Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Victors

Hail to the Victors, valiant. Hail to the conquering heroes. Hail, hail to Michigan. The champions of the West!

My boys put a hurtin' on Northwestern today...and in their own backyard!

Final score: Michigan 33 Northwestern 17

Even though I had a helluva time getting to and from Evanston (you try driving almost 600 miles round trip for a football game!), the crazy tailgate parties and our blowout victory made it all worthwhile. On to the next victim. Go Blue!


Friday, October 28, 2005

Human Interest or Corporate Interest?

OK. So am I the only one who feels a little ambivalent about Apple using Rosa Parks as a marketing piece? There is something to be said about corporate sponsorship and corporate responsibility. On the one hand, I guess I can appreciate Apple’s decision to honor Rosa Parks. I mean, if the company wanted to create a synergy between their corporate motto, "Think Different" and her legacy, they certainly did just that. But on the other hand, I can't help but to see it as an exploitation of the her life and death.

The truth is, I personally don't question their motives. But I do question the appropriateness of their campaign. Your thoughts?!


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Turning the other (broken) cheek

I can't seem to get over the story about a 64-year-old black man who was severely beaten up by New Orleans police. The man, a retired school teacher, was accused of being publicly intoxicated (although, oddly enough, the officers refused to give him a breath-a-lizer test). Funny, huh? Even if that were the case, since when would it take six armed officers to subdue one old man?

At any rate, they broke his cheek, damaged his eye (which required surgery) and left him in a pool of his own blood. When asked if this was a racially motivated attack (five officers were white), the victim's lawyer replied, " client does not believe that's what is involved here." Even more remarkable was the man's response when he said, "I hold no animosity against anyone..." Essentially, this man turned the other (broken) cheek.

I need to be more like this man...


Friday, October 21, 2005

Money, the root of...?

Lately, I've been struggling with the whole tithing thing. The argument behind tithing is that it's Biblical and must therefore be practiced. I disagree. Here's why:

The fact is; most of the passages in the Bible that address tithing are were directed at Israel specifically; not the the body of Christ. Israel had a certain obligation to live by the law; so much more so than we do now. I mean, if we were to bind ourselves to law, then we'd need to build brazen alters outside of the church so that we could offer up bulls, goats, and sheep. Likewise, anyone who works on the Sabbath (especially those who didn't tithe) needs to be executed. Yikes!

I guess that what bothers me the most is not the misuse of Scripture - but the constant head beatings by pastors about why we need to tithe and what will happen if we don't. They use Malachi 3:8-10 (about "robbing" God) and watch people come diving to the offering plates thinking that if they gave their 10%, God would give them something tangible in return (a car, a new job, a home, etc.) First of all, let me just say that God isn't required to give us anything! God is not some vending machine where you drop a few dollars, hit some faith buttons, and get what you want. By expecting to receive stuff because of our giving is actually robbing him just as much as not giving at all.

While we're on it, since when is money the only thing we should emphasize?! Shouldn't time and talents be included in that giving matrix? We've gotten to the point where we put a price tag on our love for and commitment to Christ. Money can't be the only premium. Otherwise, Jesus would have rejected the widow's offering of two coins (in Luke 21:3-4) and placed more emphasis on the rich cats who brought in their hoards of money.

You've got people who run to church, scream and shout, give all their money - and, at the end of the day have actually done nothing to advance God's kingdom. Now tell me, who's robbing God now?!

The Bible teaches us in II Corinthians 9:7 not to give out of "grudge or out of necessity..." We should give because of our love for God and how He continues to bless us not because we want to perpetuate the classism that comes with tithing or because someone put us on a guilt trip. I think that God would rather see someone give a single dollar cheerfully than a person who gives a $100 for show, with an attitude, or out of fear of what would happen (or wouldn't happen) if they didn't. Don't get me wrong: God will use the contributions from the people I just mentioned. But, I believe that He prefers the cheerful giver.

I really wish people would keep these sorts of things in mind the next time we hear a fifteen minute rant about the importance of giving. I can almost guarantee that when a person TRULY walks with God, they won't hesitate to give anything to Him; time, talents...

...and, of course, money!


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Who's fault is it anyway?!

Yesterday, I found myself in gripe about America's non-response (or lack of significant response) to other nations and their plights. Today, I want to turn the attention inland. Maybe it's just a rumor; but I heard that John Hagee declared that Hurricane Katrina was the result of God unleashing His judgment on the city of New Orleans for their homosexual lifestyles.

If this is true, then his ideas hold pretty consistent to other evangelicals who believe that God was punishing New Orleans for being sinful; reminenscent of Sodom and Gomorrah. Unbelievable! I mean, if that were the case, then Hollywood and Las Vegas would have been wiped out years ago (don't let me get started on Washington DC). Simply put, this was a natural disaster that our country was totally unprepared for. Now, I do believe that God used scientists and meterologists to warn us ahead of time in the event of a major hurricane. In fact, National Geographic publishied articles (also supported by a television special) about what would happen in this circumstance. We simply ignored the warnings, much like the people ignored Noah. We all know happened then.

God reminds us in Isaiah 55:8-9 that His thoughts and ways are MUCH higher than ours. So, how can we make declarations about what He does and why? I mean, does someone has a special pipeline of revelation that we don't know about? Luke 6 tells us not to condemn people or make judgement about their salvation -- or what should be done with them. Instead, we should try to restore the Spirit of gentleness on a person. But we should NOT stand behind our bully pulpits and say that God was judging New Orleans. Frankly, we have no idea why this happened; other than the fact that the Gulf of Mexico increased in temperature. Sadly though, Katrina has caused people to become dogmatic, judgemental, and condescending to people who lost their lives, their families, their homes...everything they had. As if any of us are so much better...

Next question: Not everyone in New Orleans was unsaved. So why did God wipe out the righteous with the unrighteous? I mean, if my Bible trivia serves me correctly, God allowed Abraham the chance to rescue his nephew Lot and his family from the destruction to come.

Come to think of it, maybe it was God who prevented the relief efforts for the victims. I guess God was also judging Galveston and Houston with Rita, right?! Maybe He was judging California with earthquakes and wildfires? How about America with 9/11? *Please note my sarcasm*

Does America need to repent? Absolutely! But it's not just the people in the so-called "city of iniquity" called New Orleans. Repentence is required in every city, in every home, in every heart. We will all be judged by a God whose love wouldn't WILLFULLY drown children; who loves us too much to wipe out a city just to prove a point -- for such a God would have to, once again, destroy EVERYTHING with a flood. Didn't He promise never to do that again?!

The point I'm trying to make is simple: we really don't know what God is up to so we need to extra careful when attributing things to Him. Instead, we should exercise faith that He, in His sovereignty, perfection, and love, knows exactly what He's doing. Until next time...


Monday, October 10, 2005

God Bless America (and apparently, no place else...)

This image only captures a morsel of the story...

The world has been watching in horror and shock as the news has been reporting on the devestating earthquake in Pakistan that has created a death toll of anywhere between 35 and 40,ooo people. Oddly enough, even as people have been suffering on a widespread level, many people fail to show sympathy for their fellow man. I was left aghast that, while most of the world turned its attention to the tens of thousands of people suffering in Pakistan, American media focused primarly on missing white girls, New Orleans "looting", Brad and Angelina, and the NY Yankees. Un-frickin'-believable! Does tragedy have to strike on our soil for us to pay it any attention? 9/11 comes around, and it reshapes our country; but mass murdering in Africa, destructive tsunamis in southeast Asia and violent earthquakes in the middle east get five minute coverage. Amazing!


Friday, October 07, 2005

To whom much is given...

I had an interesting conversation with a friend today. We were talking about the BET awards this summer. Now, let the record show that as a black man, I HATE BET (I'll talk about that in another post). I hate MTV, I hate E! Entertainment, I hate People magazine; I really don't like VH1 that much. Basically, I hate pop culture entertainment as it is today.

Now, before I get too far off topic, let's get back to my point...

This post is about the performance that Destiny's Child, featuring the lapdance that they included in their performance. Of course this sparked my curiosity...but not for the reasons that one would suspect. I took interest in seeing their performance not because I wanted to visualize Beyonce and her crew gyrating in short skirts (although they are incredibly beautiful), but because I needed ammunition for more of my blog. Fortunately for me, it worked!

After watching that video, I was absolutely stunned! At the end of their song Cater 2 U, they went out into the crowd and pulled three gentlemen (and I use the term "gentlemen" loosely) in for a little "show". These guys were Magic Johnson, Terrence Howard, and Nelly. Now, to properly inform myself before opening my big mouth, I did some research on these three men. After conducting my own investigation, I learned that two of these men -- Magic and Terrance -- were married. Here's my issue: they both seemed to be enjoying Destiny's Child(ren) more than Nelly; the only single man from the group. Terrance, at one point, looked like he was going to faint. The picture above doesn't lie...

With these men being married, shouldn't these men have rejected the idea of being on the receiving end of a lapdance even if they did so in front of a live studio audience and the entire nation? I can just see their wives at home fuming! What message does this send to married men? Is it OK for married men to get lap dances so long as it's in a performance at an awards show?! Give me a break!

Now, let's turn our attention to the other key players -- Destiny's Child themselves. Although the claim that it was all just a "tease", the point is, they were teasing married men. I wonder if they realize that it's not just adults who watch this stuff, but children as well. What does this type of stuff say to our youth...young girls in particular? Don't they realize that young people are easily influenced by what they see? They try to wear the clothes, talk the talk, and mimic the behaviors of entertainers.

Secondly, last I checked "divas" have all the 'goods' that women have (beauty, elegance, talent, style, and attitude), but they also bear responsibility for how they use it. People like Phylicia Rashad, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Camille Cosby, Oprah Winfrey (as much as she annoys me. This is for another post) -- hell, even Condoleeza Rice come to mind. These are truly dignified black women who don't need to gyrate in tight clothes to gain respect and earn a following. Instead, they rely on their class, aura, and remarkable achievements to set their legacy.

Finally, I'm left wondering how Destiny's Child can profess Christianity while using sex to advance their careers. Does that not ruin their testimony? Does that not water down their faith? On national television at that! If I'm not mistaken, Michelle made a Gospel CD. I wonder how her sales are doing...

But, I guess that, in all things, I can't judge what they do. I think that Christians must be congizant of our roles as Christ's ambassadors without being judgement of those who we feel are ruining their ministry. The only people who can really judge them are God and themselves. I'm not either.

Still, I'll always fervently believe that "to whom much is given, much is required..." Later!


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

More gripes about religion

I have several issues with some people's views on Christianity -- especially in the Black church. The way we practice Christianity has simply become TOO religious. From my experience, I understand that religion has absolutely NOTHING to do with Christ. Religion is nothing more than doing something in repitition and tradition; essentially from the head and not from the heart. Christianity, inversely, is about our relationship with Christ and the body of Christ. I hate to admit it, but I don't think that this concept is well know or understood in today's church.

Sadly, many people in the body of Christ take issue with their brothers and sisters simply because of a difference in experience, which is merely a product of upbringing. But, how can we, as Christians, win lost souls with these differences? How can we live a life that pleasing to God if we don't get along? To put it in its lowest denominator, we need to get our acts together. Jesus is coming back for a church with spot or wrinkle. Now, where's my iron...?


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Forgive and forget?!

I'm so sick of my Sunday School class! For some bizarre reason, my Pastor saw fit to create a "Christian singles" class; apparently to help singles to confront relationship issues that may impede their growth in Christ. On paper, the idea sounds good. But if you sat in my class for ten minutes, you'd hate it as much as I do! Don't get me wrong, I'm all for Sunday School meeting needs. But, it can only go so far in planting that seed. At some point, the people in the class have to make effort as well.

One of the central themes in my "I can't find a mate" class (predominately female, which should tell you something...), is "Well, I just can't forgive him for what he's done to me, yada, yada, yada". I have a huge problem with the way they seem to tackle this issue.

Although the Bible never uses the phrase "forgive and forget", it's filled with scriptures commanding us to forgive one another. If we don't forgive others, we not only reap bitterness, but we lose out on our eternal rewards (I don't know about you, but I want as many rewards as possible once I get to Heaven). Simply put, forgiveness is a decision of the will. Besides that, God wouldn't give us a commandment to forgive if He didn't equip us with the ability to do just that!

Now, the idea of 'forgetting' is a little more complicated, but not really. We're not responsible for literally forgetting stuff, since none of us can selectively 'delete' stuff from our memory. Instead, we "forget" wrong-doing against us by treating it, and the person who did it, as if it never happened. In Hebrews 8:12, God promises not to remember our sins if we ask for forgiveness. But since God is ALL-KNOWING, how does he forget our sins? The truth is, He doesn't. He just doesn't hold them against us if. If we go to Him in humility, seeking His forgiveness, and holding firm in the belief that He will forgive us, then...well, He forgives us! There's no need to sacrifice animals, cut ourselves up to pieces, or starve ourselves to look like Lara Flynn Boyle. The only caveat to receiving God's forgivenss is (1) to confess your sins, (2) ask Him for forgiveness and (3) believe on Him. Sweet, huh?!

At this point, although our sins have been forgiven, the job isn't quite over yet. Just as God forgives us, we, likewise, are to forgive those who have sinned against us. In that respect, we are to "forget" their sins as if they never happened. Ephesians 4:32 reminds us to be kind to one another and to forgive one another...just as Christ forgave us. The parable of the unforgiving servant always seems to come to mind (I'll be writing on this one pretty soon). How can we expect God to forgive us for ALL THE JUNK that we've done against Him if we can't forgive those who do wrong against us?!

My advice to my "I can't find a mate" classmates is: maybe instead of concentrating on finding a mate, we all should learn to forgive...



God has an uncanny way of using others to teach me important lessons of life. I just ran into a guy with whom I went to school. I've known this guy for years, from elementary school on up. He was always the popular kid. Well known, athletic, smart. These attributes followed him through most of his academic career, or so I believed. I lost contact with him after high school, but I heard he went on to play football at some junior college out east.

When I saw him recently, he was confined to a wheelchair. Naturally, seeing him in that condition aroused my curiosity but, out of respect for his situation, I declined to ask any questions. However, much to my suprise, he volunteered all sorts of information about why he was handicapped. Apparently, he and some friends were driving intoxicated. They were in a serious accident where he broke seven different vertebrae. He's paralyzed for life.

I remember asking him how he was able to successfully deal with such a dramatic change in his life. With a huge smile on his face, he said one word: "Time". He reminded me that it was his own fault that he was in this position and that it would not have happened unless God allow it (I immediately thought of my Sunday school teacher who shares the same quote with me). He admitted that while he grew to accept what happened to him, it took years of spiritual growth to get to that point. In fact, oddly enough, he credits his paralysis to being the very thing he needed to turn to God. I guess you can say that not being able to walk physically helped him to walk spiritually. Interesting, huh?!

I guess the moral of this story is that Christian growth may require for me to lose -- or give up -- stuff before I can gain. Before I can allow God to bless me with a mate, a new job, a new life, etc., I might have to let go of things that I've become used to. Just as this guy suggested, it won't be easy. It will take a lot of patience, a lot of faith and -- especially -- a lot of time...