The Weekend Word 5.17.24

The Weekend Word 5.17.24

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!

BIG CHANGE COMING TO SUNDAY SCHOOL

I’m always working to try and find the best setting for our Sunday Morning Bible Class. Facebook is our main platform but it can be terribly inconsistent. I prefer to stream to Facebook but I need to try another platform to establish some consistency. Starting this Sunday, you will be able to watch the broadcast and join the conversation, here. You don’t have to register to watch but you will need to register to comment or take notes. 

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? 

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! 

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! 

 

Listen To My New Song (YSML)

Listen To My New Song (YSML)

It’s finally here! Well, sort of. As the track matriculates through all the DSP channels and what not, I want to share a preview with you! As I stated before, this was a labor of love. Initially, I wanted to release the song on Good Friday but the song still needed a lot of work. I kept working and even had to pull out some of my notes from college to complete the song.

So, What’s the Song About?

Great question! The song is love song about the Love of God and our response to it. God’s love is all encompassing. It’s unending and unfailing. His love is there when we need it. God’s love keeps us in trials and helps us to become our best selves. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross epitomized love in unfathomable ways and nothing anyone could ever do will ever be greater than His sacrifice. With this love, we now know love and ultimately how to love others. Plus, a good groove never hurt anyone! I love music and my true musical style is one that I haven’t fully expressed.

YSML gives me the opportunity to honor the gift of music in my life. For years, I’ve always wanted to write, play and produce music. Beyond that, I love audio engineering and I went to college to learn the craft. As it turns out, so much has changed since the last time I recorded a song. For the last 10+ years, I’ve used my recording engineering experience to create my shows and jingles. Well, here I am, with completed song and I’m still a little nervous about it.

For years, I’ve spent time telling other artists what to do and how to fix their recordings but on this journey, I discovered many of the challenges independent artists face as they try to complete their musical journeys. I don’t quote Erykah Badu often but when I do, I know that all creatives can agree on the aspect of sensitivity in the presentation of our “finished” product.

This song was the one that pushed the door open a little. In so many words, it gives me a chance to peek out and survey the landscape for myself. This journey is a journey of faith and learning. I’m growing again and there are many more lessons to learn on the way to preparing my next song.

I hope you like the song and are blessed by it. Feel free to share your comments with me, on Facebook!

How I See It Now…

How I See It Now…

Life through the lens of transition

This past Sunday I wore a new pair of glasses to church. Customarily, I take a selfie after church before leaving church or when I get home. Last Sunday, I noticed something I couldn’t help but laugh at and it gave me a great revelation. Since ordering glasses online, I have a wide range of lens and frame options, too many if I’m being honest. Last year, I ordered my first pair of transition lenses and they’re so cool!

I ordered them to wear at The Stellar Awards, but they didn’t arrive in time. I was disappointed but I had to work to do! I wore them for my birthday photo shoot, and I just love them. I love them so much that I ordered another pair and wore them to church last Sunday. As I looked at the pictures, I thought of my mama who has a few pair of transition lenses and I thought that no matter how funny it is when our parents do it, we’re bound to do it, too!

Now that gave me a hearty laugh, but I was reminded of the year 2022. It was a year that began transition in my life. Last year, the transition continued, and I thought that the transition would be over with the end of 2023, but I was reminded of was as big as the revelation of transition. With those glasses on, I saw everything “through the lens of transition!

WOW…I don’t have to put on rose colored glasses and make things what they aren’t…I just have to see them through the lens of transition and move accordingly! Through the lens of transition, you can recognize true friends and acknowledge divine connections. You can see the hand of God at work in every situation and trust His heart that is set toward good for you! You can see the timing of God through the lens of transition. Otherwise, we’re bound to overstay and miss His divine appointments that lead to due season in our lives!

Haven’t you waited long enough? I don’t want to miss it! The lens of transition will expose people and things that are not good for you, and no, you don’t need to go on a podcast tour, once it’s revealed. The lens of transition will keep you focused on your life’s work and keep you from being so easily sidetracked.

The most intriguing aspect about transition lenses and the lens of transition is placement. Lenses don’t go dark inside. They only darken in natural sunlight. Think about that for a moment, you can be in transition but not in the right light, which may be why you can’t quite see what’s ahead of you! Get in the right light to access the lens of transition!

Who you’re meant to be, how when and where God wants to use you can be clearer seen through the lens of transition. Did I mention that the transition lenses darken in natural sunlight? Don’t be surprised if God uses pain and darkness to illuminate your pathway to purpose. I wish it didn’t have to be this way but from what I understand about the protagonists in the Bible, God is glorified when we trust Him in circumstances that would give the enemy of our soul a bigger place in our lives. Joseph was imprisoned for doing the right thing, Paul spent years as a habitual offender against the Roman Empire and wrote many of his epistles while in chains.

Good thing they’re dark lenses because seeing some things end and others for what they truly are will be painful. But as in every season, there will be joy. So here I come, ready to receive the joy this journey is sure to bring. At least that’s how I see it now, through the lens of transition!

I’m thankful for a shepherd who cares

I’m thankful for a shepherd who cares

At Thanksgiving, we pause to become pensive and collect our thoughts about the year. Even if the year has been less than stellar, we can somehow find a way to be thankful about something at Thanksgiving.

Last week during my devotion time, I thought about the 23rd Psalm and how David ascribed the tenets of a shepherd to the character of the Creator. He says “The Lord is my shepherd” and as he received shepherding from YHWH, he detailed what He does for him like David did the sheep in his care. These were no ordinary sheep as nearly all the sheep in Bethlehem were set aside for sacrifice in the temple. He knew that this flock needed special care. He knew that too needed special care and that it took an even more special shepherd to provide it.

He knew that feast days called for unblemished sacrifices. Attention to detail was the standard, and this was no menial task he was assigned to. He was entrusted with overseeing the flock the people used in service to God. It may be a stretch to call him a “black sheep”, but he did say that he was a stranger in his own house (Psalm 69:8). It was thought that David was the product of adultery, so he was regularly mistreated as a pariah within the ranks of Jesse’s heirs. He was of Jesse’s house but of no consideration. This they proved when Samuel came to anoint Israel’s next king. He had to ask Jesse, are these all your sons?

To them, David was a forgettable, regrettable mistake, but in truth, he was the apple of God’s eye (Psalm 17:8). In this psalm of praise, David exclaims that the Lord most high is his shepherd, protector, and patron. When forsaken by his own family, he knew that the Lord would avenge every wrong done against him and entrusted his life and soul into the Lord’s care.

He became acclimated to the proclivities of sheep and knew that they were smarter than they get credit for. They are so smart that some sheep had a sole advocate in a shepherd. If they were not careful. some sheep would find themselves outsmarted and without nourishment. Other sheep disregarded sick sheep and, since they constantly graze, they would have very little to feed on once they recovered. This is why the shepherd would set aside a meal for the injured or sick sheep. In their own strength, they would drink only from still waters. They would otherwise be carried away from a flowing stream. In the instance that the meal was prepared, the water provided was in abundance hence, his cup runneth over. This speaks to the superabundance of God’s grace in our lives. A grace that always makes room for more than what is desired.

 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Psalm 23:5

Of course, the other sheep had to watch this sheep get special treatment as they dined on what would otherwise be consumed by their voracious counterparts. In short, the Lord does for him what he does for the sheep in his care. He guides them with a rod and staff. He anoints their heads with oil so that parasitic insects don’t burrow into their fur, dine on them, and ultimately destroy them.

He has seen sheep in their worst state and thanks God for protecting his sheep as he could protect the sheep in his care. I’ve been writing the second edition of one of my books and as I learned more about shepherding, I got stuck on Psalm 23:5. This led me to write my psalm of praise as I reflected on my life. You know, it’s so easy to feel rushed to do anything. It’s so hard to compare yourself to others and even get despondent about your journey. It’s so easy to feel uncovered and uncared for in this cruel world.

As I reflected on the verse, I found myself thanking God for preserving my portion! I thanked God that no misstep, detour, disobedience, sabotage, or betrayal was a match for the Lord, my shepherd! In fact, He preserved my portion and held back my “enemies” who then had to watch me dine! Now that’s some real shepherding!

This Thanksgiving lesson is two-fold. The Lord showed me that He will always make a way for me and that He’s showing my enemies that nothing they do or throw my way will prevent me from partaking in the portion He has prepared for me! Over the years, I’ve learned that some enemies in my life aren’t human. They’re imposter syndrome, low self-esteem, doubt, faithlessness, condemnation, fear, and a bevy of other demonic and natural forces working against me. None of them are a match for the shepherd who will leave the 99 covered to retrieve the sheep who have lost their way.

Nothing’s missing, nothing is lacking. As one translation puts it, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.” Reflecting on this lesson, I’ll say it this way, “The Lord is my shepherd, I will have everything I need and will possess every blessing assigned to my life.” Why blessings? Don’t you know that what the Lord provides as shepherd is more than we could ever do for ourselves? When we rely on Him, we release ourselves to His blessings, His way! I would never reduce my reliance on God to only demanding blessings. Job refuted his wife’s demand that he curse God and die with this, “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10)

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Paul told the church at Thessalonica “in everything give thanks” not necessarily for everything. So whether I feel fulfilled or forsaken, I’ve found a way to be thankful! I’ve learned to be content no matter the state of my life. This year has been hard for business but it has also been one of the best. I’ve learned lessons about myself that have strengthened my trust in God and also showed me when I’ve missed his provisions. He was making ways I couldn’t see nor understand but I’m thankful that I learned more about the shepherd I trust with my life and my soul.

As the songwriter penned, “I trust in God wherever I may be. Out on the land or on the sea. Come what may from day to day, my Heavenly father watches over me.” I could be fearful about my future. I could fret about my past. But I shall do neither because I trust in the God. I trust that He is the good shepherd, I believe in Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep. The Lord is my shepherd, and at the appointed time, I shall have my portion prepared for me!

What a lesson! As I reflect on what I’m thankful for this year, I’m thankful to the Lord that He has preserved my portion! It didn’t spoil, it won’t spoil, but it remains as fresh as the day I was chosen for it! There’s so much to be thankful for, this is just one of millions! I will spend the remainder of my life giving thanks to God for what He has done for me! 

If you’re reading this and you haven’t yet made the Lord shepherd of your soul, I’m willing to pray with you to guide you through that. If you want to learn more about this shepherding or have questions, I’m open to talk. Simply email me and let’s talk!

Here’s What Happened…

Here’s What Happened…

In this episode, we discuss what led us to this point and how we’re seeking to maneuver from this pivotal moment. Each week, you’re invited to join the discussion and share your thoughts with us. We serve in local churches and have many friends who are faith leaders and leaders within other local assemblies. There are many topics they cannot openly discuss but using this platform, we will. We also have several friends and family members who no longer attend church.

Be Reconciled

Some of them have walked away from the faith and some of them were never really into the church thing beyond the demand of their parents. So, what we do? Our answer is this discussion platform where no topic is off-limits. We’ll do our best to openly and transparently discuss these hard-hitting topics through the lens of the word and our vast experiences. Join us each week, we’re saving a seat for you!