Posted in Accountability, Achievement, Beauty, Children, Determination, Discipleship, Faith, Generosity, Giving, God, Happiness, Health, Jesus Christ, Love, Parenthood, Perseverance, Racism, Relationships, Sharing, Success, Taking Responsibility, The Family, Truth, Willpower, Work

I’m thankful for…

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving.

This has always been a sore spot for me ever since my second year of high school. That’s the time that I learned about the betrayal and almost destruction of an entire race of people at the hands of the Pilgrims.

Since that time, I’ve learn to find good in a day marked to celebrate their evil. Thanksgiving is somewhat like the Trojan horse. Both involved a festive occasion marred by betrayal and a massacre.

But there is hope.

Instead of thinking about the historic events that make this holiday ugly, I choose to be thankful.

I am thankful that I knew to make the most of my opportunities.

I’m thankful that I didn’t have circumstances like abuse, grief, drugs or poverty to hinder me from seeing the potential in myself.

I’m thankful for all the people who are close to me. I’m thankful for their love and understanding. I’m thankful for their friendship and kindness. And mostly I’m thankful that these people formed a hedge around me to ensure that I  knew I was loved and shielded from hurt.

I’m thankful for my parents. I am what I am because of the parents I have. And even though they were not perfect, they turned me into the best me I could be.

I’m thankful for my race. Despite the tragedy and racism that still takes place, I am proud of the contributions of my race, the rich tradition of the African culture and our resilience. I still pray that more African Americans will come to know this truth. #cutitoutFerguson

I am thankful to everyone who has ever disciplined me. I needed it and I realize how evil it is for others to go around not disciplining those in their scope of influence. Every child needs discipline and one of the problems in our school systems is that they lack discipline.

I’m thankful to every man that has been or who is currently in my life. You have taught me about a very diverse brotherhood that I am thankful for. The closeness, intimacy and trust we share has made me the strong heterosexual man I am today. I am blessed to be able to draw from brothers who are White, Indian, Cuban, German and Black.

I’m especially thankful for every woman who has ever built a relationship with me. You taught me love and respect the right way and made me less of a dog. I learned how to be intimate without having sex and I learned to appreciate beauty.

I am very thankful for the three children I have. They are all little models of me. I’m learning so much from them. They make me a better man.

I’ve saved the best for last. I am most thankful for my relationship with Jesus Christ. All of who I am and who I hope to be rests in Him. Christ, you represent all for me and I love you with every inch of who I am.

Please take time to share your thanks with the people who have earned it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Giving, helping, Sharing, Taking Responsibility, Time, Trust, Truth, Work

Is it your time to help?

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Have you ever tried to help someone and they didn’t want it or even got angry with you for helping?

I’m thinking of the scene in the movie Forrest Gump where Lieutenant Dan was injured and wanted to die in the war honorably like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather did. Good ole’ Forrest did what came natural to him — someone needed help and he felt responsible to do what he could. Even though it was much to the dismay of Lt. Dan.

There are many good people like Forrest Gump who will jump in and help when the opportunity presents itself. And on the flip side of that there are those who will seize the chance to help for leverage within a relationship, some future favor, a sense of obligation or even to boost their own self-esteem.

No matter what the reason is for helping, there is one universal rule to remember before helping — there is a time for everything under the sun.

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In the old testament book Ecclesiastes (chapter 3) the bible tells us that there is a right time for everything and everything on earth will happen at the right time (verse 1: ERV).

Just imagine chaos in the world. It normally happens because people can’t wait for the right time. Wars have been started, relationships have ended and people have even died trying to make something or someone respond before it was time.

The Lt. Dans of the world can’t understand or are not ready to accept the help. My point is you cannot make someone accept your help before it’s time. In some cases God is still working on their heart, teaching them a lesson or setting the stage for someone else to help. We must understand and respect God’s timing and not force our help on anyone.

So this will mean that some things will happen that we think we could have fixed. Some things will happen to make it even more strenuous when helping. And some thing will happen that now makes it impossible for us to help.

Some problems belong on a bigger platform. These are the situations we are supposed to turnover to God.

Because afterall, we just want the person or situation to get help, right?

Posted in Success, Work

How big a slice of the American Pie did you grab?

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I was recently reading some literature about Bangladesh, you know, like where it is, population and economic information. It’s difficult to believe that there are some places that are so poor and without help, but yet the people still survive. I wonder how many people in Bangladesh accept that way of life and how many are searching for something better.

If you hear their “tourism speak” you would think that this place was the next up and coming – not! The world average per capita income is around 10k for 2008. In Bangladesh, the per capita income is $520 for the same year. In the U.S. it is $40,166.

So, just here in America, we have 4.52 percent of the world’s population. There are people living among us who are dirt poor. I mean so poor that it would seem that they are living in a Third World Country.

The point here is this: In America, we’ve gone through and we’re still going through trials and tribulations as a country. We know that money, fame and opportunity were never intended to be distributed equally. People all over are “settling” for whatever comes their way. Most are still just looking for a handout. Our elected officials are responsible for this. (Really it’s a bunch of folks, but I just feel like blaming them today!) We have created a permanent underclass of people – and I’m not sure they know who they are. We’ve done a really good job of tricking them into believing they could do something that wasn’t going to be possible.

Am I sounding crazy yet? All I’m saying is that when you take a look at where you are in life, who do you blame?

For example, if you look at the credits at the end of any movie, you see the masterminds behind the movie and everyone who helped out. Of course, we don’t find much information about how much everyone was paid, but you know the “Best Boy” is not taking home the same amount as the producer!

Life seems to be like the cast of a movie. We have an executive producer, a director, a producer and all of the behind the scenes supervisors – this is Congress and the President. All of the actors represent the wealthy people in America. All eyes are on them and, as you can imagine, this is a small segment of the movie crew population. Then you have all the media and cinematography and specialty folks. These are your white collar workers and then their support would be the blue collar workers. I hope this is making sense.

Finally we come to the Extras. And just about every extra thinks they can be a star – sound familiar? Soooooooooo many extras and only a few actors. The pay scale is proportionate to that of the wealthy in this country and the poor in this country – and the delusion is even more proportioned.

There is a lot of American Pie left. How much of it will you grab?

Posted in Accountability, Patriotism, Politics, Taking Responsibility, Voting, Work

A month before the election and there’s nothing to get excited about

Don’t you just hate election season?

The worst of us comes out during this time. We actually get a glimpse at how divided our country really is. It’s sad that we are forced to choose sides.

The majority of the US is poor and hopeful that the election may change something in their favor. The wealthy are hoping for the same thing.

In our country we play with a lot of things, particularly terms. We will use a word that commonly means one thing, but we will give it another meaning. We even act as though all things are equal, when clearly they are not. For example, it bothers me every time a politician promises to create jobs. I often wonder what kind of jobs.

Even when they say the Obama administration has created X amount of jobs, what does that really mean? Is this a job that will allow a man to take care of his family or will the same man need three of these newly created jobs to do that?

Then the other party says, “His economic policies have failed us!” They want us to believe that they could have fixed every that happened during the Bush years. They say they would have created even more jobs. You know me, I then wonder what kind of jobs? No one ever talks about what kind of jobs. They just say jobs.

If you have been watching, I told you in the summer that this election would be the most expensive election in US history. And in the midst of the homeless and jobless, we will elect someone who will make more money being president than they did before they got the position. And they will make even more money when they exit the presidency than they made as president.

It’s October and I’m already tired of these ads. I don’t know about you, but this is depressing to me. Despite everything, please vote. Your voice will be heard. It’s one of our rights that people died for. It’s the least you could do.

It makes me long for the return of Jesus. Only he can make things fair.

Posted in Black History Month, Career, Change, Progress, Racism, Reparations, Success, Work

What does Reparations look like?

In the spirit of Black History Month, I’d love to enter into a serious discussion about reparations. It seems as though this has become a taboo topic, because of the tension it brings with Blacks and Whites. It’s sort of the new racism: If you are for it, then you want to get something for nothing. If you are against it, then you are a racist.

This should not be.

Maybe it’s another case that America is not smart enough to really deal with. I mean, as a country, we are already paying reparations to a variety of folks, including Native Americans, Japanese atomic bomb survivors and Holocaust survivors. The word” reparations” simply means “to repair.” This concept brings up the idea of being broken. The idea of pay is just one way; not THE way.

I am in favor of reparations. But I think we need to be careful what we call reparations. I’m not for cutting a check for every person that had a link to slavery. Actually, I don’t think reparations should even be connected to slavery. You see, there are some things that our government did deliberately to African-Americans. These things had lasting effects that have made it difficult for some to become anything but a permanent underclass.

There was a missed opportunity for the Bush Administration to redeem itself when the recession started. Consistent with his ideology of tax breaks and stimulus packages, Bush could have ordered reparations be given to the poor in the amount of $30,000 and say that it’s because of slavery. “Poor” would be defined as any African-American who is living in generational poverty (two generations or more). If Bush did this, he would have redeemed himself and the Republican party because he would have literally bought the poor black vote. At the same time,  in 2008, now President Barack Obama spoke against reparations. If we are being honest, we know that the 30k would have ended up right back into the economy in less than 30 days. What a jump start that would have been. It may have even ended the concept of White guilt … or maybe not.

So here is what I would propose for reparations. What I would like to see happen is to give opportunity, not money. The Federal Housing Administration did not do right by minorities in the 1930s. Low interest rate loans were given to White people to buy nice homes and the loans had nothing to do with their credit. They got those home loans because of the color of their skin. I say we do the same thing today. Identify the disenfranchised of our time and help them into a home that, on their own, they could never get. I don’t mean to give a mansion away to the poor, but I do mean to follow the example of Habitat for Humanity and make that single mom with four kids a homeowner. Literally, grant her a pass on the credit score and give her a loan to have a reasonable mortgage payment not to exceed $400 a month. This house has to be in a suburban area with a better than average school system. This could easily be done. As a country we’ve done it before.

The second thing I would do is grant 10 years of government paid education (or forgiveness if you have school loans and finished your degree). This would allow any minority who is on welfare and in a dead end career to elevate themselves higher. They would have to put in the work though. They could never be on academic probation and they would have to have a life coach. This would grant those who have had hard lives to get a second chance to fix some of the problems they have had.

The sad part of all this is that most would not take advantage of it. Nevertheless, it’s something that should be done. It’s finally an opportunity to get ahead with the assistance of your government working in your favor. This is what reparations should look like.

Posted in Discipleship, Generosity, Giving, God, Job, Life, Sharing, Work

A different way to work

Sometimes it seems that all we do is work.

It is definitely a way of life for most of us. We are so used to working that we can do it in our sleep. Many struggle with the task of work and even dread it at times. I hope to shine a little different light in this post on that thing we call work.

I don’t know who first said it, but the saying is that the letters in the word B-I-B-L-E stand for  “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.”

Cute, I know, but when you really think about it, the Bible does give you everything that pertains to life and Godliness. All of our problems can actually be solved by this book.

So for the case of how we work, I think we need a change in mindset — the Bible is really good for this. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote about working his epistle to the church at Colossae.

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Now would that fact that you are not working for your company, nor your supervisor, but you are working for the Lord change anyone’s mindset? Too often because we can see things in the physical, they appear larger than God.

If we really believed that the opportunity to work was truly an opportunity that God gave us and it wasn’t based on our merit, or something we settled for, or just the job we got stuck with, could that make a difference?

Sure it could!

If God strategically placed me in the job I have for the purpose of working out His will, would I then be working for a crappy boss or the savior of the world?

The question would be asked, “What would God want me working here for?” To that I say God always wants His  light shining in a dark place. If we truly belong to Him, then we are to reflect His light where ever we are. That means that:

  • Some people will experience unconditional love because they are in the presence of His light.
  • Some people will see kindness in a totally different circumstance because they are in the presence of His light.
  • Still others will see God because they are in the presence of His light.

God has a plan. And He uses whomever He chooses to workout His plan. So the next time that you feel down and out about the attitudes and the pressures of your job, remember the larger plan. See the bigger picture and smile … because you are working for the Lord!

Posted in Change, Determination, Health, Life, Perseverance, Progress, Relationships, Success, Taking Responsibility, The Family, Truth, Willpower, Work

Resolutions should be a way of life

Of the 50 percent of Americans who make resolutions, 90 percent of them break their resolution by the middle of January.

It seems that the end of a year gives us a temporary conscience. It bothers us enough to acknowledge that there are things in our lives that need fixing, but nothing about the New Year makes us want to do anything more than admit it and move on.

We know that there are people who don’t need to be in our lives and there are things we need to just flat out stop doing. Whether that is ending a destructive relationship or maintaining a healthy blood sugar level, we need to be far more serious about this.

Here is a practical way to keep your resolutions. Don’t do a resolution for a year; do them by the day, hour or even minute.

A resolution is a way of admitting we’re wrong and need to be better regarding something in our life. Why not make the idea of resolving ourselves a way of life? What would be wrong with keeping the imperfection ever before us – even to the point of letting others know that you recognize the need to change in this area. Then legitimately work on it. Really commit to the change and raising the bar of expectation in your life.

By doing this daily, I think you will find that those around you will begin to acknowledge a different you. After all, that’s what we all want anyway, right?