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These Pastors Ain’t Loyal?

I recently penned an article for Jet magazine in response to the Rev. Jamal Bryant who once again finds himself embroiled in marital scandal. Below is the article in its entirety as well as the link: These Pastors Ain’t Loyal? by M. Michelle Derosier for Jet magazine.

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I have an inherent distrust of televangelists and pastors of mega churches.

And it’s not just because they’re stereotyped as snake charmers drawing in millions of followers with the false promise of health and wealth while seducing them out of their life savings. What I find most disconcerting is that oftentimes–and not every time, and not all of them–they’re peddling a gospel that is contradictory to the revealed Word of God. Contradictions that can be so subtle it’s hard to tell the difference until or unless you do as 1 John 4:1 says, “…Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Understanding that I have a tendency to see televangelists as false prophets, I prayed for the ability to step back and approach the story about pastor Jamal Bryant, who faces allegations of fathering a 10-month-old son out-of-wedlock, with unbiased eyes. The Rev. Bryant, leader of Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple Church, hasn’t confirmed or denied the allegations, or the paternity test presented by alleged baby-mother Latoya Shawntee Odom suggesting that he is 99.9999 percent the father of her child.

While going down a rabbit hole of research about his ministry, I struggled to find a man who genuinely repented when he “fell short of the glory of God” the first time around: eight years ago when he had an extramarital affair that caused his divorce and brought to light the discrepancy between preaching and living.

Instead, I found a man whose woe-is-me attitude is as evident today as it was when he described, in this Roland Martin interview, his 29-year-old self who had the first affair: “I was quickly becoming a household name. So, nothing in my mind ever said, number one, I would ever get caught; number two, that my wife would ever leave; number three, that my church would tank out.”

After listening to clips of him speak and of his sermons–one of which quotes the lyric “These h-es ain’t loyal,” from the great Old Testament R&B singer Chris “Eat the Cake, Rihanna” Brown–I am saddened that everything screams “my ministry.” Where I was looking for God as the focus, all I saw was Him as a prop to shine the light on Bryant and his destiny. Although Bryant claimed years ago to have “grown a lot”, all I can see is the same sin and same arrogance. Nothing learned.

While he might not have learned anything, I pray his congregation will. As I’ve often asked God, please deliver me from ever setting You aside to follow a religion or a preacher.

 

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#TBT, Bible, Blogging, Brooklyn, Career, Christian, Dating, emotional, faith, Family, Fear, Flatbush, Give Back, Growing Up, jesus, jesus christ, Love, Marriage, NYC, prayer, Wedding

You can’t always get what you want. And that’s not a bad thing.

Life is quite funny.

By God’s grace, D recently found a new career opportunity in NY. What this means is that after six years of what was supposed to be a year of living in New Jersey, I’m heading back to Brooklyn and taking this Jersey Boy with me. His friends think I’m elated. I’m happy, but it is bittersweet.

When I first moved here I was sad and upset at having to leave NYC, but took comfort in the fact that it would be for only a year. 365 days. When it became clear that year would extend to four, I was bitter and disappointed. Thankfully, two years into living here, I was led to my current church – a blessing God knew I needed but wouldn’t have gotten if He hadn’t moved me to the other side of the Hudson. I had been away from God for a long time before that and was slowly (think tortoise steps) finding my way back. God placed me where I could get the support of an uncompromising bible-teaching-believing-practicing pastor and fellow believers to grow in my walk with Him. Fellow believers who helped me move past the guilt of turning my back on God and accept the forgiveness He offered after I came back in broken repentance.

I am happy for this new challenge ahead of us and the opportunity to change, shape and make a real difference in the neighborhoods of my childhood, but I am sad as well. In addition to my church family, my in-laws have made Jersey a home for me. Where there was no true emotional connection to the state when I first arrived, I must say that it now holds a special place in my heart that is uniquely its own. One that even New York can’t ever touch. How can it? This is where D and I started our married life. Jersey is forever tied to those memories.

Some may not believe me, but I am very grateful for the way life turned out. I am thankful that God overruled my wants and led me to follow His will.

Would love to hear stories of how your life took a path contrary to what you wanted but that turned out to be exactly what you needed.

Proverbs 19 21

#TBT from 2011

Same old story, different couple. 20-something Brooklyn Girl enjoys the highlights and pitfalls of everyday single life without care or thought to settling down. Brooklyn Girl meets New Jersey Boy online and thinks New Jersey Boy is funny. She’ll go out with him. Time goes by and BK Girl realizes that Jersey Boy is awesome. She’ll keep going out with him. More time passes and both BK Girl and Jersey Boy realize they want to keep hanging out with each other.

Jersey Boy proposes to BK Girl after a series of comical errors. BK Girl screams “Holy Crap, We’re Engaged!” before saying yes to nervous Jersey Boy on bended knee awaiting an answer.

BK Girl makes it clear to Jersey Boy – “THERE’S NO WAY I’M MOVING TO NEW JERSEY!” Jersey Boy agrees, but secretly wonders if maybe BK Girl doesn’t understand the meaning of compromise.

Jersey Boy starts the search for NY job. And he searches…and searches…and searches. Jersey Boy realizes NY job market is a bust. Makes more sense to keep current NJ job.

Jersey Boy agonizes over how to tell BK Girl that the stress of the reverse commute would eventually cause him to drive his car off the Brooklyn Bridge. BK Girl and Jersey Boy separately contemplate living apart while married – both agree that’s probably not the best idea. Jersey Boy nervously brings up subject of moving to Jersey to BK Girl.

Seeing the writing on the wall, BK Girl makes Mandelaesque sacrifice and leaves the bright lights of NY for the humdrum life of Jersey — at least temporarily.

What was supposed to be a one year stay has now turned into three with one more to go before Jersey Boy can be settled in his field.

With humor, BK Girl tries to embrace her current refugee status while dreaming of the day she can return to her homeland.

Join her on this cross-state journey as she embraces her life in Jersey while still maintaining her New York roots.

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The Power of a Praying Friend.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Momentarily overwhelmed by challenges and uncertainties I’ve been facing these last few months, this morning I practically fell apart during my prayer time. Okay, I fell apart. More like I curled into the fetal position, crying snot bubbles and taking quick shallow breaths that rendered me light-headed and unable to speak my heart to God. The more I tried, the less successful my attempts.

Unable to find the words for myself, I shook with anxiety while searching my phone for a fellow believer in Christ who could support me. Of the three go-to prayer warriors in my life, I called my friend S. When her voicemail greeted me after several unanswered rings, the disappointment tore a guttural cry from my spirit. I was devastated. Where I normally would have been searching God’s Word for the support I needed, that morning an avalanche of tears blurred my vision to the point of making the content of my Bible unreadable.

Not knowing what else to do, I wailed several few short sentences that found their way from my heart to my mouth.

  • PLEASE, GOD HELP ME!
  • GOD, PLEASE, I NEED HELP!
  • GOD, I’M OVERWHELMED!
  • GOD, PLEASE. HELP ME, PLEASE, GOD.
  • I NEED HELP.
  • GOD, PLEASE ANSWER ME.
  • I NEED HELP.

I kid you not that I did not finish the last sentence before I saw (the ringer was off) S’s name flash on the phone that I was still holding. Like a lunatic, I greeted her with laughter and tears. My voice still hoarse from my cries. God was listening! Where I was starting to feel alone, He was reminding me I wasn’t. When S prayed for me this morning when I couldn’t for myself, I was reminded of the following:

  1. God is compassionate and merciful. His heart is moved by His children’s pain. Even as the sovereign creator and ruler of everything, He still cares about each and every single one of His children who come to Him with a burdened heart.
  2. In His compassion and His sovereignty, God will sometimes choose to answer prayers immediately. More than anything, what I needed this morning when I was crying out was to know that He was listening. As He needed to when He calmed the storm for the apostles in Mark 4:35-41, I think He chose to give me that immediate confirmation because at that moment my faith wasn’t strong enough to see past my fears.
  3. As believers, we are the body of Christ. And as the body of Christ, we are to come alongside and encourage one another in our walk with Christ. Spiritually, I was at a low point this morning. By God’s gracious provision, He sent a sister-in-Christ who prayed for me and provided the support to lift me up and get me back on my path.

I am thankful to God for the power of a praying friend. I am thankful that He made S obedient to His leading and directed her to go in search of her phone even though she wasn’t sure why there was an urgency to find it. If you’re a believer and don’t have an S in your life, or a D (my sister), or a K (my brother-in-law), if you don’t have God-fearing, God-loving, Bible-believing and Bible-obedient supportive loved ones in your life whose first line of defense is to pray for you, then pray for God to lead you to them – or them to you. And while you’re at it, pray that He will make you one to someone else.

I may not be a friend, but as a fellow believer I am your family, so may those of you struggling today know that you have someone praying for you. As S prayed for me, I pray that you will take Jesus up on His offer to find rest for your souls by exchanging your heavy burdens for his light yoke.

Remember, as the body of Christ, we are supporting one another to do His kingdom’s work on earth. We’ve each been given the Great Commission and while we have an individual responsibility, we also have the collective responsibility to support one another in this work.

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I’m a jerk.

And an ungrateful brat.

Rarely am I a spoiled little monster, but unfortunately, even I have my horrible moments. What happened? Here’s the short of it.

Preggos (a term of endearment, I assure you) have nothing on me when it comes to cravings. I’m sure I exited my mother’s womb yearning for a specific food item – likely chocolate chip cookies. Yesterday I had a hankering for a fresh, square mozzarella slice from a specific pizza shop some miles from our house. My husband, the loving and caring man that he is, went out of his way today to grab me a pie. He’d barely placed the box on the counter before I pounced on the waiting food – my taste buds savoring the cheese before I even opened the container.

“That’s not what I wanted!” I whined (loudly) with disappointment when I realized that a miscommunication had caused him to pick up the wrong type: a Sicilian instead of my fresh mooz. I slammed the box shut and stomped out of the kitchen like a two-year-old denied her favorite toy. I sat for a while on the couch nearly in tears until my grumbling stomach forced me back into the kitchen. I bit into the slice with anger, my bitterness poisoning the flavorful marinara sauce.

Clearly I overreacted. But at that moment I couldn’t see past not getting my way. Selfish. I know.

I’ve since apologized to my husband for my tantrum but I can’t help but be ashamed of my behavior. As a Christian, I carry the name of Christ, and as such I am to bear good fruit. Galatians 5:19-21 state “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” The good fruit that I am to bear are noted in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

While this incident may simply seem like a momentarily lapse in good manners, it’s more than that to me. How can I be an effective witness to my husband (an unbeliever) if my actions are out of sync with Christ’s teachings? No matter what we tell someone about Christ, they’ll only believe us if our actions match our words. While I know God will forgive this sin, I can’t help but be saddened that I embarrassed Him with my behavior. That I misrepresented His name and His character. That I missed an opportunity to show my husband how those who bear the name of Christ are equipped to handle disappointments – especially the silly, minor ones that mean nothing in the grand scheme of life.

Well, there you go. Now you know I’m not perfect. Not that I believe any of you ever thought so.

What about you? Have you ever taken a misstep in your walk with Christ? Or have you ever behaved in a way that you immediately regretted? Sharing is caring.

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What Will You Give? #GIVINGTUESDAY

While you never need a day to give, it’s nice to harness the power of social media to encourage generosity. The focus of #GIVINGTUESDAY is on providing financial support to amazing organizations that focus on vital social issues such as poverty, education and hunger.

I encourage you to visit Charity Navigator, GuideStar and other vetting sites to learn about the important work organizations of all sizes across this country and abroad are doing. Organizations that you can support. I also encourage you to search for nonprofits in your own neighborhood that are striving to make your community better.

While giving a financial donation is important, don’t forget that as human beings we’re built to give so much more: give your time, give a hand, give a word of encouragement, give a smile, and give an ear (actively listening to someone who just needs to talk can make a world of difference). Learn from Christ and give of yourself. There’s a #joy attached to giving that can never be measured.

Today I give

…thanks to my heavenly Father and give Him the glory that only He deserves.

…a meal to someone who would otherwise go hungry by supporting Feeding America.

…spiritual nourishment to those who need Christ by supporting my local church to spread the gospel.

…my fellow Boy Meets World dorks a smile by sharing this Buzzfeed post about Cory and Shawn’s reunion. (Still have to watch this episode.)

What will you give on this #GIVINGTUESDAY?

From: http://www.givingtuesday.org/

WHAT IS #GIVINGTUESDAY?
We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

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cory and sean

december 2014

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33 Random Things I’m Thankful For.

To cap off my lovely birthday weekend here’s a list of 33 random things I’m thankful for.

1. My salvation. Nothing in life could ever matter without the security of eternal salvation. I’m thankful God used my grandmother to lead me to the church where I eventually came to accept Christ as my personal savior. I am by no means perfect, and in fact I’ve fallen short more times than I’d like to admit, yet I’m blessed to know that nothing can separate me from the love of God. My salvation is because of the sacrifice of Christ Jesus and not of my own merits.

2. D, who is happy to indulge my desire to jump in the car, pick a direction and see where we end up. In fact, he is a willing participant. Today we ended up in a cute, tiny slice of Americana called Millerton (NY).

3. Great food. Whether it’s a spicy chicken sandwich at a fast food joint or a grilled octopus dish at a Michelin rated restaurant, I’m thankful for the meals that make my stomach happy.

4. Speaking of food, I am ever thankful that even though my family was considered working poor, my siblings and I were always fed. It wasn’t until adulthood I came to realize my mother willingly sacrificed her meals to keep us fed. I don’t ever take for granted a full – heck even a partially full – fridge, and never miss out on an opportunity to feed someone. When 1 in 6 people in this country face hunger, the opportunity is ever present. Feeding America can help you find a food bank near you if you’d like to lend a hand, or if you’re in need of a helping hand.

5. Cheap makeup brands that let me try out red lipsticks. I don’t wear lipstick and never red lipsticks, yet I had an itch to try one recently. NYC 320 Mahogany is a winner.

6. My siblings – both by blood and by marriage. Of course I love them because they’re family, but I also really like them as human beings. Each unique personality brings something of value to this world and to my life.

7. Christmas decorations with lots of lights. I am the weirdo who will stand outside your house taking pictures. Accept it as the compliment that it is.

8. The Internet. In the last few days alone I’ve googled the correct temperature to cook chicken (350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes), the start and end dates of Hanukkah 2014 (Dec 16-24), and Ian Ziering’s age (surprisingly, 50). How is that possible? How old was I when I was watching 90210? Anyway, technology is an amazingly convenient tool.

9. Hairdressers. Making me presentable since 1999.

10. Puppies. All that cuteness just brings a big ol’ smile to my face.

11. Pedicures. Specifically pedis at my favorite salon. Such a great way to relax and hide out from the world for 45 minutes.

12. Working for a company with a mission. With as much time as I spend at work, I’m thankful I can at least say it’s to serve a greater purpose.

13. Sanity. Enough said.

14. Physical health. Enough said.

15. Friends who care about me and my husband. Last year I had a health scare and it was great to see how certain friends rallied to support D knowing he was remaining strong for me. I’ll never forget that.

16. Funky glasses. Fun eyewear helps me make the most of terrible eyesight.

17. Contacts. The next best thing to laser surgery.

18. A love of the written word. Reading and writing.

19. Coffee and tea. Spent some time at a Harney & Sons tasting room today. So good.

20. Spiritual leaders who take seriously the role of shepherd that God has called them to be. Those who know that they will have to give an account to God for the spiritual well-being of everyone He placed in their care. Hebrews 13:17 and James 3:1.

21. A good night’s rest.

22. Coconut and Olive oils. Talk about multipurpose use. Good to eat. Good to moisturize. Best value ever.

23. Pretty/interesting/unique notebooks and journals. I’ve kept a diary since the 5th grade when Ms. Romain gave me Anne Frank’s Diary as a graduation gift. I can never have enough of them.

24. Four seasons. Even winter.

25. A huge big world to explore. So many places to see. So many dishes to try.

26. Smoothies. The best way to get nutrients from all the good-for-you ingredients I’d rather not eat. Although I still can’t bring myself to add bananas. *Shudders at the thought of eating them.*

27. Secret Santas. I’m always excited to participate in SS exchanges and look forward to creating a package that my person will enjoy.

28. Online banking.

29. My mother-in-law’s pumpkin pie. Yum.

30. My mom’s legume – eggplant, chayote, crab, conch and beef – and rice with fresh beans.  Sooo good.

31. Legs that enjoy walking.

32. Protective cases for phones.

33. Love.

Millerton Oblong

Main street

Terni's

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Book drop ted

Book drop blue

Bench

Tasting room

Harney and Sons

Mussels

Dessert menu

Dessert

NaBloPoMo_November

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Prayer Vigil #savesaeed

“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” – Hebrews 13:3

Today the community of believers in this country and around the world have come together in a prayer vigil to remember Pastor Saeed Abedini on the eve of the anniversary of his imprisonment. September 26 marks two years since Pastor Saeed has been imprisoned for his unwillingness to deny Jesus Christ. To give up on his Christian faith. He’s currently being held captive in what is known as the most dangerous prison (Evin and Rajaei Shahr) in Iran.

Yet he is not alone. In that very same prison – and in prisons like it across the world – sits others who are abused, mistreated and who face potential death for continuing to stand for and with Jesus. To continue to proclaim Christ as their savior. The only means of salvation.

As an American believer with the freedom to share the gospel without the fear of being fined, of having my home demolished, my family kidnapped and killed, or of being jailed, the least I can do is write a blog post to bring awareness.

Check out the Be Heard Project to learn more or to view the live-streaming of the D.C. vigil from 6-7 P.M. tonight. If you’re willing, join in prayer wherever you are.

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