“Give Props, to Whom Props is Due” Psalm 123, 146; Genesis 9:1-17

Today, in our 21st Century culture, it is so easy to lose sight of who/what really matters, and praise people and things that don’t deserve to be praised. In our own culture we praise athletes, entertainers, artists, reality stars, cars, houses, shoes, and you fill in the blank_____. We give so much praise to these people and things, that we begin to adopt their ways and philosophies, and desire to acquire more of those things.

I believe we have it all wrong!!

We have it wrong because I’ve never met anyone who is enthroned in the Heavens, who can dole out eternal mercy when we mess up, who made Heaven and Earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who created the concept of justice, made the properties of food, sets prisoners holistically free, opens up the physical and spiritual eyes of the blind, put the green grass, wet in water, blue in sky, and created humankind in his own image!!

This bespeaks of a deity with authority, creativity, power, authenticity, genius, thoughtfulness, love, awesomeness, and care. This type of presence deserves to be praised. The Lord “did this and done that!” God deserves the praise! We have to “Give Props, to Whom Props is Due!” I Praise God! I thank God! I Love God! God is Great!

Will you Praise God with me??

@RevBmack

God’s Displeasure- Isaiah 9:18-21

Growing up, I engaged in my fair share of misbehavior and mischief, some of it I got away with and some I didn’t. As I was reflecting on my teenage years, a time that really sticks out to me is, 1999-2000. This was during my sophomore year of high school at DeMatha Catholic. That year I was taking chemistry class and lets just say, chemistry wasn’t my best subject. In fact, none of the sciences and I really agree! Praise God, my wife is a Chemical Engineer. Nevertheless, as was customary, it was time to test our chemistry knowledge, and your boy was not prepared at all! I was just lost! So I had an idea, if I made some extra accommodations to help me get through the test, everything would be alright! Okay, I cheated! I just wasn’t a good cheater, somehow and someway, I got caught cheating. Teacher took the test. Teacher gave me a F+. Teacher wrote the referral and the referral got me Saturday detention and a letter sent home to my parents on why my behavior merited detention. It just so happened that my parents never saw the letter, because like Deion Sanders, I got to the mailbox first and intercepted it! Whew, that was close! Smooth sailing and worried about nothing!

Tsk Tsk Tsk, Not too long after, my FATHER has this grand idea of going to the next PTA meeting, and he wants me to come with him. He met with the Chemistry teacher, why? The teacher goes over my grades and says to my dad,

Teacher: “I’m sure you know why he’s failing!”

I’m thinking:Naw bruh, he don’t know! Chill!” 

My dad: “NO”

Teacher: “Well, I caught him cheating on a test, we sent a note home, didn’t you get it!

Dad: “What ta what?

Image

At that time in my life, afros were in style, and growing an afro in my household was a privilege. Dad didn’t really care for them, but he let me grow one. Image

Well, as soon as we left the PTA meeting, my dad took me straight to the Afro Samurai, and this is what I look like after….  Image  I had the Shane Battier head! Not cool! My father was so displeased with my actions!

When we look at this text, we see that God was also displeased with his children! Too often, some of us think, because God loves us, he’ll always have grace on us! Sadly, that’s not the case. There are times when we have to the suffer the consequences of our actions and this is a biblical example of God giving out punishment. God is using Isaiah to proclaim his judgment upon  Israel because of their pride and arrogance, disregard for God’s warnings, and unrepentant hearts. Just like our earthly parents, God expects a standard of living from his children that represent him and when we fail to do so, there are times when God allows us to learn the hard lessons of our actions!

So, here is what we can learn from this text:

1. God requires us to live with Humility. This helps us to always keep proper perspective, which is, we all live and have our being because of God. Nothing we have or enjoy would be possible without God. Every good and perfect gift comes from God! We’re still alive because of God! Be HUMBLE.

2. Listen to God’s Warning. I do believe that there are times when God tries to get our attention, to warn us of possible consequences, to our actions. God uses his word, preachers, music, signs, etc. to get our attention. The question is, are we paying attention to the signs?

3. REPENT. When we repent, we ask God to forgive us for those known and unknown sins that we commit. We all sin, we all make mistakes, but we all have the ability to ask God for forgiveness, and then turn away from our sins! Repentance should be an act that we practice daily with others and with God.

Much Love,

BMack

Y.O.L.O.- Ecclesiastes 9:2-12

Please Watch the Video First…

 

So, what does “Y.O.L.O.” mean? Drake(rapper) explains it for us in his song The Motto, “Now she want a photo, you already know, though, You only live once: that’s the motto, nigga, YOLO” 

Yep, you guessed it, Y.O.L.O means, You Only Live Once! While very few of us would be in a rush to adopt life lessons from a 25 year-old rapper like Drake, what he’s actually espousing is true. Well, yes, I know we know it’s true, but yes- We only live once! We only get one lifetime, one birth date and one death date. One birth certificate and one death certificate. Anyone, mostly everyone who is reading this post, will have on their tombstone, 19??-20??  

However, what really matters, IMHO(in my humble opinion) is what we do, accomplish, aspire to be, be, and represent in that dash. Since we only live once, how will we fill in the time between the start and end dates? How will we make a difference, of course if making a difference matters? Who will we impact, if making an impact matters to us? Who will we love, assuming loving and being loved matters? How will we be remembered, if being remembered even matters? You get the point, right? Or maybe not!

Too often, I see Y.O.L.O. being interpreted like this! Make as much $$$$ as possible, Y.O.L.O.! Buy whatever I want to but, shop til’ I drop, put it in the bag, Y.O.L.O. Buy a fancy car, put rims on it, deck it out, Y.O.L.OFuck(excuse my language) Sleep with as many people as possible, brag about it, on to the next oneY.O.L.OMove from man to man and woman to woman, no love, no commitment,Y.O.L.ORich get richer, poor get poorer, Y.O.L.O. Drink, drink, drink, blame it on the alcohol, Y.O.L.O. Smoke all day, smoke all night, Y.O.L.O. Turn UpY.O.L.O. Move up the corporate ladder, I don’t care who I sleep with, mess over, step over, or backstab, Y.O.L.O. Work hard, hard hard, hard, hard and neglect my family and myselfY.O.L.O.

I hope my point is getting communicated!

So……….what’s my solution? Well, me being a preacher (excuse my above language, God ain’t through with me yet), I take my cue and directions in life from the Bible! While reading Ecclesiastes 9, a few verses stood out to me and I believe they will help you, just like they helped me!

In this text, the writer informs us that no matter how good or bad we are, sinner or saint, we’re all going to die! We all have the same fate! We all will have the same end (death), just some of us are going to end up in different places! 

9:2 It makes no difference.[a] The same fate comes to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the bad,[b] to those who are religious and those who are not, to those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. A good person is no better off than a sinner; one who takes an oath is no better off than one who does not. 3 One fate comes to all alike…

 

9:11 I realized another thing, that in this world fast runners do not always win the races, and the brave do not always win the battles. The wise do not always earn a living, intelligent people do not always get rich, and capable people do not always rise to high positions. Bad luck happens to everyone. 12 You never know when your time is coming. Like birds suddenly caught in a trap, like fish caught in a net, we are trapped at some evil moment when we least expect it.

 

So, what should we do? You guessed it……. Y.O.L.O

1. Be happy and enjoy life! I believe life is too short to be miserable, sad, depressed, downcast, hateful, and any other negative emotion. Instead, I truly believe that God desires for us to be happy, no God desires for us to have Joy! God desires for us to enjoy his blessings, the life he has given us, the opportunities provided, but in a responsible way. The text says, 9:7 Go ahead—eat your food and be happy; drink your wine and be cheerful. It’s all right with God. I know what you’re thinking, “is he encouraging me to drink?” Look, we need to get over it, wine is in the Bible, so yes it’s okay to drink, but not get drunk! In Ephesians 5, the Bible warns us about getting drunk and in 1st Corinthians, not being enslaved by anything. Nonetheless, Be happy and enjoy life!

2. Enjoy your loved ones and those who love you! (verse9) God, has given us the gift of relationship, and those who we have been blessed to love and love us, we should enjoy and cherish!

3. Work hard at whatever you do! (verse10) Work will always be here! I believe in the Biblical wisdom of, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat!” However, I also believe that it’s our job to find our purpose and passions, and then work hard at it! Who wants to work hard at something they hate? Either way, like it or not, we’re still instructed to work hard! In fact, Colossians says,“3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you as a reward what he has kept for his people. For Christ is the real Master you serve.” So Work hard at whatever you do!

In closing,

Y.O.L.O.

@RevBmack

 

28 years old and reflecting! (Guest Blog from my Wife)

Reflections as I turn 28! There is always a testimony in tragedy and this is my story, my testimony! 

Last November 29, 2012 I lost my first born baby boy Brandon Jr. (BJ) due to his lungs being over developed and not being able to carry oxygen. I knew his life had purpose and I wanted to live everyday and become my best self for him. Shortly after on December 14 the country experienced tragedy where a teen with mental health issues shot up an Sandy Hook Elementary school in New Town, Connecticut killing 21 children 5 adults and then taking his own life and mothers life. I was feeling lost after my sons death and the country went in mourning for those lost in the New Town shooting. I knew exactly how the parents felt as they began to grieve the loss of their kids. I knew how the country felt as many felt schools were not safe and feared sending their children to school and having the unimaginable occurring. The country all united together to seek change in protecting our children in schools and to strengthen the gun laws. 

Fast forward to April 4, 2013 we found out we were expecting again. We were nervous and very apprehensive, but very excited God gave us another opportunity to become parents. Being pregnant gave me hope again that I could be a mom and that my body was capable of having healthy children. I waited to tell my parents, friends, and grandparents. Still to this day many of my extended family do not know I was pregnant. I was scared to tell people especially via social media that I was pregnant out of fear of loosing a child again. I wanted to wait until after I was 20 weeks 5 months along.

On Monday July 8, 2013 my husband posted a video on his YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/mrbmack84 discussing 2nd Chances and announcing we were expected a baby girl due December 11, 2013. He thanked God for giving us a second chance at parenthood and encouraged others that there is always second chances in life. Tuesday, July 9, 2013 we had our 18 week anatomy scan and meeting with the internal fetal medicine specialist since this pregnancy was considered high risk we wanted to ensure we were reviving the best care an to not have a repeat of what happened to BJ. The ultrasound was a good report we discussed genetic issues and how our risk of having a baby with lung issues is low and pre-natal care going forward. We left the hospital with hopes of seeing our baby girl in December with a scheduled ceasearn at 39 weeks. That night after work I travelled to Wilmington, NC for training and saw some spotting after using the rest room. I knew that something was wrong so I immediately called the on call doctor who promptly told me to go to the emergency room in Wilmington. It was my second time in Wilmington so I did not know where the hospital was nor did I know what to do if they kept me over night. I was there by myself. I was scared and after talking to the doctor called my husband. He assured me that everything was going to be alright, but in the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t. He was almost in the car driving to Wilmington but I told him to wait until they tell me what is going on. They ended up taking blood, urine, and checking the babies heart beat with a Doppler. They said since I wasn’t experiencing any cramps that sometimes 2nd trimester spotting is common and if I was cramping or continuing to bleed to go back to the ER. Over the next few days I didn’t really had any major spotting and drove back Thursday night to return to work Friday. On Friday, July 12, 2013 I woke up with cramps and bleeding and immediately told my husband something isn’t right we need to go to the ER. I started having contractions and back labor and knew that the inevitable was occurring. I was in shock. The ER doctor gave me medicine for my pain and examined me and told me that I was 100% effaced and 1 cm dilated and the pain I was feeling was indeed labor pains. He told me that there is nothing they can do for me at 18 weeks pregnant and that the baby will not survive. However if I was close to 24 weeks they could possibly save the babies life. What do you say? What do you do? I was hurt physically and my heart was broken again. I wished I was close to 24 weeks and they could do something, anything. I didn’t know what was worse going through labor and delivering a child you knew wasn’t going to live or being full term and having a baby with over developed lungs. Either way a loss is a loss and my heart ached out of fear of knowing I was about to deliver a baby who did not have a chance at life. Immediately my husband called our moms for support and family and friends rushed to Charlotte to be with us. I labored most of the day with the help of an epidural (thank God for those) and had Brielle at 3:59pm she weight 7.5oz and she was perfect and angelic. 

As I reflect on my 28th year I will say that God never puts more on you than you can handle. After I had Brielle and they placed her body in the bassinet I was at peace. I knew that she was in a better place. I know now that both BJ and Brielle are smiling down from heaven at their parents and God’s love is surrounding them. On Saturday, July 13, 2013 the verdict of the George Zimmerman vs. FL was announced and George Zimmerman was found not guilty on all counts of killing Trayvon Martin an innocent unarmed teen. Zimmerman left the court house as a free man and Trayvon Martin is in heaven with my babies. I couldn’t help but think of Trayvon Martin’s mom Sybrina Fulton I knew how she felt. I know how it feels to lose children. I admired the strength of both of Martin’s parents and their faith in God. The country again just like they did last December came together and protested for justice on behalf of Trayvon Martin and the stand your ground gun law. There were marches from San Francisco, New York City, Portsmouth, VA and Sanford, FL for justice. My kids would have been just like Trayvon. It seems in times of tragedy in my life there continues to be tragedy in our country, and God reminds me that he is in control. I’m at peace knowing BJ and Brielle are in a better place. There is always a testimony in tragedy and this is my story my testimony. God is not only a God of second chances but third forth and fifth chances. He will continue to take you on this journey called life to strengthen your faith! I never thought starting a family and having children would be so difficult but I can be honest and say that I won’t give up on my faith in God in providing my husband and I another chance and opportunity at parenthood. At 28, I plan to continue to trust God with my hopes and dreams, live out the purpose for BJ and Brielle’s lives, and trust God with another chance at parenthood. 

Do you believe in second chances? What does your faith lie? 
Who do you lean on in times of tragedy? 

Keep the Faith! 
~E

Sacrifice: What are YOU Willing to Give Up?

Image

One thing that the first 18 months of marriage has taught me is the importance of Sacrifice– and sacrifice is not for the faint of heart. When I moved to Charlotte last July, my wife and I were still newly married, expecting a child in November, renting a house (owner wanted to sell it in the fall), she was working alternating shifts and working two weekends a month (7am-7pm/7pm-7am), I was looking for a job, commuting to pastor a church 4 hours away, and did I say newly married? As a result, because my schedule and my wife’s schedule, there were times that we hardly ever saw each other, more like 2 ships passing in the night. So in my mind, something had to be done! Something had to give! Something had to change, because I wanted to spend as much time with my wife as possible. I wanted to continue to cultivate our love, friendship, and marriage. As a man, husband, father, and provider, I had to make sure that my wife was comfortable and that my son would be born into a stable household.

So what did I do? I sacrificed! What is sacrifice? I’m so glad you asked! First, in the words of Kevin Hart, Let Me Explain what inspired this post. While reading the Biblical book of Leviticus, I noticed that subject of sacrifice was brought up a lot, and if you notice–when God required a sacrifice for a sin or wrongdoing, the bar was set high. Whatever animal was brought to God, had to be without spot or blemish! God required the priests to sacrifice the very best animal they had. So In my opinion, sacrifice is when we give up someone or something that is very important and valuable to us, in exchange for someone or something else. In other words, we deplete and shift the energy, focus, time, thoughts, and desire for that thing or person and reallocate it to who and what is most important to you at that time.Its not to say that what you sacrifice is not important or valuable, its just what you want is much more precious and important in your life1So, because I believe that my family is my first ministry, I sacrificed the church I was pastoring, my apartment in Roanoke Rapids, my radio broadcast, the house we were renting, for my wife, my son, our family, the home we purchased, and the commitment I have to them. Was this a difficult sacrifice for me? Yes it was! However, it was more than worth it, and I’d do it again! I’d do it again, because I want my family safe and secure, more than anything else!

In closing, I challenge whoever is reading or watching this, to really think about what you want in life and what’s important to you! If you have dreams, goals, and aspirations; I challenge you to write them down, develop a plan, Go after them with tenacity, cut the TV off, put in the 10,000 hours, read more books, let go of the fear, and Go after what you want! How bad do you want it? Are you willing to sacrifice and do what it takes? I already know the answer, YOU CAN DO IT!! Don’t Quit, Don’t Give Up, and Remember You+God is more than enough!

Be Inspired,

@Revbmack