Wednesday, October 3, 2018

When Rumors become Reality

Random actions often have consequential impact. Whether by design of the universe or by the unseen hand of God, the things we often do with the least amount of forethought end up having some of the most lasting impacts on our life. Such was the case for me on Sep 21, 2018. On that day during a break at work I randomly typed a name into a google search. That random act completely tore me apart that day and even two weeks later I still am walking about in a state of suspended animation.

On that day, I typed my father name into Google. Due to my job and a position I hold with the AAU, I was planning a trip to head to our annual convention to be held in his city in just a few weeks. I was planning to go see him, catch up on times since we had last spoken. Having read an article earlier in the year about him being missing for a short time, I was concerned for his health. Knowing I would be heading that way shortly had given me a sense of peace that I would be able to check on him without disrupting my work schedule more than had already been planned. But it was not to be. For when the search results came back, all I could see were numerous obituary posts about my father. Immediately a sense of sadness came over me not only at his passing but at the missed moment. But it was when I clicked on the many obituaries that were posted my life once again went into a sickening tailspin that initiated from a lie told by some and covered up by many for 54 years. For my father had been dead for about one month, having passed Aug 22, 2018. Here it was a month later and no one reached out to me to let me know. Not his other children, not his brother as I was always told knew the whole story and would contact me if anything happened, not his former church secretary that hid numerous letters written to the church in the years after he relocated telling them about me in order to protect him and the new church he was then serving, not even the friends I met in life's journey that knew him and I and were aware of the situation thru other people way before they ever met me. No one.

The crushing weight of being rejected once again not only in life but in death was too much for me to handle. As much as I tried to hold it together at work, I could not, sobbing uncontrollably on the bathroom floor. This hurt worse than every fight I got into over him, every profanity laced tirade against my mother about him. Having no father physically present while growing up in communities where the father was present in the majority of homes was a demoralizing thing to deal with as a child. No father to teach me how to be a man. No father to discipline me when I got out of line. No father to take me to my baseball, football, soccer games, wrestling practices or gymnastics meets. Yet that was all his choice in order to save his career.

From the earliest time I had a phone number memorized that I was to call in case of emergency. It was my one lifeline to him. A voice on the other end to answer my questions. I still have the number memorized to this day. This was in a time before cell phones, pagers and apps that let you have a different number to give people than your real number. So if I called that number I would reach him, directly. I rarely used it when I was young for I had the fear of God driven into me that if I ever revealed who my father was, I would ruin his life, my mother's life, and tear the community and churches apart. Whenever I did use it I felt guilty and waited for the wrath of God to fall on me for dare calling my father. I eventually moved away from the community when I was 15 and went to stay with relatives down south because I could not put up with the hypocrisy nor the abuse I received from my mother for literally beating me for him not choosing her.  She didn't want me, tried to give me away and only had me to try to catch him after being in some type of relationship with him for close to 15 years. I couldn't deal with it anymore and left the church for several years over it. Little did I know that would in some minds further the story that I was not really his child because my mother had left town to have me and now I was moving away to the same state, although a different city. Another random action.

As an adult, I reached out to him a few times. He always responded and never once told me no to any of my requests. When my mother died in 1992 I called him to let him know. He sent me money to aid in her burial. When I was dealing with my first true experience with church hurt during my first pastorate in 1994 with no one else to turn to, I drove all the way from Virginia to his city (pre GPS days) with the determination that he would own up to me that day and help me, or come Sunday I would share copies of every love letter he had written my mother with the entire congregation. Him not knowing my plans when he met me owned up to me and the tempest within me was calmed.

In 2002 I finally had enough of the lies. I was being called a liar by my church for not saying who my father was like he was a common criminal. Because I claim New Jersey as my home - even though I was born in Virginia a month premature during a trip my mother made to see some friends before I was to be born, I was a liar.Why couldn't I tell them who he was if I wasn't ashamed of him or was there something in his past that would of caused them not to call me? I wrote my dad and literally called him on the carpet for abandoning me. That I had had a colossal error in judgement and had a child out of wedlock myself yet I didn't hide her from the church. In retrospect it was kinda funny to see the son wrestle scriptural points and positions with his father who was a biblical college professor. But back down I would not. I offered him right then an opportunity to have a DNA test I would pay for if he had any doubts. For now as an adult I had began to hear the doubts over whether I was his or not based on the temperament of my mother. That just because I looked like him didn't mean I was his. I had run into enough people who lived in his city as well as where I had grown up and it reduced me to being a little kid all over again if asked anything about my father. He refused the test and wholeheartedly said he was my father. He actually got real mad at me for saying it but what he didn't know is I was talking to people that knew his wife's family that told a whole different story than what I heard growing up - that my mother was pinning me on him when I wasn't his. He explained the situation in ways that filled in some gaps but made it clear his number one priority was saving his career when she rejected his offer of support and care. Which I corroborated with the letters from him that she had kept up until her death. While I didn't agree with the reasoning I understood as it is commonplace occurrence in the ministry. In 2004 he finally met two of his grandchildren for the first time face to face when he came and preached for me in North Carolina.

At no time did he ever reject me to me. Never. I have no doubt that he loved me but he could not and did not show it because of what he felt it would ultimately cost him. A reputation, a career, the adoration of the other children, and who knows what else. After all to tell a lie for 54 years and keep it going is kind of an incredible thing. But what he did do was not reveal or deny me to anyone else. So while protecting himself he left me exposed to deal with all of the hurt and pain. Imagine the pain to listen to a tribute radio show about him and they gush about all his children being there and what a man he was and I wasn't there. Knowing the brothers and sister all also in ministry and not a word from one of them. Not acknowledged. Not known. Rejected again. Is it because he never told them? Or is it because that he told them and they can't process the fact that the rumor is a reality? Or is it the whole "we'll understand it better by and by" mindset and move on with your life? When I needed him as a child he was never there. Only once did I physically see him and talk with him while in counseling over him during Middle School. In a small room closed to the eyes of the world protected by confidentially I finally laid my eyes on the one who I was always told I was his twin. It would be close to 40 years later (sound familiar) when I saw him again.

I never got what I needed from him as a child. That was forgiven. All I needed from him as an adult was acknowledgment not acceptance. As a man. As being a part of him, even if unplanned or uncomfortable. That was all I sought. From him. From them. For me, and my children who never got to really know their grandfather. Never gave him a cute nickname. Never posed for pictures with him. Never had him as the giant of the faith as he was speak into their life. The spiritual implications are staggering.

Eventually I will write a book on this. There is so much more to tell and so much more to teach. Too many of us deal with this on so many levels. My little bit of sharing my story has revealed much of the same pain in the pulpit of churches across this land as preachers have been abandoned by their fathers in order to save themselves, yet speak of it in glowing spiritual terms. Some even take credit for the child's accomplishments even though they did not contribute anything more than the dna.

I am finally free to share this with the world.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Not Cliff, but Bill.

"Cliff Huxtable" is not in prison. Bill Cosby is. We knew and loved Cliff. We did not know Bill. Cliff still speaks to us. Bill has lost his voice due to his own life choices. Long before the physical blindness Bill suffered from another blindness that left him unable to truly "see." As a result he made the damnable choices that has him locked away. Horrid choices for which there is no excuse.

I feel no sorrow for Bill. But I didn't know him. I knew Cliff. I knew Fat Albert. We knew Cliff. We knew Fat Albert. Fat Albert and Cliff are still loved, admired, and revered. Fat Albert taught us that being in a crew or gang didn't have to be about being in fights, protecting territory, selling drugs. Fat Albert taught us it was ok to include people in your crew that were different from you. Fat Albert taught us to be kind to people and to stay in school. Cliff encouraged kids to go to school and particularly to support HBCU's. Cliff was the funny man with a strong hand and loving heart that would be welcome in any home and at any family reunion. Yes Cliff was a character played by a fully flawed actor in a role that spoke to millions across racial and economic lines. But as many as who called him "America's Dad" there were those mad that a black man was bequeathed that moniker.

Perhaps what we should be sad about. Characters, athletes, get so much of our love and adoration not because of their popularity or truths spoken but because we can't believe in those close to us. As a result we trust those that play those roles. We like to admire what we know is fake surpressing that fact because the real we know leaves us disappointed and crushed every time.
Beware when your idols are make believe. #themoreyouknow

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Day Truth Died

No one knows the exact time of death for there was no one attending to its care. Sure, the signs and symptoms of its demise were painfully evident yet they where still ignored by those who claimed to be its guardians. Perhaps it has had a long life and we should let it rest in peace buried with other noble ideals of the past such as humility, sacrifice, compassion, and love. After all it's attack and death was predicted eons ago and it has finally been fulfilled. From the first challenge in the garden till this moment truth has been under attack.  Angels assaulted it. Pilate questioned it. Man buried it. Philosophers pondered it. Scientists searched for it. Mathematicians sought formulas for it. Not always to follow it mind you but to undermine it, challenge it, subvert it,ignore it, color it, change it, make it not exist and finally see its final resting place in the grave of time.

There was a time when the church held to truth above all. Differences in dogma aside, the universal truth shone brightly through. Different denominations served different takes on the same meal. But money and sin have long changed the taught truths of every religion into a lie, and replaced the traditions of men over the eternal truths. Holy texts are now regularly updated with new and improved revisions which conveniently remove the truths we don't want to hear. Modern cultural centered revelation supersedes time proven historical interpretation. Those who hold to ancient texts are labeled fanatical fuddie duddies out of touch with modern society and shunned to have no right to speak or lead unless they change the truths of their God and religion into a lie easily accepted by the masses.

The courts were once bastions of the truth. Where the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth was to be uttered and accepted. The scales of Lady Liberty always balanced and fair we were told. Alas money and power have assaulted the truth there as well, No longer truth remains Supreme through the hallowed halls of Justice but only what one can prove. If one has enough money they can prove the damnedest lie to be a truth. If one has enough money any conviction or punishment reduced or dropped altogether. If one has no money any lie can stand against them. If one has power and position to offer, truth can be lost for years in an evidence locker, or in the trunk of a retired officials basement. The number of innocents convicted are at an all time high yet some still say it takes a few broken eggs to make an omelette.

The family was the safe place for the truth. Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle Cousin, Niece, Nephew, Cousin, sons and daughter could learn right from wrong. After all they are the first teachers to show the way to know the truth of this world. Until they step out of the house and are immediately told to forget what they have been told or they will not pass a test. Forget what you have been told for we know better than your family. Forget what you have told...take this drink, smoke these drugs, do these things...it's ok...we know better than they!

Make no mistake that truth has died. It no longer matters what our eyes see, because you didn't see it right. No matter what you heard it had to be taken out of context. No matter what you feel if the polls don't support it, well you are just wrong and delusional my friend. Opinions - often paid for by extreme political dollars have now replaced truth as the order of the day. No absolute is allowed to exist under its withering assault of which there are fifty shades of right are only allowed. We agree to disagree which being loosely translated still says there is no truth by my truth.

Social media has allowed us to share the irrelevant in order to become relevant. Likes and shares are more sought after than truth. Popularity increases the opinionated "it must be true" factor. Now it is what they can sell to us that masquerades as truth. This is why they take sayings and attach them to pictures of the rich and famous as if they said them. Don't believe the words on its own merit but believe the person because you like then and then by association you must believe the words.

Then they blame us. For being gullible. For buying the garbage they sell us as truth. No responsibility for their own actions, they just gave us "what we wanted." For a price and biy what a price that was.

Truth has died. Coded. Flatlined.  I don't know the exact day. I don't know the exact time. But it died. It died of neglect. Lack of care. An unwillingness as its caretakers to stand in support of it. We all are guilty of its death.

The good news is that we all can take part in its resurrection! Any seed that is buried has the opportunity to grow. These may be truths written of old yet they still ring true as the truth! The prophet Zechariah wrote "These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:"  The Apostle Paul declared Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Speak truth. Listen with heart, mind and soul. Listen to learn and appreciate another's experience not defend yours. Learn to love differences. If we can bring back truth, we can bring back those other crucial items buried in the grave of time - compassion, love, humility, sacrifice. 

Shhh!

A seed grows with no sound but a tree falls with huge noise. Destruction has noise, creation is quiet. This is the power of silence. Yet we have become uncomfortable with silence. There always has to be some noise, some other sign of movement or activity for many of us in order to even function. How many times have you heard “it’s too quiet in here” or “turn on the radio or tv for some noise?”
As I sit writing this now I am completely removed from any other noise in my house other than my own heartbeat, my breathing, and the sounds of my fingers as they strike the keys of my laptop. Headphones mute the other random outside noises to an absolute minimum. I am alone with my thoughts. In such silence I am able to create and construct, define and discern, legitimize and lay aside, set goals and grow.
In silence you are able to clearly hear what is being spoken by the unseen architect of the universe. Be it through the beauty of nature, the seeming random movements of animals, the observed interactions of others
Noise distracts. It keeps you from hearing clearly, from conceiving boldly, and from positioning yourself properly for growth. It matters not if the noise is audial, spiritual, mental, or emotional. It’s sole purpose is to keep you from hearing, conviceving, positioning and growing.
If you want to hear clearly, conceive great things, properly position yourself with purposeful intent and grow into fullness, learn how to be quiet and sit in silence.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

We Must Repent

As a country we have removed morality, ethics, conscience, faith, and religion as ruling guiding forces for our country. We have literally made our selves "gods" able to discern what is good and evil in our own eyes. We alone dictate what is right. No one else can determine this for us and woe be unto them if they try.
Yet whenever tragedy occurs - be it via nature or man made -
we cry out for the very same things we demanded not be in place in our country. We invoke the name of God that we have shunned a long time ago as out of touch and irrelevant for modern man. We call for a return to standards of morality, ethics, and conscience that we demanded we wanted to be free from.
What we did not see and refused to admit is that the things we crave most - love, compassion, respect for our fellow man, fear of consequences of doing wrong things were ALL ROOTED in the same things we summarily dismissed from our country. This mess is our own making. Until we as a country OWN that, we will stay stuck in this mess.
Instead we have replaced morality, ethics, conscience, faith and religion with politics, money, laws, and the power of the press as the our guiding principles. These are our governing forces in this country. These are the tenets of our new modern day religious order. Never seeing that each one corrupts the other. Each one can be and often is bought. That manipulation of the masses starts with the removal of the things we removed and is complete with the ownership of politics, money, laws, and the press.These have conspired together in an unholy alliance to silence the one place where the light of truth should always shine bright - the church; God's church. Now we have philosophers, self help gurus and life coaches masquerading as prophets, preachers, and pastors. All adding to the continued downfall of this country.
This is not by coincidence or accident. This is a concerted effort. This battle is not one of flesh and blood, but of principalities and powers. Against the rulers of the darkness. Against spiritual wickedness in high places. We have removed God from His throne and installed Dagon, Baal and ourselves as god.
Yet like Dagon of biblical days they have no arms to save, no eyes to see, no ability to save. We cry unto Baal yet there is no response. It is my personal belief that our Dagon must fall. The prophets of Baal can cry all day and night and there will still be no response. For Baal can not save us either. Until we repent AS A COUNTRY we will be stuck.
To repent is not to apologize. To repent is not to say oops. To repent is not to say my bad. To repent is not to say you caught me. To repent is not to lawyer up and plea bargain your case to a more favorable verdict. It is godly sorrow for sin. It is seeing sin not as we see it but as God sees it. It is seeing that it breaks the heart of a loving Father to have disobedient children, knowing they must be disciplined yet hating to do so because of His love for us. It is seeing the horror of what we have done not just as individuals but as a nation. To repent is to ask forgiveness from God. Knowing we deserve the full punishment for our sins, yet pleading the blood of Jesus Christ as the only atonement for our sins. To seek Him to wash the stink of the wretchedness as far as the east is from the west. To repent is to turn away from those things that were an affront to God. Not as a process, not in time, not after you can pass legislation or get your ducks in order, but immediately. To repent is to make peace with your fellow man and if you have wronged him, to make proper restitution. It is not up to the other to accept but it is up to you to offer. To repent is to walk in the newness of the light and love of God, determined to live for Him.
If my people which are called by name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways THEN will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. We must hold up our part before we can rightly expect God to hold up His. That is not optional.

Friday, July 7, 2017

This burden

"The burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander."
How many names are not called out because of little to no media attention? How many have been kept out the limelight, swept under the rug and ignored? How many have been shamed and shunned into silence by the same forces that committed the evil upon them in the first place? How many told that no one will believe them? Told you can't win in the courts, or in public opinion so you may as well give up and go on about your business?
How many more names will be added to this list in our generation? When in our lifetime will we all admit that there is a problem here? That being black in America has never meant free, no matter what we were taught in schools or what ideals we like to proclaim that we have? That no matter our status, social standing, degrees of learning, economic status, political affiliation we are still subject to a level of inequality and distress not visited upon those absent of melanin. That no matter if we are quiet or defend ourselves; if we are calm and rational or agitated and irrational we are seen as a threat first by the majority of people in this country. Especially those that do not look like us. As a result we are dealt with as a threat first. Only when the threat has been "minimized, and neutralized" in their minds by those in power, are we ever given a chance to prove somehow that we are worthy of being treated fairly, justly, and with respect to our human condition.
The time for silence is over. We must speak the truth to those in power. Our voices must be heard. We must no longer duck our heads, fade into the background of the day so as not to make those around us uncomfortable with the realities of the day. Divide and conquer has always been used against us to keep us on the sidelines so as not to appear too radical or out of touch with the "american dream." "You are not like them" is not now nor ever been a complement. It is a war strategy, designed to weaken our unity. It is to divide us against ourselves, to set one group against another, to pit the house against the field, to give illusion that one group is better than when in reality we are all regardless of position or social standing despised the same by those that harbor hatred, evil, and blood lust in their souls.
Light is the best antiseptic. We must cast light on the evils of the day until a change happens. if not us, who? If not now, when? Use your voice to cry loud and spare not. Use your song! Sing till the angels come to inquire about the state of men and the ancestors of past struggles bones come together bone to bone with those who struggle now. Use your pen! Write poetry, spoken word, essays, blogs, letters and posts with clarity of convictions yet with compassion towards those that are merely caught up in the riptide of evil having no ill intent towards any one. Use your mind! Think deeper than the surface and media manipulation to know that the truth like great riches is often hidden from the lazy. Shine the light bright! Where there is political injustice, speak! Social injustice, speak! Racial injustice, speak! Miscarriages of justice, speak! Don't wait for change, work for it and be it!
Speak life!
"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Beware

Beware of vultures. Vultures feed off the dead things in your life. The dead things in your life give them strength to live. Without the dead things they go and search elsewhere. The issue is not that you don't recognize that thing as dead, but that you have left it open and available to feed off of. The best way to get rid of the vultures in your life is to bury your dead things in an unmarked grave.