us work on keeping our own sin in check. The “I’m not gay no’ mo'” urban pop culture phenomenon is a reminder that something is wrong in our society. And as people of the Lord, we must figure it out…. How to love, how to minister, how to refrain from judgement.

We must love one to Another…..

And so I originally wrote this from the solitude of a hospital room. Yes. After years and years of basically perfect health, I experienced a severe pulmonary embolism upon my return from South Africa. I did not move about the cabin enough during the 18 hour trans-Atlantic flight and as we returned to the states, blood clots formed in the legs, travelled to and lodged in my lungs rendering me unconscious, short of breath and near death at a point. A life threatening health issue.

I am ok now, anxious to get back to full and complete health. As I sit here in the loneliness of my hospital room, my experience has ignited a firestorm of thoughts, introspection and contemplations. Here are some of my thoughts:

Thank God for Health Insurance – Even as the politicians quibble about ObamaCare, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that serious health issues can occur at anytime to anyone. I am a living witness have never experienced life threatening illness or health trauma, that things can go downhill fast. I shudder to imagine what this treatment and recovery would be like without insurance. I am blessed and I know it.

Pragmatic quality of care – I have to mention that the doctors and hospital staff have been excellent. Sure there have been one or two staffers who are seemingly detached from the personal connection between patient/caregiver – a quality that surely must be a prerequisite for this line of work; however, nearly all have been patient, kind, and most importantly it appears that they were genuinely concerned for my well-being and complete recovery.

Spiritual Care – My hospital is run by the Catholic Church. On my first day, the priest came by and seemed surprised that I had my Bible open and ready to read. He took a couple of steps BACK and muttered something about if I pray for him, he’ll pray for me. And then he hurried out of the room. The next day, he came to the ward, but did not attempt to approach my room. I was a little perplexed. So I hurried up and call my COGIC family. Spiritual Care for this non-Catholic was severely lacking. Glad I had backup!!!

Personal Introspect – I am keenly aware that I am one of God’s elect. This is not an emotional or shallow impulse. This is a declaration of unabashed truth. As I follow God’s calling on my life I see that the devil tried to kill me. But God Blocked it. He preserved me. He protected me. He reminded me that He has so much more for me to do.. He has charted a course of meaningful ministry opportunity… a course of career opportunities that will impact the world and underscore His glory in the earth.

I am thankful to God for preservation!!!! And the road I walk is much more illuminated and life is more precious in my sight….

I am, like some, if not most of you, perplexed, profoundly disappointed, positively angered, and even peeved at the verdict in the George Zimmerman Trial. Yes. I understand that the prosecution was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, Zimmerman’s intention to kill Trayvon in cold blood. Based on the circumstances as I have come to understand them, Zimmerman saw a young black teen dressed in the urban fashion of the day – the hoodie – walking through hs neighborhood. He assumed Trayvon Martin was up to no good, even calling 911 to report this “suspicious” person. Zimmerman follows him even after the authorities admonish him to cease. He confronts the young man, a struggle ensues and in the end, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is dead. Shot point-blank by George Zimmerman. Now, this sounds like a murder to me. But yet, the jury did not, or could not see it this way. Not Guilty. A justifiable homicide perpetrated in self-defense.

Brothers and Sisters, it seems that everywhere we go, we have to prove our right to be there. We still have to possess a “pass” to be in a place and time. Even President Barack Obama has been challenged as to his “place” in American history. Remember the “birther movement”? Trayvon was killed because he was apparently “not in his place” as interpreted by George Zimmerman. There is great disagreement on this point, mostly along racial lines. Most blacks say that Trayvon was profiled. Most whites will say that George had a right to question confront and even kill Trayvon because of his erred assessment that Trayvon did not belong in that area. They will say that George had a right to “stand his ground” based on his assumption of danger. A fatal assumption. A tragic error in judgement.

And so, we’ve seen the masses of the people take to the streets…. angry. protesting. civilly disobedient. To borrow an old civil rights adage, we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Yet the Word lets us know that George Zimmerman is not getting off…

“Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder will seek refuge in the grave; let no one hold them back” Proverbs 28:17

‘Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19

And so, as Christians, we need to stand down.

Now I am not at all suggesting that we abandon the fight against social injustice. After all, the struggle continues but always to God be the Glory…. and Black folk know all too well about assumptions and how it can lead to egregious circumstances, hurt feelings and irreparable social damage. I am saying that while we stand down, the consciousness of the nation has demanded dialogue and introspect among the citizens thus you may consider this a situational analysis from a Christian perspective.

How many times, brothers, have you walked onto the elevator and the white women clutch even the more tightly, her purse? How many times have you, while on your way to a meeting or presentation, have you been mistaken for the bellboy, maitre’ D’, security, waiter, attendant et. al…. How many times have you been followed – with a pocket full of money- in the mall….. How many.. O how many times have you been pulled over by Johnny Law because they assumed you were in the wrong area or up to no good? Or at work, where your so-called white friends make those jokes about black people and then look you dead in the eye and explain to you that you’re different and they are not talking about you.  Assumptions.

Profiling is a reality to black men…. The responsible black father of sons would be remiss if he did not have the talk about how to conduct themselves with the police… It is as important as the inevitable “sex talk”…. Because as my mother would say at each victory of the civil rights movement, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”…. I am not saying we hold hate in our hearts. As followers of Jesus we are mandated to “Love ye one to another”. I am saying that as we move about this world, we must be aware that even in this day and age, even as there is a black man and his family in the White House,  folk still make assumptions based on race. Yes, beloved, you can adjudicate and make or change laws, but you cannot change the hearts of people.

And then again, beloved isn’t it amazing that even as we protest, jump up and down and scream against profiling, that we are the biggest profilers on the earth?? Oh you know how we get… My brothers see one another in the street and we give the side eye, looking each other up and down, making sure we are “right”…. Sisters cutting their eyes at one another saying “who do she think she is” all because sisters dress is cut a certain way or her hair is done or the eye shadow color is different than hers….. Reality shows are now taking our profiling tendencies and broadcasting them across the world for all to see that black folk are the champions of profiling and assumption….

We profile one another based on skin color. Light skin, dark skin…. how is it that the darker brethren are made to feel inferior to those black folk who have lighter skin…. Some of y’all don’t want your daughter to marry Tyrone…. it doesnt matter that he is top of the class… has a job… is drug free… is not a hoodlum or a thug… no not at all, he may have it going on except for one thing… he’s too dark. Yes, we profile based on skin color, geography, what kind of car we drive or not…. frat or no… soror or no… we profile even unto the hair texture and style we choose to wear…. Black people are the consummate profilers of black people and our assumptions derived from that profile are in alot of cases even more hurtful and more deadly than that of the police and our white brethren. Fatal assumptions.

Black folk are killing each other in droves based on profiles… assumptions…. you wear red so I gotta kill you because I wear blue. I have to shoot you because you live on the south side and I live on the north side. Our profiles of one another are making the funeral man very busy and very rich… The hood is full of mothers who, like Sabryna Fulton, have lost a son to gun violence. The only difference is that an assumption by black folk lead to the tragic loss of life. Mothers are seeking justice. Mother’s are asking where is the march for the killing of my own son at the hands of his own????  Why is the outrage so strong when the “other man” profiles and life is lost. Our sons were also profiled… assumptions were made and the result is fatal. The only difference is that the perpetrator was another black man….. Where is Justice?

“Fools base their thoughts on foolish assumptions, so their conclusions will be wicked madness” – Ecclesiastes 10:13

In the church,  where you would think folk are more sensitive to the hurtful nature of false assumptions, we are prolific profilers. We make hurtful assumptions based on appearance and even worse, gossip innuendos. We hoop, holler and dance every week. We walk around all deep but cannot even lend a helping hand in the name of Christian charity because we are too busy profiling and assuming the worse in people.  I heard a story about a pastor who was assigned a new church…. thousands of members…. On the Sunday when he was to be introduced to the congregation, he decided to dress like a homeless man. He came to church early and sat around watching the congregants arrive. He got up, walked around to shake hands… no one would shake his hands… He asked for some change for food… no one would reach in their pocket to help…. Some congregants whispered behind his back…. others looked on his clothing in severe disdain.. others just straight laughed…… Church got started and the choir sang songs….. then the assistant pastor takes the mic. He announces that they have a new pastor and asked the congregation to stand and welcome their new man of God….. As the congregation stood, they opened with thunderous applause – applause that began to fade when they saw the “homeless” man walking toward the podium. By the time he reached the mic, the entire church was stone cold silent. The pastor stood at the podium, surveyed his new congregation and began his message with Matthew 24: 42 -51

42“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

He also shared Hebrews 13:2 -Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Would you profile Jesus? “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32. Would you look upon his face and make assumptions based on your assessment of how you think he should look? His hair? his clothes, the way he walked??? The color of his skin???

That assumption could be fatal for your soul……

By now, you know about the POTUS acknowledgement of same-sex marriage as a viable right in America. And you know that there has been a LOT of conversation about how the church, particularly the black church, reacts to the news. I wanted to share the official statement from my denomination. Here is the full text of their official statement:

COGIC Presiding Bishop and General Board Elaborate on Existing Same Sex Policy
Posted on 17 May 2012

Official Statement
of the
Church of God in Christ, Inc.
Regarding Same Sex Marriages and Civil Unions

The President’s position regarding “same-sex marriage” has set off a “firestorm,” unlike any other debate in our civil society, perhaps, since the civil rights unrest of the mid-20th century. The advocacy for same-sex marriage, while in conflict with our nation’s long-standing moral posture, has indeed, created opportunity for the Church to communicate our unequivocal position about God’s design and foundation for humanity, the biblical mandate for heterosexuality through the bonds of matrimony and, the centuries-old understanding of the only acceptable means of procreation, habitation, and the establishment of the family.

The President suggests same sex relationships and male-female relationships committed to by oath before God and/or witnesses, where formal documents are signed before a civil or ecclesiastical figure. It further implies that both are equally good and valuable. In addition to this, it suggests that both equally contribute to the good and advancement of a society. From a fundamental view of scripture, the same word should not be used to describe both same sex and heterosexual relationships.
Fundamentally, traditionally, and historically, marriage has functioned to unite a man and women together in facing the challenges of life, to sanctify sexual involvement, to authorize the conception of children, provide an environment for the protection and development of offspring and to strengthen and sustain the family unit. Historically, the sexual coming together of husband and wife produces children who are the fruit of both their bodies and are united by blood to their brothers and sisters. This coming together of husband and wife is the means by which the world has been populated, and the human race sustained.

A husband, wife and children are the bedrock of a society which also mirrors the universal Church as a microcosm, or domestic church, out of which God’s values are modeled, nurtured, and disciplined. This divinely-inspired family framework, pronounced in Old and New Testament scripture, is without compromise. To tamper with the foundation is to disrupt the order God intended. This order is the intended structure by which all humanity is expected to govern their lives.

The human body is designed by God as male and female to anatomically accommodate individuals of the opposite sex in the conception, bearing, and nurture of children; the human body is unquestionably designed to accommodate individuals of the opposite sex, not of the same sex.

The Holy Bible, which is the authoritative Word of God, clearly prohibits sexual relations between members of the same sex. Though it does not isolate intercourse between individuals of the same sex as the only sin, it designates this and a series of other activities as sinful behavior from which the Christian is to abstain
1 Cor 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. NKJV (See also: Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26-27; and 1 Timothy 1:8).
The Bible indicates that there is nothing that can excuse or eliminate the sinfulness of sexual involvement between individuals of the same sex. Neither so called “marriage vows”, civil unions, nor homosexual drives or passions are recognized by the Bible as justifications or acceptable excuses or rationale for sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. Sinful desires and inclinations must be resisted and overcome by the power of God in Christ Jesus, and by power of the Holy Spirit who strengthens our minds and our wills.

Our vocabularies are made up of thousands of words because there are so many distinctive entities and concepts to be referred to. Each word designates a category of entities which are unique to that word. Specific words are most useful when they reflect identical images, and when they do not create conflicting or unclear images in the mind of the speaker and the hearer. The Bible defines marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; 1 Corinthians 7:2; 1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6). To define marriage otherwise is to dilute and destroy its usefulness as a word which denotes what is highest and best about human society.

While we are committed to proclaim and support the tenants of the Bible, and also to persuade others to do so, we recognize that in a free and democratic society morality cannot be legislated. We oppose violence and discrimination against individuals or groups because of sexual orientation. We do not feel that it is necessary to legalize same sex marriage to provide the civil benefits and civil rights to all regardless of sexual orientation. We proclaim the value and worth of every human being regardless of sexual orientation.
But, we passionately and unapologetically, defend the right of faith communities to maintain the integrity of their message, mission and identity. We welcome to the church all people who seek to serve and know God and His Word.

And so this weekend, we celebrate Mother’s Day. My mom has joined the legions of the angels in heaven. And yet, I love her. I miss her…

I was blessed. My mom was always there. Loving, nurturing, supportive…. I was definitely blessed. And at the core of all my life’s goals, was a burning desire to make her proud of me….

I realize that there are those who were not as fortunate as me. There are those who would tell us that mom died when they were very young. Others would say moms died during childbirth and they never knew her. Some would tell us that mom was an addict, sick and unable to care for them properly. Others would tell us of losing mom to illness or accidents…..

Some moms have demonstrated a level of neglect that leaves the children psychologically damaged. Some teach their children a moral standard that would appall the status quo…. I have heard stories of moms teaching their children to smoke weed, drink and smoke cigarettes…. I have seen the neglect of children through their hygiene and dirty clothes…

How does a mom willfully and intelligently give up their children. Isn’t a mom emotionally and physically connected to their child? How does this happen???

Over the last year and a half, since I have had custody of my grandsons, I have encountered and witnessed so many moms. I have attended PTA and school meetings where I was the only dad/granddad in the room…. I have witnessed moms on the football team and track team, struggling to make sure that their children are active, responsible and responsive young people…. I have interacted with moms as we worked together on projects. I see moms struggling… I see moms sacrificing…… I see moms nurturing…

yes. I have a whole new appreciation for the role a mother plays….. We have to love and appreciate what mom is doing to take care of us…… In our house, we have a song… We gather around Babi (that’s what the grandsons call their grandmother and sing “I worship you oh mighty babi!!! there is none like you!!! I worship you oh mighty babi.. that is what I long to do… I give you praise… cuz you take good care of us…. I worship you oh mighy babi… there is none like you!!!!”  yup, some will recognize this lyrical interpolation from church….

As a grown man, I often wonder about the issues I took my mom through. I wonder about the sleepless nights… the stress, the worry, the anger that I may have brought her. Have I ever embarrassed her? Was I so out of line that she had a problem with me?

No matter what my issues were, mom loved me….  I appreciate all those days inside the Borden School writing, doing math…. for it made me more focused… I appreciate the piano lessons for they molded my current appreciation for music…. I appreciate her insistence that I go to church… I appreciated our paper route.. I say our because mom was down to load up our station wagon with the papers and roll about the neighborhood throwing papers right there with me…..

I love mom… I appreciate mom…. I miss mom…..