Monday, April 28, 2014

In Response to the Recent Shooting of my 10-year old Cousin and Murder of his Father

To love your neighbor as yourself is a concept we can no longer ignore; it must become a way of life. It is just not some quote out the Bible. We've all seen and heard all the senseless crimes in KC and across the nation. If we all came together in love, not hate...reached out to those who have no sound guidance or moral standards...became the village that this city needs so many of those that are no longer here with us would be breathing, laughing, and talking to us right now. It brings to mind an excerpt from my book, "Change the World One Neighbor at a Time":

"Do not leave anyone the same way you found them. Where there is negativity, leave them with a word of encouragement. Where there is chaos, offer them a prayer for peace and direction. Watch your own thoughts and speech. If we protect, lead, guide, and discipline ourselves, what we share and demonstrate to others should reflect the love we have for ourselves and be transferred to them.

What if you smiled at and engaged in conversation the young man whose pants are sagging who is always hanging around the neighborhood or that young girl that is always surrounded by young men? Show them some of that loving-kindness that God bestows upon you every day. Show them that someone cares about them as a person, that they are worth the time, that they are worthy of a smile and soft speech as opposed to the neglect and harsh tones they may receive at home. Let’s not leave them in the road “half dead” for others to step over, dismiss and misuse. I know you’ve seen those horror movies when people have been wrongly abused and killed. They come back either as a zombie or serial killer and pay back those responsible and those that did nothing to help them.

Those that work with at-risk youth will tell you it is not protection that makes these young men and women join gangs, but love. They are seeking a place where are loved and accepted. It goes beyond having a family. As many can attest, sometimes our own families do not resemble the loving families seen on television during the era of “Leave It to Beaver” and “The Cosby Show.”

Let’s nurse those that are “half dead” back to health so that they won’t have the bitter taste and craving to take the life of another, commit petty crimes, or harm themselves." -- Tyson Taylor

We can become a village again, but no one person can stand alone. It must be a collective effort, one that is more action than the numerous community round table meetings that change NOTHING in this city or anywhere else. We can talk all we want, but until we add legs and a heartbeat, there can be no movement.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

If the Shoe Fits...Think About It Before Wearing It

What to wear? What to wear? The saying: "If the shoe fits, wear it," should not be an absolute. There should be other conditions. Don't put on a shoe just because it fits. Look in the mirror. How does it look on you? Is the shoe appropriate for the current season you are in? Is the sole worn and no longer serve its purpose of protecting you from uneven, rocky surfaces? Is it helping you perform to the best of your ability? Is the style or character of the shoe mature enough for who you are and where you are headed? It's okay to throw out your old attitude - I mean shoe - in order to walk, run, and sprint your way along the path God has set before you. The right shoe can change your posture, length of your stride, balance and agility to maneuver around obstacles, the pace of your progression, and optimism in your next steps in life. Ask yourself, "Am I wearing the right shoe for TODAY that will take me into TOMORROW?

You Will Play How You Practice

The movie "American Hustle" was a perfect example of what happens when you are equally and unequally yoked. Mayor Carmine found in his wife his equal. She knew how to carry herself and support her husband and the position he held. Now, Irving (Christian Bale) was married to a woman that had no drive, motivation, and who did not "fit" his position in society (no matter how illegal it was). 

Going back to my previous post, know the game you are playing, what you are playing for, and how you are preparing for that game. For both men and women, know what kind of person you are, your own goals, position in life, and the kind of support you need from whomever you choose to be your "better" half. They should be just enhancement on your life, not a burden and a risk.

At game time you will play how you practiced. Just as a woman who has her mind set on catching the eye and the heart of a ball player, so must a man or woman of God first prepare themselves as the child of King, second as a man or woman of God, and thirdly as a godly husband or wife. You must put in the work. The woman looking for a ballplayer is hitting the gym, keeping her shoe and hair game on point, and sparing no expenses when it comes to traveling to away games and any body modifications she deems necessary. Likewise, a child of the King, must continue to strengthen their mind, body, heart, and spirit, never ceasing to adorn themselves with character traits befitting a king or queen, and sparing no expense of time and energy to mold themselves in the image of their Father in heaven.

All that prep you put into yourself, surely you want your "better" half to also have taken the same care and put in the same amount of work. Don't complain about the dead weight you end up dragging because the person you chose was actually the prize of the pee wee game you signed up for at the club. They are unable to support you when helping you does not directly benefit them.

That Olympic Game, the one with the big medal, endorsements and accolades, is only possible from years of training and self-sacrifice. Don't sell yourself short. Choose wisely.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Comfort or Survival: Why Do You Pray?

I was driving down my street going to work one morning and I saw birds huddled on top of a light pole. At first glance, I thought “birds”, but I looked again because they were all puffed up trying to stay warm. We learn in school how this or that animal “has thick fur and feathers to stay warm in the winter”? Now, it was 19 degrees outside. How warm is really warm? If you think about it, what people call "warm" is really comfort. We get so warm that we don’t need a coat or gloves on in the house. Some make it so warm they only need a sheet on the bed in the winter.

Animals do not have this luxury. So when we say they have thick fur or feathers to stay warm I think the truth is “their thick fur and/or feathers keep them warm enough to survive in the winter.” The two meanings are completely different. Animals react to their environment. In the summer they are more active and in the winter they are less active. How do they know the difference in seasons? Their bodies tell them – it’s frigid outside. Because of the temperature their fur or feathers grow thick and they become less active. Now, if they really stayed “warm” how we think of staying “warm”, animals would be so comfortable that their activity level would not change. They would be just as active and burn off more energy than they could replace with the limited food supply in the winter.

Now, to bring this around to us as Christians. Because this earth is not our final home, we are not to get too comfortable. When we get too comfortable we let down our guard, start removing protective articles of clothing and forget it’s actually cold and bitter outside in the world. When we pray for this or that are we doing so because our survival is being threatened or are we looking for comfort? Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). We must not look for comfort so much that we forget we have a purpose and are bearing a burden – the commission to bring men and women to Christ.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Adam's Rib

We’ve all seen weddings either in person or on screen. The bride, adorned in white and a touch of blue hidden, stands before her husband as she repeats after the minister the traditional marriage vow: “…for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.” That seriously can’t be all that marriage is. I did a little digging. Apparently there are a few other versions of the traditional vow, such as, “…I promise to… support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live,” which is kind of along the same lines I’m getting to.

There is more to the role of a wife than is found in those vows. Truthfully we should love everyone for better or for worse, wealth or lack thereof, sickness or health. It’s common human decency to show concern for all people no matter what their station is in life or their access to health insurance. You would think the man a woman chooses to spend the rest of her life with, the one she chose from the other 3.5 billion men in the world would receive a more personal, unique promise tailored to him.

Let’s start from the beginning. In Genesis 2:21-22 is written, “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman form the rib he had taken out of man, and brought her to the man.”

God created Eve because Adam did not have a suitable helper in the garden (Genesis 2:20). He plucked a rib from Adam’s chest, formed woman and presented her to Adam. It was Eve’s job to act as Adam’s helper. Merriam-Webster defines helper as an “unskilled worker who assists a skilled worker”. We can assume that Adam was well-versed in the duties of the garden and Eve, being a newbie, would act as his assistant.

Literally, Eve was Adam’s rib. The duties of a wife go beyond that of companionship, just as ribs provide more than physical structure to the body. Once married, the wife no longer has just her own life to care for. She takes her position at her husband’s side as his rib. What is the purpose of a rib, more specifically, the ribcage? The ribcage protects the organs in the thoracic cavity, such as, the lungs and heart. All of which perform important functions of the body.

The purpose of the lungs is to take in air and oxygenate our blood. Breath is symbolic of the spirit of man. The spirit is the life source and breath of the physical man – without the spirit the body dies. In saying that it is important that a wife not suffocate the spirit of her husband, but like the ribcage, expand, allowing him room to grow and live to his full potential. A wife that is rigid and restrictive, risks crushing her husband’s spirit, halting his rise to become the man that God created him to be.

The heart works continuously, 24 hours a day. Just as a man’s dreams never cease to seek fulfillment. In scripture, the heart is symbolic of the seat of a person’s desires, emotions, and dreams. The spirit (lungs) of man breathes life into the desires and dreams (heart) of a man. The heart is situated almost in the center of the chest, carefully enclosed by the ribcage protecting it from blows from outside. The role of a wife is to encourage and nurture her husband’s aspirations; deflecting negativity. She should not be a dream killer. A man without a vision (dream) is undisciplined and unfocused (Proverbs 29:18). Without purpose, a man wanders aimlessly and unfulfilled through life.

On the other hand, ribs can also cause more damage than good. If a rib pierces a lung or heart, it can cause irreparable damage. A wife lashing out in anger can injure more than a marriage, but the man she took a vow to protect. Be angry and do not sin (Psalm 4:4). Sin in this instance can also mean “a breakdown in a personal relationship” (NIV Key Word Study Bible).

In conclusion, being a wife is more than just being her husband’s best friend in good and bad times and bedside nurse in times of sickness, but stand beside him when doubt threatens to overcome his faith and encourage him when his dreams hit an obstacle. He needs more than chicken noodle soup but someone who will always be in his corner, allow his spirit to grow, and shield him when he lacks the strength to do so for himself.

What becomes of a man with a broken spirit? What is a man with unfulfilled dreams? To the men, I say, choose your wife carefully. The wrong decision may result in spiritual collapse (respiratory distress) along with blurred vision and delayed success (cardiac arrest).

Friday, December 17, 2010


Two months ago, while walking my dog, a question popped into my head: Why do we need to breathe to live? Let me clarify. Humans, as living beings, eat to nourish and sustain our bodies. What purpose does the intake and exhalation of air serve? Why were we created to need an additional source to sustain us? Furthermore, why is breathing involuntary – a contrast to the voluntary and strong desire to feed our stomachs? Immediately, the answer was clear. In the Bible, it is common for God to use parables, allegories, and things of the physical to explain those of the spiritual world.

Genesis 2:7 reads, “The Lord God formed the man…and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (NIV). God created the physical man first and then filled the vessel with His breath, essentially making man in His image (also a spiritual being). In the New Testament, pneuma is Greek for "breath" that is often used in context for "spirit".

Genesis 1:30 reads, “…everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food” (NIV). God provided us with plants on this earth to feed us – both our bodies and our need for air. God created a flawless system. We inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Plants take the carbon dioxide and return oxygen to the air. This can be looked at as God’s provision to supply our basic needs for survival.  Just as God has provides air for us to breathe, he has also provided us with the means to feed our spirit - His word. There is both a physical man and spirit man within each of us. Both desire to be fed. However, we must remember not to neglect our spirit man, giving a literal meaning to Matthew 4:4, "...Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (NIV).

Like the wind, the Spirit is invisible. Likewise, we can neither see our own breath nor the air around us. 2 Corinthians 4:18 reads, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (NIV). Our focus should be on what will last, rather than that which will decay. Breathing is second nature (no pun intended) and an involuntary act. As passive breathers, sometimes we may not discern we are inhaling smoke, chemicals, and other harmful substances that we cannot see. Some of us, if breathing was not an unconscious act would forget. Similarly, when it comes to feeding our own spirit we are careless in what we ingest. Just as we put thought into what we eat physically, we should be just as vigilant and purposeful when feeding our spirit.

Why were we created with the need for air? To remind us Who is the source of our lives. To remind us there is a spiritual world, one which we cannot see. To remind us we should not be passive in our walk, but to have purpose. And to remind us we need to breathe (live) deeply.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Is it a Partnership or Parasitism?

Do you have a partner or a parasite? Are you involved in a partnership or parasitism? I’ve been pondering this topic for a few months. From my own experience and stories told by friends, this theme in regard to relationships is quite common. It would be nice if everyone followed the Golden Rule of reciprocity.

Leviticus 19:18, reads, “…love your neighbor as yourself” (NIV) and Matthew 7:12, reads, “…in everything do to others what you would have them do to you…” (NIV). If everyone followed these two scriptures one could assume if someone treats you like crap, they either must not treat themselves well or they want you to do them one better and return the favor. Typically, I find the first reason to be true more so than the latter. I think it’s difficult to love/show concern for/respect someone else if you aren’t quite sure how to do so for yourself. It is then you find people who do a whole lot of taking and rarely give anything. They are, for lack of a better word or maybe this is the best word, parasites.

What exactly is a parasite? Just what it sounds like. Someone that feeds on your life’s blood – your energy, resources, weaknesses, etc. – until they drain you dry or at least they get what they want. Upon which time they move on to the next host. This can be anyone from a significant other, sibling, or family member to a friend or complete stranger. Not all parasites look alike or behave in the same manner. Fleas and mosquitoes catch you unaware to take what they need, while brood-parasitic birds lay their eggs in the host’s nest leaving the host to care for their responsibilities while they disappear. These wolves in sheep’s clothing masquerade as your friend and when you’re not looking they drain you of finances, time, and bring you so low your dreams appear further from reach. Another tactic is to laden you with their worries, burdens, responsibilities and once you have helped them (or taken care of those items on their to-do list) they disappear without having to use their own resources or brain power. Studies have shown, in the regard to insect and organism parasites, parasites can alter the behavior of its host. This too can be true of the human variety. Being stressed and pushed as you watch your resources and energy deplete with no deposits made by the other person, can completely take you out of character.

In contrast, a partner is a member of a partnership, in which there is “an arrangement where individuals agree to cooperate to advance their interests” (Wikipedia). The key words are “cooperate” and “advance”. Forward movement should be a team endeavor, not a solo journey. Contributions should be mutual and equally made. There should be a balance. The strengths of one partner should offset the weaknesses of the other. Both partners, whether familial or friendship, should be working towards a common goal whether that be the relationship itself, encouragement through life’s twists and turns, etc. Exhaustion and emotional strain should not be the byproduct of a partnership, but vitality, a renewed drive to succeed, and happiness.

With that being said, be careful who you let get close to you. A parasite will pull you down in order to rise, but a partner will make sure you both rise together.