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Monthly Archives: October 2012

My Easiest Communication

I was reading something the other day that reminded me of a problem I have.  I have an issue with expressing myself to people  verbally.  It’s plagued me since middle school.  Put a paper and pen in front of me; I can write whatever needs to be said, and clearly.  Except, oddly enough, on the good ol’ Twittahs. More often than not however, face to face communication makes me think too much. It’s fueled by two hindering traits: having a non-confrontational (NC) nature, and being an introvert.

Depending on the subject matter of a conversation, I know I can be non-confrontational. Especially over the last few years of marriage, I’ve had to get out of that. I used to write my wife letters concerning issues I had, just to avoid an argument. This was one of the times I learned that verbal is better than written. Generally, this is true for all close relationships.

I’m lead to believe that the NC demeanor is a byproduct of being an introvert. I’m really a contrast in terms. Those closest to me might consider me very extroverted. That’s after they get to know me though. In general, I’m not big on being around too many people. That is, unless I can blend into the crowd. This is the main reason I stopped clubbing after 2 years. So yeah, the introvert in me finds it easier to write than talk at times.

It’s not like I’m trying to find the best way to frame a statement.  My mind figuratively runs a million miles a minute when talking to folks.  I can’t seem to slow it down either.  I calculate much in the seconds and moments that a conversation is taking place.  Body language, tone, past conversations about the topic, my past experiences with a topic all run through my mind.  Too much thinking trips me up.

But oh, the pen and the paper.  They are the equalizer of my communicating existence.  If given the time to respond in this manner, I get to the gist of what I want to say. A great wordsmith I am not. The message always comes through loud and clear though. There is time for me to slow down and organize my thoughts. I can say what needs to be said without any outside noise affecting the outcome. It may not work for some, but it does for me.

Plus, I can have my points ready if further discussion is needed. In a way, I feel empowered by knowing that I succintly expressed myself to someone else in the written word. It feels natural. All communication can’t work like this all the time, but even a quarter of the time and I find I’m so much more effective. Even with this, I still know I have to do better.

How long will it take? Who knows. I’ll say this though. As long as I’m clear in my meanings on various topics, I’ll continue to use the written word when my mind gets in the way of me speaking.

 
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Posted by on 10/31/2012 in Random, Uncategorized

 

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Checkpoints Week 2: Integrity

*The third in a series of posts covering the book Checkpoints.*

Integrity has many synoymns, and phrases that fit its definition.  Having integrity means “your yes is your yes, and your no is your no.”  It means maintaining honesty, and being truthful. 

As it is in everyday life, so it is in Christianity as well.  Jesus is our greatest example of a man maintaining His integrity.  We are to follow His lead and look at the example He set when striving to keep ours as well.  There are a number of things that factor into integrity, but they’re all predicated by one main one:  LYING.

Lying, along with pride, are probably the foundations for all other sin. Satan is even called “The Father of Lies”. We all do it, whether we admit to it, or even realize it. When we lie, we set in motion issues and situations that eventually can cause us problems later. If the lie is proven false, our word becomes tainted, and people begin to mistrust us. When this happens, our standing with people suffers, and our position does as well. It’s of vital spiritual and natural importance to have truth as much as possible on our lips, and in our hearts.

Because lying can affect our integrity as much as our identity, guarding against its feeders is just as important. CHEATING is a form of lying. Taking shorcuts and skipping steps are all part of cheating. If we’re called to do something, doing it the “right way” is best. Not only is it best, but it can keep us from having to do it over again. Whereas doing it the right (honest) way in the beginning is easier, having to go back later to correct it wastes time and energy. Life is easier when we don’t cheat.

When we commit to something, many times it’s a knee-jerk reaction. We almost instantaneously say yes, and only later consider what we’ve acquiesced to. This later consideration leads to BROKEN PROMISES. The Bible explicitly tells us we are to be careful with our words, and our commitments. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves stretched too thin, and not honoring our commitments. People will begin to look at us sideways when we commit to something; halfway expecting us not to follow through. It’s not a direct lie, but our integrity will be questioned. Make it a point to not commit to anything before thinking it through, or praying about it.

If we lie, if we cheat, if we have a track record of breaking promises, but expect others not to do it, what are we? Full or HYPOCRISY.

“Do what I say, not as I do” could be called the hypocrites’ oath. If we espouse what God’s word says do, yet don’t do it, we’re living a lie. How can anyone take us and our desire to live for God seriously when our life doesn’t line up with His Word? We’re called to be Christ’s ambassadors, meaning we should represent Him in all we do. He’s our model, and we’re to align ourselves with His example. People should see Him when they see us, and we shouldn’t do anything that will give people a false view of Him.

If we try to engage in MANIPULATION, then that’s exactly what we’re doing. In a sense anyway. If we offer a false example, then we’re (again) living a contradiction of the Word. Getting folks to see what we want them to see, and not who/what we really are. This is the mark of a manipulator. Much like with hypocrites, manipulators attempt to “set the scene”, and it’s not based in truth. Take a stand to not only let the truth show, but call out what isn’t the truth.

The tests of Integrity are tough. The only way we can overcome them is to hold tight to the truths of God’s Word. The Word is the only thing that can help us, as we strive to be men of integrity. It’s the purifying fire that separates the absolute truth from lies. The absolute truth is the Jesus Christ. We must let Him be the light that shines in our lives for those around us to see that His yes is His yes.

 
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Posted by on 10/29/2012 in Checkpoints

 

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Not So Random Thoughts

While going through a rough patch, a myriad of different thoughts have circulated through my mind. These are just the the most recent ones.

When is my breakthrough coming?

The older I get, the less BS I’m willing to put up with.

When people say they are praying for you with an attitude, does that mean they really want to say eff you?

People don’t realize how serious it is to say they’re the god or gawd of something. It’s not reverential; it’s idolatrous at best, blasphemous at worst.

I really am a nerd. I’d rather read books than watch TV.

If I wrote a e-book, would it sell?

I’m working toward a degree so when I graduate I’ll be doing something completely different than my major.

The Lakers are greater than the Redskins.

I’m scared as hell having 2 daughters.

This is the first year I can remember not following my yearly ritual of getting alcoholicly plastered once.

I think I’ve pigeonholed myself by being in security too long.

Gotta stay out my feelings about things and do what God says do.

When I write, I wonder if people actually can feel the godly direction in my words.

RG3 may not make it to the end of the season, healthwise.

I wanna see the goings on of the tribulation because I’m fascinated by it, yet I don’t want to have to partake in it.

I personally feel like the animus and disrespect directed toward President Obama is fueled by racism, not ideology.

That’s it.

 
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Posted by on 10/23/2012 in Random, Uncategorized

 

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Checkpoints Week 1: Identity

*This is the first in a series of posts about identifying and living a Checkpoints life.*

This past week was my first in reading about and recognizing an area of life that I, and many men, have a problem identifying. 

Identity.

Many of us cannot pinpoint our identity.  Having our identity is vitally important so we not only know who we are, but who we are in Christ.  Beginning in adolescence, young men begin to identify with positions they hold; student, athlete, teenager, friend, et cetera.  As these young men mature into adulthood, the positions change to worker, father, husband.  The thinking may not change though.

We have to learn that we are not the positions we occupy.  If we were to lose our position, who would we be?  This is the crux of week one.

There are five subjects that need to be understood, to help us focus on our identity in Christ, and not the positions that we hold. 

The first checkpoint on our mission to understanding our identity is PRIDE.  It is the sin that is foundational to all others.  Pride will have men doing things that are completely out of the will of God for their lives.  When men are fueled to gain worldly riches for example, is it to advance the Kingdom, or show off to others?  Checking the heart is important in knowing what drives the desires.  Is it Christ, or self?

Once we understand that pride is the main cause of us failing to recognize our identity, every thing else is based off of it. PERFORMANCE-BASED ACCEPTANCE (PBA) is an offshoot of pride. We tend to feel better about ourselves if we do well. Society is geared toward showering accolades on those who “do good” or are good at something. Sports is an illustration of this.

If an athlete makes a winning play, they’re cheered for; if they make a game costing play, they’re derided. God is the complete opposite. He specializes in acceptance-based performance, also known as grace. There is nothing we can do for Him, but He loves us anyway. Because of this, we should strive to live according to His commandments.

FAILURE. Many fear it, but it’s presence is not a negative. Failure is an opportunity to be used by God. It could possibly be a lesson God wants to teach us…or someone else. That’s one of the wonderful things about God.

He can use us and our experiences for the benefit of others. It may be hard to understand, but failure can also be God’s way of protecting us. Some things we want to do may be harmful to us. God will put roadblocks up to make sure we fail at achieving our own desires. He, in essence, is saving us from ourselves.

When we fail at something, if we don’t recognize that God is in control of the situation, we can develop RESENTMENT. Resentment for: not achieving a desired goal, someone having what should rightly be ours, not being further along in life or a situation. It’s fueled by a lie we allow ourselves to believe. The lie is that failure is not an option. What feeds the lie? Performance-based acceptance, based on societal standards. What feeds the PBA though? Pride. It’s all like stackable blocks.

Do you wonder why resentment is such an issue? Because FALSE EXPECTATIONS feeds into it as well. Society tells us what our status should be at a given time. What kind of car we should have, the schools we should attend, even what our bodies should look like. This is a problem because we look at the world, and not what Christ says.

The Bible says our hope should be in Christ. It also says seek “the kingdom of God first”, and the rest will take care of itself. God knows what we need, so He has that covered. We need to be humble enough to let Him do what He’s going to, and not get in his way. Once we do this, we’ll also see that our identity is not based off of this world at all.

Instead, we’ll show the world that it doesn’t dictate who we are, but Jesus Christ does.

 
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Posted by on 10/22/2012 in Checkpoints

 

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Checkpoints: The Beginning of The Journey

I recently read Checkpoints. It’s a dynamic book. The book is geared toward young men and focuses on helping them live a more Godly life. The precepts in it can be applicable to all men’s lives however. Basic issues that all men deal with are the focus.

Checkpoints is written in a devotional style and this makes tackling the issues easier. There are eight subjects highlighted by the authors. The subjects are broken down into chapters. Since the chapters are written like devotions, each day tackles a different aspect of the subject. At the end of each chapter, there is a summary and review to refresh and strengthen the lessons of the week.

The topics are:

1) Indentity – who are you, and who are you in Christ?

2) Integrity – walking what you talk and being trustworthy.

3) Community – being part of a group, and maintaining integrity.

4) Self-control – protecting the heart and mind from ungodly influences.

5) Courage – standing firmly on God’s precepts, even when fear is present.

6) Patience – knowing that God is in control, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

7) Loyalty – staying true to God and others. Maintaining consistency.

8) Enthusiasm – keeping focused on God and His promises; not on temporal emotions.

Over the next 8 weeks, I’m going to follow the daily devotionals. At the beginning of each following week, I’ll be posting a review of the prior week. In the review I’ll share how I applied the lessons of the week to my life. It’s going to be an interesting time, but one I expect will help me strengthen my walk with Christ.

As I go through it and post my reviews, my hope is that reading the reviews will help others and push them into wanting to read the book as well.

 
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Posted by on 10/17/2012 in Checkpoints

 

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…On Christian hiphop, Ministry & Collision Records

It’s just fairly recent, probably within the last year, that I’ve really grown to appreciate the genre of Christian hiphop. I call it Christian hiphop because it’s hard to classify. Gospel rap sounds like a misnomer. Holy hiphop sounds clichéd. And, as XXL calls it, “new God flow” is kinda blasphemous, at least to me. So, I’m left with Christian hiphop.

Previously when touching on this subject, I really wasn’t versed in many artists. What I did know is that the majority of artists all maintained one overriding theme. That is that Christ was central to their lives. Yeah, they rapped about everyday situations, even street living. It wasn’t a message of despair and being mired in criminal acts that they glorified though. Most of the songs pointed to one central tenant: the hope that living for Christ brings.

GS was the first artist I really listened too. In particular, on his mixtape Warning Before Destruction Vol. 4 GS has a song entitled We All One Body. It’s a track that recognizes that there are other hiphop artists in the category, but they’re all doing their part to uplift God’s Kingdom. Between listening to this track, and doing some research, I found a few others who were worthy of the listen.

I appreciate Lecrae and Reach Records. These bruhs are doing great ministry. There’s some independent artists doing their thing as well. AJB4 is one I been catching up on when watching YouTube. Another crew I been listening to is the Iz Real Entertainment group.

All the artists have their own style, and it really shows the variety that exists in the body of Christ. That being said, as each artist has their own style, each person that listens to the music has their own preference. Mine just happens to fall inline with GS and Collision Records.

Collision Records has (it seems) quietly, but efficiently established a fellowship of artists who can stand toe to toe with anybody in the secular, or spiritual, rap game. These bruhs pull no punches with the Truth, or how it affects daily living. The transparency by which they reveal their lives speaks to the authenticity, yet frailty of our lives. Even in some of the songs where no explicit references to God and Jesus are made, it’s possible to still hear the Godly influence. God IS in this music.

One of the realest songs I’ve heard from the collective is Honest 2 God from the Alex Faith mixtape of the same name. It speaks to the competing nature of worldly trappings, and living for God. It’s a tough line that is layed out, but one many folks find themselves straddling. Blue Skies from Christion Gray, is another “crew cut” that tackles the same subject. Dre Murray and Mr. Swoope also are showcased, and they rise to meet the challenge laid down by Alex and Chris.

What I appreciate about Collision, and all the other Kindgom hiphop labels, is that they are being used by God to minister. It’s not a traditional form, but it is a form that will get the attention of people, young men in particular. Women are as important to the Kingdom as we are. However, it’s of vital importance to gain young men’s attention because we’re the standard bearers. We are ideally, the next generation of leaders. If we’re strengthened in Christ, that can only bode well for the future.

By no means am I taking shots at any artists, because they all are working to advance God’s Kingdom. But for my tastes, GS and the Collision Records artists get it done. I look forward to what they have instore for the future.

*there are websites that cater to the Christian hiphop genre. Rapzilla, Da South, and nh2o are but a few.*

 
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Posted by on 10/16/2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Zach, Lisa, & Interracial Relationships

*This is NOT ABOUT WHY black women don’t get married.*

Lisa Turtle.  Zach Morris.  They were two characters from the early ’90s sitcom Saved By The Bell.  Most people 28 and older remember it.

During the show’s run, I, and I’m sure many other boys, had a serious crush on Lark Voorhies, who played Lisa.  She had some valley girl tendencies, but who cared?  Lisa was it!  Watching Saved made me think high school was full of hijinks.  If I could have fun, and get me a girl like Lisa, I just knew I would be…the…man!

There was a slight problem I didn’t notice until years later though.  I don’t recall anybody that looked like me being on the show.  There wasn’t one black male student in sight.  How could this be?  And further more, how could I get a girl like Lisa if she didn’t have an option like me?

During one of the later seasons, Zach and Lisa kissed.  This shouldn’t be cause for alarm, but it kinda was.  Interracial kissing and dating, as they’d progress to later, by teens wasn’t usually seen on TV.  It’s the first time I even remember seeing a black woman and white man being involved.  A convo on Twitter (where else) got me thinking about it again.  Now that I’m older, I reexamined it from a different perspective.

In 2010, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey that found 8.4% of all U.S. marriages were interracial. This was more than 1.5 times the amount from 1980. Specifically, black women were only part of 5% of interracial marriages. As a group, black women married at a lower percentage anyway, and this bore out in the interracial percentage as well. The factors for this have been discussed ad nauseam, so tackling it here is moot. What isn’t though is the thought or feeling that a black woman “came up”, if she married outside the black diaspora.

Tyler Perry’s A Family That Preys is a good example. In the movie, Sanaa Lathan’s character is married to a blue collar black man, but she was carrying on an affair with a white partner at her firm. She felt like her husband was holding her back, and couldn’t wait to ditch him as soon as her fellow adulterer ditched his wife. Well, ol’ boy never left his wife, and Sanaa was stuck. She assumed that being with the white guy would give her access to the finer things in life. That never happened.

Zach and Lisa never really got going strong before there fling ended. Whatever the reason, however extra popular Lisa was for that time, once her and Zach were done, she was back to being chased by Screech. That’s a serious step back down; no offense to the Screeches of the world. This also leads to the next point.

However misguided it can be, perception can turn into reality. If the Lisas of the world are engaged or married to the Zachs of the world, they must be doing better overall right? Not exactly.

When we consider interracial marriage, it’s fair to assume we look at it from a patriarchy point of view. It’s socially ingrained in our collective conscience to do so. When we see black women married to white men, we assume that they’re more financially well off. We assume that they reside in more upscale neighbourhoods. Now consider black men married to white women.

The assumption stands that the couple resides in a more traditional middle class neighborhood. They are viewed as not being as well off as the BW/WM couple. Is this always the rule? Yes and no.

Yes because, if we look at married couples as a species, most species want to be around their own kind. They feel secure around like-minded and acting other couples. No because each couple is different. What works and is true for one couple may not be true for another. It’s all based on assumptions that have replicated themselves until the assumptions have become self-fulfilling.

Realize that there is truth in stereotypes. There is also a personal story built upon the stereotypes. For black women who choose to be associated with white men, this is no different. However, they all have individual, personal reasons for why they choose the men that they do. It’s not really anybody’s business to understand, or know why they did.

 
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Posted by on 10/15/2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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