Rev Fave

Everything Means Nothing

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I’ve been blessed to be able to do a lot of things. I cannot recall a time I didn’t draw. I spent my childhood creating cartoons and writing stories.

As a young adult, I discovered music – playing instruments, singing, teaching, recording, producing, composing, mixing and mastering.

Professionally, I embraced marketing as a discipline which lead to building strategies, presentations, leveraging data and consumer insights to craft global messages for the largest corporations in the world.

Technically, my hands speak the language of HTML5, CSS, MySQL, PHP and WordPress; combined with more than 15 years of Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark and InDesign skills. My imagination can deliver the favicon in the address bar of your web browser and the 36 feet wide billboard you cruise by on your way to work.

My voice, from the audible baritone in radio commercials and podcasts to the written prose and poems self-published in books on Amazon, is polished with diction and dialect – enabling me to adapt across a myriad of social environments to engage my audience.

My affinity for culinary arts is not only therapeutic, but barely contained on Instagram as each post with the hashtag #favecooks is my contribution to vibrant, healthy eating options.

But real talk — none of this means anything.

Because God. could. care. less. about my capabilities. I can run at mental, emotional and intellectual TOP SPEED for 20-22 hours out my day; but if God isn’t in it…if He’s not getting the glory…then my extreme efforts are relegated to your fickle, fallible and intermittent accolades (and that’s only if you think enough of me to say “thank you”).

I’m not the only one who forgets they’re human. So if you’re also a part of the fraternal order of pseudo-superhuman beings with a laundry list of talents, competencies and capabilities — let me put you on game.

God doesn’t care about your capability if He doesn’t have your availability.

I’m gonna leave this right here:
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:58)

Loving and Hating Being Different

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Why do we revel and ridicule being “different” at the same time? How dare we snuggle into the comforts of life made possible by those ingenious enough to create what wasn’t there. What do we gain from condescending those who go against the grain?

When are we going to admit that we admire the bravery it takes to be different and do what has never been done, to travel the path less worn and express unpopular feelings amongst a sheepish society?

We applaud those who think outside the box. Unfortunately, the majority of us have allowed fear to overshadow zeal with the enormity of complacency as our shade. The dichotomy of wallowing in the mire of mediocrity, while loving those who are different – thus ushering so much creativity into the world – is mind-boggling.

Ironically, this love is why I don’t understand why we work so tirelessly to stay in it and teach our children to do the same.

I’m New Here

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When I began capturing this journey, I nearly collapsed from the exhaustion of running from God for nearly 18 years. My enthusiasm was overwhelming as I began writing sermons, learning church operations, studying more and truly growing in grace. I’ve eulogized family members and led congregations through worship service from beginning to end. Now I’m teaching the youth while learning about discipleship. I feel myself growing and, while I haven’t done it all, I’ve done a lot under the guidance of a great pastor.

So why do I still feel as though I’m new here?

As soon as I felt myself getting into a flow, things change again. People change. Support system changed. Priorities changed. I’m called to help people; yet it’s people who seem to gleefully bring me challenges on a dingy, silver platter of passive aggressiveness and co-dependency. And God instructs me not to “get weary in well doing,” so I press despite how I feel.

I’m tired, though.

Upon the Confession of Your Faith

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I recently baptized someone for the first time. He was a young man in his 20s, with shoulder-length dreadlocks and dark brown skin. We shared a lot of similarities and now we were about to share a new one, as he made a public declaration that Jesus Christ was the Lord of his life. Upon the confession of his faith, he was turning his life around.

We were both nervous. I hadn’t been in a baptismal pool since I was baptized in the early 80’s. My pastor gave me simple instructions: raise your right hand, place your other hand behind his lower back and be ready to cover his nose and mouth when lowering him into the water. The water was warm (Thank God). There must have been a hole in my borrowed hip boots as I could feel the water dampening my legs. This was nothing compared to this young brother standing chest deep in water wearing a white shirt, shorts and tightly fitted durag over a shower cap.

I promised him it would only take three seconds. It was actually 1.5 seconds. His life changed forever and his journey to glory begins. I will never forget his face underneath the water and the pressure on my arms to lift him back into the world. There was nothing special about the water, his outfit, the screaming congregation or those hip boots. The change happened inside of him before he came to church and before I was assigned to baptize him. His new direction is my eternal reminder that the obedience of water baptism is the byproduct of spiritual renewal that no one initially sees or sometimes feel…it’s just who you are.

It’s who I am.

Feelings Are No Match For Faith

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In my feelings…

I felt a little anxious. Waking up at 5am with a sharp pain in my sternum that lasted until I got in the car to drive towards my office. By the time it dissapated, I realized it was my lactose intolerant stomach trying to digest the milk I had the night before. I also felt defeated about a friendship that went left overnight. My feelings told me that I didn’t need friends and life is less complicated without the issues of others. I felt angry about not getting enough sleep and not working out — despite the plethora of resources at my disposal.

In my FAITH…

The Word of God said not to worry about anything, but pray about EVERYTHING (Philippians 4:6). I shouldn’t feel worried when I know God has a plan for my life; thereby, I must have the health to see it through. The Word tells me that a wise man wins friends (Proverbs 11:30) and in my quest for his wisdom, I”m supposed to have friends and not always be alone. I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13) and the Word reminds me that I need to seek God more diligently in order to receive the discipline needed to rest and exercise.

It’s Time to Change Our Cry

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At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post about Bartimeus and how he changed his cry from tangible desires to a need for deliverance. This stayed with me for several weeks until the Lord gave me a sermon to write on the same subject.

If you change your cry, Jesus will change your life. The truth is that we got it all wrong. We are crying out for these things because we believe it will greatly improve our quality of life. Things only last for period of time. Even if it lasts a lifetime, when you die it won’t go with you. A true life changing experience that lasts a lifetime on this earth and beyond, only comes form a relationship with Jesus Christ.

After Bartimeus gained his vision by his faith in the Messiah, he got rid of his cloak, his uniform and began following Jesus. He didn’t have to beg anymore because he had a relationship with Christ.

Three Years a Preacher

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Today I celebrate three years of sharing the Gospel.

I’ve learned that, when you run from God, the road of life is paved with challenges, disappointments, heartaches, anger, pain, victories, betrayal, increase, friends turned enemies, enemies turned friends, attacks, inner-battles, happiness and sadness. You must run swiftly with no real breaks, polluted water to drink and worn out shoes.

But “twistedeth not unto thine self.”

The irony is that, when you decide to run towards God, the road is STILL paved with all those things; with some parts of the road having MORE challenging elements. It’s the same road (life) but thank God He gives you rest [Matthew 11:29], He empowers you to be at peace regardless of the road conditions [Philippians 4:7], His living water is the best you’ll ever drink [John 7:38] and your shoe game is on point [Ephesians 6:15].

The road doesn’t change yet your journey is so much better. And you don’t have to be a preacher to experience this pivotal moment. You just have to believe.

Smoke Free Blessing

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The aim of “Smoke Free Blessing” is to encourage believers in that, as we endure the fires of life circumstances, God is with us and He is why we do not and should not carry the residue of what we’ve been through.

We know fire is dangerous; but the greatest risk to our minds, our bodies and our possessions — is smoke.

Crying Times

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Someone once told me, “You don’t have a money problem, you have a faith problem.”

This was hard to receive, considering every challenge in front of me came has a price tag dangling in the shadow of my limited resources. I’m a consistent tither. I’m a good steward over my finances. I’m spirit-led to sow into the causes and needs of others. I strive to show joy regardless of what’s in my bank account. I praise God for being my source. I know I won’t always be where I am; but I find myself crying at times, for not being where I think I should be.

Yet I’m struggling with being able to see the spout from where my blessings were promised to flow. I fight to prevent my logic, skills and personal creativity to get in the way of God’s work in my life. I trust that He’s working things out for my good because I love Him, but I rarely have a clear view of what He’s doing. I can’t see the inner workings of my victory; yet my problems broadcast on a vivid, 60-inch, 1080p HD screen with more clarity than I’ll ever need or want.

But it’s a faith problem.

In the New Testament, Bartimaeus wondered the streets, blindly and aimlessly, crying for money. When he heard Jesus was on the scene, he changed his cry from a plea for money to a plea for mercy. Bartimaeus’ surroundings could only respond with money; but he knew that Jesus would respond with a deliverance money couldn’t acquire.

I’ve got to change my cry.

I’m blind. I’m having issues seeing my way through the negativity. I’ve been crying for resources, when I should have been crying for revelation. I don’t have a money problem, I have a faith problem. I don’t have a family problem, I have a faith problem. I don’t have a health problem, I have a faith problem.

My faith needs to flow through my tears and cascade down my heart, where my trust is renewed. We can’t see always see how things are going to work out, but we must find peace in the surety that God already has it worked out.

 

Life in HD (Holiday Depression)

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It struck me during Finals Week of my senior year in college. The end of exams meant driving back to my parents’ house in Northwest Indiana. My girlfriend was five months pregnant with twins and we had just lost one of them. It had been several weeks since I spoke with my mom; I suppose the disappointment of becoming an unwed father was too much. It was going to be the first Christmas without my grandfather. They were cutting hours at work; despite having a car, I was slushing through dirty snow to the bus stop because it was cheaper. It was the first time Christmas didn’t feel like Christmas anymore.

Family tension, financial challenges, academic pressure, adapting to life without my (very large) family’s patriarch… sent me spiraling into holiday depression (HD).

The next 10 years were spent wearing the smile for the sake of the kids. Money came and went. More family members passed away. I pacified my wounds with relocations, pseudo-serious relationships (while sabotaging real ones) and career aspirations. I had kept HD at bay until I my first year of marriage. My decision to wed was so abhorred that my parents declined our invitation to attend. I went from company cars and expense accounts as a corporate executive to unemployment and sporadic freelance work. Money got smaller while the kids’ Christmas list grew bigger. It was going to be the first Christmas without my grandmother. I locked myself in a room and stared into the darkness.

Family estrangement, financial turmoil, blending a dysfunctional family… sent me further down the gravely road of holiday depression. This time, I didn’t care.

It got worse before it got better: separation came, divorce followed, losing lucrative contracts and more relocations continued to wear on my body and spirit. But I thank God for rescuing me from a mental breakdown and spiritual catastrophe.

I endured the symptoms that many share during the holidays (and beyond): grieving dead loved ones, dealing with money problems, the isolation of family conflict and other life events seem amplified during the holidays… driving some precious people to question the validity of their existence and others to attempt to end theirs.

It’s hard to hear their yells in the midst of “jingle bells.”

God’s grace is the only reason holiday depression did not swallow me. This is a magical time of year; yet, my heart remains tuned towards those whose spirits are low during the holidays. While others enjoy the holiday feasts, laughter, classic films and time off… I’m compelled to pray for those who can’t wait until the first week of January, when all this will be over. I’m praying for those who are skipping through the store with the false satisfaction of knowing that they have their suicide planned out and the pain will be over soon.

I’m praying for grown orphans. I’m interceding for those who thinks no one cares (like I once did). If it’s nothing but a silent prayer, quick tweet, engaging Facebook message, clever Instagram post, sincere text or unexpected phone call… I want us all to make it to 2017 while leaving HD empty handed from an unsuccessful grasp at our souls.

In the interim, we can implement our own anti-HD strategy through increased exercise, adequate sleep, sun exposure, abstaining from alcohol and gluttony (IKR!), avoiding family conflict and getting help. Getting Help. GETTING HELP.

The PrayerLine is 1-800-365-3732.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

You can also talk to God 24/7. No phone required.