Monday, November 30, 2009

Holier than Thou

: (I hate having to do these at the beginning of my writings about religion, but some of you all forget about free speech -of which my blog is one example- and go bananas. Others of you are way too religious. Relax). This entry is not intended to be negative. It is not intended to guilt, but rather to convict you so that you will press yourself for an honest assessment of your faith-if you do profess the Christian faith. It is also intended to aid you in your approach to evangelism. If you are not of the Christian faith, none of this applies to you (yet), and I am not at all moved by you being offended. Thanks.

Search the bible, and you’ll find numerous examples of people who were persecuted because of their faith. You’ll also, luckily, find answers as to how to deal with it. But maybe, just maybe (this is a pretty revolutionary idea-you may want to brace yourself) it’s not others for whom our Christianity is a problem, it’s US. No really, US. I know, that idea that we can be an impediment to the faith that we profess doesn’t make sense. Well, a lot of things in the world don’t, so there.

It seems, at least sometimes, that we are more perturbed by how to carry our faith in a natural, approachable way that people are to receive/ acknowledge it. It’s a shame, really, because Jesus, when he walked the earth, might have been more relatable than his followers are today. I mean, people actually came up to Jesus. (You’ll recall the blind man by the roadside and the woman whose only desire was to touch the hem of his garment). So why are people running away from us? Because instead of allowing our faith to enhance relationships and thereby the quality of our lives, it turns into a blockade against authenticity. Dating seems more difficult. Choosing friends seems impossible because you’ve gotta choose between your super spiritual friends and everyone else- and God for bid you mix the two! What do you say, where do you go to hang out?!?! When it comes to your individual walk with Christ, can you have a bad day? Will people miss the gospel if I don’t speak to everyone?? It’s a sort of paralysis by analysis, but I have, at various points in life, been plagued by this legalistic type of thinking, making my Christian walk look like a Trail of Tears, explaining why it’s the road less traveled. As my pastor explained, legalism has never changed anyone’s life. While the Christian faith is largely about looking from the inside out, we have to begin considering how our walk looks to others, particularly those we seek to recruit into the kingdom. Are we down to earth, relevant Christians? Or are we so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good?

I recently had a conversation my friend Rebecca about this very thing. She said that sometimes she felt the pressure, as a Christian, to be “relevant.” By relevant she meant a Christian who is in touch with culture, knows popular, secular songs, etc. It tugged on her heart to an extent because she felt that she didn’t want to be labeled as “holier than thou” but her convictions are her convictions. She wondered how necessary it was to be “relevant” and how much that compromises Christianity. I can’t say I really have the answer to that. Do you?

You see, for unbelievers, choosing a view of religion can be like window shopping. That’s mainly because many people believe that being spiritual ambiguous makes them seem more open minded, interesting, and intellectual, guaranteeing them a spot in the after life of socially acceptable people (I wonder who’s working that gate-Paris Hilton?). So they spend their youth, teens and sometimes middle age dibbling and dabbling in all kinds of new age beliefs. But why? I figure it’s a toss up between political correctness and the prevailing sentiment that Christians are hypocrites, people bound by religious laws, unable to live normal lives. In the business of religious window shopping, people want to choose what “looks best” Unfortunately, the struggles that Christians face are like the mannequins in a boutique-tired, lame, legalistic mannequins. No one even wants to take the free gift. We may need to change our marketing strategy. We must challenge ourselves to be mature enough so that our desire and commission to share the gospel is accompanied by a lifestyle that someone would want to embrace. I’d venture to say that this is one reason why more Christians don’t evangelize. Just a thought…

Thankfully, this complex question is not one for which there is no remedy. God did not intend for us to spend our time being conflicted-plagued with social anxiety and legalism. Nor did he intend for us to abandon the Christian walk for a more comfortable pair of shoes. We ourselves, as well as the people that we encounter must recognize that Christianity is a religion, followed by imperfect people, after a perfect God, that is the essence of holiness. In this pursuit, we are to live fully and richly, that our faith may be inviting and inspiring. After all WWJD?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Spoiled Brat

After reading countless blogs and facebook notes (well, not countless)about what people have to be thankful for this year, I have reasoned that my life is deserving of such a list. Here goes.

(1) My relationship with God, because he's not shiftless like you know who and he'll never leave me nor forsake me. And trust me. If I were God, I would have left me by now. I'm thankful that God has a sense of humor that he reveals to me at least once a day.:-)

(2) Insignificance: In a world overwhelmed by people's need to be important, I am grateful that God showed me that it was ok to be behind the scenes and not, whether prompted or unprompted, give a laundry list of things that you have accomplished in the last year and reasons why you are AWESOME.

(3) Significance: I am thankful for knowing when to stand out. There's a time to speak and be heard. The timing is one of life's best keep secrets (or widely ignored trues,you decide).Whether we work tirelessly in silence or grab the mic and speak our minds. It is God who grants us our moments to shine. Not a moment too soon and not a moment too late. He makes everything beautiful in its season.

(4) Amazing opportunities to spread my wings as a community organizer: From BASIC Empowerment corporation where I have learned the importance of impacting the next generation through promoting educational excellence to the Young Democrats of Cobb County where I have experienced the power of base-level party building; I am thankful that while the work is plentiful and the laborers are few, I'm grateful to be tilling the land. :-)

(5) Connecting me with people who have amazing vision. Because frankly, it's contagious.

(6) My Afro. Yeah, I said it. It will always set me apart. Here's to a life of being "that girl" :-)

(7) The gym and my trainer: For helping me to fight off the unwanted weight of my twenties....well, most of it.

(8) Twitter: For convincing me of the power of concise thoughts (160 character thoughts to be exact)

(9)Random questionnaires on Facebook: It is through them that I learn interesting things about my friends that I would otherwise not have known.

(10) Ministry: reTHINC & CCLMI: For stretching my definition of what ministry. For engaging me in 3 hour long conference calls on how to help ministries thrive and grow, for exposing me to new causes and new parts of the city through service.

(11) My family: Because they are a ministry of their own.

(12) Stacey Evans- For entrusting me with the task of managing her campaign. We have an amazing task before us. Just think, this time next year, we will be giving thanks for electoral VICTORY! :-)

(13) Destiny Day School- For showing me not only how much I really do love kids, but also how much I can learn from them.

(14) Destiny Metropolitan Worship Church- For being the place at which I have grown to the person I am today. Every time I walk through the doors, meet new people or participate in a community outreach event, I am reminded that while the church is persecuted and ridiculed, it is still a place of hope, promise and restoration

(15) My friends- Particularly the new ones that I have made this year. You have afforded me numerous adult adventures, whose memories are sure to last a lifetime. To my "old friends" that I have bothered to keep in to keep in touch with through the seasons of my life, you are very near and dear to my heart. Whether you are my college friends or my campaign friends,thank you for what you have added to my life and thankfully subtracted.

(16) My blog! ( For keeping recent record of my personal growth, revelations, and musings about life without judgment or nagging me about pesky grammar rules. :-)

(17) FREEDOM!: And every kind, sort and degree of it.

(18) My relationship with Christ: Because without it, none of the aforementioned items would be possible.

Really, I'm kinda spoiled. And maybe, if you took a good look at your life, you'd agree that you are too. The art in Thanksgiving-true and sincere thanksgiving- is to remember that it is a lifestyle. We must be constantly reflective on the things that were are thankful for so even when the day-to-day grumbling threatens to consume our attitudes about life, we can be reminded of our abundant blessings.

Happy Turkey Day Everyone!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trust Me....

Trust Me.

You’ve uttered those words countless times and probably have no clue what you’re asking someone to agree to. And really, it’s no surprise to me that trust, in many situations, is dispensed so freely. It is a bi-product of a society on the moral decline. Trust now ranks up there with fidelity and integrity. Sadly, they’re all on life-support. Clinging on for dear life to the few people who recognize and value them. Ancient times (really, times before Webster’s provided us with hundred-word definitions) defined trust as covenants made between two people or a person and a higher being. A trusting relationship was one in which there was a mutual allegiance and shared expectation. Now, the word merely references a surface relationship and exchange of information in which no party FULLY understands the level of accountability that they have to the person to whom they’ve spoken the words “Trust me.”

I’m a born again cynic and unfortunately, I have only recently come to the place in my life where I can actually believe the best about people and their intentions, let alone trust them.(God’s working on me). I trust few people in my life but have substantial grounds by which to do so. It’s not to say that there aren’t others in my life that have trustworthy potential. It’s only to suggest that there are few people of whom I have taken such an in depth inventory of. Trust is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of a committed relationship, not the starting point for an acquaintance. Sure the aforementioned notions are contextualized by experience, but even with time and age, this premise has remained.

I was recently doing an impromptu study of a relationship book with my friend Rebecca. The book was called “When Love is in View” It’s a great book. I was especially drawn to the authors’ views on the issue of trust. Considering that the book is about Christian dating, you can imagine what the authors had to say, but the thing that did stick with me was the idea that trust should stretch far and wide in a relationship. We should not compartmentalize our trust. You shouldn’t trust someone to keep a secret if you can’t trust they’d speak up for you if someone was slandering your name. Bottom line, if I trust you, I trust you completely. If I don’t trust you completely, I don’t trust you at all. Shortens the list for you, huh? It’s always interesting to me, when I look at people’s lives, to see who and what they trust. It speaks volumes about their character. I know people who find religion, in all of its different forms, completely absurd but watch Oprah as if it were a televangelist program. They buy everything from hand cream to books because Oprah says “Trust me, it’s great.” And here God is, everyday, saying “Trust me” and those very same people can’t bring themselves to entertain the thought let alone read the book that provides them with proof. Hmmm.

And so I ask you this, how many people’s lives have you inadvertently assumed responsibility for by way of this thing called trust? If the only qualification is having said to them “Trust Me,” there are probably too many to name. And at this point there’s really not much you can do about this laundry list. What you can do it make an effort-a concerted one- to be trustworthy and further, not to put yourself in a situation of trustee in someone’s life unless you are ready for the responsibility. It’s a heavy load to carry, ya know? Well, maybe you don’t. Just trust me on this one. :-)