made

 

It was early in the morning. About 1am to be exact.

I was still awake, feeling a bit out of sorts. I was begging and pleading to God about how I struggled with seeing any value in me and in what He thought of me.

It was a journey that began days prior with God making me acknowledge that I needed to spend more time in my Bible.

I was led to Psalm 139 and upon reading the entire Psalm I specifically focused on verse 14:

“I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are your works…”

After reading the text, I was struck with a feeling of disappointment.

“Really!?” I thought. “God, surely there’s more to it then that!”

I spoke again to God, asking Him to show me where I’m wrong. I knew I was wrong…but I was willing to let the Lord point out what was up with me and my heart.

In frustration, I headed to my bedroom to finally try and go to bed. The minute that my head hit the pillow, I heard the following message:

“Stop trying to get your value from people and things.”

It started making sense. Tears welled up in my eyes and I got up immediately. I asked the Lord to forgive me…how foolish was I to totally miss what God was REALLY doing.

Verse 14…David’s praise to the Lord…His worship of the Father. He Loved the Lord and throughout Psalm 139 before you we even get to verse 14 he acknowledges that the God knows every single thing about Him and had his entire life lined up before he was even existent.

David knew God. He loved God. He worshipped Him. Your value and mine comes from my relationship with God…as Father…as the one who sent His son Jesus…and Provider…as Protecter…as Creator… and so, so much more!

I couldn’t appreciate what God was saying because it was a matter of “Praise,” or more specifically, “thankfulness.” I had to learn to be thankful for God making me as He did.

Then note what else David said…”I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” “Fearfully” would be defined simply as “respect” or “with respect too” and “Wonderfully” is “unique” or “complex.” It could also mean “set apart.

God created you for a purpose…to Glorify Him and to do it through daily acknowledgement of Him and His son Jesus whom he sent to take our place on the cross. God has also given you purpose and life and abilities and opportunities to be all that you were created to be. You may not be able to do “everything” and “anything,” but you have the God-given capacity to do certain things.

For me, this became a pretty big deal!

My view began to shift as I considered all of the ways the Lord made me…how He set me apart…created me…the kind of gifts and abilities he gave me.

In fact, that night began a whole new shift in the way I saw myself and what I had to learn regarding what God thought of me.

There was more than enough reason to respond and react like David…with praise and thanksgiving to God.

Tribute to Dallas 1All day Friday, I did everything I could to hold back tears as they weld up. 5 police officers the night before were killed in Dallas during a peaceful protest against the shooting of black men by police officers.

I was sitting at home when it happened, expecting the watch a regular 9pm newscast on our local Fox station and then go on about my life and get things done before bed.

A 9pm broadcast turned into multiple hours of a surreal experience that was unfolding before me just 20 minutes away.

The journalist in me scrolled through multiple news sites and reporting agencies on my phone. While many reported the facts, others capitalized on the propaganda and on the fears of others who have opposing opinions about the news of the day…the shooting in Dallas…the shooting of black men by police officers…black lives matter…and injustice as a whole.

It was all too much!

Something continued to stir in me later that Friday as I listened to Gospel music and spent time in continual prayer.

I felt a tug at my heart to do something.

So, I began to draw.

The second that I was finished with my latest comic strip, and posted the strip online, I fell completely apart. I could no longer hold back.

I cried for lost lives…for the state of our country…for the fact that many of us as American citizens claim to get it, but show little or no empathy and are so blind, we refuse to step up and try to understand.

Once I was done…what was emotional turned into something inspirational…a deep call to action that went even further than cartooning.

It was a pull and tug that was hard to describe. It was like I knew what I had to do, knowing that it could cause me trouble, knowing it could generate disdain, knowing that even though my voice was one of many it was still a voice that had not yet cried out in the wilderness.

I had to speak up! I had to write!

It was time for me as a Christian, a writer, a cartoonist, a black man, a man, period, to stand up and speak life and peace into the chaos of our time.

I love writing fiction and I love writing the kind of literary works that get people to think, laugh, love and live. But now, the responsibility sinks in to do much more writing than I actually have.

Not everyone will understand. And that’s okay. I’ll pray for them. For those willing to try too, I applaud them and pray for them. And for those who don’t care, my prayers are for you too.

Silence is no longer an option. Silence hurts people, creates division and builds up a sense of empathy and carelessness because as long as it isn’t me and mine, I’m good with whatever happens.

Silence is the passive man’s voice.

Silence is an affront to those who stood before us and died for us. It is also an affront to the men and women of law enforcement who seek to do more good than harm. We must all choose to be a part of a much larger solution.

But first, before you jump in, you must acknowledge there’s a problem!

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Earlier this week I went to the movies to see “Zootopia.” The movie was phenomenal and filled with a LOT of social commentary about following your dreams, never giving up, false assumptions and life as a whole.

The movie follows Judy Hopps, Zootopia’s first ever bunny police officer. It’s not easy for Judy at all as she strives to prove she has what it takes. While out writing tickets she meets Nick Wilde, a skillful scam artist fox, who ends up helping Judy solve the mystery behind missing animals and an even larger underhanded scheme that could ruin Zootopia.

Throughout the movie, I picked up on 3 major points that we could pull from the movie:

Having Dreams Mean You Can’t “Play It Safe.”

Judy’s dream since her childhood was to be a police officer! Others around her either told her that it wouldn’t make sense, she should give up and that she should “play it safe.” When it comes to dreams and goals there will come a time where you’ll have to take big risks.

Life is full of risks. How far are you really willing to risk it…step out on faith…and do what you’ve been called and created to do and be who you’ve been called and created to be!?

Never Give Up

Judy had multiple reasons to give up. And yet, for every moment she failed she continued to focus on her dream. Each moment featured a new challenge and no matter how bad things got she continued to persevere. And yes, it did look like it was all over, and yet, each challenge caused her to rise to the occasion every single time.

Re-Visit When You’ve Made False Agreements

John Eldredge in the book, “Wild at Heart,” addresses this. Somewhere in our childhood, because of bullying or abuse or people around us pouring negativity and hatred into our hearts, we made an agreement…a worldview statement…about life and about our dreams and goals.

Later in the movie, Nick tells Judy about the moment that his world shattered. It was the moment, form his childhood, that made him decide that he would not let anyone get to him…much less let them know it’s working. So, Nick chose the life of trying to force or scheme things to work in his favor. He gave up on even being something more in the world because the world saw him as something less than.

Seriously consider what has shaped you for so long. What issues, pains and experiences have helped shape you. Have you been forming your view on life around it!? Nick certainly did. He formed his view on life, on dreams and on his destiny around a moment in his childhood that was cruel, wrong and defining.

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Redemption

Judy doesn’t realize it, but, because of who she was as a person, she was in the position of showing Nick a better life. Her personality, character and persistence to do what she believed was right started changing Nick. The relationship building between Nick and Judy, be it forced at times, later turned in to an opportunity for redemption.

We can do better than where we are now. We need people…someone with a different view…a different perspective…a large heart…to help us and to guide us to better.

It starts with relationship followed by encouragement and, often, a ton of grace and mercy, to bring about that inward change.

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A few months ago, I did the Kickstarter thing and learned a lot.

I also failed in it. Sort of, actually.

Because of that experience, I actually managed to learn quite a bit about what I was missing and what to consider when it comes to marketing and reaching people. I also learned the hard truths about what it means to engage people…especially if they could care less.

But, the whole experience did something else…it grew my love for cartooning and writing even more! Before I knew it, I was drawing with a much larger motivation than just to get my Kickstarter funded. I was drawing because I was reminded of why I loved to do it in the first and second place.

Instead of being upset and depressed over it, I realized that this was just one of the many things I had to just take as a major learning experience. I’m 110% okay with that and I’m grateful for every person who was able to give and help me in some way, even if it was a few words of encouragement.

Now things are getting more interesting!