Rev Fave

Love to Death

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Our world pulsates with the aches of injustice, persecution and poverty. Our country suffers from the bipolar struggle of relative economic strength, riddled by deviant social constructs — slithering beneath a veneer of post-racial, pro-gender acceptance. Our community embraces the dichotomy of global connectivity through smartphones and the discomfort of making eye contact with another soul.

And in this realm, we find love. 

I’ve watched Facebook statuses evolve from devastating bouts of loneliness, depression and longing for human touch – to engagement photography in beautiful, green parks. Digital tears, short circuiting the flow of funny videos and selfies, are now dried up by the sand of beach ceremonies. These mad dashes toward God with lifelong promises range from the seemingly haphazard to the meticulously orchestrated; yet they all reach the finish line with a kiss.

And in the wind of this bliss, we find death.

Inexplicable and sudden, death seems to be on a spree where anyone can be taken. I’ve watched my sister depart with preparation. I’ve been saddened by the loss of a hero, despite my subconscious anticipation. From those closely woven to my lifeline, to creative juggernauts whose expression cascades across my generation – death is going ham in 2016. It cannot be stopped, yet I pray for its deceleration.

Then appears the question… are you ready? 

Where is my level of preparedness for either scenario? My soul was custom manufactured to love, but I’ve tainted my capability from constant exposure to perverted interpretations of what love really means. What’s unfortunate is that I was taught as a child that God = love; therefore, anything that does not point back to Him could never give back to me something good. How can I be ready when I see things, people, feelings and circumstances through a smudgy lens of painful experiences I have yet  to fully release?

And though I long to love my family, my friends, my brothers, my children, my church, my community, my society and my dark, twisted world… how long will it take for me to get it right before death comes to transition me out of here?

Love will transition you out of indifference. Death will transition you out of carnal bondage. Both are poised to guide you towards someplace eternal. Neither are responsible for your condition upon their arrival. That’s on you.

That’s on me. 

I just want to love to death. One is an action waiting to be associated with your spirit. The other is a moment that shifts you into an eternal somewhere. Both have an inevitable impact that correlates to our level of preparation.

Are you ready?

 

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.

Let the Week Say I Am Strong

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Nothing causes you to reflect on God’s strength like an overwhelming week of challenges. It’s amazing that so many obstacles can present themselves in such a short period of time; yet their origins can be discovered long before this week began. I’m embarking on a new journey in full-time ministry. My connectivity to my community is growing. My local church celebrates its centennial anniversary.

In contrast, I’m losing people. They’re losing me. A parade of grief, inconsideration and erroneous deduction is leading the mass exodus of people from my life. Like a well placed band-aid, the removal hurts and what troubles me is my ignorance to the pain. There’s a level of sensitivity, that’s been with me since childhood, that is no longer present. I love you, but I can’t control your departure. I miss you, but I don’t care about your leaving. It hurts because I know it’s supposed to (hurt), but to be honest — I can’t feel you leave.

The inevitability of death. I knew my sister was going to leave soon. The thoughtlessness of people. I understand certain people see my talents as a means to an end, period. The finite quantity of time. I realize my own mortality. The soaking wet weight of sadness. I’ve discovered that I’ve never learned how to process the unpleasant emotions of life. The echoing void of loss. I stand at the entrance of emptiness, often when others believe I’m never alone.

This is why I don’t trust my feelings. They are fleeting, inconsistent and misleading. Feelings have the potential to guide me away from God’s purpose. My mastery of emotions is still a work in progress. While I cannot control how I feel, I have complete autonomy over how I display, manage and disclose the way I feel. What’s important is the promise of God to keep me in perfect peace despite the chaos externally as well as inside.

What does that mean?

The inevitability of victory. God has promised me that I would win, so why should I worry? The thoughtlessness of my wrongs. God has forgiven me of the wrongs I’ve done to Him; how dare I hold on to the transgressions and inconsideration done to me by others.  The finite quantity of sorrow. It hurts to lose people and can cause you to question your own fallacies; but pain is temporary. This too, shall pass. The soaking wet weight of joy. When I think of from where God has rescued me, there’s a joy that transcends my circumstance and it’s unavoidable. The echoing void of the enemy’s presence. I embrace solitude; especially the absence of the enemy and his delusional practice of winning over me.

Perspective.

I can’t lose. I pray God keeps me and matures me beyond the paralytic response to life events, to where I can feel whatever and trust Him whenever.

I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye to My Sister

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He never looked so excited. His smile never stretched that wide. I hadn’t been home from college five minutes and he’s got me on the road again. Dude never drove so fast. Why are we flying to East Chicago? What’s her name? You know that light was red, right? We couldn’t stop by Ray’s Shrimp on the way out here? It’s like that???
 
When we arrived at your apartment, he couldn’t get out the car quick enough. He couldn’t walk the pavement swift enough. He couldn’t wait to get to you. He couldn’t wait for me to meet you. I’d known him all my life and I had never seen him so happy, eager and enamored. Meeting you, seeing your smile for the first time and the effect it had on him – I understood why his actions were so unorthodox. You took his breath away and the look on his face made me forget about the shrimp with hot and mild sauce on it and to the side. From the moment he introduced you, I knew you weren’t going anywhere.

I was meeting my sister for the very first time.

Praise God I wasn’t losing my brother — but gaining a sister, a niece and here comes a nephew. You never stopped smiling. When we lost my brother, you never stopped being my sister. Years of galavanting across the country couldn’t stop you from reaching out to me and we’d laugh and joke about the good ol’ days and how God good continued to be in our lives.
 
Our last conversation, I was driving and we talked for hours about my brother, your children, the past, the future, our life challenges and how God would see us through it all.
 
Ironically, during my last conversation with my brother, I was driving and we talked for hours about you, your children, the past, the future, our life challenges and how God would see us through it all.
 
And for the same reason, I have no regrets of conversations never spoken. We laughed. We joked. We prayed. We did that. I have that. I will always be your little brother.
 
But none of that prepared me for any of this. I simply wasn’t ready. I didn’t expect our last conversation to be our last conversation. All I can say with any confidence is “Thank You, Jesus” for keeping you here for as long as He did. I’m praying God’s comfort to blanket your children, family members and friends. I’m praising God for your smile, that slender grin that changed the life of my best friend, extended our family and increased the love. I’m thanking God for the legacy of your laughter, sincerity and willingness to help others.
 
God bless you, Darveen. Rest, my sister…rest.

You’re Not Getting Old, You’re Being Blessed!

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“But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.” (Acts 2:24) NLT

I was sixteen years old when I realized I suffered from necrophobia, the fear of death and things associated with it. I could not fathom the inevitable concept of death. This condition was often amplified at funerals.
Funerals freaked me out. Cemeteries creeped me out. The thought of touching a dead body, gripping the bars of a coffin or lowering remains into a six-foot hole – always came with a feeling of doom and trepidation.

I asked God to help me overcome my phobia. When we ask God to adjust our character traits, I’ve noticed He will thrust you in an uncomfortable environment that will extract the trait which you seek. You want more patience? God will place you in situations where you have to wait beyond your normal patience level. Want peace? God will allow you to stroll into total chaos. Want love? God will send you into a circumstance where you may need to love someone who’s not being very lovable.

In order to overcome my fear of death and funerals, God provided me with several opportunities to attend them. I want to be there for people and reaffirm God’s peace and comfort during their sorrow — even if it’s just through my presence.

While death is certain for everyone, its exact arrival time is highly uncertain. In recent years, I’ve seen elderly patriarchs and matriarchs leave admirable legacies. I’ve watched a man in his early 50s leave young adult children whom he won’t see graduate from college. I’ve endured the pain of watching a mother and daughter plucked from the earth like roses and laid to rest together. I’ve empathized with the grieving parents of a days old infant. I’ve even had the difficult task of eulogizing my own cousin who grew up with me, but will never have a chance to grow old.

As I’ve come to terms with death and my own mortality, I joke that I have “Black Benjamin Button Syndrome”- where I’m aging backwards. That condition only applies to my aesthetics; while the truth is I am getting older.

My peers are lamenting through what they perceive is a mid-life crisis. It’s a concept I cannot understand because it implies that we know the beginning and end of our life story by identifying our current state as the “middle.” There may be some subtle and /or blatant changes happening in our health, finances and life circumstances. Stiffness. Soreness. Aches. Pains. Bills. Dreams deferred. Visions blurred. And the lie on the street is that you’ve let life pass you by. It’s almost time for you die and you’ve done nothing you planned. That high school graduation speech gave you so much promise and hope; but it’s 20 years later and now your kids have that promise and you’ve been deceived into thinking your abundant life has alluding you.

But God.

He gave you “now.” That’s it. There are no days stored up for you and the ones you spent are over. He gives everyone right now. From the most successful to the most downtrodden – each of us gets right now. Not years, months, hours or even minutes. The exact quantity of life is not promised to you, but that doesn’t mean you go left and stress over the exact moment your life ends. You know neither.

So what do you know?

We know that God created us for a good work that He will carry on until the day of Jesus Christ. That’s our focus. That’s our purpose. We also know that Jesus died but death couldn’t hold him. As believers who are Christ-like, we have the same destiny to be released from the horrors of death – which is eternal punishment – and find peace in that we will die and that will NOT be the end of the story. In fact, it will be the beginning of infinity in the most glorious place in the universe.

Meanwhile, be confident and know you that where you are in life is exactly where you’re supposed to be. Even if it’s not in the best environment, all things (including the ratchet) are on God’s payroll.

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 1:6) NIV

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