The portrayal of Jesus as a white, European man has come under renewed scrutiny during this period of introspection over the legacy of racism in society. As protesters called for the removal of Confederate statues in the U.S., activist Shaun King went further, suggesting that murals and artwork depicting “white Jesus” should “come down.” His concerns about the depiction of Christ and how it is used to uphold notions of white supremacy are not isolated. Prominentscholars and the archbishop of Canterbury have called to reconsider Jesus’ portrayal as a white man.
Through Sallman’s partnerships with two Christian publishing companies, one Protestant and one Catholic, the Head of Christ came to be included on everything from prayer cards to stained glass, faux oil paintings, calendars, hymnals and night lights.
Sallman’s painting culminates a long tradition of white Europeans creating and disseminating pictures of Christ made in their own image.
In search of the holy face
The historical Jesus likely had the brown eyes and skin of other first-century Jews from Galilee, a region in biblical Israel. But no one knows exactly what Jesus looked like. There are no known images of Jesus from his lifetime, and while the Old Testament Kings Saul and David are explicitly called tall and handsome in the Bible, there is little indication of Jesus’ appearance in the Old or New Testaments. Even these texts are contradictory: The Old Testament prophet Isaiah reads that the coming savior “had no beauty or majesty,” while the Book of Psalms claims he was “fairer than the children of men,” the word “fair” referring to physical beauty. The earliest images of Jesus Christ emerged in the first through third centuries A.D., amidst concerns about idolatry. They were less about capturing the actual appearance of Christ than about clarifying his role as a ruler or as a savior.
To clearly indicate these roles, early Christian artists often relied on syncretism, meaning they combined visual formats from other cultures. Probably the most popular syncretic image is Christ as the Good Shepherd, a beardless, youthful figure based on pagan representations of Orpheus, Hermes and Apollo. In other common depictions, Christ wears the toga or other attributes of the emperor. The theologian Richard Viladesau argues that the mature bearded Christ, with long hair in the “Syrian” style, combines characteristics of the Greek god Zeus and the Old Testament figure Samson, among others.
Christ as self-portraitist
The first portraits of Christ, in the sense of authoritative likenesses, were believed to be self-portraits: the miraculous “image not made by human hands,” or acheiropoietos.
This belief originated in the seventh century A.D., based on a legend that Christ healed King Abgar of Edessa in modern-day Urfa, Turkey, through a miraculous image of his face, now known as the Mandylion.
A similar legend adopted by Western Christianity between the 11th and 14th centuries recounts how, before his death by crucifixion, Christ left an impression of his face on the veil of Saint Veronica, an image known as the volto santo, or “Holy Face.” These two images, along with other similar relics, have formed the basis of iconic traditions about the “true image” of Christ. From the perspective of art history, these artifacts reinforced an already standardized image of a bearded Christ with shoulder-length, dark hair.
In the Renaissance, European artists began to combine the icon and the portrait, making Christ in their own likeness. This happened for a variety of reasons, from identifying with the human suffering of Christ to commenting on one’s own creative power.
The 16th-century German artist Albrecht Dürer blurred the line between the holy face and his own image in a famous self-portrait of 1500. In this, he posed frontally like an icon, with his beard and luxuriant shoulder-length hair recalling Christ’s. The “AD” monogram could stand equally for “Albrecht Dürer” or “Anno Domini” – “in the year of our Lord.”
In whose image?
This phenomenon was not restricted to Europe: There are 16th- and 17th-century pictures of Jesus with, for example, Ethiopian and Indian features. In Europe, however, the image of a light-skinned European Christ began to influence other parts of the world through European trade and colonization. But Jesus’ light skin and blues eyes suggest that he is not Middle Eastern but European-born. And the faux-Hebrew script embroidered on Mary’s cuffs and hemline belie a complicated relationship to the Judaism of the Holy Family. The Italian painter Andrea Mantegna’s “Adoration of the Magi” from A.D. 1505 features three distinct magi, who, according to one contemporary tradition, came from Africa, the Middle East and Asia. They present expensive objects of porcelain, agate and brass that would have been prized imports from China and the Persian and Ottoman empires.
In Mantegna’s Italy, anti-Semitic myths were already prevalent among the majority Christian population, with Jewish people often segregated to their own quarters of major cities. Artists tried to distance Jesus and his parents from their Jewishness. Even seemingly small attributes like pierced ears – earrings were associated with Jewish women, their removal with a conversion to Christianity – could represent a transition toward the Christianity represented by Jesus. Much later, anti-Semitic forces in Europe including the Nazis would attempt to divorce Jesus totally from his Judaism in favor of an Aryan stereotype.
White Jesus abroad
As Europeans colonized increasingly farther-flung lands, they brought a European Jesus with them. Jesuit missionaries established painting schools that taught new converts Christian art in a European mode. A small altarpiece made in the school of Giovanni Niccolò, the Italian Jesuit who founded the “Seminary of Painters” in Kumamoto, Japan, around 1590, combines a traditional Japanese gilt and mother-of-pearl shrine with a painting of a distinctly white, European Madonna and Child.
In colonial Latin America – called “New Spain” by European colonists – images of a white Jesus reinforced a caste system where white, Christian Europeans occupied the top tier, while those with darker skin from perceived intermixing with native populations ranked considerably lower. Artist Nicolas Correa’s 1695 painting of Saint Rose of Lima, the first Catholic saint born in “New Spain,” shows her metaphorical marriage to a blond, light-skinned Christ.
In a multiracial but unequal America, there was a disproportionate representation of a white Jesus in the media. It wasn’t only Warner Sallman’s Head of Christ that was depicted widely; a large proportion of actors who have played Jesus on television and film have been white with blue eyes. Pictures of Jesus historically have served many purposes, from symbolically presenting his power to depicting his actual likeness. But representation matters, and viewers need to understand the complicated history of the images of Christ they consume.
The Rev. James Cone, founder of black liberation theology, died Saturday morning, according to Union Theological Seminary.
The cause of death was not immediately known.
Cone, an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, was the Bill and Judith Moyers Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Seminary in New York City. His groundbreaking 1969 book, Black Theology and Black Power, revolutionized the way the public understood the unique qualities of the black church.
Cone was a native of Fordyce, Ark., and received master’s and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University.
We would like to hear how Cone influenced you. We invite you to share 200- to 250-word tributes on UrbanFaith.com. Send your tribute with your first and last names, city, state, and church affiliation (if desired) to [email protected]
For a while the most popular literature and television programming about black people captured no sense of African consciousness. We’ve been far removed from The Cosby Show which introduced many of my generation to Miriam Makeba or A Different World which introduced us to divesting from businesses that supported apartheid in South Africa. Those shows and others of the late 80s to early 90s taught my generation that we don’t only have a history in Africa but our actions affect our present and future connection with the continent. But since then we have slipped out of the realm of cultivating such an understanding of our connection to the continent. For the last decade or so, television programming about black people has been driven by self-interestedness over communal values. There has been nothing to remind us of our descendants and ancestors. On the literary front, we were also hard-pressed to get beyond the Zanes and the Steve Harveys of the world. But recently there has been an uprising of African narratives from African-born writers and creators that is breathing a breath of fresh air on literature and on-air/online programming.
We see its presence in the work of Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie author of the novel “Americanah” which tells the story Ifemelu, a young woman who journeys from Nigeria to America and back again. It is primarily a love story but it also acknowledges the cultural differences between American black people and non-American black people. Ifemelu captures and critiques these differences on her blog and Adichie uses Ifemelu’s blog posts to break up the narrative arc of the book. Though these blog posts are the work of a fictional character they resonate as fact among African and African American alike. Adichie also has Ifemelu return to Nigeria where she comes to grips with the ways that America has changed her and also the ways in which Nigeria in particular and Africa in general will always be a home to her despite the ways in which she has fallen out of love with it. African-American readers of “Americanah” are forced to take a look at the ways in which American culture influences their perceptions of African people and question the relational disconnect between American and non-American blacks. “Americanah” is at the top of many books lists and is rumored to be optioned for a screenplay starring Luptia Nyong’o as Ifemelu. Adichie’s earlier novel “Half of a Yellow Sun,” which tells the story of the effects of the Nigerian-Biafran War through the eyes of five different characters, is now a full-length feature film and is currently being screened in major cities. The film features an all-star cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, and Anika Noni Rose.
Teju Cole is also a part of Africa’s uprising in American literature. Nigerian-American Cole was born in the US, raised in Nigeria until the age of 17 and came back to the states. A Distinguised Writer in Residence at Bard College and a regular writer for publications such as the New York Times and the New Yorker, he recently released his novel “Every Day is for the Thief” in the US–it was published in Nigeria in 2007. The novel tells the story of a young man revisiting Nigeria and facing some of the less beautiful aspects of life in Africa, such as watching the audacious Nigerian scammers in action—you know, the ones who e-mail many of us claiming we will inherit millions if we respond to their message. Cole’s is a less glamorous account of revisiting the continent, but he also holds that in tension with the fact the he believes Nigeria is “excessively exciting” to the point of being overwhelming. In an interview with NPR’s Audie Cornish Cole said, “But for me, personally, I have not actually really considered seriously living in Nigeria full time. This is my home here [New York and the United States], and this is the place that allows me to do the work that I do…I’m fortunate to be able to travel to many places, and to go to Nigeria often. And so I feel close enough to the things happening there without needing to live there.” This quote captures the beauty of Cole’s work which banks on both his lived experience in Nigeria and life as an Nigerian-American writer trying to maintain some semblance of a connection. His next book will be a non-fiction narrative on Lagos.
Finally the most recent example of Africa’s uprising in American literature and entertainment is the new web series “An African City.” Created by Ghanaian-American Nicole Amarteifio, the series follows five young African women who move to Ghana after educational and professional stints in America and Europe. The show is billed as Ghana’s answer to “Sex and the City” but it is actually smarter than SATC. The characters don’t just navigate the sexual politics that SATC was famous for, they launch into the deep of socio-economic politics on the continent. The show touches on the plight of the underdeveloped countries, the people who hold the power in such countries—mostly men, and the premium placed on the authentic African woman over the African woman who has been corrupted by Western ways. It branches out from self-interest to communal concern. The series also provides viewers with a look at the landscape of Accra, a region that is reaching toward urban metropolis status in the midst of strong rural roots. Shots of dirt roads lined with shacks where vendors sells their wares and old Toyotas putter down the streets offset the young women’s appetite for cosmopolitan fare and fashion. The show balances inherited American sensibilities with ingrained African pride with style and grace within each 11-15 minute webisode.
And lest I be remiss there is Kenyan Lupito Nyong’o. Born in Mexico City and raised primarily in Kenya, she stole our hearts in her first major acting role as Patsy in “12 Years a Slave.” She also steals our hearts every time she appears on a red carpet, gave an awards acceptance speech, or appeared on the cover of or in the pages of a magazine. Her beauty is being celebrated by many–and it isn’t limited to the fashion and beauty industries. Nyong’o is blazing the trails that supermodel Alek Wek set for African women and expanding dominant views of what is beautiful. But it is not just Nyong’o’s beauty that is captivating, it is her humble spirit and intelligence that is reminding the world that Africa is a force to be reckoned with.
Lupita Nyong’o, Nicole Amarteifio, Teju Cole, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and many more African-born actresses and actors, producers, writers and other creative types are broadening American understanding about Africa and its people. They are also expanding the African-American consciousness on Africa. We can only hope that this is truly the start of a beautiful relationship that goes from this generation beyond.
There are moments in everyone’s life when the question of purpose will come up. Discovering, pursuing, and fulfilling purpose is one of the greatest achievements that can happen to a human life.
When you understand and know your purpose, it becomes easy to know what direction you need to take to manifest and walk in it.
In Ezra 7, we are introduced to Ezra who had devoted himself to the study and observance of the law of the Lord and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. Ezra was a teacher, and he loved teaching. He found his purpose in teaching and learning the law, and sharing that with others.
His commitment to this purpose brought such favor from God which caused King Artaxerxes to write a letter of his approval of him and funded him adequately as he went to Jerusalem.
A lot of times we stress out and worry about where our provision will come from when in reality, the provision is always connected to purpose. It is wise to set time, energy, and focus in discovering and committing ourselves to what we have been destined to do in this life.
You have a specific reason for being alive, God has a destiny for you
Your purpose will not be difficult for you because purpose motivates. You are graced for it
Discovering your purpose does not mean you will have all the answers, however, you will sense a strength and confidence to pursue it even if you are not sure how it will end
God will place confirmation and signs on your path to encourage you that you are on the right track. This will come through unexpected provision, favor for open doors, kindness from people with influence who can bless you to fulfill your destiny. Make sure you stay alert and avoid sabotaging yourself through fear or pride
Ezra was a teacher, that was his purpose and he committed to it. God blessed him because he was walking in his purpose. The favor that was bestowed upon him allowed that purpose to come to fruition by touching so many lives by his obedience to his call.
Do not give up on your purpose, do not look down on it. Even if other people do not understand it, your purpose is worth pursuing. You are an answered prayer. Someone is waiting for you to manifest your purpose.
This week, reveal to me my purpose. Remind me why I am here. Open my eyes to see clearly what I need to do to fulfill my destiny. Grace me with the courage to receive your favor and provision to pursue my purpose without fear. Let me be a testimony like Ezra by committing to the reason you have created me. I know you will reveal to me and guide me because I desire to leave a great legacy.
The Trolls franchise is one of the most popular animated series in the world. It brings together recognizable music and fantastic animation to tell stories of joy and challenges in relating to one another. The new movie Trolls: Band Together explores the fun and frustrations of being part of a family. It was a fun, focused, fantastic edition to the Trolls saga that truly brings families together. UrbanFaith sat down with the Director of Trolls Walt Dohrn to talk about the new movie which is in theaters everywhere November 17. The full interview is above. A trailer for the movie is below.
In Invisible Generals: Rediscovering Family Legacy, and a Quest to Honor America’s First Black Generals, author Doug Melville tells the incredible true story of the 1st and 2nd Black Generals in the United States, Benjamin O. Davis Sr. & Benjamin O. Davis Jr. They were his extended family and were a father and son who changed our country and yet their history has rarely been told. Ben Sr. established the Tuskegee Airmen, integrated the Armed Services, and served in the Air Force for decades. Ben Jr. was the first Black 4 star General, established the TSA, and shaped the Transportation Administration. As we honor our former soldiers this Veterans Day, let us learn about these Invisible Generals who changed our nation. The edited interview is above, more about the book is below.
In Invisible Generals, Melville shares his quest to rediscover his family’s story across five generations, from post-Civil War America to modern day Asia and Europe. In life, the Davises were denied the recognition and compensation they’d earned, but through his journey, Melville uncovers something greater: that dedication and self-sacrifice can move proverbial mountains—even in a world determined to make you invisible.
Invisible Generals recounts the lives of a father and his son who always maintained their belief in the American dream. As the inheritor of their legacy, Melville retraces their steps, advocates for them to receive their long-overdue honors and unlocks the potential we all hold to retrieve powerful family stories lost to the past.
10 When you make a loan of any kind to your neighbor, do not go into their house to get what is offered to you as a pledge. 11 Stay outside and let the neighbor to whom you are making the loan bring the pledge out to you. 12 If the neighbor is poor, do not go to sleep with their pledge in your possession. 13 Return their cloak by sunset so that your neighbor may sleep in it. Then they will thank you, and it will be regarded as a righteous act in the sight of the LORD your God.
14 Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. 15 Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin.
16 Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.
17 Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. 18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.
19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. 21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow.
Of late, I have been thinking about the orphaned, widows and those who are struggling to make ends meet. The feelings of despair and hopelessness can become every day emotions if there is no stability in the area of provision.
Currently, there are millions of people who are one paycheck away from poverty. Many carry the burden of shame, fear and trauma of what will happen to them if they are not able to make ends meet.
A lot of times, in the midst of trial and tribulation, one can feel as though no one sees or understands the plight they are going through. However, in Deuteronomy 24:10-21, we see the thoughtfulness of God.
God cares. He is thoughtful and attentive to your needs. You may not have the courage to pray or ask Him because you are afraid of disappointment. Maybe all your help is gone, you are starting over, going through a break-up or a divorce. A loved one who was your main source of support financially is gone, and now you are picking up the pieces of what is left of their memory and trying to make the best out of the situation you are in.
God’s senses are alert and keen to your needs. Provision may not appear in the form or the way that you thought God would bring it to you, but open your eyes and look again. In the times of old, He instructed those who were harvesting to leave some of the harvest behind, because He knew there were those who did not have fields to harvest from, and what was left behind would be their only meal.
God is constantly providing for you. It may be through:
A fresh perspective
A helping hand from a stranger
You will never know if you do not ask, seek, or make your request known. This week, do not wallow in your sorrows, reach out for help. Sometimes your provision is a phone call or an email away.
What you need, is within arm’s reach. You have to stretch yourself by faith, be humble and ask, believing that on the other end, God has already touched a heart to help you in your time of need.
If He did it before, He is able to do it again, do not assume that God has written you off. You are in His thoughts, and He wants the best for you. He has placed the provision in your path, all you need to do is ask Him to show you what to do, and where to go, and He will guide you.
This week, to reveal to me the fears I have of receiving or asking for help. Remove any form of pride, shame or condemnation that lingers in me, that would cause me to suffer in silence. I believe what I need, you have already provided. Lead me to the path of provision that has my name on it. Open my eyes and show me who I can confide in regarding what I am dealing with, and let me have the faith that you have already made the way.
Lord, If I am the answer to someone’s prayer, show me how I can be of help, and place me in the pathway of the people I am supposed to help this week. Nudge me, when I ignore your voice and affirm me, when I do what is right. Thank you for reminding me, you will use people to bless me, and you will use me to bless others.
Regardless of what I am dealing with today, lift my spirits up, and remind me that you are a thoughtful God, you have always had me in mind, and all things will work out for my good.
Michael Phillips is the Chief Engagement Officer of the TD Jakes Foundation, a well respected pastor and education advocate. But his journey was not easy or simple. His book Wrong Lanes Have Right Turns details his journey, his context, and his perspective on one of the most important topics for us everyday: how to educate our children and dismantle the school to prison pipeline. He masterfully blends personal stories with scripture, statistics, history, and context to help us understand and impact the education system. Check out the full interview above!
Many of us battle for self-worth in a world that is constantly bombarding us with messages that we are not enough. But author Caroline Sumlin argues that the enemy we are fighting is not just our own thoughts, but the insidious nature of white supremacy and the ways it impacts our society. UrbanFaith Editor Allen Reynolds interviewed influencer and author Caroline Sumlin about her new book We’ll All Be Free which confronts white supremacy’s assault on our self worth no matter what our background is, and shares ways we can liberate ourselves, each other, and seek healing. The book is available everywhere. The full interview is above, excerpts below have been edited for clarity and length. More about the book is below.
Hello, Urban Faith. It is a joy and a pleasure to be with just an awesome person someone who I’ve known for a long time who is doing work as an Instagram influencer as an author now that is Caroline Sumlin. And she has written a new book, We’ll All Be Free about dismantling white supremacy talking about self-worth. Why is it that you think it’s important that we deal with these difficult and tough issues?
I think we can see the impacts of not having the tough conversations on our society. Even taking white supremacy aside, when we talk about going to therapy or we talk about dealing with mental health, we talk about trauma. We talk about those tough things. One of the most basic ways that parents sometimes explain emotions to children… is that they’re like farts. Kids don’t have any inhibitions to keep things in because they know it feels good to let out the burp, to pass gas, to cry, to get angry, to stomp our feet, right? They live and then guess what happens? They feel better because they release that stuff. As adults, we are conditioned to keep things inside, to be ashamed of it, to be ashamed of our humanity. And then what happens? The anger happens, right? The crippling and debilitating mental health [issues] happen. I could go on to name things. I mean, I even think the rise in gun violence, all of that is connected to the fact that we are not dealing with what’s going on inside, both individually, but also systemically. The culture we have created has magnified a society of people that are walking around with a lot of anger, with a lot of hurt, with a lot of unworthiness that they don’t realize is going on. Then we wonder why we see what we see in society. And I understand that people would also argue well having the conversations can also lead to “division.” And I would argue back that the reason why we see division when we have these conversations is because we have been conditioned to be defensive. We’ve been conditioned to ignore certain things and as a result we haven’t been [healthy]… But that’s all the more reason to keep going and to keep fighting and say, “Hey, we can get healthy. It takes work.” You know, no one goes to therapy and comes out smiling every day. You’re going to go to therapy and you’re going to come out with tears. You’re going to come out with anger. You may have to process some things that may feel uncomfortable at first, but then the burden starts to lift off your shoulders and it does get better. I do believe in pushing and continuing to have the conversation. I do believe that there will be a positive ending, but sometimes the messy middle is just necessary.
You have that chapter on hustle culture and how that’s tied to white supremacy. Can you just talk a little bit about that?
Yeah, absolutely. I have an entire chapter on this because it is one of the biggest ways that white supremacy culture shows up in our daily lives. Are the entire idea of the American dream and the message that we are given as young children that if you just work hard enough and you just go to college and you’ll be able to achieve this ideal life in America, you’ll be able to buy a house, you’ll be able to have your family, you’ll be able to afford certain things and you’ll have that American dream. Over time that American dream has become a lot higher, a lot narrower. It used to be that middle class and now it’s gone beyond that at this point because again with the white supremacy culture, the standard is always moving. But I wanted to make sure that the readers were able to understand again the roots in that. I wanted to look at where [this idea comes] from where we have to achieve to be worthy. What [is] the definition of achievement, what the definition of success is, where did that come from? What is the definition of professionalism? Where does elitism come from? Where are all these different beliefs? Even the way that we look at intellect and how we score ourselves. All these things have roots, they have backgrounds. Even the economic decisions and how we’ve gotten to the point of having this free market and why again those decisions were being made.
I was able to tie all of that to racist ideas, systemic racism, white supremacy. The ideal in our country is that whiteness should always be the standard, should always be what rules the country, should always be what leads the country, should always be what’s in charge. And to be successful, you have to assimilate to that. And that comes from, again, decisions that were being made based on ensuring that there was a racial hierarchy. Creating these standards in education, these standards in professionalism, these standards in our careers to ensure that that hierarchy always maintains. If you happen to be a person of color and you happen to kind of ascend higher than what, you know, the status quo says that you’re supposed to be as a person of color, well, you had to assimilate quite a bit and you had to make sure that you essentially connect yourself or tie yourself to whiteness in order to get there. And then if you happen to be a white person, there still is the fact of the matter is the standards of whiteness are also very inhuman. They go against our natural rhythms. We’ve been conditioned to believe that going against our human rhythms, being very industrial, being very work on the clock 24/7, all those things kind of tying back to again the plantation and then the industrial revolutions, all those things [tie] to where we are now. We’re conditioned to think that that’s like normal and it’s not. Even the way that we have constructed a society to ensure that black indigenous and people of color are at the bottom, it still affects everybody because now everyone is tied to this hustle mentality, this work around the clock mentality in order to make something of yourself, in order to prove yourself worthy, in order to prove yourself to be really more white, so to speak. So that America and the western world approves of you. I could go on and on and on, which, which is why I wrote the book.
What advice would you give to the young girl, the young person who’s trying to find their self-worth in this culture that’s telling them that they’re not as valuable?
To understand that the standards that you are being told you [must] measure up to were constructed for a reason and they were constructed not because of who you are but of maintaining that hierarchy of whiteness. So, to understand that it’s really not you. Like if you think you’re constantly swimming upstream and you’re working against a current and you just can’t figure out quite what is wrong with [you], why am I always exhausted? Why am I always trying to measure up to something? Why am I always looking in the mirror and saying something is wrong with me? It is because you’re being fed these messages left and right from every corner of society to try to tell you, “Hey, you’re not worthy,” so you can spend more money, so you can keep trying harder, so you can keep assimilating, so that white supremacy can continue to be maintained. And it’s not you. It’s them. And of course, you have to still live in this world. I wish we could just take a remote and just kind of turn it off. But unfortunately, that doesn’t work that way. And I think just knowing where it comes from and knowing that you can say no to believing those things and choosing a different route in how you approach life, I think is extremely freeing. I think the knowing the roots of it [is freeing], even if you still have to play the game a little bit. Because everyone’s gonna have to play the game a little bit, especially in the workplace. I’m not saying just, go tomorrow and start just doing things differently because you might lose your job. But I’m saying at least you know the roots of something, and you can say, “Okay. I know that it’s not me. I know that society is set up like this and I don’t have to measure my worth against this.”
What message would you give for the church about how to confront white supremacy?
Stop being afraid to talk about it, stop being afraid to have the meetings about it and looking at how you are perpetuating white supremacy in your congregations. This is not something to be afraid of. This is not something that is against Jesus. This is something that Jesus, I believe, would be for. He would be for dismantling any system that oppresses anybody else. This is the work of Jesus. And again, it doesn’t have to be simply marching in the streets when another black person is killed or there’s another racist injustice that we see. That’s important, but it is perpetuated in our boardrooms. It’s perpetuated within leadership, and it’s perpetuated with misogyny. It’s perpetuated when you refuse to play any other worship songs in your church besides a certain group that doesn’t have any people of color in it. Let’s be real. And then you dismiss somebody that wants something else because that’s not the only way to worship. There are simple ways that white’s supremacy is perpetuated, and they all need to be talked about and confronted so that every single human being that walks through your church doors feels like they are home and welcomed there and don’t have to be on edge because they’re a person of color. But again, not even just that, for everybody because my book is We’ll All Be Free, and I make it very clear that my book is written for everybody. White supremacy harms us all. It causes all of us to deal with feeling unworthy in some type of way. And so, looking at how you’re perpetuating it is the first step to dismantling it and it’s not a conversation to be scared of. It’s not work to be scared of. It’s work that is freeing.
The Burial is a film inspired by the real life story of black Attorney Willie Gary known as “The Giant Killer” who takes the unexpected contract case of a white funeral home owner named Jeremiah O’Keefe in southern Mississippi. Mr. Gary is one of the most successful trial attorneys in American history who has won lawsuits against multibillion dollar corporations to protect and get justice for his clients. The inspiring story is filled with comedy and drama as what begins as a case about deal gone bad begins to expose corruption, injustice, and power that would change both men’s lives. Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx plays Willie Gary who alongside Academy Award winner Tommy Lee Jones and Jurnee Smollett deliver truly amazing performances. UrbanFaith sat down with Willie Gary, the man behind the legend to talk about the film and his hopes to inspire others. The full interview is above. The film is rated R for language, but it is a movie I will be fine watching with my kids. There is use of the n word in context which likely contributes to the rating, but this film is a cinematic take on important black history and American history. The film is in select theaters now and on Amazon Prime Video October 13!
At some point in life we’ve all made big decisions. Whether it’s the college we attend, the person we marry, the first home or car we purchase, or the city we move to, decisions are a part of our lives. And to some degree, we always feel like we have to make the right decision. But how do we know what the right decision is? What do we do to prepare ourselves for major decisions?
A study conducted some years ago showed that the more choices we’re presented with, the more debilitat¬ing choices can become. Participants were presented with an assortment of 30 items to choose from and an assortment of 6 items to choose from. More people stopped and recognized the display with 30 choices, but a lesser percentage of those people actually made the choice to buy. We can get to a point in our lives where we think through decisions so much that we talk ourselves out of doing the very thing we set out to do in the first place—making a decision. Why? Because we don’t want to “miss God.” But is that how things work? Are we supposed to agonize over the choices we need to make?
One passage of Scripture may be helpful here: “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3, ESV). Commit literally means to roll over into or put your full weight on some¬thing. It’s giving everything. Interesting that Scripture doesn’t say commit your plans to the Lord. But that’s what we do, right? We commit our plans to the Lord, rather than our work. The distinction is huge. There are four things this verse teaches us:
1. There will be times when things do not go as planned.
It’s inevitable. It’s like walking through the store with your wife and a shopping list. As much as you might want to, “Stick to the plan,” she deviates. And you may get upset when she deviates. You want her to follow the list—to the letter. But your wife has the special ability of remembering stuff that you forget. We get mad when God gets away from our list too. We make plans to be married by a certain age. We make plans to retire by a certain age. When something pops up that isn’t on the list, we are furious. God remembers the stuff we forget too.
Maybe we should change our approach. Stop just committing your plans to the Lord and start committing your work to the Lord. Then Scrip¬ture will make more sense when it says, “The heart of a man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9, ESV) or “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:33, ESV). It is only by committing your work to Him that He establishes your plan. So stop working on that ten-year plan and start working on committing yourself fully to Him in your work.
2. There will be times when you won’t have peace about the decision you make.
Most times we feel like if we have peace about something, then it must be the right decision to make. I remember one decision I made where I didn’t have peace: the decision to move across the country to attend semi¬nary. I didn’t want to move 3,000 miles from home, but decided to do so anyway. Peace was the last thought on my mind. But, in hindsight, it was one of the best deci¬sions I ever made. If Jesus’ experience in the Garden of Gethsemane reveals a moment of agonizing conflict over the decision to bear the world’s sin, then surely there will be decisions in your life where you don’t experience peace in the short term.
3. Never think God is not at work, no matter how absent He may seem to be.
Author Tim Keller said, “God’s guidance is more something God does than something God gives.” In other words, God guides you through events and occurrences in your life, ultimately based on the choices you make. So where you find yourself right now is right in the middle of God’s guidance. Stop looking for it. God is doing it in your life right now. We spend so much time seeking God’s guidance, but don’t realize that we’re right slap dab in the middle of it.
4. God expects us to develop wisdom to discern His guidance.
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her” (from Proverbs 4:7–8, ESV).
Developing wisdom accompanies our spiritual maturity. Another illustration by Tim Keller is key here: How would your parents react if you, an adult, called them to ask permission to go outside? They’d prob¬ably think you were crazy. Why? Because you are mature. As we mature in our faith, God (our Father) wants to trust us more and more to have the wisdom to make good decisions.
So after we pray, get counsel, and ask for His will, we’re ultimately left with the decision to make. In de¬veloping wisdom, we can decide with confidence that He is at work in what we decide. Decisions can be tough. Decisions can be agonizing. Decisions can be filled with uncertainty. If you have a tough decision to make, commit your work to the Lord. You’ll find out over time that in doing so, God will establish your plans.
As a young married couple, we have several friends who are still single and many who are in relationships wanting to be married. Many of our friends ask us for advice on their relationships. How do you know when your significant other is the right one? How do you move forward from single, to engaged, to married? What is your advice for the difference? How do you navigate your relationship in healthy ways? We don’t have all the answers, no couple does. Each relationship is unique. But we agree one of the most important skills and principles we think is core to marriage is adaptability. When we get married, we must adapt in ways we are often not taught prior to being married. Here are 4 ways we see adaptation as key to moving from relationship to marriage for those who want to be married.
1. Your mindset must adapt
From the time most children can reason they are being shaped with expectations for what romantic relationships should be. Parents, peers, and popular culture shape our mindsets for better or worse. Many of those mindsets are unrealistic and toxic. When we have serious relationships as adults, we do not have a sense of what marriage is really like or what it should be like. Many of us expect our spouse to do what we want, agree with us about big and small plans, be present with us for everything we find important, and generally not exhibit any human flaws. Moreover, we expect them to think like us. And this is a big area of necessary adaptation. It does not matter how much or how well you communicate (and most of us don’t do that well), your partner is an entirely separate person from you who will think differently than you. You must adapt your expectations with humility and grace to thrive in sustainable ways. For example, you know that people should ask if you are hungry when they get something to eat. You believe that is what loving spouses do. But your partner may have been raised to believe you speak up if you want someone to get you something to eat. You can avoid a lot of arguments by first discussing this difference and then allowing that each person will not get the action “asking if you are hungry” right even if you talk about it 10 times. It may take two conversations for them. It may take 27. It doesn’t make them bad spouses. It doesn’t make them uncaring. They may get better in the future. They may not. In either case, they will think the way they think, not the way you think.
2. Your heart must adapt
Opening our hearts is a challenging task. It was much easier when we were younger, just venturing into the world, filled with enthusiasm to embrace everything life offered. During our adolescent and young adult years, navigating through life seemed effortless. We were influenced by social media, television shows, and the experiences of our elders and communities, all guiding us on how to coexist with our significant others or what society deemed as finding a “successful” partner. We internalized notions about the ideal height of our spouses, the number of children they should have, and the careers they should pursue. We even hesitated to consider anyone who didn’t meet these expectations. Consequently, societal influences and challenges compelled us to guard our hearts, never settle, and cling tightly to our preconceived ideas of the perfect spouse. Now, understand me; having personal boundaries and standards is healthy. However, the problem arises when our expectations become unrealistic and hinder our ability to form deep connections and intimacy with our partners. Some of us may find ourselves grieving over unmet expectations that arose when we initially began dating, got engaged, or entered marriage. Our partners may face career setbacks that limit our financial freedom, or one partner may not share the same desire for the number of children they may have together. Reality may not align with the idealized image we envisioned in our minds and hearts. This fear can cause us to retreat inwardly, creating a sense of distance from one another. However, when we choose to let go, we open space for love to find its way into our lives. Letting go involves recognizing our agency, embracing vulnerability, and granting ourselves the opportunity to receive love, even when it may bring difficulty. Opening our hearts to the intricate complexities of marriage can be terrifying, but relinquishing unrealistic expectations is essential for growth in our relationships. It demands intentional effort from both partners and a willingness to release our fears, allowing genuine and unfiltered love to flourish. Let go of the burden of expectations and embrace one another for who you are, remembering that love can overcome fear.
3. Your behavior must adapt
We behave in ways that are consistent with our context. Our behavior is one of the most adaptable things about us as human beings. We are very good at adapting our behavior to new schools, new jobs, new organizations, new friends, and new situations but sometimes we have a hard time adapting to our romantic relationships. We feel like we shouldn’t have to adapt to our spouse. They should accept us for who we are. But as followers of Jesus, we should be willing to change how we behave as an act of love. If we know our spouse is allergic to a certain food, we wouldn’t cook it for them just because we like it. We might make a separate version for ourselves or make something entirely different. Adapting what we would normally do to show care for our partner is an act of grace. This does not mean we need to conform to all our partner’s desires. They won’t conform to ours either. But if we yell to express our anger because that’s the way we were raised, and our partner hates yelling because they grew up in an abusive house, we should find a way to express ourselves without yelling. We can always change our behavior and our spouse can work on changing theirs. We can only work on ourselves they must work on themselves.
4. Your plans must adapt
The concept of sacrifice in relationships often triggers resistance. It brings to mind feelings of pain and discomfort, especially when we have meticulously planned our lives through spreadsheets, vision boards, and journals, envisioning how they should unfold in the coming years or even decades. But what happens when those carefully constructed plans are unexpectedly threatened or fall apart? How do we navigate the decision to uproot our lives or relocate across the country for the sake of our spouses or families when we are happy, successful, and settled? Or how do we cope when an unforeseen injury or illness disrupts our envisioned future for our families? In such moments, whether to embrace or reject the idea of sacrifice becomes increasingly crucial. Sacrifice is undeniably challenging; it may be one of life’s most difficult lessons and being in a relationship can make this concept even more difficult. Most would likely choose the former if given a choice between experiencing life without pain, challenges, and uncertainties or enduring a painful journey with inevitable bumps and bruises. However, the truth is that without sacrifice, joy cannot fully exist in our relationships. During those difficult moments of sacrifice, the presence of joy serves as the adhesive that holds our relationships together. Maintaining open and honest communication during the process is crucial, as it keeps both partners informed about each other’s feelings and helps them adapt to the changed plans. Engaging in weekly check-ins with your spouse can be particularly helpful, as they allow each person to express their emotions and articulate their needs without the fear of judgment. By fostering a safe space for open dialogue, couples can navigate the challenges of sacrifice while maintaining a solid and connected relationship. We are each responsible for our own feelings, not our spouse’s feelings. But being aware of how our partner is coping during challenging transitions enables us to meet each other’s needs in healthy ways and intentionally throughout the week. Consistently practicing this awareness and consideration is crucial in building connection and intimacy, particularly during difficult moments faced together. By actively supporting and understanding one another, a solid foundation is created, and bonds are strengthened while navigating the ups and downs of life as a team.
Jane Elliott is one of the most impactful educators and social activists in US history who performed experiments as a teacher that showed convincingly how racism impacted children. Her blue eyes vs. brown eyes exercise in 1968 after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and subsequent world wide publicity of the exercise changed how society viewed race. Her work is a major basis for scholarship on race as a social construct. UrbanFaith contributor Maina Mwaura sat down with this hilarious and brilliant woman to discuss faith, the impact of her work, and her hopes and concerns for relationships between people from different backgrounds today. The interview above has been edited for length, clarity, and content. The views and opinions of Ms. Elliott are her own, not necessarily those of urbanfaith.
Marriage is one of the most important institutions in the lives of believers. Unfortunately it is rarely spoken about beyond the headlines of culture wars in the news or as the excuse some believers hide real conversations about sex behind. A lot of believers have a hard time keeping it real about how hard it is to be married. Kevin and Melissa Fredericks, aka KevOnStage and MrsKevOnStage, rarely hold back on keeping it real in conversations.
With over a million followers on social media (which don’t happen for church folks), they are some of the most busy and influential believers on the internet. Their authenticity and creativity have helped them connect with the “churchy” and unchurched alike. But like all married folks they have had challenges in life and in marriage. Their new bookMarriage Be Hard is a candid look at their marriage and the lessons they have learned along the way through reflection, therapy, The Love Hour podcast and real work. They hope to help couples everywhere to get past “just making it” in marriage to thriving through their insights.
UrbanFaith sat down with Kevin and Melissa to talk about their journey and their book. The full interview is above, more information on the book is below.
ABOUT MARRIAGE BE HARD
Discover the keys to upholding your vows while staying sane in this hilariously candid guide to relationships, from the husband-and-wife team of comedian Kevin Fredericks and influencer Melissa Fredericks
Growing up, Kevin and Melissa Fredericks were taught endless rules around dating, sex, and marriage, but not a lot about what actually makes a relationship work. When they first got married, they felt alone—like every other couple had perfect chemistry while the two of them struggled. There were conversations that they didn’t know they needed to have, fears that affected how they related to each other, and seasons of change that put their marriage to the test.
Part of their story reads like a Christian fairytale: high school sweethearts, married in college, never sowed any wild oats, with two sons and a thriving marriage. But there’s another side of their story: the night Melissa kicked Kevin out of her car after years of communication problems, the time early in their marriage when Kevin bordered on an emotional affair, the way they’ve used social media and podcasts to conduct a no-holds-barred conversation about forbidden topics like jealousy, divorce, and how to be Christian and sex positive. (Because, as Kevin writes, “Your hormones don’t care about your religious beliefs. Your hormones want you to subscribe to OnlyFans.”)
In Marriage Be Hard, the authors provide a hilarious and fresh master class on what it takes to build and maintain a lasting relationship. Drawing on interviews with experts and nearly two decades of marriage, they argue that• Compatibility is overrated. • Communication is about way more than simply talking. • Seeing divorce as an option can actually help your marriage. • There’s such a thing as healthy jealousy.Real marriage is not automatic. It ain’t no Tesla on the open road. Sometimes it’s a stick shift on a hill in the rain with no windshield wipers. But if you get comfortable visiting—and revisiting—the topics that matter, it can transform your bond with your partner and the life you’re building together.Written for those tired of unrealistic relationship books—and for anyone wondering if they’re the only ones breaking all the rules—Marriage Be Hard is a breath of fresh air and the manual you wish existed after you said “I do.”
13 Tattenai, governor of the province west of the Euphrates River, and Shethar-bozenai and their colleagues complied at once with the command of King Darius. 14 So the Jewish elders continued their work, and they were greatly encouraged by the preaching of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo. The Temple was finally finished, as had been commanded by the God of Israel and decreed by Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes, the kings of Persia. 15 The Temple was completed on March 12, during the sixth year of King Darius’s reign.
16 The Temple of God was then dedicated with great joy by the people of Israel, the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the people who had returned from exile. 17 During the dedication ceremony for the Temple of God, 100 young bulls, 200 rams, and 400 male lambs were sacrificed. And 12 male goats were presented as a sin offering for the twelve tribes of Israel. 18 Then the priests and Levites were divided into their various divisions to serve at the Temple of God in Jerusalem, as prescribed in the Book of Moses.
Celebration of Passover
19 On April 21 the returned exiles celebrated Passover. 20 The priests and Levites had purified themselves and were ceremonially clean. So they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the returned exiles, for their fellow priests, and for themselves. 21 The Passover meal was eaten by the people of Israel who had returned from exile and by the others in the land who had turned from their corrupt practices to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. 22 Then they celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. There was great joy throughout the land because the Lord had caused the king of Assyria to be favorable to them, so that he helped them to rebuild the Temple of God, the God of Israel.
There is a relief and a comfort that comes from the completion of a thing. When you pray and ask God to do something for you, or you step out in faith and begin a project or a task, there is a blessing when you see the completion and the success of it.
It gives you hope, courage, and strength to keep pushing especially during the times when you are waiting on God. It gives you strength in the seasons which require patience, endurance, and long suffering.
Remember, God’s will for your life is continuous. He is always working on something within you to make you better. Look within yourself frequently to see what areas God is desiring to mature and grow you as you wait for the manifestation of prayers you have prayed.
Everything God does that manifests as answered prayer, will bring glory to Him. You will always feel drawn to God to appreciate and honor Him.
God desires to bless you and answer your prayers. He delights in fulfilling and meeting your needs. It is the will of the enemy to make you think that God desires your continuous suffering. Trust His love for you and believe that He is working it out for your good.
In Ezra 6:15, there was a date that the temple was completed. A specific month. We serve a God of specifics. He has scheduled the completion date of every test and trial that you are dealing with today.
Believe again, that very soon, you will be celebrating His goodness, faithfulness, and love towards you. You will rejoice because you will see the completion of a thing, and the power of God’s provision to see it through.
There are moments in my life where I have felt a strong sense of loneliness, because I thought you forgot about me. I wondered if you would ever come through for me and bring me victory. Today I believe there is an expiration date to my trial. My answer is scheduled and very soon, by the power of perfect timing and your divine provision, I will see the completion of the promises you have shared with me.
Help me to count the many blessings I have experienced so far. Teach me not to compare myself with others. Let me steward my time, treasure, and talents with great diligence and grace as I expect the breakthrough of answered prayer. I believe this by faith, and encourage my heart to trust you again.
I was three months pregnant and working as a Web editor in New York City at iVillage.com when tragedy struck at the World Trade Center buildings. That particular morning, I had scheduled a prenatal appointment before going in to work. A mere few minutes after hearing my son’s heartbeat for the first time, a nurse burst into the room and said that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. The doctor and I were puzzled, but we figured it was some random accident by a confused pilot in a small private plane.
But after I left the doctor’s office, I realized what happened was no accident. When I first arrived at work, I learned that another plane had hit a second building. And these planes didn’t hit just any buildings — they made the World Trade Center buildings burn down in the most depressingly spectacular way. The entire staff was crowded around a small TV and quickly became very emotional. No one knew all the details, and my coworkers were telling fantastic stories, such as eight hijacked planes were circling all across the country. When I heard a plane hit the Pentagon, it became personal. My brother-in-law worked across from the Pentagon at the time. I couldn’t help it; the tears started to flow. The fear and sadness were overwhelming.
Fortunately for my coworkers and me, our company had a corporate apartment in the city. Most of us lived in Burroughs outside of Manhattan, and all the trains and busses were shut down. Around 15-20 of us squeezed into a one-bedroom apartment, but at least we had a place to go. That said, we still had to get there, which required a long, sad 17-block walk from upper Manhattan towards downtown and the direction of “Ground Zero,” which was the destroyed World Trade Center site’s former name. As we walked, we passed by several first responders, all covered in ash. Everything was covered in ash. Once in the apartment, we saw a hospital right outside the window. Several medical workers were clearly on high alert outside, waiting to take in survivors — but the slew of patients in need was far lower than expected. I called my husband. He never left Brooklyn, where we lived. He started work later than me and was standing on the train station platform waiting to board when he saw one of the buildings go down. A lady on the platform with him fainted.
The next day, I was so afraid to take in the air, fearful of its effect on my unborn son. It took me more than a year before I braved going down there, still afraid of what was in the air and how it might affect my breastmilk. It turns out that it was a smart move. We all know about the many 9/11 heroes who suffered from complications due to the poor air quality. When I was finally able to catch the train home, I saw flyers posted by loved ones desperately seeking information asking about missing people. The entire city was in mourning.
My son is now 19-years-old and has grown into a young man. I’ve made sure to tell him about that day and those who we lost. I know that I am Blessed. For so many people, that painful day stole their children, parents, and loved ones. I saw firsthand the devastation and the deep wound inside the hearts of New Yorkers. I realize that 9/11 affected all Americans differently, but even amidst this ongoing and insufferable pandemic, we owe the victims and their families a moment of recognition and remembrance. I’m heartened by the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Tomorrow is not promised. We must #NeverForget.
Dr. Michelle McKinney Hammond is one of the most successful authors in the country. She is the new host of UMI’s Sunday School Made Simple. She is an award winning artist, producer, entrepreneur, host, former advertising executive, internationally sought out speaker, and faith leader. But she has had her life shaped by profound changes and difficulties. In her latest book When Shift Happens, she gets real about her struggles, her faith, and the lessons she has learned about embracing change through our seasons of life. Full interview is above. More about the book and author is below.
In When Shift Happens: Say Yes to Your Next (available September 12 from Whitaker House),Michelle examines the difference between those who flounder and those who flourish in the seasonal transitions of life. She details the ways that understanding and addressing the season you are in–and assessing its purpose–allows people to not only survive their shift, but to thrive.
Michelle brilliantly bridges the gap between modern society and ancient biblical times, showing that God has been helping people endure “shifts” for centuries. She doesn’t shy away from sharing her own challenging situations, recounting her experiences with the pandemic, a car accident, and other personal traumas, along with how she found the strength through God’s teachings to say “yes” to these challenges as they arose.
“Mindset is everything when confronted with unanticipated change,” Michelle writes in When Shift Happens. “You are never out of options unless you choose to be. Emerging cycles all point to one thing—whether you are ready or not, shift happens. It’s not the end. There’s always a next!”
MORE ON THE AUTHOR: Many discovered the explosive talent of Michelle McKinney Hammond with her first bestseller, What to Do Until Love Finds You: Getting Ready for Mr. Right, in 1997. Since that time, Michelle has enjoyed a multifaceted career as an author, speaker, singer, producer, actress, relationship expert, and life coach, reaching men and women from all walks of life.
August 2023 is the 60th anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech and the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. UMI (Urban Ministries Inc.) has partnered with Harper Christian Resources, and the K.I.N.G. Movement to honor, celebrate, and share the lessons of MLK through the Share the Dream Project and curriculum. UrbanFaith sat down with the award winning journalist and Fox Sports commentator, K.I.N.G. Movement President, and co-host of Share The DreamChris Broussard to talk about the project and MLK’s legacy 60 years after the “I Have A Dream” speech. The full interview is above, excerpts are below edited for length and clarity.
Chris Broussard co-host of Share the Dream
We are talking about something so special, which is the 60th anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It has inspired us and inspire others to honor and celebrate the legacy through a project called “Shared the Dream.” And so today I am here with the commentator, the journalist, the host, the co-host for this project, Mr. Chris Broussard, who has just been someone who’s been at the forefront of helping push the dream forward.
It’s great to join you, Allen. And wow, thank you for that introduction. I’ll try to live up to it in this interview, but it’s great to be with you guys at UrbanFaith. And this Share the Dream project is something that’s special, something that’s anointed, and something that we do hope and believe can have a great impact in our country.
In a lot of ways it feels like we see Dr. King as a meme, right? Like it’s just a picture on social media with a quote taken out of context. People don’t even know for the I have a dream speech, that he starts with laying out the problems before he gets to a vision for what we could do together. Can you talk a little bit about what it looks like to have a vision going forward and why it’s so important to learn from our history and address those realities before we rush to the vision that God might have for us being united and being one?
No, that’s a great question. Because a lot of times you hear talk about racial reconciliation. And to some people, like I said, does that mean a hug? Does that mean, you know, just some superficial gatherings, but not addressing the issues that left us unreconciled and leave us unreconciled? As you said, most people don’t even know that Dr. King addressed those issues before he said, “I have a dream” and all that stuff. And of course, later in his life, he really to some degree was distraught and disheartened when he really looked at the economic differences. And obviously he knew that [before]. But, in the South the racism was so overt that they were addressing those situations. Blacks couldn’t go here; blacks couldn’t go there. You just address those issues. And then we went up to the North and you saw the economic conditions that many Africans Americans were living in. In the North there [wasn’t persistent] legal segregation, but blacks were clearly getting the short end of the stick. It really disheartened him, and he had to rethink and was in the process of even thinking like, “Okay, how are we going to address this?” And he did have ideas and he talked about redistribution of wealth and all that stuff.
I think the key is that, our white brothers and sisters, particularly in the church, have been miseducated on the history of America. All the talk about a great Christian nation, and manifest destiny and the city on the hill. What about the way African-Americans and Native Americans were treated? And so that miseducation informs the way a lot of whites view the racial situation today. And by using a lot of Dr. King’s principles and teaching, like we want to hopefully shed light on how the true racial history of America, as bad as it was, in the past, but also how it impacts us today. How it impacts the disparities you see today and the tension and the distrust that you see today and all the events that we’ve seen in the past few years. All of that is a remnant to some degree of much of the past. The wealth gap. That’s not just because whites have worked hard, and blacks haven’t. It’s not because of that at all. It is because of things like the federal housing administration loans that were given out to mainly overwhelmingly white Americans in the from the 1930s on into the 1960s that built these beautiful white suburbs. The red lining of the African-American neighborhoods that have cost African-American families on average hundreds of thousands of dollars. These are the things [that must be addressed]. It’s not just let’s go have dinner together and be friends. It is let’s address these economic issues that really were created by the racism of the past and address the those. And then [there can] be some real racial unity and we can have some real robust discussions about how we can solve these problems that we have today. So yeah, I think that’s, you know, part of what we’re trying to do with Share the Dream.
[In this curriculum] you outline the six principles of Dr. King’s legacy beautifully: Conscience, justice, perseverance, hope, freedom, and love.] What principles have you seen stand out in your own life or be most influential to you or what were your favorite ones to share in the series?
Yeah man, there’s so many. I think to some degree I’ve addressed a little bit of the conscience of really making America in particular, many of our white Christian brothers and sisters aware of the true history of this country. I’ve talked to whites who have talked about city on the hill and the great Christian heritage of America, who have talked about slavery as if it was just a little blind spot. It was just a little mistake. I’m like “No, you understand that the reason America was able to become the greatest superpower we’ve ever seen was on the backs of slavery.” So that is a part of it trying to just awaken that consciousness within white Americans to understand. So, I think that’s the conscience. I could focus more on justice as well. Yes, we see overt acts [of racism] here and there. But a lot of it is subtle. If you if you don’t have a deeper understanding of it and really dig beneath the surface, you can get the wrong idea of the racial situation in America today. [Racist policies] created the wealth gap and all of that, that’s a part of the justice we need to look at. I’ll quickly just throw out one more, the perseverance. Like a lot of time, I think a lot of people have been beaten down, particularly African Americans by the situation in America today, by the persistence of the oppression. Where they have given up, where they just decided, nothing can improve for us overall or for me individually. It can affect your decision making and things like that. Whereas you look back in the day when Dr. King was marching and even before that, in the face of even worse oppression, you did have, I would say, you probably had more perseverance and hope within the Black community than you do today. And I believe a lot of that was because Dr. King and many of the people that were working with him were rooted in Jesus Christ. And when you’re rooted in Christ, no matter how bad things look on the outside, you will have hope. As bad as things look in this country, I do have hope because of the gospel and the transformative power of the gospel and how it can change a person and a people’s outlook on life, worldview, and decision-making behavior, all of that. And I think that’s what our ancestors had. And that’s what gave them the perseverance and the hope through slavery, through Jim Crow. We have more opportunities and freedom today, but many of us lack the same perseverance and hope that our ancestors had. So that’s something I would wanna highlight as well. Why did they have that hope? Let me tap into that reason behind their perseverance.
Yeah, I mean, they were so rooted in their faith. And I really appreciate this series pointing that out, highlighting that, bringing that to the forefront, because a lot of times people forget that Dr. King was a minister, right? Like he wasn’t just some great speaker and marcher, he was a minister. You got to work with his friend Andrew Young who was there. What are some of the lessons that you feel like people take away from being able to hear from some elders and from some other folks who are part of the project in the video series in the curriculum?
Well, I think that’s a great question. I think Ambassador Young, he obviously gets accolades and people understand and talk about what he did in the past and his involvement in the movement and all of that. But I don’t think people understand and fully give him the credit for just being how great of a man he is. And to your point, a man of faith. People want to divorce the faith of Dr. King from what he did. They want to divorce [him from his faith]. I could go on and on Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, even Marcus Garvey who [was] a Christian. People want to divorce or [history from faith]. They want to look at these great actions of our ancestors and yet and not look at the sources of their power and the source of their wisdom and the things that they fought for and fought against and stated and so on and so forth. And Ambassador Young is also like that. Ambassador Young is a great man of faith. And I get that we should focus on the other things he talks about and the things he fights for. And everything’s not a religious conversation. But I think it is important that people understand, especially in this day and age, where faith is being marginalized. Christian faith has sustained us as a community and as a people and is now being marginalized, tossed aside, watered down and things like that. It’s important to see in a great man like Ambassador Young that his faith has always been vibrant and to this day is vibrant. And that that’s what motivated him and led him to be able to do and have the strength to do what he did.
As I’msitting in my little home office, it can be a challenge to understand that the world is much bigger than where I live in Kennesaw, Georgia. Or even the country that I’m proud to call home America, the same country that my father Moses Mwaura migrated to. Yet God calls for us to not only recognize that we’re part of a world representing over seven billion people, but at the same time to love the world. In fact, I would even venture to say that Isaiah 37:16 makes it clear that God made and sees the entire world, which is unlike me. God doesn’t see just one part of the world which is why as Christ Followers we should be praying for our world daily.
Recently on a rare Thursday Evening when many people were done working for the day, I had the privilege of spending a few minutes with United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas Greenfield. During my amazing time with her I learned so much about our world and the reasons that we should see ourselves not only as citizens of America but worldwide citizens. We have been placed here by a God who made and oversees the world. He desires for us to do our part, which in part is praying for the world around us.
During my time with Ambassador Greenfield, she stressed that although she loves the world that the one part of the world that she is concerned about is Haiti. As a man who has lived in Florida, I understand her sentiments. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and the rate of famine that is plaguing that part of the world is alarming. Although the Haitian people are a resourceful and steadfast people they have been through a lot. “Every two to three years, a national disaster seems to hit Haiti which makes it hard for them to bounce back,” according to Ambassador Greenfield. I can still remember that two years ago their President was assassinated while he slept, and it sent the country into turmoil. As citizens of the world, if we’re to make a difference we should listen to the prompting of the spirit. We should find our part of the world that God may want us to get involved with, pray for it, and even go if we can. If we are to do our part in loving the world we must get out of our personal boxes and get involved.
“We prevented famine in Africa by providing $500 million dollars to confront famine.” In hearing Ambassador Greenfield say this, it brought tears to my eyes. I think at times in our world we can get consumed in thinking that our tax dollars aren’t at work. But they are in cases like these. Luke 4:23 is clear that to much is given much is required. Although we have our problems in America, we have been given a lot. Which is why we should be missional as believers. The Great Commission is clear that we have been called to go into all the world which has never been easier than it is today with modern technology. In the world that we live in today, with just a click of a button, we can have conversations with people that our ancestors would have never dreamed of having. Just by having a conversation with someone in another part of the world we could be making the connection of a lifetime and maybe even bringing peace. I believe that great connections always bring peace. “The United Nations has prevented World Wars and is the only institution that we have worldwide.” This may explain why Ambassador Greenfield loves her job and seemed to be upbeat even after most of us have stopped working for the day. “I’m on a mission”, which for ambassador Greenfield began growing up in a small southern town in Louisiana. During our conversation she was on her way to the airport heading home from a trip to New Orleans. “I loved being back in my home state and the hospitality that they show me…I hope I’m making them proud.”
As citizens of the world my prayer is that when people see us as American Citizens and followers of Jesus, that we are making them proud. We have been given a mandate by God to not only go into all the world, but also tackle issues that the world may be ignoring like climate change. The Ambassador is clear that climate change issues are not only affecting the us globally but also right here in America. To truly see the needs that are around us, we must people that love and recognize the needs around us. The United Nations is in New York City and is known as “The People’s House.” Ambassador Greenfield says, “It’s the peoples house, so anybody can come”. I will be taking her up on that offer because I believe that we are not only called to love our world, but we are also called to participate and engage with the world as world citizens. God doesn’t just love America, but He loves the entire world and there is so much work to be done. It is going to take all of us to pull off the task that He has called for us to do: bringing heaven to earth so that all may experience the kingdom of God.
It has been six months since we started on this journey with our 14-year-old son, who began a home-based high school curriculum last fall. I’m no expert by any means, but you’d be surprised how much severaltrials by fire in a short amount of time can teach you. I know there’s a lot more knowledge to grasp with each year, but here are ten things I’ve learned so far.
1. You can’t just go with one curriculum.
Even though my son is enrolled in an online accredited high school, there are still gaps I need to fill. For example, Khan Academy has been vital for him (and me!) to understand Algebra. Also, it can be challenging to find Christian history, literature, and other educational materials from an African American perspective in a mainstream homeschooling curriculum. I’ve posted a few history resources here on UrbanFaith.com, but you can also check outStore.UrbanMinistries.com.
2. Think nontraditional.
The main reason we’re going through this journey is that the structure of a brick and mortar school was not working for our son. So why repeat the exact same schooling structure at home? I’ve learned that sometimes he works better at night. He doesn’t necessarily need the weekends off. He’d rather do a little bit seven days a week instead of a normal five-day week. You can learn anywhere —for example, we’re going to learn Spanish vocabulary in the grocery store.
3. You do need some structure.
Every kid is different, but I can’t leave the house without making sure he knows what he’s supposed to do and then following up when I get home. I’ve heard horror stories of people thinking their kids are working only to find nothing but a trail of video games and social media filling up the day. Setting boundaries are important, and you can include your child in making those decisions. For example, I will talk to my son about the week and what we are going to accomplish and we will agree on which days and times he will complete the work. Some families might have routines that are more strict. But this works for us.
4. Connecting with other homeschooling parents keeps you sane.
I’ve spent a lot of time on social media with other parents who have kids in the same program. It makes me feel less isolated as we’re all going through it together and sharing our stories. We all have kids of varying ages, but there are always a few moms with kids the same age as yours. You’d be surprised at the similarities in our stories. I’ve learned a lot from those moms and gotten great tips and teaching resources. Check out these groups when you have time.
5. You have more time in your day to make learning fun.
When you strip out lunch, advisory periods, the time between classes, gym, assemblies, and time for teachers to work with other kids, that streamlines your child’s day quite a bit. My son can pretty much do his entire day’s work in three hours. I’m finding that is common among other kids who are learning at home. So I’ve started to get creative. We’re going to take advantage of several museums that offer free museum days to area residents. Also, we’ll be going to work out together at the local YMCA, which has affordable pricing.
6. You become the school guidance counselor.
If you don’t go to an online accredited school, you’ll need to develop your own transcript for your child. The Homeschool Mom has a great blog post about this, but keeping track of all the courses, lessons, tests, and grades become your responsibility. Also, it’s on your shoulders to plan out your child’s future, making sure that they are taking in all the subjects necessary for whatever transition they plan to make after high school. I’ve created a spreadsheet for my son that goes from freshman through senior year and has all the courses he will need to take to graduate.
7. Standardized testing is a little more challenging.
My son needs to take the PSAT this spring and it was not easy to get the local high school to let him take it there. I made several calls and emails that were ignored. If you’re not enrolled in the school, don’t be surprised if they simply don’t care that much about assisting you. Unfortunately, when you call the people who administer the PSAT, they say to contact your local school. In the end, the only reason I got a response was that I pointed out that I do have another child at the school. It was very frustrating. The lesson learned here is to start a few months early if you want your child to take standardized tests. Don’t wait until a week before the test. They have to make special accommodations for homeschooled kids and that can take time.
8. It takes a village to homeschool a child.
In my opinion, homeschooling will be hard to do if you work full-time without other family members to support you.This is a tough one to write because I know not everyone can survive financially on a part-time salary. But honestly, you have to be present to make this work. You can’t give an assignment and just leave without touching base during the day and providing assistance as needed. Not to mention, it requires a lot of planning in advance on what to teach, what classes to incorporate into your curriculum, when to take time off, how to provide extra help in subject areas unfamiliar to you, etc. That said, I could see it working if there is an extended family in the house who can help share the homeschooling load. I have a friend whose mother is helping to teach her small children a few days a week. It gives her a break and grandma time to bond.
9. People will be judgemental.
I’ve had people tell me they think I made the wrong decision. That I just gave in to my son’s anxiety. They’ve said there’s no way he can learn at home what he could learn in a public school. Some scare me with warnings that he won’t get into college. It’s hard to hear. From my point of view, my son actually doesn’t mind learning now. No more “I hate school” mantras. I know we made the right choice for our family.
10. Choose your path based on your circumstances.
If your goal is to give your child a flexible schedule in the short-term and you intend for him or her to eventually go back to regular brick-and-mortar schooling, consider starting with your local public school first. A lot of school districts have home-based, online curriculum partnerships you can look into if your child has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Or, they may have a program where you can work with your child’s teachers and take the work home. We did that when my son was in middle school. If this is a long-term choice and there’s really no going back, do your research first before you make the leap if you have time to do so. Talk to other homeschooling moms. There are so many options now and you can tailor something specific to your child’s interests. Start with the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.
23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
This scripture really ministers to me. Before you judge the disciples for running to Jesus in a panic and waking Him up from His sweet nap, may I say that if we truly were honest with ourselves, many of us have been in similar situations.
Have you ever felt as though God was on a yacht drinking His favorite smoothie and enjoying Himself when you are clutching onto the boat with all of your strength because of the storm that is rocking the boat? Have you ever questioned God when you wondered why each time you set sail in faith on what He showed you, all of a sudden the waters of your life turn to angry waves?
If your life has been a smooth sail and you wake up every day with everything laid out and nothing to worry about then we praise God for you! But this inspiration today is for that person who cannot make sense of what is going on.
You gave your life to God and now everything seems chaotic. You have been praying like never before, reading your word, going to church, sending tweets and memes on how good God is, but the more you do, the more you feel as though you are shaking and everything around you is rocking.
Take courage and let your faith be empowered today by the following:
1. You cannot sink in a ship that Jesus is sailing
The disciples followed Jesus onto the ship. He is the Shepherd and He knows everything. The situations you are dealing with have not come to drown you but to teach you how to swim and navigate through life. Don’t worry, you will not sink.
2. While you are pacing around and worrying, Jesus is chilling
The disciples were looking at the storm and wondering why would Jesus be asleep? You have been asking yourself “where is God?” but the reality is Jesus is there. He is resting and waiting to see what your reaction will be. If God is not stressed out, why are you stressed out? This is a perspective issue. How are you viewing your situation? Shift and think like your God. If He is not worried, neither should you.
3. If you cry out to God He will answer.
The disciples saw the waves and water getting in the boat and went to wake up Jesus. A lot of times we think that the disciples were weak for waking up Jesus and acting scared, but the reality is we scream and call on Jesus all the time, because we do not know what to do with the storms we are facing. Guess what, it is okay!
Sometimes crying out to Jesus for help shows us His authority. Jesus woke up and calmed the storm. Even though He rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith, the reality is the boat stopped rocking. People may wonder why you cry out to God so much or why you seek God so much and yes God may give you a rebuke here and there but He will answer you and calm your storms. Don’t stop calling on Him, Jesus will pay attention to your situation.
Be encouraged this month, and strive to wake up Jesus in every situation if you have to. Better to call on Jesus even if the boat is rocking, than to wonder if Jesus is even in the boat of your life during a storm!
Thank you for encouraging me that each time I follow You, You will walk me into a ship that will begin sailing to my destiny. In that journey, there will be storms, and I may be afraid, but remind me that You are on my boat, and I can call on You. I can come to You to wake You up, and You will ease my fears, and calm the storm. I am honored to serve a God who hears and answers my cry of help…
We have been privileged to live in a generation that has mastered the art of multitasking, being able to do multiple things at the same time and excelling. You really have to, otherwise, life will pass you by.
Sometimes the news changes so fast that if you wait too long, you are outdated. Have you ever been in a situation where you did not check your phone all day, and by the time you turned it on, it seemed as though you were on a different planet because so much had happened? That is the gift of living in a world of possibilities. Everything is possible and anything can happen. The sky is the limit.
Limitation presents itself in a very cunning way in our lives. For some, it begins at a young age through criticism from a parent or guardian, a teacher or peers that begin to conform your mind to think a certain way.
Or, it could be the environment that you are first exposed to. Unfortunately, depending on the zip code that you reside in, it can determine the kind of privileges that are afforded to you.
Limitation can enter your life through rejection, a lack of acceptance, where you never fit in and regardless of how kind you try to be, or all the things you try to do, you just never measure up. Therefore, you feel limited, constrained, suffocated and blocked.
Limitation could be geographical. The opportunities that could bring a breakthrough in your life may not be at the proximity of where you are currently located. Moving out of that geographical region would be coming out of that box of limitation and pursuing something that could change your life.
The mistakes that we make are stepping into these boxes of limitation that are presented to us daily in our lives and getting comfortable. We take our pity party pillow, and our “poor old me” throws, find a nice corner to hibernate, and hope that Jesus will come down and rescue us from our misery.
I love the Bible because it is a wonderful and precious book filled with verbs. God is all about movement, action, and purpose.
In the book of Genesis, our first encounter with God, is His interaction with an earth that was void and filled with darkness. That did not intimidate Him or make Him cower back. Instead, His Spirit “moved” upon the face of the waters.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Your life may be filled with void and darkness, but guess what God wants you to do? MOVE!
I created an acronym for the word MOVE to push me during those times that I sense limitation is looming over me, trying to push me down a dungeon of hopelessness.
Sometimes you have to look at life as a classroom that you show up to master and excel in every lesson presented. By the time we get to verse 31 in Genesis 1, God had taken the earth that was void and made it to be very good. You have to take your void situation, be motivated by purpose and create the environment that makes it very good.
31 And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Instead of throwing a glamorous pity party and sending out beautiful invitations to host limitation in your life, I suggest:
1. Returning the limitation box back to the sender
Just the way you return mail that is not yours, you do not have to receive projections of limitations that are said to you, thrown at you, or even perceived by you from others. You have the power to control what you receive. Learn how to reject that which will limit your progress. Let it “talk to the hand!”
2. Follow God’s role model
The first thing that God did was move. He was not concerned about how things looked, He got busy creating. He got busy with purpose. Instead of complaining about what is wrong and how unfair life may be (which may be true), get busy moving into purpose and finding out why you are here. Passivity is a hobby that many take up, waiting for a change that may never come. You are the agent that triggers the change you are praying for.
3. Believe in yourself
There comes a point of decision and reckoning that you are unique. You have to begin investing in self-affirmation ministry to yourself and build up the confidence muscles that may be feeble in you. You may have to cry sometimes and that is okay, but after crying let there be purpose in your tears. The greatest gift that you can give yourself is to refuse to be limited and live a life that is open to receive all that God has for you.
Help me with the daily struggle of limitation that overwhelms me. If I have limited myself and allowed sabotage in my life, or refuse to step on the platforms that You bring to me, forgive me. I give myself permission to succeed. I look to You for confidence, and I receive the boldness to walk into purpose and the liberty of being myself. That is a gift, a precious gift that I ask You to help me guard. The gift of being me. Thank You God for making me, me.
Jemele Hill became known as a popular journalist in sports, but she is now one of the clearest voices in the country for social justice. She is a woman of faith and at the same time a fierce critic who asks questions and fights for the marginalized.
UrbanFaith contributor Maina Mwaura sat down with Jemele Hill to talk about her new memoir Uphill where she tells her own story with the depth and clarity she has used to tell other people’s stories for decades. The full interview is above, more about the book is below.
Jemele Hill’s world came crashing down when she called President Trump a “white supremacist”; the White House wanted her fired from ESPN, and she was deluged with death threats. But Hill had faced tougher adversaries growing up in Detroit than a tweeting president. Beneath the exterior of one of the most recognizable journalists in America was a need—a calling—to break her family’s cycle of intergenerational trauma.
Born in the middle of a lively routine Friday night Monopoly game to a teen mother and a heroin-addicted father, Hill constantly adjusted to the harsh realities of not only her own childhood but the inherited generational pain of her mother and grandmother. Her escape was writing.
Hill’s mother was less than impressed with the brassy and bold free expression of her diary, but Hill never stopped discovering and amplifying her voice. Through hard work and a constant willingness to learn, Hill rose from newspaper reporter to columnist to new heights as the coanchor for ESPN’s revered SportsCenter. Soon, she earned respect and support for her fearless opinions and unshakable confidence, as well as a reputation as a trusted journalist who speaks her mind with truth and conviction.
In Jemele Hill’s journey Uphill, she shares the whole story of her work, the women of her family, and her complicated relationship with God in an unapologetic, character-rich, and eloquent memoir
Have you ever looked at your life and wondered how your needs would be met this week? Have you been in need of advice and not known where to turn? Have you ever wondered what your purpose is? How can you grow in your relationship with God?
The answer to all these questions is prayer. Many of us want to pray, but struggle to figure out how to pray which is the reason why Pastor John Hannah wrote his book: Just Pray: How a Life of Prayer Grows Unshakeable Faith which is now available everywhere and can be found here. UrbanFaith interviewed Pastor John Hannah about his new book Just Pray: How A Life Of Prayer Grows Unshakeable Faith. The full interview is linked above.
Prayer is a foundational part of every Christian’s life, it is literally the way we communicate with God. As we desire to grow in our relationship with God, we must learn how to pray in ways that are powerful and practical. Pastor Hannah leads prayer calls weekly with thousands of people, has spoken and taught on the subject of prayer for decades, and has decided to share his insights on why and how we can grow in our prayer life as foundational to a life of faith through this book.
About Pastor John Hannah
John F. Hannah is the founder and lead pastor of New Life Covenant Church Southeast. A speaker and author, he has impacted thousands of lives through his ministry and dedication to serve. Through his focused desire to teach people how to grow their relationship with God, Pastor Hannah has become renowned for his commitment to prayer. Because of his heart for people, Hannah has traveled the globe speaking in regions of Jiji, Australia, and South Africa and even shared multiple media and conference platforms with acclaimed faith-based leaders Bishop T.D. Jakes and Steve Harvey. He has been married to Anna Hannah for over twenty-five years.
Understand that God uniquely designed you. Everything about you was created to appeal to the people, place, and position that God destined for your life. Breaking out of your box is an act of surrender that allows God the opportunity to move on your behalf. If you’re seeking help discovering your destiny, reflect on these scriptures: Isaiah 43:19, Psalms 139:14, and Jeremiah 29:11.
Tip #2 Trust God
This tip could not be overstated. Many in ministry are joining the “Great Resignation” for various reasons, forcing them to step out on faith into vocations outside their typical comfort zone. When I was called to consult for a land development opportunity, I wanted to decline the offer. After prayer and agreement from my wife, I accepted. Turning down the chance to lead a development worth millions could have caused me to head in the opposite direction from God’s calling for my life. If you’re desiring to trust God in this season, reflect on these scriptures: Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalms 46:10, and Matthew 6:25.
Tip #3 Be Strategic
Strategy is time-consuming, tiring, and sometimes frustrating, but it’s what makes and breaks organizations and sets the successful apart. The planning, implementation, and execution of an idea puts your faith into action. As you balance strategy and trust, reflect on these scriptures: Habakkuk 2:2-3, James 2:14-26, and Proverbs 16:1-3.
For Christians, walking in the will of God is critically important. Understanding how your uniqueness in Christ relates to the world provides the opportunity to thrive and spread the Good News in the unreached parts of society. Even those skilled in ministry can find themselves venturing into opportunities to be influential in the business sector. I believe that God is calling many Christians to break out of the box and pursue ministry in the marketplace, trust Him by taking opportunities to work in secular settings, and strategize for success. Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Tabitha Brown is one of the most recognizable people on the planet right now. She is a multifaceted entertainer and entrepreneur producing everything from social media content to TV shows, haircare products to food seasonings, clothes and games. She is also a person of deep faith. UrbanFaith contributor Maina Mwaura had a few minutes with Tabitha to ask how she does what she does and how she feels living into God’s call for her life. The interview is above, more about Tabitha is below.
In the nineteenth century, many American communities and cities celebrated Independence Day with a ceremonial reading of the Declaration of Independence, which was usually followed by an oral address or speech dedicated to the celebration of independence and the heritage of the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers. On July 5, 1852, the Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society of Rochester, New York, invited the Black abolitionist and civil rights leader Frederick Douglass to be the keynote speaker for their Independence Day celebration. The Fourth of July Speech, scheduled for Rochester’s Corinthian Hall, attracted an audience of 600. The meeting opened with a prayer and was followed by a reading of the Declaration of Independence. When Douglass finally came to the platform to deliver his speech, the event took a jarring turn. Douglass told his audience, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” And he asked them, “Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?”
Within Douglass’ now-legendary address is what historian Philip S. Foner has called “probably the most moving passage in all of Douglass’ speeches.”
What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.
On this and every July 4th, Americans might do well to re-read and reflect on Douglass’ famous message. It challenges us to move beyond the biases and blind spots of our own cultural privileges and consider those around us for whom, as Langston Hughes said, “America has never been America.”
Read Douglass’ complete speech here, and watch actor Danny Glover recite an excerpt from the address below.
“Liminal” is defined as the space between. It is the no-longer before, and the not-yet other. It is the space where we find ourselves caught between the light of Juneteenth and the shadow of July 4th. We are caught in the space between. No longer enslaved on plantations, but not yet with a freedom fully realized. It’s an imaginative space; an emergent space; and a space for reflection.
It is in this space that I am reminded of the Statue of Liberty, and the broken chains at her feet. I first learned about the chains in 2017, at a training in Chicago led by Dr. Joy DeGruy. She told the story of how the chains were part of the original vision of the statue, how American financiers insisted that the chains be removed, and how the sculptor still managed to sneak the chains in under Lady Liberty’s garments, lying broken at her feet. She told the story how the National Park Services didn’t talk about the chains unless someone happened to ask. The chains were not part of the Park Services’ narrative about the Statue. In the Statue’s 135-year history, information about the chains have only officially been included in the park service’s literature and website for about the past six years.
Yasmin Sabina Khan goes even deeper in her work, “Enlightening the World: The Creation of the Statue of Liberty.” Conceived in 1865 by Édouard de Laboulaye, sculpted by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi over the course of approximately 20 years, the Statue of Liberty was unveiled at New York’s Ellis Island as “Liberty Enlightening the World” in October of 1886. At the base of the Statue, out of view from anyone looking from ground level, lie the broken chains of slavery. Visible only from helicopter or drone, the chains weren’t spoken of. Laboulaye was an ardent abolitionist. With the end of the US Civil War in 1865, Laboulaye imagined a gift that would embody the significance of the liberation of those who were enslaved. Bartholdi’s original model placed the torch of liberty in one hand, and broken chains in the other. The Statue of Liberty’s entire visual and artistic vocabulary was meant to both celebrate and honor the freedom of those enslaved in America. But financiers balked at the idea of chains placed anywhere on the Statue, and after profuse opposition by Bartholdi, the chains were removed, replaced by a tablet emblazoned with the Roman numerals for July 4, 1776. Since they aren’t easily visible, and since there was no concerted public effort to connect the statue with the narrative of the abolition of chattel slavery, the memory of it’s connections faded. And for the past 135 years, barely anyone remembered the chains.
For Black people within this liminal march of history, the Statue has long sat as a symbol of hypocrisy—celebrating a freedom that became connected to a honoring of ideals that have yet to be realized. There’s much to unpack about our historical reactions to the unveiling of the Statue, but there’s also much to be said about the loss of memory. The obscuring and loss of communal memory around the presence, history, and meaning of the chains at the feet of the Statue of Liberty is important because it reminds us that memory is important. And not only is memory important, memory is crucial in this liminal space between freedom and freedom. Memory is what helps us imagine. Memory is what helps us create. It’s something we can use to construct and define a new world, a new freedom, a new way of being. We must tap into it.
In his book, “Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance” Ngugi wa Thiong’o writes, “creative imagination is one of the greatest of re-membering practices…” and that “memory is the link between the past and the present, between space and time, and it is the base of our dreams.” Harnessing memory is our work. These broken chains at our feet, the light of Juneteenth, the long shadow of July 4th—this liminal space—all of it is here to remind us that we have worlds to build. We have a freedom to define—to make clear and meaningful. It is within this creative tension where we have the possibility to gain a clear-eyed view of what a full realization of freedom could look like, both collectively as a community and a country, and particularly in the living out of our individual lives and individual situations. But understand, there can be no clear expression of freedom without integrating communal memory into the foundation of work.
If memory is the base of our dreams, what are our dreams of freedom? What if we could transform freedom in the same ways that we’ve always transformed culture? In this liminal space of history, we’ve seen Black creativity, Black genius, Black art, and Black joy shift and drive culture (and economies) around the world. Have we fired that same ingenuity in our definitions of freedom? What would the world look like, if we defined and constructed freedom based on our criteria, our imaginations, our memory? It might look something like a society built on the idea of thriving rather than destruction. It might look something like a society built around dignity—of humans, animals, and the earth. It might look something like systems built to nourish and sustain life rather than profit. Freedom could look like so many different visions of more and better. The dreaming is up to us.
We have work to do. We have worlds to build. We have a freedom to create. And as we go about protesting and advocating for our lives, here in this liminal space between freedom that was and freedom that might yet be, may we remember that the work we have to do, the worlds we are building, and the freedom we are creating, cannot reach their fullest expression without our communal memory.
Let us remember the chains broken at our feet, so that we may creatively continue in our generation’s leg of the journey toward the light of freedom fully realized.
Chris Paul is one of the most accomplished NBA Veterans to have longevity in his career. He is also one of the most pivotal players in history having served as the President of the NBA Players Association during a time when many changes were made inside and outside of the league. But the most important thing to him is not on the court, but on the sidelines: his family and their consistency in his life. UrbanFaith sat down with Chris Paul to talk about his new book Sixty-One telling his story of how his family made him the man he is today. The full interview is above.
Juneteenth, observed June 19 each year, has a long history of commemoration among African Americans in the United States. It commemorates the day that the last slaves in the former Confederacy received the Emancipation Proclamation, officially acknowledging their freedom on June 19, 1865 nearly 2 years after it was officially issued. But within the past few years, Juneteenth has become a national Black holiday. It has been celebrated by Black people in Galveston, Texas and the immediate surrounding area for generations. UrbanFaith sat down with Valerie Boyer, an educator, minister and Galveston native to talk about the history of Juneteenth and its meaning today as it becomes a federal holiday in the United States of America.
Every year during Father’s Day, a wave of complexity sweeps across the country. Father’s Day can be an great occasion for celebration, a reminder of loved ones lost, a day of sadness for those who did not grow up with their fathers, a day of angst for those who do not like their fathers, and a day of relaxation for the dads who treat it as a break. And every year in churches, we try to figure out how to approach and celebrate Father’s Day. Father’s Day is not celebrated in our society the way Mother’s Day is, and everyone knows it. We know how to celebrate mothers. We know what to get them; the flowers, clothes, crafts, candies, meals, and more are readily available with updates each year. But Father’s Day feels mysterious. We ask ourselves, did we already get this tie? These socks? This outdoor equipment? Why is it that we may struggle so much to honor fathers but find it easy to bless our mothers? The answers are unclear and varied. But if we start with figuring out how to honor God as our heavenly Father, it may help us get better at honoring our earthly fathers.
God is Our Father
The Bible refers to God as a father in multiple places in the Old and New Testament. Moses notes in Deuteronomy 1:31 that God cared for Israel in the wilderness like a father cares for their child. The Lord protects and provides for Israel as He leads them out of bondage. He says at the end of the same book that God is to be respected because He fathered Israel by creating, forming, and establishing them, and He mothered them by giving birth to them. Psalm 68:5 identifies God as the Father of the fatherless and defender of widows. God is the Father who cares for us when human fathers are not present. Isaiah 9:6 prophesies that God is the everlasting Father, and Malachi proclaims that all in his audience are children of the same Father God. But Jesus makes this relationship with God even clearer. Jesus calls God His Father, and He is identified as the Son of God in each of the Gospels. In Galatians 4:5-7, Paul explains that believers in Christ are children of God, and John declares that truth in 1 John 5:1. So it is clear in scripture that God is a Father to all who will receive Him as one. But what does that mean for us?
How God Relates To Us As A Father
God is a Spirit and cannot be fully understood or explained using any analogy or even human language. God is greater than any roles we could use to try to explain Him: father, mother, king, brother, friend, lover, lord, healer, provider, protector, or otherwise. But God chooses to reveal Godself in ways we can understand so we can have a genuine relationship with God. It is because of the descriptions of God relating as a Father in Scripture that we can relate to God a little better and also to human fathers a little better. God relates as a father in many ways but a few key ones we’ve already mentioned are as a source of identity, a protector, a provider, a caregiver, and a guide. God rebukes David and also encourages Him which other biblical fathers do. Hebrews 12 makes it clear that God corrects us because we are His children. Galatians 4 underscores that God blesses us because we are His children. God is present with us in good times and bad times, like any good father. God leads, encourages, provides, protects, corrects, counsels, comforts, and instructs us in the wilderness and the places of plenty as a good Father. Most of all, God loves us as our heavenly Father. God has shown Himself to be a good Father, but how can we be good children to God our Father?
How We Honor God Our Father
Jesus gives us the perfect example of what it means to be a good child of God, demonstrating how to honor God. Summed up, it is to love God. We love God through obedience. We love God through spending time with Him. We love God through caring about what He cares about. We love God through giving to other people, because He doesn’t need our money. We love God by doing the work and ministry He has called us to do. We love God by loving our neighbors well. We love God by doing justice. We love God by using our lives to bring Him glory, which is to live in a way that makes Him proud. Jesus explains at length in John 8:31-58 that Father God loves it when we believe in Jesus and do what He said. 1 John 5:1-5 is exceedingly clear that obeying God and loving others is how we can express our love to God. Now that we understand how to honor God as our Father, how do we honor our earthly fathers?
How Can We Honor Our Human Fathers
Human fathers can never truly compare to our Father God. We shouldn’t even expect them to reach that standard. But they should follow God as the standard, and we should honor them as our fathers if we have good relationships with them. Earthly fathers can be honored in many of the same ways as our Heavenly Father.
It all comes back to loving our dads. When we care about the things our fathers care about, it makes them happy. It may be sports, cooking, fishing, movies, work, decorating, or some other hobby. When we show care about what dads care about, it brings them honor. We give to dads because they do need our money and gifts, unlike God. Give them something they like, and ask for ideas if you need them. Spend time with your dad if you can. Many people wish they could. If you have an opportunity, then take advantage–it will definitely bring your dad happiness on Father’s Day.
When young children do what their father says, it brings their father honor and happiness. As a father myself, I cannot tell you the joy I have when my children do what I told them to do without complaining, demonstrating a bad attitude, giving up, or getting distracted. When we are older, this obedience becomes conversational. If you want to honor your father on Father’s Day, ask him what He wants! Sometimes we spend so much time trying to figure out what our dads want instead of simply asking them and then following through. This simple form of relating can bring honor to a father like nothing else.
But many dads will tell you the best honor their children can give them on Father’s Day or any other day is to live lives that make them proud. Just keep following God your Father. If you honor God with your life, you can rest assured you are making our Heavenly Father and every good dad proud.
We love to see examples of successful black men who are also wonderful fathers. Dr. Myron Rolle is an inspiring role model with an incredible story. He was a celebrated football player who was drafted to the NFL. He received a Rhodes Scholarship and graduated Oxford University before he went to the league. And now he is a neurosurgeon in Boston working with brilliant minds from Boston University, Harvard, and others to tackle the most pressing issues of the human brain. He does all of this while being a devoted husband and father of 4 including two newborn twins. He’s a millennial who has lived his dreams.
How does he do it all? How did this middle class boy from the Bahamas become an exemplar on the football field and the field of medicine? How does he balance fatherhood with his research? UrbanFaith sat down with Dr. Myron Rolle to discuss his tactics and testimony in his book the 2% Way.
LeBron James is one of the greatest basketball players and greatest athletes of all time. But as long as he has had the professional spotlight he has been more about his team and community’s success than any of his individual accomplishments. Many have wondered what makes him such a team first star.
(from left), Willie McGee (Avery S. Wills, Jr.), LeBron James (Marquis “Mookie” Cook), Lil Dru Joyce III (Caleb McLaughlin), Sian Cotton (Khalil Everage) and Romeo Travis (Sterling “Scoot” Henderson), in Shooting Stars, directed by Chris Robinson.
Well it started with his first team as a young kid turned high school phenomenon from Akron, Ohio. Shooting Stars is a new film on NBCUniversal’s peacock platform that tells the story of LeBron James’ first team and formation into the superstar we know today. UrbanFaith sat down with the director of Shooting Stars, Chris Robinson to talk about what it was like to tell the story of the young LeBron James and his teammates. The full interview is above, more on the film is below.
The film is rated PG-13 for strong language suggestive and alcohol references . The film does not necessarily reflect the views of UrbanFaith. Viewer discretion is advised.
It’s not how you start the game. It’s how you finish.
Based on the book by LeBron James and the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Friday Night Lights, Buzz Bissinger, Shooting Stars is the inspiring origin story of a basketball superhero, revealing how LeBron James and his childhood friends become the #1 high school team in the country, launching James’s breathtaking career as a four-time NBA Champion, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
Starring: Marquis “Mookie” Cook, Wood Harris, Caleb McLaughlin, Khalil Everage, Avery S. Willis, Jr., Sterling “Scoot” Henderson, Dermot Mulroney, Natalie Paul, Diane Howard, Algee Smith, Katlyn Nichol Director: Chris Robinson Executive Producer: Gretel Twombly Producers: Rachel Winter, p.g.a., Spencer Beighley p.g.a, LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Jamal Henderson, Terence Winter Screenplay by: Frank E. Flowers and Tony Rettenmaier & Juel Taylor, based on the book by LeBron James & Buzz Bissinger
Manny Arango believes we are all brainwashed. Our thoughts are shaped daily by positive and negative influences whether online, in our social circles, in our workplaces, in our schools, or in our churches. The enemy of our souls desires for us to live in mental bondage, unable to walk in the freedom Christ has purchased for us. But we can choose whether to be brainwashed by the world or have our brains washed by blood of Jesus Christ. Pastor, author, youth ministry expert Manny Arango shares his insights on how to renew our minds and take on the mind of Christ in his new book Brainwashed: Overcome Toxic Thoughts and Take Back Control of Your Mind. UrbanFaith sat down with Pastor Manny to discuss the book and his journey to maintaining mental and spiritual health. More information about Pastor Manny and the book are below.
You can either take your thoughts captive or be held captive by them. The choice is yours. Scripture declares we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Manny Arango, preacher, storyteller, and self-proclaimed Bible nerd, describes this process as God cleansing our brains. It is the surest way to overcome anxious thoughts, self-doubt, bitterness, and other mental struggles. But how can we experience this healing power?
Brain Washed: Overcome Toxic Thoughts and Take Back Control of Your Mind is a biblical roadmap for winning the battles in your mind. Readers will identify faulty ways of thinking and learn how to take every thought captive under the authority of Christ.
Pentecost is one of the most important days in scripture, one of the most important days in Church history, and one of the most significant days for all Christians because it is the birthday for the Church. But it is a day that often passes with little celebration and attention in the lives of many believers. Why don’t we celebrate Pentecost?
The other major Christian holidays have found widespread secular adoption and commercialization. Christmas season is still the greatest period of retail sales in the world, with images of Santa Claus, reindeer, gifts, and winter weather dominating our consciousness. The popular images are far removed from the poor young girl from a small unimportant town giving birth to baby Jesus in Bethlehem that is the true meaning behind the holiday. Easter has widespread fanfare involving bunnies and eggs, chocolates and baskets in the popular culture. But believers rarely forget the Good Friday services, Easter outfits, and proclamations of “Hallelujah” in response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead. Christians almost universally celebrate Christmas and Easter.
But Pentecost, the occasion of the Holy Spirit appearing from heaven in the upper room and filling the disciples that began the church in Acts chapter 2 has no such consistent celebrations or commercial fanfare.
We should absolutely celebrate that the Holy Spirit has come to dwell among believers. The new creation has begun and the “already but not yet” Kingdom of God is made visible in the lives of those who follow Jesus Christ. We should have fanfare that God’s promise of living in our hearts, calling all people to Himself, and dwelling among humanity have been fulfilled. The Church being given the power to destroy the works of sin and evil in the world were fulfilled on Pentecost. In Acts 2, the Apostle Peter clearly explains that Pentecost is the fulfillment of scripture, that people were able to know God who speaks their language, and that the Holy Spirit was evidence of God among those who believes. God is not a distant force or impersonal figure. The Holy Spirit is at work everyday in our lives as believers. We can experience God in completely new ways because of His presence with us. We can discern God’s truth, share spiritual gifts with one another, and overcome sinful behaviors and sin-filled systems through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost allows us to move from knowing God’s works in the past to experiencing them in the present. Because of Pentecost all nations were invited to know the God of Israel in the ways they could understand Him. We should celebrate that the Holy Spirit is God with us today, by celebrating Pentecost. Our celebration may not have commercial Holy Spirit clothes and toys to buy. We may not hear seven sermons in a day as we reflect and are uplifted. We may not see a Pentecost holiday special on TV or Pentecost music on the radio, or Pentecost memes on our social media timelines. But we can give thanks to God for the greatest gift of the Holy Spiritin our lives. We can praise God in our worship services as we remember the birth of the Church. We can reflect on the work of the Holy Spirit in the world. And we can celebrate Pentecost however we celebrate it as believers have been called to celebrate it for thousands of years.
Michelle Miller is one of the most recognizable journalists in the country. But as she goes about telling the stories of so many ordinary people for CBS News, very few people knew her story. UrbanFaith contributor Maina Mwaura caught up with Michelle to talk about her best selling memoir: Belonging where she tells her story in all its candid highs and lows.
A lot of people have heard of the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child”. I was thinking the other day, the reason why people have a sense of belonging for a community or a city or an estate is because of the people who live there. The experiences and support they bring to that environment promotes a positive culture that draws everyone who lives there to feel as though they belong. They become protective and nurturing of their “village”.
That is the same way we should think about our finances. You do not get to financial stability and freedom by guesswork, feelings or emotions. It is an act of intentional commitment, discipline, education and accountability and it will involve you, and those you are willing to listen to.
I am a firm believer that money is a magnifying tool that reveals the intent and the character of your soul. Who you really are will always be revealed in the abundance of money or lack of it in your life. I have been around people who seemed humble and kind when they did not have money, until they reached a place of financial prosperity. All of a sudden, a sense of being rude and dismissive becomes appealing as though it is supposed to be fashionable. Pride becomes a regular smoothie partaken to make sure that you prove to everyone you made it.
On the other hand, having a lack of money can bring out the insecurities, fear, withdrawal and lack of confidence of embracing true purpose. I have also seen people sabotage great relationships, their integrity and character, because the struggle of not having enough turned them to desperation. They ended up doing things they wished they had not, or going back into situations they should not have, to get back to that place of financial comfort.
The reality is, having financial stability is a great feeling. Waking up each day with the amazing peace that you can pay every bill or anything you owe and have so much left over is a wonderful blessing to experience. However, the biggest mistake we make including myself is, camping in that place of wishing that could happen if we are not yet walking in that reality.
To embark on a journey to success regarding your finances, it has to begin with your outlook. What do you think of yourself regarding money? Proverbs 23:7 KJV states “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he”. Your outward behavior and reaction including your relationship with money is a direct reflection of how you think about yourself.
To create an outlook that will push you and motivate you to a healthy relationship with your finances, including being vulnerable and honest with yourself, as to why you push yourself each day to financial success, practice the “4 C’s to a positive outlook on money” as given to me by Holy Spirit”:
Be willing to face yourself and examine the true motives of your heart. How do you view money? Is it dreadful? Are you stressed out every time its payday or do you have a heart of gratitude for Gods provision? Are you courageous to admit that a lack of money has created a void that you need God to fill? Are you willing to admit that you have used money to attain a status that will make people like you? You have to be courageous to face yourself on your outlook of money.
You have to commit to change. Denial is not a choice. It is an invisible wall that you create in the circumference of your mind to convince you to cope with the assumption that everything is okay when it is not. Commit to have a positive outlook regarding money. This will give you a fresh perspective of the root cause of your behavior and relationship to money. If money is a tool that motivates you to live a purposeful life, it will be revealed and you will be encouraged to continue working hard. If it is not, you can pause and find out why and adjust your outlook to route you in the right path.
Confidence is very connected with faith. God always tells you to believe the opposite of what you feel or see. Sometimes at your worst, when you are experiencing lack, God encourages you that “He is your Shepherd and you shall not want” Psalms 23: 1.
As a child of faith, you have to remember that God orchestrates each of our steps and as we live yielded to Him, He will guide us to wisdom, knowledge, education that will equip us to great stewardship. However, we have to first be confident in Him. I am learning that daily, God never gets tired of empowering us with confidence. Seek Him, ask Him, He is right there, and He is willing to release to you the measure of confidence you need to handle the financial obligations at hand.
Consistency is what icing is to a cake, what syrup is to a pancake, what salt is to soup. Have you ever had soup with no salt? There is no taste to it. But you add a bit of salt and the flavors seem to be awakened as you drink it. It is the secret ingredient that so many of us miss. We start, but don’t finish. We set the budget, but don’t follow it. We open the savings account, but never deposit any money in it. I look at consistency as pacing yourself to savor the sweetness of life.
I love drinking tea. I specifically enjoy a nice cup of Kenyan brewed tea. It takes a special skill to brew a really good cup of Kenyan tea. To add up the flavors and make sure the taste of it is not bitter. The key is time. I consider myself a “master” at making tea especially for a large group of people but, it took me years and years of making tea everyday to learn. I could make tea in my sleep. Was it exciting? No! In fact, sometimes I dreaded it. But, when I see people close their eyes and smell the tea as they drink it with a smile and savor the taste, it brings me great joy!
It is the same way with consistency. You are not going to have butterflies and feel a sense of excitement truth be told you may get bored, not want to do it, dread it, but that is when you should do it. Be consistent in your commitment to be courageously confident about your outlook on money and watch how open you will be to learning how to be a wise steward of what God has blessed you with.
Have you ever felt like you’ve been waiting for life to happen or chasing a dream that isn’t yours? Chanel Dokun, a therapist and life planner, helps women and all of us redefine our worth from the inside out instead of the outside in her book Life Starts Now: How to Create the Life You’ve Been Waiting For. UrbanFaith had the chance to chat with her has she releases this timely book with practical ways to stop waiting and start living.The full interview is above. More on the book below:
LIFE STARTS NOW:
HOW TO CREATE THE LIFE YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR
Did you think you’d finally be happy if you built a great career, found a meaningful romantic relationship, and crafted the picture-perfect life? But once you’ve gotten those things, you find yourself asking, Why isn’t this enough? Shouldn’t there be more? You’re not alone.
Chanel Dokun has walked hundreds of clients, just like you, through a similar journey of disillusionment because she’s traveled the same path herself. She spent years trying to achieve the lifestyle she thought she wanted, but with every accomplishment, Chanel found herself feeling more disappointed, disillusioned, and lost. She realized she needed to let go of society’s definition of success and become the architect of her own life.
In Life Starts Now, Chanel draws on her experience as a therapist and certified life planner to help you redefine what success really means as she offers practical strategies to help you create the life you are longing for. She shares
-an in-depth look at why society’s definitions of success and significance aren’t the answer in your search for more;
-practical action steps for unlocking your genius, finding your flair, and discovering your unique life purpose; and
-how the five postures of silence, solitude, generosity, gratitude, and play will take you from striving to thriving.
Life Starts Now will inspire you to release the search for significance and recover a redemptive view of your ordinary life so you can experience profound joy and fulfillment—and embrace your true purpose.
Raising children is not an easy task! There are many articles, friends, mom tips, and overwhelming support from mom groups that make our jobs a lot easier. From the first day I found out I was going to be a mom back in 2010, I knew that I had support. Whatever question or concern I had, all I had to do was ask my mom or google and there it was: an instant answer! But in early 2020 this reality changed for me and many parents across the world. A devastating pandemic reared its ugly head and completely shut the world down without warning.
In March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, my husband and I received news that we would be expecting our third child. I remember the excitement we felt at first!We would have the opportunity to love, mold, and nurture another gift from God. Shortly thereafter, an overwhelming sense of panic and worry crept over me. I was frightened. I had no idea what to do. I do not believe anyone knew what to do as they faced the reality of a pandemic. I could not turn to my mother, articles, or blogs for advice on how to proceed or respond and receive the same knowledge or wisdom as I had before.
At the same time my children as well as many others across the world were being sent home from school and away from their friends and community. They were told to socially distance when we had no clue how to define what that meant. During this abrupt transition parents were being held to an even higher level of expectation. We had to continue on with our lives and keep it together as if the world was not in turmoil right before our eyes. I often asked myself how could I protect my children from something I knew nothing about? How could I protect them when thousands of people were losing their lives on a daily basis? Reports were circulating about pregnant women who were infected with a mysterious virus who were being denied their birthing rights. Some even had to experience giving birth alone. Reality hit home for us when I was instructed to attend my first prenatal exam alone and was told that would be the norm for the remainder of my pregnancy.
Like many others I could have given up, but I knew the first step in figuring out how to proceed within the unknown was to pray and be encouraged by the Word of God. My husband and I had to learn to lean on the Lord in a different way to lead and guide us in raising our family as well as being aware of our own emotional, physical, and spiritual needs throughout the pandemic.
Proverbs 3:5-6 to tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
This scripture took on a new meaning for my family. As a wife and mother, I had to be intentional with every decision I made moving forward even when the circumstances presented to me did not make sense. I learned to trust that God has our steps ordered and regardless of what was happening in the natural, God has and will always provide all of our needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus. I had to learn to ask for wisdom in a different way every morning before I started my day. I learned how to increase my ability to listen to my children and be ok with not having all the answers.I learned more than ever to just be present with them.
There are many accounts in the Bible of those who were faced with numerous challenges and the unknown. What kept many of the people in scripture anchored was God’s faithfulness and their ability to trust Him even in the unknown. Many mothers like Sarah, Rachel, Mary and Elizabeth did as they were instructed, although they had no idea what lay ahead on the journey before them. They did not have books, articles, or even written history to reflect back on to determine what they could and could not do. All they had was God’s faithfulness and promises that He had given to them. They all had the choice to accept or reject the promises the Lord had for them, but they did not. They could not foresee what the future held for them and their families, but they trusted that the Lord’s will would be done through their obedience. These examples from scripture encouraged me in to trust God throughout this pandemic. Because of God’s faithfulness, I have truly seen the Lord’s hand on my family members’ lives. I gave birth to a healthy baby girl, our two older children are thriving in school, I am able to be present and responsive for my husband, and our home has been filled with the pure joy only the Lord could give.
To all the mothers, I want to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day!You are strong, resilient, appreciated and loved. I want to encourage you all to not lose hope. Keep praying, seeking, and trusting God even in the unknown. He has proven himself faithful and will continue to be faithful for generations to come!
When I was a child growing up and playing house with my dolls, I always dreamed of the day when I would one day be a mother. I had it all planned out. I would get married, and have two children; a boy would be the oldest and the girl would be the youngest. I would live happily ever after. As fate would have it, that day never came. Well, not in the way I had expected it to happen. I am not a biological mother, but I have mothered so many children throughout my life. My life has not played out the way I planned it, but it has worked out exactly as God has planned it.
I am happy that God has placed some awesome women in my life who exemplify a true gift from God. Some have played major roles in my life throughout my upbringing and adulthood and others are great friends who I have had the pleasure of witnessing in their motherhood role. I wanted to be a mother like my mother was to me. My mother was a gift from God – and so are many mothers.
Think about it. Mothers carried you for nine long months, lost their figure, and some were sick during their entire pregnancy. Not to mention, with children come sleepless nights, temper tantrums, potty training, teething, measles, mumps, chicken pox and everything else. Mothers mostly were the taxi cab drivers to school, numerous athletic practices, and games. They are our biggest cheerleaders with and experts in home economics, counseling, doctoring, teaching, and whatever else is needed. Your mother made sure you were college prepared and, if college wasn’t your thing, then she supported you as you followed your dreams. Mothers are small business owners and can fix most things. Mothers are intelligent, loving, compassionate, patient, and supportive. Mothers have so much wisdom.
Unfortunately, some people have not had the experience of knowing and loving the previously described mothers above. That is so unfortunate. I won’t bash anyone who has not had the love of a mother. However, I pray that at some point in your life you are able to experience the love of a mother figure. Everyone that births a child is not always the best mother figure. But then there are those like me, who have never birthed a child but love children and love being around them. I hope that at some point in my life, I have been able to share my love with someone who hasn’t had the best experience with a mother.
God has made us share the love of a mother with unloved children. No child should ever feel as if they have not had the love of a mother in their life. There are so many places that childless women can go and be a mother figure to young children. Help them to have the kind of love that your mother gave you. We want them to know that Mothers are a gift from God, whether it is their biological mother or someone who just has a lot of love to give. “A child doesn’t have to be biologically yours for you to love them like your own.”
Always know, God can and will be your mother. He has been for me since my mother passed. He comforts me. He is patient with me. He is all knowing. He is compassionate. God is love.
My mother has been gone for 19 years, and I still grieve her especially during the holidays. But God has been with me through it all. Throughout scripture, you can see where God can and is seen as a mother figure.
Deuteronomy 32:10 (NIV) “In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye.”
Hosea 11:3-4(NIV) “It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. 4I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them, I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.”
Luke 13:34(NIV) “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
Psalm 91:4 (NIV) “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”
Isaiah 42:14(NIV) “For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant.”
Isaiah 49:15(NIV) “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
Let God comfort you and protect you. He will be the mother you never had or the mother that is no longer with you. God can be whatever you need God to be.
Pray About It: God, you are so awesome in all that you do. Thank you for the wonderful gift of mothers. We are grateful for your love, comfort, and protection for the motherless. God, you are a gift that fulfills needs for the motherless. Thank you for nurturing us and holding us close through all circumstances. Thank you, God. Amen.
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”
About the Author
TONIA WILLIAMS: Tonia lives in North Augusta, SC where she grew up. She received her BA degree in Journalism from the University of South Carolina (USC), Columbia, SC and her MBA degree from Brenau College in Gainesville, GA. She is actively involved with her church, Old Macedonia Baptist Church, where she sings on the choir, is Director of Vacation Bible School, and teaches the Women’s Sunday School class
Let’s face it. Being single and Christian is hard. It’s even harder to find that person you want to spend the rest of your life with. There are so many factors to consider: age, personality, looks, and spirituality. It can all become a blur. How do you even figure out if someone is a match for you? What does God have to say about it? Here are five powerful secrets to finding Mr. or Mrs. right as a young Christian single.
The first thing to consider is whether you and the other person are serving the Lord. One of the first things I discovered about my wife was that we were both passionate about serving God and looked for ways to bless others.
In fact, I met my wife preparing for a short-term mission trip. The funny thing is it wasn’t love at first sight for either of us. We continued to serve together at different times and in different places for about four years.
One day I looked up and I realized we were spending a lot of time together and I had stars in my eyes.
You can’t find the right person for you if you are putting on a mask in public. The person you attract will be drawn to the mask and not the real you.
So don’t be afraid to share your real opinions about things. Put your likes and dislikes on full display.
Yes, some people will be repelled but the right people will be drawn to you. Now, don’t get me wrong.
You don’t want a clone of yourself who thinks and believes the same way you do. You want someone who will be attracted to your authentic self.
Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
I grew up in a small storefront church in Los Angeles. Most of my family still attends this church.
My heart will always be there, but staying within this circle made my choices for a mate slim.
Once I got out and started becoming involved in leading a Bible study on campus, and eventually going overseas on short-term mission trips, the dating pool started to widen.
I started meeting different people and more people who were going in the same direction I was going. That all started with me stepping outside of my comfort zone.
Decide That You are Dating to Marry
This should be a no-brainer for Christians but oftentimes we just date people because we don’t want to be alone.
I can remember hearing a sermon about marriage and being a single Christian man. The pastor said that if we’re not going to a hostile mission field or secluding ourselves in the Amazon jungle to find a cure for cancer we need to plan to get married.
That basically put me on blast and I started actively seeking to find the wife God had for me.
Be willing to let go
The last secret is this: Be willing to let go. Sometimes the person you are dating is not the right person.
Still many people go on dating someone when they know that they don’t want to be with this person for the rest of their life.
There are more red flags than a Chinese political rally yet the person still holds out hope that maybe they will change. Most of the time they will not.
It’s best to stop holding on to hope that this person will change their ways or their basic personality traits. When you do that your perspective on the situation changes.
You begin to compromise. You want the relationship to work so badly that you will do anything to make it happen.
Eventually, either you both move on after wasting time or you end up marrying them and committing to a person who is not for you.
18 For if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham as a promise.
19 Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people.20 Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when he gave his promise to Abraham.
21 Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises?[a] Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it.22 But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.
23 Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.
24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.
26 For you are all children[b] of God through faith in Christ Jesus.27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.[c]28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[d] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children[e] of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.
There is such a joy and peace to know that we serve a God who has created a way for all of us to understand that we are one in His presence. This scripture is a reminder of the viewpoint of God regarding unity and oneness.
For those who desire to come into the Kingdom of God, it can be difficult to get to Him if all they see is the bias and prejudice that sometimes exists in our society. That mindset can be applied to their own personal relationship with God. They may think that He is a biased God who picks and chooses who to bless.
Have you felt that way? Has the enemy convinced you that there are certain blessings you cannot attain in this lifetime? May you be encouraged by this scripture to know:
We are all the children of God by faith in Christ
This means we all have the privilege of being blessed by God. Remove the fear, distrust, and doubt that God will not bless you because of your social status, race, or whatever bias you face. Ask and believe in faith that God is able and desires to give you all blessings that pertain unto life and godliness.
We are one in Christ Jesus
The Lord desires for us to view one another as one. If one person hurts, we hurt as well. Considering this fact will open our lives to embrace compassion, empathy, and kindness. The next time you want to be quick to judge or scorn another brother or sister in Christ, remember that we are one in God’s eyes. Ask Holy Spirit what He desires for you to do and place yourself in that person’s shoes to ensure that the decision you make in thought or actuality will be pleasing to Him.
We are heirs to the promise because we are Abraham’s seed
Recognizing that we are one in Christ Jesus allows us to ask boldly for all the promises that were provided to Abraham. It is easy to read the Word of God and look at what God blessed Abraham with and think that those blessings were only for him. However, Abraham is no longer living but those promises God gave him, still exist. Why won’t you claim them? God desires for you to experience the joy and breakthrough that Abraham received.
The love of God is not a feeling, but it is His Word in manifestation. This week, begin to think about the promises of God that are accessible to you, and have not been activated in your life.
Why are they not manifesting in your life?
Have you positioned yourself to ask and believe in faith that God can do it?
Do you have stewardship principles in your life to ensure those blessings are passed on to future generations after you? Who will gain from your blessings and breakthrough?
It is time to walk in the fullness of what God has for you. Believe that He is more than able to bless you with an abundant life and wants you to experience all that this life has to offer you. All you have to do is ask in faith, believe, and receive it by preparing for the manifestation of what you ask Him. He will bless you according to His Word and His will for your life.
I am grateful for the clarity you bring through your Word to remind me that I am just as qualified for your favor, love, and blessings as Abraham was. I boldly begin to believe and ask by faith for everything I need.
Teach me the discipline to steward what you have placed in me so that I can pass it on to future generations and become a carrier of the many blessings that you will bestow upon me. My mind is being transformed to believe for the best and view myself as a partaker of the blessings that Christ has to offer.
Chaz Smith is a viral content creator who has millions of followers on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and more. He has been producing viral comedy shorts for over a decade, making him one of the veterans to social media content creation. But he is not just funny, he is also faithful. He is now using his God-given platform to produce a new kind of content…Bible stories. His new venture What Had Happened Was is an animated series telling Bible Stories on YouTube and other social channels that will be available for people everywhere for free. He is beginning with the Book of Daniel which launches next year. In order to get the series across the finish line and available for free he has launched a kickstarter to crowd fund the project. UrbanFaith editor Allen Reynolds sat down with Chaz to discuss the project, his faith, and how we can keep that same energy sharing the good news as believers. The interview is above, more about Chaz Smith and the series is below. Contribute to his kickstarter here to help this show come to life!
At its core, WHHW bridges the gap between the world of entertainment, history, pop culture, comedy, and the Bible. In its first season, WHHW will retell the Biblical story of Daniel. The eight episode miniseries will highlight Daniel’s royal lineage, captivity, and how he was forced to serve foreign kings in a distant country. As the story unfolds, viewers will watch how Daniel and his friends encountered threats that challenged everything they believed in, but their actions ultimately ended up impacting the course of human history. In addition to the first season, WHHW is slated to include at least two more, which will depict the lives of Joseph and Esther.
“My hope is that WHHW will bring the stories in the Bible to life in a way that they’ve never been seen before. My aim is to combat the difficulty some have while reading the Bible,” said Smith. I want to tell the stories in a way that’s funny, smart, and easy to understand without bending the truth or watering anything down. WHHW is a blend of memes, pop culture, cartoon and anime references, engaging storytelling, historical and cultural context, and high quality animation. Whether episodes of WHHW are watched alone, with friends, or with family, I want to create something that uses the stories in the Bible to ultimately help people see who God is from a completely different perspective.”
I’m Chaz, and I love making people laugh! I’ve been a content creator since 2013, and gained millions of followers and hundreds of millions of views across all social media platforms, but storytelling is where my heart is really at. I’ve been committed to creating uplifting content that brings joy to people. For the past 2 years, I’ve been working on my latest project, What Had Happened Was. The series is a colorfully animated, comedically narrated web series, dedicated to retelling biblical stories in an entertaining, insightful, and simple way for people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests. WHHW serves as an intersection of my experience in the social media space, heart for storytelling, love for animation & desire to produce quality entertainment content for this generation. This project means so much to me because it’s far bigger than me. I see this as an opportunity to use stories and laughter to help the people of this generation make sense of the world––and who we are.
Have you ever looked at someone else’s life and thought how much better theirs seemed to be compared to yours? Maybe it was their confidence that made you say, “Wow, I don’t have it like they do,” or “I wish I could be as bold as they are.” Sometimes we compare material things, accomplishments, and even money. But what reward is there in comparing? Comparison can work to our advantage if what we see from another inspires us to be better. But on the flip side, comparison usually robs us of joy and gratitude for our unique and individually destined path.
As believers, we will experience many things that will try to stop us from living the full and abundant life God intended for us. Comparison is one of those acts that can steal our own joy and appreciation for what God has done for us. Here are 3 major ways that comparison robs us:
Comparison can decrease our own self-confidence
Being confident is a power, and when we begin to measure ourselves to others, we chip away at that power. Being self-assured and having a firm grasp on the truth about who God has called you to be is illuminating and attractive. But spending our time thinking about how our neighbor has “more” than us will lower our sense of certainty in ourselves. As we live and fear God, the Lord will give us strong confidence as stated in Proverbs 14:26. So even if your friend just bought a new, shiny car, it doesn’t mean you have to fall into a spiral of thoughts about how you don’t have a new car. That thought can start with the car but can end in another wave of topics that you can compare yourself to, and that’s not fair to you. Remember that God has given you what you need for your journey, so you can be confident in your own story.
Comparison can create a cycle of dissatisfaction
Think about it: when you compare your life to something that seems better you make it difficult to be fully satisfied. In Philippians, Apostle Paul speaks on some lessons that he learned. He instructs us to be content in whatever state we’re in (Philippians 4:11). This helps us learn to be truly aware and grateful for what’s right in front of us so that we’re not constantly searching for better or different. However, remaining content is easier said than done, and that’s how comparison can seep in and taint God’s preferred perspective for us. Our flesh is weak and doesn’t want to do what’s best. Without the feeling of dissatisfaction being checked, this can create a mind-draining cycle of seeing what’s different, good, unpleasant, pure, better, wrong, and greater in someone else, which can lead to feelings of doubt, jealousy, and even depression. But as believers, we have to lean into God through prayer when we see ourselves sinking in those thoughts. He will be faithful to pull us out of the spiral.
Comparison can rob us of the will power and the motivation to try
The danger is that if comparison goes on for too long, it can cause you to shut down and stop your own efforts toward greatness. The thought that, “Oh, they have it already, or they can do it better, so why should I?” can debilitate our energy to do what God has assigned us to do. Whether it’s to start a business, run a charity organization, go to college, post your helpful blog, or showcase your art, it’s imperative that you push through and do it. Motivation is something that needs to be fed, because you’re not always going to feel “motivated.” We all have those days, and it’s natural to feel unmotivated occasionally. But harmful comparison will always paralyze our motivation and drive to access our destinies. It’s super important that we seek God for our purpose in life so that we can have an anchor in our hearts to keep us grounded when comparison rears its ugly head.
I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had moments of comparison. If comparison flows from a pure place, it can inspire you, but many times the opposite is true. Be encouraged knowing that God will give you exactly what you need to bless you and bring Him glory . He trusted you with your own gifts, talents, passions, and personality. As you think about comparison, ask God to shift your mind to seeing the good He’s placed in you. As the Word says in Philippians 1:6 (NIV), “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”. Do not allow the greatness He has begun in you be stolen by comparison. You are too valuable to let that happen.
Black men are the least likely group to have access to or receive adequate healthcare in the United States for a variety of reasons. As a result, black men still have some of the worst healthcare outcomes. How can we approach some of these issues to help black men be healthy or become healthcare professionals? UrbanFaith contributor Maina Mwaura interviewed Dr. Jerome Adams, former US Surgeon General and Dr. William Humphries, Neurosurgeon and healthcare expert about Black Men’s health.
In college, I was quite the busy-body. I found my self-worth in participating in every possible activity, club, and organization. I was in the band, played tennis, and a member of student council. I was also a member of the student television news station, volunteered with the Chapel every Sunday, and I pledged a sorority. Can you say, “busy?!” The less I slept, the more meals I skipped, and the more coffee I drank, the more valuable I felt.
I was not taking care of my temple. Instead, I was abusing it as if that was a way to win God’s approval. As I write this now, it sounds so silly. I’ve matured a lot. But in my younger years, I had some serious insecurities and lacked self-worth. I literally hated everything about the body I was in. I hated my mind, I hated my body, and I hated my spirit. As a result, every part of me was mistreated by…me.
Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot since my college days. I’ve learned that there is nothing I can do to earn God’s love and make him value me more than He already does. How could I forget that He was the one who formed me in my mother’s womb? How could I forget that He created me in His own image? How could I not honor Him by taking care of the body, mind, and spirit that He formed—in detail—when He created me?
Since taking care of myself was a completely foreign concept to me, it didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t wake up one morning and begin eating healthy meals and taking time for myself. I truly struggled with how to start valuing and treating myself like a daughter of The King.
“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that are as healthy in body as you are strong in Spirit.” — 3 John 1:2
God is glorified when we take care of the temples He gave us, and it is important that we do so in body, mind, and spirit.
Feeding your temple: BODY
In college, I was barely eating. I skipped meals to make time for all of my activities, and when I did eat, I only ate cereal, ramen noodles, and fries from the dollar menu at fast-food restaurants. Talk about nutritious! However, I realized that I wanted to be energized to do work for God’s Kingdom, but the way I was fueling my body was leaving me tired, weak, and lethargic. It was time for a diet change.
If you’re active on social media and spend your life online—like most people do—you are most likely aware of the constant pressure to eat healthier, lose weight, and feel your best. However, with my focus being on God’s glory, I chose to change my diet to ensure that His temple that He created was thriving. He is my motivation for healthy living – not how my body looks.
So, if you are looking to make some changes in how you feed your temple, here are a few tips:
Take time out to prepare three healthy meals a day. Breakfast is as important as lunch and lunch is as important as dinner. It is so tempting to skip a meal when we are on-the-go, but we are truly doing ourselves a disservice when we do this.
Start small. It can be overwhelming to change every eating habit at once. Start with breakfast. Set an alarm for 20 minutes earlier than you normally get up to allow yourself time to prepare and eat a nutritious meal.
If you have a sweet tooth like me, look up healthy alternatives online to satisfy that craving. My go-to is a chocolate peanut butter smoothie that is made with raw cacao powder and organic peanut butter. Super healthy and super delicious! It doesn’t have to be hard to feed your body delicious, nutritious meals. You will feel more energized and your body will thank you.
Feeding your temple: MIND
I believe that this falls under the category of taking time for yourself. Let’s face it. We are busy people. This society thrives on “busyness.” I fell into that trap in college and I still have trouble with it today as a wife and mom.
Things have to get done! There is no time for myself! Sleep? What is that?
However, if we neglect sleep and fail to take time for ourselves, our minds become cluttered. And, I realized that when my mind is cluttered, I struggle to hear God and stay in tune with His presence. I am here to glorify the Lord through my every step and if I can’t hear Him, due to a cluttered mind, how can I glorify Him?
I recommend writing down areas in your life that you can see as mind clutter. For me, it’s social media, my busy schedule, and a constant need for perfectionism. Once you figure out what your areas are, write down ways to clear your mind from these things.
I’m going to make a commitment to find time every day to be social media-free. I am going to commit to saying “no” to something on my agenda that just isn’t important and replace that time with something a bit more relaxing.
What commitments can you make to clear your mind? Whatever they are, write them down to help you stick to them. Place Post-It Notes around your house with your commitments. Set reminders on your phone. Write them down in your planner. Ask an accountability partner to remind you of your commitments.
Feeding your temple: SPIRIT
Finally, it is important to feed your spirit. It is the spirit of The Lord that lives inside of you. It is the spirit that God intricately created that makes you, YOU. It is your relationship with the Holy Spirit. Feeding this area of your temple is so important.
However, can I be honest with you? This is the hardest area for me to feed and keep healthy. Can anyone else relate? Why is it easier to scroll through social media than it is to open our Bibles and receive the Truth?
I’ll be the first to admit that planning a healthy meal is much easier for me than devoting time to my relationship with God. I am so thankful for God’s grace and strength in this huge area of weakness for me.
One thing that has truly helped me in this area is getting connected in my church community. Serving in the Church and being a part of small groups Bible studies are both ways to fuel my spirit. They are great ways to ensure that I am taking time out to refresh with The Lord.
However, alone time with the Lord is equally as important and should be a part of our daily lives.
One of my favorite ways to incorporate alone time is to worship in the car while I am driving. No phone, no distractions, just me and the Lord.
While working on your relationship with God, keep in mind that we are not earning God’s approval by spending more time with Him. We cannot do anything to make Him love us more. We are strengthening our relationship with Him because He desires us so much! Don’t let the enemy turn your efforts into a guilt trap when you fall short, because, the truth is, we will always fall short. We are human.
Our Heavenly Father gave each of us these beautiful temples that were made in His image. It is imperative that we take care of them and treasure them just as He treasures us. When we do so, we are making ourselves even more available for Him to use us at His will for His glory, and we are fueled and ready to live the lives that God has called us to live.
What are some healthy ways that you use to feed your temple? Share them below.
Dante Bowe is one of the most popular new singer/songwriters in the Gospel and Contemporary Christian worlds. He loves to sing to God. He was briefly off the public scene in 2022 after leaving Maverick City Music, but has returned to form with his own record company and new music. His new album and new label have sold thousands of records. His new label True Music seeks to share authentic worship. UrbanFaith contributor Maina Mwaura sat down with Dante to discuss his creative process, his artistry, and his journey.
Stephen A. Smith is one of the most recognizable people in Sports Media today. He is host of some of the most watched shows on ESPN, one of the most connected journalists for sports stars, and one of the hardest working people in the business. But he has overcome many obstacles and been relentless on his path to his success. His faith has been a key part of his tenacity and success not just on screen, but in life. He recently published a book about his life Straight Shooter which has become a New York Times Bestseller. UrbanFaith contributor Maina Mwaura sat down with Stephen A. to talk about his book, his journey, and his faith.
Photos taken by : Jessica Miglio / Universal Pictures (from left) Sam (Chloe Bailey) and Jess (Anjelika Washington) in Praise This, directed by Tina Gordon.
Praise This is a new movie streaming on Peacock that is a fun and inspirational musical comedy that is great for our generation. Chlöe Bailey gives an amazing performance as Sam, Anjelika Washington plays Jess who is Sam’s silly and sanctified cousin, and the musical and comedic star studded cast is rounded out with Jekalyn Carr,Koryn Hawthrone, Druski, Birgundi Baker, Quavo, and more. The music was phenomenal and it has plenty of laughs with an authentic message as the story progresses. UrbanFaith spoke with Anjelika Washington about the film which highlights how acceptance and love from believers can draw everyone to faith Christ. Excerpts from the interview edited for clarity and length are below. The full interview is above, a trailer for the movie is below.
And I’m really curious, just to get in my first question, what was your inspiration for being part of this film that can showcase so much great music and really have a fun time?
You know, I did not grow up in church. I did go often with my aunties, especially for holidays and things like that. But I grew up raised with Christian values and morals, but didn’t grow up in church. I did have my own come to Jesus moment when I was around 18. And I attended Bible college for a bit before I became a full-time actress. And while I was there, I met quite a few people who from what I learned, were called Jesus freaks. When I read this script, I was like Jess is that person, she’s the Jesus freak. She’s obsessed with God. And just is like, always continuously going after the heart of Christ. But not always for the best reasons. But what I really wanted to showcase that was to make her multidimensional and a real human, because she also was so ambitious, she has dreams, she has other things. And what I really want people to see is how open just was to receiving Sam, she never judged her, she was completely open and embraced who she was, although [they had] very different walks of life. Because she just knew in her heart; “if I love this girl, if I just love her, she’ll change.” She said it from the very beginning, “your testimony is going to be the goat.” [Jess] had this peace and ease that she was led by in the spirit that she just knew Christ would change the heart of Sam in time. She didn’t have to shove it down her throat, or like Bible thump at her. It would happen through love and through acceptance. And I think that it’s a beautiful journey.
I think that’s so amazing and is such a great point. One of the things I think this movie does so well is it starts out fun and ridiculous. But it really rings authentic as it goes along. I see that in Jess’ journey. It allows us to be able to laugh at ourselves as a church, as people who are believers, but also be able to draw that serious message. Why do you think that’s important for us to be able to have both: laugh at ourselves and to be able to still take our faith in our journey seriously?
Photos taken by : Jessica Miglio / Universal Pictures (Center) Fallon (Koryn Hawthorne) in Praise This, directed by Tina Gordon.
Yeah, because I think that that’s just the balance of life. Like we can take everything seriously. And we can move through our relationships. However, your relationship is with Christ is your own relationship. So you have that. But also, life is meant to be lived. It’s supposed to be fun, or at least that’s what I believe. And so I think that we should celebrate life. And with that comes enjoying ourselves, enjoying the people that you’re with, enjoying the music, enjoying the food, enjoying your own culture, you know, things like that. And so I really hope that the celebration of culture and gospel that we blended together, does that for people outside of this film as well.
Yeah, and speaking of that, there were just so many amazing musical artists as well as actors and actresses in this movie. Can you talk about what it was like to be around so many different musical icons and folks working in different spaces?
Photos taken by : Jessica Miglio / Universal Pictures (from left) Aaron (Druski), Sam (Chloe Bailey), Jess (Anjelika Washington), Jackie (Kiara Iman), KiKi (Jekalyn Carr) and Jermaine (Ilario Grant) in Praise This, directed by Tina Gordon.
Well, absolutely. I met Jekalyn Carr and Koryn Hawthorne on my first day of rehearsals and they are just incredible, incredible humans. And I mean that just like, behind closed doors no cameras rolling just awesome. Jekayln Carr is now one of my literal bestest friends, I talked to her every single day, we FaceTime all the time. And we both come from completely different walks of life. Like I said, I wasn’t raised in the church and Jekayln Carr was. And I mean, she’s Jekalyn Carr. She’s a star in a very different world. But I think that what brings us together is how we love and accept each other from just very different lifestyles. And it’s so beautiful that we’ve been able to make this friendship. And she’s definitely a spiritual guide and mentor in my life these days. And I’m very, very grateful to her for that. And I hope that reads on camera in the film as well, because this film, while I am a believer, this film is for believers and non-believers. I really do think that everyone can enjoy it no matter what walk of life you’re at, or you’ve been through. And so, I really hope that reads and it brings people together the way it brought us together.
I appreciate that. And so my last question, Anjelika, this story shows so many young folks like those in our audience who are grappling with how to be successful, and to be faithful and true to themselves. And can you give a nugget of advice or a lesson or takeaway that you would give to young adults who are trying to balance that success with being able to be faithful and authentic?
I would say a couple of things. The first one would be, I remember hearing Bishop TD Jakes saying once [that] interests make you interesting. So you can love Christ and do other things. Like it’s okay to like love Christ, and also love… rock climbing. I mean, I don’t know. But you can have other hobbies and do other things in that way. And still have fun and enjoy your life because you really do only live once. So make the best of your life. And I think that’s also celebrating what Christ did for us. So I think that it’s important for us to enjoy our lives as well. And number two, while all that is true, and I do think that we should enjoy our lives, there are certain things that you shouldn’t compromise on. I don’t think anyone should. So if something compromises a value or your morals… I would say stay true to yourself. It’s okay to say no. While I want everyone to stay open minded, because fun can come in all different forms and shapes. If there’s something that you know in your heart and your spirit is not for you, it’s okay to say no.
1 Early on Sunday morning,[a] as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.
2 Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.3 His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.4 The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.
5 Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.7 And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”
8 The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message.9 And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him.10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”
Death has a sting, a pain that can linger and never leave the soul. The death of Jesus by crucifixion was not a glamorous thing to behold. It was painful, tormenting, heartbreaking and shattering of any form of hope for those who were present. As we read the journey He took, the imagery that plays in our minds reveals how difficult this moment of destiny was for Jesus and His disciples.
When He died, I can imagine a pain of finality that may have been felt by those who loved and cared for Him. Losing someone dear, someone you love and care for is not easy. Losing them to a painful death can be heartbreaking and it can create a traumatic scar that never leaves.
It was important for Jesus to rise up again because the only voice that is capable of shutting down the loud voice of death is life. When He rose on the third day, the powerful testimony of His resurrection was a reminder for believers all over the world to believe, and hope again.
Have you dealt with situations that seem final to you? Are you plagued with thoughts of feeling that life is not worth living? Do you sense or feel that you are at the end of your road? If your answer is yes to any of those questions, you need to fight to live. If you need help, you can get it.
Living and moving conscious of daily decisions that push you to choose better, act wiser, and try for the best takes courage and sometimes can be a battle of the will. However, life has a louder voice than death. The dead cannot breathe air or experience moments.
Do not allow the finality of circumstances, trials, or tribulations make you feel as though life is not fair or worth it. You matter, and your presence in this life, living and learning and growing allows you to make a greater impact than being dead and in the grave. Fight for your dreams, push yourself to achieve the best that you can in this lifetime and believe God to make your life worth living for, because it is.
Thank you for what you did for me through love, by sending Jesus Christ to die for me. I acknowledge the power of the cross and the reminder that you desire for me to live. Help me today to push myself to live life with joy as Jesus died for me to be filled with peace and joy. Teach me how to maximize my days, weeks and months with what matters, and show me how to use my time here on earth wisely. I desire to live a fulfilled life, and I trust you that you will show me how to.
Holy Thursday, Maundy Thursday, and I am thinking of that night so long ago. I am putting myself in the scene, this soul-weary, overweight, middle-aged black woman who needs Jesus with everything in me. In my mind I am there with the disciples. I am present with my Jesus. You are there, too. Can you see it? The upper room in the drafty edifice, us stumbling in exhausted. We are starving. It’s just before the Passover Feast. So much has happened. So much will happen.
We gather together for a simple supper. Even Jesus has a kind of weight-of-the-world weariness about him. He’s talked a lot about going away lately, but he is fully present now, and his love has arms that hold us close. Still, a sadness lingers in his eyes. It reminds me of how the poet prophet Isaiah describes him, as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.
The table is set, and we recline where we’re seated, grateful to be with him. Our cups are lined like guards before us, full of wine. A basket of bread lies in the center of the table. Later he will tell us the wine is his blood poured out, and the bread his body broken. Later. Now we sit. Night, as thick and palpable as fog, surrounds us. The flames on the candles bow and rise in the breezy room, as if they too, worship our Lord.
Then Jesus sets aside his outer garments and dons an apron like a slave would wear. He pours water in a basin. We exchange puzzled looks.
“Give me your feet,” he says.
We are stunned silent, each of us carefully removing our sandals, unsure of what to say–what to do–faced with such shocking humility. Foot washing is the worst of tasks, despised by a servants gesture. Yet Jesus kneels before us, one by one, and washes our feet. I watch Him move from person to person. Dear God, Jesus is on His knees, pouring water on our rough soles. The Son of God, the Son of Man, washes us as if the pitcher contains, then releases, his own tears. The water slips between our toes, and the filth of the world falls to the ground, ground now hallowed by His presence. We couldn’t help but feel emotional. Some of us wailed as he worked.
He sure knows how to make a mess of things.
When he gets to me I choke out his name, “Oh, Jesus,” I cry. Hot salty tears roll from my cheeks, and drop onto Jesus’ hand as he reaches up to wipe my face. “Master, let me wash yours,” I beg him.
He gently, but firmly refuses me. “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will after this,” he says to me.
“I can’t let you wash my feet,” I say.
He speaks kindly to me. “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be a part of what I’m doing.” So I let him wash me, my Jesus, dressed as a slave, as I sit there, amazed.
He cleanses us all, every one of us. “Do you understand what I have done to you?” he asks. His brown eyes shine in the candlelight. “You address me as ‘Teacher,’ ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. A servant is not ranked above His master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.”
Act like it, and live a blessed life.
Jesus makes things so messy, and then sets them right with such a simple, homely message, but it is good news. When he is done with you, you are washed as white as snow.
It wasn’t too long after that last meal that he left us, only to return in three days, and go again, leaving us with his Holy Spirit. As I reflect on that day, I hear the sound of His voice, resonate, yet soft, and feel His breath warm on my face, as he leaned into me and asked me, ‘give me your feet.’
I think of this every Maundy Thursday, as we world weary travelers, parched and, hurting, and oh so vulnerable, gather. We are looking for Jesus, needing water, and trusting our souls, and soles to his servants. Sometimes we sit shoulder to shoulder reclined. Waiting. Humbled. Remembering. And our feet are washed clean, while God’s slave cradles them in the circle of his tear-stained hands.
Scripture references taken from Isaiah. 53:3, NKJV and John 13:12-17, The Message.