The recent wave of snow and ice has taught me the importance of waiting and contemplation. Too often we hurry from one situation to another. If the truth is really told, we are expending energy with little results. During the snow and icy weather, one had to stay close to home and spend time in confinement. What did you learn? Well I hope one learned that there is no place like home. I hope you learn that the people home with you are the ones most important to you. Finally, I hope you learned to wait on the Lord. Yes, one can learn valuable lessons from the snow and ice.
Happy Valentine's Day! There is an old saying, "Distance makes the heart grow fonder." In many ways it does if the distance is physical and not emotional or spiritual.
A physical distance triggers memories driven by the endorphins in our brains. Endorphins is the enzyme that is released when the brain experiences pleasure. Distance runners feel pleasure as their bodies endure the pain of a marathon race. Addicted persons feel pleasure as they destroy their bodies from abusive behaviors. In a positive sense in line with Valentine's day thinking. Endorphins are released when you smell the perfume or cologne of a loved one. When you walk pass a favorite place and remember that special moment, that sweet kiss, or embrace. In that sense distance does make the heart grow fonder as your mind remembers the pleasure of a loved ones presence.
In an emotional sense, distance does not necessarily make the heart grow fonder as you are spiral through an emotional roller coaster of "does she/he love me, or does she/he not." An emotional roller coaster may only want you to get off and to find another who does not take you through the emotional ringer.
In a spiritual sense, distance may not make the heart grow fonder if another's presence does uplift you but presses you down. Too many people "sit in a corner like little Jack Horner," missing the spiritual presence of a loved one.
Allow me to offer a positive picture. Distance can make the heart grow fonder if it is triggered by the love of God. God's love transforms physical place, emotional embrace, and spiritual space into a deep and abiding presence of the divine love of God. God's love never leave you, nor forsakes you. God's love transform emptiness into fullness and completeness. God's love is deeper than the ocean and wider than the sea. God's love is forgiving and redeeming. God's love cannot be diminished; it can only be magnified to His glory and honor.
Happy Valentine's Day and keep the love of God as the center of your joy!
When I worked in Southeast Washington as Executive Director of a coalition of churches, each year we would be called upon to provide the corpus of the March for the King Holiday. It was a distinct honor to play that small role in an overarching strategy to achieve a national holiday in Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.'s honor. I remember well that fateful day when after much organizing we launched the 20th year Anniversary of the March on Washington in 1983. My sister born in 1968 accompanied me as a Field Marshall for the event and landed a front row position to hear Mr. Stevie Wonder play for the first time "Happy Birthday" in honor of Dr. King. The pressure for the national holiday was so great that President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law which took effect two years later in 1985.
Locally during that same organizing period of time, Griot Mary Carter Smith, led a effort for the community not to spend a penny on January 15th, the actual day of King's birthday. While the effort was symbolic, it was directly at focusing our attention on avoiding the commercialization of his holiday and to make it a day of reflection and positive action.
I made it a point during my career to do something socially significant to commemorate King's birthday. This year I announced to the members of Union Baptist Church yesterday, our church would hold a Jobs Sunday on February 23, 1014. On that Sunday we would have a major employer attend church with their senior human resources staff. After service they would take applications and interview attendees who are looking for employment. The commitment I have with them is to hire 100 persons based upon the recommendation I will provide. I can imagine the attendance in church that Sunday. So many people are looking for employment and need a job.
Clearly economic disparity, full employment and ending poverty was on Dr. King's radar screen. He preached about it and talked about those issues often. He was pristine clear in his final sermon, "I've Been to the Mountain Top," to say that we should use the tool of economic boycott so people who are discriminating against us can feel economic pain. He also affirmed that we should spend out money with businesses who are supportive of our issues and concerns.
As I ponder the question what does King mean to me, he means that my witness in ministry and my preaching of the Gospel must be a tool in the liberation movement of people and pointed directly towards addressing injustice balanced by love for humankind.
Baltimore is beginning the New Year with a spike in homicides of more than one per day. This is the 16th of January and as of the 15th we have had sixteen murders. What could be the cause of this awful tragic situation? Why are people so senselessly murdering one another? What can be done to curtail these occurrences?
For one all people of good will must join in opposition to this lawlessness. The Police and the Political leaders must activate the power of true citizen participation. How do you do this? For one the religious and faith based institutions need the resources of the police and the political arenas to be funneled through them.
If you were to make these institutions true job centers, you would discover an ability to interact with the community in a positive way. The issue of violence has moral implications as well as social implications. A respect for life and a fear of eternal consequences for one's actions is embedded in the faith traditions of long standing. The belief that God is the ultimate judge for your actions places upon a believer a responsibility to follow God's law. Clearly God says, "Thou Shall Not Kill!" This command of God must be woven into the fabric of our community and society.
Secondly, the faith institutions must become true centers of economic and social power. People need the support of the faith institution and the faith institution needs the support of the police and political leaders. Intentional resources from public sources should flow through these institutions. They have their ears to the earth and their feet on the ground. They have street credibility that can be leveraged within every community.
Thirdly, we have to eliminate anonymity within our communities. We need the faith institutions to increase its outreach and social gatherings. We need to be the cultural centers of the community and the informational resource for its residents. Every persons within our area of service should be known, their needs should be understood, and assistance of a very specific nature should be directed towards them and their families. Every entity within a community must be engaged in alleviating violence of any form.
If the faith institutions where in their proper place and received the resources it needed, you would see a reduction of acts of violence within local communities because the message of peace and hope would have substance.
There is an old saying, "When it rains it pours." The moral of the phrase is that when trouble comes it comes in a downpour. Some of you understand, when trouble came to your door it was not a little drizzle, it was a monsoon. Trouble went from a little to a lot!
In the national news, you are seeing this same phenomena with Governor Christie. What started our as trouble about closing lanes, is escalating into possible federal crimes, maybe the improper use of federal funds, and the jury is still out on what other suspicious activity may be lurked behind his doors. He is probably feeling right now, "when it rains it pours."
Political commentary aside, you should always examine your troubles, because there is protection against the downpours that may come into your life. There is an umbrella to shelter you from the storm.
I've discovered when trouble comes to my door, to run as fast as I can into the loving arms of Jesus Christ. He protects you from the rain and the stormy blast. How does He do it? Well I believe that when you focus your attention upon Him, He transforms your consciousness from your troubles to His goodness!
"When you think about God and all He has done for you, you can only shout Hallelujah."
Since the beginning of the year, I have been attending a never ending stream of funerals of relatively middle aged people. I've had to say words of comfort in services for many people I have known, admired and respected. I wonder where does the strength come from to speak words during so trying a period in a families life? I also reflected upon my own morality during these moments. Then I begin to think about the loving arms of Jesus Christ and His powerful promise "to never leave you nor forsake you." Then my anguish turns to peace, my reticence turns to willingness, and my sorrow turns to joy, all because I think about the promises of God through Jesus Christ.
Living in Him and for Him does really transform your midnights into days, your trials into triumphs, and your rainy days into bright sunny days.
I, like many others, have watched and listened with amazement at the story of New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie. The story and allegations revolve around who ordered the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge and why.
Governor Christie's claim is people in his inner circle lied to him and he was unaware of this matter, even though many people were inconvenienced, and some were injured, and one in particular died. This is a tragic story and the actions were mean spirited and in a Christian sense, sinful.
Too often people believe they can make a success out of sin. They will engage willingly in sinful actions and believe the outcome will be positive or wholesome. This story should reinforce for you that you cannot make a success out of sin.
Everyone must realize that Satan is always busy carrying out his mission statement, to kill, to steal and to destroy. We is very adapt at stoking your ego and making you think, you are above God's law and His judgement.
For a moment stop pointing your finger at Christie, and look at your own life.
Have your endeavored to make a success out of sin, only to discover the consequences of our actions were not worth the heartache and heartbreak and damage to people and relationship that it caused?
Did you find yourself in an awful place have to be emotionally distraught and on the verge of a nervous breakdown because a moment of delight or pleasure led to a dark maze of discomfort and stress?
Break the chain, take off of the yoke right now of trying to do what you desire to do versus doing what God commands you to do.
You can live successfully sin free!
Over time I have made an interesting observation during the winter and summer seasons. In the winter depending upon which side of the street you are on the sunlight provides either direct or indirect rays. On the warm side of the street the direct sunlight assists with melting the snow and ice. On the cold side of the street the indirect rays causes the snow and ice to take far longer to melt because of the colder temperatures.
In the summer season I've noticed an opposite effect depending upon which side of the street you are on. Flowers appears to bloom better on what during the winter is the cold side and less better on what during the winter is the warm side. In other words the direct sunlight might be too hot for the flowers, while the indirect sunlight is better suited for flowers to bloom.
Why am I making this observation on a morning when a freezing rain is making travel conditions hazardous?
I believe people live life in seasons, as well as live life on different sides of the street.
In some seasons in your life, you discover the sunlight is beaming on you and life's difficulties melt away. In other seasons you find yourself in the coldest, harshest of places with attitudes and hard heartedness only coming your way.
Sometimes in life you will find yourself blooming with opportunities, and at other times, even in the midst of a sunny day, it appears nothing is happening for you and nothing is going your way.
Learning to live through life's seasons and learning to live life on the proper side of the street are important lesson to learn.
God warmth is always available to you. Just learn to live in the sunlight of His love and to maximize the season you are in.
Last night I watched the BCS Bowl Game which featured Florida State University against Auburn. The game was won in the final seconds and amazing play by its quarterback, Winston, a freshman Heisman Trophy winner. In fact if you have watched recent Bowl games and Wild Card Playoff games, you would have noticed many of them was won in the final seconds of the 4th quarter. That illustrates the importance that every second counts.
How do you play the game of life? Do you waste opportunities? Squander your time? Miss calls? Fail to play up to your potential? Do you allow the opposing force to press your back up against the wall?
Too often many of us give up after a first, second or third quarter score that appears to be going against us. Sometime we fail to play every second because we look back at what happened to us versus what can we do to turn the situation around.
Take a lesson from these football games and make every second in your life count.
An anonymous poet once said,
"We only have a minute,
Only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon us, can't refuse,
We will suffer, if we lose it,
Give account if we abuse it,
Just a tiny little minute,
But, eternity is in it!"
Make every second of your life count and begin doing that today!
There is something chilling about being in freezing temperatures. A cold day has a way of reminding you how important all of the parts of your body are. When your feet get cold, its difficult to walk. When your ears are cold, its difficult to hear. When you head is cold, its difficult to think. When your hands are cold, its difficult to work. When your neck and throat are cold, its difficult to talk.
God has given us a wonderful body. Don't wait until the cold weather comes to reminds you of what God has given to you. Take care of all of your body right now! That's a New Year's resolution that makes a lot of sense. Thank you cold weather for reminding me of how wonderfully God has made us.