Correlation between emotional health and violence?

These are the types of headlines that I see regularly that bother me…

Man Shot in Detroit Over Air Jordans

http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/man-shot-in-detroit-over-air-jordan-shoes/32469016

Image result for air jordans

It’s a sad moment when someone’s life is worth less than a pair of crappy sneakers.

These shoes cost approximately $15 bucks to make in China, and are sold over here from $150 on up. It is ridiculous. What is even dumber is that a new pair is guaranteed to come out eventually, making these current pairs obsolete, so just like with any other fad, eventually this one will run its course and then people will be back in Foot Locker again wasting their hard-earned money.

If people honestly have the money to waste on these sneakers, that is their business, absolutely. But when the need for shoes gets so desperate as where people are forgoing bill payments or other financial responsibilities or killing over them, there is a huge problem.

How many people truly value life?

Again… I often comment on Black men in particular. Why? Because those are the men that I know personally and intimately. My father is a Black man. His father was a Black man. My husband is mixed, but in most instances I am sure we know that he is identified as a Black man. My son will one day be a Black man, God willing. I have numerous Black uncles, cousins, etc. I have seen their struggles and victories.

My three favorite guys

My three favorite guys

There are a couple of things I have come to infer about the psychology of Black men… and please, I am not saying this does not apply to ALL men. I just don’t know. I know what I have been around. And what I have seen is the emotional intelligence and mental well-being of Black men being destroyed by the image of Black men being tough.

What exactly is being tough? Does it differ from one person or group to the next? Some people may think of being tough in terms of physical brawn. In the case of Black men, they have had to be tough all throughout our history here in America leading up until today. They were expected to stand strong and work hard throughout slavery, even as their families were pulled apart and they suffered vicious beatings. After slavery they attempted to provide for their families despite discrimination and poverty and an unstable and probably scary environment where they could be lynched due to any perceived slight (Emmitt Till, anyone?). They are not expected to show any emotion, except one…

Anger.

Out of all of the little Black boys I have grown up around, it is rare to see them cry even if they are deeply hurt. Why? As soon as a tear forms in their eye they face the possibility of being called soft. They are informed at a young age how harsh society is, either directly by family members or indirectly by being labeled and mistreated at school. They are expected to put up with hurt and injustice and do so while showing no emotion.

But, anger and aggression is acceptable, even applauded on occasions…sports, for example?

Image result for basketball fight nba

Image result for basketball fight nba

Image result for american football fights between players

What image jumps to the minds of some when they hear the words “Black man”? What image comes to the forefront of their minds?

Is it this?
Image result for black thug

Or maybe this?

Image result for black rappers

How about this one?

Image result for nba players

How often does these images jump to one’s mind, generally, when someone tells you to “picture a Black man”?

Image result for black businessman

Image result for ben carson

Image result for black family man

Image result for black man teacher

I won’t ask anyone for a response…

Now, am I saying that Black men have an excuse to be violent? Nope. But I do think that the tough factor that is ingrained in them from infancy coupled with general societal labels of them and what they can accomplish are harmful.

Human emotions run the gamut daily. On any given day, one can feel happy, sad, frustrated, bored, angry, complacent. How might one turn out if they were never equipped to deal with all of them? How would someone develop normally if they were never given the tools to appropriately deal with their emotions, particularly if said individuals are close to or at the bottom of the societal totem pole? There has been some research into emotional intelligence and I am no expert but in my always humble opinion, perhaps we as a society, and in particular Black society, where we also tend to stay away from people who might help us such as psychologists and counselors, ought to be less concerned with our boys being tough and more concerned with their development of a healthy emotional IQ. We need to stop inadvertently teaching our boys that the only emotion they can acknowledge is their anger. If that’s the only one we tell them is okay, doesn’t it make sense that they might overdo it?

Ermer, Kahn, Salovey and Kiehl (2012) published a paper regarding emotional intelligence that correlates the lack of emotional intelligence, or EI, with psychopathic tendencies and emphasizes the importance in both communicating our own emotional states and understanding others. I am sure we can all attest to the fact that our emotional states are reflected in our attitude and how we express ourselves–even if I am not interested in explaining to someone why I am sad, undoubtedly something in my face or how I carry myself reflects that I am sad or unwell (I know this to be a fact. People who know me well can tell when I am disturbed whether I admit to it or not, and I am sure you all have similar experiences). So I assume it is safe to say that if one is angry, it will carry over into their thoughts and behaviors.

Ermer et al (2012, p.1), quoting Mayer & Salovey, 1997; Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2004; and Salovey & Mayer, 1990, define emotional intelligence as “the ability to perceive, manage, and reason about emotions, in oneself and others, and to use this information adaptively”. Higher EI is associated with overall better outcomes in the areas of social relationships, stress management and even a decrease in drug usage among males. Psychopathy is defined as an absence or deficit of empathy and poor behavior control in an individual who exhibits normal intellectual functioning. Low EI is associated with psychopathy.

HUGE DISCLAIMER: I am not a psychologist, nor am I inferring that all Black males are psychopaths! I just used the information from this study to show the potential damage of poor EI. I believe our society, which teaches males from a young age that they have to be tough and show no weakness, is damaging for their EI. With respect to Black men, who have other cultural implications to consider (i.e., higher numbers of poverty, labeling and stereotyping), we absolutely ought not try to tell them they are not ever supposed to get sad or frustrated. That is definitely stacking the odds against them.

My focus on Black men here was pointed. I am tired of seeing guys who very well could be my relatives in the news committing spontaneous acts of extreme violence over perceived slights. I wonder why they can’t control their anger. I had to really think about it and think of how my son is being raised and how my husband was raised. My son’s life has been easy, but he has had his problems too. I have to check myself to make sure I am not being too flippant because he is a little boy. And I know my husband has had plenty of struggles to speak of.

Even Jesus wept. It is the shortest Scripture in the Bible, and there are other instances where Jesus shows emotion. We were created in the image and likeness of God, who undoubtedly displays emotion. Admittedly, I would not be too pleased if my husband ran to me crying every time he hurt himself… but I don’t do that myself. But when the world gets hard on him, when responsibility weighs on him, I hope he would come to me for solace and know that I won’t judge him. Every man, Black, White or whatever, deserves that. I also think men should be more open to talking to other men when they are feeling some type of way… older men need to be mentoring these younger men!

Tough men don’t hide from their emotions, they acknowledge them and deal with them. We need to redefine tough as such. Our men–and I said “OUR” meaning all, seeing that we all live in the same society and same world and whether we know it or not, there is something that each culture can learn from every other culture, and we all need one another… not to mention the fact that we are ALL God’s children living on his earth for a short while… and men in general if it applies that it is OKAY to not have all the answers; it is OKAY to fail sometimes as long as you get back up after you’ve been thrown for a loop; that it is OKAY to weep! As for Black men, this is absolutely imperative if we want to see a decrease in violence. They need to a) be taught about Jesus, the Ultimate Burden Bearer and the Holy Spirit who can guide them, and b) be accepted by society as the emotional beings they are.

I know there are other things to consider in terms of stopping the violence that pervades my culture… I just can’t get to it all in one post. But it is very disheartening to see how we are killing each other. No offense was meant toward other ethnic groups. I think it goes without saying that more needs to be done about the violence in the Black community. There are far too many of our guys in prison.

Reference:

Ermer, E., Kahn, R.E., Salovey, P., & Kiehl, K.A. (2012). Emotional intelligence in incarcerated men with psychopathic traits. Journal of Personal Social Psychology, 103(1). DOI: 10.1037/a0027328

Feeling good…

Birds flying high, you know how I feel…

Sun in the sky, you know how I feel…

Breeze driftin’ on by, you know how I feel…

It’s a new dawn,

it’s a new day,

it’s a new life…

For me…

And I’m feeling good!

I wonder what motivated the writers of this song, fabulously delivered by Nina Simone in addition to other artists, to come up with such lyrics. Songs such as this are the reason why I have difficulty letting go of old school non-secular music. This song has been the theme of my life and for the past week or so I have been unable to get it out of my head.

Fish in the sea, you know how I feel…

River running free, you know how I feel…

Blossom on the tree, you know how I feel…

It’s a new dawn,

it’s a new day,

it’s a new life,

FOR ME…

AND I’M FEELING GOOD!

This beautiful song and the fabulous musical arrangement that accompanies it (I tend to prefer Nina Simone’s version) could have served as the backdrop to my very existence when I re-dedicated my life to Christ. As I have mentioned before, I have been saved for years. For as long as I can remember, I have known Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, but as an adult, my commitment to Him, desire to learn of Him and fully receive Him, waned considerably. I suffered the consequences because of it. Again as I mentioned before, God had to allow me to go through some bad times in order for me to come back. He allowed me to meet my now-husband and give birth to our firstborn (who is sitting right next to me now, an eight-year-old wonder with big brown eyes, long eyelashes, heart-shaped nostrils and a brain that is teeming with curiosity about…well, everything). I knew I had to be better for that little baby boy, especially after God showed me how much of a gift he gave me–my son spent his first days in the NICU, but was perfectly fine when we left the hospital, and has been okay ever since (except for his asthma, which is improving).

Dragonfly out in the sun,

you know what I mean, don’t you know…

Butterflies all havin’ fun,

you know what I mean…

Sleep in peace when day is done,

that’s what I mean…

And this old world is a new world

and a bold world…

for me, yeah!

My eyes opened up to a brand-new world and a whole new life when I fully gave myself to Christ. Everything in my life changed for the better. Even small things–things that people tend to overlook or even be annoyed by–such as the sounds of birds chirping in the morning–bring a smile to my face. I enjoy watching God’s creations big and small (with some exceptions, like mosquitoes. I am sorry, I cannot stand them–or cockroaches, but luckily we don’t have them here unless someone has a very nasty house). I am watching the fullness of Spring come forth in wonderment at just how magnificently and completely that God created and sustains this world. The birds that left us during the winter have come back. Now there are ducks for my kids to feed. I’m waiting to see butterflies and lightning bugs, who doesn’t love those??

Stars when you shine,

you know how I feel…

Scent of the pine,

you know how I feel…

Oh! Freedom is mine,

and I know how I feel…

It’s a new dawn,

it’s a new day,

it’s a new life,

for me…

and I’m feeling good!

When I re-dedicated myself, it was definitely a new dawn, a new day, and a new life for me… and I’m still feeling good. Despite everything. I am appreciative of life in general, and look for opportunities to marvel at God’s greatness and thank him for allowing me to experience 33 years worth of it. It still amazes me how the seasons flow naturally and how everything that disappeared during winter comes back. Spring and summer help me appreciate winter–if it weren’t for the winter would we truly appreciate the warmer months? Doors have continued to open for me, bestowing upon me more blessings than I ever could have imagined. Fifteen years ago I wouldn’t have been able to predict that I’d be where I am right now… Fifteen years ago my goals had nothing to do with God. Although they were noble (I wanted my degree and a good job), attaining those goals would have still left me feeling empty, because without God, I am an empty vessel. It took a while to figure that out and get to where I am now:

Finally at a point where I am satisfied. When I was worldlier I was always striving for something, and once I got it I was satisfied momentarily, then dissatisfied again. I am now like Paul, for the most part, and have learned to be content with what God has given me. Of course sometimes I want more–sometimes things get tight–but I am definitely happy with my little family and our home.

In a true love situation like I’d never imagined, able to experience the agape love Christians are supposed to have with a wonderful husband who definitely looks beyond my faults. I never expected that to happen.

Sleeping peacefully at night (or during the day or whenever LOL, thanks to MI) knowing that I have done good for God and also knowing that I have forgiveness for my sins… There is something special about not having to feel badly about myself. Years ago I would have gone to bed feeling bad about something I said or did to someone–not so much anymore, now that I am slower to anger. Despite what the world thinks, we don’t have to be catty or mean to others–that is a choice we make. I choose to be nice to everyone.

When you fully allow yourself to be filled with the Holy Spirit, the love that comes along with it–if you feed it appropriately with the Word, prayer and Christian service–you will find it easier to be loving and appreciative. Will you always be happy or like everyone? Nah. But it gets easier as your relationship with Christ grows. The world needs more love. The world needs more people who can bask in the simplicity of birds singing, flowers blooming and rivers running. Love for God=love for God’s creations, which includes other people. I feel so much better about myself loving people more than disliking them.

My body is weary today, I had a headache, and now my stomach hurts. But my family is doing well, and this morning a nice rhythmic rain came down watering the grass and flowers. I tend to like rain. Now the sun is shining, and all is well. And I’m feeling good.

My family

My family

HALLELUJAH! I PAID OFF ONE OF MY STUDENT LOANS!

 

I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SEE THIS DAY!!

I am still in a bit of shock.

Something magical seems to have happened when Sallie Mae branched off and became Navient. Since this transition, I have had a 100% better experience in terms of managing my student loans. I am not one of the people who feels I am not obligated to pay. I have never said that I felt that I did not owe the money–I borrowed it, so of course I intended to pay it back. My problems with Sallie Mae had nothing to do with my unwillingness to pay back my loans. Instead, my problem was when one of their representatives told me, before I had even fully processed my beautiful Master’s Degree, that I was expected to pay them to the tune of $1200 a month when I was making $11.50 an hour.

Most of the reps were rude and unhelpful, even after I submitted every piece of paperwork they asked for to illustrate my expenses vs. income. At the end of the day the amount I had to pay back monthly still took a huge bite, but it was apparently the best I could do. Even after the agreement had been cemented and the several payments were made-on time, as I had the funds debited directly from my bank account–they sent one of my loans into collections for default. I have consulted an attorney for that. For the record, paying back my loans from the government has been smooth sailing.

Even such, my problem with student loans is the very fact that they exist. Before we tackle the problem of student loans, which leave young Americans with huge amounts of debt, meaning we cannot buy homes or cars or save for retirement, we need to first figure out why the heck college costs as much as it does. In my humble opinion that is the crux of the problem. Young people would not feel compelled to take on such huge debts if college was more affordable. Making more loan money available doesn’t solve the problem, nor does the solution of just forgiving all student loans (not that I am against that!). If the student loan problem is ever to be addressed properly here in America, the discussion will have to first involve an in-depth analysis of why college costs have skyrocketed.

But I digress. Since I have come down with MI (Mystery Illness) I have not been working. I have been searching the Internet and found several boards where people discussed similar symptoms and the frustrations of sometimes waiting weeks, months or even years for a proper diagnosis, while in the meantime having to reorganize their lives, including their jobs, to accommodate the unnamed illness. It was a pretty disheartening search, but perhaps this is a test of my patience. I am impatient because I sometimes feel as though the doctors and medical staff are not listening to me. During my last doctor’s appointment the physician felt very strongly that my symptoms were metabolic in nature. I went there with several complaints–the muscles in my body, namely my legs, were twitching enough to where it could be seen through my clothing at times; I was having digestive problems, weakness in my extremities,namely my legs again, and, embarrassingly enough, sexual problems. Also, when the physician attempted to check my leg reflexes,she banged the heck out of my knees several times and elicited no response. I then had to clap my hands repeatedly as she banged some more and my legs still did not move.

The lab results came back fine, showing no metabolic cause for my symptoms.I was hopeful that once that was ruled out, the next step would be to have me come in for the scans I had initially requested–PET, CT, both, whatever.

Nope. There has been no follow-up. My neurologist cannot see me until late next month. In the meantime I am left to Google everything, including the now-present pounding in my left ear that is synonymous with my heartbeat, and try to figure out myself what might be wrong. In the meantime, I am having difficulties having my FMLA paperwork processed, and I do not think someone who is not well should have to do all of this back-and-forth. I am glad I am not in dire straits, like, for example, a cancer patient. I can only imagine how the FMLA process can put a further strain on the health of those suffering with serious, identified/diagnosed illnesses.

In the meantime, I am still trying to do my best to be as less of a financial burden in my household as I can, I suppose. So when I logged into my Navient account, I was surprised to find an unexpected but highly pleasant box on my loan summary page that had a ZERO BALANCE for one of my loans.

PRAISE. THE. LORD.

I was also beyond pleased with the beautiful sunshine. The weather here has almost reached perfection. Sixty-seven degrees, beautifully clear sky–I opened most of the windows in the house to allow Mr. Sun and the fresh air breeze right on in. Although winter is technically the shortest season, it always feels like the longest. I have vowed to spend as much time basking in the sun during the spring and summer as I can.

Before I forget, I wanted to post an interview I read on Christian Post. A short time ago I had commented on “The Book of Yeezus”. Christian Post managed to land an interview with one of its publishers:

http://m.christianpost.com/news/man-who-published-kanye-west-bible-replacing-god-with-rappers-name-hits-back-at-critics-as-sales-soar-exclusive–137224/

I was still dissatisfied after reading the interview.

Well, my children should be home soon and I would love to spend some outdoors time with them. Till next time (which may very well be later this evening, depending on how I feel), here are a few of my favorite songs that truly express my appreciation for sunshine :-)

(Just realized my links are not posting… I will try later 😕

My Cure for Depression

Today could have been a bad day… if I had allowed it.

First, I only got a few hours sleep. Yet again, I was wide awake until approximately 5:36 a.m. tAlthough I kept myself busy by reading and doing some research for my Sunday school lesson, that did not keep me from being foggy and groggy when it was time to wake up. I did not hear my husband come in from work (he works nights), but I woke up when he and our daughter came into our bedroom. She was awake, so that meant it was time for me to get up as well. My husband had actually worked over a little and then had gone to help his mother do something, so I could not and will not discount the fact that he gets tired too. Although he offered me the opportunity to get a little more rest, I knew he needed the rest more than I did.

Luckily our daughter wasn’t going full-throttle this morning like she normally does. On a typical morning, she wakes up fully refreshed and more than ready to bulldoze the house. Apparently she took pity on her poor old parents. She had a little breakfast and was content to sit between us on the bed (she does not like us to touch because she is super territorial when it comes to her Daddy) watching Big Hero 6, allowing me the chance to doze for a little while longer before my son woke up. Out of the two of my children, he is the one who wants more attention, but my daughter needs more attention, if that makes sense. My son is a super tenderhearted kid who just wants to love on his family all day. My daughter is more independent and likes to do and try things on her own. She is one who, if you don’t hear her for awhile, you know to go check on her because she is getting into something. Basically, I knew as soon as my son got up that there would be no more dozing.

So then my day really began. Fixing pancakes, waffles, sausages, filling up cups of juice, cleaning up spills, chastising them when they got into it, working with my daughter on her reading, helping my son with the outrageously thick homework packet he has to complete over his spring break…sigh. I noticed that my house was unkempt, and I do not like that at all. Clutter bothers me. Unfortunately since I have not been myself, clutter has crept up on me more than I’d like. This morning I decided I finally had enough.

Since there wasn’t much I could do about the mound of dirty laundry that were in all three bedrooms (I do not have a washer and dryer at home yet), I focused on dusting and tidying up the kitchen, the area around the front door, the living room, our movie room and the dining area. I also did the kids’ rooms, but made them pick up their toys themselves (which took more prodding than it should have with my daughter. She is WAY stubborn sometimes). I went nuts in the bathroom with the Clorox wipes. (I don’t know what it is about me–I can allow for certain things to get out of order in the bedrooms, but I cannot stand a messy bathroom or kitchen. I really get upset when the floors are dirty. Forget a mop–I go to the hands and knees most of the time).

I started getting upset between tasks because of how hard I was struggling. Several months ago it wouldn’t have taken me but maybe an hour or two to get my whole house together.

This time it took close to five.

Why?

Because I kept getting light-headed, dizzy, sweaty and faint and had to take numerous long breaks. My legs kept feeling strange and I would have to sit down. My kids interrupted me quite a bit–and yes that irritated the heck out of me–but their interruptions were not the major problem. The major problem was that I was exhausted. Probably from working on a few hours sleep, but I am also not convinced that whatever this illness may be is not the super-major culprit behind all of this.

I take a lot of pride in my home. I am very happy with it. It is not a huge house, but it is good enough for my family and our circumstances right now. It is important for me that it is kept clean. My son is asthmatic and if dust gathers in his room he’ll be up all night coughing his head off. I like to make sure to disinfect surfaces I know my kids touch a lot, because of course kids don’t appreciate the power and persistence of germs so they’re prone to touch something and put their hands in their mouth. GRODIE.

The constant fatigue and other awful feelings were just reminders of how my abilities have decreased, and I started getting upset. I started thinking about playing volleyball, softball, basketball and running track. I was not a standout athlete in volleyball, basketball or track, but I was good enough and I definitely supported my team. But there is something magical about softball. I loved it and still do. Earlier today I found myself thinking about how I can no longer do the things I used to, and before I knew it my mood had taken a serious plummet.

However, yours truly is adept at recognizing the devil’s attacks and I took steps to fend it off. First, just like Jesus did when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, I went to the Scriptures and found some that lifted my mood.

Number one in my book:

I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”  (Phil. 4:13).

I thought to myself: I do not know what God has in store for me, so why am I sitting here so determined to believe that I will be unable to do the things I used to do? And even if I cannot run laps or spike a volleyball or slide into home plate, shouldn’t I be thankful to God that I had the opportunity to do them in the first place?

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15).

I have been down before. God built me back up even stronger!

“As for God, his way is perfect, The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure” (Psa. 18:30-32).

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1).

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psa. 55:22).

There are more Psalms than I can reprint in this post that encourage me, including the 23rd Psalm in its entirety, which is by far the most widely-known Psalm:

It really doesn’t get any more comforting than that.

In addition to my Scriptures there are other things that enhance my mood. Sunshine and fresh air are helpful. As I read my Scriptures I made sure to open the blinds and let some of the beautiful light in. When I was finished reading my Scriptures and my mind was back where it needed to be, I put icing on the cake as I went about cleaning up the rest of my house and preparing dinner…

Music.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I LOVE music. I have prayed and asked God if I am no longer supposed to like old school music that He remove the affinity for it from me, and so far it has not happened. Of course I love praise and worship songs, but I can really cut a rug to the fun R&B, disco and funk songs of my youth. George Benson helped me get through the rest of the afternoon. If you can hear Give Me the Night and not feel an overwhelming urge to dance, there may be something wrong :-)

Now I am going to attempt this sleep thing again. I will be seeing a sleep specialist soon, but prior to that appointment I am going to try to establish a sleep routine and see if that helps. I will also be keeping track of my sleep habits so I can present them to her. Before I log off, I definitely want to place a disclaimer: As someone who works in the healthcare field, please don’t misunderstand my post or think I was making light of depression. I am not. I definitely believe there are people who get clinically depressed and need medication and therapy (that therapy ought to include Jesus, in my humble opinion, of course). This formula of Scripture, prayer (I didn’t explicitly mentioned that I prayed, but my Scripture reading is always preceded and followed by prayer) sunshine/fresh air, and dancing/exercise works for me. I have never been able to stay in a bad mood after doing those things.

Studies have confirmed that religious people tend to rank higher in terms of overall well-being than nonbelievers (http://www.gallup.com/poll/152723/religious-americans-enjoy-higher-wellbeing.aspx). Of course the study cannot outline reasons why. Dare I? Well, the answer for Christians is pretty simple. We know that we can take our concerns to the very God who created everything. We know that if God is for us, no one can be against us. Yes, we sometimes worry, get anxious or worry–we are human. But it does not have to be a way of life for us! We know that God is in control!

We understand that death is a part of life and we know that since we are saved, when we die we are going to go to Heaven. That is a MAJOR relief, since none of us know the day or minute that we are going to check out of here. We don’t have to think about it. We know when we do that we’re going to a place that is beautiful and peaceful beyond belief.

We understand that our bodies are temples and even though we may err, we try to treat them as such by not polluting them with drugs or alcohol, or any practices that might weaken or destroy them.

Last but not least, if we are practicing the agape type love for everyone that we should, our hearts are light and our minds are right. There is nothing like removing the darkness of hatred from your life. I have never felt better than when I stopped carrying around grudges and negativity and let the love of Jesus just take over.

And I believe it is common knowledge that fresh air, sunlight, and movement/exercise alleviate mood:

http://www.yourstandardlife.com/archives/5-Enjoy-Fresh-Air-for-Better-Health.html

I love the article in the link above. It definitely rings true for me.

It works for me every time. Try it! Make sure to pray before and after. I bet you’ll feel great :-)

What the devil?????

See this book… look at the cover carefully…

Now look at the following links:

http://bookofyeezus.com/

http://www.nme.com/news/kanye-west/84240

For those of you who were unable to view the links, a fan (or trio of fans) of Kanye West, the rapper, for whatever reasons decided it might be a good idea to take the Book of Genesis from the holy, God-inspired Word and delete “God” and interject “Yeezus” or “Kanye” in the place of God.

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Mind you I am not berating Kanye West in this post. Although I do not support him as an entertainer, as I do not listen to rap music (which is sad. I used to love it when I was little, back in the early to mid-eighties when it was still a burgeoning art form and had multiple varieties–some songs were fun-loving, others had more serious tones such as gangsta rap, of which I was not a huge fan–even up into the nineties with rap legends such as Tupac. Now it is nothing but disrespectful, mindless, meaningless trash) because as far as I can tell thus far, he had nothing to do with this book. I do hope he comes out to denounce it, but I doubt that he will. He did decide he was good enough to be named Yeezus, which is offensive enough, and was the impetus for me to stop supporting him.

Here is my problem. Apparently this person is not a believer of Christ. Fine. We understand that not all will accept. However, what is the point of mocking God? Why is anyone putting Kanye West on God’s level? Here is an excerpt from that foolishness:

“In the beginning Kanye created the heaven and the earth… And Kanye said, Let there be light: and there was light.”

BLATANT, OUTRAGEOUS AND UNWARRANTED DISRESPECT OF THE HOLY WRIT.
This “book” (and as an overall book-lover, I am having a difficult time even referring to this as such) was published by three brothers who insist that it is not meant to elevate Kanye West, only to offer a fresh look at Genesis in a modern-day setting.
Um, hey guess what fellas… Genesis did not need you to insert Kanye into it in order for it to be modern. There are modern day issues all throughout Genesis. Shall we name just a few?
Let’s see…
Image result for sin
Genesis is literally bursting with sin, beginning with the original sin committed by Adam and Eve. I think we can all agree that sin is pervasive in common society. For goodness’ sake, this “book” is a sin–ever read Revelation 22:18-19?
Sex and reproduction
That one goes without saying, since it is the story of creation. It is the story of the beginning of all mankind. However, some of the stories about sex are a bit more interesting than others–there are incestuous encounters between Lot and his daughters in Gen. 19:30-36 and sex between a widow and her brother-in-law in Gen. 38, for example.
Sibling rivalry. Remember when Cain killed Abel? Brother killing brother? We see WAY too much of that. If we go outside of just family problems and look at ourselves as all brothers and sisters, as we are all creations of God, there is plenty of brother versus brother killing. Later in Genesis we see other examples of sibling rivalry exacerbated in part by parents who had a favorite son–see the story of Isaac and Rebekah and their sons Jacob and Esau (Gen. 25:19-28:9, paying special attention to Gen. 25:27-29) and the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50).
Enmity between nations. The story of Ishmael is a particularly fascinating one. Sarah (at that time named Sarai, wife of Abraham (then Abram), decided that she knew better than God. God had promised the couple a son, but Sarah, apparently in doubt of God’s power, felt she was getting too old to have a child and gave her handmaiden Hagar to Abraham so that Hagar could conceive a son. That is what happened–Hagar gave birth to Abraham’s first son, Ishmael. Naturally, Sarah is jealous that Hagar was able to give her husband the son that she thought she was unable to give him. (However, that story is not central to my point, so if you’d like (and you should), it is within Genesis 16-18 and Genesis 21 and 25). Once God fulfills his promise (as he always does) to Sarah, her son Isaac is born. Of course Isaac is the favored son, and now that she has her baby Sarah has no need for Hagar or her child. Hagar and Ishmael are sent away. Ishmael almost dies from dehydration in the desert before God provides a well for them. Ishmael has twelve sons of his own. Of his descendants the Bible writes: “…And they lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them” (Gen. 25:18b). It is widely believed that Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, is a descendant of Ishmael.
Wickedness, corruption, violence and God’s judgment, with God’s judgment being manifested in one instance in what we now would refer to as a “natural disaster” such as the flood that took place while Noah and his family were confined to the ark (the story of Noah is in Gen. 6-9). Pervasive wickedness also led God to utterly destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18-19) with what may also have been termed a “natural disaster”–a sulfur storm. Yikes. But look at the world today. We see those things, correct?
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah records wrongs against God such as homosexual behavior, (which is where the term “sodomy” came from–Sodom/sodomy), and per other mentions of Sodom and Gomorrah in both the Old Testament and the New, inhabitants of the cities were overall a group of lawless, ungodly people. Now, one might say America is far from lawless, and I slightly agree. We do have laws on the books. However, look how people bend the laws to suit their own selfish purposes. And I don’t think I need to go any further about our cities being filled with ungodly people.
There are too many instances of trickery and deception to be named within one post. From Esau being tricked into giving away his birthright in return for a bowl of stew (Gen. 25-19) to Jacob being led to work for seven years for Rachel, only to receive her older sister Leah, then having to work ANOTHER seven years for Rachel (Gen. 29), to Joseph’s brothers dipping his coveted coat in blood in order to lead Jacob to believe his favored son had perished, (Gen. 37:31), we see innumerable examples of human duplicity that definitely parallel the society in which we live today.
Injustice. This is seen primarily in the life of Joseph, when he was unfairly imprisoned after Potiphar’s wife leveled a false accusation of rape against him (Gen. 39). All you have to do is open the pages of your local newspaper or go on the Internet and you will see dozens of articles detailing instances of social injustice or legal injustice.
Famine. Lack of food led Joseph’s brothers to Egypt, where they eventually reunited (Gen. 42-46). I know people think things can’t happen in a country as great as America, but look at what is going on in California. They are being encouraged to conserve water.
Not to mention the stories of triumph, death, and faithfulness… So do tell, what more does Genesis need? I dare say it needs NOTHING. It is already applicable to life today. I do not understand how people claim the Bible is antiquated when it discusses the very things we see going wrong in our environment right now.
I take it personally when people do things like this. Namely because of my concern for the people that could be led astray. Some people might not think it’s a big deal, and those are the people that concern me, because once you get nonchalant about Biblical truths, that leaves you wide open to the schemes against you of the wily devil. I hope these publishers don’t sell a single copy of this nonsense. The Bible does not need your contribution.

Ahhh… the joy of Easter…

It has been a very busy weekend.

To the extent that I was physically able to participate, I exhausted a lot of energy preparing for Easter Sunday. There was a lot to be done. Saturday in particular was busy, as my husband and I went to church to help get Easter gift bags ready for all of the children. Following that, my son and daughter had a brief rehearsal for the kids’ Easter program. After that we went to pick up food for our church’s Easter sunrise service, which included breakfast. Then we had a few things we had to get–BabyGirl needed shoes to match her little pink dress, and I had a gift card that I used to buy a new dress to wear myself. After that I could do no more, although I sat down as much as I could. I capped off the night with an inexplicable stomachache, completely out of place since I’d barely eaten all day. My husband, God bless him, responded to my needs and went to the store to get a Vernor’s and, obviously sympathetic toward my pain, brought back an unexpected treat–a Peppermint Patty–that I was unable to eat. (That is how to gauge the severity of my illness–if I turn down a Peppermint Patty, it’s crucial).

Unfortunately, I have been having severe problems sleeping. Even if I am exhausted, I cannot fall asleep at night. Nothing seems to work. It has been this way for months but appears to be getting worse. I finally fell asleep sometime after two a.m.

At 5:40 a.m., it was time for me to get up and get my family ready to go.

Since I had been unable to sleep, I had made sure all of our clothes were ready, my tote bag was ready, etc. All we would have to do was get up, brush our teeth, wash our faces, get dressed and leave. Which is exactly what we did. We got to church and my husband and a team of our brothers there got started on the breakfast. The sunrise service consisted of our pastor doing a “sermonette” and various members, including myself, offering personal testimonies as to the goodness of God. I actually went first–I kind of surprised my own self when I raised my hand. I felt compelled to offer thanksgiving to God despite my struggles. How can I be bitter about this illness on this day, when I get to joyfully commemorate the event that secured salvation for a wretch like me?

I have abused my body with alcohol.

I have hurt others with my tongue and occasionally with fists and hands.

I have told lies.

I have whored myself before marriage with guys who were just completely unworthy.

I am pretty sure that along the way somewhere I turned someone off with my behavior as I proclaimed to be a Christian.

Although I am not what I used to be by far, I still screw up daily. Even if it is an inappropriate thought about a driver of a car who cut me off, it is still sin. It is sin that, by itself, would make me unacceptable to God.

Luckily my friend and Savior Jesus Christ came down to earth in order that He may fulfill Old Testament Laws by allowing Himself to be the perfect, blemish-free sacrifice, the Lamb of God, who could intercede for me and cover me in His blood. When God the Father looks at me, he does not see a screw-up. He sees me through the lens of Jesus Christ.

How do I know God is with me? I can feel him! I have experienced a gradual change in my attitude and personality as I have grown in Christ. I have typically been an optimistic person, but never to the extent that I am now. Oh, I definitely get down sometimes, but never for long. It is amazing to be able to refocus and turn the bad into the good, to always be able to find a way to look at the glass half full. That is because my relationship with the Ultimate Burden Bearer is strong. I am now slower to anger. When someone annoys me (except when I am in the car, I STILL need work there) I can take time to think and prepare a response before just flying off at the mouth like I used to. I can now walk right past the alcohol in stores now without getting the taste in my mouth. My husband and I don’t argue. We disagree, but don’t go back and forth arguing with each other. Our children are thriving. Not perfect, but thriving. I feel a sense of satisfaction with my life that I have never experienced before.

As I have discussed with my charges in Sunday school, a major benefit (to us) of Jesus coming down to experience life in human flesh is that it gave Him the opportunity to better understand our struggles, temptations, and other aspects of human life. So when we mess up and Satan runs up to God to accuse us, our Intercessor is on the right hand of the Father pleading our case: “Give him/her another chance, Father. He/she is one of mine. He/she is trying”.

Why is the world so hostile toward Jesus? Whenever I read the Gospels, I cannot believe how much love Jesus had for everyone. Yet the world hated Him then and obviously does now (society is not so kind to Christians–for some reason we are not supposed to express our beliefs, lest we be called hypocrites or accused of being discriminatory–

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/04/anti-gay-pizzeria_n_7003596.html

But I digress)

Jesus is Love.

I understand in this world things of God are difficult for some to understand, but for those of us who get it, we have a responsibility to stand for what we know to be true despite the scorn we will undoubtedly get from society. If Jesus, the epitome of love, was mocked, misunderstood, scorned, disrespected, and eventually charged unjustly, beaten, spit upon, whipped until His body bled, and crucified, then I hope believers understand that we are now taking on the world’s scorn as His disciples. We are sinners, Jesus was not–so who are we to expect everything is going to be roses and rainbows and all things cuddly? If anything, our lives get even more difficult when we accept Jesus because we are now a peculiar person in a world where anything goes. That and Satan is going to do his personal best to trip you up.

I attempted to get a headache during service that I was able to manage, because I was dead set against going home on Easter Sunday. I was able to spend a little bit of time with my parents and sister and her family before coming home. Once again I am exhausted but unable to sleep.

But I am happy. It has been a great day. I enjoy going to church. I enjoy serving others. I like that people know they can count on me for help. I enjoy spending time with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Most of all, I enjoy commemorating the most important holiday in the Christian faith (aside from the day Jesus was born, of course)–the day our salvation was secured when Jesus died on that cross for us.

Sometimes I get sad when I think about what He went through. I take it personally because I know all of the wrong I have done. I don’t go pointing fingers at anyone else. I think about how Jesus’ beaten and broken body was laid upon the cross. I had an accident where the tip of my fingers was crushed off–it hurt like nothing I can describe. Yet, Jesus, God in flesh, allowed for nails to be nailed into His hands. Imagine how that felt! To have His feet crossed ankle over ankle and then nailed to the cross. Imagine how THAT felt! To have a crown of thorns pushed down on His head. Then to be made fun of, spat upon, to have people gamble for His garments, tell Him if He is God to hop down off the cross–ALL BECAUSE HE CAME TO SAVE! It brings tears to my eyes. Then I continue with the story. Yes, He did die, a slow and particularly excruciating death for ME but…

THEN HE WAS BURIED.

AND THEN HE ROSE AGAIN!

Then my heart is joyful again!

ALL HAIL KING JESUS!

THERE IS NONE GREATER!

AT THE NAME OF KING JESUS EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW!!!

HALLELUJAH… HE IS EXCELLENT!

Note to non-Christians…

I feel awful about some of the reported behavior of so-called Christians the past few weeks.

Here is just one example.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/florida-church-loses-tax-exempt-status-over-raunchy-wet-n-wild-spring-break-twerking-parties/

A total embarrassment, and hugely offensive.

Here is another, and I might take some heat for this one. I will post two links although I don’t think I need to. All I need to do for most is post the name: Creflo Dollar. SMH.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/13/living/creflo-dollar-jet-feat/

http://www.christianpost.com/news/why-creflo-dollar-believes-poverty-is-ungodly-and-christians-should-claim-their-inheritance-of-wealth-and-riches-136202/

As for the first story, I won’t reiterate it since I posted the link. But there is no excusing the behavior of this “church”, right from its pastor down to the members of the congregation who had to be aware of this and allowed it to continue. The church is supposed to be hallowed ground, a holy place, and worldly practices have no place there. I had several issues with this story-of course the vast majority of the blame for this goes on the person who is the head of that church, but I also wondered why ANYONE would want to party inside a building that they know is a church???

Then I thought again. Not everyone thinks of a church as holy ground. And if the pastor of a church does not respect the church, why should anyone else?

Here is what I want people who are not Christians to understand. Just because someone claims to be a Christian does not mean they are a Christian. However, since it is not my job or anyone else’s (other than God) to determine if one is truly saved or not, I can also say that there are carnal Christians who see fit to mix worldly pleasures with the Word of God–typically for their own benefit or satisfaction. The Word and the World do not mix, but there are some Christians who try. Some people might be mislead–can you imagine how confused a babe in Christ might be if this person was their pastor? Others seek to abuse the grace of God. Some extort the principle that we are forgiven for our sins. Yes we are, but Christians are not supposed to willfully sin (see Hebrews 10:26, NIV: If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left).

In terms of pastors, not everyone who stands in a pulpit was truly called by God to lead a flock. It is my personal opinion that there are a) pastors who were truly called by God to be a pastor–and those who are called typically attempt to resist the call at first, knowing the huge responsibility it carries–until they can no longer resist anymore, b) those who were not called but were simply opportunists who use religion as a chance to fleece people and c) those who were called to be a pastor but allowed money to become their god (or some other idol).

Let us examine some passages of Scripture that discuss church leadership.

A few of my favorites:

Proverbs 27:23: “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds”…

That Scripture right there is why I love my home church and my pastor. Our church is not big at all. I can usually count the number of members in Sunday service. However, there is a major benefit to that. My pastor knows each and every member. He can (and does) have a relationship with each one of us. I have his home phone number and cell number in case of an emergency. Each time we have called him, particularly when a family member is in distress or dying, he is there. He knows about the goings-on of his members, and all of us as members know of each other. I am not sure how a pastor can know his flocks and give attention to his herds if he is the overseer of thousands of people or more than one church. Which is why you will not catch me at a mega church.

1 Peter 5:1-3: “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

Key part there, in my humble opinion, is “not for shameful gain”…

James 3:1: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Somewhere along the way, the pastors who go astray forget that they will be judged accordingly. If they lead the flock astray due to their actions or false teachings, they have blood on their hands.

First Timothy also tells us about those in positions of leadership. I remember my husband studying these verses as he was preparing to be a deacon.

1 Tim. 3:1-7:  Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.  He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

Where do we begin with that one… does that passage even require any further discussion? In my personal opinion (humble as always), this is the measuring stick to which we should compare the pastors of the churches. If a pastor is falling short in any of these, perhaps he ought to re-examine his commitment to God.

I have no idea where either pastor in these articles stands, but what I am suggesting is that they see how they measure up against the standards presented in the Bible. I am also suggesting to nonbelievers that they please do not group us all into the same category and understand that just because someone claims a title does not mean they truly believe in it or live it. Further, I would like to say that just because someone is a Christian does not mean we never make mistakes! We are just as human as the next person and still subject to sin. However, we abide by the saying, “as a Christian, I am not sinless, but I do sin less”.

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