Tag Archives: ministry

Staying Encouraged

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As of late, I have been experiencing the true meaning of challenge and the testing of ones Faith!

In spite of these struggles, I’ll admit, I’ve got to be one of the very blessed during this time of my life.

All in one day, I received phone calls from my uncle and mentor, my mother, my cousin whose like a little brother to me and one of m best friends and the message they offered was clear and concise: “be encouraged…keep going…don’t quit.”

Wow!

Some people don’t have close friends and family around them to pull them out of a funk! We need people around us to help snap us out of it! I am learning that in the most surreal and incredible way!

I’m grateful and thankful to be surrounded by people who love Jesus, love people and love others through their quirks and issues of life!

So my encouragement to you is this! Don’t give up! You’re not as bad as you think! You’re not a loser! Go forward even if it doesn’t seem to matter or make sense. When it’s all said and done it most certainly will come together!

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4 Thoughts Teens Have About Adults (But Not Quick To Share With Adults)

Working in Youth Ministry for more than 12 years, I have learned about the 4 very powerful thoughts that most teens have about adults, but, are NOT at all about to share with an adult. They are as follows:

1. Can they PLEASE just keep it real, get to the point and tell the whole truth!

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2. If they KNOW what it’s like to be a teen, then why are they surprised with my issues!?

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3. Get to know me first before assuming the worst about me or my friends (even if they look totally suspicious)!

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4. Public embarrassment is NOT cool and will NOT make me do any better than what you desire! Good luck, it’s 2014 (or whatever year you’re reading this).

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The Healing of a People

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Why should I care about a “community” that didn’t care about me as an “individual?”

That was my thought and rationale for the longest time and I think it is time to be brutally honest with myself and with my community as a whole.

With February as Black History Month approaching as I write this, I began to think about the history that was taught to me growing up as well as what I learned over a number of years about the struggle and oppression of countless black men and women. While I understand that we recognize and celebrate and observe the strides and successes made within the black community, I am immediately reminded of my own experiences.

Growing up, I was a “different” kind of kid, one who paid attention to the New York Stock Exchange and treated the State of the Union address like a Super Bowl broadcast. I was mentally and physically bullied often and I usually tried to stay under the radar as I filled my notebooks with drawings and short stories. Being a Special Ed student for math, reading and speech didn’t help either!

Day in and day out, it was nothing out of the ordinary to be referred to as “white boy” or accused of “acting white.” I was often a target for not wearing the “coolest” clothing or even walking and talking “like” a black kid. I still remember like it was yesterday a couple of older cousins of mine tried to coach me in how I wore my clothes.

Everything I did was not “black” enough. The older I got, the more annoyed I got about the notion of “black” anything. It was to a point that my anger, frustration and disdain grew in such a way that it led me to think of myself better than specific types of individuals within the black community. Relating to individuals within my own community grew tougher and tougher and overtime I gave up. And yet, I was immediately embraced by my counterparts from other races. I immediately grew a connection and related in such a way that very few from the black community related to me.

That wouldn’t slowly begin to improve until my late 20s. There’s still more work to be done and I know it will take just as much effort from me as it will from my community.

The month of February was often hard for me because it was as though I was forced to put aside my unattended wounds and replace them with visuals and memories the wounds of others. But, I was still angry, frustrated and alone. It seemed like no one would get where I was coming from and even then who would want to hear of it!?

Over time, I noticed the anger and frustration that plagued me was the very same anger and frustration that plagues countless other black men and women who still feel the sharp sting of pain, hurt and injustice brought on by whites and even by those from within their own family and/or community.

Just like I have gone for a long time lacking any trust from those within my community, many blacks struggle with the same thing both within the community and outside of it. Certainly this can be attributed to a harsh history and so much more.

Earlier this week, I prayed and asked God to show me why I was so frustrated.

Here are the following things the Lord revealed to me over the past few days regarding this struggle of mine:

1. The Lord MADE you!

2. The Lord MADE you who you are and placed you where you are so you can show others they can be who God created them to be from within their communities!

3. Jesus himself was hated and betrayed, Jews and Gentiles alike. He knows my pain and He can and will heal my wounds from the past.

4. Help those in your community HEAL from their hurts, their frustration, their mistrust of others, their self-hatred and the hatred of where they come from. Tell them about the peace that Jesus has that’s readily available for them!

The Lord is working on me as He shows me that lying in my hatred, anger and frustration will not help me, but letting go and letting God love me and loving Him and loving people is the only way through it.

The individuals who treated me so badly can’t apologize to me, but I can still forgive them and go on. Why!? Because Jesus Christ forgave and died for His enemies and the world and He has forgiven me.

I did have some help and support, however! There were a faithful few from within my community who were accepting, loving, open-minded and appreciative of who I was as a person. My hope is to be that kind of man to as many people as possible in order for the healing process to take place.

Needless to say, this will not be the last time I bring this up. I think the Lord is probably leading me towards a place where I address the healing of the black community. I can imagine there are others out there who are experiencing the same type of struggle but are just too ashamed, reluctant or even worse, apathetic.

After all, deep down, I want us as well as all Americans and the world to move forward in peace, unity and equality – true freedom in Christ and life more abundant!

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Sonic the Hedgehog and the Inspiration to Write “22 Life…”

Sonic and Tails from the fan famed "Sonic SatAM" series which ran on ABC Saturday Mornings in the 90s.

Sonic and Tails from the fan famed “Sonic SatAM” series which ran on ABC Saturday Mornings in the 90s.

It is no secret for those of you who know me well online and offline that I am a HUGE fan of “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

Sonic the Hedgehog and Miles “Tails” Prower have influenced my life greatly from childhood to adulthood. Sonic’s confidence and Tails’ heart is what really spoke to me along with the special gifts they had. Certainly we can’t forget about the fact that they were on the side of good, the heroes!

Over the weekend, I was reminded again of how important and meaningful the “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise has been to me.

This young man, @CruiseCarter on Twitter asked me to draw a picture of him hanging out with Sonic. He also drew a picture of himself and Sonic. This reminded me of when I was younger and needless to say I had a lot of fun attempting to draw Sonic. In my humble opinion, I think I’m better drawing my own characters like I did for “22 Life Lessons fro Personal Growth.”

My Drawing of "Sonic" with @CruiseCarter on Twitter (c) Cartoon Daily News, 2013

My Drawing of “Sonic” with @CruiseCarter on Twitter (c) Cartoon Daily News, 2013

The drawing of Sonic and @CruiseCarter by @CruiseCarter

The drawing of Sonic and @CruiseCarter by @CruiseCarter

After all, I related to Sonic in the sense that he ran when he needed to and he ran incredibly fast. Sonic never really worried about being picked on or called names. He was, and still is, the hedgehog with an attitude!

In essence, “Sonic the Hedgehog” was a person that I totally wished I could be like.

I wanted THAT kind of confidence. I wanted THAT kind of flare. I wanted a kind of friend that Tails was to Sonic. And I especially wanted to be known for a special gift. For Sonic, it was super speed along with several other attacks.

In the book, “22 Life Lessons for Personal Growth” I talk about desiring to be like some of my favorite cartoon characters. I desired to acquire some of the same characteristics that they embodied: a kind of bravery, confidence, self-esteem, love and hope that my favorite heroic characters in cartoons and comics had!

Needless to say, I knew I couldn’t possibly be “Sonic the Hedgehog.” Instead, I had to go with what was real and that was hard, very hard!

I mean, back then, at the time that I sat there and observed and appreciated the awesomeness of “Sonic the Hedgehog,” and the fact that he went on incredible adventures, fought and defeated enemies and got the girl while I lived the life of the bullied, socially awkward kid, who could blame me for desiring what Sonic had!?

A lot of dark times in my childhood were cleared up by those times that I was, by the Grace of God, able to escape the harshness of the world and watch my favorite hedgehog on television, play the games and read the comics.

Nothing necessarily changed until my Faith in God and Christ changed, the realization that I could be better than Sonic actually! I could be the real thing! Only thing, I wouldn’t be able to run 0-60 in seven seconds or less. But, I was pretty sure I could live with that.

I could have real strength, real confidence, real love, real hope, real LIFE…only place it comes and it could EVER come from is my relationship with Jesus Christ!

Sonic the Hedgehog still played a pretty important part in the book in the sense that it, to me, was God’s way of showing me the way to Him as a kid. It was during each episode I ever saw that I found those “grace moments,” the periods in which I KNEW that God never just left me hanging. The same goes for other cartoons and comics I ever got involved with.

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