Do You Know How Blessed You Really Are?

Do You Know How Blessed You Really Are?

Monday night was a late night because I started cooking late. I really hope to do better with dinner next school year, because this year was not my best. Exasperated from a long day and dinner preparation, I found myself complaining that the kitchen was always in need of cleaning. Then the Lord made me think of why the kitchen needed cleaning. We are blessed to eat at home, every night! This started the wheels of thought in motion.

You have a home to eat in, food to eat each night, and even dishwashing liquid or dishwasher packs to use in the dishwasher. Immediately, I repented for complaining. How could I be complaining about a blessing? We don’t have the budget to eat out each night, but we have food in the freezer, pantry, and refrigerator. We even have leftovers most nights. So, what is there to complain about? Absolutely nothing at all!

Sometimes, we become so complacent with God’s blessings that we allow ourselves to fall into ungratefulness. Putting gas in the car, going grocery shopping, and paying rent/mortgage are necessities many Americans don’t have the luxury to afford. I’m grateful that even with the changes we’ve dealt with in the last month, God has blessed us to stay afloat. I’m grateful that God has kept us healthy so that we can go to work. I’m grateful that He has kept us from car accidents to and from work. I’m grateful that we are in good health and can enjoy our time at work, school, and home.

As Paul Morton said, I’ve got so much to thank God for!” Truth be told, there’s too much for me to even name, but I’m thankful for it all! Of course, there’s a song for everything I experience. The song that came to mind as I stood in my kitchen was “I’m Blessed” by the late Rev. Clay Evans. In his introduction of the song, Rev. Evans spoke about the person complaining with a loaf of bread under their arm. How could we dare complain when even the little we have is more than what others have? I’ll never complain again. In that moment of prayer, I asked the Lord for wisdom. “Lord, help us to manage all that we have.” You see, even what we perceive as not enough or inadequate is more than others have and just what someone else may be praying for. 

Sometimes we overspend when we should be saving. Sometimes we don’t set money aside and overexert our spending to make up for it. Sometimes, we eat out when we should be frugal and eat at home. Sometimes the money we’re looking for has already been frivolously spent. “Lord, help us to do better and appreciate every blessing with the godly wisdom and divinely guided stewardship.” Proverbs 10:22 says that the blessing of the Lord maketh rich and adds no sorrow with it. As I appreciate every blessing, I won’t dare complain about anything the Lord has blessed me with ever again!

Let Them Hear You

Let Them Hear You

I learned a lot the last time I released an edition of The Weekly/Weekend Word. I use a very popular email blast server and have since I began. Since my “audience” is varied with each company, I have different blasts that go out to the varied audiences. Lately, I’ve combined the audiences to share the stories and lessons with a single audience. This has always been a point of pain for me though because seemingly with each blast, there are people who unsubscribe. 

What stings the most is that I know each person who unsubscribes. We have some kind of relationship yet, when it comes to them receiving this email, they’re not interested. I’ll never forget the man and former church member who would take time each day to send us a song and a story. He was so diligent, I didn’t even have time to open many of the emails. Yet, when I returned the favor with either an email from The SMG Report or news about a book release, he wasn’t interested. Or what about the pastor whose sound system I helped set up. We talk on Facebook all the time but for some reason, he didn’t care to indulge this email.

I try not to take these things personally. Truth is, I shouldn’t and that analytics are the worst thing that could have ever have happened to us. Without fail, we restructure everything to fit the analytics and refine our practices to doing what works best. In the process, we sometimes lose what works best for us. I find myself saying this often, but this email always brings it back to me. Something else happened the last time I sent one of these out, though. In the closing of his message a few weeks ago, Dr. Alvin Pope referenced one of the entries. 

He sure did and it was at the closing of service when there’s really the greatest impact (if you ask me). What that did for me, affirmed this in a way that was so needed. I can see who opens, reads and even clicks, but by Sunday, I was no longer checking. So, to see that someone had actually read it and gleaned something from it did my heart good. Here’s the lesson, we are never unseen or unheard. 

What you release may not garner the response you hoped it would, but in all you do, give people a chance to hear you and experience what you have to offer! There’s a song that says when people won’t listen, ‘make them hear you.’ I agree with that but it’s as simple as not canceling yourself because of who you think won’t hear you. It’s as simple as showing up in the world, regardless of who shows up to see you, they hear you! And finally, get this, God has wasted nothing in creating the majesty of who you are! The people you want may never acknowledge it, but for the world in search of you, let them hear you! Why deprive those who need what you have because those you want to have it don’t want it? This is part of the revelation of Romans 8:28, those who didn’t want God made way for those He hadn’t been available to and when those reject Him, He will again be the God of those He originally appeared to. In this, everybody will have had access to the grace and goodness of God. It all works out anyway, so let the world hear you! 

Get Someone Else to do it!

Get Someone Else to do it!

In his iconic line from “Boomerang,” John Witherspoon etched himself into the lexicon of movie lovers and ultimately African-American vernacular when he said, “you got to co-ordinate!” He was well coordinated, down to his belt and the lining of his blazer. 

I want to share a similar message with creatives and leaders reading this: COLLABORATE! When I heard the Lord about my song in February, I knew that I couldn’t finish it on my own. When I originally recorded it, only I and my wife were on the song. I knew that if it were to come to fruition and reach the people we’re called to reach, I would need to bring some other people aboard. 

Initially, I handled everything in house because of budget constraints. I knew that I couldn’t remain limited to only what I could do if this song were to ever emerge from the storage on my hard drive. I want to share this with you, that amid all of your frustrations, limitations and other complications, try the solution of collaboration!

There is a social media meme that says, “get somebody else to do it” referencing a job or task that is unbearable or unwanted. And while many times, what has confounded the work is possible by our hands, intellect and expertise, that may be just what we need to do. By finding someone else to do even what you could do will free up your time and could even broaden your vision for the uncompleted project.

Who can do what you need done? If you can do it, but haven’t done it, will it ever get done? This was the question I had to ask myself and really be sober about the answer. So, I called a few friends and let them do what they do well. By allowing them to do what they do so well, I was free to do what I do best and in this instance, it was making, recording and editing music. 

I don’t know what collaboration will solve for you, but I share this in hopes of alleviating the stressors that lead to and keep you bound in cycles of procrastination and stagnation. As the year began, I heard “collaboration” so strongly. I asked this about myself and my companies but the Lord showed me that I would be coming along to join others’ efforts. Understand that the concept of collaboration is involves and includes you as a solution but be willing and open to those will be that for you, as well! 

As many of you, I completed a song earlier this year. I knew that I couldn’t do it alone so I want to introduce you to the people who helped me reach the finish line!

Sanesia Tillman is an amazing singer. I can’t remember how we met but I knew that I would need her services sooner than later, once I knew of her. She gladly and efficiently took my work request and transformed the song into what I could only dream of. “You Showed Me Love” is the third song that we have worked on together and I saw her gift blossom as we collaborated this time around. As a writer and musician with no regular group, having singers can stifle all motion and momentum. Sanesia is a more than a life saver, she’s a song saver and I’m glad to have her work as a part of the team. 

Devin Renee is a young lady whose gift I have admired for years. As I re-visited the song, I felt there was a specific voice that I needed to take the bridge and vamp of the song further than I could. She was the perfect choice and though we still haven’t began work on the song I initially purposed for her years ago, I’m glad that we could come together for this song at this time! 

I met Patrick Dudley when he subbed for our drummer at church years ago. Because I work in radio when he told me about the group he played for, I asked for their music.  We have remained in touch since then and when he moved to DFW, I told him that I would reach out to him once I got some music going. Patrick was a Godsend to this project because he literally saved the session! I couldn’t get anything going on my equipment or software so we used his interface and recorded to his computer! We wouldn’t have made it without him! Additionally, he caught the groove I was going for with ease which made the session even better! 

What Will You Do With Your Power?

What Will You Do With Your Power?

John 1:12 says that our belief in Jesus empowers us to become the sons of God. John references this when he writes “beloved, now are we the sons of God...” in 1 John 3:2. The gospel of John and the other Johannine epistles were written in a span of about 5-10 years later. John continues the motif of spiritual sonship to his audience. His later epistles are written with an idea that there has been a progression of sorts. He says in the latter epistle, “now are we…” indicating that something has changed. Progression. In our walk of faith, we must concern ourselves with progression. The writer of Hebrews says in the first verse of Chapter 6, “let us go on unto perfection...” We are challenged to growth throughout scripture. We should always be adding to our Christian experience, but are we?

I ask this because I’m challenged in this same way. Am I adding virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity (2 Peter 1:5-8)? Am I advancing in the cause of Christ? What if I’m not? In weight loss and exercise, people often talk about the plateau. They reach a point where no matter what they do, they can only maintain the point they’ve reached and can’t seem to go beyond it. But John 1:12 says that I have the power to become the son (child/offspring) of God. Many times, we look like only what we’ve done. We look like a good church member. We look like a do-gooder! But, that’s all. When will we use the power we’ve been given to finally BE what we’ve been empowered to become! 

Did you plateau in the becoming phase? I’ll admit, there are times I look at my spiritual life and have to concede that this is my reality. But, can I press into going beyond where I’m used to going? Can my mind be stretched to access the deeper things of God that take a little (or a lot) more critical thinking and divine help to fully understand? Am I willing to alter my schedule to meet God when He is inviting me to fellowship? Am I willing to ask like the rich, young ruler, “what yet lack I?” Am I willing to release what I think I should be or what I think I should be doing to receive the revelation of what God wants me to do? 

I have the power to do this? I’ve been given this power and it’s mine to use. It’s yours to use! Romans 8:19 says that the world is waiting for the sons of God to be revealed. Your job is waiting on the impact of your influence. Your neighborhood is. Your church is. Your family is. Most importantly, the Kingdom is waiting on you! What will you do with your power? 

Turn Up the Temperature

Turn Up the Temperature

The world is a really cold place. I know this because I’ve become somewhat frigid. I normally smile at people when I’m in public but lately I’ve found myself returning the energy in the room. If no one is smiling, neither will I. I’m not sure if Disney World is still the happiest place in the world, but I can tell you the grocery store is the unhappiest place in the city!

Inflation is surging, shrinkflation is the new packaging norm and food quality is steadily declining. There’s so much unhappiness in the atmosphere of shopping for life’s essentials so it’s easy to blend in. But as a believer, we’re not called to blend in, we’re called to shake up stuff! In the coldness of the world, don’t be a thermometer only reading the temperature of the room. Become a thermostat and become willing to change the atmosphere and turn up the temperature of the love of Christ.

When my sister Brandi passed away in April, I noticed that unless I mentioned it, most people didn’t notice what my family was experiencing. This was eye opening, to say the least. I learned how true it is that you never know what the next person is really dealing with. Yes it was a struggle to smile some days and dealing with the sudden separation of my assignment at the church where I’d served for the last five years, I didn’t care to smile at anyone nor did I care who was smiling at me. It was dark and cold, and so was I! I knew that I couldn’t stay that way but I didn’t really want to change. It felt good, comfortable, even. And then I realized that may be the reason so many are the way they are, today! I’m not back to 100% yet, but I am glad that the Lord will uphold me when I can’t or don’t even care to (which I honestly didn’t).

There’s no shortage of unhappiness, doubt, distrust, and worry. Why not replace it with the eternal hope of Christ you have in your life? I have made a concerted effort to be the change the room needs. I accept that assignment for each room I enter. I enter as a thermostat understanding that my impact will be felt as long as I’m “on.” I’m thinking of those of you struggling with whatever life has brought your way. I’m reminding you that God is the joy and strength of your life. I’m reminding you to smile, today. Did you know that a smile can turn someone’s day around? You will smile again and when you do, sow that smile into the life of someone who could surely use it!