October 6, 2010

Tried in the Fire

As I was watching the nightly news on this week, I was frustrated to see a story about a small community in Tennessee. It was hours away from there area where I was born and raised, but yet it was in my home state. So I became a bit invested in the story before I even understood the extent to which the contents of the news story would frustrate me.

Home Burns, Firefighters Refuse to Respond

What immediately came to my mind was the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40).  It saddens me to see what has become of our treatment of each other in this country. Everything boils down to the almighty dollar.  Being a capitalist country has almost completely alleviated the heart of so many Americans. 

This may sound like a harsh observation, but ask yourself this, 'how in the world could those trained and equipped to fight fires be so callus as to stand by knowing that a family's home is burning down and not do anything about it over $75 worth of fire protection?  I do understand the dynamics of the county budget and such, but this seems almost mafia in spirit.  With any law there is the spirit of the law and the letter of the law. And I would dare guess that this fee was set in place as a way to finance the service, but it has now become the same service that was denied to someone in need.

In this small town, I cant image what makes others in the community able to watch a friend and a neighbor's home burn to the ground based on some principle that is not grounded in Christian love. What happened to the days when we helped our neighbors build and maintain? There is this image in my mind of the neighbors coming with buckets and passing them to each other to reach the flames in a joint effort to put out the fire. There was a time when this seemed like just the right thing to do.  There is no mention of the people in the neighborhood standing up to the challenge to help put out the fire, even though the local firefighters wouldnt fight the fire.  So in my mind, the neighbors are just as much of a concern as the issue with the firefighters. Even if the firefighters refused to work to put out the fire over the $75 fee, why weren't the neighbors willing to pitch in form a plan of action and work to save the home?  Who wants neighbors that will stand by and let your home burn down without at least making some neighborly effort?

As a Christian nation, are we not disturbed to know that we treat each other this way? This family not only lost their home, but they lost family heirlooms and family history.  When do we begin to re-evaluate what it is that we say that we believe? When do we stand up for what is right?

September 29, 2010

Stand By Your Man - pt. 2

As the story unfolds in the media, I wonder if we are thinking with a heart of empathy. I say that because there are some concerns that I have about this woman who is standing by her man publicly.

Many of us would take the stance that it is not our business or that she knows what kind of man she has, but what about the part of the story that is not being told? What about the fact that the media is missing? Are we helpless to respond?

I bring these questions because there are many reasons why a woman stands by her man during scandal or even difficult times. Many times it is from years of being manipulated or abused (physically and/or psychologically). Many times it is because the woman thinks that it is the good Christian thing to do.....to silently pray for the situation and endure. Technorati Tags: , , , , We dont know what Ms.Long has to deal with, but can be concerned that she may be silently crying out for help.

At first, I wondered how she could stand by her husband in the midst of the accusations. But when I saw the clip of the press conference, I thought of her standing by her man as a wife should. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about the pressure that must be on her to not betray this beloved leader in this time of crisis. I cant help but wonder if this has been the pressure that has caused her to turn her head in silence or to be so depressed herself that she was unable to be anything other than powerless to respond.

So many times, we see the public face and have no idea what a person is really living with in their own home. We have become so materialistic that we think of things in terms of monetary value, but many times we forget to investigate the real issues that are present with humanity.

The truth is that manipulative people manipulate. The wife would not be exempt from such manipulation. Abusers abuse and the wife would not be exempt from abuse. Even though it may have manifested in very different ways in the marriage, it is hard for me to believe that she is not a victim in some way. I may not be able to name it or to prove it, but she is hurting from this entire situation more than any of us will ever know.

Is she standing by her man because she loves him so much that she is determined to be there? Is she being forced or does she feel forced to stand by her husband for fear of creating enemies of church members who have their hearts fixed on believing that he is innocent? Is she just waiting for this to pass before she responds to this issue in their marriage? Is she another helpless victim of his behavior?

There are so many reasons why a woman stands by her man. Many of those reasons are honorable, but many of them are the result of psychological trauma, depression, fear....and the list can go on.

In the midst of it all, I would hope that there are those who are able to reach out to her and help her to find her way through this situation with a prayerful heart and the healing that will help her do what is best. After all, the marriage is a sacred covenant that is not be taken lightly, but every human being has a right to live in peace and safety. For whatever reason Ms. Long is standing by her man, I pray that she is able to find healing and restoration in her soul.

September 26, 2010


There is an age old adage that states, ‘behind every great man there is a great woman’. Most take this statement lightly, not realizing the words and actions of a woman can build up or tear down a man. Not only in his self-identity but in his function. Many men live out the words that the woman in their life has spoken over them – whether negative or positive. Many men draw closer or more distant based on the words and deeds of the woman in their life.

This afternoon when I returned from church, I noticed that someone had posted a press conference that Bishop Eddie Long gave following his church service. Aside from the fact that he made no mention of the charges that have been brought up against him, which I don’t find surprising, since any decent lawyer would advise such, what I did notice touched me more than anything else.

So, I am not going to write about any of the allegations, or the legality or the morality issues, or the church, but I am going to write about the woman in the covenant.

Behind him, standing silently was his wife. My heart goes out to her. And I have a great deal of respect for her, all at the same time. It is very easy for each of us to say what we would do if faced with such a situation but opinions are easy when the situation is not your reality.

My imagination is not large enough to formulate an idea of what this past week has been like for her. One can only speculate as to how shocked she has been by all that has been alleged. But what I can guess is that she has a lot of emotion behind this whole scandal.

I wonder how all of this affects her hopes and dreams and even her self-esteem. I wonder what thoughts are racing through her mind as she stands in front of the media, standing behind her husband as he speaks but doesn’t address the matter directly.

But as a wife, in the midst of it all, she was standing there with her husband. So many times when people get married they take their vows as simply some cute words to say to make their love legally legitimate. But when you look at the intent of those words, the hopes of a wedding day, can in no way prepare you for all that a lifetime of life will bring to you as a married couple.

I am always attentive to how a wife responds to the hard situations. It is truly amazing to me to see who stays in love with their man, even when things aren’t the best. It amazes me at who leaves at the slightest bit of discomfort in their marriage. To stand before God and proclaim your dedication to the covenant of marriage is not to be taken lightly. And you should be sure that you can live up to the promise of ‘for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer’.

Staying in a marriage is easy when everything is romantic and making your heart skip a beat, but staying in a marriage when things are tough and unimaginable and when the whole world knows too much about your spouse’s struggles is something.

Love and devotion don’t always go together. It can never be assumed that those who love you will stay devoted to you. On the wedding day, there is more hope than there is a guarantee. Putting trust in another person to guard your heart and your life is a huge step.

When you have put your trust and hopes and dreams in the hands of another person by making the commitment of marriage, you have shifted so many things in your own identity for the greater good of the union. To care for and consider the needs of your spouse become sacrificial expressions of love and devotion.

Every woman wants to be standing with her man when his greatness is being proclaimed, but few want to be there when things are scandalous. So when I see a wife standing behind her man, I cant help but wonder what is it that makes her have the ability to stand there. I think about the shame and anger and embarrassment that I would feel if it were I in that same situation. I can only image, because it isn’t me.

Marriage is so serious. No marriage is perfect. Neither of the two people in the marriage are perfect. When you place your heart in the hands of another person, you give away some of your ability to walk in the kinds of liberties that come with singleness. And when you say that you want to be with someone for the rest of your life, you can expect that all those days wont be great ones. Some days may very well be much worse than you could ever imagine. Plenty of women leave when times get hard or when the money is tight, but if you ask me this is the test of love’s endurance.

Many want the pretty dress and the expensive ring or the house, but do you really want the man that he is……. enough to say that you will stand by your man no matter what comes?

September 25, 2010


As I think back over the years to the scandals that I can remember, many of them involved prominent preachers.  This factor is due to the fact that I was raised in church and a lot of my family experience and social awareness had something to do with church.

One of the things that has always, and still does fascinate me is how people can go beyond respecting, beyond the admiring of gifts, beyond envy, beyond ‘star struck’ over into a completely other zone of literally worshipping the pastor.

In my opinion there is nothing wrong with acknowledging and respecting someone for their gifts, but when transforms into worship then it becomes problematic.
The first reason this is problematic is due to the humanity of the one being worshiped.  The act of worship is reserved for a deity. There is but one GOD, who is the creator and sustainer of us all. God actually spoke to this issue a long time ago, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3- for those of you who didn’t have the Sunday
School experience.)

Simple enough, right?  God tells us that God doesn’t want us to raise any one or anything us as a god in front of GOD. Since God is everywhere and at all times, that means not at all.
We see some of the pitfalls and disappointments that can come from a human being that is treated as a deity in
some of the situations that manifest out of it.  But how do we respect and care for those who are gifted by God without using them as a surrogate?

We as human beings have a responsibility to uphold our end the the individual relationship to God. This would include recognizing the difference in a mortal and God.

Public figures and high profile personalities are still humans. So when we have to look for a source of the
grandiosity the builds up in an person to make them feel that they are above the law or above moral standards, then we have to look ourselves. As we look at ourselves we must ask, ‘have I more respect of this person than I do for the
Almighty God’?

“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are that judge: for wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you that judge do the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And think you this, O man, that judge them which do such things, and do the same, that you shall escape the judgment of God? Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But after your hardness and impenitent heart
treasure up to yourself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: But to them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man that does evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that works good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.” (Romans 2: 1-11)

Each of us is accountable. Each of us should be held accountable for our actions and deeds. Many suffer when turn our heads to the standards and allow injustice to take place. Many suffer when they put too much trust in a human being.

When all else fails, God yet remains and therefore, ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’.

September 23, 2010


Fatherhood is and should be a rank of social status in both the home and the community. There is authority in being a FATHER. On the other hand, being a Daddy, is a privilege. Daddy is the one that takes you fun places and makes things entertaining for you life and development.

Our society has promoted the role of being a daddy to the extent that it has all but alleviated the honor of being a FATHER. There is no wonder that people lack one of the most essential characteristic traits that comes from the impact that a real father has on the lives of those around him. We see it every day in the sense of entitlement that everyone feels to do as they please without regard for how it affects others. We see it in the decline of moral and social standards. It can be described with one simple word, but I think Aretha Franklin sang it best when she belted out, ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me’. What does it mean to us today?

One of the first places that a developing individual learns this concept of respect is from the Father. For he is the one who sets the boundaries of what will and will not be acceptable behavior for everyone in his presence and under his authority. His rank commands that what he says is to be give the utmost attention.

All of this ‘you are fine, just the way you are’, would not have been acceptable a generation ago. So what has changed? Fathers have been socially, morally and legally castrated. It seems to be ok with everyone, since it has not become official with physical castration. But when you take away the utmost identity of a person and their right to walk in their God given identity, you set things out of order. And this state of being out of order is affecting every aspect of our society. We must welcome all real fathers to take their rightful place in the home and in the community. We must encourage those who are slacking in their role as father to understand that they are needed by us all.

Although I am a female, I feel that I have some justified ability to speak on this matter because I am unmistakably a Daddy’s Girl. Anyone who knows me personally can testify to this fact. Also anyone who knows me can tell you that my father lives with authority in his home, in his church and in his community….so much so that there are now those who affectionately call him ‘Papa’. But when I was a little girl, people called him, ‘Mr. Williams’ and those adults who knew him well referred to him as ‘Big George’. And one thing that everyone knew is that you were not going to mistreat his daughter. This was not a topic of discussion. It was so.

Beyond his role as a father to me, he was also not going to let injustice happen to any other child in my neighborhood. His primary focus was his own child, but it reached further to be about the community at large. It was about what was morally correct.

This role of fatherhood didn’t develop in isolation, for my father, it came from his father, his grandfather and a host of men in his community that all understood that they were setting a standard for how the environment would govern itself with some standards of moral sensibility. It was the intention to not let another male give manhood a bad name.

That being said, I can not really find the words to express my frustration at the media fiasco that has come of the father who went onto the school bus to address the children that were mistreating his daughter. I cant condone his language or his verbiage, but I do commend him walking in the role of a father. It is completely within his right to speak to the child who is mistreating his child, and it is completely within him right to speak to the parents of the child or children who are mistreating his child.

More than his use of foul language, I am offended that he is being treated as if he has committed some criminal act for addressing the situation. Now if he had physically handled the child then I might make a different judgment on the matter, but his verbal response to the situation was to shift the boundaries of what was appropriate in the treatment of his daughter on the bus. Basic human rights.

There are those who say that this should have been handled by the authority of the school or by the guidance counselor. SINCE WHEN, SHOULD THE SCHOOL HAVE MORE SAY OR AUTHORITY IN THE PROTECTION OF A CHILD THAN THE BIOLOGICAL FATHER OF THE CHILD?

Statistically there is more justification for the entire community being involved in the raising of a child versus the standards falling on the governmental agencies. Less people went to jail when the extension cord, the belt, the switch and such were not illegal as a form of discipline. I don’t condone abuse, but there is a distinct difference in discipline and abuse. Every time your feelings get hurt you have not been abused.

Now intrusive government has made parents scared to discipline their children. People are walking around scared to make their children behave because some outsider my think it inappropriate. So now we all have to live with the little banshees conducting themselves with no respect for others or themselves.

And this situation on this school bus needed to be addressed by adults. This father is a grown man, so he shouldn’t have to function like a child and go tell someone to make them stop. A Father is not supposed to handle situations like a child would handle the situation by telling an adult. If the situation has escalated to the point of needing further intervention, then it would have been correct to involve the school authorities.

Where I come from we had a kind of fear that caused us to respect adults and conduct ourselves as best we could in the presence of an adult. So it really didn’t matter whose parents they were, we respected them because they were parents. It was that simple. And yes some of those parents didn’t always speak to us with kind and flowery word, but we knew better than to be disrespectful in their presence. We had social boundaries. It made us better people because we grew up with a sense of being in the world that produced a level of character in us that was and is unmistakable.

Now that I think about it, we were just as respectful of the administrators at our school as we were the parents in the neighborhood. And to say that our guidance counselor didn’t play, she was all about making sure we had the best opportunity to learn and think about our future. As teenagers we dreaded having to discuss our misconduct with her just as much as anything else. When we saw her coming down the hall, there was no question that we all became academic soldiers serious about staying focused for the next class. As a matter of fact, most of our teachers and administrators were serious about our academic progress and passed on that love of learning to us.

This is the other reason that this news story of the child on the school bus disheartens me because I want to hear about how the administrators care about the emotional and physical well being of the students on the school bus. The girl in this news story is struggling with all that she had to deal with and I am not seeing anything being addressed but that the father stood up to the children who where bullying the child… so much so that now the father is going to be called a bully. WHAT?

Let me go back to the town where I was raised, and point out all of the adults that were not going to tolerate children conducting themselves any kind of way, whether on the school bus, or anywhere else for that matter. If I went back to the 70’s and 80’s and just think about how we felt when a parent had to look out the door to see what we were doing because we got too loud, or to see who was playing in their yard, then I would have a Christmas list worth of bullies.
In a lot of ways, we knew the boundaries of us as children and the reality that we were not equals to adults. We understood that parents were to be respected. As children, we fought and disagreed with each other, and learned conflict resolution first hand, but the parents set the boundaries to make sure that things didn’t go too far.

If I had to list all of the adults that set us in line and threatened to do us harm if we didn’t conduct ourselves better, then over half of my neighborhood would have been in big trouble with the law because they enforced the social standards that helped us grow up in safety to become decent respectful adults.

Let us stop the media version of castration being done to a father who simple wanted to protect his daughter from emotional and physical harm. And I say, let this father be a father.

Let all fathers, who sincerely want to walk in the God given authority of being a protector and provider for their family and community, stand unashamed as they prepare the next generation to be good and moral citizens.