Sunday, July 30, 2006

Singled out

In an effort to get to know the man behind the blog, some of my online friends have asked me why I'm so cynical about relationships. After all, doesn't the Bible tell us that "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord" (Proverbs 18:22)? Why, then, do I have such a negative outlook on dating and relationships?

Well, let's clarify one thing here. I'm not against dating and relationships. I just don't think that the idea of it all applies to my life. People who know me outside of this blog (Imagine that. I don't spend my whole life on this blog after all!) mostly think that my 'cynicism' is a product of my failure in a certain relationship. They'd argue that I shouldn't allow one relationship disaster to affect my outlook on relationships as a whole. Normally, I would agree.


The fact is: I've been in just about every type of relationship there is. I've been with an ultra-intelligent woman; and a not-so-intelligent woman. I've been with a shy, introverted woman, and an outspoken, extroverted woman. I've been with a suburban woman and a woman straight out of 'da hood. I've been with a socially conscious, righteous women and a woman who only cares about the world of celebs. I've been with a woman whom I hardly knew and a woman who I've known for most of my life. I've dated Christians and non-Christians. I've even dated interracially.

Interestingly enough, though each relationship was as different as night and day, the results would invariably be the same. I'd make that person my queen, she'd make me her court jester, and -- when she grew tired of me (or, in most cases, someone more appealing came along) -- I'd get the "You're a nice guy, but..." speech.

Every time.

It never fails.

For me, the only question became "When's it gonna happen?".

Is that the type of cycle I'm supposed to run around in for the rest of my life?

I'm slowly getting to point where I'm thinking maybe it's not in God's will for me to realize a successful relationship. Maybe this is God's way of telling me that I'm more useful to Him as a single man. That being said, my outlook on relationships (for me) is not cynical, but rather an attempt to discover the truth. I think that God blesses some people with fruitful relationships, but not others. That's not to say that He doesn't bless single people in other ways; just not when it comes to finding mates.

Paul was one of the greatest apostles in history, and he accomplished that feat without being married. In I Corinthians, he states:

"But this I say by way of concession, not of command, Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I."( 7:6-8,)

Though Paul clearly indicates that this is not a commandment from God, he does a terrific job of reminding the Corinthians that neither being single or married has a higher emphasis over the other. Rather, they are both gifts. Paul mentioned -- on more than one occasion -- that if it were up to him, the Corinthian church would all be like him (unmarried). Granted, it would be hard to imagine Paul standing up in front of my church telling all of us single cats that it's better for us to stay that way. But for people like me -- who have been torn down from relationships more than they've been built up, singleness may be the best thing to happen to us.

Cynicism? I don't think so. I like to think of it as protecting myself from hurt and hardship so that I can serve God a little more adequately.


Thursday, July 27, 2006


Graduate school has been a nightmare for me. I’ve been struggling as a grad student ever since I started about a year ago. Since that time, I’ve switched programs twice, and I still haven’t been able to find my nitch. As an undergrad, things went so smoothly for me. I usually took a seat as one of the ‘smart guys’ in the class. You know, the one who always seem to screw up the curve. But, in grad school, it’s been a completely different story.

I was talking with a fellow church member about how difficult of a time I've been having in school. In addition to some of the glib remarks that church folks are known for (i.e. “I’m praying for you.” or “God is in control”), he tossed one out there that made me bite my bottom lip:

“God never puts more on you than you can bear.”

I'm not calling this guy out in particular, but I believe that whoever came up with this line is completely misguided.

If God never gives us more than we can handle, then how do you explain (otherwise sane) people who go crazy after tragic events? What does it mean when something so horrible happens in our lives that we just can’t seem to cope? Is it really just a matter of us ‘trying’ a little harder to overcome these problems? If we can bear our problems, then what good is God to us?

Though I can’t seem to fit my ideas into the Word, I think that God allows us to be weighed down by the problems of the world. I know, from personal experience that we can get broken by the circumstances of life that we thought that we were supposed to control. But, if God doesn’t allow burdens to weigh us down, then how can we “Cast all of our cares upon Him?” I think that the only way for us to completely lean on God is for something to happen to us that only He can deliver us from. Besides that, I think that God finds it a lot easier to work in the lives of people who have been broken up than with people who think that they are in control.

Your thoughts?


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Great music

I just copped a couple of great CDs that I wanted to share with you. In an empty and vacuous industry full of oversexualitzed women, materialisitc and chauvanistic hip hoppers, whiny boy bands, and noisy rockers, it's always refreshing to know that some artists haven't lost touch with music...

First, there's Sean Dietrich. I was actually introduced to Sean right here on my blog. In one of my posts, he left a comment which redirected me to his website. Check it out here.

When I first heard his album, I was absolutely rocked. Sean's music is a clear reflection of his love and tribute for God. What's also great about his work is that he is allowing free downloads on his debut album, Nothing Special. For those without downloading capability, he's also offering to send his CD for free! This gifted artist has blessed me with his work. I'm sure that you'll find that same blessing. Thanks Sean!

Next on the playlist, we've got Corinne Bailey Rae. My apologies any ladies interested in me (all negative 12 of you...), but this woman has stolen my heart (well, she and Joann Rosario). I didn't believe in love at first sight until I saw her...

I first saw her on the Tavis Smiley show and then again on the Tonight Show. Not only is she righteous as all outdoors (especially with her spiritual outlook), but she's also incredibly talented. Her sultry, neo-soulistic sound has a little Bill Withers combined with some Jill Scott; with a touch of Alicia Keys on the side. But, above all, she simply exudes positive energy with her voice. I'm in love...

If you've got a couple of extra bucks in your pocket, I think you should add these guys to your music selection. I don't think you'll be disappointed...


Monday, July 24, 2006

Integration of church and state?

Occasionally, there are times when I really enjoy being at church. Sometimes we have those days where things at our church fall into place. The music is uplifting, the sermon is strong, my pastor doesn’t gripe so much, and the members behave themselves. Everything feels right.

Let’s just say that yesterday wasn’t one of those days.

The day started off on a pretty OK note. But things took a pretty interesting and, well, stupid turn as my pastor opened the floor for a number of visiting politicians to speak. After they each presented their little pony and card shows, my pastor only devoted about 15 minutes or so for his sermon (not a very good one, by the way. I nodded off a couple of times. But, I digress…). I admit that I was pretty disappointed after this spectacle. What should have been an uplifting and inspirational way to start the week quickly turned into a political infomercial.

Interestingly, though this experience bothered me immensely, there was nothing politcally wrong with it. My pastor doesn’t seem to be endorsing any one particular candidate, nor was he using the church as a campaign outpost. Though in many instances, pastors have gone as far as to tell their congregation who to vote for (precisely how Bush was able to lure so much of the black vote), my pastor didn’t appear to have an hidden biases toward any candidate. For the most part, he didn’t show any signs of shadiness. Nevertheless, it has always been my contention that many of the larger evils in this world start off with tiny little concessions that appear to be harmless. That said, even the insignificant, once-in-a-blue moon visits from politicians during our sacred worship time made me feel a little annoyed and concerned.

Now, on the one hand, I completely understand how significant the church is (or at least should be) to the black community. Historically, the black church was the backbone of the community. Education, information, activism, and outreach efforts were all created in within the four walls of the church. But, back in the day, the church was the media for exchanging ideas, having discussions, and raising awareness. Today, all you have to do is pick up a book ever now and then, listen to discussions, and click on a few websites to get information about anything. There are more ways to collect information about politicians and their views than through Sunday morning visits.

Sadly, though, I’ll also admit: that many people at my church (or the rest of the community for that matter); especially youth probably care more about the BET Music Awards or the next American idol more than they do their city council members or state representatives. So, to that end, this type of political infiltration into our service was necessary to put a face on the people for whom we would be voting. Furthermore, maybe…just maybe…this would be enticing enough to get people out to vote and to make their voices heard.

I guess that’s why I’m so conflicted by politicians visiting churches. I think that my main problem is two fold:

One, I hate how politicians try to lure our (Black people’s) votes. Democrats say a few cheery things about helping blacks to progress in the society and they effortlessly earn our support. Republicans toss out the ‘religious’ card, and many of them receive our support (Hello? Anybody remember the 2004 presidential election?!).

Secondly, I feel like my spiritual time has been intruded upon when I have to share it with some politician who couldn't give a rat's a*$ about any of us.

Let the record show, however, that I have NO PROBLEM with the church being involved in community activism. To me, that’s a part of our calling in the ministry. For instance, a collection of our pastors have created a (to my knowledge) non-profit coalition devoted to reducing the rampant violence in our city. We need a collection of positive energy in our communities.

But politicizing our worship service is not the way to go. At least, I don’t think it is…

Your thoughts?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Knock, knock...

I found an image of this painting on the Internet. I really like it and thought I'd share it with you. It shows Jesus knocking on the door to our heart.

But there's something wrong this picture. Can you find the problem? Go 'head. Take a close look...

I'll give you a few hints:

  • It doesn't have anything to do with this Jesus being white. We all know what He wasn't some white dude. But, that doesn't really matter much to me. As long as He died and resurrected for us, I couldn't care less if He's black, white, or green. So, that's not it.
  • It doesn't have anything to do with the house that Jesus is visiting. This could be the door to any one of our houses.

Give up?

Take a look at the door. Do you notice something wrong with it? If you said "the door knob", you're absolutely correct. The door knob should be a dead giveaway. Having a knob on the outside of the door suggests that if Jesus was really determined, he could forcefully find a way into our hearts. He could pick the lock, smash the door down, or just turn the knob to open the door Himself.

But, as the Bible reminds us, Jesus will not enter our hearts unless we open the door for Him. Unlike this picture, the knob is actually on our side of the door.

Revelation 3:20 quotes Jesus as He says: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with Me." Essentially, Jesus promises that if we open the door to our hearts, He will come in and fellowship with us. Equally as important, He will allow us to fellowship with Him.

What I think is especially cool about this is that Jesus offers to 'sup' with us whether our house is actually clean or not. How many of us have a hard time visiting somebody's nasty a@$ house? Jesus doesn't require us to make our homes suitable for Good Housekeeping magazine before He comes in. He accepts us as we are.

Jesus is knocking at the door of our hearts. Will we answer Him or will we keep Him outside waiting on the porch?


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Even more misc. news

More miscellaneous news for you to munch on...

The Prez sneaks one in
During a G-8 summit meeting, your president apparently ran up behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel and gave her a quick massage; much to her chagrin. So now he's using world summit meetings to make unwanted advances at women, huh?
Will somebody pul-lease give this guy a little oral attention so that we can impeach him already. Sheesh!

Putin lays the smackdown on the Prez
Speaking of the G-8 conference, did anyone else watch the video where Russian president Vladimir Putin pulled Dubya's pants down in front of everybody during the press Q&A session? I wouldn't do any justice by trying to explain it. See it for yourself.

Seeing how just about every world leader thinks that Bush is a blithering idiot, I'm wondering how people in places like Mexico and the UK feel knowing that their leaders actually worship this guy.

Bush gets recorded cussing at a G-8 lunch
As if Bush's other G-8 antics didn't have the world smacking itself on the forehead, apparently your president was recorded saying that Syria should pressure Hezbollah to "stop doing this [expletive]"; regarding the rise in violence in the Middle east.

As funny as this story is, I can't really blame him for this one. But, as the leader of 'the free world', and allegedly a champion for peace, democracy, and diplomacy, how does it look when comments like this go from off the record to on the record?

A connection between race and politics?
This is a pretty old article, but I think it's worth mentioning anyway. This article points out a study which suggests a sociological connection between political affliation and hidden biases. But, as compelling of an article as this was, I really don't need a study like this to tell me that people who vote Republican are more likely to have racist tendencies. I mean, even many black Conservatives appear to have disdain for anything that is 'black' (or, to use the proper vernacular, "urban").

Last month, I was watching a special on A&E that mentioned that many whites became Republican after the OJ Simpson trial. If this is true, this further supports the idea of a racist, elitist Republican system. Now, pul-lease don't think that I'm implying that Democrats are the good guys here. They're just as culpable. Except, they participate in -- what I call -- unenlightened racism. I discussed this notion in a previous post, when I mentioned that MLK had more of an issue with white do-nothing liberals than he did with blantantly racist conservatives. I'm passing the blame all around...

Church builds a Christian Statue of Liberty
I didn't learn about this one until just now; but apparently a church in Memphis just built what they call a "Statue of Liberation", a 72-foot tall Christian Statue of Liberty. I wish I was making this up...

This $2.5 million 'Statue of Liberation' is designed similarly to the Statue of Liberty, except that the Liberty torch is replaced by a cross, and the "give me your tired, your poor...etc." inscription is replaced by Roman numerals for the Ten Commandments.

Ignorant stuff like this (or, let's say building multi-million dollar life centers, and buying new carpet and pews for your church, while the community is in rumbles) makes me wonder why I even bother fooling around with churches these days.

President is always right?
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from Steven Bradbury, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. As Bradley was being questioned about whether Bush’s interpretation of the Hamdan case was right or wrong, he sarcastically replied, “The President is always right.” See it for yourself.

I don't know about you, but I get a sense of discomfort hearing people openly say this kind of stuff, whether it's said sarcastically or not.

Middle Eastern Death Match
It doesn't look like things are getting any better in Lebanon. After only a few days after being dragged into this nonsense, there have already been over 300 deaths and 1000 wounded Lebanese citizens. Israel's rumble with Hezbollah is costing more than just the lives of Israelis.

Let's continue to pray for a sense of peace and restoration before too many more lives are destroyed.

FMA defeated in the House of Representatives
In an interesting turn of events, the Federal Marriage Amendment proposal was struck down again in the House of Representatives this week. Though the amendment did receive a simple majority, it wasn't enough to satisfy the Constitutionally two-thirds majority to pass.

While I don't subscribe to the homosexual agenda (sin is sin, no matter how you slice it), I think that the banning of this ridiculous proposal is a victory for human rights. Just because I think that homosexuality is wrong doesn't mean that they should be robbed of basic human rights. Before homosexuals are homosexuals, they are human; first and foremost. Discrimination (even against people whom the "moral" society would deem 'wrong') is not to be tolerated on any level.

When it comes to gay rights, I've heard them all:

"If we allow gays to marry, the population will eventually die off." Oh really?! So you mean to tell me that the 8% of the world's gay population (a very generous number. It's probably even lower than that) will kill off the rest of the world?

"The gay increase will increase the spread of AIDS". I don't buy that either. In fact, I think that AIDS is a man-made virus. I mean, the first case of AIDS was reported in an African monkey back in the fifties. It didn't make its way to the states as part of an epidemic until the early 80's.

"It destroys the sacred instituition of marriage." You don't say? So, how do you explain the fact that in 2005, there were 7.8 marriages per 1000 people in this country; matched by 3.7 divorces? That's on a 53% success rate, people. Plus, throw in ridiculous celebrity marriages, marriages for money and security, and "forced" marriages. If anybody's destroyed marriage, its us heterosexuals...

At the end of the day, I don't care about protecting an instituion as much as I am about protecting people. Whether I agree with a person's lifestyle or not, injustice is never acceptable.

Bush vetoes stem-cell bill
Speaking of bills that didn't quite make it, your president officially vetoed his first bill since entering office, when he rejected to expand federal support for embryonic stem cell research.

This move has generated mixed responses from his conservative cohorts. On the one hand, Bush is catering to the "religious" conservatives who take the 'moral' high ground (that's a laugh!) . But -- in doing so -- he's alienating himself from moderates (like Nancy Reagan, Bill Frist, and even Orrin Hatch). I wonder how that'll affect Conservative loyalty to the Prez.

Also, it offends me that Dubya uses the "We can't destroy life in order to save life" mantra every time he justifies his stance on stem-cell research. I mean, isn't that exactly what he's doing with this nonsensical war in Iraq? He's out there making war, with a certainty that some soliders are going to die. It's funny how the ends justify the means for him in one case, but not in another...

Ex-CIA operative to file civil suit
Even after Karl Rove avoided major jail time by outing ex-CIA operative Valarie Plame, he apparently isn't out of the woods yet. According to this article, she and her husband have filed a civil lawsuit against Rove, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, along with a few other "John Doe's" for outing her identity, ending her career, and -- essentially -- endangering her life. To think, they went through all this trouble and planning just to get back at Joseph Wilson for calling the President on his lies.

Maybe this will show them that revenge is not always the best way to go.

I guess that's it for now. But, I'm sure that more stupid and wacky adventures are around the corner. Stay tuned...

Have a great day!


Monday, July 17, 2006

More misc news

A lot of stuff has been going on in the news lately. While I can't cover it all, here are some things that have struck nerves with me:

Conflicts in the Middle East
For starters, the nonsensical conflict between Palestine and Israel has started to reach out to its neighbors. According to this article, Lebanon has become newest casuality in this war. As it appears, the Israeli government is now using Lebanon as a "buffer zone" for missle attacks. So, let me get this straight. In the event that there is a rocket strike, Israel plans to use Lebanon (which actually is inhabited) as a demilitarized zone? As if casualites in Israel and Palestine aren't enough, Lebanese folks are now in the mix too.

Speaking of Middle Eastern conflicts, it appears that the kidnapping and killing of three US soliders in Iraq was in retaliation from other troops in their unit who raped and killed an Iraqi woman along with her family. Though five soliders have been charged, this scandel represents a host of problems. One, this reaffirms the fact that this war is horrible for our public relations. If soliders who are assigned to "protect" Iraqis are harming civilians, this doesn't make our cause for war justifiable. This kind of stuff is what happens when you put young, trigger-happy, controlling soliders around exotic (even in a "hidden" way) women of "the enemy". I mean I can attest to how beautiful Middle easterner can be. Now, I'm not saying that all (or even most) soliders do this type of stuff. In fact, I have to give it up for the brave men and women who face unimaginable danger every day. But, if we don't pull out soon, we'll see a dramatic increase of casualities; not just in "dead or injured" categories.

Global warming concerns increase
Has anyone seen An Inconvenient Truth? I’m wondering why it hasn’t been released in Michigan theatres yet (at least, not that I know of). As if The Devil Wears Prada is a great source for raising consciousness on important issues. Then again, seeing as though Michigan was the vehicle Mecca for a long time, I guess I'm not suprised.

At any rate, I can't wait to see it once it's finally released here. I'll be interested to hear how the movie supports the compelling arguments behind global warming. It’ll be equally as interesting to see how the government responds to the scientific discussion of the film, particular the Bush Administration. Maybe this is why your president is so hell bent on destroying the EPA and its network of technical research libraries.

As much as I like President Gore, there are a couple of things about his arguments that bothered me. One, he argues that an increase in the world’s population has resulted in an increased burden on the environment. I don’t entirely buy that argument; given that over 80% of the world’s resources are being used by…you guessed it…the West. Secondly, I’m not entirely convinced about the Peakoil theory that he cites. Simply put, I really don’t believe that we are near the point of running out of oil which can be extracted. This is not to say that we shouldn’t use alternative sources. But it’s not because we are running low.

Did Gore use these two misinformed observations as a campaign to get a certain outcome (i.e. Presidency?). Only time can tell that one, I guess...

But, at least others are starting to raise their consciousness about this serious threat. Tom Brokaw had a pretty interesting documentary about Global warning on Discovery last night. I had to stay up until 1 in the morning to watch it (we were at some pointless church function until…like…10:30. Thank God for my neighbor’s TiVo), but it was a great documentary.

Enron founder dead
I was a little late on this one. But, as one of my esteemed blogger buddies informed me, Kenneth Lay; founder of Enron died of heart attack last week. Lay, who stood to face life in prison, died before his scheduled sentence on October 23. Also dying with him were any chances that the thousands of former employees who were raped by Enron, would receive fair and adequate treatment for their troubles.

Now, I’ve got a few theories about his death; none of which are related to a ‘natural’ heart attack. A few people have hinted that maybe he committed suicide. Although no evidence had been found (or looked for) to suggest it, I wouldn’t rule it out. I mean, the guy faced life in prison being roomed with a cellmate named “Butch” who developed quite a fondness for white collar men.

But, has it ever occurred to anybody that it may have been more than suicide? I’d like to remind you all that Lay was part of your Vice Presidents infamously secret “Energy Commission” during Cheney’s first year in office. Freedom of Information Act requests went all the way up to the Supreme Court; asking for transcripts of those meetings. But the court eventually struck it down. Now, I think that Lay was threatening to release that information if Bush didn’t give him a pardon once he was imprisoned. That was it for him…

Sure my theory may be waaaay out there, but I wouldn’t rule it out. I mean, Cheney had four hear attacks; two of which were severe, and yet that windbag is still alive. Lay, who was much healthier than Cheney, had absolutely NO previous heart problems, and who has tons of money and the best health care at his disposal, dies of a heart attack with no one around? Add the equation that if Ken Lay had gotten convicted, the monies he had stolen probably would have been confiscated. Now that he has conveniently died, if they can’t try him for his crimes, his family gets to keep all of the money.

If I haven’t convinced you enough, please allow me to share another interesting turn of events. Apparently, an unidentified British banker who was connected with Enron scandal who was just found dead. Coincidence?

Price of Oil Rising Again
Ever since North Korea started launching missiles, oil prices have been steadyily rising (just as I predicted). This represents the fact that oil companies are using international tensions as an opportunity to raise oil prices. Though N. Korea itself is not blamed for the rise in oil prices, the unease caused by international conflict does. It always has. Hello? Remember the Iran “hostage crisis” that preluded the infamous embargo of the 70’s?

It doesn’t appear that the government is going to start regulating the price of oil any time soon. So, as an alternative, why won’t they open their own refineries? That’ll force these greedy oil companies to reasonable reduce their prices. Maybe I’m a socialist for thinking so, but there’s something fundamentally wrong with you and me getting raped at the gas pump while oil companies are getting richer (sorry, HC, but this nonsense is getting out of hand).For anyone who agrees with me, I urge you to contact your Congressmen and let them know how you feel. Click on this link and input your zip code to email your representatives in Congress:

Corruption in Mexican election?
Some political commentators are now saying that the Mexican election was rigged. Although exit polls indicated that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (the "leftist" candidate was beating Felipe Calderon (a conservative in the National Action Party and a Bush supporter), by almost a 2% margin, Calderon snuck away with the victory. But the Mexican people are pissed and haven't stopped protesting since the election. They are demanding a recount. Most impressive is that, according to this article, Lopez Obrador stood in the "Zocalo"— the square in front of Mexico’s White House, yelling, "Count the votes!"

Perhaps our Democratic leaders should be jotting down a few notes here. Maybe if Gore and Kerry had the same nerve as Lopez Obrador, they would have did the same.

Well, that's all for now. I need to get back to work.

Until next time...


Thursday, July 13, 2006

The eyes of a Friend

Not too long ago, I tried to take a look at the world through Peter's eyes. At the start, it wasn't a very pleasant trip. I mean, Peter constantly boasted about how great of a disciple he was and how devoted he was to Jesus. But it only took one gaze into Jesus' eyes for him to realize how far off base he was. I imagine that Peter's self pride and dignity immediately took a hit as the truth came crashing down on him.

I think that one of the problems that we have when we examine Peter's life is that we villify him too much. Yes, he was a poor fisherman. Yes, he was violent and quick to anger. Yes, he was a prolific cusser. Yes, he was boastful, arrogant, and condescending. Yes, he denied knowing Jesus. But, he was human. The fact is: I can sit here and villify Peter all day long if I wanted to. But, sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I was sitting with Jesus by that fire and He gave me that same look. How would I have responded? How would I have felt?

Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you found yourself alone with Jesus in those hurtful, shameful, and dirty places in your life?

My mind is often hit with this thought. Sometimes I imagine Jesus standing directly across from me looking directly into my eyes. I've tried to meet His eyes with my own, but with each lie that I've ever told, each bad thought I've ever had about somebody, and each sin that I've ever committed, it's really difficult for me to do so. But once I finally muster up enough courage and determination to look at Him, I see a single tear coming from each of His eyes. The tear from one eye is for the hurt that I continue to cause Him through my wrongdoing. But the tear from the other eye is a product of the love, compassion, and acceptance that He has for me in spite of myself. Just as He did with Peter, Jesus uses His dark eyes to remind me that I belong to Him, even when I screw up. He looks past my hazel green eyes, compassionately sees the pitch black soul that hides behind them, and responds to it with a type of love that no one else can duplicate.

Even after Peter denied knowing Him (to coin Mr. Burns from the Simpsons; "...not once, not twice, but thrice"), saying stupid stuff, bragging on himself too much, cutting a man's ear off, along with the countless boneheaded things he's done against Jesus, he was still viewed as being a precious and sacred part of God's design. He still possessed keys to the kingdom. He was still charged to tend to Jesus' lambs and to feed His sheep. He was still used as the rock upon which the church was built. Above all, Jesus still loves him.

I think that Jesus is the same way with me. Although I seem to find new and improved ways to screw up every single day, I'm still in God's favor. Jesus is looking directly into my eyes, not afraid of the filth, disgust, and shame that awaits Him. After He finds the sacredness and potential that lies beneath the dirt, He embraces it.

He embraces me.

He loves me.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Living for the rain?

I was talking with my boss the other day about the world of advertising. She received her Ph.D. in the area, so she’s a pretty credible source. Talking to her made me think about some things.

Advertising is effective in capitalizing on people's insecurities. Some would even argue that advertising is, in fact, the very cause of the insecurity. You're too fat. You're not pretty enough. You have too many zits on your face. Your breath stinks. Many advertisers are trained to say anything and everything to root out our emotional base. That's how they sell their product. In simpler terms, most folks don’t buy the things they do or do the things they do out of necessity, but rather out of social appeal. We do certain things (like buying stuff) off of our emotions and then try to back it up with our logic. Isn't it funny how relationships work the same way?! Emotion first, logic second...if at all.

If you think about it, this philosophy even permeates in the church. I would argue that most people don’t actually come to church to worship; their attendance is based on some sort of ‘feelings’. But I'm actually not going to focus on the issues of the church today. The issues that I have at this moment stretch further than the church. That's for another discussion down the road...

For the sake of today's rant: Has anyone seen that Jenny Craig commercial with Kirstie Alley, advertising her 55-pound weight loss? In this commercial, we have Kirstie Alley walking down a dark street with a long dark overcoat. Some guy, doing some sort of ‘cat-call’ (if that’s what you wanna call it) says something to the effect of “Oooh. You’re lookin’ good!” She turns to the camera and says “Is he talking to me?” At this point, she strips off the overcoat and starts dancing jubilantly in the streets with a bunch of male dancers to the song “It’s Raining Man.” Seriously! I’m not making this up. The major theme of this commercial – to me – is that once you lose the weight, it'll start ‘raining men’ (or women) in your life. Then, you can start to feel good about yourself.

Commercials like this make me wonder: Do we go take care of ourselves because of our self-love or to be accepted by others?

Now to be fair, as a single man, I would LOVE for it to ‘rain women’. Though I talk a mean game about how cool it is to be single, I’ve always longed to find that one for me. I mean, who doesn’t want companionship? But, I think we have to realize that we shouldn’t just do stuff so that people will validate us. Neither should we do things just to satisfy our insecurities. Not good, not good!

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for doing well for yourself; whether it be in the health and fitness arena, your academic life, your professional career, family life, etc. In fact -- as my best friend pointed out to me -- I need to start taking inventory on my own issues. I’m equally supportive of anyone who wants to look and feel good about themselves, but only if it's for themselves. But why would you eliminate the dependency on wealth, success, food, etc. that you once had, only to replace it with a dependency on other people’s impressions of you? Isn't that what we do?

So, the next time you're out there maxing out your credit card at your favorite clothing store, starving yourself to lose that extra 2 lbs., or putting yourself in massive debt trying to buy that new car, ask yourself a simple question: Am I doing this for me or for how someone else will respond to me?


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Tagged again

I've been tagged again. As I've mentioned before, I normally don't post tags, but I just don't have anything else to talk about right now.

Yep. You heard correctly. Mr. "I've got an opinion about everything" doesn't have anything to talk about today. I suppose that I could talk about some things: my nephew (which always makes me happy); certain houseguests who have overstayed their welcome (which makes me not-so-happy); President Bush - who always seems to find a way to annoy the hell out of me; or how lazy our office secretary is.

But, for the sake of simplicity, I'll just go with the tag. Enjoy...

7 things to know about me...

- I'm highly opinionated
- I'm a self-taught drummer
- I can draw just about any cartoon out there
- I don't eat pork (With work, I'll eliminate meat altogether)
- I talk in my sleep
- I've got a weird mole on my neck
- I'm only one of two people on both sides of my family with green eyes. Maybe I'm adopted. Maybe my fellow green-eyed bandit is my long lost sister.

- Failure
- Rejection
- Death (both mine and others)
- The idea of knowing that people, even some close to me, won't receive salvation
- Being alone
- Being hurt (see agliophobia)
- The idea of the Rapture/Apolcalypse (I don't care how saved I am, the idea of Jesus hanging in the middle of sky drawing people up, angels blowing trumpets, dead people rising, a war at Armagedon, and 1000 years of Hell on earth doesn't sit well in my stomach)

7 RANDOM MUSIC AT THE MOMENT... (Even though this one verbally didn't make much sense, I think I know where this one was going)
- "Pieces of Me" by Ashlee Simpson (at least I think she sang it. No telling these days...)
- "With all My Heart" by Joanne Rosario
- "Love's Holiday" by Earth, Wind, and Fire (but they've got too many winners to count!)
- "We Still Belong Together" by Lisa Loeb
- "Heavenly Choir" by the Canton Spirituals
- "Love Train" by ConFunkShun
- Anything from Earl Klugh, but particularly "Whispers and Promises"

- Paris (France, not Texas)
- Tokyo
- South Africa
- My friend's future movie studio (*wink, wink)
- London
- Another planet
- The Nation's Capitol (like I said, "another planet")

- Sleeping
- Video games (I'm a kid at heart)
- Jazz music
- Watching skilled drummers do their thing
- Writing
- Reading (non-fiction and stuff from my blogging friends, especially)
- Sitting at home doing nothing and being unproductive

7 PEOPLE I LOVE THE MOST... (I've got a couple of rules for this one. (1) I can't use full names. Don't want the world pissed at me for putting their names on the 'net) (2) Please don't be offended if you're not on the list. I love a LOT of people!)
- My sisters (OK, I cheated by putting three people on one line)
- My parents (cheated again)
- My brother and, of course, my nephew (cheated yet again)
- My best friend, JD
- My sister's best friend, JB-O
- My friend's son, WCR
- My aunt Faye

- "But, I digress" (usually, I do)
- "My whole thing is..." (whatever point I'm trying to make follows this line)
- "Dagnamit" (This one helps when you're trying to cut down on the cussing)
- "Uh...what?"
- "So, what's your point?"
- "That's hot in the streets"
- "No worries"

- Whomever. No worries...