It’s His world

He knew how/why everything happened; He knew the disposition of every single soul. He wasn’t going to let anything happen by accident! Nobody was going to hell by mistake. This was His world, all this! He had complete control of it; His justice, His mercy– were not our justice or our mercy. What folly to even imagine such a thing. I didn’t have to know how He was going to save the unlettered and unbaptized, or how He would redeem the conscientious heathen who had never spoken His name. I didn’t have to know how my gay friends would find their way to Redemption; or how my hardworking secular humanist friends could or would receive the power of His saving Grace. I didn’t have to know why good people suffered agony or died in pain. He knew. And it was His knowing that overwhelmed me, His knowing that became completely real to me…And why should I remain apart from Him just because I couldn’t grasp all of this? He could grasp it. 
Anne Rice
 Out of darkness: a spiritual journey
As I look at the frenzy…the chaos…my world spiraling out of control; I realize I went out of control with it! Seeing black men being treated less than human…shot and killed, I’ve grown desensitized. I allowed what I’ve seen to become my reality. I’ve allowed what’s going on, on the outside cause inner turmoil. WHY? God’s got it! In the past few hours I’ve taken time to recoil and have found myself before the throne of grace seeking God’s will on this. What took me so long? My facebook posts and retweets mean nothing. Moving the heart of God affects change in my life. Reading this quote by Anne Rice I started to realize I couldn’t grasp the current events and rationalize them. But God can. He see’s the police brutality. He see’s each family agonizing over loss. It’s not my justice it’s His justice! The mercy I’ve considered withholding, it’s not mine! So why withhold it? I pray we seek God and move His heart. He will heal our land. Don’t live in fear in the black community, don’t worry.
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Dealing with depression

You know what it’s like dealing with depression? It’s like being TRAPPED, in the house of your dreams! Let that sink in..

Think about what the house of your dreams looks like and then piece together what it’d be like; from the floors to the furniture. Now imagine people, friends and family, admiring your home and praising you for it, not knowing you aren’t able to actually leave. Looking and simply writing off the notion that you’re not happy, not knowing you are not be able to escape from it. And when you try to mention your discomfort or explain your disdain for the home you live in people try to explain it way.
Everyone on the outside looking in tells you, “you’ll be fine, everything looks great on the outside, “I’m sure you’re fine”, or “did you pray about it?”
Dealing with depression (especially the various forms of it) is not easy, and it’s not just something you can pray away…LET THAT SINK IN.

You have to deal with it in a practical way along with prayer. Not one or the other. We treat physical ailments with urgency, just not our mental health. Would you break your ankle and just say you’ll tough it out and walk around on it? NO. You could make that temporary injury permanent. Would you break a bone anywhere on your body and say “I’ll just pray over it”? No! You would immediately seek help. But with mental health we don’t take the same mindset. Diabetes requires medication, accompanied with exercise. Why don’t we treat our mental health the same??

Disappointment can also be very hard to deal with, especially bearing it alone. About 3 months ago, I had a nervous breakdown. I was in a mental health institution for about 2 weeks. Prior to going to seek treatment I let my boss know at Chick-fil-A, that i would be seeking treatment. He told me to go ahead, he understands he’s dealt with depression too, and  “see you in 2 weeks” is how he ended our conversation. I go to treatment for a week and a half and decided I’m ready to return on the Wednesday following the first full week. Do you know he had already given my job away to someone else? I internalized it as He moved on and decided I was no longer valuable. After dealing with hopelessness head on for a week and a half that became almost too much as well.

Check this.
It’s also so hard to pray for big things that require faith and shows God’s power. You know why? Because you don’t feel you can quite deal with disappointment from God, in addition to everyone else. Aint that wild?? And Without faith its impossible to please God so where does that leave you….

Dealing with depression can be exasperating. It’s like you’re a superhero one day and completely human the next.

Here’s a couple of tips I’d like to share with anyone that deals with depression that I feel work for me.

  • Share your struggle with the people close to you. You can’t get compassion if people don’t know what you’re dealing with.
  • Seek counseling. Its like being obese and seeking a trainer. You’re really do need assistance.
  • Don’t suffer by yourself. Share when you feel it coming on.
  • Involve God through prayer. There are times I’ve felt my mouth is being kept shut physically. I’ve known for sometime that was the enemy but I never addressed it.
  • Saturate yourself in God’s word. Hopeless thoughts can’t reside in the same space.

*Please remember this; especially my black folk.
Sheer Avoidance is not deliverance.

#raisingmentalhealthawareness

Win/Win not Lose/Lose

I was waiting for a society that would wrap its arms around young black men; one that would embrace their uniqueness and offer support.

After seeing countless shootings I prayed for men that would turn around and give back and invest time, energy and resources into young black men in order to change this seemingly inevitable outcome.

I cant wait any longer. I’ve sat still feeling helpless. But I give up. With the knowledge I acquire and the connections I am blessed to make, I will share with young black men FREELY. It’s a WIN/WIN. I benefit from seeing a young black man become successful. They benefit by being able to change their lives and families. In our culture everything seems to be a competition. Other cultures don’t carry themselves that way with their men, why should we?

A win/win outcome is when both involved parties win. A lose/lose outcome is when a choice leads to no net gain. You know how a lose/lose situation is played out every single day? When a mature black man doesn’t invest in a young black man when he doesn’t seem to benefit from it.

ATTENTION BLACK MEN:

You won’t lose your jobs when you freely give knowledge and wisdom to a young black man. You won’t be at a disadvantage if you pour your energy and resources into our young black men. It’s time for you to change your definition of a lose/lose scenario into a win/win. Our lives, our families, and our communities are depending on you.

Character

Character simply put is who you are when you can’t help it.

 

Who are you when you can’t help it? You’re driving and someone lays on their horn because you weren’t paying attention while waiting for a green light..and you respond by STICKING YOUR MIDDLE FINGER OUT THE WINDOW!

A reaction like that can most times be a reflection of who you’ve been in private (definition of integrity).  It’s what your natural inclination is to RANDOM situations! Is it an inclination to flip the bird, or is it an inclination to stay calm and in control of your actions?

Joseph is the perfect example of character. Check this out…

His brothers, THREW HIM INTO A PIT TO DIE. And one day just show up at his job. Years after that fiasco of being thrown into the pit, Joseph (having been framed by Potiphar’s wife for sexual assault and after having been in a dungeon a couple times) eventually becomes second in command to only Potiphar. This guy is in command and in control of the nation (WOW by the way, won’t He do it? lol).

A famine hits the land that Joseph foresaw and has saved up enough resources during the 7 years of plenty. Out of nowhere his brothers show up asking for food. What are the odds??? Joseph recognizes them before they recognize him (I always recognize the people that did me wrong first, it’s a normal thing.lol), and turns and begins to weep. I’m thinking he’s sad about what happened and it brings him to tears; and then those tears will turn to rage and HE WILL GET REVENGE! Nope. This dude (after testing them a little), says hey it’s me your brother, I love you guys, how’s dad? That BLEW ME AWAY! After all of that crap you’d been through your entire life BECAUSE OF THEM, your first response was to show forgiveness and love on them?? That’s POWERFUL!!! Who are YOU going to be when you can’t help it?

I listened to a few messages from Andy Stanley called Character under Construction, given to me by one of my best friends. After hearing those messages I was prompted to ask God to help me work on my character. I advise you to do the same.  Be careful! God will answer that prayer! Another way to work on your character is to watch what you’re feeding yourself in private. In my book The middle man, I mention one example: If you’ve been watching porn on a regular basis and an opportunity for sex comes up, nine times out of ten you’ll take it. Why? We are wired as human beings (especially as men, we are typically creatures of habit) to go with the inclination we’ve taught ourselves is the acceptable response.

​No situation is bigger than God. 

First of all…I struggle with depression. (bi-polar/manic depression to be exact). In learning to deal with it, (going through consistent therapy, maintaining healthy circumstances, staying in positive surroundings, consistently taking medication and consistent exercise), I’ve learned to manage decently in my opinion. Even learning the proper way to deal with it and executing it on a regular basis was difficult, but I feel I have a good handle on it now. With all that being said…..God had to teach me a lesson about it. And I’m kinda stubborn so it took a while.

Depression and hopelessness is partially, me thinking i don’t see a way out of my situation… And makes God out to be powerless. But to trust God in spite of hopelessness says to God you are bigger than man, you are bigger than my insurmountable situation. You are all powerful, not the situation. That was one of Josephs key strengths. A constant trust in God no matter what things looked like. Lets look at Josephs life in summation.
(starting in Genesis 37) Thrown into a pit by his brothers, taken to jail, thrown back in jail once he got out because Potiphars wife was messy (trying to get Joseph to sleep with her and he curved her and RAN, so she accused him of the unthinkable), he was forgotten about while in jail by a man that gave Joseph his word– he thought he would be the plug once he was promoted back to his position….

I really think that’s bad enough to have checked out A FEW times. But he never did. And eventually he was made second in command to only Potiphar himself. And on top of that, his wisdom and dream he got from God (his talent), was what saved the entire nation! A famine came that he accurately predicted because of the dream, and subsequently saved up enough grain and supplies that lasted through the 7 years of famine they experienced that would have wiped out the nation.
Each situation he had to be thinking, HOW AM I GOING TO GET OUT OF THIS…THIS TIME. His will to fight doesn’t appear to have ever dwindled and his trust in God never waivered.
I sure hope I can play up to that level spiritually, and encourage other young men to do the same! This guy Joseph is the poster child for “trusting in God, even though everything looks impossible!” Remember GOD IS POWERFUL, NOT THE SITUATION.

Church and school are no place for young black men

What in the world did he just say!?!?

I don’t believe church is a place that fosters growth in young black men ages 25-35. Next time you go to church, count the young men you see, (maybe speak and say a kind word or two lol) and you’ll see my observation. When you take a look, notice that children are accounted for, high school students, mothers, and fathers (typically active in the church–mostly deacons, ushers, and parking lot security) are all accounted for. But not US.

Heres the Breakdown. We as young black men are typically taught our gifting’s are in our legs. Sometimes the only way we get out of our neighborhoods is through sports. The schools we get recruited to attend are often out of state, hours from our homes and communities and once we get out to those schools there typically aren’t churches out there that can connect with us and pour into us individually (small groups would be ideal). After 4 grueling years of being an indentured servant to the NCAA and NAIA, we’re sent back home with a cap and a piece of paper. To get a job at all in most cases you need a degree and some experience in the field (HOW CAN YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE, YOU WERE LITERALLY JUST SITTING IN CLASS), and guess what? Hiring managers don’t look at how many practices you attended, how many points you scored or your size and weight. They’re just looking to see if you interview well and fit the needs of their company.  Oh by the way; when did we have time for interview coaching? Before or after practice? If you were an athlete then you understand the grueling schedule: 6 am weights, breakfast at 7:30, class from 9-12, Lunch, class from 1-2:30, team meeting at 3, individual position breakouts til 3:30 (going over plays watching film), getting treatment or taped at the athletic trainer, actual practice 4:30-6:30, treatment with athletic trainers if needed, Dinner somehow before 7pm when the cafeteria closes, and if you’re still awake by the grace of God at this point, do homework. When a student athlete returns home (I mean seriously, like 3% of athletes get drafted, and this is what we worked our whole lives for), they are like a plant that’s been taken from soil and dropped on cement. If you survived that’s amazing. you were able to push through the incredibly dense ground and find some footing and grow some roots.

Aside from individual efforts from parents (thats if we have both parents with ideal financial situations), coaches and whatever mentors get scattered into our lives, WE DON’T GET POURED INTO. Imagine graduating and having to transition into the work force and the hard work you’re most accustomed to is the type of blood sweat and tears you can only get from the gym, the gridiron, or the basketball court. Eventually we breakdown and deal with different types of depressions and we don’t get the support we need. We no longer feel useful.

We become warriors without a battle to fight. Imagine the mental anguish we endure sitting in an office or working a cash register trying to climb the corporate ladder. As our body deteriorates, our conditioning leaves us and our passions are stripped from us. We need a support system specifically designed for us! We hold the future of this country in our hands. The question is, will they be debilitated hands or able and willing hands?  We need guidance on how to lead a woman, raise children and guide a family. There has to be an end put to the “just figure it out as you go” method. Stop having “mens conferences” and inviting speakers that are 50-60 that don’t even attempt to connect with us. Have a mens conference that markets to us. We need speakers that aren’t past their prime as well as the retired warriors that are focused on our growth. I am challenging every church I step foot in, to create a program or ministry designed to encourage this age group and facilitate growth and healthy discussion.

We can continue to do our best and leave the rest up to God. But we need support. Stop holding out. Stop telling us to just get it together.

Church and school are no place for young black men; so let’s make it one.

Dealing with adversity

Dealing with adversity
I’m coming for our magic scripture in the Western Americanized world we live in…Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Let’s include verses 11 and 12 to give you more context. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Let me get you hip as to what it really means before you start tattooing this on your arms and quote it before every game you play..

Paul is saying this in his letter to the church of Philippians…
I’ve learned to be content in whatever circumstance I’m in. Im not running, I’ll be resilient– I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Is there a way to be fine on the inside, even when things are not ok on the outside? The secret is being “content”. I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance. The secret is, i can do all this (being thrown into a dungeon, persecuted and beaten) through Him. Through Him i can maintain my commitment to contentment, through Christ who gives me strength. He wasn’t talking about winning.lol Paul’s up in heaven looking down shaking his head.lol Like “Hey guys! I wasn’t talking about winning your high school championship! or getting that full ride to a good college..or getting that job you prayed about! This wasn’t intended to be some magic scripture. Paul was in jail yall! And was fighting for his life! If you don’t grasp this verse for what its worth you miss the power behind it. I can thrive under all circumstances because Christ gives me His strength.

Andy Stanley put it this way..(write this down somewhere!) REMEMBER: I can’t, He can—He can, through me.