We’re Gonna Be Alright

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Let’s Recap Shall We?

In January, I turned 47 years old and found myself reflecting on life; where I was in the grand scheme; what I had contributed (if anything) in my previous 46 years; what I planned to do with the next 40 years (thinking optimistically of course). I had no idea of what was coming down the line for all of us. Honestly, my biggest concern in January was worrying about how best not to ruin the most important day of Mirranda Marcum’s young life, in the coming March, as the DJ of her and Tyler DeWitt’s wedding. It was the perfect ceremony by the way, if anyone wanted to know.

That very next weekend following the DeWitt’s marriage, the world shut down. And, things got ugly. 2020 dropped off a cliff.

My family lost our Mom in April. A childhood friend also fell victim to the pandemic. Truth be told, I think we all suffered on some level; whether close to us or an acquaintance of acquaintance. Everyone lost someone.

Division opened gaps politically, racially, economically, emotionally, spiritually and any other l.l.y. acronyms we can conjure up. People are mad at each other, even today. Whether the underlying issue is fear or anger doesn’t even matter right now. We’re divided.

Toilet paper became a sought-after treasure. I mean…seriously folks. I still need someone to explain to me why toilet paper became so important as a pandemic escaladed. Technically, food never stopped flowing. We were all too interested in making sure our butts were properly wiped.

To add insult to all of that injury, we seem to have lost faith in our government. You can choose a topic of discussion: the pandemic; the election; golf. It doesn’t matter. The American public generally feels duped by our governing bodies during 2020.

Now, Let’s Shift the Focus for a Minute

Sliding into the Thanksgiving Holiday, we’re headed back into quarantine as the 2020 pandemic rages on and our government is actively trying to negotiate a peaceful transfer of power following the 2020 election results. Folks are still angry…and fearful…and that makes for some truly delicate discussions not just among friends, but family as well. Even in the church community, tensions are at an all-time high. It seems that even God’s people are struggling with trusting that He’s in total control even now. And you know what? That’s okay. People are people. We’re all human and we’re all subject to the emotions that come as part of our humanity.

I saw a social media post today, where the writer wrote (in all caps),”WHERE ALL THE TRUMP SUPPORTERS AT NOW? I DON’T HEAR ANYBODY SAYING ANYTHING!” You know, a month ago I might have been riding the bandwagon of that Christian man who posted that. Today, I’m just tired of being a part of the problem. Today, I’d rather bone up on my bible reading and try to get myself back into the right frame of mind where I remember that Jesus loved on everyone despite their differences. I need that centered thinking, because in two days my wife is going to try to serve her family a Thanksgiving dinner without her Mom at the table for the first time…ever. The last thing I need to be concerned with is who’s mad at who now. It won’t just be my household either. Somewhere, the Sanders family will be missing a loved one at the table; so will the McAfees; and the McFays; and the Jones; and the Browns; and Williams. I think you get the idea.

So, What Do We Have to be Thankful for?

Celebrate the Small Victories

A few days ago, my oldest daughter and I went to a local car dealership. This wasn’t some whimsical decision. This kid had been saving her money for years, for a specific purpose. She was set on buying herself a new car. And so, over the course of roughly a month’s time, she did her due diligence by researching what she wanted and what she needed to do to get it. And after almost five hours spent at the dealership, she drove home in her new car. She never settled. She purchased exactly what she wanted.

There’s a point I want to make here. Later that night, we talked in the kitchen. I told my daughter to remember the small victories. Sure, the process may have been tedious. But, the end result was a victory.

I think this week, we all need to remember that. Looking back on 2020, there may not seem like a whole heck of a lot to be thankful for. But, I’m going to challenge each and every one of you to dig deep and find something to celebrate. It’s there friends. It may be hidden among the election results or the latest pandemic numbers, or the unemployment rate, or the big news about the stock market hitting 30,000 (I really can’t even believe…yes. Yes I can). We all have something to celebrate. And you know what else? I believe we’re all going to be alright. The dust will settle. It’s getting cold outside, but the Spring will eventually return. Tensions are flaring for now, but I think we’re all starting to tire of the constant animosity. This season of despair we’re in; this too shall pass. I’m going to be thankful for my family, and for my friends; for my job and for my health. I recently got a COVID test; actually the fifth time I’ve had that Q-tip stuffed up my nose. That experience never gets old. But I’m good. And so I’m going to celebrate that goodness. My kid bought her own car. She’s got her own insurance. That means I’m going to have a little more money moving forward (until Isaiah learns to drive next year). I’m going to celebrate that, too.

We’re gonna be alright. But we have to start somewhere. How about we start with each other?

Fist bump

Fix Our Division, Lord…

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I want to speak to the church today. It’s Sunday afternoon, and pastors all over our nation have been actively preaching a message of peace, getting back to God and loving one another as we love ourselves. The message is warranted; it’s true and it’s definitely needed. But there is an underlying problem with the act of putting the message into practice. Please don’t misinterpret what I just said. God’s Word is not the problem. The issue is us…the church.

The world is experiencing interesting yet frightening and frustrating times right now. In the second half of 2020, things seem to be increasingly worse at face value, and as we are accustomed to doing, we tend to point fingers at the problem to place blame; as if identifying a culprit might bring some sort of closure. And there is where the problem surfaces. We—the church—are actively participating in the blame game, just like the world.

Social media is rife with the “righteous” arguments of some believers spouting their opinions on how well the current president is doing; but also saturated with the opinions of other believers—who speak about serving the same God—who are just as passionate and “righteous” about the horrible job the same president is doing. These two sides are so split on their views, that’s it actually causes unspoken division within the church. Now, I say unspoken, because in many instances, these differences of opinions never surface when the brethren meet face to face. But the differences are blatantly displayed in social media; the hatred for one-another apparent; all over a man of flesh and blood.

The same can be said regarding the hot-button issue of racial injustice. There are Christians who choose to turn a blind eye to the inequalities within the church, while there are those who are outspoken regarding these issues. Let me back up for a minute. Did you get that? Within.The.Church. Some Christians tend to forget that this very same issue was addressed in the early years of the first church. It didn’t just magically disappear. It’s still a thing.

The point I’m making is this: these are only two examples of the big issue we have. We—the church—are not united. We are, in fact, divided. Because of this division, we are having a hard time influencing those around us, because we’re too busy behaving the way they do. Most “church-folk” are familiar with the scripture of Mark 3:25, but how many of us actually believe in it? I would go so far as to say, not many because I see the social media arguments; I see the rhetoric; I see the written jabs between two Christians on opposing sides of any given argument. We’re divided. We can’t make a difference in the world this way.

Now, I’m not writing this to say, “We’ve failed”. I’m writing it to open up dialogue. There will no doubt be brethren who will be offended at the words written, and feel the need to either defend their opinions, or worse, say nothing at all, but harbor a secret hate for my own opinions. And honestly, either is okay. I think there was a reason Jesus chose 12 very different individuals as His apostles. I’m sure they didn’t always see eye to eye. But when it came to following Him, they were of one accord. That was the key. When it came to following Jesus, they put their personal opinions aside and locked arms in support of Him. Church, we’re not doing that today. Today, we’re willing to side with whichever brother or sister best sides with our own personal world views.

I’m not excluded in this perversion of our human failures. Those who know me best know my feelings on politics. I’ve lost “friends” and “family” because of my political beliefs. I’ve harbored hatred in my own heart over political comments written by “church-family”. I’m just as guilty of contributing to our division as anyone else. And these days, I feel that burden heavy on my heart like never before in my lifetime. I’ve placed God second to the influences of the world. And when faced with trying to put Him first, the enemy is quick to remind me of what sister so-n-so said about my chosen-candidate, or how brother so-n-so commented on black folks’ complaints of injustice. These are real feelings coming from people I’m expected to love and trust as I love and trust myself. This is the church. And I’m contributing to that yeast.

We—the church—have to change that. It can’t be superficial; it has to be deep. We have to make a conscious effort every day to put aside our personal opinions and really seek God’s grace; His mercy; His wisdom. Right now, our house isn’t dividing; it’s divided past tense. The message of “trust in Jesus” has to be more than mere words for all of us, because truthfully, we’re not living that out. If you’re offended by that statement, then there’s your proof. We—the church—have to be united under the banner of Christ.

If I can really keep it 100% with you today, I’ll share what my wife already knows. This thing is so heavy on my heart today, I find it hard to pray for America to be blessed. When I hear the words, “We need to pray for America,” that sounds foreign to me. I find it comforting instead to pray for God’s will to be done in all of our lives; whatever that may look like in the coming days, weeks, months…or years. I trust Him to do what He’s going to do. I’m trying to place Him first, over the prosperity of our country. I’m trying my hardest to pray for God to soften my heart to well-meaning brothers and sisters of faith, in these troubling times. I’m trying to pray for us to be united under Him, first. If we can do that, I think He can fix us. If we can be fixed, maybe we really can change the world. But, that change is only going to come when we–the church–start at home. We have to search our own hearts and give whatever divides us over to the Lord.  Only then, can there be real and lasting healing.