Rev Fave

Living the Dream

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I was living the dream?

Ten years ago, I was a marketing executive in the largest beverage company in the world. I traveled the country, drove a company car and lived in a townhouse tucked in the historic area of small town. The money gave me upward mobility, but I wasn’t happy. Being a single black man thriving in Corporate America; society had no sympathy for my unhappiness. I had it made, right?

Wrong.

I wanted to be creative on my own terms, without a brand team or sales goals. My church attendance was sporadic at best.  I tried to fill that void with gadgets, travel and people; while justifying it with long distance relationships, work stress and trying to maintain the perception that I was living the dream.
Five years, ago, I was a contractor/consultant at the largest tech company in the US. I toggled between telecommuting and going into the office. There was no company car — I caught the bus to work. I made a decent living, but now I was married and trying to lead a blended family of children and in-laws. I was broken and still didn’t feel connected. It was another flavor of unhappiness. Being a married black man with a wife and kids, living and working in a major city; those struggling had no sympathy for my unhappiness. I had a great family on the outside, right?

Wrong.

I had found creativity on my own terms, and it lead me to the upper echelon of music, writing and technology. This bred resentment in my most intimate relationships. My church attendance was a tad more consistent, but lateral in dedication. I tried to fill that void with podcasts, paintings, music production schedules and HTML designs — while accepting emotional isolation and solitude. From the outside vantage point, all you saw were aesthetically appealing smiles shielding massive spiritual hemorrhaging while apparently living the dream.

Now I work in full-time ministry. Every assignment in my professional career has prepared me to give my time, talents and treasures back to Him. And it was done in such a way that I know it couldn’t have been anyone but God who ordered my steps. I’m blessed to have a home, vehicles, healthy children and a growing small business. More importantly, I have found a joy in the LORD that alluded me for so long. He loves me no matter what. I’m just a divorced, black man with children and a heart for God – living in a mid-sized city with a gargantuan purpose.

Purpose.

Dreams that aren’t aligned with God’s purpose are nightmares; even when they appear euphoric. I know what it’s like to live the materialistic dream and feel spiritually hollow. I’ve experienced the life of creative dreams while my soul stood in the distant background from my purpose. I no longer want to live the dream that doesn’t keep me connected to the One who saved my life – because I could’ve died in the midst of those dreams. Now, I stay woke and live on purpose. His purpose. I don’t want to live the dream, I need to live according to His purpose.

I Was To Die For

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The three of us sat in the production suite, sharing our perspectives on God’s validation… how He sent His son to die for us. From this conversation, we prayed for miraculous creativity and synergy as we weaved a lyrical tapestry of spoken word verses to be performed and broadcasted on Resurrection Sunday. Our brainstorming session transitioned to a video shoot in a Downtown Birmingham loft; with backdrops, DSLR cameras and precious daylight shining on our workflow. This was all for Jesus. He paid it all for us.

No one aligns timelines like Our God.

We were anticipating the arrival and worship leadership of GRAMMY® nominated Anthony Brown, fresh from his record-breaking win at the Stellar Awards. This video was scheduled to be a segue-way to Brown singing “Worth” in front of a congregation of 3,000+ members, visitors and friends in person and online. Ironically, I watched the final edits remotely on my iPhone while everyone else experienced it live in the sanctuary. I’ve always said I had the face for audio, but God’s words were channeled through my voice and captured through my brothers’ anointed, cinematic vision.

The rest is… YouTube.

I pray this will be a positive multimedia tool in ministry and definitely a unique level of expression that transcends my comfort zone and meets people where they are.

What If YOU’RE Goliath?

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We love to root for the underdog and I believe that started when we were kids and told the story of David and Goliath. We were encouraged and inspired by the tale of a small shepard defeating the giant warrior. We liken ourselves to David while comparing our problems to Goliath.

As adults, we continue to identify ourselves with the seemingly diminutive nature of David who, powered by the Spirit of God, can topple any obstacle — no matter the size.

If you dig deeper, you’ll discover that Goliath may have been large but his story doesn’t stop at his stature. Goliath wore over 100-pounds of metal armor on his person; making it extremely hard for him to maneuver. Someone else carried his shield ahead for him and had to point out David’s proximity — like a “seeing eye person.” Most importantly, Goliath’s combat training was limited in that he could only fight in close range; therefore, his opponent had to get within his grasp in order for him to inflict any real damage.

Goliath looked massive, but he was burdened with heavy weights that impaired his agility. His vision was questionable and required him to rely on someone else while only being effective in battle if someone was careless enough to get in close quarters.

Burdensome. Blind. Dependent. Effective only when close. Sounds a lot like sin. 

Meanwhile, David was a marksman – the Biblical equivalent of a sniper. His slingshot skills enabled him to hurl stones at the same velocity as a small caliber pistol – with the range of a few hundred yards. He was trained, disciplined and, most importantly, confident in the God He served. He spoke his victory and acted in the favor of the LORD.

Trained. Disciplined. Confident. Victorious and can reach you where you are. Sounds a lot like righteousness.

While we’re touting the characteristics of David, has it ever occurred to you that perhaps we were once like Goliath? Did it ever cross your mind that we were once an unsaved, enemy of God… too blind with pride, ignorance and arrogance to see anything clearly (in the spirit)? The weight of our transgressions made it hard to move towards forgiveness. We depended on people, material possessions, substances and promiscuity to unsuccessfully quench our emptiness. The closer we got to sin, the more entangled it wrapped around our souls — longing to drag us into the abyss of eternal punishment.

But God…

Even in our Goliath state, He sees us as David. A young, eager, nimble child of God ready to make a move in His name. It’s time to stop celebrating David as if we’ve never resembled Goliath. It’s time to ask God to remove the armor of guilt and shame, lose the blurred vision of bad decisions and release the dependency on things that are no good to us — while asking for God’s forgiveness and forgiving ourselves.

I believe it is when we seek God to slay our inner Goliath, that we truly resonate with the spirit and victory of David.

Must Do It

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The Nike slogan captures a boatload of motivation in three simple words… just do it. The phrase is not a request nor is it a sugar-coated layer of coddling, crafted to make you feel better. It’s the plainest of commands that speaks to the power within. This popular statement assumes that you already have what it takes. These three words have no room for excuses, lack of confidence or procrastination.

The assumption is a presumption that the only barrier between you and greatness is the action you have yet to initiate.

God is the same way when it comes to forgiveness. We know how hard it is to let go of the pain, disrespect and hurt associated with being wronged. But God did not make a request for you to forgive your transgressors. It wasn’t a divine suggestion or heavenly recommendation. Despite what may have happened to you by someone who claimed to love you and/or didn’t have your best interest, God commands us all to forgive. It is something we must do if we want God to forgive us for every ratchet action we’ve set into motion in His face.

More importantly, He commands us to forgive – knowing we have the ability to do so. He made us and knows our true capabilities go far beyond our mental and emotional limitations. He would never ask us to do something He hasn’t equipped us to do. His Word says we must do it and it’s not an assumption on God’s part that we have what it takes; and the only barrier between you and His forgiveness is the action you have yet to initiate.

 

 

The Sovereignty Experience

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I had one job — just one. On this particular Sunday afternoon, that job was to edit, convert and post HD video onto a website. Somewhere between mouse clicks and sound levels, I found myself in conversation with two African worship leaders — one from Kenya and the other from Nigeria — enamored by the tech setup used to bring excellence to ministry.

Caught in the midst of trimming video clips and exporting files to an external hard drive, the conversation grew to include another worship leader who led us out of the production suite and into a small music room a few yards away.

And that’s when it happened.

With him on guitar and my playing piano for the first time in years, we all found ourselves in a majestical wave of praise and worship. I was playing songs I had heard on the radio, but never studied. The African ladies carried a harmonious alto into the atmosphere. Others came and began to worship God with their lifted hands. I was still in awe that the anointing touched my muscle memory to guide my fingers across familiar keys to play unfamiliar songs with memorable meaning. This lasted for an hour before we prayed safe travels for the ladies and walked our peaceful spirits back into the suite to complete editing.

Unplanned, unrehearsed and unexpected… in this experience, God did what He wanted to do with His children. I was encouraged to be surrounded by those who don’t mind surrendering to the will of God even when they’re not on stage, on program or on the solo list. I was empowered to play an instrument, that I cherished for decades, with the ease and dexterity I had when I used to play for hours.

We represented three countries, two continents and One incredible God. We collectively experienced the freedom of praise, the transparency of souls uninhibited by salvation, the joy of anointed talents and the sovereignty of God to surge His presence in the midst of an otherwise random situation.

I Just Want To Be Happy

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I don’t know how to celebrate.

It’s not that I’m not happy; but it’s something that I’ve come to realize as blessings pour into my life beyond my capacity to receive them. It’s the overflow of favor unwarranted and the byproduct of my faith in God to restore elements of my life. I believe it goes back to childhood rejection which evolved into adulthood pseudo-acceptance as a means of self-validation. In the end, it was my spiritual salvation that helped me understand who I was in Christ and how my journey, talent, skills and heart were engineered to reach others.

Unlike the Boyz II Men song, I find myself in the middle of the road. I strive to be even keeled.

Therefore I’m never dangerously high, where the gravity of harsh realities could send me crashing to the ground; nor am I disturbingly low to where I show ungratefulness towards the blessings that surround me.

Decades of cultivating this mindset has led to an atrophy of celebratory muscles. I acknowledge the excitement, yet lack the dexterity to express it in a way that ignites my countenance. The litmus test to any and all conditions, thoughts, circumstances and spiritual health always leads me to this question:

How does this give God glory?

I’m discovering new ways to show joy. God wants to see us happy and I must give myself permission to express that happiness in the world. There will always be an element of realism in my personality, but I’d prefer to reflect the awesomeness of God that I see on a daily basis.

God is Social

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Our God is a social God. He wants to spend time with us. That’s why we were created; to have an ever-growing relationship with the Father in a way that glorifies Him and give us a life and afterlife showered by his love. He’s more than some mystical man in the clouds controlling our every move. He’s more like a loving parent who’s watching our every move. He knew we were going to get dirty with our decisions, so He sent His Son to pay the price for our transgressions — all so He could continue His relationship with us.

God speaks to us in several ways. Occasionally He will reach out and drop a powerful Word into our spirit. Nothing too exasperated, but just enough of our native language to make sense and change the course of our lives.

Some of the most profound, life-altering messages I’ve received from God could be captured in a tweet. He often places visions in my mind and post them in my subconscious like a spiritual Instagram. In order to deepen my relationship with Him, I’ve had to delve my face into His book.

When we share His message to others and ignite influentials to share to their tribes of people – God’s Word goes viral like a YouTube cat video. When His Word goes forth, it gains more than “awwww” – the gains are actually awesome: healing, supernatural restoration, victory, favor, forgiveness, love, grace, mercy, etc. The list is longer than a stream of Periscope hearts.

God is social; however, He won’t post a selfie. It’s His expectation that “we” reflect Him in the world.

 

Praise The Savior Daily (PTSD)

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Years ago, I dated someone whose previous relationship was abusive. As a result, whenever I would reach out to hold her hand, give her a hug, etc. — she would jump away from me. I wouldn’t do anything to harm her, but her reflex was in response to what had happened to her.

My life journey has taken some dark turns. I’ve experienced emotional trauma that was equally damaging to my perception of the world and levels of optimism. I could feel my countenance shift from sincere to cynical, from positive to pessimistic and from happy to hesitant. My reflex to expect the worst was in response to what has happened to me.

Trauma can potentially display an illusion into your future that’s being projected from your past.

Despite those dark turns, God kept me. The trauma was temporary while God’s love remains. The damage to my optimistic nature was repaired by the realness of God’s grace, protection, sovereignty and mercy. I have felt the power of the Holy Spirit move through me and shift catastrophes into celebrations. I’ve witnessed God dismiss the laws of nature in order for His Will for my life to go forth. I have to praise Him in response to what has happened to me.

Praise is the key that unlocks the solution to your problems.

When you direct your energies towards the One who gave you energy to expel, He delights in your genuine praise. Jesus died so that we could be in right relationship with His Father. It may be hard, but I challenge us all to embrace the accessibility to the Creator of the universe with our faith and our praises.

PTSD – Praising The Savior Daily – can literally make all the difference in the world.