A Community of Cowards with a Church Full of Spiritual Sissies
Shooting the messenger" is a metaphoric phrase used to describe the act of lashing out at the (blameless) bearer of bad news. In earlier times, messages were usually delivered in person by a human envoy. Sometimes, as in war, for example, the messenger was sent from the enemy camp. An easily provoked combatant receiving such an overture could more easily vent anger (or otherwise retaliate) on the deliverer of the unpopular message rather than deal with the source that led to the message. That's a major problem here in the City of Lumberton; too many want to focus on the messenger instead of dealing or addressing the message. The information I post on the Lumberton Informer was not created by me; instead, it's a review of the matters that have been witnessed. Often times I wonder if I'm the only one that sees or am I the only one that's willing to address the concerns. Over the past few weeks, I have been trying to wrap my brain around the series of events that hand the youth of Lumberton paraded across the news and, in essence, the community and the churches failed these young men and now they're facing the possibility of spending the rest of their lives behind bars. In Lumberton, there's basically a church on every corner but the corner is not changing; the church is. The streets can lead to a life behind bars but sitting on most pews can lead to a mind that is chained. Essentially, you think you're free but you're in bondage. For those of you that follow the Lumberton Informer Facebook page, I hinted at this subject yesterday when I made the observation that some street gangs are more closely knit that the local church. Francis Chan, a former gang member had this to say about his church experience.
"I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week – we were family. That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church is intended to be. It saddened me to think that a gang could paint a better picture of commitment, loyalty, and family than the local church body.”It's said that a person can find solace in the streets but can't find it in the local church body.
Those of you familiar with this blog are aware of the issues I had with a local church body. We sit around and wonder why this happened or why that happened. How are we to expect our youth to reach out for help when so many in the church are fighting against one another? Just recently, Pastor Jamal Bryant came under fire for using the term "these hoes ain't loyal" during a sermon and guess what, the congregants cheered, shouted and jumped over the pews. Guess what, he's still the pastor of Empowerment Temple. Now, two years ago, someone called a few of the women I attended church with "bitches" and the anonymous post was attributed to me. For that reason, the pastor of the church sat me down; showing his "golden members" that he believed their accusations. Needless to say, I was never given the opportunity to confront my accusers. We never sat with the pastor and had a meeting of the minds, I was told, through his actions, that my work in the church did not matter because he's taking the side of those that levied the accusation. So, is this what the church has come to? Eventually, they made in uncomfortable enough for me to leave "their" church; a church I help found but my exodus wasn't enough. Time and time again, my name was brought up in one accusation after another. The last accusation that was being attributed to me was an attempt to hit one of his members with my car. Now mind you, the person was standing in the middle of parking lot, looking at a big red car approach them, but she was upset that I drove to closely towards her, while she and members of her family conversed in the middle of the parking lot. As a matter of fact, she was so upset by the matter, that she sent me a friend request via Facebook so she could send me the following message.
I haven't told a soul that you tried to run me over, but let's be clear you were rather close to doing so...which is strange because you are now coming for me on FB in your typical cowardly manner. Everybody knows that this is what you do; you dig and dig until you get a reaction then run to the police station when your "attackers" confront you. Say whatever you want about me on FB and your blog too, but if you EVER in your miserable life roll up that close to me in a car again charges aren't the only thing that'll be pressed! Now let my name taste like shit in ya mouth from now on...Keep in mind, I did not post the entire quote but I have the screenshot of the post in case I "run" to the police. The back-story behind that response is way too long to discuss but there's a reason why I posted it and it will all be understood soon. Now, I wasn't shocked by the response I received. I was however, shocked by the fact that after receiving the message, her pastor, my former pastor, shared a status she posted and he used the following scripture to encourage one church member attacking another.
"Do not answer a fool according to his folly or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes." (Proverbs 26: 4, 5 (NIV)This was when I was caught off guard. You mean to tell me that after all the years I invested in "your" ministry; you are going to offer your seal of approval for this type of behavior via social media. Seriously. Keep in mind, I had left this congregation but my name was still being tossed around like a rag doll. If I didn't know it then, I know now, that I was never a part of this congregation and he was never my spiritual father because a true spiritual father restores not destroys or take sides; other than the side of truth. So many ministers are concerned with being politically correct that they forget to be biblically correct.
Some of you may be wondering why I'm rehashing all of this drama. Well, in my earnest opinion, a lot of those that were arrested a few weeks ago, had front row seats to what transpired between me and the church because they're related to some of the key players. The point I'm attempting to make is how you can show others a way out when your focus is on pettiness and not holiness. I believe the church as well as the community has lost focus and this has allowed the destroyer to enter in because we are focused on the wrong issues. Pastor Jamal Bryant said...
"In the absence of a black male presence, then the family is no longer defended. When a black woman comes to church she has, in fact, a 50 to 60 percent chance of the whole family coming with her. But when a black man comes to church it is an 85 percent chance that everybody is going to come. So now we come to churches that are just feminized with a church full of women, but you got a mosque full of men. It says it's not that men are not spiritual, they want a place of discipline and order and focus. Men do not want to come to church just for an emotional outpour. "But because we have westernized our worship experience, everybody wants to shout and sashay because we made the church comfortable for men not to be men, but to be sanctified sissies."
At some point, every man had to man up or suffers the consequences of being called a sissy/punk. All of us have walked away at least once. It’s painful, I know, but I’d like you to remember that day, that one moment in time when you were a coward by someone’s reckoning. No matter how insignificant the situation, I’m guessing that part of you still feels like a coward today for turning down the challenge. At some point, you realize that you must take a stand; even if you stand alone. I'm called a sissy, a punk, a coward almost on a daily basis; for one reason or another. But I've stood my ground and I don't allow the opinions of others to determine my worth. It doesn't matter if I'm being called a coward by church members or street thugs; I will not allow them to label me with their issues. If the hardships I had to endure for wanting to shine a light of accountability on the lies that has been allowed to fester in Lumberton, then there should be more cowards. I faced a corrupt board that hired a corrupt police chief; employed a corrupt city clerk all in an effort to shut me down; to keep me silence. I'm called a coward but I continued to fight after my car was towed from in front of my home because a corrupt city clerk was working with a corrupt chief of police and forged the signature of a judge (oops, let me correct that statement, she didn't forge the signature, she just copied and pasted it onto a warrant that led approved the towing of my car and eventually caused me to spend a night in jail. Now she has the temerity to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against the City of Lumberton for wrongful termination because she claimed to be the whistle blower for a person she was literally in bed with. Give me a break. How in the MML were you able to dig through $789,000 in tickets and fines to get a warrant for a $141 ticket (and yes I still have my receipt) but you couldn't process any of the other fines that were owed to the City of Lumberton? Because it was personal. And throughout this ordeal, I had to fight on both fronts; in the community and in the church; a place where I thought I could seek refuge. Now, if a lifelong church boy has conflicted feelings about seeking help from a church; how in the Book of Genesis are you going to be a beacon to the unchurched when they've witnessed how you treat your own?
Hey, we're adults now. The days of childhood bullies and peer pressure are behind you. Or are they? Although there aren't many people calling you a sissy/punk to your face, it may be that you’re unknowingly acting like one. Take a look at what the Apostle Paul wrote in the Bible: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”(Romans 12:2). You may actually be allowing the world to dictate how you live, how you act, and how you don’t act as a Christian man. If you are doing this, you are, in essence, a “spiritual sissy” because you are walking away from the challenge Jesus has laid out before you in the Bible. “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34–35). It’s a challenge that is requiring you to take a stand for God’s kingdom, not the kingdom of the world, and TO be prepared for the “bullies” of the world to hate you as they hated Jesus. It’s a choice to be a sissy or not to be a sissy, to Man Up! Or shut up. It’s a choice to be different from the world. It’s the choice to be an intentional Christian and unfortunately, many are failing! Audre Lorde said it best.
“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
The City of Lumberton is at a pivotal point and it will continue to falter if we continue to look the other way in the midst of adversity. It truly takes a village to raise a child and so far, the village is failing to live up to its responsibilities. It takes a village is a proverb that leverages the cultural context and belief that it takes an entire community to raise a child. A child has the best ability to become healthy adults if the entire community takes an active role in contributing to the rearing of the child. There are no jobs in Lumberton, there is not unity in Lumberton, there is not network of support in Lumberton and there are too many in position that are more concerned with getting all they can and canning all they get. When will enough be enough? When will the backbiting end? When will those elected to serve step up and look for industry to bring to this city instead of accepting whatever crumbs the Lamar County Board of Supervisors decide to allow fall on the floors of Lumberton? How many of our youth have to be taken into the penal system for us to realize that an idle mind is the devil's playground? We don't like to accept the truth in this town and we don't like with others expose our dirty secrets. I don't need to stand on Main Street to pray for this city; trust me, God can hear us from our homes. But we wouldn't be called a "good man" if we stay home and pray. I'm not looking for a reward from man; I'm looking for a blessing from God. Stop focusing on the messenger because you're missing the message.