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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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Bible, Christian, disciples, Discipline, faith, food nerd, Inspiration, Inspire, jesus christ, Marriage, prayer, salvation

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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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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