Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Is America seeing a resurgence of segregation?

It’s not a re-institutionalization of race-specific water fountains or separate-but-equal accommodations that are assigned by skin color, but a sort of self-segregation among black youth that could have a crippling affect on upward mobility.

It’s a variation on the fear of someone “acting white.”

In 2004, a relatively unknown politician named Barack Obama said society should “eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white.” Now, it might be a good idea for the President, who appears to be very concerned about employment and class issues, to mention that associating with white people just like he and many other successful blacks have done all their lives is similarly not a refutation of one’s blackness.

In a newly-published study called “Testing the ‘Black Code,’” researchers James D. Johnson of the University of the South Pacific and Leslie Ashburn-Nardo of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis found that many black students say they tend to lose kinship with other blacks who are perceived to have close relationships with whites.

Having surveyed 212 black college students, Johnson and Ashburn-Nardo reported that “[b]lacks who appear too friendly and comfortable around whites are viewed with suspicion; their blackness is questioned.”

In their technical analysis, they added:

Blacks sometimes strategically imply that they have connections to whites in an effort to increase their probability of success in the corporate world. Doing so may be a means of distancing themselves from negative group stereotypes or perhaps a “disarming mechanism” to enhance their acceptability in the eyes of white employers or colleagues. Regardless of motive, such strategic out-group alignment may put blacks at risk for identity denial from fellow in-group members.

What’s worse, these skeptical students allegedly have “less empathy” for other blacks who are seen as being too chummy with whites to the degree that they would consider not helping these people out should they have a “run of bad luck.”

Essentially, these people are on their own in a jam if they aren’t seen as being “from the ‘hood.”

While the 212 individuals surveyed by Johnson and Ashburn-Nardo are certainly not the voice for all black Americans, it is shameful to see that their mindset is geared towards regressing racial relations instead of improving them. They show a trend, and build on the “acting white” theory that is blamed for poor test scores among many black students.

I’ve been richly blessed in my life to have a very diverse circle of friends. The color of their skin has never been part of a litmus test to decide if I would associate myself with them, but merely by their character and conduct.

Through these associations, I’ve learned a lot about myself, life and been enriched both personally and professionally.

With that in mind, the researchers fear that the introvertive mindset they’ve found could hurt black advancement. Networking outside of one’s race, the survey indicates, could hurt familial and longstanding personal relationships. In order to get along, this stigma might lead to antisocial behavior that keeps otherwise competent and aspiring blacks from moving up in the workforce.

At this time of great concern over wages, advancement and socio-economic mobility, it appears petty resentments within the race could be more of a problem than any perceived racism among workplace managers.

This race-conscious attitude is not a successful practice, nor is it a moral one. I’m glad it has never been thrust upon me, and I pray that those who are affected see their error in it.

I grew up with the realization that the American Dream was achievable with determination and a good work ethic. Now, however, that perception is being tarnished with an unnecessary racial divide suggesting that the authenticity of our skin color is contingent upon the people we associate with.

It is culturally ignorant to suggest blacks or whites are in uniformity when it comes to traditions, customs or whom they accompany themselves with.

Through healthy interaction, people of different races, classes, genders and other demographics learn from one another and develop a greater appreciation for different cultures.

I would point to my friendships and associations as a tribute to my achievements and experiences.

If God is not a respecter of persons, neither should we.

Who Needs To Grow Up?

Posted: February 25, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Obamacare has caused many problems since its implementation; but the President still clings to the false perception that it is better for us. In an interview with former basketball superstar Charles Barkley, Obama retorted that Millennials should sign up for his healthcare plan because “it’s just part of growing up.”

What is so naïve and insulting about this remark is that the President ignores the consequences surrounding Obamacare. While Americans were told that they could keep their current health care plan, they’ve now realized that they were victims to a total fabrication. Many have had their plans canceled and now have to pay higher premiums due to the lack of affordability of Obamacare.

 

It is unlikely that enthusiasm and support for Obamacare will escalate anytime soon. Less than a third of Millennials currently uninsured indicated that they will sign up for the exchange. 41% said that they are 50-50 right now about making a decision. Overall, Obama is now facing a 54% disapproval rating among youth, which is the group that vastly supported him and helped usher in his presidency.

 

It is not surprising to see Millennials oppose Obamacare as emphatically as they are seeing that the job market cringes at the thought of more regulations. Just recently, the CBO indicated that roughly 2.5 million workers will leave the workforce due to the health care legislation.  This compounds the economic woes that we are already facing today.

 

Over 21 million Millennials find themselves taking up residence in the confines of their parents’ homes because of the lack of jobs.

 

The primary focus of President Obama should be jobs and growing the economy. If the president really wanted young people to grow up, he should seriously consider allowing the free market to take its course and back off the idea that big government should serve as a nanny.

 

We desire jobs and wages so that we can grow up and get out of our parents’ basements. The president should acknowledge this instead of cramming more job-killing regulations down our throats.

 

Growing up, Mr. President, means admitting when you’re wrong. Who really needs to grow up?

 

 

We Are Black History

Posted: February 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

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Every February, we are kindly reminded of the contributions of many black Americans. We reflect on the bravery and courage of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, who through the process of abolition, liberated many and validated the cause of freedom.

 We embrace the legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr and Rosa Parks who braved the hostility of racism and hatred and paved the way for many to access the American dream with their dreams of equality and justice.

 Black history is rich with many stories of heroism, but is it far more than a storybook and a history lesson. It is modern day life. It is the life that we are currently living.

I am far more convinced now that a legacy isn’t formed when one takes up final residence in a grave and others begin to articulate how they lived their lives. A legacy isn’t created on a epitaph or a monument with glorious quotes, but it is created in what we do in the present to preserve the future.

 This current generation of black Americans are now living their legacy. It is simply up to them on how this legacy is presented.

 I encourage black Americans to live as a victor. When we take opportunities that are advantageous for us to become empowered, we enhance our history.

 I am here today to declare that we can have access to a good quality education. We can possess the entrepreneurial spirit and become successful and produce thriving families, which in essence, would contribute to a thriving community.

 Our success in life is not contingent on how big a role government promises to play in our lives, but it is dependent upon morals, faith, our values, hard work, and the sole determination to rise from the ashes of low living and partake of the promises given to us by our Creator.

 We must speak to the mountains of despair within our community and command them to be removed. We must exchange prison cells that occupy many black men for educational study halls, colleges and corporate offices. We must substitute the lack of a father figure in many black homes for a two-parent unit, which provides mobility and strength in a family.

 Most importantly, we must acknowledge that Almighty God is the source of our provisions and strength, and that he enables us to make choices that will have a great impact in our families, communities, and nation.

  Black history is only vital if we preserve it. We can preserve it by deciding to free ourselves from any chains of social or economic bondage that would attempt to keep us in a low state of mind.

 The future lies within our hands. Those that went before us should be honored and remembered, but the responsibility is now up to us. We are black history.

 

 

Is There A Cure For Poverty?

Posted: February 10, 2014 in Uncategorized
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My generation is currently barraged with student loans, an anemic labor force, an inadequate number of available jobs, the failing Obamacare fiasco, a mounting debt crisis, and other pressing issues. Thus, marriage may indeed be the last thing on our minds. However, if recent research is to be believed, marriage may be one of the best ways to diminish poverty and income equality that the President is so adamant to combat.

According to the Census Bureau, only 7.5% of families consisting of married parents lived in poverty, compared to 33.9% of single parent families. While marriage in itself doesn’t totally eradicate income equality or a poor standard of living, it certainly increases the likelihood that a family will be better off. Single parents, while certainly not eliminated from climbing the economic ladder, are just not as equipped for financial security as those who are married. Steven Crowder validates this point by demonstrating that married couples make more and create a larger net worth that accumulates over time. Another study from Harvard University showed that single parents not only struggle to offer a solid home, but actually serve as a hindrance to upward social mobility for their children.

Sadly, this trend may continue in the coming years as the Center of Disease Control and Prevention found that 40.7% of babies were born to unwed mothers in 2012.

Oftentimes, single parenting is unavoidable due to unforeseen consequences or a tragedy. However, our generation should take these studies seriously.

As the President increases his campaign to end poverty, it would be nice to see President Obama and other political leaders address and embrace solutions to the causes of poverty rather than enflame the fires of income equality to score political points.

Read more: http://generationopportunity.org/2014/02/08/the-cure-for-poverty/#ixzz2swA5jxLX

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Certainly laughter and comedic relief are consuming the atmosphere of our homes during this time of year. Reminiscing on holiday stories, entertaining unexpected guests, and the participating of gluttony in the midst of various Christmas parties usually obliges us to not only laugh, but create new lasting memories.

If you add Barbara Walter’s most recent claim to this list, you’ll find your self laughing uncontrollably, and yet grimacing at the very thought. In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, Walters expressed an opinion that shocked very few. When asked about the president’s dismal performance and low approval ratings, she retorted, “We thought he was going to be our Messiah” .

You can watch the clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9YWKkgjK7Y

While her admittance of absurdity and fallacy surely causes one to erupt in sarcastic cheer, the danger here is that she is simply a spokesperson for the many that idolizes mortal humans.

Our culture is contaminated by those who put imperfect human beings on proverbial pedestals and worship their every act. In Walters attempt to align the leader of the free world to the risen Savior, she not only made a mockery of the deity of Christ, but she exposed a culture that has substituted God for individuality.

In the concept of Walters claim, she confesses that many Americans perceived President Obama to be the divine answer to our country’s problematic woes. It was the naïve thinking of many in 2008 when Obama was elected to the Oval Office that one man alone will arise from the ashes and restore dignity and economic prosperity to our beloved America.

There is a bigger question that lays here. Who do we idolize? In addendum,  do we realize this shortcoming and are we attempting to fix it?

We’ll pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to see sports icons for a few hours of entertainment. We’ll spend countless amounts of dollars supporting musical artists who have lives that are exempt from morality and values.

We’ll vote for politicians who cheat on their spouses and abort the promises they made to their constituents on the campaign trial for popularity and political fame.

We’ll expose our children to the confines of Hollywood entertainment for the sake of making them culturally relevant, when in essence, we are raising them to embrace the moral decay of our secularized culture.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with having role models and mentors who encourage and inspire us to be the every best we can be, we must be cognizant of the fact that unless we provide a moral and convicting solution to the contamination problems within our culture, we are simply part of the idolization.

Whether it is Barbara Walters or the enthused fan at Yankee Stadium, we must prevent ourselves from contaminating our souls with adoration that belongs to our Creator and not to man.

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There is an immense amount of passion and enthusiasm that is expressed during the Christmas season. There is jubilation among children, caroling in the snow, festive lights in the neighborhood, glasses full of eggnog, and just about every other tradition that is associated with this celebration.

But just like any other occasion or event, things can always tend to get a little exaggerated. There has been plenty of jargon going around about the proverbial “War On Christmas.” Many traditional conservatives, who are mostly evangelicals, are accustomed to the  “Merry Christmas” greeting while others may prefer a general “Happy Holidays” greetings.

Both are correct in their preferences.  “Merry Christmas” is indeed a jovial expression of a holiday that acknowledges and celebrates the historical event of the birth of Jesus Christ and the gift of love that ensues, but there shouldn’t be an assumption from Christians that “Happy Holidays” is an assault on this sacred phenomenon.  It is indeed quite noble for Christians to be willing to defend the meaning of Christmas, but an attempt to be presumptuous about everyone’s intentions could be dangerous. Christmas is not a time to debate frivolous matters such as word usage, but it is a period in our lives when we reflect on that which matters most: the gift of love. It is where we serve one another and display acts of kindness. Christmas is the quintessential reminder that it is not about us, but it’s in reference to our Creator.

With that said, our petty differences on what type of greeting to use diminishes the exuberating thrill that is associated with Christmas. Whether it is “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” both are used to express a thankful and jolly spirit that radiates within the soul of a person.

There can truly be no war on Christmas. Even if the more mainstream guided individuals seek to secularize Christmas by omitting a religious phrase, it will never overwhelm the spirit of Christmas, which is displayed in actions, not mere words.

If we are to spend countless minutes and hours trying to convince ourselves of a verbal war that is a hyperbole of our emotions, then perhaps we are not totally secure in our beliefs and core principles.

While there are many who are seeking to not offend anyone who does not label themselves to a particular religious sect, their choice and feelings are not misinterpreted.  In the United States alone, roughly 83% of Americans identify themselves as a member of the Christian faith. Christians should not feel that Christmas is being threatened or attacked. Christians still have a very lucid voice around this time of year.

It is imperative that we ignore the cultural cries to be politically correct in all things, but in the same manner, there must be a civil approach to issues. The best way to address the differences in how individuals choose to issue out Christmas greetings is to let each exercise their First Amendment rights in the manner they see fit. If they say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” we must all realize that is still a sharing of peace and goodwill towards men, which is what this holiday season represents.

If we were all confident in our beliefs and moral practices, nothing will offend us.

13 weeks. 12 interns. 1 dorm.

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My life from August 17, 2013 to November 17, 2013 was transformational in more ways than one.  Sleeping patterns, cleaning duties, personal habits, diverse attitudes and varying conflicts were some of the challenges encountered during my ministerial internship in Alexandria, LA.

These challenges pale in comparison to the life-experiences I shared with my fellow colleagues. I do not believe that words would be adequate or suffice, but I’ll put forth an attempt to describe 5 highlights:

1.)  The First Session.  On Wednesday, August 21, Anthony Mangun, Senior Pastor of The Pentecostals of Alexandria (host church of the training center) spoke to us on knowing the calling and the voice of God. It was a simple, but yet admonishing message on the importance of serving in ministry out of dedication to the purpose of God, and not selfish ambitions. The most memorable account of this event was what occurred after the lesson. We were instructed to pray and seek the face of God. I found myself praying like I had never done before. As tears flowed relentlessly down my cheeks, my ears perked to the various sounds around me. Not only were my fellow colleagues praying, but the whole pastoral staff had joined us in that conference room and were speaking words of faith into our life. I’ll never forget the words of Vani Marshall, Prayer Coordinator, to me: “You’re a game-changer. Never underestimate the gifts of God. You will shepherd people.” That was the first week and my life was already changed.

2. ) The Saturday Morning Prayer Meeting. On Saturday mornings, we would meet at the church at 10am for street evangelism. This is where we would go into the poverty-stricken neighborhoods, hand out water bottles, and baptize individuals in the name of Jesus Christ. One particular morning, while we were waiting on the baptismal tank to be filled with fresh water, a few of us decided to go into the prayer room and wait. This was a decision that was immediately rewarded.  Unknowingly to us, there was a prayer meeting going on with several of the church members that was led by Jennifer Williams, the church receptionist. She invited us over to join them. She prayed over our feet and declared to us boldly that “our feet was preparing to go all over the world proclaiming the gospel.”

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3.)  Nursing Home Ministry. This was an intriguing part of our ministerial tasks. Three days a week we found ourselves sharing God’s love with nursing home patients in Alexandria, Pineville and Tioga LA. It was quite moving to see the faces of many who had lost hope and was unaware of their surroundings to join us in worship and lifting up the name of Jesus. During one particular service, a woman whispered “I love you” in my ear. I was beyond moved. My heart was stirred that day like never before.

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4.) Prison Ministry. This was one of the most exciting moments I had the privilege of partaking in. There was a surplus of joy in the room when I witnessed inmates lifting up their hands in adoration to the risen Savior. I witnessed many inmates sign up to get baptized. It was comforting to see how God’s grace and mercy encompassed all around them. Many of them requested many worship songs and they soaked in every minute we were there. I walked away with a newfound love for ministering in jails and prisons.

5.) The Essentials. I was blessed with many unique opportunities during my internship that consisted of the following: preaching at “The Spot,” a ministry for junior high and high school students living in poor, urban communities, going to Café Du Monde in New Orleans, partaking in communion at the pastor’s residence, baptizing over 75 people in a span of three months during street ministry and many other experiences. However, there is nothing that could replace what I will refer to as “the essentials.” After eating dinner in the home of Associate Pastor Terry Shock, we listened intently to his wife Melani explain the powerful concept of reading the Bible first thing in the morning and hearing God speak to you via his Word. Pastor Terry taught us that submission to God and pastoral authority will pave the way for many blessings in our life. John Russell, pastor of Calvary Tabernacle, poured his heart out by pleading to us to reach for lost people. He reiterated that Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost and that his mission should be our main priority. During our last session with Pastor Mangun, he told us with conviction in his eyes that if we do not have a prayer life, “ we are a JOKE.”  These are the essentials.

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My ministerial internship was the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my short 28 years of life. I’ve done my very best to express what took place, but I simply can’t. I am forever an intern of Jesus Christ. Forever a servant of his lordship.

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race

It is no secret to anyone that hasn’t been living under a rock recently that the issue of race has been at the forefront of almost every major headline news due to the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman case. I will not bore you with any more details, seeing that it has been shoved down our throats on a daily basis.

But since race has managed to be at the core of the subject, I decided to address this topic.

I do not understand this excessive obsession with race. I do not wake up every morning with the thought “I am a black man.” It is something I’m acutely aware of and have embraced for all my life. Being a black is a part of who I am, but it is does not define my image.

Allow me to reference the Holy Scriptures as an example:

Genesis 1:27 – “So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

1 Corinthians 6:19 – “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

Race is the main component of our bodies. Sure, it is impossible to look at someone in their physicality without noticing their tone of skin. When one looks at me, they see with their natural eyes a dark skin color, but that serves as a complimentary feature to my main feature: the image of God.

We were put on this mass planet to reflect the image of Christ. His image is not of certain biological roots or a specific anatomical make up. His image is a reflection of unconditional love.

Is it possible to change the conversation from race to possessing the image of God. To walk in God’s image is to simply love people as yourself. The more you know God, to more you become like him. To more you become like him, the more you begin to love others. You will find yourself looking at their spiritual epidermis, not their natural one.

When one reflects the light of Christ, it transcends racial and social barriers. If the Christian individual is only making visible their ethnic features, they are not conformed in the image of Christ.

Perhaps we should adopt the mentality that it is Christ that is in us. We are beholding his features—love and compassion.

Our racial features, whether black or white, serves as a bonus feature to an already divinely made human canvas.

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It is that time of year again for the National Day of Prayer. It’s a time where orange juice and biscuits will be the highlight of prayer breakfasts. Pastors and ministers will speak words of faith. The President will invoke words of encouragement and hope. Many individuals will gather at various prayer events in their cities and pray for their families, country and fellow man.

These events are certainly a synopsis of our religious culture. It serves as a reminder of how important these traditions are in Christendom and the need to commemorate them.

But there is something deeper missing in all these festivities. There is a bigger longing than a few scriptures quoted, a couple of choruses and melodies harmonized together, and an inspirational theme. There is a genuine lack of a prayerful lifestyle in America.

Prayer cannot simply be condensed into a holiday. It is not something that can be dusted off a shelf once a year and expected to perform at its highest magnitude. Prayer must simply be a lifestyle. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonians to “Pray without ceasing.” It is something that should be a consistent factor in our lives. Prayer is communication between man and God, and there should always be an active interaction between the Creator and his creation.

I am not desensitized by the traditional events surrounding the National Day of Prayer. The spiritual unity that is witnessed during this day is beneficial and definitely needed. However, this lone event does not account for a personal relationship with God and an active prayer life. Philippians 4:6 states: ” Do not fret or have anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.” Regardless if there is a national event, prayer breakfast or a host of religious officials around us, we must seek the Lord in prayer in all things.

There is a common and typical tradition of reaching out to God in times of crises and tribulations. This is not effective use of prayer. While God is truly certain to hear us in our times of desperate need, he is also worthy of prayer and praise when times are going well. Our prayer life should not be based on the ups and downs of the economy, our marital status,  or our job outlook.  It should be effective and active regardless of what surrounds us.

Prayer can change and alter any situation. When God sees an adamant desire by one to communicate with him, he feels compelled to intervene on our behalf. It is the power of prayer that makes an alcoholic feel an eradication for his desire of drunkenness. It is the power of prayer that can take a wounded heart of a depressed soul and set it free. The power of prayer faces no limits or boundaries. It is not bound by natural obstacles or setbacks.

In order to know God, we must communicate with him. A man doesn’t learn to love his wife by talking to her on a once-a-year basis. He talks to her constantly and builds a relationship with her on a day-to-day basis.

We will never learn to grow in our faith and relationship with God by simply waiting for a National Day of Prayer event to speak with him. Prayer must certainly be a lifestyle. It should be something we yearn to do. Prayer must be a lifestyle.

 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”– 2 Chronicles 7:14

Make EVERYDAY your National Day of Prayer.

Pro-Life Causes and the issue of same-sex marriage

I was a featured guest on “The Brenner Brief” with Sara Marie Brenner of Columbus, OH. I was asked to discuss pro-life causes and the issue of same-sex marriage. If you fast forward t 47:20, you’ll be able to hear my segment. As always, I stood on biblical principles and morality in my discussion.