Shameless Pitch

The name Tullian Tchividjian may not ring any bells of recognition but Billy Graham’s name resounds aplenty. Tchividjian is Graham’s grandson, the former pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and founder of the now defunct ministry Liberate. While Billy Graham’s name is synonymous with evangelism, salvation and all things holy, Tchividjian, is known for his strong opposition to LGBT rights and now an extramarital affair which led to his resignation at CRPC.

But he is not alone in his indiscretions or “moral failures” as they are deemed. In years past, David Loveless, the lead pastor of Discovery Church, Isaac Hunter, founder of the Summit Church (who sadly committed suicide in 2013) and Sam Hinn, pastor of the Gathering Place Worship Center had all been “caught with their pants down,” with women other than their spouses. Not only does such acts of infidelity wreak havoc in a marriage, but the congregation is left bewildered with some congregants questioning God because of man’s actions.Situations such as these should motivate the average church layperson to draw closer to God. But too often people are separated from Him because they focused more on the person delivering the message instead of their individual salvation.

We are all on life’s journey of peaks and valleys. Therefore, it is vitally important for churchgoers to not just attend church but to become rooted in scripture and their personal relationships with God so they can withstand any storm. From Dusk to Dawn: Ordinary Devotions for Extraordinary Souls, is my 31 day devotional of meditation, prayer and personal reflection, to give hope to those enduring life’s journey. Day 4 (excerpt below) seems as if it were written specifically for Tchividjian, Loveless, Hunter and Hinn. But in reality it was written for the every day churchgoer, the backslidden, the unchurched and the non-believer who may have encountered a similar situation that halted their step.

I do not have a ministerial title of pastor, deacon, bishop or pastor’s wife but I am called a child of God. While I am not perfect, my relationship with Christ allows me to see my imperfections and keeps me encouraged. As a result, I know that I will be become better and I am hopeful that others around me will  too.

If my devotional will bring one person hope, a smile to another’s face, or a lost soul to Christ, then I have fulfilled my purpose. From Dusk to Dawn  is now available for pre-order on Amazon. I invite you to get this ebook devotional for your smartphone, tablet or preferred electronic device and #jointhejourney beginning July 1st.

Excerpt from From Dusk to Dawn: Ordinary Devotions for Extraordinary Souls

Day Four: Mixed Messages

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. I Peter 5:7

Men and women in positions of power and influence are flawed human beings, despite their calling to serve others or their ministerial gift to preach. But it is difficult to love and respect the gift of God within them when they make mistakes due to poor decision making. This is why it is important for leaders to cultivate relationships with people that are honest, forthright and absent of any mixed messages who will hold them accountable for their actions.

 In Genesis 12:10, Abram, who would later become known as Abraham, found himself between a rock and a hard place. During a time of famine in Egypt, Abram made the decision to keep the nature of his relationship with his wife Sarai or Sarah from the Pharoah. Sarai was extremely beautiful and Abram feared that if his true identity was revealed, he would be killed. Although Abram did not lie to the Pharaoh and the other Egyptians, he withheld factual information and reaped great benefits and Sarai in blind faith and trust, followed the lead of her husband and helped perpetuate the mistruth.   God was not pleased with this act of omission and the Pharaoh and his household was afflicted with sickness and disease. Once the Pharoah learned of the deception, he forced Abram and his wife to leave Egypt.

 The lesson we learn from Abram, is that we must not be anxious for anything because God promised to supply our needs. God told Abram that he would become the father of many nations. As a result, the Lord sent him and his wife away from all that was familiar to learn to become totally dependent on God’s sovereignty. Yet neither Abram nor Sarai fully surrendered to the plan of God and continued to pursue the promise without God’s direction.

It is easy to become so self-absorbed that a person gets caught up in the glory of His own perceived importance instead of the glory of the risen Savior. But once we maintain a disciplined life in Christ, we understand that God cares for us. Then, we are able to cast all our cares on Him when faced with situations that seem hopeless.

 Words of Prayer: Lord I am thankful that you know all that I need before I ask. Thank you for opening doors of opportunity and closing doors that could lead to potential disaster. I pray that you continue to send angels of mercy and grace to surround me in the spirit and protect me from the plan of the enemy. I ask Lord that you place in my path people who will love me for who I am and encourage me to become who I am destined to be. I thank you Lord for your goodness, and the deliverance that comes from casting all the concerns of life on you.

Identity Crisis

I am Puerto Rican. At least that is the standing joke I share with close friends and family. The truth is I am black.  I lived off of  Graham Avenue, (Avenue of Puerto Rico) in Brooklyn and was immersed in Hispanic culture at a young age.  My mouth waters at the taste of arroz con pollo y habichuelas. I love to salsa and Danza Kudoro is on repeat on my playlist. My pronunciation of certain Spanish terms and phrases is near perfection and my brother’s nickname is Cardo,short for “Ricardo.” Richard claims to be Dominican. But of course he’s not. The truth is we are, I am, unequivocally, unabashedly, 100% black. Unlike Rachel Dolezal, the tanned white woman, who sports cornrows,  is a vocal participant in the Black Lives Matter movement, head honcho of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington  and professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University.

There is a distinct difference with identifying with a certain race, culture or ethnicity and pretending you are of that race, culture or ethnicity. In Dolezal’s guise to be “black” she weaved a web of lies that included being a victim of hate crimes and racial discrimination,  mother of her black adopted brother, an expert on black hair in public lectures, and abused by her white parents in Montana.

Her passion and commitment to advocate for injustices suffered by people of color is a noble cause. But her contributions are overshadowed by her duplicity. As her mother Ruthanne Dolezal told the Spokesman-Review, “Her effectiveness in the causes of the African-American community would have been so much more viable, and she would have been more effective if she had just been honest with everybody.”

From the Kat’s eye, this is a newfangled example of white privilege, a term used to express the social, economic and political advantages a white person has over a non-white person. She grew up seemingly happy in a two parent home in Montana with devout Christian parents who adopted 4 black children into their picturesque family.  All of her earlier photographs depict a smiling, blonde, freckle faced white complexioned child. Can we assume that she was afforded opportunities not easily accessible to people of color as she grew up? Quite likely.  But it would seem that at some point to promote her social justice cause it was more advantageous to be black than white. So, she transforms herself into a stereotypical light-skinned African American woman with kinky hair and starts marching  on the frontlines for all things black.

How was it so easy for others to fall prey to this façade? As a professor of Africana Studies, I am sure she is all too familiar with the dark-skinned vs light-skinned epidemic within the black community. There is an inherent disbelief that black people with lighter hues are more beautiful and have greater success because they can navigate easier among white society. In essence, they are less of a threat because they aren’t considered black enough. Dolezal embraced that unspoken narrative becoming the leading face of Spokane’s NAACP who states that “… racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership.” In other words, she is getting a pass to mock and diminish the black experience because of her own identity crisis. Old scars become fresh wounds bleeding factions among the black community who are arguing over whether or not her decision to be “black” is right or wrong. The bottom line will be how much persecution will she suffer as a white woman pretending to black compared to a black woman pretending to be white?

What happened to integrity and strong moral character?  Is the black community so lacking in leadership that it will settle for a pseudo-black woman of European descent as its spokeperson?  If so, let us be reminded of words from a known great emancipator President Abraham Lincoln, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character give him power.” When confronted with her true identity, Rachel Dolezal feigned ignorance and fled the scene of her ethical crimes. I prefer a leader who does not wait days to confront issues that adversely impact the black community but instead confronts them head on with courage.

Generally, when I hear or observe situations in which I think black people behaved  inappropriately, unintelligibly or irresponsibly, I jest, “I’m so glad, I’m Puerto Rican.” Yet, there is no valor in assuming the identity of another to avoid shame, embarrassment or difficulty within your own race or ethnicity. There is honor in accepting the diversity of others, appreciating those differences, supporting their struggles, and championing their causes. The reality is you don’t  have to compromise, reject or deny who you are in order to do so. This is the American way and it transcends race, religion, gender and political affiliation.

I have overcome my identity crisis, I hope Rachel Dolezal does too.