For Your Good (Guest Blogger: Elvis Gyan)

“You’re from the hood, you’ll never amount to anything” was one of the many phrases I’ve heard when I was younger. Yes, I am from Newark, New Jersey, an area known to be filled with much violence. Yes, I was considered a statistic. Yes, I was looked down upon and was thought to die by the age of 18. Yes, my environment had many negative influences on me. But, you know what? God had bigger and better plans for me. He kept me safe. He protected me. He guarded me. He allowed me to encounter a variety of people with authentic spirits who have walked with me during this journey. It amazes me how God has transformed my life to what it is now. I give Him all the praise and glory.

I am here to illustrate to you today that no matter what your past or present may look like, God has better plans for your future! What the enemy has meant for harm, God has intended for your good. Never let anyone tell you you’ve fallen so far from God’s grace. Never let anyone tell you, you cannot change for the better. Most importantly, never allow anyone to keep you stagnant. All you need to do is be bold enough to make the most important decision in your life. What decision you ask? The decision to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. Speaking from experience, I guarantee He will open your heart, mind, and sprit and elevate you to another level! It’s not about what man says to you or perceives you to be, its about what God says about you. Be well. Be thankful. Be positive. Be blessed. Most importantly, be ENCOURAGED! 

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ElvisGyanElvis Gyan currently serves as one of the Young Adult Leaders at Christ Church. In addition, Elvis works at Montclair State University as the Coordinator of Transfer Experience/Adjunct Professor. He has received is received a Bachelors in Biology, Master in Org Leadership and Higher Education, and is set to pursue his Masters of Divinity Fall 2015 at Alliance Theological Seminary.

Facebook: Elvis Gyan

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/Mrgyan1

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/1_more_phase

The I in Relationships (Guest Blogger: Ruth Joseph)

The I in Relationships
Relationships are inescapable. In world of 7 billion people,1 we spend our entire lives in a repetitive cycle of forming, nurturing or ending relationships. Some are good, some are bad and some are just “ehh ok”. But no matter the status, our lives exist in relationships.
When relationships are healthy, we thrive. However, when our relationships become unhealthy, we are deprived. Scripture tells us that, “bad company corrupts good character (1 Cor. 15:33).” This verse tells us not to hang around “bad company” because they corrupt the “good character” that Christ is forming in us. While this is true, there is another meaning that strikes closer to home.
 
What corrupts healthy relationships is not only the bad company of others, but also the bad company within one’s self!
We can’t ignore the “bad company” in our genes, family, and everyday lives. It’s easy to deflect on others what we are reluctant to identify in ourselves, but we need to stop deflecting and start reflecting. 
Here are two lessons that I learned.
 
1- I was created for relationships. Relationships were not created for me.
In a world that is so individualistic, Christ calls us to a higher standard than self-service. He modeled REAL relationships with His family, His disciples, His enemies, and people in society. In each relationship He didn’t come expecting to be served, but rather to serve in hopes that many would be won to the good character of the Father (Mk 10:45). 
 
2- I grow into a better me when I am in a healthy relationship with you.
We are called to “love one another” as Christ has loved us (Jn 13:34). This kind of love is not of convenience, but rather a free-willed choice. Healthy relationships thrive best when we freely choose love and sacrifice our pride. We are always transformed for the better, when we love through Him.
So take time to reflect on your existing relationships and the bad company that may be hindering all the good God wants you to enjoy.
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RuthJoseph2015Deaconess Ruth Joseph is an emerging young adult leader at Christ Church. Most Sundays, she can be found at the West Campus helping to lead worship or at the altar joyfully dancing during worship. Whether it’s on or off the altar, Ruth has a heart of worship that extends beyond just singing. She is a 316 person that is committed to service (passing love on), as a Community Service Coordinator, Life Group leader and a Bible Study Facilitator for the Quest/College & Young Adult Ministry. Last June Ruth it was an honor to have one of our very own be ordained into the Deaconate Ministry. (Deaconess) Ruth welcomes the opportunity to continue to model 316 within the walls of the church and beyond.

What We Do With What We Know

WhatWeDoResponsibility.

This word conjures up many emotions and responses. Some say we need to “take responsibility.” Others may say you need to “delegate responsibility.” The word responsibility carries a weight that either is fully embraced or flatly denied. Either you will take responsibility or you won’t. It’s your choice.

This thought leads me to a question: “What do we DO with what we KNOW?” NBC says in its service announcements the phrase: “The More You Know”. But, there’s a danger in knowing more that what your willing to act upon. For example, you may know the alarming statistics of childhood poverty but discover your casual approach for doing your part to solve the issue. You may know the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation but find it difficult to live what you repeat.

I’ve been personally challenged by this question lately: “What do I DO with what I KNOW?” The parading of information is not the answer. The gaining of another degree (while admirable) is not necessarily the answer to this question. It is a CORE question. It requires COURAGE.

Let’s be frank, shall we? We know what we know, but struggle with doing what we need to do with what we know. Sometimes, it’s uncomfortable to act upon that which does not fit into what others are doing or what’s popular. It may require confrontation that we’re not ready for or a sacrifice we’re not willing to make. But, I ask this question: What good is it to know much information without the same degree of action that affects positive change?

My prayer for you (and for myself) is that we will make the decision to be change agents for our generation — act upon what we know rather than just speak what we know. Let’s be known more for our investment in getting things done than our eloquence. – RF

The Fighter Within: Interview with Onterio Green

OnterioGreen
Heavyweight Champion and professional boxer Muhammad Ali, considered by many as the Greatest, once said that:

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”

Millions of people witnessed the greatness of Muhammad Ali but didn’t get to experience the sacrifice of training, hard work, and discipline that led to greatness. As a part of the REFlections interview series, I had an opportunity to interview an emerging leader who has developed the fight within. As the E-Pastor and Young Adults Pastor at The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, Onterio Green has developed the discipline of fighting the good fight of faith. His heart’s desire is that you develop that same kind of tenacity. It’s my prayer that this interview challenges your core to be the person God has created you to be. Thanks Onterio for sharing life-changing words!

KEY: RF: Ryan Faison | OG: Onterio Green

RF: If you had to describe yourself in one phrase, what would that sentence be?

OG: A family man. Family is a supreme priority for me. Family always comes first. No matter what else I have on my schedule, my #1 priority is the health and wholeness of my family. This is partly due to my upbringing; I attended 16 elementary schools, 6 middle schools and 4 high schools. These challenges, amongst others, prompted me to take a greater focus on the health of my marriage and family. Above all else, I want to be known as a family man — a man who invests and loves his family first.

RF: Your family is extended to your Potter’s House family in Dallas. As the E-Pastor (Online Campus Pastor) and Young Adults Pastor (BrickHouse), what would you consider the “secret” to godly success?

OG: Teamwork. At the Potter’s House, it is a core value and one of my core values. From top to bottom, teamwork is demonstrated in the daily operations to the national and international conferences such as The International Pastors & Leadership Conference (recently held in Orlando, Florida) and the upcoming Mega-Fest (in August 2015 in Dallas, TX; www.mega-fest.com). Within this teamwork dynamic is structure that allows for fluid communication and greater effectiveness. As E-Pastor, our online campus is the largest campus with over 300,000 viewers around the world. In order for this campus and others to thrive, teamwork is the key.

For example, our Brickhouse Young Adults Ministry is based on team. Our visionary, Bishop T.D. Jakes, has taken a vested interest in the Now Generation. As pastor of Brickhouse, I’m blessed to lead this ministry with a core leadership of eight (8) leaders and sixty to seventy (60-70) volunteer leaders. As leader of The Brick, I employ the same work ethic I had ministering in Upstate NY, Florida, Kansas City and now in Dallas. With over nine years in ministry, I would consider myself a go-getter and a workaholic. Our team has the same flow and we’re excited about the opportunities to serve our generation.

I must say my transition to The Potter’s House was a bit intimidating. You had a high capacity team who are all go-getters! In my time at The Potter’s House, it has been a joy to work such a team that has a global impact. Success in ministry demands teamwork and a strong work ethic!

 

Success in ministry demands teamwork and a strong work ethic! – Pastor Onterio Green

 

RF: Who are your greatest mentors and what are your thoughts on mentorship, especially for our generation?

OG: Pastor Chris Hill (Senior Pastor of The Potter’s House in Denver, Colorado) has been a mentor and spiritual father for me for over 17 years. Pastor Chris has taught me how to be a father, a husband and a man. He has been whispering in my ear and giving me godly advice like a biological father. I also thank Lady Joy Hill for her impartation to both my wife and me over the years. I also have other mentors in my life that speak into my life. They may not be well-known, but their investment in me is invaluable.

Here are some things I’ve learned about mentorship:

  • You can’t choose a mentor. A mentor chooses you. You can’t throw yourself at people and then get upset when they don’t catch you. Our responsibility is to ensure we are open to instruction and to be teachable. This quality is attractive to mentors.
  • God will give you who you need for where you are going. Value every level of mentorship. Don’t despise small beginnings. God will provide you everything you need for where you are going. Trust God to resource you and to be your provision.

 

God will give you who you need for where you are going. – Pastor Onterio Green

 

RF: Onterio, what would you consider the greatest moment or the most exciting moment in the last year?

OG: I must say that the “Running Reckless” Brickhouse Young Adults Conference held in November 2014 was one of the greatest moments in ministry. It was an opportunity for our generation to get Bishop’s (T.D. Jakes) attention. This conference set the stage to restore trust in the older generation to pass the baton to the younger generation. This conference placed attention on valuing the anointing and being poured into. We’re excited about this year’s conference (Running Reckless) on November 20-22 at The Potter’s House in Dallas!

RF: What would you consider the most challenging in the last year?

OG: The most challenging would be the responsibility of being on bigger stages. The transition to larger platforms such as global conferences require a greater level of maturity, character and scope. You are not only talking to the same audiences you are used to. I’m thankful to Bishop Jakes, First Lady Jakes and The Potter’s House family for the opportunity. I realize it is a blessing to be treasured and taken seriously.

RF: On a personal level, what are the most exciting moments for you right now?

OG: It’s watching my children enter their pre-teen years. They’re entering youth ministry and it’s a joy to watch them grow in their relationship with the Lord. At their age, I was not sold out to Christ like they are. It is a joy for me. We pray every morning and to see them take greater ownership of their relationship with God is a father’s greatest joy!

RF: What was the most challenging for you?

OG: Over a month ago, I defeated thyroid cancer. Only a few people knew of the diagnosis and prayer warriors surrounded my family with prayer and intercession. After the surgery, I did post on social media about God’s grace and overcoming power. I didn’t make it public because I think at times Christians cry too much about what’s wrong. My wife and I made a decision to fight. We are fighters! As a leader, you don’t have the time to sit and cry. Check in and fight! We fought in prayer and stood on the promises of God. I’m a living witness to God’s faithfulness! No matter what the situation, don’t stop fighting! Discover the fighter within! 

RF: Speaking of fighting, there are leaders reading this interview that are tired. They have tried different strategies and have not seen the results they were hoping for. They hear of your success and may question what they are missing. What would you say to them?

OG: Great question. As a leader, you have to fight for the dream. But, your dream needs a team. How much is your team invested in the vision? I would even add — can your team explain your vision to you? If not, it’s important to make the vision and mission clear. Also, it’s important (if you’re in a ministry context) to have 100% support of the senior leader and have their public endorsement of the vision. If the senior leader/pastor is excited about what’s happening, others will discover it’s importance and value.

Another key point is prayer. Do you have prayer meetings or prayer times? With all the strategies, goals and dreams, if prayer is missing, you will not have the power of God that you are seeking. Remember — it’s about following God’s will, not the stage lights. Stay consistent and stay committed.

RF: Thanks Onterio. What lasting words will you leave to leaders, especially emerging leaders?

OG: When you read Genesis 37 (the life of Joseph), it actually resembles a life of a young adult Christian leader. The story speaks of purpose, the pit, pharaoh, prison and the palace. Once you discover your purpose, you may find yourself in a pit. In those seasons, don’t check out. Don’t give up. After the pit, you may find yourself in front of the leader! The pharaoh stage is the season of learning how to serve and honor your leader. If you cannot serve the vision of your leader, God will not entrust you with your own. As a leader, you may even find yourself in a prison. You may feel like you’re stuck. But, the prison stage always precedes the palace. When you read the life of Joseph, in every stage, He honored God in his words and behavior.

As a leader, you have the opportunity to impact your generation in unique ways. God has shaped you for purpose. Trust God to set your path and watch Him do supernatural things in your life. I’m thankful for God’s grace and look forward to what’s ahead!

Connect with Onterio

Booking: www.onteriogreen.com

Onterio On Twitter: @OnterioGreen

Onterio on Instagram: @OnterioGreen

The BrickHouse Young Adults Ministry: www.facebook.com/bricked

Running Reckless Conference (November 20-22, 2015): www.brickhouseya.org

BrickhouseRevised
Brickhouse Running Reckless Young Adult Conference takes place on November 20-22, 2015 at The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas | www.facebook.com/bricked

Lights vs. The Light

Lights

 

“Am I not trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Apostle Paul, Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

I see it. So do you.

The famous. The celebrities. The popular. The trendy. The next big thing.

If you have a pulse, it’s extremely difficult to avoid the constant barrage of media coverage of those in the public spotlight. The entertainment networks and shows have wall-to-wall coverage of their every move: who is getting married, who is getting divorced, who is having a baby, who is starring in the next big film or ready to release new music. The celebrity industry has proven to be profitable simply by reporting on what well-known people are doing that don’t know you (i.e. TMZ anyone).

Our culture is fascinated by the spotlight of popularity and fame. The growth of social media has only exacerbated the growing trend through a plethora of shares, likes and reposts. Yet, this celebrity culture has swept through the Church as well. Stars are being born and groomed in the pulpits, on the stages of major conferences, and in the latest popular song of worship (and sometimes it makes you question — who are you worshipping?).

God is using this generation to proclaim and declare the Gospel to every corner of the earth and people of all walks of life. I applaud Christ-followers who use their gifts and anointing to reach the celebrity that everyone thinks they know. But, we must clearly differentiate between the lights of men and THE LIGHT of the world!

As I read the Scriptures, I see Jesus as a man and servant who did not coddle to the whims of men but the will of God. As a result, His popularity waned and even those that used to support Him turned their backs on Him. Jesus fully understands the blowing winds of being popular. But, He came to point people to His Father, not His fame. He came to show the world full of darkness that His Light could pierce through the abyss of sin. He came to set you free.

As tempting as it can be, watch out for the lights. The lights of men can shine on you but also shine on your pride. It can suck you into the never-ending cycle of appeasement and compromise. There’s nothing wrong with using your influence to share the Good News, but make it a priority that you are sharing His news, not yours. The comparison game must end. The subtle or direct competition amongst Christ-followers must cease. We have a world desperate for the Gospel message.  This message is not relegated to a sermon or a song, but it’s a life message we can all live.

For it’s THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD that’s needed now more than ever. With the racial tensions in our cities, the catastrophic events around the world and the apathetic disposition binding our generation, we must ask ourselves the question: Are we caught up in the lights or THE LIGHT? When you are caught up in THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, you have identity, purpose, destiny and significance. Be encouraged to know that God will use you right where you are and He will raise you up at the proper time. But, when you are raised up for purpose, remain humble. Stay connected with Him. When His Light shines through you, you will never have the need for “the spotlight”. It’s already in you. – RF

Amazing Adventure with God!

 

AmazingAdventure

Boring. Status Quo. Dull. Redundant. 

The above words should never be used to describe our relationship with God. Too often, followers of Christ seem to be drowning in their own despair, exhibiting signs of a mundane existence. The hope we confess has been silenced by the challenges of life. The joy that is meant to be our strength has alluded too many. Faith in God was never meant to be a chore — but an amazing adventure!

God is an adventurous God! He invites us on the adventure of life to discover unknown territory and to experience unforgettable moments. For God, there’s nothing hazardous or risky for Him. But, for us, this amazing adventure should represent faith-filled risks and taking daring steps into the unknown. In God’s infinite wisdom, He knows that taking an adventure with Him will change our lives forever.

Doesn’t the Scriptures tell us that…

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain or what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

When you make the decision to take an amazing adventure with God, there will be things you do not see. You will not have complete understanding of the terrain. That’s the plan! We are placing our faith in God who is leading us, not placing our faith on what’s ahead of us. In the Gospel of Matthew 14:22-33, if Peter kept his eyes on Jesus rather than the reckoning winds around him, he would have no doubt walked completely on water to Jesus. But, his fear prevented this from happening and Jesus made it clear — you have little faith.

But, here’s the key: Jesus never said Peter didn’t have any faith at all. This experience for Peter was the precursor of him taking even more risks and becoming a Kingdom builder! If you have rejected the adventure before because of fear, anxiety or doubt, take heart! God offers this adventure everyday you wake up and every moment you use your faith to believe in His unrivaled power.

How do you begin to take an adventure with God?

1. Speak words of life! 

Your words will inform how you live. If you keep declaring your life is boring and dull, guess what? It will become boring and dull. Speak words of life over you — that you will prosper, will succeed, and will accomplish the will of God for your life.

2. Pray for new adventures from God!

Seek God for new adventures and new opportunities to grow in your faith. I must caution you though: It may not come the way you expect. It may arrive at your door by way of challenge, crisis or conflict. It may come in an unexpected way. Stay connected to the Jesus — the vine — and receive His strength to accept the challenge.

3. Discover how to give God glory through the unknown!

It can be downright frightening to be led into new opportunities or challenges that you may feel unprepared for. Yet, without faith-filled risks you cannot take ownership of faith-filled rewards. As you use faith to embark on this adventure, always give God glory for the lessons learned and opportunities given.

Jesus was attractive too many not solely on his mastery of doctrine or theology. His appeal was the endless adventure He pursued and accepted. Our attractiveness to others is not about how many times we say Jesus, but live like Him. Take an adventure with God! Go for new dreams and new goals! Don’t hold back because of fear. God has too much in store for you to live in boredom. Your life in God should be marked by the exciting adventure that awaits you. Go for it! – RF

 

The Power of Preparation

REFPrepare

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.” – Luke 12:35 (NIV)

At an early age, my parents and family instilled in me the importance of being ready. I can recall a time when my mother said to me, “Ryan, we are leaving at “such-and-such” a time. Make sure your lunch is ready.” At the time, I was in elementary school and was grown enough to make my own lunch. However, I had to manage my time because if I waited in the morning, I would be late. One night, I didn’t feel like making my lunch. The next morning, I was rushing and didn’t have time to make it. My mother’s car was the only transportation I had. It was time to go and I was lunch-less. Let’s just say I was on a fast that day! Lesson learned.

But, this lesson of being ready can be translated into the power of preparation.Where you are right now is an opportunity for you to prepare for what’s next. I’ve learned that when you complain, procrastinate or dismiss the season you’re in, you will not be ready for the next. In fact, you may disqualify yourself because of your attitude. I’ve been there. I know the frustration of feeling stuck or stymied. There’s no doubt that we can all get stuck in place without prospects of moving forward. But, in many cases, we may confuse being stuck with getting trained and ready.

Preparation offers the opportunity to go deeper — take a look at your motives, your character and your agenda.

  • Have you taken the time to figure out why you do what you do?
  • Why are you friends with him or her or them?
  • Why did you pursue this career?
  • Why are you spending this much time on the unfulfilling and dismissing your call?
  • Do you have a plan for the next 5, 10, 20, 30 years of your life?
  • Do you know where you are going?

Have you ever been a passenger in a car with a driver that doesn’t know where they are going but act as if they do? It’s the worst!! You wasted time (that you can’t get back), gas (which is going up again) and prompted needless frustration due to the pride of a driver that won’t admit they have no direction. The same applies to life. Even if you make a wrong turn or find yourself at a dead end, it’s not the end of your journey. You made a mistake. We all make mistakes. Turn around and get on the right path!

From a Christian perspective, I have heard many people say “I’m waiting on God.” It may be true. But, waiting doesn’t mean an absence of productivity or fruitfulness. Waiting on God is not a stalling tactic. The power of preparation says that I may be waiting but I’m learning and growing as I wait. Then this way — the opportunities coming my way don’t have to wait on me!

At an early age, I loved to sing. My parents brought me my first microphone with a stand. I sang my heart out on that thing. I kept singing. When I outgrew the microphone stand, I found other ways to sing. But, I didn’t know God was preparing me to sing before Him, to minister to others and one day preach His Word. I wasn’t sure what was ahead but I’m thankful that I knew not to stop preparing.

Wherever you are in life, preparation is waiting on you; it’s power and it’s potential. It’s your choice. But, I would humbly advise you take up serious prep. Your future depends on it. – REF

 

Watching The Parade (…While Waiting For Your Promises)

refparade2

What do you do when others receive what you have been desperately waiting for?

It’s a question I receive quite often and have contemplated myself from time to time. It’s similar to watching a parade.

The massive floats and colorful banners are on display.

The procession of bands play with precision and on beat.

The grand marshals and celebrants wave boldly to those watching.

And you are watching all of this activity on the sidelines.

The same scenario can be likened to waiting for what God has promised you. This process would be manageable if you only were experiencing the stretching of preparation. But, quite often, the process of waiting extends much farther and wider than we tend to admit. Many times, God will allow you to be exposed to the success, achievements and accomplishments of others — just to see how you will respond. It’s like watching the parade go by.

I’ve never seen a parade that doesn’t draw attention and crowds. Other streets are blocked off in order for the parade to go on uninterrupted. You’ll hear the crowds cheer the participants of the parade with great enthusiasm. When others are blessed with opportunities and God’s promises for them coming to pass, it should be celebrated! God answered prayers! God honored the wait! In the midst of the celebration, has the question ever rose up in your heart: “God…how long must I wait?” or “When is it my turn?” or “I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but have you ignored me?”

If the truth be told, these questions wrestle with our faith from time to time. Doubt creeps in like a thief ready to rob the treasure of faith. Worry mounts like a brick wall tumbling down. Jealousy seeps in like a suffocating odor. If not checked or addressed, the sin of unbelief will cripple you at every turn. I know the parades of success go by, even those blessings that you’ve been praying for. I know how difficult it can be when others (unintentionally or in some cases intentionally) talk about their blessings at every turn. How do you handle it when you are battling coming to terms with your own waiting process?

Here’s some tips that have helped me along the way:

(1) Celebrate Others More Than You Celebrate Yourself

In our narcissistic-driven culture, we are told to celebrate ourselves as if we are gods ourselves! It’s all about us, all the time. But, if we are to overcome the envy, jealousy or depressive state that comes with others receiving what you’ve been waiting for — celebrate others more than you celebrate yourself! This takes time but it also takes intentionality. I’m not suggesting putting on an act as if you are happy for someone. God does not honor inauthentic presentations. God gets glory when we celebrate what He is doing in the lives of others. Rather than focusing on what someone received (in the right, honorable manner), celebrate the Source!

(2) Meditate On His Word and His Sure Promises

The reason why the “parade of manifested promises” bother many is because they spend too much time harping on it. When you focus on what God is doing through and in you, there’s not much time to languish over what you could have done in comparison with others. The way to focus is to meditate on God’s Word and His promises in His Word. Joshua 1:8 declares Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” The Word speaks for itself.

(3) Compliment! (Don’t Compete)

I’ve personally witnessed others being blessed and promises coming to pass — for the benefit of others! It wasn’t only for them but for those connected to them. This is why we celebrate as well! Why compete when you can compliment? Why give “shade” when you can shed light on what God is doing in the lives of many?

Despising your waiting is despising God’s preparation in your life. While you watch the parade of promises coming to pass in the lives of others, learn and grow from it! Discover ways to glean from their experiences and humbly ask how they persevered through trials. God allows the parades to go by externally to expose you to what He’s working internally. – RF

Untold Stories from Ferguson, MO [HuffPost.com]

The Untold Stories in Ferguson, Missouri [HuffPost]

The unfolding events in Ferguson, Missouri have awakened the conscience and debate of the nation over social justice, racism, militarization of the police, and civil rights. Michael Brown, an African-American young adult, was shot multiple times in the street by a police officer (who happened to be a Caucasian male). The disturbing element of the story is how Mike Brown was unarmed and reportedly surrendered with hands up and was still shot. The investigation is ongoing, but the debate and political discourse have placed the United States of America on high alert — our racial and societal issues are still rampant and need to be addressed.

While the stories of police using tear gas and arrests being made are reportedly widely in our media, check out this story from the HuffingtonPost on the untold stories of good happening in Missouri.

Source: Huffington Post [http://www.HuffingtonPost.com]

The Mocking (The Lebron James Factor)

The MockingAdmittedly, I’m a Miami Heat fan.

I’ve heard the accusations of jumping on the bandwagon of the reigning NBA Championship team. However, this is not so. In my own defense, I’ve been a long time fan of the New Jersey Nets. When they decided to move to Brooklyn, they severed ties with me! With that said (and cleared up), I’ve watched the Miami Heat’s seasons of victory and defeat. Now, they have the unique opportunity to be a part of history by becoming NBA Champions three times in a row. If achieved, it will be noted that this is not an easy feat.

After a young adults bible study, I watched ABC to see the last quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. It was already widely reported by this time that the arena was experiencing an air conditioning shutdown. The fans were using fans to fend off the heat (no pun intended)! The conditions in the arena affected game play, especially with one of the most celebrated players in all of basketball – Lebron James. During gameplay, Lebron experienced severe cramping resulting in him forfeiting the opportunity to finish the game. It can be disputed by sports analysts and fans, but when Lebron left the game, the Spurs went on a great running streak. When the game was over, the Spurs were victorious.

This blog post is not to address what happened during the game. Rather, I want to address the mocking that took place after the game. Lebron James “haters” began to post photos on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, mocking how he left the game and why.

“If it was Michael Jordan, he would have played.”

“Kobe had a ruptured achilles and walked off! They had to carry Lebron off!”

These comments and memes began to flood the social media world. They had a new word for the mocking called “LEBRONING”. People from across the country began posting photos of friends carrying them, mimicking Lebron James in pain.

After seeing this — a thought crossed my mind.

Whether you are a fan of Lebron James, the Miami Heat or even the game of basketball, there’s a lesson to be learned. When you are striving for excellence, prepare yourself for THE MOCKING. Subtlety or directly, it will come. In the case of NBA Finals Game 1, before the evening was up, thousands of TV viewers (most of whom have never walked on a basketball court let alone play the game) reveled in the opportunity to make fun of the reigning NBA Champion. It is as if they were awaiting the moment to criticize, harass, or make fun of a celebrity-athlete…who experienced pain.

When asked about the internet wave, Lebron commented by saying he didn’t care what people thought. I don’t know what’s in his heart, but I seriously doubt it didn’t have some affect on him. The criticism ranged from not being like Michael Jordan, not being strong enough like Kobe Bryant and not doing enough to properly hydrate himself. “Well, the other players had to deal with the same conditions. Lebron, get over yourself..” leaves the mouth of viewers who may have never experienced a cramp while playing a sport.

Beyond the Lebron James factor, think about your own life. You may have experienced this in a similar way but not in the national spotlight. As soon as you fail to meet a standard or make a mistake, others around you or who strategically surround you pounce like a caged tiger, ready to devour you with their words. They were waiting for an opportunity, an opening to criticize your gift, your talent, your personhood, your character. But, like in the case of Lebron, most of those who criticize aren’t doing what you do or feeling what you feel. They are observing. They are watching how you time and time again rise above the naysayers and pursue your dreams and goals. Rather than supporting and encouraging, their bitterness turns to criticism devoid of any understanding and sensitivity. 

When you have those who mock, keep them in your prayers. The emptiness of their lives drives them to criticize the fullness in yours. In the case of Lebron James, if he retired right now, he doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone but himself. He’s the type of athlete who has yet to reach his full potential and has already garnered top honors in the NBA and the sports world. You may have not reached your full potential, but you have achieved much. Keep striving. Keep pressing even in the midst of the mocking. Mocking is not blocking. The words of others will never block the Word of God over your life. -RF

BTW: Go Heat! (Much respect to the San Antonio Spurs)