Archive for God

Happy Birthday to Me! and Malcolm X, Kevin Garnett, Joey Ramone…

Posted in Birthday, Faith & Religion, Life, people, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2009 by Rick

…and Ho Chi Mihn, Pete Townsend and last, but not cute, Grace Jones!

I used to be full of crap now I'm just full of Joy!

I used to be full of crap now I'm just full of Joy!

Today I celebrated birthday number 33! While my joints feel the effects of 33 years of too much stress my spirit has never felt more alive. I have a core of friends and family that love me for who I am, I have two incredible jobs, two precious children to love and develop, and I have the most wonderful marriage a person could hope for. I think back to mid February of 1996 when I effectively alienated everyone that meant anything to me and I was forced to evaluate the abysmal choices I’d made to that point and purpose to do something different going forward. At 18 years old my life was marked by deceit, selfishness and foolish pursuits. To shorten this epic, I recommitted my life and decision making to pursuing Jesus Christ and the will of God. I didn’t get it perfect but I sensed more of the Holy Spirit’s presence in my heart and the things I thought were important before that time didn’t seem as urgent or relevant any longer. At my lowest, I never felt God could forgive me for my transgressions or use me to do anything for Him or anyone else. I thought I was eternally sidelined. That turned out to be a lie from the pit of Hell. I realize now that the brokenness I experienced in my youth was fertile ground for God to begin His work of restoration in my life. I believed I could plot my own course to success and joy but that left me outcast and irrelevant. Living for Christ has afforded me joy, respect and purpose. I credit all that I am and all that I have to God and God alone. I firmly believe had I continued life under my own guidance I would not have a story of celebration to report today.

Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I will abide in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abides in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

Revrend Run Wants Memphis to Take Back Their Families!

Posted in Entertainment, Faith & Religion, Family, Life, parenthood, people with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2008 by Rick

I visited a book store last week to pick up a “2009 Mom’s Agenda” for my wife and purchase a book for a friend. As I was preparing to leave I spotted a new book by Rev Run, of Run DMC fame, and his wife Justine. I immediately thought of another friend of mine who has become quite the fan of the MTV hit show Run’s House which chronicles the life of Rev Run and his wonderful family. I also saw that Run was coming to lil’ ole Memphis to sign his book and talk up his book! Knowing my friend would be out of town, I decided to buy the book for him and get it signed myself. I enjoyed the first couple seasons of Run’s show but lost interest shortly after. As a hip hop buff I appreciate Run for a different reason. That was all until I heard his heart. I as I stood amidst a couple hundred fans I listened intently as Rev passionately gave his motivation behind the book. He spoke about how he searched his second home (the bookstore) for self-help books on raising a family and was left severely wanting. So he and his wife set out to give a frame work for family success using their own experiences and methods as a guide. He lovingly fielded several questions about the show, his opinion of today’s emcees, his ordination as a minster, and others. There were a couple of answers that really piqued my interest.

He explained how he felt called away from the lifestyle he was leading into a lifestyle more pleasing to God. He shared how he didn’t believe he chose the clothe but how it chose him. He felt it was a natural progression of his passion for God’s will and God’s people. He served as a church member, an usher, a deacon and eventually a minister. He thoughtfully told us how he felt his mission was to those the church would not or could not reach and how he felt lead to live an example before his “church” instead of condemning them, their music and their lifestyles. For example, he would not call contemporary rappers to the carpet over the misogyny in their music but he would open his home to MTV’s cameras to show how a woman should be cherished and respected. He also acknowledged that he would not start a church right now because he can make greater impact by living life before the nation on a “racy network like MTV.”

I don’t know if Rev leans on the gospel when offering true lifelines to people. On the surface his approach seems not unlike Joel Osteen and several other “I’m-not-here-to-condemn-you-put-God-first” motivators. I am very glad to have positive portraits of family living on a network as accessible as MTV. I am very proud of the commitment Rev Run has made to reaching out to the greater community. I do know that there was something familiar about him. I believe the Jesus in me recognized the Jesus in him.

Ironically he retired and kept rockin’. (“I won’t stop rockin’ ’til I retire”-Joseph “Run” Simmons-King of Rock 1985)

32!!! That’s A BIG Number!

Posted in Birthday, Concerts, Early Death, Music, parenthood with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2008 by Rick

Okay so that may be relatively overstated. Unless you are younger than thirty, in which case I’m spot on. Truthfully, I’m fighting the sudden urge to not feel great about this birthday. It’s so weird when you’ve been conditioned as a kid to celebrate this day as if it’s the greatest day the world has ever seen, then you wake up on the thirty-second anniversary of your birth praying that someone other than your spouse and your mom remembers. When I get out of Self Central I realize that 32 is a true blessing from God and evidence of His sustaining grace. There was a time when I thought I’d be out of here much earlier at the hands of untamed pursuits of pleasure. I’ll never know how much longer I would have lasted had I continued my transgression trek but I’m glad God’s mercy granted me time to surrender and change lanes. I have seen His hand of judgment in my life and I thank Him for caring enough to wield it. God is good.

SO, with that In mind, on May 19th, 2008,  I  want to celebrate year number 32 on this beautiful blue marble by praising God for my incredible wife, my wonderful 15 month-old son Jaxon, my fetal daughter Ashlyn, an awesome mom and dad, three loyal younger brothers, a loving sister, two jobs that I love, and many other important yet innumerable blessings I don’t deserve.

Me and mom 32 years ago.

How does a 21 year old mom celebrate her son’s 3rd birthday in 1979? She takes him to see the Jackson Five w/ Natalie Cole. I can’t believe they let her bring me in that place!

Goodbye or Good Riddance? Sean Taylor

Posted in Football, Sean Taylor, Sports, Tragedy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2007 by Rick

I’d like to state for the record that I titled this piece in a way to grasp attention. As you read further you will hopefully understand that I am reasonably grieved over this tragic occurrence. But the media’s poor handling of this story and casual attitude towards the loss of a human being is much more troubling to me.

I am an avid sports fan. It can get to sinful levels when it comes to NBA basketball and NFL football but I’m sure I’m not on an island in that department (don’t mean to excuse transgression). I was not shocked to hear that Washington Redskins safety, Sean Taylor had passed away after hearing a description of his injuries. I was hoping for the absolute best, but a gunshot wound near the femoral artery is not a good situation to recover from without immediate medical attention. I instantly thought of his family and the child he was leaving behind and I nearly cried. I felt for his friends and teammates who would be left to wonder what happened to their brother. As the reports came in it was difficult to hear accounts of the incident without the disclaimer of his ‘questionable past’. The footprint of his criminal history seemed strategically woven through each head and tag line. Once the pundits finished reporting Taylor’s history of indiscretion outweighed the sorrow of his death. A previous break-in, alleged threats, past DUI’s and a spotty up-bringing all trumped the travesty of a senseless death. What police are deeming a random burglary gone horribly wrong, is being heavily scrutinized and doubted by many of sports’ talking heads and it is raking my soul.

Colin Cowherd, Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon, Jason Whitlock and Doug Gottlieb are just a few names of sports columnists and commentators who have brought light to the fact that this crime was more likely provoked by Taylor rubbing an old associate the wrong way. It bothers me so because the truth of this story is only beneficial to the Taylor family, Miami-Dade Police and residents. Why dig into this story unless the intent is to assist police in bringing the assailant to justice? I don’t get the feeling that Colin Cowherd is solving Miami murders from a radio studio in Bristol, CT. So why all the talk?

I believe many of these writers, much like there tabloid contemporaries, rush to identify the Sean Taylors (I am not condemning him) of the world as bad elements so they can sit back and say ‘See? When you do wrong, bad things happen to you’. This is the credo that helps them all to sleep at night. They also confide in the converse of that statement ‘If you work hard and do right by others good things will happen for you’ and at the very least no horrible things will happen to you. The truth is much more difficult to digest, especially when you don’t believe in an all knowing, all powerful God. Here’s what Solomon of the Bible says to that:

Ecclesiastes 7:15 In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these:
a righteous man perishing in his righteousness,
and a wicked man living long in his wickedness.

Solomon was not God but God allowed him to write this and include it in His holy book. Solomon notices that sometimes good people meet calamity and an early end though they are blameless. He’s also seen evil people live long, seemingly worry-free existences. Thankfully, God has promised that he will not forsake the righteous nor will he ignore the wicked. He promised it would happen but always on this this side of the sun.

Back to Sean’s judges. Random deaths and adversity don’t add up in the ‘get-what-you-deserve’ context. The safe theory is that if you stay out of certain neighborhoods, distance yourself from ‘thugs and gangstas’, mind your business, pay your taxes and take care of you then things will be fine. That’s the kind of thinking that leave many shaking there fists in anger and confusion when the formula falls short of expectation. The assurance of authentic Christian living is that God does not deal in the random. God allows and often causes things to happen, both benefit and calamity. You can rest assured that even when an event seems fortuitous God has a purpose.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything (good and bad),
and a season for every activity under heaven:

No smart person would be arrogant enough to claim to know God’s intention for allowing an act to take place. It can be comforting to think that a perfect God is in control when it feels as though no one is. Sean Taylor’s death, untimely as it may seem, was allowed to happen for some reason. It’s not up to ESPN, Fox Sports radio or anyone else to speculate. The media can, however, help by reporting the facts and speaking well of an imperfect life that still made lasting positive impacts in the lives of family, friends, sports fans and teammates.

Sidenote:

As I complete this entry Miami-Dade police have arrested four youth in conjunction with Taylor’s murder. Confessions have been made and a gun was recovered. It appears at this point that this was indeed a robbery attempt that took an unintended fatal turn. I hope this changes the tone of media coverage.