Sanctified Brother

The Good One That Got Taken.

Month: July, 2012

Give Up the Money

I shop with plastic and rarely walk with cash. It’s convenient for me and I prefer to do my shopping this way. Some stores, namely bodegas, don’t use ATM machines (and I wouldn’t trust my card to them anyway) so I have to keep a small amount of money with me. It has to be replenished when I spend it and I usually forget until I need to have cash on hand.

The other day was such a case. I was standing on line at the supermarket to pay for my groceries when a sheepish, lanky woman approached me. She asked for a quarter to buy her potatoes.

Yeah, right.

I asked her what she said (for clarification) and she softly repeated her request, struggling to lift the 5 pound bag of potatoes up so that I could see it. Her bony hand was clenched tight around the top of the bag of potatoes, the weight of it unbelievably heavy enough to give her trouble. Her arm trembled while she struggled to hold the bag steady. The weight of the bag shifted clumsily in harmony with her shakes. The poor woman looked desperate. Not crackhead desperate, just flat out desperate. Desperate enough to make a mother do the unthinkable to feed her family. Enough to compromise her womanhood and ethics so her children’s stomachs can be full tonight—and empty again tomorrow.

There were no needle tracks on her arms or between her fingers. The whites of her eyes were still white and she was in her right state of mind. All I had in my pocket was 28 cents so I gave her the quarter that she requested, no questions asked. It was a relief to see her stand on line to make her purchase afterward.

Jesus would have wanted me to help the woman out so I did. He places individuals in our paths and lives so that we can exercise grace and mercy to them like He does with us. How much sweat off my back is it to help someone with less than me? What about you? It’s not difficult at all. We were given more so that we can help someone with less.

Read this: Matthew 25:31-46

Black on Black Crime Averted

I was freshly shaven, dressed to kill, and headed to church early on a Sabbath (Saturday) morning. You should have seen me. I was in worship mode and prepared to hear a great message so I hustled to take the train.

Then came the drama.

An old man was on the other side of the street, hobbling toward the corner and crossed without stopping. He just missed getting hit by a speeding truck and being splattered like chitterlings and chuck steak across the intersection. It was unreal to see how he was a few inches from death. It looked like a bad green screen job on a B-movie: he looked artificially superimposed next to the moving machine.

I said, “be careful, brother,” when he arrived on my side of the street and he became irate. The old man, maybe in his early 70s, was taller than me and had an athletic build as if he played sports when he was younger. His filthy clothing, acrid body, and cigarette breath with a tinge of Thunderbird (or was it Night Train?) was nauseating. He chest-bumped me and shouted every emasculating insult at me that he could muster. The choice few insults that I remember were faggot, punk, and wimp.

Insults from an inebriated senior citizen. Easy, I thought. I’ll just ignore the old man and go my way. He doesnt mean any harm and, even if he did, Im too big of a man to get called a faggot or a wimp and get bent out of shape.

Passersby noticed the scene and stared in confusion at the two men, visual contrasts, and didn’t know if they should intervene or go about their business. He followed me across the street hurling threats and expletives in my ear as if he were a frustrated drill sergeant with an inferiority complex and then blocked my access to the subway stairwell, chest bumping me again. That was not a good idea because the stairwell lead down, not up. He could have lost balance and fell down, certainly paralyzing himself.

I tried my best to get around him and he did his best to be an obstacle. I made it down some stairs, though. The pathetic scene escalated when, halfway down the flight, he spoke as bombastic as possible, making certain that his foamy spittle splashed my face.

Now you did it. I’m gonna kick your monkey…

The poor old man, standing wild eyed in front me on a downward staircase, two steps below me, was about to get smashed. Call me a faggot all you want. Call me an Uncle Tom. I don’t care. But spit in my face?

Thank God for grace and mercy. I mustered every ounce of “don’t-kick-his-behind” I could find at the critical last moment and walked past him. I almost made it to the bottom when he raced down to start more drama. There was a man standing at the bottom of the landing, watching with concern at what he must have thought was about to become a volatile situation.

More insults ensued: “I’m not your brother, mother f*r! Go ahead like that smiling cracker down there. Look at you! You punk! You soft punk! You ain’t nothing! You hear me?”

The “cracker” was the man watching the scene. He looked on with pity, unsure of what to do at this point. He swiped his MetroCard and went through, stopping once again to observe the situation. I was finally able to walk past the old man and swiped my card to go through. He was still haranguing me and calling my masculinity, blackness, and self-worth into question. Everyone on the platform was looking around in fear and confusion when they saw me coming from where all the noise came from.

I shook the man’s hand who was wondering if he should help or not. I told him that it was noble of him to stand there and observe, risking his safety. He was impressed and said that I handled the situation well.

Today could have been another instance of black on black crime. I could have easily called the police and reported the old man and had him spend some time in jail. Alternatively, I could have hammered him with a sweeping right hook that would have knocked him against the stairwell wall where he would have hit his head hard enough to momentarily lose consciousness. He would have fallen backward down the stairs and possibly broken his neck. There’d be no more blogging from me because I’d be behind bars. Black on black crime averted.

Not all black men fight to settle their differences. Not every black man desires to kill the other. Some of us are willing to take the higher road of forgiveness and move on. I did.

Read this: Matthew 5:39

Illegal Stop and Frisk of NYPD

Illegal Stop and Frisk of NYPD

August 4, 2012 6:00PM. I’m attending and recommending anyone who’s interested in keeping our brothers and sisters safe attend, too. Blacks, Caribbeans, and Latinos are disproportionally stopped and frisked in the Big Apple and the practice is rotten to the core.

This program will give practical, life-saving advice to our young brothers and sisters who may not have the maturity yet to escape unscathed. I encourage you to invite everyone you know, including older brothers and sisters who have been in and out our trouble with the police.

Tell your cousin who can’t help finding himself on the corner with his red hat and tee shirt on. Tell your cantankerous niece who keeps getting into arguments in the nail shop. Tell your uncle who likes to hang in front of the bodega with his pants hanging low. They should attend.

Mamre Seventh-day Adventist Church
1623 Utica Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11234-1524
Phone: (718) 258-2716
(Click here for travel directions)

The Sabbath Song

This is an amazing original song written by Chelton Thorpe and performed by Laos in Harmony. I’ve seen them perform live and they bring a tremendous amount of energy and reverence to their shows.

The Sabbath Song is an ode to God’s marvelous day of rest. Listen carefully to the words and see what you’re missing if you don’t enjoy the sabbath. (You can purchase their new single, “The Introduction,” or buy their tee shirts, on their website.)

Check them out: Laos in Harmony

Happy Sabbath to All

The good God we all love and worship said that we can hustle and flow for six consecutive days, then we put it to bed to give Him the respect He requires. One day is set aside for worship, restoration, recreation, reflection, fellowship, and all things Godly.

Some of the brothers I know say they can’t make it to church because they’re too busy or tired. That’s all the more reason to attend because God also said, paraphrasing, “oh, you’re tired, bruh? Let me give you a hand with your struggle.”

I’m taking perfect advantage of this rest day to refill my spirituality. I’ll sneak in a nap later, then I’m headed back for a concert in church this evening.

Don’t forget the Lord, folks. Give Him the time He requires. It’s good for you more than it is for God. Happy Sabbath!

Read this: Exodus 20:8-11, Matthew 11:28-30

A Connection with Jesus

(Sermon Synopsis)

The book of Luke, in the Bible, recounts the story of a woman with twelve years of prolonged menstrual bleeding. Biblical research shows that she was considered an outcast and was not allowed to inhabit the same area with the rest of society (because she was considered a health and sanitary risk). Those traumatizing years of physical wear and tear, and forced solitude, made her only care about relief from her plight. She didn’t care about a slimmer figure. The latest fashions didn’t interest her. She only wanted to get better so she spent all of her money and resources on treatments that accomplished nothing.

There was Jesus, though, the one who could make her better. It’s suggested that she didn’t really know Jesus, she only heard of Jesus. She didn’t hear about his good deeds, she heard about His miracles and that interested her. She didn’t care about her soul, she cared about her healing.

Word spread quickly when Jesus was in town and she heard about His appearance as far away as wherever she was exiled to. Her plan—to go out there and touch Him—was as cavalier as could be. It was also irresponsible and deadly. If the town leaders caught her in the city they would have stoned her to death. Her desperation said death was worth it, so she risked it all to be healed.

Imagine that: risk death to gain life.

Jesus, after her life-changing touch, asked who touched Him. It wasn’t because He didn’t know who touched Him; it was because she didn’t know who she touched. She thought she touched a healer—a fancy shaman who could work the root. In reality she touched the Savior. Jesus wanted her to come face-to-face with her reality, the importance of her touch, and the magnitude of its results.

[There are a lot of sisters out there who’ve been touched and made better, overcoming their circumstances. They’ve got to know who they touched, too. It’s not the promotion or the dedication to the task that made them better—it’s Jesus. Open question to all of the sisters: is that you? Have you thanked the Lord for what he’s done for you?]

Read this: Mark 5:25-34

Late to Church Again

Sometimes my best efforts just don’t add up to success and I fail. Today was one of those situations where, try as I might, I just didn’t get to church on time. My suit was wrinkled, my hair wasn’t cut, my shoes weren’t shined, I had a busy week, I was tired, I didn’t finish my paperwork—I felt like a mess. I probably looked like a mess, too.

I don’t have any excuses; I just dropped the ball. Sorry, Jesus. The silver lining to this dark cloud is Jesus says, “come on, brother…I’ll take care of you.” Amen. I can still get to church and get filled up despite feeling flattened. I need that reassurance after a long, taxing week.

Don’t let stress or lack of preparation be your excuse for not going to church. You can get there just like I was able to get there, even if your weave isn’t looking too good or your fade grew out. Or you put too many pounds on eating that red velvet cake. Or your corns don’t agree with your new stilettos. Go on and meet up with Jesus. He’s waiting for us.

Make Your Books Bear Fruit

Let’s face it: God gave you a functional brain that can absorb, retain, and disperse information. You prove this daily by remembering where you live, whistling a tune, solving simple problems, and planning courses of action. Much of what you learned came from books (the rest of what you learned springboarded from that foundation you developed, observations you’ve made, trial and error, etc.).

What do you do with the information you learned from those books? Do you jealously guard your information and use it solely for profit and prestige? Do you use it for leverage to gain the upper hand on your peers? Do you stand on it and look down on the brothers who aren’t as intelligent as you? I suggest you make your books bear fruit. How? Teach the less-enlightened brothers and sisters to do something that you read in your books.

For free.

Brothers, we have an obligation to empower those around us. The elders did it for us so we must consider it mandatory to continue the practice. Teach someone something. Groom them. Take them under your wing and prepare them for the future. You have to equip the next generation with tools to prepare them for success. It ain’t easy being black, so help someone along since you already are moving along the path.

Church Braids

Church Braids

Natural hair is embraced in our home. It’s the norm. We love it. My daughter insists on it. Sometimes he sits with my wife and looks at picture after picture of hairstyles before deciding on what to do. Sometimes they make styles up, like the style in this shot. She plans to take the braids out at the top and have some kind of fluffy, corkscrew mohawk. Bless her little heart!

Etienne’s Second Chance

“Etienne staggered out of the house just moments before it collapsed. She stared in disbelief at the rubble around her. Once again she was homeless…”

The poor young sister in Haiti has no home, no food, and no family. Who cares? Why should anyone care? She’s extra baggage, like the rest of the poor, darker peoples, right?

Maybe not. Perhaps someone does care about her trials. Read her story here: Etienne’s Second Chance.