Archives For Faith

A Merry Heart

September 5, 2018
"Angelo Rules" by Team TO and Cake Entertainment

“Angelo Rules” by Team TO and Cake Entertainment

 

One of the things I’m grateful for is a “merry,” or cheerful heart. My wife woke up one morning to this scripture she shared with me … Proverbs 17:22 …

A merry heart does good, like medicine. But a broken spirit dries the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)

It has been days since Rachel and I read that scripture and discussed it in length. We know that there’s a lot going on in the world, our culture, our own life and our family and it can be kind of tough to actually be “cheerful” or “merry.”

It has actually been really nice that she’s been reminding me of how cheerful I always tend to be. In fact, the running joke is that I don’t really need too much more caffeine because of how cheerful I am most days.

Usually you have to wait for the holidays for that, right? A dozen or more genuine “Merry” Christmas responses should do it, right?

But, what if it was a choice.

What if we chose to see the blessings that God has given us. I woke up that morning because the Lord so willed for me to be up and alive that morning. I have a sound mind. I have a portion of health and strength. But, more importantly, I know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. And that’s enough to be cheerful about.

But, note the wording in the scripture. “A merry heart does good, like medicine….”

The world is full of things in front of us by which we can medicate ourselves. But, the end result will only be an artificial cheerfulness, an artificial and temporary “merry” state, a temporary happiness.

“A broken spirit,” sadness and desperation is draining. It is completely opposite of being cheerful. As the text says, it “dries the bones.”

But, when we find ourselves in God’s Word, spending time in prayer and consistently focusing on Christ in our circumstances, the real medication for our ailment of sinfulness, we can have a “merry” heart, which does good like medicine.

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I Still Choose To Believe

January 29, 2018

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Considering the world that we are living in and the state of America (and the world), there’s a wonder why we should believe.

We question the validity of coming to church on a Sunday morning to worship God and believe in His son, Jesus Christ.

We don’t even take it that far.

We question the existence and character of God.

We begin to put together questions and answers in an attempt to place God on trial: the challenging “if-then” statements of our time:  “If God is real, then [insert antidote]”

The doubts, the questions, the cynicism, the skepticism, the “free thinking” seem reasonable at first glance.

 

 

But, in spite of what the condition our world is in, I still choose to believe!

I choose to believe that Jesus still lives! I choose to believe that He died for me and He died for you too!

I choose to believe because I look at the evidence in my own life both spiritually and even in the physical that proves that Jesus IS who says He is and that God is real and loves you and me.

I must acknowledge that while some amazing and awesome and wonderful things are happening in my life, I do experience trouble and challenges, which is a part of life.

Years of low self-esteem, low confidence, depression and a poor appreciation for my identity was something I struggled with for a long, long time.

It took a lot of prayer, counseling and building of real, healthy relationships with people.

In many cases, God put people in my life to help lift me up and help grow me up…people who actually cared, who listened and who empathized with my situation but also told me the truth about myself and about my situation.

Even when circumstances didn’t change immediately, I felt the sting of discomfort and disorientation and confusion.

But, through Christ, I was able to deal with the status of being up or down, rich or poor and doing things I don’t necessarily want to do but have to do in life:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13

Also, the Lord already overcame this trouble filled world:

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

I choose to believe and I choose to have faith because I’ve experienced too much of God and Christ in my own life to even think that both are made up. The message of the Gospel hits me at my core and moves me to live for Him.

The evidence of knowing God and Christ will show up not only in your own personal walk but also for others who see you and speak to you!

I’ve been through too many moments in life that have tested my faith to the limit…moments that I’ve fallen so hard I didn’t want to live…moments I felt so confused I almost decided to throw in the towel…moments I felt so lost and alone that I questioned my existence.

Then, God reminds me, He loves me. He reminds me through His son Jesus, who took my place and in turn has freed me from the guilty, penalty and power of sin.

My declaration is not a naive notion. It is real. It is real because my relationship with God and Christ is real.

Today, now more than ever, it is imperative to keep the faith.

newbullying theology

If you have never been in the place where it seemed like more was against you than it was for you, then, as older folks have told me, “keep living!”

When it seems like debts, disasters and decisions tend to be the thing that’s holding your dream hostage, it is an easy feeling to just blow off whatever that’s in your heart that’s good to do and just go on with your life.

Because of issues in our lives, many of us have simply stopped writing, blogging, drawing, speaking, teaching, preaching and much more.

And people suffer as a result of that.

I have 3 reasons that I can pull from the top of my head on why giving up is just not an option:

My Family Can’t Afford It!

No…seriously…as a husband, as a man…I can’t afford to just “give up!” It’s okay to take a break and really reflect, but, after you’ve prayed and cried, you have to have faith and go forward.

You have to make the choice to stand up even when you feel like sitting down.

Someone Is Watching!

Somewhere out there, I can imagine a young me, sitting somewhere on a computer or playing with their smartphone and running into a drawing on Instagram I did or an article I wrote.

Perhaps that kid is lonely, lost and filled with anxiety. This is the kid that needs to know that they are not alone and that they too can be encouraged to not “give up.”

And it’s not just kids…it’s adults too.

This is one of many reasons why I keep writing, drawing and creating stuff!

“Somebody is always watching” I’ve been told. That’s not to be taken as creepy. Fact is, you’re an example and an influence to somebody.

The Calling on My Life

When I don’t write or draw or create, it really, really bugs me. Even at my worst, there’s still something that just burns in me that says “yeah, I still want to do this! I must be a special kind of crazy!”

But, that’s awesome!

I believe that the Lord called me to the work that I do and I’m perfectly fine with that. I’m learning more and more about what I’m here on this planet for and it is amazing. It’s humbling.


What Do I Do To Get My Groove Back

On days that I just feel a sense of failure and wanting to throw in the towel, it is usually because I have not properly taken care of myself.

If I haven’t taken time to pray, read my Bible, rest and relax or even journal a little, I get a little cranky…spiritually, mentally and physically. These are my must have things to do FIRST to survive and accomplish anything and everything that needs to be done.

I also look at my schedule book, reviewing what needs to be done and what can wait.

And there’s something about just “DOING” something! Even if it is to go outside and get fresh air and take walks, the momentum of exercise really helps get things going.

Tuesday, I was reading a devotional on my Bible app and it got things for me going. I then passed on the lesson to my wife. Turns out, she needed a Word as much as I did.

Because of not giving up, I was able to be a blessing to somebody else!

And even if being a blessing to somebody else was all that was accomplished that day…then that was a pretty big accomplishment!

blog post -black in America

Growing up, I vividly remember having a big heart for life and for people. I wanted to connect with people and get along with others.

I was a different kind of kid. I didn’t really get along or connect too well with most of the kids I went to school with. I didn’t really enjoy all too much the music they enjoyed. I didn’t watch the same stuff on TV. I was not into sports at all.

I was a book reading, story writing, comic book collecting, cartoon drawing, science obsessed, TV news watching boy with an imagination that was more active than a volcano.

I could imagine that if I had not spent half of my boyhood daydreaming and drawing cartoons or writing I would’ve lost my mind from all of the bullying and the experiences of being a social outcast.

From elementary to college, I was often accused of “acting white” and my racial identity was constantly being challenged because of what was considered the social norm for a black male.

It was the beginning of war on my heart and mind.

When Bullying Mutates To Hate

On the surface, I didn’t think I had an issue with race, or even with my identity as a black man in America, that is until things started coming up in my 20s.

I thought I had the issue of race straight in my life. I didn’t have an issue with white people, but, I did have an issue with my own people.

I always felt completely unaccepted by people from my own community. Often ostracized and humiliated before my peers, I came to the conclusion early on in life that when it came to being yourself, you couldn’t be you and be black at the same time.

To be black did not mean being Kendall Lyons. It meant being something other than.

For a long time, and most people don’t know this about me, I held a kind of disdain and hatred for my own people and for myself. The years of bullying mutated my view of race and black America into something ugly, bitter and void of compassion.

The kind of self-hatred I struggled with also turned into classism.

I saw myself better than people who were “ghetto.” They were the loud, obnoxious “cool” crowd who thought they could get whatever they wanted through displays of blissful-like ignorance and prideful arrogance. This was the best classification for the people who treated me terribly.

Ironically, I gained more acceptance from people who didn’t look like me. I was considered unique, charming, different and someone that was good! They wanted exactly what I wanted, to be accepted and to accept others and treat them as the way they desired to be treated.

The Cause

I wouldn’t confront the issue of racism and prejudice and classism until a little after college. I was working for a major bank at the time and it was there I met an older black man.

We quickly became friends and he later would be a mentor. I thank God for placing him in my life. He actually paid attention to what I was saying and sharing about my life. He was genuinely interested in who I was as a person.

He asked about my love for cartoons and comics. He asked about my Faith in the Lord. He shared his relationship with God and Christ Jesus with me.

He actually cared about me and I was not judged.

Then, he encouraged me to consider the plight and the pain and the poor treatment of black Americans.

Yes, the black kids who did bully and talk about me throughout school, as my mentor and friend said, might have been kids who just didn’t understand. In fact, they might have been kids who have never been exposed to the things that I was exposed too…music, culture, art and the list could go on.

Because they’ve never seen someone like me before, I was a prime target for teasing and taunting.

But why did I not acknowledge those facts so quickly? What made me so reluctant about accepting that?

Because it felt like the bullies won if I chose to do so!

I didn’t want to be a perpetual loser of a war that was still going on inside of me. It felt like…since I couldn’t fight them on the playground of boyhood, I could win on the battleground of manhood.

Looking back, that was foolish. I would’ve merely destroyed myself.

I thought like that because I was hurting. I was angry.

I still struggled with self-esteem and self-confidence from those days. I struggled for a while to forgive and move on.

The Cure

A few years after college, a few issues had come up to the surface in my life that I knew couldn’t be ignored any longer.

I met a Christian counselor in Dallas, Texas to talk about my identity and to talk about the issues I dealt with. He was a black man who not only understood where I was coming from but also got to know my story just like my mentor and friend did.

As time went on, I got a better understanding about the condition of black America and the systemic racism and prejudice that placed us in less than decent conditions throughout multiple American institutions.

During the time I was praying and asking the Lord to walk me through this issue, to heal the broken places in my heart regarding the issue of race and identity. Mainly because I would find myself getting angry and frustrated with the obvious racism and prejudice that I observed. And yet, wanted to believe that there were surely other explanations to the moments that I saw unfold whether it was on TV or even in person.

The Lord said to me, “I couldn’t claim to love God and hate my brother.”

It was the beginning of conviction, but, it was also the beginning of healing. The Lord knew that a lot of unjust and cruel things were done to me and towards me. Jesus wanted access to that part of my heart, but, I also had a responsibility as a believer.

I had to want to change. I had to repent and never, ever return to that dark space in life.

Because of the change in my life,

I’ve also stopped telling people that bullies will someday get theirs. The truth is, though, they might not.

I wanted to believe that those who bullied were going to receive some kind of major punishment in life. They would get pay back for the things they did.

It was my own little piece of solace to remind me that somewhere, somehow, there was justice for me in my time of trouble and need.

But, I learned that my real victory over bullying came from Jesus…to live and love like Him regardless of what people say and think. The real victory in Christ over bullying and other issues took the place of what was originally my hope for the bullies and enemies in my life to get their punishment.

Victory in Christ removed the necessity for me to have vindication.

The Way I See It Now

It has been a long time since I believed and thought the way I used too. I am still in the growing and maturing process as it relates to my identity in Christ and as it relates to who I am as a person.

My Pastor preached on Romans 12:14-21, and verse 21 stuck out to me:

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

In some ways, I can see how someone can be driven to a kind of hatred that it leads them to believe they are either justified or threatened.

And yet, whether you are Christian or not, there’s still no excuse.

Once we release our just or unjustified hatred towards one another and learn to love one another even to the depths of our imperfections can we really experience true freedom.

As for me, I’ll take the road less traveled, the narrow way, the freedom and victory that is in Jesus. It is far better for me to do that than to try and protect my heart on my own. And if I am called to suffer, at least I know its real love that’s in place for me to do so…genuinely.