Encouragement, Life Coaching

Get Lifted Or Get Left Behind

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Philippians 3:12‭-‬14 NLT

The start of a new year is often a time of introspection and life evaluation. Crossing into the year 2020 is not just a time we consider our choices over the past year, but we are compelled to review the entirety of the previous decade. No doubt, in doing so, we take note of not only our points of reminiscent celebration, but also our regrets.

Regret is a natural response to our recall of perceived error. However, our actual response to regret is much more critical than the response of regret itself. We respond to regret at three different levels, and on each level of response there are two different modes of interaction. The response levels of regret are psychological, physiological, and physical. The modes of interaction within these levels are either active or passive.

The psychological response to regret comes about during the thought of the perceived error and its effects. When these thoughts arise, we can either control the thoughts (active) or allow the thoughts to consume us (passive).

The physiological response of regret is triggered when the attitudes and emotions generated by our thoughts begin to rise. They can range from anger to sorrow, disappointment to remorse, and from self-pity to heartbreak. These attitudes and emotions will cause us to feel certain things the body (hunger, headaches, heat, etc.)? Now when these physiological responses to our regret occur, we can either acknowledge them (active) or ignore them (passive). Whether we engage these physiological responses actively or passively, the fact is, they are still occuring. Yet, when we actively engage them we can both monitor and manage them.

The physical response to regret is triggered by the physiological response. If we move from the psychological response to the physical response without acknowledging the physiological responses, we could subconsciously become controlled by our physiological responses (passive), rather than making sound choices to properly manage physiological responses after fully engaging our thoughts, feelings and attitudes (active).

The more active we are within each level of our response to regret, the more information we gather about the error, the effects and ourselves. We could even discover that what we were perceiving as an error was merely a misunderstanding or circumstantial event. This can be extremely beneficial in developing new patterns of behavior and new solutions that can move us from darkness to discipline. We get to determine whether regret is a memorial of past failure or a motivator for future success. We choose whether our regrets become generous guests or a rent free roommates. As engaged guests, regrets usher us into inner dialogue that can teach how to make better choices, how to manage current conditions, and how to move forward. As uncontributing roommates, regrets become expensive liabilities that leave us isolated in our past, unable to move forward and unaware of the benefits and opportunities that surround us in the present.

In this life, regret will come for each of us. However, regret is something we either live with or learn from. If we learn from it, it lifts us. If we live with it leaves us stuck. I choose to get lifted.

Business, Encouragement, Faith, Health, Life Coaching, Men, Relationships, Uncategorized

Higher Learning

After becoming an adult with a family and responsibilities, I quickly learned that there were things that I did not know. Things that if I had known them they would have made my transition to adulthood much smoother. One of those things was performing general maintenance on a vehicle. Well I knew how to change a tire… slightly. Other than that, I was oblivious. So when it came time to repair or maintain things on the hoopties I owned in my young adult days, I would have to call my Dad. Now, I appreciated the fact that my Dad was industrious and versatile enough to know how to do things like change the oil, change my brakes, change my spark plugs, and replace small items like fuses. But if I were to be honest, I cringed at the idea of having to call him to help me! Why, you ask? I didn’t like to call my Dad to help me with my car maintenance issues because, instead of teaching me how to do what I needed help with and work to make me more independent, my Dad would get so engrossed into the project that he would just take over and do it! Interestingly enough, my wife and my sons say that I perform the same way.

One of the advantages, however, to having him “help me” with these projects was that I had an opportunity to watch him observe the issue from various vantage points to see what would be the most advantageous solution. This taught me to be analytical in my problem solving. In hindsight, most of the solutions would involve raising the car up with a jack and attacking the issue from the underside of the vehicle. A disadvantage to these encounters was that Daddy would open his tailgate and pull out all of his tools and had a 10-15 minute preparation ritual before actually starting the work. This man was serious about the tasks! It was like watching a surgeon prepare to perform a delicate procedure. On the flip side, this taught me a great deal about preparation.

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Fast forward to 2019. A few weeks ago, I went to borrow one of my Dad’s trucks to help move my sons into their apartment and one of his front daytime running lights were out. I assured him that I could take care of that for him and get it done. Instead, he wanted to repair it himself before I took the truck. I had already peeped out the strategy for what needed to happen to replace the bulb, because I had learned from him to plan before you attack. It would have taken me no more than 15-20 minutes to complete the task. But Daddy, of course, has his preparation ritual. He pulls his truck out to his shed, lets up the rolling door, pulls out his tools,  and brings out his car jack and his utility light. While he is doing that, I had already began my strategy and had successfully loosened the bulb from the casing. I am laughing hysterically inside while he is getting his stuff together. When he gets to a stopping point, right before he puts something on the floor to get up under the car, I respectfully ask,

“Daddy what are you about to do?”

He then says, “Well I have to get up under the truck to remove the bulb.” I then explain to him that I have the bulb twisted off and that it would not be possible to get it out from the bottom because there is a metal casing that will prevent him from accessing it from the bottom. He walks over to the truck and I show him what I had just shared with him. He then sees that the bulb is already twisted out of the casing. It is at that point that he understands that though the bulb is difficult to get to, he doesn’t need to get under the truck to access it, he just needs to maneuver differently from above. He also learned at that moment that he didn’t need the whole tool box, he only needed one tool. Now he still didn’t let me help with the manual activities involved to complete the task, but we saved at least 20-30 minutes by me providing a different perspective on how to complete it.

I see a few interesting takeaway analogies from this story.

  1. Being excluded from a processes can be an advantageous learning experience. It was David’s exclusion from his family that made him a skilled warrior.- I Samuel 17:34-36
  2. A fresh perspective can open up new and more efficient ways of doing things. We shouldn’t be so routine in our operation that we fail to ask ourselves if what we do can be done in a different way that can save us time, energy and resources.- Isaiah 43:19
  3. As men of God we must learn to maintain our position of being the head even in challenging and transitional times. It can sometimes be tempting to lay down our standards in a effort to complete a task, but we should learn to maneuver from above instead of going to a lower standard.- Colossians 3:1-3
  4. Learning from those you teach can be a rewarding as the act of teaching itself.- Luke 7:6-9
  5. We can’t be so quick to judge what we seem as shortcomings in the lives of others, because we might find ourselves being judged by the same standard. -Galatians 6:1

So in this case, I learned from an experience I didn’t like. And even though I didn’t always learn what I set out to learn, my learning experience was so much greater than what I initially intended. The things that I learned from my Dad during those encounters were seeds that he unknowingly sowed that brought him back a harvest. Yeah, I know… it may not have been a big harvest to you, but because I partially threw his day off, it was a big harvest to him (that’s an inside joke that only he and I will understand)! LOL

 

Encouragement, Faith, Health, Life Coaching, Men, Relationships, Uncategorized

Close That Door

If you were like me, as a child, I often practiced the dangerous habit of leaving the door open. Out excitement to get to what was on the other side of the door or the logic I had that it’s okay to leave it open because “I’m coming right back” or  “I’m going right back out”, I would leave the door to the house open. However, my Momma didn’t play that! Even if I had walked several yards away from the house after leaving or went in to another room after coming inside, I would hear the sharp command to, “COME BACK HERE AND CLOSE THIS DOOR!!!”

I used to think my Momma was being too extreme and over the top. I used to think to myself, “Dang Momma! Why you have to hollah like that?” And if I was down the street and she had to come all the way outside to tell me to do it, I would (only in my imagination) look at her and be like, “Now if you put your slippers and gown on and walked all the way from your room to the door to stick your head outside, why you gotta call me all the way back to the house and tell me to close the doggone door? You are standing right there! You close the door!” Then I would imagine her punching me in my mouth, so I would shake that imagination and walk back to close the door.

As I grew older I understood two things about why my mother took closing the door so serious.

  1. She wasn’t just fussing or being mean. She wanted us to learn to close the door behind us to keep the temperature inside the house stable and to keep the animals and insects out of the house.
  2. She wasn’t responsible for closing the door because she didn’t open it. She was trying to teach us to be responsible for correcting our own errors.

As men, we sometimes leave doors opened to wrong relationships, old habits and perverted behaviors, unwise spending and bad opportunities. We sometimes leave them open because of the excitement of interacting with what’s on the other side. At other times we leave them open because it’s comfortable. If we were to narrow those reasons down, we could conclude that we leave doors in our lives open as a way to easily escape. We have a tendency to want to escape the monotony and discomfort of life. Yet, in our pursuit of excitement and comfort, we fail to see that we are negatively impacting the atmosphere of our lives and giving access to things that can irritate us, attack us and even destroy our lives from the inside out.

If you are like me, there are times when we know that we have gone too far on the other side of the door. We know we have gone too far because our excitement turns into fear and our comfort turns into complacency. We are either filled with shame and condemnation which makes us afraid that we will get caught coming in from the other side, or our conscience is so compromised that we justify why we should just stay on the other side or continue to bounce in and out. In both instances we can find ourselves asking, “God why don’t you/didn’t you just close the door so I won’t keep/wouldn’t keep going in and out.”

God’s response to me has been, “I didn’t open the door, and I am not the one that left it open, so I am not the one responsible for closing the door.”

In Jonah 2, we can see this picture played out as Jonah decided to enter a door that God never told him to enter and began to suffer the consequences of his choice. The verse that strikes me is verse 8 where Jonah says, in essence, “If a person continues to deceive himself into thinking that he is right or justified when he knows that he is at fault, he delays his opportunity to receive mercy from the Lord.”

If we are too far beyond the door, the right response is not to blame God for not closing the door. The scriptures teach us that mercy rejoiceth against judgment (James 2:13). So God would rather show us mercy than to judge us for incorrect behavior. However, the scripture also teaches that God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). So, if we find ourselves too far on the other side of a door that we should have closed, we should first humble ourselves and ask God for mercy to get back to the other side and grace to shut that door, forever.

The more excellent truth is this; if we have a door that we know should no longer be open, we need to take the responsibility and become urgent about closing those doors (listen to YouTube video above. I do not own the rights to this music), because some doors will take us to places that mercy won’t even go (Proverbs 2:16-19).

Encouragement, Faith, Health, Life Coaching, Men, Relationships, Uncategorized

Holding Back The Tears

While growing up as an adolescent, I can remember a time when my mother was in the hospital and rehabilitation for 5 months after being diagnosed with an illness that affected her nervous system and temporarily paralyzed her from head to toe. This was a disease that had only been diagnosed in one other person in the United States, and that person eventually gave up on recovery and passed away.

My mother and father had divorced 4 years earlier. My father took a job with the Army National Guard and was residing 155 miles away from my home town, and my mother was now hospitalized in the same town where my father resided. Already affected by the trauma of divorce, now I am approximately 3 hours away from both of my parents with separation anxiety at an all time high because of not knowing if my mother would ever return home or be back to normal, and being bounced from one aunt’s home to the next.

In the midst of all of this, one day after school and preparing for an activity at church, one of my relatives, whom I had a great admiration and respect for, decides that it is necessary to have a conversation with me about the emotional health of my family during this very challenging season. She looks at me sternly and says to me that all of my siblings are going to be sad and cry because of my mom’s condition and the stress of her recovery. She then closes the conversation by saying, “They can cry, but you…you can’t cry.”

20190808_113042_0000Not having a male figure who could counter her statement, I took it as Gospel and trained myself not to cry; not only in that instance, but never. Fast forward 5 years and I am on the front doorstep of my girlfriend’s house at 9:30 PM. Her parents on their way to sleep and we are discussing something sad and emotionally charged. Then all of a sudden…WHAM!!! I start crying. I mean bawling uncontrollably. In my imagination, I am standing outside of myself looking at myself, saying,

“Bruh!!! What the…hey man! Stop it before I pull ya man card!”

My girlfriend is at a loss as she is trying to console me with the expression on her face as to say, “Seriously!?!? My parents window is right next to the doorstep and you are doing this right now?” I am looking at her through tear-drenched eyes, wailing, unable to speak, and shrugging my shoulders like, “I don’t know what the hell is happening right now!”

That was the weirdest, most embarrassing and uncomfortable moment of my life, and I have never shared that story until this very moment.

As an adult I have often visited those doorsteps in my mind, asking God what that moment was all about. A few years ago, I finally put the conversation with the relative and the moment on those front doorsteps together. I had, for 5 years, suppressed any emotion related to grief or sadness, and in one vulnerable instantaneous moment, five years of emotion comes pouring out at the most inopportune time.

I wonder how many men are conditioned to hold in emotions until they break? To any of the men who may be reading this and saying, “I would never break like that.” Maybe not, but you have probably broken in other ways: spending uncontrollably, sexing uncontrollably, eating uncontrollably, fighting uncontrollably, working uncontrollably, flirting uncontrollably, drinking uncontrollably, being uncontrollably lazy and uncontrollably participating in other addictive and destructive behaviors. Many of these things may very well be the outworkings of years of suppressed emotions, all because someone gave us a false sense of masculinity to the extent that we are leaking masked hysteria, because we refuse to cry.  This leaking is causing confusion in some and unrest in others within our atmosphere. The strangest part about all of this is that we can’t explain why we keep doing it.

But what does crying have to do with my behavior and interpersonal behavior? The tears of a man cleanses him. Studies show that tears produced from allergies and irritation are more than 90% water, but tears produced from physical and emotional pain has more than 70% toxicity. This implies that the poisons produced in our bodies due to pain a removed through our tears. This could be an explanation for the reason women statistically outlive men. This can also be applied spiritually and soulishly as much as it can be applied physically. Crying is often displayed in scripture as one “pouring out their soul”.

In Psalms 126 the psalmist is reliving one of the most amazing moments in the history of his people; when they were experiencing the most freedom they had ever experienced as a nation. So free that it felt unreal. As he progresses through the Psalm we notice that the psalmist implies that the victory of freedom was produced through the delivery of tears. He exclaims that the more tears are allowed to flow, the more we find joy being produced in our lives. I find it interesting that he compares tears to seed, which could indicate that crying should be a normal response to the pains of life that causes tears to flow in small consistent amounts, rather than occasional floods.

As men we may need to consider whether or not we are producing fruit joy through the seed of our tears, or producing confusion and unrest through through emotions that leak through uncontrollable behaviors. I am not recommending going around crying about every negative thing we encounter, neither would I suggest trying to play catch-up. I would, however suggest adhering to the instruction of Peter and let’s begin honestly pouring ALL of our concerns on God because he is concerned about what concerns us (I Peter 5:7).

Encouragement, Faith, Life Coaching, Men, Uncategorized

Stay In The Pocket

Throughout out my years in church, I would often hear organists, pianist and keyboard players yell to their accompanying drummers, “STAY IN THE POCKET!” By giving this command the lead musician would be instructing the drummer to stay in time, stay on beat and maintain the rythm. I might age myself by saying this, but my experience in hearing this directive predates microphoned drums, over-the-ear or in ear monitors, plexiglass enclosures, and even before drummers had a floor monitor or speaker facing them to aide them in hearing the other musicians. 20190807_061728_0000.pngTherefore these young percussionists (mostly young males) would bear the weight of carrying the timing, drive and rythm of the sound that both orchestrated and interpretated the atmosphere of the worship experience. They had to fulfill this task while receiving death glares from the choir director daring them to mess up, competing against the sound of the other instruments, and hearing the blend and direction of the music over the shouts and screams of those who were spiritually and emotionally overtaken in the moment.

This feat was virtually impossible for the young musicians, but as I continued in churchanity I would behold these musical wonders and noticed something very remarkable. Those drummers who would ignore the choir director, intellectually drown out the sounds of the shouts and other musicians and focus on the rythmic body language, hand signals and silent speech of their ministers of music, are the ones who could skillfully and successfully “stay in the pocket”.

As men we are challenged with perspectives that threaten us on a daily basis as we carry out our purpose. Sometimes we tempted to compete with principles and people, such as belief systems, morals, spouses, children, other races and nationalities, coworkers, false expectations and systemic disturbances. We work hard to drown out the sound of emotional and spiritual voices that can easily distract us. In the midst of all of this we are bearing the weight of maintaining the timing of provision, the drive of security and protection and the cadence of purpose.

This all seems virtually impossible. Yet we can find courage to navigate through the skill of “staying in the pocket” when we look in the scripture and see the words of Jehoshaphat as he was being surrounded by threats, distractions and competition. Jehoshaphat gathered all of the men together and prayed a prayer that culminated in the words “Lord Our Eyes Are On YOU.” (II Chronicles 20:12d)

As men, we must learn to drown out distracting sounds and voices, stop competing and start collaborating, and overcome the threats to our purpose by intensively fixing our eyes on the Great Composer of the songs of our lives; paying close attention to His direction, His pace and His words. When we are fixated on Christ, He alone gives us the ability to navigate through crescendos and modulations of life, because He is the Master Conductor who skillfully and effectively orchestrates our lives and teaches us how to “Stay In The Pocket”.

Business, Encouragement, Faith, Relationships, Uncategorized

Tough Choices; Perfect Results

I enjoy movies that fall in the genre of action or drama. I can appreciate comedy as well. My favorite type of drama or action movie is one based upon history of philosophy. These type movies stimulate my thinking, and they often have lessons interwoven into them that make lifelong impacts upon my own personal convictions. One such example is that of a conversation that takes place at the beginning of the movie Great Debaters.

In this particular scene, Dr. James Farmer, played by Forest Whitaker is having a conversation with his son, James Farmer, Jr., played by Denzel Whitaker. James, Jr. attempts to walk in the house and tip toe past his father’s study without greeting him. James, Sr. stops him and reminds him of his expectations of him at the end of each day. The dialogue crescendos into one of those life impacting philosophies that stay etched into my conscience.

Debate

James, Sr.- “What do we do?”

James, Jr.- “We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do.”

In the context of the script, James Farmer, Sr. had instilled this wisdom into his son to imply that great study habits and a good education opens doors to a better life. There was probably not a greater truth for African Americans in 1935 when this philosophy was passed from a father to his son. After seeing Great Debaters and hearing those lines, I began to apply this same philosophy to every effort I put my hands and energy toward.

I must say, however, that I have found myself asking on numerous occasions over the past 10 years, “When do I actually get to do what I want to do? I have been doing what I have to do for a long time.”

This questioning has the tendency to send me on a self-deprecating and self-loathing quest to discover where I’ve failed, what I’ve been doing wrong or what I need to do more of. It also has the propensity to influence me to point fingers at those around me as if their choices are slowing my progress. I can now admit that those responses are neither appropriate nor healthy. While I do have the right to ask how long and evaluate the process, I should never negatively assess the status of my success. Instead, I should apply James 1:4 to the philosophy I’ve adopted from the Great Debaters movie.

“And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:4 NASB

In the process of “doing what we have to do”, we must allow the process to be completed so that our season of “doing what we want to do” is not short-lived and ineffective. This means in our communication and interaction with our spouse, in our season of singleness, in our parenting, in our relationship with Christ, in our work and/or business relationships, in our education and in every other facet of our lives that require some type of responsibility on our part. If we can endure the full season of “doing what I have to do”, the scripture states that in the end we will obtain PERFECT RESULTS.

Encouragement, Faith, Life Coaching, Relationships, Uncategorized

Three Questions That Overcome Identity Crisis

We often have so many things intersecting in our lives. We may be raising children, going to school, trying to maintain relationships, while at the same time probably wondering what our next career move is. Maybe we are even dealing with an ailing parent or the death of someone valuable to us. All of these things can be more than daunting and could lead to an identity crisis.

With these various transitions, we can have all of these labels floating around in our head trying to define us, not to mention any regrets we may have about our recent and past life. However, what if none of these labels really matter at the end of the day. What if those labels are merely attributes that flow out of who we really are. Some we didn’t ask for, some we wish never existed, but all of these attributes are present. What if rather than these things defining us, what if we were to define them.

Intelligent is not who we are, it is an attribute, parent is not who you are, it’s a role. Daughter is not who you are it’s a privilege. Introvert is not who we are it’s a personality trait. How we interact with those attributes, roles, privileges and traits determine whether our life will be a life of peace or a life of frustration.

Faith in Christ gives us the power to control how these things impact the whole of our lives. In Christ, we can now set the boundaries and parameters of what it means to be a woman, a man, a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a friend, an entrepreneur, an employee, a sibling and be content with those boundaries regardless to how others FEEL about it. What matters is that we are okay with us, and that we know our identity in Christ.

This takes extensive self-evaluation. Not from the perspective of the world around us, but from the perspective of our heavenly Father through Christ Jesus. But if we are so busy giving ourselves away in order to be accepted by others, we don’t have anything left to evaluate, neither can we appreciate the work God has done in our lives through Christ. If this is how we function, when it’s all said and done, we end up becoming an empty and depleted mess.

The good news is that we serve a God who has proven to be skilled at taking depleted and empty messes and turning them into fruitful paradises. The earth was void and without form and God said, “Let there be light.” God can give us light in the midst of our dark situations to show us who we are and teach us just like He taught Adam, to control our environment by labeling and setting boundaries on the things around us instead of allowing them to label us.

That process starts with two questions

1. God who am I to you?

2. God why am I here in this earth?

These two questions are what turn the light on and helps us to begin our journey to a life of total peace. Not that it will be void of problems but a life that is victorious regardless to the problems we encounter.

There is a third question in this discovery process. However, this question is not from you to God. It is, instead, from God to you. And that question is,

3. What are you going to do with do with Jesus? Selah

Encouragement, Faith

Favor ≠ Entitlement

The title of Bishop T. D. Jakes’ phenomenal message series “Favor Ain’t Fair” is often used by individuals who have attained some type of benefit that either they didn’t deserve or weren’t expected to receive. I have used this statement on several occasions myself. However, I am concerned that this phrase has become a colloquialism that has been used to manipulate others into thinking that God did something significant for them when they have actually received this object or opportunity through unethical means.  I am even more concerned that some have become somewhat impolite, in that they have begun to demand that others show them preferential treatment. Maybe not in word, but definitely in attitude.

While favor, in the biblical sense, does refer to preferential treatment, it never requires that someone releases to another what belongs to them against their own conscience or will. This attitude has nothing to do with the operation of favor. It is, instead, an attitude of entitlement. Entitlement presupposes that a person has a right to someone’s person, property or time. The entitlement attitude plagues many facets of our society, and there is a tendency to use the concept of favor to spiritualize this attitude.

Want Now

So let’s talk about what favor entails and what differentiates favor from an attitude of entitlement.

  1. Favor is based on God’s timing. Psalms 102:13 indicates that there is a set time for favor to show up. Therefore, we can not summon favor at will. We must wait on the timing of the Lord. Entitlement tends to demand (or at least expect) that something happens within the timetable of the recipient.

  2. If favor comes from man then it is a loan, but if it comes from God it is free and clear. Psalms 112:5 says that a good man shows favor and he lends. A person who has an expectancy for a human being to show them favor, must understand that human favor always comes with a price tag. The second part of that verse insist that the one who shows favor will guide their affairs with decisiveness. In other words, when a human shows favor there is always the “what’s in it for me” factor to contend with. If favor comes from God, he will cause people to give to us, not loan to us (Psalms 45:12). Additionally, just because you were victimized by a human being, doesn’t mean that you have the right to demand that God show you favor in order to right that person’s wrong. If God extends favor it’s because he chooses to (Exodus 33:19).SomethingForNothing

  3. Favor will only go as far as God’s word. In Psalms 119:58 David asked God to show him favor according to His Word. If God didn’t promise it, He is not obligated to perform it. Some believers are bitter because they feel that God has failed to respond to their requests, but God’s willingness to answer us is diminished when we expect Him to go beyond His Word. It is also diminished when we have the attitude of entitlement that has no regard for morality, ethics or the sovereignty of God. James 4:1-3 teaches that we don’t receive anything when we ask God based upon our own desires instead of His desires.

  4. Favor is obtained by wisdom, not obligated because of our work. In Proverbs 8:35 we hear a conversation between Wisdom and the young Solomon. Wisdom explains that if she is sought out, she brings favor with her. Proverbs 18:22 further indicates that favor is obtained of God. In both of the above scriptures favor is accompanied by a feminine nature. Entitlement is aggressive and masculine in nature and only brings with it resentment. Not that masculinity is wrong but the aggression is what distances favor from the one expecting, because that attitude breeds pride. Both James and Peter makes it clear that God distances himself from the prideful (James 4:6; I Peter 5:5). David explains to young Solomon that God not only distances himself from the prideful, but he also hates the very appearance of it (Proverbs 6:16-17). Just because you work hard, doesn’t mean that anyone owes you anything beyond what you earn contractually, not even God. For instance, just because you graduated from a reputable institution with honors, it doesn’t mean that anyone owes you a job. The agreement with the institution was to provide you with a degree once you completed a period of study with passing grades. Nowhere in that contract was it guaranteed that you would get a job making $60,000.00 right out of college.

As we can see, favor is not based upon our timing, our demands, our will, our hard work or our expectation. Those are all elements that relate to an attitude of entitlement. If we want favor we need to seek God, study His Word, seek out His wisdom, stay humble and wait on God’s timing. If we get in a hurry and lay our expectations before mankind, we may get favor but we will quickly understand that not only is it true that Favor Ain’t Fair, but an even greater truth is that Favor Ain’t Always Free.

Encouragement, Faith, Health, Relationships

What’s In Your Belly?

I stepped on the scale 2 weeks ago and realized that I had gained 25 pounds since November 2014. I was not really concerned about the weight, I was concerned about what produced the weight. I know you might say “eating”, but it was deeper than that. What was I feeding? When I began to ask God, He slapped me in the face with truth.

What I was carrying around was not just 25 pounds of excess body weight, but 25 pounds of internal baggage. Something happened around November/December that reminded me of a past failure; so I began eating to soothe my emotions. Therefore, in 3  months, I put on 25 POUNDS OF #SELF #CONDEMNATION! Once I dealt with the root, I could recover my will to make better choices. Before I discovered the truth, my appetite was literally UNCONTROLLABLE!

DISCLAIMER: This next story takes nothing away from fitness or working out (My Wife, Debra Michelle Jones is a personal trainer, and she would choke me out if I did.). If anything, it adds to the explanation as to why your personal trainer can’t help you move beyond where you are.

I was asked by a coworker yesterday to go down to a food truck to get their lunch because they couldn’t leave their desk. They also offered to pay for my lunch. I was excited by the prospect of eating some good ole fried chicken and shrimp. Halfway to the food truck, I remembered that I had brought a healthier lunch from home. So I purchased her lunch and returned her change. She and another bystanding coworker wondered why I didn’t get me anything. I replied, “I forgot that I brought lunch from home…I have to lose this weight…”

After I had finished eating, the bystanding coworker came into the breakroom and asked facetiously, “Did you enjoy that healthy lunch?”

“Yes!” I replied.

“Now you have to workout! I won’t help unless you workout!” She said.

Then she asked, “Are you working out?”

I paused for a half of a second, then replied with a smooth and cordial, “No.”

The next question she asked, was asked in such a way as to put a dagger in the cadaver of my hopes. She asked (imagine it being in slow motion with the chopped and screwed effect), “How much weight have you lost?”

I unhesitantly replied, “10 POUNDS!” (#ThugLife: cue Warren G for my theme music)

The whole breakroom then screeched with a deafening silence and she attitudinally walked out of the room back to her desk.

In that moment, I was reminded that the rejoicing was not in the loss of the 10 pounds of body weight; it was instead in the 10 POUNDS OF SELF-CONDEMNATION that I had lost.

QUESTION: What’s in your belly. Is it 10, 15, 20, 25 pounds of regret, condemnation, fear, hurt, unforgiveness, rejection, self-hatred? Whatever it is, there is hope. Just like me, you can lay it down at the feet of Jesus and walk away. (#ThugLife: cue the chorus of Yenrah- Everything I Got featuring Erica Cumbo)

Matthew 11:28-29; I Peter 5:7; Hebrews 12:1-2; Romans 8:1

Business, Encouragement, Faith, Relationships, Uncategorized

School Of Rock: A Lesson On Rejection

Ok it’s 1:24 a.m. CST on Wednesday, October 9, 2013, and if you know me, you know I am normally well into my uninterrupted REM sleep by now. So this was inspired by an unwise decision to have coffee with my dessert at my hotel at 7:24 p.m., a conversation of ministry I had with one of my spiritual daughters, and a commitment to embody my brand (PKJONDEMAND) during a training workshop on Tuesday afternoon. All things work together, right?

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Since my text to her was the last thing I remembered before closing my eyes for a 2 hour interlude, it’s the first thing that comes to mind when my eyes pop open. After an hour and a half of tossing and hoping to go back to sleep, God begins to expound on the insight he had me to share with her. So, rather than turn on the tv or scroll down my social media timelines judging people in my heart for some of the stuff they post (don’t judge me, you do it too 😁), I decided to blog on the site that I paid money to own a URL with my brand on it (PKJONDEMAND) but hadn’t used since May. So here goes…

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After being alive for forty years, being in ministry for almost 20 years, being an adult for three years (real talk) and being a Pastor for 11 years, I’ve run into this scenario more times than I would like to admit. The child, spouse, friend, employee, sibling or ministry partner who is generally the rejected, ostracized and outcast on the team is usually the one that the leader of that unit will need the most during a state of demise. Now, here is where most biblically astute individuals would plug in the metaphor of Joseph to make this lesson come alive. However, the mocha ghost and the Holy Ghost, have given me the new perspective that Joseph was just a cheap prototype of the ultimate Instructor of Rejection 101: Jesus Christ.

The scriptures clearly illustrate Christ as a baby who was thrown out with the proverbial bath water. Isaiah 53:3 calls Him despised and rejected and several places in the scripture, beginning with Psalms 118:22, He is spoken of as the stone that the builders rejected. The interesting thing about the “rejected stone” thingy is that even though it was rejected it became the cornerstone of the foundation.

Okay, I betcha you are just as confused as I was about this cornerstone concept, because in my mind I heard crickets and saw you with the “deer in the headlights” expression as you just read that last sentence.

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So, since I finally learned what this concept was in my adult years (remember I’ve only been grown for three years now), I will try to explain it to you as best I can.

When a builder begins to build a structure the must have a foundation to build on. Now, an experienced builder knows that to make sure that everything is lined up right from the foundation to the highest point of the building, they cannot focus on the finished structure; they can’t even start with the full foundation, they have to start by focusing all of their attention on one corner of the foundation. Every other part of that structure must be aligned with that one corner, otherwise (in my New England accent), you’s gotta problem bowse. Now in the throwback days, in order to make sure the first corner of the foundation was perfect, and the rest of the building thereafter was perfect, the builders would use a precisely cut cornerstone to line up every other stone of that foundation. That one stone kept the whole structure solid and capable of withstanding all kinds of pressure: one stone I tell ya!

Jesus Christ is the one Stone that is the foundation of all life and relationship. The bible says that He as the architect came to those who were called to build life and relationship upon Him, but they didn’t receive Him (John 1:10-11). But when we go to Acts 4:11 we see Peter (The Little Rock), who once denied Jesus himself, quoting Psalms 118:22 and declaring that though Jesus was rejected by those who were to build the structure of life and relationship, He has now become the Cornerstone (Chief Rocka) of the foundation. This indicates that all attempts to build apart from Him will fail and the builders will have to reach back to get Him and build all over again with Him as the MAIN STONE IN THE CORNER.

Sly tried to build a Family with another Stone, that’s why he had to keep being his self AGAIN.

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Roc Nation tried to build an entertainment empire, but to keep it going Jay-Z has to keep coming out of retirement.

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Dwayne Johnson was once the archetype of modern day professional wrestling, and though some women still find him hot, that Rock ain’t cooking too much here lately.

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But Christ (if you hadn’t figured it out by now, I’m preaching) started a family that is perfected once and for all (Hebrews 10:14). Christ established a corporate expression and retired once and doesn’t need to keep making a comeback to keep his company on top (Hebrews 10:12-13). Christ was the archetype of modern day warfare who was not just a flash in the pan, but he keeps cooking up something fresh all the time (I Corinthians 2:7-10).

So, if you were the outcast, the rejected one, the ridiculed and ostracized one who is now the one that your supervisor needs in order to keep them out of trouble, that your broke ex needs to borrow money from to keep their lights on, that your sick parent needs to care for them in their latter years, that your crazy siblings need to help them in their time of need, that your ratchet/backstabbing friends need to be their support once everyone else has left the scene, or your messed up ministry colleagues need to get a prayer through on their behalf, you are in great company. I Peter 2:5 (Voice Translation) says,

“5 Like living stones, let yourselves be assembled into a spiritual house, a holy order of priests who offer up spiritual sacrifices that will be acceptable to God through Jesus, the Liberating King. 6 For it says in the words of the prophet Isaiah,
See here—I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone, chosen and precious;
Whoever depends upon Him will never be disgraced.”

But in order to be an effective rock, you have to get the pebble off of your shoulder that you picked up because of the rejection. If you are going to be like the Chief Rocker, you will have to learn how to Rock Out like He did. How did Christ Rock Out? He said,

“Hey Pops, you know what? They rejected me; true. But after observing the way they behave, I’ve come to the occlusion that they are just too ignorant to understand what they’re doing. So, I’m gonna put my Big Boy Draws on and take this one for the team. It’s cool, Pops. Let’s forgive them” (Luke 22:34 PKJ Version)

If you can do this, oh the great reward that awaits you is literally mind-blowing. As Paul the Apostle said in Philippians 2:5-11 (Message Translation)

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human ! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

As they say on HGTV & DIY “I Want That” and I believe you do too. So, let’s acknowledge the rejection, embrace the pain and privilege of it, then process the forgiveness that’s necessary so that we can shine bright like the real Hope Diamond, THE ICY ROCK, The Lord Christ Jesus!

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Well, the coffee is wearing off. So, This is Helen Jones’ 2nd Son saying, “LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO PLAY GAMES, SO KEEP IT REAL!” Two Fingers To The North ✌️We’re Outta Here!