Rev Fave

The Struggle of Humiliation

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Years ago I got a fortune cookie that read:

“Talents that aren’t shared aren’t talents.”

I believed in that fortune because I believed that we are all here to help each other with our individual gifts and talents.

God has given us all unique talents and He has bestowed a number of them in my spirit. My talents have been a wonderful conduit between my imagination and reality in the midst of my struggle. I’ve been able to connect with others in order to help bring their dreams to life as well.

My God-given talents in music, visual arts, technology and writing have paved a colorful life experience to this point. I’m excited to see how God will use my talents as I embark in ministry; however, that excitement is tempered with an apprehension — a reluctancy birthed from the faded and darkened hues of my life’s pavement.

I’ve never been arrogant about my gifts because they are not mine and can be taken away at any moment. Humility is very important to me. I believe that my gifts have made room for me versus my pushing and forcing my way into a opportunity. Having a humble spirit enables you to connect, create and bless others from a God-perspective instead of a “me” perspective. Being quick to give God the glory and credit for my creativity has kept me grounded and opened a lot of doors.

So why is it such a struggle?

I don’t fight arrogance or wrestle with a hunger for the spotlight. Those darkened colors along my life’s journey are painted by two types of individuals who plague my peace with their own agendas: the opportunists and those whom I called “ordinarials.”

Opportunists have a keen sense of smell when it comes to humility. It’s been my experience that they zero in on that humility in order to exploit it. I’ve had my share of scenarios where people are impressed by my multi-talents to the point where their minds conjure several ways to overextend my abilities for their own personal gain.

They could care less about my schedule, how much rest I got, if I spent time with my children or whoever else I’m neglecting to help them look good. Their timelines were often unrealistic, extremely selfish and worst of all…horrendously unimaginative. And there’s nothing worse than having someone with seemingly remedial creativity, micromanage your boundless imagination with limitations and apathy.

The opportunists in my life could care less about the kindgom, my life or my gifts outside of their requests. I found myself putting so much of myself into their dream, without so much as a “thank you” or confirmation receipt. Why? Because they knew they could do it. They wouldn’t have pulled that with an arrogant talent.

But the operative word is “knew” (past-tense).

My second struggle is with ordinarials – those people who have settled for mediocrity and shun you because you haven’t done the same. I don’t think I’m better than them because I’ve tapped into my stash of talents and they haven’t. In fact, I believe more ordinarials have yet to scratch the surface of their capabilities – yet, they find comfort and fuel stubbornness with phrases such as “That’s how we’ve always done it” or “We don’t do it that way” or “Everybody ain’t as [insert sarcastic adjective here] as you.”

They smell the humility (which in this case, is just another word for “I’m not gonna stoop down to curse you out”) and have often written me off as passive or easy to manipulate – simply because I don’t shove my gifts down anyone’s throat. Mediocrity pains my spirit because I believe God made us all extraordinary in our own way. But so many people don’t go for the extra. “It don’t take all that” resonates in the environment of the ordinarials.

I smile to keep my joy in their presence. They seem to resent me for wanting to use my gifts to help and attempt to leverage my humility to diminish my efforts. It’s a weird relationship.

I’m older and my tolerance level for both kinds of people is almost non-existent. I know my heart. I know I’m talented. I’m super-talented. I’m exponentially blessed and I’m just getting started in channeling these talents into their true purpose: giving glory to God and helping others.

I cannot let the opportunists drain me and keep my off focus. I refuse to let ordinarials make me feel bad for being the way God made me. More importantly, I will not allow anger and resentment manage how I interact with them nor create a shield of conceit against them. I’m no better than anyone else, but I’m definitely not less than either.

Humility is a tightrope I struggle to balance and everyday I pray God keeps me from falling.

Does God Give You More Than You Can Bear?

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God will never put more on you than you can bear, right? Right? RIGHT?

Wrong.

Several events in my life have been more than I could bear. It crushed me. It scrambled my mind to the point of disorientation and a relentless search for a logic that wasn’t there. My natural senses couldn’t comprehend the pain. My emotional stability was shaken to the core and tried to unravel at the seams before me.

There’s no way my upbringing, education, social status or professional acumen could help me withstand the colossal levels of ratchetry, earthly mayhem and spiritual chaos in my life. It was too much. It IS too much for me. And while God didn’t “put it on me” – He definitely allowed it and it’s exponentially more than I could ever handle.

And that’s the point.

I should’ve cracked. You should’ve snapped. We should not be here right now. But the reason you are is not because of you. God purposefully allows circumstances to exceed our capacity because that’s where His perfect love, wisdom and strength comes in to handle situations beyond our control. With Him, we can handle it. With God, we can do anything. Our weakness activates His strength and what becomes more than we can bear, suddenly becomes a triumph in His name.

But you need Him. Life is structured so that things go beyond our control to remind us that He is in control. You weren’t designed to deal with it alone, but thank God you are never alone.

The next time something happens, don’t trip. You weren’t made to bear it. You were hardwired to give it to God and by his strength, you got this because God’s got you.

Worst Sinner Ever

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“But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” (I Timothy 1:12-16 NKJV)

In his letter to Timothy, Paul is encouraging him to fight the good fight as he opposed the false teachers in Ephesus. It was his responsibility to uphold the correct doctrine while commanding others to ignore the distractions of false doctrines running throughout the city.

In this text we find Paul giving thanks for the abundant mercy of God and the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ that was poured onto him – despite being the worst of sinners. He goes on to show how God’s perfect love was designed to be an example to those who seek to believe in Jesus; demonstrating how His grace and mercy is available to all – regardless of our sinful past.

So what does all this have to do with you?

01 You = sinner
Paul is speaking from personal experience as he calls himself the worst of sinners:

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” (I Timothy 1:15)

This issue of being a sinner is not exclusive to him. No one’s story begins “Once upon a time, I was a believer.” We all have sinned. We all are sinning. If you want to keep it really real, we all will sin again!
Whether you have been saved 50 years or 15 minutes, we all have a “pre-believer” past and in that past lies the worst of our sins. But thank God, our sins are forgiven through the blood of Jesus!

So if Paul aka the worst of the worst aka the chief sinner – has been washed in the precious blood, why not I? Why not YOU?

02 Mercy is available
Paul was a bad man according to Verse 15, but that’s only the beginning of his testimony. In Verse 16 he states:

“But for that very reason I was shown mercy…”

As ruthless as Paul was in his “Saul” days, he obtained mercy from God. Surely, if God extended mercy to the worst of sinners, that same mercy is mine to have as well.

You may not be as treacherous as Paul, but you may have felt like the chief of sins. You may look back over your past, or someone will gladly take you for a walk down memory lane, and the stench from your sins will have you feeling like you are the worst sinner ever. But you’re not.

Don’t let anyone condemn you to your past. Don’t YOU condemn yourself to your past. People will bring it up. So what?! As a believer, God’s mercy is available to you and your sins are forgiven. You should never feel that your past makes you unable to be used by God. Take hold to God’s mercy and keep it moving boldly in Jesus’ name.

03 God loves to save sinners
Jesus Christ’s entire mission on earth was to save sinners. Everyone is an “ex-something.”

But thank God those days are behind you. And if you’re still struggling, I encourage you to pray, stay in the midst of God’s Word and remember that God loves to save sinners.

Why does He love to save sinners? So He can use you as a “pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.” God wants others to see His power working through us. Paul’s past and God’s grace made him an example of how God can take the chief sinner and turn him into a mighty soldier in ministry. Your testimony can help bring others closer to God because they see how your sinner status is covered by your saved status.

Conclusion
It’s crucial that we identify our sinful nature for it is the very reason Jesus Christ left His throne of grace, came to earth, died a horrible death and rose on the third day. But identifying yourself as a sinner is not so you can have a pity party or feel as though you can never change. God loves you beyond comprehension and He has made His mercy available to you. Jesus has given you salvation as a gift to replace the punishment.

You may have felt or you may feel feel that you are the worst sinner ever, but God is able to transform the circumstances of your sin into a pattern for righteousness. He can take the hot mess of your past and set a fire of praise in your soul. You may have a complicated past, but God has already sent His son to die for those complications – so your present can be saved and your future can be bright.

How amazing is it, that God can take our transgressions and use them as a beacon for His salvation and glory?! Praise God for taking the worst sinners ever and giving us the best love in the universe.

The Golden Age of Praise

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I had no intentions on leading this week’s midday bible study (affectionately called Lunch with Jesus  aka “LWJ”). My plan was to simply and expeditiously stop by to pick up something from the church secretary.  That’s when she got a text message from “Leonard,” the preacher who normally leads LWJ, saying that he wasn’t going to make it. “Praise God, you’re here,” she said. Start time is 12noon. The time was 11:53am.

There were 15+ seniors in the sanctuary waiting for LWJ to pop off. My call to Leonard went straight to voicemail. I called another brother-in-ministry, who’s also the Minister of Operations for our church. He gave me simply instructions on how to handle the situation.

Five minutes later, I found myself engaged in a robust testimonial session with fellow church members who are old enough to be my parents and grandparents. We had amazing testimonies about life, followed by a heartfelt corporate prayer for our city, families, sick, bereaved and children. Afterwards, we shared in a super nutritious lunch of baked chicken, pinto beans, creamed corn and rolls — with pear pie for dessert (the diabetics wouldn’t let me eat the crust, though).

What started as a quick errand transformed into a moment in time that was the blessing I needed as I struggle with my own stresses of the day. God knew what He was doing by sending me there. It had nothing to do with my availability, prayer ability or preacher status — it had everything to do with God ordering my steps and leading me to where I needed to be today.

I thank God for leading me towards a blessing I so desperately needed.

It Is Not All Black and White

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Black man,

There is a nasty lie being smeared across the face of America – that your life has no value. This lie is trying to work itself into our pores until we sweat and stink like it’s an ugly truth. But it’s still a lie. The truth is there are still more of you graduating from college than being shuffled inside correctional facilities. The truth is many of you are faithful and loving to your wives and children. The truth is there are more of you that are millionaires and business owners than any other time in history. The truth is that you are not lacking value, but God’s strength in you, His plan for you, your talents – your ability to love, build, create, defend and stand…makes you priceless.

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You Gotta Get Your Groove On

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The euphoria of attending university in the 90s was equally matched by living during one of the most eclectic eras of music in virtually every mainstream genre. In addition to going away to college, I was blessed to work and groove in one of only two (2) record stores in town (this was before you could download music from the Internet) and always had my finger of the pulse of new music. One of my favorite songs of this era was Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It” and it was a club/dancehall/student center party classic. This song stayed in heavy rotation at every house party, frat party, school function, road trip and cookout – I argue that it still does.

Montell’s song captured the crazy days of my youth. At the same time, I was also being called to God’s purpose and foolishly trying to outrun His calling. I just wanted to hang out with my friends, go out with pretty girls and one day get that “big black truck” he sang about. Of course I went to church (I was actually directing two gospel choirs while in college), but I wasn’t thinking about being in anyone’s pulpit. I thank God for keeping me long enough to answer His call and be used in ministry for His glory.

I spent part of my birthday weekend – which was also Halloween weekend – with my aunt and uncle this year. While others went trick or treating, I went with them to Victory World Church in Norcross, GA. This massive congregation of believers was full of energy and love. The praise and worship portion was orchestrated better than most secular concerts. The praise team leader was a tall, slender brother with a great, familiar voice.

It was Montell Jordan. 

He left the music industry in 2010 to work full time in ministry. How amazing is it that someone, who helped shaped the soundtrack of my youth, is now serving God with that same gift as a man? Thank God for the growth we’ve both experienced as we transitioned from wayward children to men of God.

My music career may not have reached the heights of Jordan’s; but I’m in awe of the limitless possibilities that God has given us to serve Him as grown men and not little boys. Seeing him on stage, giving God praise, was inspiring and nostalgic. It was also a reminder that we can no longer speak, act or think like a child when God has blessed us to become men; therefore putting away childish things.

“This is How We Do It” will always be my favorite song from Montell Jordan, but worshipping God and sharing alongside Him will always be my favorite memory of Montell Jordan.

Happy Birthday, bruh.

 

86 days, 21 hours, 17 minutes and 6 seconds

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Tossed against a murky dawn, smothered in remnants of the night – I began my new life. Taking steps in tattered shoes that exposed my bruises, I deliberately lifted one foot in front of the other as the pain couldn’t stop the movement. A quarter-mile in and my feet began to ache. Another half-mile invited the sting of blood leaking through the cracks in my soles – the ironic symbolism of the healed cracks in my soul. Three miles later and I’m BFFs with the pain and that’s when it starts to rain. Symbolism again as I had undergone a cleanse. Nothing in my hand but a ripped plastic bag full of fragile memories I’m struggling to protect from the elements. My jeans are wet. My shirt sticks and stinks. And all I can think is “Thank You, God.”

Each step brings distance between me and the demons left defeated; as well as the angels left to carry on the battle – as other souls seek the victory I now savoured. Physically further away while the thoughts of the lost are still close. I pray the encouragement God gave them through me serves as a catalyst to set them free. I don’t recall the sea of hopelessness, anger and depression washed across their faces. I remember distinctively the smile of hope gleaming against a backdrop of hell. The glare of strength in eyes still glistening from cries for help.

Five miles and the rain rinses the blood stains into a cascading flow beneath me. I understand why. Why me? Why now? Why like this? I needed this journey to reminisce on why I can do better. I hated this journey, yet it was necessary to instill a trust I had never known before. These wet steps of pain, resilience and newness galvanized the reality that operating in your decisions will always be greater and more beneficial than moving on a feeling. I don’t have it all the way right, but thank God – through Him I’m a little less wrong. And now the real work of my God-given purpose begins.

For I have been placed, literally, in the shoes of almost every situation. I have sampled the lifestyles of luxury and struggle. I thank God for allowing me to soar amongst those whom the world celebrates. I am even more thankful for His allowing me to pray amongst those whom the world abhors. Total walk time is 5.6 miles away from 86 days, 21 hours, 17 minutes and 6 seconds of watching my psuedo-incredible plan for my life die, so that God’s inexplicably wonderous plan for my life could be born.

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13 NLT)

Prayer For Life

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We read instruction manuals and spend time with our computers, phones, apps, etc. so we can use them in our daily life. Yet when this life struggle gets real… we often can’t summon a verse to our minds for comfort, confirmation or encouragement because we haven’t studied the instruction manual (Bible) or spent some “for real for real” time with God (i.e., prayer).

Do you know how annoying Facebook would be if we didn’t use it daily? Imagine if you had to read the steps on how to check messages, post photos and write statuses EVERYTIME we wanted to use it – simply because we used it so infrequently?

Nah, B. we STAY on this thing.

What if we STAYED in the Word? Think about how your prayers would flow if you talked to God on the regular. I’m not talking about “bible thumpin’” everywhere you go or constantly screaming at God with tears and snot oozing out your head (however, if that’s how you get down – then do you, boo).

Consider starting your day with prayer. As my feet hit the floor, I say “Thank (right foot) You (left foot) Lord (stand up).” There are prayer warriors getting down every morning on prayer calls where you can call in and start your day with prayer.

You got “fifty-leven” apps. Download the YouVersion Bible app to your phone/tablet and start with the “Verse of the Day.” Just kick it with God for a moment…He’ll do the rest.

When people start working your last nerve OR you wanna slap somebody to sleep OR sickness attacks you(r family) OR you simply need encouragement OR you need to encourage someone else — we don’t always have time to hunt for our Bible and fumble towards a verse. You don’t wanna have to spend the first five minutes of prayer apologizing and feeling God’s side-eye because you ain’t prayed since Obama won the FIRST time.

When the Word is already inside of you, it enables you to be more effective and just flow with yours — because you’ve spent time with the instruction manual as well as the One who inspired it. I can’t front and say it guarantees you an easy life, but it definitely equips you when life gets hard.

When’s the Last Time You Heard a Funky Diabetic?

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September 15th is perhaps the most significant, memory-packed day of my life. There are a myriad of strong moments that occurred to me on that date – from births and deaths to initial callings from God and would’ve been wedding anniversaries. This year marks yet another unforgettable moment on this fateful day…it’s the day I was diagnosed with diabetes.

This diagnosis, told casually by my doctor’s nurse over the phone, ushered an initial wave of disbelief, fear and anger. Until now, I’ve never had a health issue. I feel just as good now as I did twenty years ago. I’ve never had a major illness, never had a hospital stay or an ambulance ride. I can’t even recall the last time I had a cold. Now I’ve found myself at the pharmacy counter picking up MetFormin and being blessed with a glucose monitor and test strips from my dad. After all these years, the attack on my health has finally reached my doorstep.

And I’m going to punch it in the mouth.

For the past six weeks, I’ve been working out with a personal trainer recommended to me by my brother-in-ministry, Pastor Daniel. I keep a food journal and I walk/jog an additional 6-8 miles outside of my 3x per week training. I met with a nutritionist this week who helped me create a game plan of changing up how and when I eat. I have many titles attributed to my name, but ‘diabetic’ is one that has to go and the good news is that I do have an opportunity to turn this condition around and put this wretched disease in reverse until it backs up out of my life.

This doesn’t negate the fact that I’m still very concerned and trying to put this whole situation into perspective. While walking on my lunch hour I was reminded of the other September 15th milestones; along with the countless other miracles and blessings that have happened in my lifetime. I was reminded of the hell from which God saved me. He brought to my remembrance the times I should’ve died or been severely disabled. God showed me the highlight reel of His greatness in my life.

And just like He blessed me immensely in the past – I believe God is going to use this circumstance to bless me, and those around me, in the future.

Beyond Mediocre

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Two weeks ago, I was asked to volunteer my time and talents on the Pastor’s Love Day Committee. He’s celebrating forty (40) years of preaching and the church is having a huge gala for him downtown. I designed the poster and video promo for the event – which was announced today at church.

What God inspired me to create was beyond mediocre – although it was par for the course in the world of corporate america, where I learned to build and implement world-class creative strategies. I’m simply happy to be used to do things for the kingdom in an excellent way. This was not done without pushback, but God showed me that I don’t have to dilute my destiny for the sake of others who don’t yet understand. My job is to take them higher with the my God-given gifts.

Revival is this upcoming Tuesday through Thursday and YES, I need it. I’m in a challenging place in my life and although I’m optimistic…I’m also human. I thirst for an encouraging Word to carry me through to the next level; meanwhle, I plan to bring my A-praise instead of my complaints and take as much strength from the revival that I can hold.

I’m preaching next Sunday morning. Thank God for Wednesday night bible study “Words of Encouragement” – which has allowed me to work on organizing and delivering my sermons. This will be my third time in the “big pulpit” and my prayer is that the message I share will bless someone’s life.