Only One of Perfection

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Romans 3:23 (NIV)“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Do you know how much pressure we impose on ourselves by trying to live a life of perfection? Oh c’mon. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about, you uber Christian, you. Everyday, we struggle against the earthly desires we crave, while trying to uphold our Christian duties. Duties; as in works. You’re not convinced you’re one of them? Fine. Let me give some examples of what we tend to do. Check out my fancy-shmancy color coding:

“Christians should really stay away from ‘Harry Potter’ movies, because they promote demon worship and witchcraft. We can finish this conversation later, after I return from watching “Solo”.

Yep: an actual statement made by one of God’s children. Here’s another one.

“You let your kid listen to that ‘Kendrick Lamar’ crap? My kid only listens to ‘Bizzle’ and ‘Sevin’. Yeah, they drop ‘Nigga’ in their lyrics too, but they’re promoting Jesus by speaking the language of their folks.”

Yes, actual statement. I really can’t make this stuff up. Here’s one more for you.

“I give to the needy every chance I get. We have to give to the less fortunate. It’s in the bible, you know.”

“What about that homeless guy we saw Downtown?”

“Oh, he probably just wanted money for drugs or something.”

That was an actual conversation.

Sometimes I think we try too hard to adhere to rituals and rules, and forget that at the end of the day we’re all just people prone to fall short of God’s standard. In our quest to be perfect, we often come off as judgemental and hypocritical. If that’s the way we present ourselves in front of unbelievers, why would they want to follow us? 

I tend to get caught up in ritual practices, too. Sometimes, I cross the line between following the Lord and I going off the deep end, in my own quest to earn His favor. I reason to myself, “This is what God wants me to do, so I’ll do it and prove myself perfect in His eyes.” Now, no one is going to admit that’s what we do, but it’s the truth of who we are. We try to live super Holy lives despite partaking in straight-up pagan and carnal activities. 

Did you NOT know Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th? Did you also NOT know that the December 25th celebration was originally a pagan feast, we Christians adopted? We need to cut out all the Pharisee acts, and just live life to the best of our abilities. Celebrate the birth of our Lord, absolutely. But don’t judge the family that doesn’t celebrate Christmas as being sacrilegious! That’s their choice. Let God sort that out, in His timing. 

Let me say this: God knows our hearts and He knows our flaws. It was because of His love for us, despite our failed nature, that He sent the only one of perfection–that’s His son, Jesus–to die sacrificially for our sins. We can’t earn Salvation through any acts of super Christianity. Salvation is a free gift of God, through faith in His son Jesus Christ. 

I am a God fearing, flawed man. Everyday–every single day–I mess up one of God’s Old Testament laws. There is no way I could ever live up to any of them. That’s why I love Jesus. He knew me before I was born. He knew what kind of a failure Christian I would become. In that knowledge, He still said, “Father, I’ll go down and take one for the team. Ennis is going to be out there someday. I need to do this for him.” 

In His perfection, Jesus chose to become a living sacrifice so that I personally would be set free to live my life for Him, complete with my everyday failures. I could never repay Him for that! I can’t mimic His perfection!

I see Christians get mad over Donald Trump tweets. I see Christians hate on each other, over clothing. I see Christians judging other Christians who show love to Muslims. I see Christians judging others over music, food, even the type of car one drives. 

I think (and this is just my opinion) we ought to get on with the business of focusing on our own personal relationships with Jesus, as opposed to following rituals and judging others who may not live up to our standards. That’s why I like Romans 3:23. It reminds me that we all fall short of God’s Holy standards. Who am I to judge someone else, as I’m enjoying Sevin lyrics,on my way to watch a Star Wars flick and eat cheese Ballpark Franks with my gay cousin. Did I mention I was wearing my anti-Trump T-Shirt to the movie theater? 

You hate me right now, don’t you uber Christian conservative?

Jesus loves you.   

Get To It!

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You ever sit down at the keyboard, fired up to write, only to discover you’ve got nothing? It’s like a cruel joke, isn’t it? When the block lands square on top of your creativity, it feels like you have no option but to submit, pack it all up and try again tomorrow. But…if I may, let me offer you a bit of advice, wordsmith:

WRITE ANYWAY!

Yeah, that’s right: write anyway. I don’t care if you write a simple two or three line paragraph about the fact that you have nothing to write about. Write anyway. I’ve discovered that when I limit my writing to the times that I’m really feeling inspired, my craft suffers.

Last year, I made up a simple calendar printed on a sheet of 8.5″x11″ paper. I taped it to the side of my dresser. Each time I wrote a blog post or an article, that day was colored in with a yellow highlighter. At the end of the year, you wanna know what I discovered? In 365 days, I had written less than a third postings as there are days in the year! Folks, that was less than 122 blog posts and diary entries for the entire year! If I plan to grow and flourish in my craft, I simply have to write more.

I once wrote, “Writers write”. Hmmm…maybe it was more like, “Writers gotta write”. I think you get the point. We need to exercise our ability regularly, just like a body builder works out constantly. Creativity is, after all, a perishable skill. You use it or you lose it.

C’mon! What are you still scrolling for?! Get busy! Tell me about your second day of the new year! I just blew through 300 words to make a point. Start writing about anything wordsmiths!

More Than Meets The Eye

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I know, I know. It’s been quite awhile. But you see, work has been pretty hectic lately, and a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. So be patient with me, as I swing left and write about a topic that’s not quite my usual subject matter. Rest assured, I feel pretty strongly about it though. Allow me to set the mood…

*play me while you read*

The Strong: National Museum of Play aka. the National Toy Hall of Fame, just released their three 2016 inductees. You wanna know who made the cut this year? Fisher-Price Little People, Dungeons and Dragons, and the Swing! How in the world did the Transformers get shut out by the Swing, people?! Are you kidding me?

Optimus Prime is an icon of heroism! If you’re 40-something, chances are you sat in a movie theater, in 1985, and watched Optimus Prime and Megatron engage in the battle to end all battles. You probably cried when Optimus died. Rightly so. His death was such a profound and traumatic experience for millions of kids, that the film’s producers actually received hate mail from parents. They had no idea the Autobot leader had such an impact on fans.

Now, I don’t want to diminish the popularity of the Swing, and sure, everyone had at least one Fisher-Price Little Person when they themselves were little people. Okay, Dungeons and Dragons does still maintain a cult following among the more, oh how shall we say, nerdy persuasion. But folks, stay with me for a moment. The Transformers have been an American staple for over 30 years. They’re still making movies about the ‘robots in disguise’ even though the world is moving toward a more technological-toy plane. I can give my lil guy a vintage Autobot, and he’ll play with that thing for hours. Vintage Megatron is selling on eBay for $299.99 as we speak! The point is…they’re not going away anytime soon. Theirs is a timeless struggle between good and evil. Everyone can relate to that.

Over the years, the Transformers may have gone through a few cheesy reboots: Transformers-Beast Wars and Transformers-Prime to name a couple. But the franchise always manged to keep its patriarchs of good and evil with every new iteration, namely Optimus Prime and Megatron. No matter how bad the television series became, those two always remained core figures of the Autobots and Decepticons.

Maybe I’m a one-man advocate for the franchise. Maybe there are others who keep their love of the toy packed safety in the closet. I think The Transformers deserve the recognition and honor that other iconic toys have achieved; their long overdue in my opinion. Star Wars Action Figures were inducted in 2012; The Atari 2600 made it in 2007; G.I. Joe made it in 2004; Barbie made it in 1998. I think it’s time that Optimus Prime, Megatron, the Autobots and Decepticons earn a place in the Toy Hall of Fame.

P.S.: The theme music is mine. I tried to give it to Hasbro in the hopes of sparking the idea of them returning to Generation 1, for a new generation of young fans. Guess they didn’t see it as marketable. Que sera sera.

 

 

Pink-Eye Epiphany

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Okay. Admittedly, this is a pretty bad photo. Clearly, I could use a shave around the lips, under the nose and around my head. Yeah, that’s my sleep shirt; orange and worn down to its perfect stage of maximum comfort. But the bullseye is that glaring bloodshot left eye of mine. I’m into day three of viral pinkeye. The crust; the constant leaking; the swelling; blurry vision; yeah man! Life is awesome right now.

My pastor once told a story he’d read about a famous person snapping 100 selfies until she found the perfect one to share on social media. Doesn’t the world do that all the time? Television, music and social media always seem to paint a picture of perfection and our kids eat that stuff up. But, how many photos do professional photographers have to snap, before they capture the perfect scene? How many setups does the musician have to go through, to get that perfect sound? How many Twitter stars actually hire folks to post social media photos and tweets on their behalf?

We don’t often see the behind the scenes activity associated with “perfection” and could care less, because we’re too enamored by the allure of the finished product. Often times, we chase after that “perfection” not realizing that we have to experience life along the route. Sometimes, the route of life is ugly. Trust me when I tell you Beyonce is not Cover Girl beautiful all the time. There are days when I’ll bet she looks just like a regular Mom on the outside. That’s no disrespect; that’s real life.

Rather than crawl into a hole and hibernate until my eye clears, I decided to share my ugly discomfort. Hey, we’re going to encounter setbacks from time to time. Just don’t let them take you away from the path toward your goal, whatever that might be. And…don’t allow the things of this world to deceive you. The chase for perfection–or whatever is closest to it– will require you to walk through some pretty ugly scenery from time to time.Remember this: if God brings you to it, he can bring you through it.

I gotta go swab my eyeball. Fun times…

Right Where I Am

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Hey family! Can you see me? Did you enjoy the music of Beach Dreamin’? Yeah man! It’s not just about the writing with this guy, here. Occasionally, I’ll do something musically creative. I’ve got a gooey soft spot for House Music so, there ya go.

Right now, I’m sitting in my dimly lit study. Miles Davis’, “Kind Of Blue” sets the tone via my iPod, while I peck at the keys of my laptop. It’s a laid back kind of Friday. For a short while, we’ve got money in the bank account, food on the table, the car’s still hanging on, and nothing is broken in the house–except my Windows Vista desktop tower–that can’t be easily fixed. A man’s gotta learn to appreciate the small respites of life. There are pauses in battle.

This past week has shown me a lot of what we chase after, in a never-ending pursuit of happiness. I saw a Facebook feature article of 9 famous rappers who claimed to be rich, when they were dead broke. A couple of guys on the list spent time in jail for tax evasion to the tune of over 1 million dollars each. Another claimed bankruptcy and pleaded with the judge that he couldn’t afford to pay 5 hundred dollars a month for child support. I recall one of his albums going platinum a decade ago. Money…

I recalled a feature on a few celebrities who had committed suicide, and were now worshipped as martyrs by scores of adoring fans unable to let go. I saw another Facebook video that featured some current big-name stars having candid interviews about the price of fame and the resulting depression that accompanies the isolation of superstardom. Fame…

Why do we hate God so much, that we choose to look for a sense of satisfaction found nowhere else but in his presence? Why is it so hard for us to accept the gift of his grace and mercy, and the reality that his love is sufficient enough to give us real and lasting peace? Why do we continue to chase after money and fame–on any level–believing those mirages to be the answer to the void we’re all born with?

We are born with a void. At some point in the lives of everyone, its presence becomes apparent. Thus begins the chase; the pursuit…for happiness. Some folks turn to sex, some to drugs, some to occupations, some to thrills. Millionaires deal with it just as the poor experience it. Powerful men of diplomacy search for something they can’t identify, just as a faceless patron lost in a sea of followers yearns for a plug to fill the void of her heart. All the while, the answer surrounds us.

JESUS

Tonight, I’m far from claiming financial independency. On Monday, I’ve got to wake up and clock in just like everyone else. I’m nobody special in the world; just another uninteresting face among many. You might walk by me on the street, and not even recognize that you’ve just recently read something I’ve written. But…tonight…I’ve got peace. I know that Jesus, has filled–and is continuing to fill–the void I was born with, because I asked him into my heart.

I’m not preparing to go tear up the club, or get turnt up, or skirt chase. No sir, on this Friday evening, I’m spending my time writing and basking in the presence of the Lord. I’m thanking him for the little victories and the covered necessities. I’m cool…right where I am.

Little Gifts

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My 10-year old son, Isaiah, is your average variety video-game junkie. I claim full responsibility, because I was hooked from the days of the Atari 2600. Ahhh, Donkey Kong…

…where was I? Oh yeah…

Isaiah doesn’t take to reading the bible on his own, so I have to make him pick it up and read alongside me. From time to time, I catch him actually digging the stories and chapters we read. Tonight was one of those little gifts. As we read through Luke 10, my little guy had questions pertaining to his own responsibilities as a believer.

“What happens if I try to tell someone, who doesn’t know me, about Jesus and the bible? They’re not gonna listen to me.”

“That’s not your responsibility, son,” I told him. ” It’s not up to you to fully convince people of the gospel, because that’s a work of the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. Your job is to tell folks about the Lord, and to do your best to live the Christian life in front of people and when you’re alone.”

He thought about this for a moment.

“So, I don’t have to try to get everybody to believe? That just seems too hard.”

“No. Not everyone will listen to what you have to say. But don’t let that keep you from telling them anyway, because God can use you to get to whomever he wants. But just remember that it’s not your responsibility to save anyone. You can’t. That’s God’s responsibility. We’re called to follow him, and spread his gospel.”

I saw it click in his eyes. For one brief moment, he wasn’t thinking about YouTube, Rhett & Link, Creepers or MarioKart. He was thinking on things of the Lord, and he was planning to go to work in school tomorrow; kingdom work.

Tonight, I felt like an accomplished dad.


 

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) – “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Checking In, Family

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Hey there. Did you like Just Ask, Doofus? I hope you enjoyed it. It’s been awhile since I wrote a good fiction short, so that one last night was a joy to watch take shape. I say take shape because a lot of times, that’s just how my writing progresses. I’ve heard of folks jotting down notes, typing outlines, or crafting organized ideas to write a single short story. Meh. My brain doesn’t work that way. Most times, it’s a simple idea that jumpstarts the story within. Before I know it, I’m just going along for the ride. Most times, I’m just as surprised as some of my readers at what comes out through the process. Don’t get me wrong, family. Writing is a process. Writing well is a practiced process.

That’s actually why I’m checking in tonight. Nineteen days ago, I challenged you all to step up your writing game; not so much as an all out competition among one another, rather for the sake of us all growing stronger as Wordsmiths. We can’t grow in our craft if we aren’t writing, right? So this is just a little pep-cheer to stoke that fire, baby!

Maybe this year you’re new to blogging. Well, let me welcome you and say, “Congratulations”! You made the big step in sharing your work! Now, let me further challenge you. There are twelve months in a year. I propose that you make a diligent effort to write and share four posts a month. But that’s not all. I also challenge you to subscribe to or follow at least one new blog every month in 2016. Nothing encourages a writer like support from peers. I plan to follow the blogs of every person who reads and likes this check-in post. I can’t grow in my craft, if I’m not reading and supporting fellow writers. So let’s get moving people! 2016 is in full swing! Expect greater things to happen with your writing this year!

I’m working on another short that I’m planning to share tomorrow. If you liked the last one, I encourage you to check back with me, either late Wednesday or early Thursday. Until then, get those fingers tapping. I need some good stuff to read!

Proverbs 10:4 (NKJV) – “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”