The Black Church and The Black Lives Matter Movement

The Black Church exists because of white supremacy and racism. In America, Blacks were forced to worship separate from Whites. Since then, the Black Church has given Black Americans purpose and the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. 

Historically, the Black Church is known for being the spiritual center for Blacks in America. It has been the catalyst for social justice, civil rights, and education. Many Black leaders were discipled and set in motion by the Black Church. Since the emancipation of slaves, America has found new ways to oppress Black people and we are still fighting the collective sin of white supremacy and racism. 

Recently, America witnessed a white cop kill a Black man without any remorse. The world saw George Floyd helplessly beg for his life and the Officer didn’t care. After this tragic event, rioting, protesting and looting broke out across America and the world. Yet again, Blacks are fighting for their basic human right—to live. 

This time, the Black Lives Matter movement is leading the way towards justice and equality. However, its prominent leaders are not clergy. Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013, by three women, in response to the unjust acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murder. Since then, this multi-faced movement has gained momentum and notoriety across America and the world. According to the website, “Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.”

After reading what Black Lives Matter stood for, I wondered if the Black Church fully supports and understands this movement’s agenda?

I spoke with a young minister from the Black Church who said, “I think we understand Black Lives Matter as a slogan, but don’t understand the movement.” This quote led me to reflect on the Black Church and the Black Lives Matter Movement. 

During my own frequent strolls through social media, I have seen different Black clergy using the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, but I haven’t seen an official endorsement by black churches in support of the actual movement and its agenda.  In my opinion, the lack of Black clergy leadership in the forefront of this movement, makes it easy for the Black Church to disregard the actual agenda of the movement. With that, the Black Lives Matter Movement agenda isn’t being implemented in the Black faith community  except through marches. Unfortunately, we resort to using the hashtag for our own cavalier purposes. I’m not here to condemn our efforts. I believe there is an anxiety or fear that something bad will happen to those who partake in the implementation of the Black Lives Matter movement agenda. Some believe it is too radical and the methods are too abstract and risky for members of the Black Church to partake in.

Furthermore, I believe the movement itself is more diverse than its slogan. Many different people from diverse backgrounds are supporting and advancing the actual agenda of the movement; from Whites to Transgender politicians. This leads me to then ask a few more questions of the Black Church: Does the diversity and abstract methodology used to fight injustice impede on the traditionalism of the Black Church? Does the idea of fighting for ALL black lives infringe on basic Christian theology (i.e. Black LGBTQ lives, Black Muslim Lives, Black Atheist Lives). Is it permissible to fight for those who do not believe in or serve our God? 

In this article, I want to offer three ways the Black Church can understand and participate in the Black Lives Matter movement to maximize our fight for justice and equality in America.   

  1. Recognize that we are fighting the same fight. We all want liberty and justice for Blacks in America. To that point, I think the Black Church has to release its righteous indignation. For example, many Christians are judging who is worthy of fighting for. This mentality goes against the very Gospel we believe in. An example of this mentality is how some are recounting all of George Floyd’s past mistakes and wrongdoings to justify why he isn’t worth fighting for. My question for a Christian struggling with this is, did God withhold His love and sacrifice of Jesus because of your past and current sin? Certainly not. God sent Jesus to save the world (John 3:16). Therefore, we should take on the mindset of Christ and fight for the lives of those who are killed unjustly despite their background or skin color.
  2.  I believe the tension lies in the methodology used to fight injustice. To this point, I believe everyone should do what they are comfortable doing to protest. However, silence or no participation is unacceptable. Yes, I believe in non-violence protests. But, I also believe in Martin Luther’s King Jr. quote, “Riots are the language of the unheard.” I believe this level of rebellion advances the movement as well. Nonetheless, our actions shouldn’t cease because everyone isn’t fighting the same way. There are different methods to fighting.
  3. We must be willing to see one another. A greeting in the Zulu tribe is Sawubona. It means “I see you.” It’s letting the person you’re in front of know that you acknowledge their existence. Let’s hear what the leaders of the movement had in mind. Let’s read the website. Let’s educate ourselves on the movement and treat its intent with respect. 

In conclusion, in Isaiah 61:1-2 it is written: 

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.”

In the New Testament, Jesus read this same scripture and stated the scripture was fulfilled. Jesus gave us insight into the will of God and the role of the Minister/Clergy. We are to fulfill the scriptures and we are not at liberty to choose who we do it for. As a Minister and member of the Black Church myself, I’m committed to understanding the Black Lives Matter movement. I’m open to the diversity and inclusion it will take. At the same time, I’m certain about my identity in Christ and commitment to do His will. With that being said, any Christian afraid to take action, educate yourself. Lastly, love your neighbor as you love yourself and leave the final judgment to God.

How God Rescued Me From Porn

I am writing to my brothers and sisters in Christ who are battling with an addiction to pornography. I want you to know—God can rescue you. In this post, I’ll share some research on porn and the negative impact it can have on us. Then, I’ll share how God rescued me from it after being addicted for many years.

According to research from PsychCentral, 40 million Americans regularly visit porn sites —

70% of men aged 18 to 24 visit at least once per month, the largest consumer group of online porn is men between the ages of 35 and 49, and Sunday is the most popular day of the week for viewing porn.

What society views as a normal activity, is actually something that is damaging sexual health, harming relationships, contributing to mental illness, and is influencing sex slavery.

For thousands of years, images have been created to tell a story. From the walls of ancient caves to sculptures, people have used imagery to showcase aspects of the human experience— including sexual activity. Some have considered sex scenes and nude images a work of art, while others consider it obscene.

Despite which side of the spectrum we fall on, the power and possession images have over the mind and behavior of people is evident. For the ancient world, the debate was centered around images and art. Today, it’s centered around pornography: the filming of sexual activity to be shared with viewers on a screen. Film and technology allow mass access to imagery more frequently and primitively. Viewers can watch sexual activity as much as they want, whenever they want.

Why do people, especially men, find pleasure in or desire to watch individuals or groups of people engage in sexual activity on a screen? In most cases, those showcasing sexual acts on screen are complete strangers to the viewer. The viewer has no physical connection or relationship with those they are watching. However, the viewer is aroused by the imagery and compelled to perform sexual acts with themselves through masturbation or brought pleasure by the mere sight of it.

Somehow, The imagery on the screen virtually penetrates the mind and emotions of the viewer and posses them to engage. The viewer is brought pleasure by the sight of something they can’t physically touch and their mind is stimulated and changed by every image they see.

Before I go any further, as mentioned earlier, I was a viewer of pornography. For 16 years, I frequently viewed it. I was exposed to it in 1997 at the age of 10 years old. From 10 to 26 years old, I derived pleasure from images on a screen. From VHS to internet websites, I watched other people perform sexual acts with one another for half of my life.

So how did God rescue me from porn?

For those of you who’ve read my prior blog posts, you know that 2012 was a pivotal time in my life. During that time, I spent some time incarcerated. God used that time to discipline me and reveal the darkness I had inside of me. I had an encounter with God. I realized how pornography made me feel comfortable around strangers having sex. It distorted my moral compass and made my brain believe things about sex that were not true in real life. Honestly, I didn’t understand the true purpose of sex. Unfortunately, I viewed real life like porn.

Once I realized this, I had a decision to make. That day, I gave my darkness to God and decided to walk in the light. I turned from porn. I surrendered to God and allowed Him to rescue me. From that point, I learned the true purpose of sex. I learned that God created sex exclusively for man and woman, who are married, to procreate and find pleasure in it. He created it as a form of intimacy between two people who know and love one another. Once I accepted this truth, I gave up everything that caused me to watch porn. I sold my iPad and iPhone and bought an old phone with no internet connection. When my mind became clear and free, I read the Bible more and watched only rated PG movies. To this day, I close my eyes on sex scenes. I reserve anything related to sex for my marriage. This didn’t happen over night. I had to work at monitoring what I viewed. Moment by moment, year after year, the desire went away.

It’s been 7 years since my rescue and I haven’t watched it since. Here are three things God did to rescue me:

1. He disciplined me. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6 ESV

2. He forgive me. God’s forgiveness through Christ Jesus released the guilt and shame that came with watching porn. “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”Romans 5:8 ESV

3. He made my eyes healthy. The less provocative things I watched, the less I desired them. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23 NIV

I’m not subscribing a formula for rescue. I’m simply sharing my testimony with you. 7 years later, I have my iPhone and iPad back. I share all social media outlets with my wife for accountability and follow people who don’t post sexual content. God has been faithful to me. I know it is by His spirit that I am free. Scripture says,

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

I pray that God would answer your prayers and set you free from the battle against porn addiction. I pray that God would rescue you and provide you with a way of escape. I’ll leave you with this scripture:

“O Israel, keep hoping, keep trusting, and keep waiting on the Lord, for he is tenderhearted, kind, and forgiving. He has a thousand ways to set you free! He himself will redeem you; he will ransom you from the cruel slavery of your sins!” Psalms 130:7-8 TPT

With Love,

Your Brother in Christ

Faith and Finances

Growing up, it seemed like everything I wanted required an amount of money I didn’t have. From shoes to clothes and hanging out with friends—it all cost something! My understanding of money stemmed from not having it and not having money caused me to want it more than anything else. 

 

When I was a little boy, I stole ten dollars out of my mother’s purse. I’ll never forget that day. It was Friday. My school was selling pickles and popcorn and she wouldn’t give me money for it. On that Friday, I bought my cousins and I pickles and popcorn and we ate it before we arrived home. When I got home, I got a nice whooping for my behavior. As a child, raised by a single mother, I had no idea how my stealing impacted her finances. After that day, I knew money had to be earned-not stolen. 

 

Fast forward to teenage years. I started working at the age of thirteen. I couldn’t wait to earn my own money because I knew it gave me access to what I wanted. At this job, I was making three hundred dollars every two weeks. My mother set up a bank account for me and having my own money was everything I imagined. When I got paid, I bought what I wanted. I never saved and I ran out of money the week I got paid. Anxiously, I waited for my next check to have money again. The wait was painful!  My mind was filled with thoughts of what I would do next with the money. I spent until I had no more.

 

Money was important to me. I literally loved it. I loved all that I could do with it. Therefore, I worked as much as I could to obtain money. I’ve been in the workforce for 19 years and I’m only 32!

 

For the first quarter of my life, I thought the money was the source of life. I didn’t understand money as a resource given by God. However, when I started my journey with God, the Bible gave me a new perspective on money. I learned three valuable lessons I would like to share:

 

1. God is the Source of Life 
2. What You Spend Your Money on–Shows Where Your Heart is 
3. Giving is an Act of Worship unto God 

 

God is the Source of Life

 

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis‬ ‭1:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭24:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

After reading scripture, I learned that God is the creator of the heavens and the earth and everything in it (Genesis 1). This fact alone changed my mindset. If God created me; then, my livelihood is reliant on Him not money. Without God, I can’t work—let alone breathe. Therefore, God is the source of life. Without God, money wouldn’t mean anything.

 

What You Spend Your Money on, Shows Where Your Heart is 

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew‬ ‭6:21‬ ‭NIV

 

When I reflect on my past and what I spent my money on, I can see my heart desires. I desired to be accepted by others. Everything I bought was to cope with my brokenness and rejection. Majority of my life, I spent my money on new clothes and shoes, food, and entertainment. I spent it to make me feel good and to make people like me. Every time I gave, I expected something in return. I used money to create a life different than the life I truly had and I never made enough to do that.

 

 

Giving is an Act of Worship Unto God

 

I had no idea that money could be given without getting something back. Before this revelation, I viewed money as power to purchase. I never saw it the way God meant it to be. Once I allowed God into my life, I discovered I was a steward of the money I earned. As an act of worship to God, I can use my money to help people. I started to view money as a way to sustain my life and bless others. Now, I give as an act of worship to God. I give to people in need, my local church and other places I feel led to give. In conclusion, I learned that money is only a resource God gave us to do His will on earth. We have to give our finances to God and spend money in a way that honors and brings Him glory. That looks different for everyone.

Part One: Father Hunger

As any young man, there was a need for my father.

But like so many others, mine was not there.

Robert McGee, author of “Father Hunger,” describes this book-entitled condition as an individual having a deep need for love and affection of their father. Because this need is unfulfilled, they feel empty, which oftentimes evolves into bitterness, fear, and pain. I know for a fact I suffered from this and to be honest, I’m still processing some of the effects.

My father hunger would spark great reflection upon my relationship with God. Did my father’s absence hinder my understanding of God’s word? Did my father’s absence limit my ability to comprehend God and His purpose for mankind–specifically, His purpose for men? To answer these questions, some studying was required, and I was moved to start with the book of Genesis in the Bible.

Genesis starts with the creation story of man, Adam and from Adam, God creates a woman, Eve. What’s so crucial about this is God creates man in His image, but the Bible does not say God is Adam’s father.

A couple questions arise for me: was Adam fatherless? Or was God his father? If God is Adam’s father, how did he raise him? In my opinion, God proves great fatherhood here—Adam inherits everything God creates. This proves God believes in legacy. Also, God instructs Adam to name what He has created—this is teaching Adam responsibility, the power of his words, and also what is mine is yours. Furthermore, Adam overall has direct access to God. In order for any father/son relationship to work, there must be honest, open, transparent communication.

With that being said, we only have a rather short narrative of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. God gives Adam and Eve instructions and they disobey. As a result, they were punished by God. Thus, Adam is the first father on earth.

From Adam, many fathers are born. However, God is not pleased with mankind. As punishment, He floods the earth but spares Noah and his family. God starts over with Noah–establishes a new covenant and he then becomes the first father of the new world. Throughout the Old Testament, after Noah, we see an incredible lineage that is God-focused but also, we see a great covenant with God. The father establishes a relationship with God and teaches his son to have one. In his death, his son(s) will continue on and fulfill the work of God.

God’s covenant was first threatened by the systemic prosecution of sons in Egypt. In the book of Exodus, Pharaoh attempts to destroy God’s covenant by killing the Hebrew sons (God’s chosen people). Moses would then become the first example of being fatherless but chosen to fulfill God’s work.

Moses’s mother sent him away to protect him from persecution. Moses was adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh and was raised within the empire as an Egyptian. However, it was not until he connected to his father-in-law, Jethro, that he has a mind-blowing encounter with God and discovers the purpose of his life. From a biblical standpoint, it is evident fatherhood is essential to God’s mission.

This intentional obstruction of God’s covenant and destructive mentality is relevant today–the war on the Black family. Young Black men are not legally being killed, but you see the attack on them through police brutality, discrimination, and racial bias. But these are remnants of the oldest system of oppression: slavery–a tragic era where Blacks were handled as property and most importantly, their family structure didn’t matter. Therefore, in order to keep the property in compliance with the overarching goal, the family was separated. The father was removed and sold to another owner or worst, killed. Now, 72 percent of Black children are born without fathers according to the US Census Bureau. This then inspired reflection on my father’s absence from a systemic perspective and raises a couple more questions: if this is God’s covenant, where do I fit in God’s mission as a fatherless man? Am I qualified to be used by God without being raised by a father?

Although my father was absent, I understand now it wasn’t his fault–completely. As a black man in this country, I have discovered my father and I exist within a system designed not only to impede upon and sever our dynamic but also, ensure this cycle continues through generation to generation. In 1987, my father was 19 years old when I was conceived. He was a Black boy who made an adult decision. He didn’t have the resources or knowledge to raise me. I’m confident there wasn’t a father figure in his life to steer or lead him in the direction he should go. Nor was he my mother’s husband. He was a byproduct of a system that forces Black men to abandon their greatest commitments–their families, and/or also, self-destruct. Yes, I grew up fatherless, but all hope was not lost. In part two, I will explain how I satisfied my father hunger. In the meantime, let’s reflect on this post. In one word, drop how you feel in the comments.

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