Keeping the vision is all about staying focused on your goals in life and staying encouraged. It is very easy to get distracted in life with all of the challenges we can face sometimes. That is why it is so important to keep your vision in front of you and pursue it with all you've got! God has a plan for each of us and it is so important that we ASK him what that plan is and stay on course. It is okay if we slip sometimes on this path because that is what the Blood of Jesus has accomplished. When we fail just plead that Blood and keep pressing towards that vision. In my page I will discuss topics such as relationships, spiritual matters, fun things, and so much more. Just check it out!

"Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]--blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he." Proverbs 29:18

Monday, May 30, 2011

Who Are You Listening To?

Many of you may have seen the childhood film Pinocchio which had a little wooden boy listening to a "conscience" depicted as a little bug named Jiminy Cricket.  This cricket was to lead Pinocchio in the right ways so that he would not get into trouble.  Of course, Pinocchio disobeyed and got into lots of trouble, but as we know the story had a happy ending.  We as Christians have the guidance of the Holy Spirit which is who we are supposed to be listening to in order to be successful and stay out of unnecessary trouble.  Oftentimes, we act just like the little boy and disobey by listening to the wrong voices and end up in worse situations than we have to. Not unlike the little boy though, we have a happy ending as well.  It is up to us to fulfill that ending by being obedient to our "conscience". "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." --Jeremiah 29:11

So who and what are we listening to?  The Bible says "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." -1 Corinthians 15:33. Are we listening to people that are giving us their own opinions not based on the word of God? Are we hanging around a person that does not care what comes out of his or her mouth?  If so, we may become just like these individuals if we are not careful.  We cannot allow the words of a stranger to take root in our spirits.  Many of us start out on the right path, but get influenced by the wrong voices or when we mingle with the wrong crowd as the word says  "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?"  -- Galatians 5:7. What and who we surround ourselves with can often try to overcome the person that God has really called us to be.  Negative people and things in our environment are merely distractions.  Satan does not want you to reach your full potential so he wants to distract you from the word of God by any means necessary.  The Bible warns of Satan's tactics "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly." -John 10:10. The Lord wants us to prosper and be in health even as our soul prospers is what the scripture tells us in 3 John. He desires that we listen to his words in order to complete his will and live a full life.

Where do certain thoughts and ideas come from? Some of the evil out in the world today could not just come without some form of influence or suggestion from an evil spirit.  That is why we must manage our thoughts and as the word says "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" --2 Corinthians 10:5.  Do not listen to these evil voices that only want your death and destruction. 

So, should you take advice from your loved ones? Well first off if they are not saved and working on renewing their minds on a daily basis, then no, probably not.  It is okay to take advice from people sometimes, but what did God say about the situation?  If you do take advice from someone be sure that it is based on the word of God.  Even with that though, the final say should come from up above through what is called a "rhema" or spoken word from God.  We should be consulting with him first and sometimes keeping his instructions completely to ourselves, until he tells us otherwise.

Are we being brainwashed by music and movies?  I personally think it is okay to take in a movie from time to time, but there has to be a balance.  The things that we allow to go into our minds can try to attach themselves to our spirit.  If we are going to watch certain things we must be careful not to meditate on the negative things that some films portray such as illicit sex, violence, profanity etc.. I know for sure that music is powerful.  I can remember where I was and sometimes what I was doing at a certain period of my life when certain songs are played.  That proves just how much music can influence you.  It can change your mood tremendously.  If the song is sad it can make you cry.  If it is upbeat it can make you happy and dance.  If it is fast and intense it could make you angry.  Some songs can even entice you to engage in sexual behavior.  That is how strong music can be.  Of course music can be very powerful on the positive side as well. Gospel music can make you cry tears of joy or shout with a voice of triumph!  Either way it is a force that you cannot deny has merit and must be enjoyed appropriately. 

It's one thing to watch the films and listen to the music of artists, but what happens when we start listening to their beliefs and ideas?  We must be careful when we receive some of the information coming from some of these people because we do not know what's in their hearts.  The word says "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh." -- Luke 6:45.  If an artist is talking about what he or she believes and it does not line up with the Bible we must not entertain those opinions.  Their opinions are being framed by their surroundings and what they are exposed to which could be anything in the world i.e. drugs, alcohol, atheists or whatever else.  You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything.

A lot of times we idolize famous people and aspire to be like them.  Why? Do we feel that they are an inspiration in some way? Maybe. The bottom line is that we should be getting our inspiration from that word of God and other Christians.  Jesus should be an inspiration to us, look at all that he did.  He OVERCAME DEATH, HELL, and THE GRAVE. If that is not an inspiration then I don't know what is.  I think I'm gonna roll with Jesus!  Of course there will always be great people to use as examples, but we should never worship those people.  We should understand that anything good that comes from a person comes from above. 

In conclusion, we must keep our ears clean and ready to hear from God.  Hatred, strife, and envy are all things that could cloud up our hearing.  Put all of these thoughts and emotions away from you in order to receive clear instructions from heaven.  It is the only way to live the BEST life God has planned for you.  In Jesus name Amen!

Monday, May 23, 2011

"5 Things Every Black Man Should Know How To Do" (Podcast)

Here is a link to the podcast interview I did with the Vibe and Vegas Show! Please take a listen. God bless!

Also, a thank you to all of the ladies at my church that inspired some of  the views in this article! Appreciate you!

Click Here To Listen!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Train Them Up!

The Bible instructs us to "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." --Proverbs 22:6  Now this does not mean that a child will not make mistakes, it simply means that when you lay a foundation of Christ in the life of a child he/she will always return to it.  In order to adhere to this scripture and let it's power be effective in our lives we must apply it wholeheartedly.  So let's look into the meaning of the word train.  Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines train saying it means to form by instruction, discipline, or drill. To teach so as to make fit, qualified, or proficient. To make prepared (as by exercise) for a test of skill.  It doesn't get anymore straight-forward than that.  Training is much more than a belt to the behind, even though that is important.  Training is the strengthening of a child so that they will not be dependent on their parents for their entire lives. It is so very necessary for a parent to start early with a child and set a level of excellence and expectancy. Do not be hypocritical in the rearing of a child, so say what you do and do what you say.  I have about 6 principles to apply to the training of a child that could prove very useful towards the upbringing of a youth.  They are to Lead, Educate, Inspire, Disciple, Love and Leave.  So let's go right into it.

"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."--Ephesians 6:4  This verse of scripture tells us that we are to bring children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  We are to encourage and advise our children in the ways of Christ.  We do this by setting a good example in our everyday lives.  Children should see their parents leading fruitful lives.  They should always see you reading the Bible, praying, fasting, giving, serving and so on.  We should not only instruct our children to do these things, but prove that we mean it with our actions.  Anyone can tell a child what to do, but it's the actions that prove the most effective.  The parent serves as a child's guide.  They set the course for the child to follow.  If you want your child to know how to change a tire, show them.  If you want them to know how to tie a necktie, show them.  If you want them to know how to pray and read the Bible, show them.  Do not just expect for a child to take these tasks upon themselves.  Once you train them they can then become accountable for maintaining this information.  Even if they stray, you have done your part in laying a foundation.

Parents are a child's first educator.  From teaching them how to talk, walk, brush their teeth, eat etc..,parents are the first line of communication.  It is the responsibility of the guardian to give a child not only basic skills, but advanced life skills as well.  You should not only read the word to them, but explain what it means to them as well.  Give them study tools such as dictionaries and concordance so that they can seek out the meanings of words.  They use these instruments at school, so why not at home? Speaking of school, teaching does not have to stop with the schoolhouse.  Parents should sit down with their children and explain math, science, social studies, English and language arts.  Do not just expect for your child's future and everything they wish to become to be squarely on the shoulders of an instructor. Yes, it is their job to teach, but it is your job to PARENT and ensure the success of your OWN child. You may not be proficient in all of the subjects, but at least you can get them to the right people.

You should be your child's #1 fan.  You are in their corner and their main source for encouragement.  Positive verbal reinforcement is so very important.  A child wants to know that you care.  Show up to that basketball or football game and cheer your heart out! That's your child!  Make them feel like a million bucks.  Tell them that they can make it no matter how it seems.  You have to speak life over your children.  Instead of yelling and cussing/fussing make sure that you lift them up.  When a child has the proper motivation they can become anything.  A strong support system makes success so much easier to obtain.

If you are going to bring your children up in a Christian household you have to disciple them and show them how to spread the word of God.  There are young people out there that are bringing people to Christ everyday because they have been disciples and taught how to do so.  A child's mind is stronger than some people may know and they are more than capable to spread the word of the Lord.  They must be trained though.  Your children need to be in line with what God says that they can be.  My dad anointed myself and my siblings with oil on our foreheads when we were younger.  He was establishing an atmosphere of expectancy in serving the Lord. He was also saying that we belonged to God and we were covered by his son Jesus' blood.

A child needs love.  Or should I say a child needs God, because God is Love.  Either way you say it, children have to have the presence of love in their lives.  So far, everything I have listed is an expression of love.  Making sure that your child has all of their needs met is a great way to express your love for them.  Food, shelter, as well as meeting emotional and psychological needs is essential to a successful upbringing. Make sure that you are talking to your children about the issues they may be facing.  A child needs to know that they can come to you if they have any concerns about anything.  There are too many secrets in black households today, but that is a whole other story.  Never underestimate how far a hug or a simple acknowledgement goes.  A child will always remember the times that they felt loved by their parents.

Of course you should always be there for your child, but you can't live forever and they don't stay little for long.  Let them go.  You have done all you can, now let your body of work speak for itself.  It's them and the Lord now and that is more than sufficient.  If you have taught them the word and set good examples for them they will be fine. Do not pray and worry about your children.  Just pray and have faith. They will come back to reality.  Everyone makes mistakes, so did you and you turned out okay.  They are just building testimony for when they come to their senses.  They eventually have to make their own decisions and everyone must give an account.  They have to obey the Lord because they have their own personal relationship with him as the word tells us "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. " Philippians 2:12. Your child must see God for themselves, not on your ticket.   Let them truly praise the Lord knowing without a doubt that they love him because of the development of their own experiential knowledge.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

5 Things Every Black Man Should Know How to Do

In order to be the leaders of  households and in our communities there are certain things that we as men have to develop.  While every aspect of manhood won't be discussed here there are a few important aspects of leadership that can be mentioned.  If men are to be the "head" that God called us to be we must submit.  The Bible tells us "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant." --Matthew 23:11  If we want to lead and make decisions we also have to serve.  Every great leader was a servant.  Jesus himself washed his disciples feet.  So what are some of the most important things that we should know how to do as men?

A real man must know how to pray.  A healthy prayer life is essential to any success in life that is from God.  How can he be fruitful in his life and in his relationships if he does not know how to go before the Father in prayer?  A woman must be washed in the word and both the husband and wife should cover each other in prayer.  Jesus constantly prayed and he fasted as well.  So likewise, we as men ought to pray just as Jesus did. "And he spake a parable unto them [to this end], that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;"-- Luke 18:1

Handle his Finances (Provide)
A man must be able to provide for his family and while this provision does not only apply to money, finances are a very important aspect of manhood.  He needs to be responsible with his income and be a lender and not a borrower.  While some of us may still be working towards that goal of being a lender we must in the meantime be faithful with that which we have.  Paying our bills on time, having a savings account, investments, money market accounts etc.. are very useful tools.  Having money is essential "A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all [things]."--Ecclesiastes 10:19.  We must be able to assist others when they are in need, because we are blessed to be a blessing.

Treat a Woman Right
A good man will know how to treat a woman.  He undertands that she has needs and he needs to be attentive to those areas in her life.  Largely a man must treat a woman with RESPECT.  No matter how heated the argument or how touchy the issue he must always respect her.  Men should appreciate the blessing that a woman is and embrace the fact that she was created to be a help meet for us.  This does not mean that she is a slave, just merely she is ordained to assist you and multiply whatever you bring her as a lady minister at my church put it "she reciprocates".  That minister went on to say "If you give her a house she will give you a home.  If you give her food she will give you a meal. If you give her your seed she will give you a child/family." Great words that are so true.  They add so much value to a man's life.  That is why we must take care of them and treat them just as we would Jesus.  If we treat her right we have treated Jesus right, because she is also your sister in Christ. "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me." -- Matthew 25:40

That's right fellas, we need to know how to cook just as much as the ladies.  Especially in a marriage if the wife is out or cannot cook for some reason we need to be able to prepare something for the family.  Many guys at least know how to throw something on the grill, which is great!  It is also good to know how to prepare something in the kitchen.  We have to do it as single men and it can be a great asset in marriage.  We can even give the wife a break sometimes which speaks to that servanthood mentioned earlier.  You are not any less of a man in stepping into the kitchen every once in a while.

Stay Healthy
Finally a man must take care of himself where health is concerned.  Eating right, exercising, and getting good rest are all essential to his success.  Staying healthy also places you in a better position to be used by God.  If you are sick all of the time and tired you will not be very productive.  He should employ healthy living at every opportunity.  This also sets a good example for youth to follow, by providing them with a great role model.  Being relaxed and healthy will lead to a longer more fulfilling life.

Each of these five aspects of life that a man should know can be very beneficial if implemented.  Those that employ these principles are so much more fruitful in their lives than those who do not.  Your relationships will be strengthened from these instructions as well.  Even if you are not operating in all of them right now, that is okay since we are all a work in progress.  We as a community must strive to do better in these areas.  We must continue to learn and grow until we reach a better standard of living.  There are probably many more that could be added to this list but these 5 steps are very vital.  Every man should eventually know how to use these life skills.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Forgiveness vs. Foolishness

"But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." -Mark 11:26  Jesus was explaining the importance of forgiveness even with our prayer lives.  Forgiveness is essential for the Christian in every aspect of our walk with God.  None of us are without fault, therefore how can we withold forgiveness?  Forgiveness releases favor and blessings into our lives.  So why do so many of us have a problem with forgiving?  The hurt and pain of sin and transgession towards us makes it feel hard to forgive at times.  This however, can be used as a point of power and Love.  There are so many instances of forgiveness in the Bible. Forgiveness is mentioned in several books including Matthew, Psalms, Mark, Colossians, Ephesians, 2 Corinthians, Daniel, 1 Samuel, Romans and many others.  While forgiveness is a key part of life to be a successful Christian, we must not be foolish where this is concerned. So what's the difference between forgiving and being foolish?  Let's go a little more in-depth with the subject.

First of all we know forgiveness is an expression of Love, because Jesus expressed Love for us when he bore all of our sins on the cross which cleansed us from sins both past, present, and future for all-time.  Since Jesus died for us and returned with the price paid (with his precious blood) for us we can call on him when we sin "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."" -- 1 John 1:9. Since Jesus forgave we should be like him and forgive also.  No matter how painful it may seem, we must always forgive.  This is something many of us may have struggled with in the past, but must overcome in order to be fruitful in our lives and our walk with God. 

When we do not forgive, we give people power over us.  When someone that we have strife against comes around we allow our entire mood and mindset to change to that of hatred towards them.  We even allow them to ruin our entire day and they may not have spoken one word to us at the time. Our blood pressure may even rise when certain individuals that have wronged us come around and this behavior is is unhealthy and ungodly. How can our blessings flow if we have hatred in our hearts?  It is so easy and tempting to speak negatively of someone that has caused us pain.  We should not give in to this temptation though as we have been told not to do so in the word. "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." --Ephesians 4:31-32. The Bible tells us that we should even get things right with each other before bringing gifts to the altar "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." --Matthew 5:23-24 

When we do not forgive our blessings are blocked.  We should not hold grudges and keep an account of wrong towards us.  "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye. --Colossians 3:13.  So as we see from many examples from God's word, forgiving must become a part of our lives.  Everyday we will have opprtunities to either forgive or throw that away and hold anger and unforgiveness.  God wants us to choose Love and cast our cares on him.  We are not equipped to hold malice towards one another for it is destructive and deadly.  Of course Satan does not mind because he come to steal, kill, and destroy anyway --John 10:10. 

We must not give Satan any satisfaction where unforgiveness is concerned.  We must Love our enemies and do good towards them no matter how they treat us. "But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you." Luke 6:27-28. In life we have to learn to live our lives in a way that pleases the Lord.  He is not pleased with hatred and unforgiveness.  I will end this section with a few verses from Romans 12, which speaks to how we are to act towards our enemies. It is a very powerful section of scriptures. "Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. "--Romans 12:17-21

Now of course we know that we should always forgive for anything no matter what.  We also know that there is power in forgiveness and that we must live a life of forgiveness, but how can we get into foolishness where this is concerned?  Well even though we must forgive, we have to understand that we are dealing with people and human nature.  A lot of times people are "sorry" for something they did, but their minds have not been renewed in that area, therefore they may do it again.  This is when our desire to help someone after we forgive them clashes with foolishness.  We have forgiven them and want to assist them in their recovery, but we do so from an unsafe distance and without full understanding.  It is almost foolish to think that we can change someone anyway.  That is why we must introduce people to the word of God and let him do the changing. 

When we try to take on the challenge of saving someone ourselves we make ourselves vulnerable to hurt and pain which makes it harder to forgive and is thus, a breeding ground for bitterness.  Allowing someone to hurt you repeatedly is foolishness.  If you know that individual has a problem, then you should get them to the right people.  I mean if you stumbled into a pit of snakes and got bitten, and then after you healed would you return to the snake pit? I hope not, because if so you are practicing foolishness, which is what some of us may be doing with the people in our lives.

Sometimes our women are really guilty of this where their men are concerned.  She may be trying to assist a man that has physically abused her and she has forgiven him, but is trying to help him.  So she stays with him and even suffers in silence, because she knows what her friends may say.  He then beats her again and again.  This is foolish behavior.  He obviously needs help that she cannot provide.  She has forgiven him and therefore, she does not owe him anything, except to love him. Women oftentimes open themselves up for more hurt and pain than they have to in the first place.  When they meet a new guy they often fall head over heels and divulge their whole life story in a few hours.  This is also foolish because you must guard your heart so that bitterness, anger, wrath and other impurities cannot enter.  The Bible tells us to "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life." --Proverbs 4:23

When you tell someone everything about you, they can use that information to hurt you.  They must earn your trust, because trust is so valuable, precious, and rare so you should not give it away haphazardly.  With this being said, if we are interacting with someone that we have interest we must keep our hearts at a distance initially until trust is established and proven.  Doing so will ensure that we do not let our hearts become damaged due to misuse from another individual.  So then, we must understand that even though we forgive no matter what, we must also do so with understanding so that abuse does not take root due to foolishness and grow into bitterness, strife, and unforgiveness.  Through Love we always have the victory!