Do not let today's acquittal of #45 make you forget what has been made public of January 6th. When given the chance, he REFUSED to call off the thugs and miscreants attacking the Capitol. Remember that next year when these politicians are pining for your vote. Remember the officers attacked, bruised, battered and killed and even those who in the aftermath of it took their own life.
Remember, Blue Lives didn't matter that day. Remember, that no politician was safe, not even the Vice-President. The #2 politician in America was under attack by scoundrels of his own administration! Remember that, Patriots. Remember that when you clamor to openly wear the flag as a costume, headband, shades, shoes or even socks. Remember that when you put the flag on your car or post it on your porch.
Remember that when you take offense to other Americans who protests during the anthem. Remember that when you withdraw your support of sports teams and athletes who kneel during the anthem or express disdain with the treatment of other citizens in this country, namely black people. Remember that when you deflect and raise your Christian values, instead. There were plenty of "christians" storming the capitol to "stop the steal" and in the name of other agendas that day, as well.
Remember the Alamo, right? Well, in all your remembering, REMEMBER Eugene Goodman who diverted the bloodthirsty fools away from Congressmen, risking his own life in the process. Finally, remember the 57 spineless men and women who chose their own profit over the safety of themselves, their constituent, their colleagues and this country. These losses cannot be considered "collateral damage" and even if they are, that would have to mean that war was waged on January 6th.
If war was waged, against whom was it waged and who decided to wage war? There is no way to spin or forgive what happened on January 6th and Trump and every politician who obliged him must be held accountable, one way or another. Lastly, remember the despicable nature of #45 who would do it again if given the chance and remember that if he would burn the country down to build a new one in his name, he nor any of his co-conspirators deserve your vote.
Today begins a new election season and everyone who voted not to convict has served their last term! No ifs ands or buts about it...they won't hear us on everyday matters and are ok with domestic terrorism...we have reached the end of diplomacy with fools! One last thing to remember, 'We don't negotiate with terrorists!'
It's ok for Life to Imitate Art in 2021, Here's How:
In the Greenleaf series finale, I heard much more than an artificial sermon, and I want to share with you what I heard. I heard a message I just can’t seem to shake about “something new”, from Isaiah 43:18,19. When Lady Mae Greenleaf preached the final message of the OWN Series “Greenleaf”, I heard something that reached beyond the script and screen. I heard an admonition for people to plea with God for newness. This is also the precipice upon which we can build our case for requesting newness from God.
Considering the immense losses characterized by the pandemic, it’s a good time to receive newness from God. Almost nothing is the same as it was before last year. Why spend time trying to get back to what may never return? This is the perfect time to pray, “Lord, make me something new.” After surviving the first leg of a global pandemic, if not done already, we all need to ask the Lord for a clean heart. We made it through the worst of times, made worse by an epidemic of abject failure in the white house. For many of us, newness is the gift that remains unopened following the Christmas season.
If you’ve been living beneath your Kingdom privilege, ask for a new mind and heart to receive and process God’s plan for your life. If you’ve been away from the ark of safety, it’s a good time to ask for a new heart pointed to Christ. Maybe greed or other distractions have taken hold of your focus. It’s completely fine to ask for renewed focus.
Whatever you need, God is able and even willing to give. In fact, James tells us that all good and perfect gifts come from God (James 1:17). If you lack wisdom, he tells us to ask God who will graciously give it to us and doesn’t berate or tear us down for asking (James 1:5).
While the show is fictional and loosely based on the lives of a few preachers and their families (the writers kept viewers guessing on that), what “Lady Mae’s character preached in the series finale is very real. As this year closes, let’s close chapters on relationships that aren’t working to serve the best interest. Let’s pack up if needed and follow God’s leading to His place of provision for you. Let’s forge ahead and create new friendships and partnerships that will serve symbiotically and create synergistic wholeness. If 2020 has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that we need each other. Far more than that, we need the right people in our lives and need to make room for others to go and come as directed by destiny.
In the series finale, Bishop Greenleaf was dead, and Lady Mae had been given the reins of the church. If you watched the series, you know just how tumultuous Bishop Greenleaf’s tenure was. You know that it wasn’t without scandal, but you also know how hard he worked to try and serve the church, despite his flaws. Last year, many of our generals in the faith have transitioned leaving the ministries they founded and cultivated without a leader suddenly. In the prayer for the Lord to make us new, there’s also an onus that we must accept in being made someone new. Many of us will have to rise into a posture of leadership, some will find that they have run but not far enough to escape the call of God on their lives.
Many will find themselves in the strange land of servanthood, not knowing when the journey began or how they arrived. This is what 2021 will look like for many others. We are leaving behind so many beloved saints, loved ones and friends in 2020-the year none of us saw coming. It was the year of vision, not because of what we could see, but because of what we couldn’t. For this, the year of vision is now known as the year of clarity. Much of what we now see is clear to us and clearer than it has ever been.
Many marriages have failed, and forlorn lovers now gone their separate ways, never to return. Many have discovered that the jobs and corporations they poured their best selves into see them as expendable and not the irreplaceable asset they thought they were. Many churches have discovered that their building was merely an idol as membership engagement suffered when the ministry was idled by gathering limits of ten or fewer and the advent of weekly streaming for services of each size.
By 2021, we will see much more clearly than we did in January 2020 but what we see will require a newness not everyone has or will be ready for. While some have embraced the need for relationships, some have discovered that it was the people around them who held up their progress. They’ll in turn forge ahead alone and unafraid of the journey. They won’t resemble the person that entered 2020 unsuspecting of the tragedy, trials and triumphs the year brought. In all, it was the perfect setup for the year we are to soon face.
A Prayer for 2021
So Lord, make me something new! When I’ve been untrue, make me a truth bearer and not a tale bearer. When I’ve been unfaithful, make me as high fidelity as a Maxwell tape, because ain’t nothing like the real thing! When I’ve been afraid, make me bold like a lion! When I’ve been unsure, give me security in your Word! When I’ve been without, supply my need according to your riches in glory by Christ Jesus. When I’ve been distant, draw me close to you. When I’ve been distracted, give me clear focus, and clear my path. When I’ve been lost, be my compass.
When I’ve been angry, sooth my spirit and give me peace. When I’ve been lonely, comfort me with your presence. When I’ve been hasty, give me patience. When I’ve been haughty and lifted with pride, humble me under your mighty hand. When I’ve been sick, heal me! When I’ve been empty, fill me! When I’ve been in grief, turn my mourning into dancing. When I’ve been without a song, give me a melody for the midnight hour.
Make me something new, it’s my prayer for the new year. If it’s yours, comment below and let’s agree for newness in the new year, together!
You need friends (or people around you) who know you are…even if they don’t yet know who they are!
If you keep downplaying yourself, why be surprised if people start to believe you!
You must know that "The Wiz" is perhaps my favorite movie of all time. The music, the story, the actors and singers...it's a masterpiece of American cinema! Think about it, Michael Jackson wore a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup wrapper on his nose for the entire movie and no one has asked the producers, directors or writers why? What we do know is the song and dance to "You Can't Win"! The mystique of such a film is multi-generational as proven by NBC's live production of the stage play turned feature film. Now, a new generation of kids and adults aren't only singing its praises, they're singing the songs immortalized by inimitable performances. This is where I draw my inspiration today, "The Wiz". I know that the film is an adaptation of Frank L. Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", but this film speaks my language, if you get my drift.
In school, we had to read the original and each year at Thanksgiving, it was plastered on television on each major network. Once I played drums in a local production of the stage play, I was done with the original. (Cool story, we had the actual song books from Broadway but that was long before social media and I didn't own a camera to take a picture of the cover). When I finally saw the movie years later, I was captivated and the more I watch it, I learn something new. In my opinion, Stephanie Mills was perfect as Dorothy and I was dismissive of Diana Ross and her baby fro but she gave a stellar performance in the film! She, really did...they were all amazing! This film was a tour de force and I LOVE IT. That's why I want to talk to you today about the latest lesson I've mined from the richness of "The Wiz"
...you ain't ever been south of 125th street...!
The archetypal messaging of both "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and "The Wiz" is that what they sought to gain from the Wizard was already to in them and that by the time the met the Wizard, the taught him the same lesson. Dorothy was quite comfortable leading the way to Oz, even though in the comfort of her everyday life, she hadn't traveled south of 125th street. Comfort can create a prison of its own, but the road to Oz wasn't a yellow brick road, not a crystal stair! Those cabs...they were off duty but caused them to find their own direction to new friends or the next challenge. They "eased on down" one of the most difficult roads they'd ever have to face, the road to facing themselves! On the yellow brick road and with each stop, they weighed their truth about themselves with reality? Did the scarecrow need a brain? How? He read the newspaper, everyday and regularly quoted poets and thespians. Did the tin man need a heart? Maybe to replace the one broken when Teenie left him, but he could definitely feel long before he used those tears to revive the lion who had no problem defending the group in the subway scene.
Easing on down the road replete with life lessons, pitfalls and challenges ultimately proved that they didn’t need the Wiz as much as he needed them. Can you imagine how far each of them would have already been had they not been lost in despair and self-doubt? Before you try to imagine that, let's appreciate how life works; the people you meet are on their own journey but it's our journey together that gives us the strength to fulfill our life's destiny.
Everything was gonna be better when they got to Oz, they thought. What they didn't realize is that it was better before they ever made it there. Sometimes, the reward isn't in what you gain at the end, it's in the journey to get to it. They allowed nothing to stop them, Dorothy of course just wanted to get home and in truth, she was just being generous allowing the others to tag along.
It wasn't for naught because, as they all joined the group, they immediately contributed to the collective journey the very thing they claimed to lack! Isn't that interesting that the scarecrow immediately had the brilliant idea to just ease on down the road after being rescued by Dorothy? You know why? In the brilliance of the writing, we see a life principle played out. We don't or won't realize our own greatness until its pointed out. To prove this point, let's look at the lion. He was fraudulent and foolhardy, hiding a deep dark secret of an existential crisis. He was just too 'mean' (afraid) to do anything about it.
Fraudulent and Foolhardy...
Lions represent strength and have maintained for centuries the moniker “king of the jungle”, though strangely enough, tigers quite often have their way in vicious battles with lions. I digress...the lion in the Wiz had been banished because he was IOBK...incapable of being King. They met him disguised as a cement lion on the stoop but he quickly burst out of his "shell" to attack the friends before being "attacked" by Toto. The lion risked hurting those sent to help him, sound familiar? Hurt people, hurt people. Good thing, they were already on a voyage bigger than themselves, otherwise they could've douse that kitty with some water and left him out to dry! After settling the score and discovering that he wasn't quite the mean ol' lion he purported to be, he confessed that he wasn't on the prowl at all, he was just a plain ol' harmless pussycat!
The friends brought him along on the journey and it wasn’t soon after that he had to flex his inner strength outwardly to save the day. The next scene is pivotal because, though the lion failed to resist the poppies and had to be rescued by the tin man and scarecrow (who used his otherwise nonexistent brain to find a solution), the friends looked past his affliction as a failure and instead affirmed him as a lion (complete with a song and waltz)!
It's so easy to succumb to defeat when we suffer setbacks after taking destiny steps forward and it's easy to feel as if the clutches of the failed past are inescapable. The friends weren't having it, though! After some melodic encouragement in one of the biggest (Broadway-esque) songs of the film, it was the lion's turn to make a declaration and in it he said, “I’m standing strong and tall...” His friends weren’t done encouraging him because Dorothy said, “You’re the bravest of them all!” which had been questionable before the journey to Oz. Remember what I said earlier, get some friends (or people around you) who know you are (even if they don't know who they are!
What's in a name...?
"If on courage you must call, keep on trying and trying and trying I'm a lion, in my own way...I'm a lion! This is one of my favorite songs from the movie and I love how it ends with the refrain, “I’m a lion!” There is no force stronger than self-awareness! Over the course of our lives, many of us have answered to names we didn't choose and are marked by circumstances we can't seem to escape! Get a sharpie, we're about to change your name! The road to the name change wasn't easy and when it got hardest, the lion had some friends at his side who spoke the fragility of a hurt kitty and restored the roar of the lion! By the way, the lion's name was Fleetwood Coupe de Ville...his mother had high ideals! What about when we aren't quite living up to the name we've been given? There's a journey for that, too!
Why in the world am I talking to you about the Wiz today? Well, some of us "lions" and leaders languishing in our own life of papier-mâché prisons!! Our potential has been seized and we too are living a life of indefinite banishment! That ends, today. I’m encouraging you to in your own way, be a lion! Let your roar resonate not with potential, or even possibility, but with power! You have downplayed yourself so long that it’s no surprise that people now believe you! Break out from behind the bars of banishment and rule like you’re meant to!
In your industry, on the job, in your home, in your business and most importantly your purpose! Roar forth and let the sounding of it resonate near and far with the confession, I’m a lion!
Today as I went over a draft for an upcoming interview, I realized that I said something that deserves a bit of redress. In the interview, I confessed that you can quit, but I couldn't shake the discomfort I felt after I sent in the revision. We CAN quit, but we weren't called to quit! The reason? I've dealt with it here and I'll share it again...I can't quit because I didn't start it!
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
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As a person who regularly asks questions, I know that many of the "softball" answers are already floating around so I try to dig deeper into the story being presented. If I'm interviewing a person on a press tour, I try to avoid asking the same question. This not only makes the interview unique, it adds depth to the experience for myself and the person I'm interviewing. This depth isn't always easily achieved however. Depth is predicated upon location, time constraints candor and a respectable level of transparency. Occasionally, I get a list of questions and topics that are off limits that I must do my best to avoid at all costs. That recent divorce? NO. "That video"? Don't even think about it. Wardrobe malfunctions can sometimes be ice breakers if you can extract some level of comedy from the moment, otherwise act as if it never happened. TMZ (the outlet that broke the news about the helicopter crash) has become infamous for reporting "news" you don't want the public to know, including in the moment death announcements. Though infamous for it, TMZ and its brand of reporting has earned a respected place in journalism that seldom others can co-opt-no matter how hard they try.
Because many of the artists I've interviewed often have their manager on the phone (who patches them into the call with radio hosts, etc) the threat of calls being interrupted or ended at their discretion looms heavily. In person interviews are no different. The manager or publicist could step in and end the interview when off limit topics are broached in the interview. Talent is quite often coached up to handle the "gotcha" topics being inserted into the interview and can handle them but publicists lay out clear cut guidelines for the interview before hand.
As journalists, we have a power few others have. We can get people to open up and share what they may have never been comfortable sharing with anyone else. and, Our reporting as a healing salve can help bring closure to painful situations that affecting people everywhere.We have the privilege of being the first to know and the last to leave scenes and situations that become the news we report. Our stories can bring joy, inspire hope, shed light, lift spirits and sometimes even cause pain. Along with this unparalleled power comes the responsibility of being objective. Over the years, objectivity has given way to bias. Bias is blinding and even when profitable, fails the audience we wish to serve. Many of these stories will tell themselves, if we allow them. Along with this power and responsibility comes the dichotomy of being the "bad guy" that starts or in this case ends a conversation.
Gayle King finally got around to asking whether or not it was fair to even ask about it considering the fact that Kobe is now dead. If anything good came from that exchange, Lisa Leslie's response is the ultimate good. While the internet has been filled with emotional responses to the interview, I must say that the timing of the line of questioning is poor. The bodies of Kobe and Gianna were released to the family on this week and no plans for a memorial had been publicized when this interview went to press. Emotions are still very raw and to invoke any ill will or to speak evil of any of the nine who lost their lives in that helicopter crash goes against any journalistic integrity.
Watch More of the Gayle King and Lisa Leslie Interview
(the segment in question begins at the 3:10 mark)
Not off-limits, but off the record
So what creates the quandary about Gayle King bringing up the rape case? It's not uncommon for a journalist to become the "bad guy" in hopes of a desired outcome. What good comes from this interview? Hopefully, finality. I believe that by asking one of Kobe Bryant's closest friends and hearing them speak finitely about it and with finality, we have an end to the conversation surrounding the rape accusation. Lisa Leslie's response was heard around the world, finitely! How anyone could even attempt to dredge it up after this interview shows a lack of decency, character and a disdain for truth.
For a while, I wondered if I'd answered correctly. Maybe there is a way to identify your life's purpose without asking God. What about people who don't believe in God...their lives have purpose too, right? Sure does and the bible tells us that God yet has a purpose for them-even as an unbeliever (2 Peter 3:9) But..there was one answer that proved elusive for me. "What did I leave out?" I continued to ask myself, but today the answer perfectly came to me!
As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I must say that a person in pursuit of their life's purpose will find either purpose or the trail to discovering purpose in their service to others! When we seek the reason we exist, part of the answer is discovering in asking yourself the question, "how can I serve humanity?" Jesus gave us part of this when He said that all 10 of the commandments from God were summed in two commandments:
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:35-40
January was a month of time...time to get things right!
The government shutdown spilled over into the new year, and once the shutdown ended there was still time in January!!! Did your shutdown end in January? Even if it did, shake it off and get into the game! February is here, January is (finally) gone and we are moving ahead! Got it? We won't sit on the sidelines watching the calendar flip, we're going to get up, get busy and get to it!
This morning it happened, I cracked open O.S. Hawkins' "VIP". I'm only into the first section of the book, but with it I made a realization. December 2018 was a month where I let it all hang out! The good, bad and ugly! I closed emotional chapters unapologetically and sought out what was best for me. I also made the decision to become my best self, also unapologetically. I decided that I will do a better job staying in touch but will also let some connections end, as they must.
In December for possibly the first time in my life, I asked: "what about what I think?" What about what I bring to the table?" And, "what about what I want?"
For years, living the life of a believer I tried to do my best at not pleasing everyone but accommodating everyone. I haven't done it successfully, just ask my wife. She's the marker by which I judge the aspiration to be accommodating. I have failed miserably in that area and can finally see myself doing better.
Still, I've gone years making room for everyone else-as most of us do. It felt selfish to finally ask myself what I wanted and put it first for a change. My latest rant was one where I communicated like a grown man was a bit uncomfortable because of the situation. It was a hard conversation but I had to speak up and own what I felt. It felt good, though not reassuring.
The Lord has quite a way of keeping us in check, though! Putting yourself first can be healthy, but as most of us know through history, it is almost always destructive. So here I find myself on the third day of a new year...reading about not my own importance, but my influence!
Did you see the piano falling over on me, like I did?!? God also has a sense of humor! To me, this read is not about how to assert my importance, but how instead leverage my influence! Oh yes, that mirror on the wall isn't telling me how beautiful I am, it's appraising my true obedience to God!
You will never be as important as you think you are if you're never able to influence anyone! I've perused Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" in search of various leadership methods and to enrich everyday engagement. Hawkins' book however has stung me in the worst way! As a writer, influence is my currency. Much of what I write is from the perspective of influencing people to do what I wrote about (watch a show, listen to a song, purchase a product), or to shape an opinion based on my influence on the reader.
Many of us seek to become influencers. Whether it's achieved is up to you and God! Hawkins shares in his book that God has given all of us something by which we'll achieve or increase our influence (2 Corinthians 10:13.15), it's our job to see to it that we do it! Guess what else I found out...that's what's important to God!
FRUIT! If you want people to eat from your table, you have to extend the invitation. What is the invitation? Is it you proclaiming your importance? NO! I've noticed that people want to see an unseen invitation before they ever acknowledge any level of "importance", perceived or otherwise. Our life speaks, our work speaks and so do our results! Many times, if people have to ask what you do, you're not as important as you think you are! Also, if you're the most "important" person in the room, you need to get out more! If you are regularly in "the room" and are seldom taking notes (written or recorded), you need some new rooms! For most of us, our importance will be derived from our our presence in the room- the fact that we're in the room and influence on those on the outside. The other side of the coin is: SERVICE. Fruit and service...we all want to feel wanted and even needed. I get that. But here's the deal: Your service to the world, should be just that, but it should also be appealing, appetizing even. The fruit of your service will ultimately yield not the importance you desire, but the influence you have been entrusted.
Well, it was fun feeling important! It was fun watching the phone ring and send the calls to voicemail...but back to work I go! Not back to doing what I was doing, but to work doing no, proving the "good and acceptable, and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2) in my life. In this way, through my newfound influence, I can provoke others to good works (Hebrews 10:24)!
Yep, I Said It!
When I have something to say, I often say it. Many times, I try to find the best way to say it. Other times, there's just no easy way to say a hard thing. My journey in life has made me a person with much to say and the person people least want to hear it from.
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, did it make a sound? Whatever you'd call what I say: "a tree falling in the forest", "the voice of one crying out in the wilderness", "uneducated noise" or whatever...I'm ready to step to the mic. Hear me as I roar (as gently as possible! LOL)
2018 National Football Championship
Alabama Crimson Tide
Cabin In The Woods
Coach Nick Saban
New Year New Me
Play To Win
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The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz