What’s it to You?


It’s been an interesting week.  I’m still so grateful for my life. I know I say it often, but it’s true…everybody is going through something.  And a lot of what we’re going through blows chunks.  BUT here we are, breathing air, eyes blinking, heart beating; still talking and thinking and finding excuses to laugh and smile and hold hands and hug.  WE ARE ALIVE.  That means a lot to me.

It means we still have a chance, y’all.  We have another chance to get it right.  Another chance to make peace with a friend we haven’t talked to in ages.  Another chance to forgive a wrong committed against us:  A chance to let go of the past and be free.

We have a chance to make a difference in the lives around us.  Be the person our families need us to be. Be the spouses we promised we would be when we made those vows everybody seems to ignore these days.  Be a mentor to someone seeking direction. Humble ourselves and be mentored by someone who already knows the way so that we can avoid some pitfalls along the way.

There are a lot of things about my life I really wish I could change.  And I wish that some of the people I love with all my heart would just agree to try moving forward together instead of staying put apart.  Part of taking the chance to make it right is knowing when to dive into the water and rescue the drowning hopes of another.  And sometimes it’s acknowledging that, when the fight against your efforts to help is costing you your own life, you need to head for shore and save yourself.  I despise the time honored adage for its painful truth: He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. There are times when the battle is lost, but the fight was valiant and something to be learned from…as long as you know when to let go and live.  To LIVE, it must be done.

I LOVE Lauryn Hill…  This girl is a BEAST with a turn of phrase! In her song, Ex-Factor, she was the first person to challenge my thinking on what it means to truly be devoted to something or someone.  It was in this song I saw that, it may seem noble to say that you would die for a person but, what happens when you’re done dying and the person you died for is left without you?  How much more noble would it be to spend your efforts doing everything within your power to LIVE for them?  I think, to live is the brave thing to do. Live to comfort.  Live to sustain. Live to fight again; to love again; to disagree again; to make peace again, side by side, rather than leave an un-fillable void, forcing the one you’ve died for to stand and fight alone.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  Loss is not always avoidable. I get it.  But there are some cases, literally and figuratively, where to let go is the cop out, because we just cannot see how it could turn out any other way.  How many times have we heard the tales of people giving up and quitting just inches and seconds away from the cavalry riding to the rescue, or the floodgates rushing open? The fear of the unknown has done more to destroy relationships, lives, hopes and dreams than anything I could possibly think of.

It is against this fear that I challenge you to rage. Take all of your passion and hope and love and RAGE!  Rage against the willingness to be complacent when you know that change must come.  Rage against exhaustion and battle-fatigue.  Pick up your weapons and fight again.  If you must, execute a tactical retreat for a moment. Cry out for help and let someone fight for you.  Catch your breath, clear your head then GET UP AND FIGHT AGAIN.  Rage against the mindset of hopelessness.  Know that this is the battle to which you were called and if you were called to fight then you were called to WIN.

There will always be people who will ask you why you fight the way you do.  They will question your wisdom. They will question your sanity. They will question your right.  Doubters will come to challenge you. They will ask you, “Does it take all that?”

When they ask, “Why this fight, what’s it to you?” Square your shoulders, raise your chin, fix a steely gaze directly into their eyes and declare, “It’s my life and I WANT TO LIVE!!”

“Christianna Throws a Pajama Party”, by Sonja Michelle Crockett


Sonja Michelle Crockett is a living, breathing miracle and testimony to God’s faithfulness.  Intelligent and accomplished, she has endured inexplicable paralysis on two occasions less than a year apart. She was diagnosed with a rare disease called Neuro Myelitis Optica, an auto immune disease likened to Multiple Sclerosis.

She has gone on to declare and receive healing from God to become a vibrant and active worshipper at Lighthouse Church of All Nations as well as an accomplished author of children’s stories.

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Here is an excerpt from one of her books based on the character called Christianna in  “Christianna Throws a Pajama Party”:

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Today was the big day. Christianna’s mother, Mrs. Alexander, said that Christianna could have a pajama party. Christianna was going to do it glam-style.

She invited her three BFFs (Best Friends Forever), “Cee Cee”, “Baby Girl”, and Kwanzaa.

The day before, Christianna’s brothers, Christian and Christopher, helped Christianna make a homemade Hollywood sign, which they spelled “H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-D”.

They tape the sign on the wall in the living room.

Mrs. Alexander sets the food on the table.

There is deli meat, cheese, a fruit tray, a vegetable tray, pizza, potato chips, cookies, cakes, candy, soda, and much, much more.

Even Christianna’s baby brother, Javaris, contributes by placing his bottle of milk on the table.

He wants to be a part of the event, too.

In the far corner of the living room is a chair, specially decorated for Christianna.

The chair has strands of fake pearls, a cardboard crown Christianna got from a restaurant, and a broom leaning against the chair to use so she could crown her royal subjects.

Christianna is wearing a silver glittered, short-sleeved shirt, a long black skirt, pink, satin ballerina shoes, and a baby blue blanket tucked in the back of her shirt worn as a royal robe, a peach ribbon that reads “Queen”, and eight colorful candy rings on eight of her ten fingers.

Her mother puts a bun on the top of her head decorated with two rhinestone combs.

Christianna feels like a movie star.

Christian agrees to carry Christianna around as though he were her personal assistant only if she pays him a dollar.

Christianna agrees.

There is a knock at the door.

“They’re here,” Christianna thought.

Christian carries Christianna to the door.

“Who is it?” Mrs. Alexander asks.

“Baby Girl”, Kwanzaa, and “Cee Cee”, they all answer at the same time.

Mrs. Alexander opens the door.

Christian plants Christianna on her feet to let her greet her friends. “Good day, Lady “Baby Girl”. Welcome, Duchess “Cee Cee”. Hello, Princess Kwanzaa,” Christianna says.

The girls hug and kiss Christianna on her left cheek, then her right cheek.

The horse doves are on the table,” says Christianna.

She meant to say hors d´oeuvres (pronounced awr durv).

Mrs. Alexander directs the girls to the bathroom, so that they could wash their hands.

Christian carries Christianna to her throne.

“Now, get out!” Christianna yells at Christian, Christopher, and Javaris.

“Get out!!!” Christianna repeats.

Mrs. Alexander tells Christianna that was not nice and tells her to say she is sorry.

“Sorry,” Christianna says with an attitude.

She really was not sorry.

She was showing of in front of her friends.

Mrs. Alexander walks the boys to the family room, so they could play video games.

While Mrs. Alexander was not looking, Christopher sticks out his tongue at Christianna.

Christianna rolls her eyes at him, then sits on her homemade throne until her BFFs are done eating.

“Baby Girl”, Kwanzaa, and “Cee Cee” all sit on the couch while Christianna tells them the first event planned.

“First, we are going to do our make-up,” Christianna says.

Christianna has four make-up kits. One for each of them.

Christianna notices one kit is missing.

She kept thinking what could have possibly happened to the fourth make-up kit?

In walks a “creature like no other”. A figure with a blonde, dirty, matted shoulder-length wig, pink eyeshadow above the eyebrows, ruby red blush in the form of a circle on each cheek, orange lipstick crookedly placed on the lips, and obviously wearing a pair of Mrs. Alexander’s size 8 high heel shoes.

The “creature like no other” wobbles in the living room with the girls, barely able to walk in the high heels, and knees knocking together.

It is Christian.

Horrified by the interruption, Christianna screams, “Mom!!”

Christian laughs, takes off the shoes, and takes off running before Mrs. Alexander enters the room.

Just Deserts


This week started with some of the worst news I have received in a very long time.  I lost a friend in an awful, horrific manner.  My community has been rocked by this tragedy.  Dave Brooks was an irreplaceable member of our church and music ministry, but he was also a very well known and highly respected member of the Chicagoland music industry…gospel and secular musicians alike had a deep and abiding love for Dave as a man and respect for his gift.  No one as kind and as talented and as generous of spirit deserves for their life’s end to take up more attention than the actual good they’ve done.

I think about that sometimes: The natural human sense of entitlement.  Do we ever get what we deserve? What exactly do we deserve?  And why? I know that reaping and sowing has something to do with our perception of the process. I know that when we see people who live their lives in a way that is intentionally good, we expect good things to happen to and for them.  And we would love to believe that people who go through life wreaking havoc and disturbing the peace will have that come back on them.

So why is it that bad things happen to good people?  And, why do so many wicked, hateful people live these long, twisted lives, contaminating the existence of everyone around them?

Let’s just call this me working this out for myself by thinking it through in print.

The rain falls on the just and the unjust, which implies that bad things will happen to the good and the bad alike.  I get that. Then there is the fact that when you are called of God, you will, without question see an increase on the type of spiritual resistance that you will encounter. And then there is the natural growth and development that comes from confronting our ever evolving human/spirit-man sense of balance.  We do and experience things that are borne out of our natural resistance to spiritual discipline. I get that, too.

I can even understand how the wicked get away with ‘murder’ because their expected judgment will be far harder to comprehend than we can imagine and that is why we should not despair when we see them prosper at the expense of those who would do good.

But here’s where I get a little bit introspective. If all of us are indeed either sinners or saved by grace, who exactly are any of us to say that anyone deserves better than we get…PERIOD?

We live as humans…as Holy Kings and Priests…with an over-developed sense of entitlement.  So often we forget the part that GRACE has played in making us look like the royalty that God sees us as.  We are born with a sense of worth that, over time, is either diminished or inflated by circumstance.  We have this measure of faith that is either fed or starved and causes us to behave as if everybody and everything owes us something.

What is the reality?  The reality is that we were born into an inheritance of sin….separation from God as a result of rejecting His original offer of conditional authority. The end result was the condemnation of all humanity.  And yet, God so loved the world…

I think about the sins into which I was born.  Every family has some. And since I can’t call yours out, I will address my own.  I have a family history of sexual sin, witchcraft, manipulation, secrecy and lies.  They have brought me to the brink of some very dark places.  I have made choices in the process of being delivered from these things that, by all rights should have, at the very least, had me committed to a mental institution.  I could very easily have been found dead somewhere on a street corner or a seedy hotel from  a drug over-dose, or contracted some disease from careless prostitution. Or I could have avoided all of that by putting that drain cleaner in a bowl of ice cream and being done with it all, like I thought about doing when I was fourteen years old.  But God so loved ME….

I hate some of the things I have experienced in this life.  Man, I hate some of the things I have experienced in this WEEK.  And every time I get to thinking about how unfair this is or how unjust that is, it all comes down to one question…fair and unjust in comparison to WHAT?  Hell?  The grave by suicide?  The torture of a life depraved by my own sin-sick soul?

I am going to miss my friend, Dave.  I am crying right now as I am typing this because I feel his absence so acutely.  But, even in the tragedy of his passing, he is better off than I, for to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  And no, I don’t like the way he died, but I am grateful that he LIVED.  And I am grateful for my life.  And I am grateful for you.  Let us all try harder to live as though we are grateful.  Grateful, not just that God gives us everything we need…but that He never gives us our just deserts.

Turbulence: My Apology to God, By Shaquita Harris


Shaquita Harris is my FRIEND.  Our relationship may seem unlikely as, in all honesty; she was hired to replace me.  It was even suggested that I not befriend her by those who knew what was really going on.  But it was already too late.  I already loved her and would protect her to my last. 

And as it turns out, she has inspired me and encouraged me and loved me at least as much as I have for her.  This ferocious woman of God with common sense bathed in Holy Ghost power is devoted and honest, fun-loving and free-hearted.  She sees everyone through eyes of truth and tries with every fiber of her being to extend grace far beyond others’ ability to return it. 

Here is a word of knowledge and wisdom from my favorite little stack of dynamite.

 

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Throughout life I have experienced many ups and downs. Sometimes things would occur back to back as if the world was just out to get me. In the midst of this, I felt as if God no longer cared what happened to me. I went to church out of habit and my relationship with the Creator seemed to be dwindling. I started to feel resentment because I know that I am not perfect, but I made a decision to wake up every day with the intent of treating people the way that I want to be treated.

Prophets have spoken a word from the Lord over my life and had given me instructions that the Lord said if you do this then you will be blessed. So I started doing those things. I cut off unhealthy relationships, gave my tithes, fasted, sowed seeds of faith into the church and the man and woman of god, practiced gratefulness, helped people when they needed me and overall just made a conscious effort to become a better person.

After doing all of this it seemed as if everything that I was doing was turned against me. People started to spread rumors about me, lie on me, lie to me, people who I thought liked me as a person at the very least became spiteful and mean toward me for absolutely no reason other than they got kicks out of being mean. I had never done anything to them or said anything bad about them, but they made sure that they showed me EXACTLY how they felt about me. The sad part is that they never had a conversation with me about who I really am, what I like, my goals, or my dreams, but let them tell it they knew the type of person that I was. My house was broken into twice in less than one year, my car was stolen, I felt like friends left me hanging in my time of need, and I became angry and bitter towards God because I was doing everything in my power to be what He told me to be and do what He asked me to do and NONE of these wonderful blessings that I was supposed to see came into fruition.

My thoughts became “what am I doing this for?” Why would you tell me to do ALL of this and then leave me hanging?…I QUIT! I stopped being committed to church. Truthfully, I really didn’t feel like going to church was going to make my life any easier. I went, but I wasn’t really “feeling it”.

Fast forward…So I board a plane to take a well needed vacation: with head phones in ear, neck pillow and blanket, I nod off to go to sleep. About an hour into the flight I was awakened by the pilot announcing to everyone to fasten our seatbelts because there is turbulence ahead. I still had on my seatbelt from when I originally boarded. Slightly annoyed that I was awakened by his loud announcement over the intercom, I adjusted my pillow and went back to sleep. The plane rocked a little, and I got a little bumpy, but it didn’t shake me not one bit. Another hour passes and I’m awakened AGAIN by the pilot announcing that we are coming upon some more turbulence and he repeated his previous announcement. As I got ready to go back to sleep, the Holy Spirit said “Wait. So you trust me to keep you safe in this air through all of this turbulence, where there is NO control over anything? If something were to happen, you wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it. But you don’t trust me to handle things in your life while you are walking around on the ground?”

WOAH!!! Instantly I felt convicted and I had to apologize to my Father for the way that I had been acting. My spirit wept continuously as I asked Him to forgive me. At that moment I decided to let everyone and every situation GO!

Sometimes we just have to let God handle things. No, life isn’t fair and things happen that we don’t understand, but sometimes it isn’t meant for us to understand. We just have to have faith and believe that God knows what he is doing. When times get hard remember Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

 

My God Bless and Keep you all. 

Shaquita

The Greatest Stories Ever Told


 Lots of people I know have trouble reading the Bible.  The passages are too long, too hard to understand.  I get it.  I have struggled in the past (sometimes even today) with fully comprehending what God is saying to me through scripture.  One thing that helps me is that, after reading the Word of God for a while, I ask God to explain it to me and walk away from it.  It is in being my everyday self, in just living my life that God begins to expound on the marvelous truth of His Word. 

 Some of the best lessons about the love of God I ever read have never been put on paper. One is often presented by the ushers at my church. When people come into the doors of the church with a bad attitude or a face full of worry and an usher hugs them or shakes their hand and greets them in Jesus’ Name, it takes them completely out of their element and prepares their hearts for worship and the Word of God coming forth. 

 Believe it or not, some of my most important cautionary tales about sin have come from people I’ve known. You watch the downfall of a person from up close, and you see that the way of the transgressor is hard.  Listen to the one who is optimistic in the face of tragedy, even through their tears, and you learn about peace that passes understanding. Pay attention to the grumbler and the complainer whose life remains miserable even when you can see all the blessings and good things going on in their life and learn that you have what you say.  For every scripture in the Bible, there is a living breathing example waiting to prove the truth of the Word you have recently read.

It’s important to read the Bible with the expectation of fully understanding what it means.  Even when it all sounds like Greek to you at the time, trust that God does not lie.  If He said that you have an unction from the Holy One and you know all things (1 John 2:20), it is because He himself has already downloaded the application into your hard-drive.  He’s waiting on you to search the meaning of the thing out.  Reading the Word is not the key to understanding the Word.  Go out into your life, looking for the Word and see how God reveals Himself to you.

 Sundays, when congregants from early service are leaving and members from the later service are coming in, new chapters of the Good News get written. One warm Sunday morning, at such a time, a person who looked very ‘churched,’ was coming into our church for the first time.  As he was coming in, a group of women were going out.  There was laughter, banter and joy being bandied about by these women like bubbles in the air as they discussed where they were headed for breakfast.  All of that seemed insignificant to me until I saw the confused look on the young man’s face.  I looked at him as to inquire if I could help him and he asked, “Do they actually get along?  They seem so…different.”

 

It was then I noticed that in that group of women was a white woman, a black woman and two Latinas.  God had just shown this young man what Galatians 3:28 is alive and well in that we are all one in Christ Jesus.

 God never intended for Revelation to be the last book about Him to ever be written. He had every intention of writing a new book out of each life that He touched. Second Corinthians 3:2&3 addresses the value of being a living testimony to God’s goodness.  “Some people do need letters that tell about them. But you are our letter, and you are in our hearts for everyone to read and understand. You are like a letter written by Christ and delivered by us. But you are not written with pen and ink or on tablets made of stone. You are written in our hearts by the Spirit of the living God.”

Do you want to understand the Word of God?  Read it, then ask Him to explain it.  Then, live life as if God has prepared your every encounter to reveal Himself to you or to someone else through you.   It’s been said that you may be the only bible some people will ever read.  Live one of the greatest stories ever told.

His Unique Masterpiece, by Stephennie Segrest


Pastor Stephennie Segrest is the inimitably dignified, gracious, gentile, hospitable, honorable poet laureate of Lighthouse Church of All Nations. She is over our VIP Ministry for first time guests services and there could be no one more appropriate for that position.  I have never heard her voice more than a few decibels above a hush.  The extremity of her kindness exudes from her very being; from the touch of her hand, to the smile in her eyes; from the sweetness to her every greeting of, “Hello, Beautiful!” to her gentle and consistant departing words of, “May God bless you, always.” 

Even on her bad days (that no one would believe that she has if you weren’t close to her), she maintains a steadfast, steely gaze on the Source of her supply. This woman is dear to my heart and the epitome of Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver.

This is the poem Stephennie has graced us with.

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Isaiah 64:8

New International Version (NIV)

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; <=”” sup=””>
    we are all the work of your hand.

His Unique Master Piece

Written By Lighthouse Church of All Nations Poet Laureate

Pastor Stephennie Segrest

Copyright © 2005

 

  

Our lives are not of what we plan,

our lives are shaped and mold by the Master’s hand

 

Our Lord is the potter Jesus is the Messiah, the Master of all,

black and white, short or tall

 

The Lord is our Heavenly Father,

Heaven is His throne

He’s forever in our hearts, we are never alone

 

For He knows of our beginning and the end

He is my Lord and Savior …my Best Friend!

 

God knows our hearts, and understands our weaknesses,

the word says

“He knows of our frame, He remembers that we are like dust”

but only in His eternal love we must trust

 

We all are rare gifts, in our Father’s eyes,

as rare as the beauty of nature, the sun, the moon

and the glorious skies

 

For the day will come when our lives must cease,

but forever you are God’s child

and forever you’ll be… His Unique Master Piece!! 

 

God Bless You Always!

Pastor Stephennie 

 

The Blessing of Abraham, by Monocleguy


Jean-Luc Harbin, also known as Monocleguy, is an apologetic genius.  At 17 years old, he is the product of a mighty ministry heritage.  His grandfather is Elder Johnny James, one of the most prominent Pentecostal evangelists of our day (around the world, he is affectionately called, “The Walking Bible,” and can quote any passage of scripture verbatim).  His parents, Mike and Ana Harbin are Assistant Pastors and Marriage Counselors at Lighthouse Church of All Nations.  And Pastor Ana is one of the instructors at the All Nations Leadership Institute (http://allnationsleadershipinstitute.org/) where Jean-Luc was her co-instructor for last term’s Apologetics class.

Jean-Luc is a fascinating character.  He is a gentleman, man’s man who likes to shoot and farm almost as much as he likes to build websites and debate.  His wit is sharp and biting.  Never debate this young man on his fields of expertise: you will never get out alive.

It is my honor to know he is one of my younger son’s dearest friends. That makes him (and all of the Harbin family) kinfolk.  And he has graciously agreed to share one of his own blogposts with us today.

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The Blessing of Abraham…Or, as it should more appropriately be called, the Prosperity Doctrine of Abraham. The Blessing of Abraham as it’s taught today is a doctrine based primarily on Paul’s letter to the Galatians, in which he relays Abraham’s righteousness through faith, and how the heathen (Gentiles) may now be justified by faith (Galatians 3:6-9), and receive the realization of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:14). This is then tied into the stipulations given in Deuteronomy, chapter 28, in which God makes a covenant with the Children of Israel: promising them temporal prosperity and power in recompense for their obedience.
One thing that’s typically left out of the modern teaching is God’s warning to Israel that their disobedience would be punished with curses upon their prosperity, and invalidation of their power.

Looking at the blessings that are promised to Israel in Deuteronomy 28:1-13, it’s no wonder so many New Testament believers ascribe to the modern doctrine, or some variant of it. Such a pity that it’s false.

To begin: there are three general dispensations* (or ages) recorded in the Bible. The first is the Patriarchal Dispensation, which started with Adam and ended when God gave the law to the Israelites.
The second is the Mosaic Dispensation (also called the Jewish Dispensation), which began when God gave His law to the Israelites (Deut. 12-30), and ended with the sacrifice of the Christ.
The third is the Church Dispensation (also called the Christian Dispensation). This dispensation began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and will continue until the return of Jesus.

With the beginning of or preparation for each dispensation, the law was given anew. New commandments were laid out, standards were ordered, and instructions for salvation revealed.
For example: the law as given unto the Children of Israel. We are no longer required to follow the rigorous ordinances of the Pentateuch, nor suffer the immediate consequences of disobedience. The law given in the Pentateuch is not given to us. It has been replaced by the two Great Commandments (Matthew 22:36-40), and the moral guidelines established throughout the New Testament.
Because of the distinction between dispensations, any blessings given within the old dispensations are as null to New Testament believers as the old laws; unless, of course, the Old Testament blessing is verified as being given to New Testament believers in the New Testament texts.

Instead of being applied to us, many of the ordinances of the Pentateuch instead serve as schoolmasters for living. Exempli gratia: tithing is not commanded of us, but serves as an excellent schoolmaster for giving; The law of Moses does not apply to us, but serves as an excellent schoolmaster for living morally. The judgements, however, have been replaced by the grace of the cross; they don’t apply to us….

Continue reading this article on theLogicality! (http://www.thelogicality.net/the-blessing-of-abraham/)

The Critic Complex


Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, teach…so the saying goes.

But if there is any truth to that saying, it stands to follow that those who neither do nor teach, criticize.

EVERYBODY’S A CRITIC!

But not everyone is skilled at critiquing. So many people think that everyone deserves the benefit of their perspective.  The truth is, opinions are like belly buttons.  Everybody has one and many of them smell really weird. Most criticisms can be reduced to “socialized observations.”  And those observations are often not based on facts that are pertinent to reality.

My socialized observation about criticism:  Most criticisms are a feeble attempt to assess a situation from a comfortable distance, in a way that justifies the critics imagined superiority.  Criticisms help you come to a conclusion that makes you feel as if you have a handle on the subject without actually having actually handled it.

The reason someone becomes skilled in a thing is because they have taken the time to gain an understanding of it, then having taken that understanding and put it to good use.  That is why those who can…do.

Those with such understanding, having consistently applied it, now have an extensive knowledge of a subject. They are able to communicate it to others and enable them to apply the knowledge as well.  So, it’s not that they cannot do.  It is more the point that they can help others do, too. That is why those who CHOOSE to no longer do… teach.

Both those who can and those who choose to no longer do, have taken the risk of getting INVOLVED in the PROCESS of doing a thing.  This requires an investment of time, attention, effort and passion…getting your hands dirty.  It requires attempts and failure and a willingness to get up and keep trying until the inevitable success. That’s painful stuff, all that trying and failing and trying and failing. It can scar the soul to fail and fall.  But scars heal.  And scar tissue is tough, which makes it harder for you to scar the same place again.  Which creates more of a willingness to try again more fearlessly. That is how great skill is developed.

This also creates compassion for anyone who is trying and failing.  Anyone who knows what it takes to succeed has very little time or inclination to discourage someone else trying to succeed.  Teachers and doers have this in common. They are also GREAT encouragers.  They know the value of a kind word to a weary heart and the value of sowing positivity to reap it.

WHICH BRINGS ME BACK TO THE CRITIC COMPLEX:  Anyone who is preoccupied with the knowledge and efforts of others is not invested enough in gaining knowledge for themselves and engaging in productive efforts for their own life and the lives of those around them.  This is the kind of person that prefers to maintain a safe distance for the sake of ‘perspective.’

It also affords them the luxury of ‘clean hands’ at the expense of a filthy conscience.  The other aspect of a critic’s complex is that they KNOW there are other things in which they should be involved.  There are things to which they ARE gifted, that they should be investing themselves more whole-heartedly.  There are people around them that need what they have to offer without the benefit of their ‘socialized observations.’ Instead, they make themselves feel more accomplished, more superior, by   breaking off little pieces of their mind to anyone who will entertain such foolishness.

Now, this brings up a very important comparative observation:  What is the difference between critiquing and criticizing?

A critique is a teaching tool.  Observations made by someone by whom success has already been achieved that would serve to improve the skills of one seeking to succeed.  They are usually provided with instruction and often times with a set of hands and eyes and ears that know what to feel , seek or listen for.

Criticism, like I said earlier is not based on anything truly pertinent to the reality of the one seeking to succeed.  It is opinion, customarily about some aspect of another’s behavior that has no real effect on the improvement of the skill set required for success.  Criticism is easy to dismiss, when you know who you are, what you are trying to do and the worth of what you’re trying to do.

FOR ALL WHO BEAR THE BRUNT OF CRITICISM…brush your shoulders off and keep your focus on the task at hand. You will look around and notice that your critics have moved on to the next big thing that they themselves cannot do sooner or later.  And you will already be a success and they won’t even matter anymore.

Yesterday…, by David, KePlay Richardson, Jr.


David Richardson, Jr. of KePlay Productions is a musical genius.  His musical gifting imply that he has the mantel of Thomas Whitfield.  He is steeped in a musical heritage that comes straight from the pages of an old Baptist hymnal. He has an ear for any chord progression, a voice that can reach into the heavens and his heart is made of gold.

Everybody comes from somewhere.  Our paths are not all the same.  The issues that push and pull us into our callings are not always clear and bright and beautiful.  But God still works it all to our good. David has been kind enough to share a piece of his childhood with us to show us how KePlay came to be.

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It was the year 1973 and a baby boy was born to David Richardson, Sr., and Frances Elizabeth Davis. They were not married, but loved each other very much. They would never admit it, but they did. My mom, her best friend Barbara Pankey ( who is now Barbara Shepherd), my god-mother wanted to name me ‘Shawntell Tymarion Richardson,’ after a friend of hers. My father, on the other hand, wanted to name me after him. It’s evident what my name is today! There was no debate or discussion what my name was going to be.

My grandma Mrs. Ella Maye Newell-Hall was a unique woman. She’d come from a long line of Newells from Crystal Springs, MS. She was a no nonsense type of woman. She didn’t bite her tongue, talked about you, made fun of you, and loved you all in one twisted way. But we knew she loved us, that was just her way. If you don’t grow up with love and affection around you that will become the outcome of the type of person you may be. She was not a fan of my father at all. But somehow they both managed to agree to disagree, if you will. My dad was around when I was little, from what I was told. I was too young to remember. At least I knew who my father was. Some don’t get the opportunity to know who their fathers are.

As I grew older I developed a love for music. I was only 5 years old and knew that I wanted music to be a part of my life. We were members of the Morning Star MB church in Kankakee IL. When the choir would sing and I would always be fascinated with them singing and the music that was being played. I even mimicked our pastor, William H. Copeland Jr.’s, sermons! My biggest mentor was James L. Hudson minister of music, or in today’s term MD (Music Director). My mother noticed I was musically inclined. They bought me this little organ at a garage sale. They way I remembered it; it was like an accordion on legs! There was one key that was stuck, so the creative kid I was, I took a spoon and jammed it in the hole to stop it from playing. So when I wanted to play that particular key, I would lift the spoon up so it could play. Thank goodness it was the key on the end of the organ and not in the middle!

Time passed on and when I was about 10 years old, our church had a children’s ministry called the Sunshine & Red Circle Missions. If you were a Baptist in those days, then you would know all about it! They had a program that my friend at the time, Willie Lavalle Sykes II and I sang on that Sunday afternoon. I played and we both sang. Afterwards, the whole church was very amazed. They didn’t know I could sing and play like I did. That started whole new chapter in my life!

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