Category Archives: Uncategorized

Murders at the Juice Bowl, What’s the Church to do?

Downtown via:Courier JournalOn Thanksgiving day, Shawnee Park is known to be a place of celebration. The Juice Bowl is an event that has a long history of the community coming together to watch some football and to have a good, family friendly time. It’s always been a place of fun and excitement that your family would go to prior to having thanksgiving dinner.

November 24th 2016, the Juice Bowl brought national attention because of an incident that really had nothing to do with the Juice Bowl. An incident escalated that resulted in 7 people being shot, and 2 of those being murdered within the park. The incident though unrelated to the Juice Bowl tainted the name of the Juice Bowl on a national stage.

I love the outdoors. Living right near Shawnee Park is amazing for me because the park is huge and absolutely beautiful. Living outside of the west end for most of my life, taught me a false perception of Shawnee Park. I always assumed it to be a place of murder, violence and hate. Since living in west Louisville, I have come to know it as a beautiful, tranquil place within the city of Louisville. Amazing open fields, Baseball fields, basketball courts and an amazing loop that can be driven or ran to see some of the beauty that the park has to offer.

On this day though, Shawnee Park became known once againto be a place of violence. And with all of the murder and violence our city has seen this year, the church needs to ask ourselves what can we do?

I am writing an appeal to Christians, churches and specifically pastors.

Our community needs us.

They don’t need us to be on the television making our names known. They don’t need us to hijack the deaths of others to build our own platforms and legacies. They need to know that we are here to seek to see REAL change. They want to know that the gospel we preach on Sundays from the pulpits brings real change. They want to know that this Jesus who preached radical teachings about selling all we have and giving to the poor, turning the other cheek and loving our neighbors as ourselves, is not something isolated to the other neighborhoods in the city, but applies in all neighborhoods.

They want to know that the church can fill the void that is seen by seeking to belong. So many people are seeking to belong. They are seeking to find that belonging through membership in gangs, masons, social clubs and biker gangs. But they don’t know if joining a church will fill that void of belonging. They don’t know if they are seeing that from the church. People joining churches and finding true family. Finding real community.

The question we have to ask ourselves though is, do we really believe that? Do we believe that the church is what people are searching for when they seek to belong to something? When we watch movies like Goodfellas and see the closeness that these guys had for each other and for the family, do we believe that the church can be that close? We should. The Bible says that we have been given the keys to the kingdom. We have Jesus who prays on our behalf. We have the Holy Spirit indwelling all believers. We have angels, God’s warriors working on God’s behalf. The Church is well equipped. And we are a part of something as great as anyone can imagine. Being on the front lines of the work of the Kingdom of God.

Our city needs to see the love that the Bible says that we have for one another. The city needs to see the amount of heart ache and compassion that we have on others. Living in communities that live and die by the bullet, we need to show that we are willing to turn the other cheek. The city needs us badly. And our prayer must be that in the moments that people turn to us for answers, that they will see the active Gospel that we preach. They will feel the love that the bible says we have for one another. They will realize that all of the searching for community in gangs, clubs and other avenues is found better and more real in the church, then any where else.

I am devastated by the violence that our city continues to act on. I am crushed to think of the bodies of teenage brothers who were dumped down the street from me. I am torn up to think of the baby girl shot dead a block from me. And once again, I am hurt to see the lives taken at my favorite park in the world.

I do believe though with all of the violence that there is a groaning that is going on inside of our community. A groaning for more. And I believe that the church has what our community is crying out for.

An apology of sorts…

Well, let me put it to you like this…

Things have been hectic. I’m sorry for you not seeing me lately. 😦

But I’m back! 🙂

We just welcomed our 4th child into this world. And there have been a lot of life shifts going on. Everything from preparing to go back to school, to ministry stuff,  and to other endeavors.

I didn’t have the $mulah$ to re-up my website domain. Because of that, I haven’t been able to write on here. But I’m back now. And with a little budgeting I will bring my domain back.

With coming back, there will be some changes made. So be ready young world, I’ll be back on my blogging game.

5 Thoughts from the Oscar’s

My wife and I didn’t plan on watching the Oscar’s, but it was on and wasn’t nearly as provocative as the Grammy’s so we watched to see what was up. While watching, here are 5 thoughts I had throughout the awards show:

1) The Racial Tensions are undeniable and MUST be dealt with before next year.
I never have watched this awards show and seldom will again. It’s just not my cup of tea. While I love film and love a good, thought-provoking movie, the style of the awards show doesn’t fit me, and that’s fine. Needless to say, the racial tensions I saw throughout the night must be dealt with. Not only the fact that they are being protested outside of the arena, but as well the fact that the jokes and statements of the night seemed to degrade people of color.

From Neil Patrick Harris’ attempt to say the Oscars were “the brightest and the whitest” to Sean Penn asking for the Director’s green card. It was cringe worthy and needs to be addressed. And to top it off, the power of the movie Selma was the movie that represented the most minorities and only won for Best Song. It’s a disappointment that with the attempts to highlight many other minorities, the plight for People of Color is still lost in the background of American History.

2) I never thought I’d say it, Lady Gaga did an incredible job.
To be fair, I have not listened to much of Lady Gaga and can’t name a song. I always assume her to be crazy and outlandish. But I couldn’t believe how great of a singer she is. She did a tribute to “The Sound of Music” and honestly gave it justice with her performance.

3) John Legend and Common stole the show.
As a fan of Common, I regretfully hadn’t heard his song, “Glory”. But that performance combined with the racial tensions of the night truly stole the show. I was honestly impressed with the power of the performance. There were tears in the crowd from all sorts of people.

The difficult thing with Selma is that people attribute the time period to be so long ago that it’s beyond memory, but like Common attributed, Selma is still being played out in America through Ferguson and like John Legend said, Mass Incarceration.

4) Terrence Howard was better off not having done that little speech.
Terrence Howard is a great actor. I’ll give him his props. He’s doing his thing with Empire. He’s won his share of awards. But that speech he gave was all rough. The pauses and problem with the mic. It was rough to see. Luckily, everyone will forget about it in the next year or so as I’m sure Empire will be on deck to win some awards in Television.

5) This awards show seemed owned by 5 or 6 movies, and all seemed to have an Indie/Artsy feel to them.
I was disappointed to see that a select few movies pretty much owned every category. I love Indie, Artsy(and foreign) movies. I really do. Those are usually my favs. But as a dad and husband, my family isn’t as in to them so I don’t get to watch as many as I used to and that’s fine.

I was disappointed with the lack of diversity in the films getting consideration. I have heard people take issue with American Sniper, but if the general public liked it, I am curious why it wouldn’t be more considered for more awards. As well with Gone Girl and some other movies. It seems that these awards are held for the upper class of society. They are reserved for a select few. I guess my issue is that why isn’t the selection of films more diverse? I don’t know.

Sensationalized

We can't save ourselves and we can't jump ship.Throughout my life God has taught me lessons while in seasons.

I’ve wrestled with many desires in ministry and as well writing. My desires in and of themselves aren’t bad but to obtain these desires I have had to consistently check my heart with regards to my methods to obtaining these desires.

The seasons God has brought me through have been seasons to remind myself who has ultimate control in my life.

A lot of these seasons I have seen in my life have been centered on purpose and fulfillment. So in my ministry I have had desires to expand my platform. To have numerous people reading my writings. To be respected as a voice in certain arenas of life.

While desiring these things, God has sent me different people in my life to remind me some essential truths.

Trust God through the season.

The first one was a guy named Doug. I was living in Indianapolis, ministering among Urban youth in a job I loved so much, I always thought I’d die doing it.

While there, I wanted to be married. I wanted a wife. I wanted kids. I wanted to rush this season of singleness to become the man. Doug took me back to reality.

Doug opened his life up to me to learn about being a good dad and good husband. He didn’t give me a class. No seminar. He isn’t a guy who has sought to make much of his name. But in the same token he taught me by his example.

In that season of my singleness, he taught me the simple act of trusting God through the season I’m in. In the words of my pastor TC Taylor, “bloom where you’re planted”. This has been a big and important part of my life is learning to make the most of each season. Cherish its uniqueness and beauty. Don’t wish away its difficulties, learn from them.

Faithfulness must be the goal.

Several years later came a great brother named Jamaal Williams. Jamaal and I became great friends while he was my pastor at Forest Baptist Church. Jamaal reiterated one simple thing that has shaped my life in a huge way. Faithfulness.

The measure of success in ministry and life can be shaped by a lot of distractions that have little to do with God. We can get distracted by numbers, titles/positions, networks, recognition and other things. Our minds must shift towards being faithful to God. I’m thankful to Jamaal for shining light on this need in my life. Be faithful. Through this season of being under his leadership, this was a theme God taught me while in this season to shape my life.

Truth and Integrity honor God above sensationalism.

Another theme came while talking with a friend named Curtis, recently. While I have been getting more and more into writing and hoping to use my words to make a difference for the kingdom of God, I have been confronted with a truth about our time; the internet has brought us to becoming a very sensationalized culture. We have little regard for truth yet high regard for attention catching.

You know what I’m talking about. How many articles have you seen that are pure click bait? Think about news outlets. Satire is huge and is almost undistinguishable from legit, real news networks. You rarely see most of these articles citing sources for their information. There is rarely accountability for most of these online articles.

It’s ridiculous. Yet you’d think this would be absent within the Christian stream but as said on the Lord of the Rings, “the hearts of men are easily corrupted.”

I have noticed within many conversations being had in the Christian sphere, and especially the race conversation, there seems to be a lot of information passed to and from yet little real conversation dealing with explicit truth. I am guilty of this myself. Passing information on without confirming credibility. It happens so much and the danger is that our words begin carrying less weight and God is not honored in lying.

I have also seen this out of people who desire platforms. They will take extreme positions because they want a reaction out of others. They have little desire for a balanced approach and more desire to stir the pot.

For myself I can easily gravitate towards this position. I can easily want to sensationalize things consistently because I love reactions. But I realized that if that is my desire to gain a platform by any means necessary, then that is an idol. I need to remember the beauty and value of truth.

Honestly, there are many great Godly men and women with huge platforms. As well, there are many people who have huge platforms surrounding their consistent exaggerations with their opinions.

My heart needs to remember to value truth and seek to honor God with having an honest and balanced approach in my writing. I don’t need to sensationalize my writing by exaggerating or making my opinions overtly blatant for attention. I need to allow my opinions to be honest and as biblically sound as I can.

5 Barriers to your Writing

Have you ever wanted to become a writer but were afraid to cross into that threshold? Maybe you write some on and off but are too scared to look at yourself as a writer.

Whatever the case may be, each one of us have struggled at some point with doubts in our writing. There may be a few out there who knew they were golden from the start but the rest of us are human and need some encouragement.

Well, here are five statements that may float around in your head. This is your time to attack each of these statements and to move forward as the writer you can be.

1) “I don’t have the time.”

Obviously, different people have different schedules. Some really have a jam-packed schedule and can’t necessarily add much to it, while others may be in a season of life where they have a lot more time they can spend.

I read an interesting book on writing called the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. One thing I really got out of that book was the need for me to make time to write, if I say I want to write. If you really want to write, you have to look at your schedule and figure out what can be cut out or shifted so that you can schedule writing.

Maybe it would be good to make a realistic goal of writing a certain number of articles a week or month. But this can’t be an excuse anymore if you want to be a writer.

2) “No one will care to hear my opinion.”

Hog wash!

There has to be a point where lies like this come across your mind and you can simply throw them to the wind. Your opinion has value for one simple reason, you have value. You were created in the image of God and have intrinsic value. Your opinion does matter.

As well, know that you may be robbing people of having the benefit of reading your thoughts on whichever topic you feel led to write. Your opinion matters and is needed!

Next!

3) “My grammar and English aren’t great and I know I’ll be embarrassed.” This has been me for a while.

Sometimes we can stay in fear about the opinions of others. Here are two pieces of advice I’d give regarding these thoughts:

I. Don’t allow the fear of man to be a hurdle to create beautiful art.
II. Remember the gospel in all areas, including your writing.
Just because you don’t know the difference in a verb and adverb or tend to use their/there/they’re in the wrong circumstances, it doesn’t mean that you are less valued, loved and needed to be used by God. God prides himself in using people of all gifting’s to do great things. Many times he likes to show off by using those of us who feel weak in certain areas to do a great work.

Look at everyone he used in the scriptures. You can’t write good; Well, Moses wasn’t a good public speaker yet became the voice for God’s people when they needed a voice. You feel insecure about your grammar; think of the liars, prostitutes, murderers and other sinners God used to do his will.

2 Corinthians 12:10(emphasis added)
10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Three walls down. Two more to go.

4) “I don’t know where to start.”

Grab your laptop. Or if you’re old school grab the old pen and pad.

Sit down. Start writing.

Now if you are considering blogging, wordpress is a great site that can host your blog. As well, there are many other sites that can host your blog. But whichever way you want to do it, you have to just sit down and start doing it.

5) “I don’t have any friends that are writers, I need help.”

I can understand this sentiment. It is tough and scary to start doing something that no one in your immediate circles is really doing. Writing is one of those scary things. But that is why the internet is so helpful for this. You can use social media to plugin with other writers via Twitter, facebook or other forms of it.

Maybe you are an Urban Christian writers. Well, I have just the place for you, right here! One of the big proponents to launching the Writers Table was to be a place to connect with other writers and to gain resources. Well, now you have friends that are writers.


With all of these statements defeated, you now have nothing to wait for. Every wall that you felt that was between you and becoming a writer is gone. Now go, become that writer. Enjoy the freedom to express your self with your pen or your fingertips.

Music List for 2015

I love music. I love the art and the emotions that comes through simply listening. It’s a beautiful thing to me that can never be over appreciated.

While my single years made it easy to listen to tons of music, since having a family, that dynamic has changed and I have to be intentional about listening to certain artist and albums.

Here are the top albums I plan to listen to in 2015:


 D’Angelo and the Vanguard -Black Messiah


Brand New – Album title TBA
I’ve been waiting for this group to finally have another album. One of my favorite groups.


Kendrick Lamar -TBA
He’s an interesting artist that I’m interested in hearing. He’s a really good and

interesting thinker.


Modest Mouse-Strangers to Ourselves


Death Cab for Cutie -TBA
I used to love Death Cab but haven’t heard much in a while.


Shai Linne || Lyrical Theology 1 AND 2
Yes, I have missed out on both and hope to get caught up soon.


Anything that Sho Baraka or Bon Iver put out.
That is all for now. Carry on.

2014 Bottle Awards

Each year as Christmas ends, the rumblings begin for the yearly bottle awards. We have held the bottle awards differently in years passed, but this year instead of doing top 5’s for each category, we will give bottles to the winners(and acknowledge some runner-ups).

Subjects and discussions in years prior were Music, Movies, Best Photograph’s and others.

This year we sought to make the awards more randomized for fun and to keep everyone on their toes.

So here they are, the 2014 Bottle Awards.

images*The 2014 Movie of the Year

While this year has had some really good movies and picked up lots of steam from last years consistent busts, there are a few that stood well above the others.

The winner is
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

With the combination of a great story, awesome cinematography and an amazing soundtrack, Ben Stiller kills it for the win.

Runner-ups:
Gone Girl | Ben Affleck is getting it done. This movie was excellent though I was unsatisfied with the ending.
The Hobbit | I haven’t seen this yet but I almost wanted to give it the honorary winner because it’s the end to an amazing run.
Disney’s Bears | I really enjoy nature film and this was honestly really a great film my wife and I enjoyed on a date night.


 

images*The 2014 Album of the Year
While I always feel guilty for not getting time to engage into more music each year, I did get to check out several albums that were impressive.

This was actually one of the tougher choices I had to make because there were some really great albums I got to listen to.

The winner is
Common || Nobody’s Smiling
Common_-_Nobody_Smiling_(Album_Cover).jpg[1]

While I struggled with this choice because I really was digging other albums, I also really like good, concept albums. I liked that Common really drew back to his original relationships with Chicago and other artists for this album. The production by No ID and the themes seeking to acknowledge Chicago’s needs confront you strongly.

Runner-ups:
Lecrae | Anomaly :This was a really dope album with great lyrics and production. Still hoped for something better conceptually.
Andrew Peterson | After all these years: Really good, greatest hits album that has some awesome new songs. Though I feel weird nominating a greatest hits album.


 

images*The 2014 Online Article of they year
This will not always be an option but I have to acknowledge this greatly written article by Ta-Nehisi Coates for the Atlantic. Coates has been a really strong writer for a while but this was his magnum opus, at least as of now.

The Case for Reparations
Please take the time to read this, it’s a great write-up.


 

images*The 2014 Find of the year award
As my wife can attest, I love finding something that I deem as beautiful that few people have heard about. Whether or not it is a book, movie, album or anything, I really love finding something that is awesome. The criteria for this award are: it’s not popular, it’s creative and it strikes a strong chord on the heart(It’s gotta give you warm fuzzies). Previous would’ve been winners are: The Art of Flight and  Biutiful.

This years Find of the year is
Drawn(Film and book by Jeremy Collins)

A couple years I stumbled on Jeremy Collins drawing’s either through facebook or just google. I searched and found some really cool pics he had taken. When I saw that he had started working on this film, I immediately wanted to become a backer. Take time and check out his stuff. Really well done.


 

images*The 2014 Book of the Year Award
While some awards are easy to hand out, this one is a little more difficult for me. I don’t read a lot of new books as soon as they come out. 1) $ 2) Time. So this award will have to go to books I’ve read this year that really impressed me.
And the winner is:
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Wow. I know. You’re probably thinking a couple things. Why have you never read this and why would you give it an award over 150 years after it had been written? Well, firstly, you can’t really blame my education for not reading this as much as me. I am glad I had not read it because I have found that the books I read in adulthood by choice have been far richer then the one’s I had to read during schooling. Not always because the books were bad but because I desire to learn. As a 30 year old man, reading about the treatment Frederick went through, it pierces me a lot deeper now then it would have for a kid.

And the reason I am giving the book this award is simple. Maybe someone hasn’t read it and hasn’t thought about it. Well better late then never. I really enjoyed the read and I hope you take the time to buy it and read it through yourself.


Well, that’s all folks. It’s been a great year. For myself, we have seen the passing of my late mother-in-law, Deborah Sutton. It was extremely hard for my family but in the end, God has proven how gracious he is. We have seen life grow this year through our kids. We have found out that a new addition is coming to the bunch. We also have gotten a home in the part of town we have prayed about for years. And I have gotten the privilege to be married to my beautiful bride for two years in October.

Gods faithfulness exceeds anything imaginable. While making this list is fun for me and I enjoy this blog, I am consistently reminded how faithful he is. In the time that I have been focused on becoming a better writer, I have seen growth yet also, seen the need for A LOT more growth.

As well, I’m looking to a lot of cool pursuits I will be making in 2015. I’m excited about things growing with New Breed Church. I as well got a couple projects that I am hoping to see happen.

Here is a closing song for ’14.