Tuesday, June 22, 2010

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Green Living/Green Like God

I've recently been doing research on what it means to be sustainable.  This topic comes up because of a presentation that I did for a competition at The University of South Florida's Graduate Program Interdisciplinary ConferenceSide Note: My proposal was accepted and I presented my article, UNDERSTANDING HOW THE NATURAL WORLD WORKS TO CREATE A SUSTAINABLE CAMPUS: MODEL PROGRAMS AND DEVELOPMENTAL STRATEGIES.  I am still looking to publish this piece, so if there is a scholarly journal that is interested in sustainability and the college campus, please contact me.  :::wink:::

My obsession for sustainability came after reading Greg Horns book, Green Living.  This book is great for anyone that is looking for practical ways to sustain their health, body, and environment (home/office/car).
This introduction to green living seemed like a calling... It seemed to be a necessity to change my behavior about what goes in or around my body as well as my carbon footprint.  So imagine my interest in the book Green Like God by Jonathan Merritt.

This book expresses the love God has for all living things and charges humans with the responsibility to protect God's creations.  The young author/minister references Genesis 9, which describes a conversation God is having with Noah after the flood.  God told Noah that the rainbow is a sign of God's covenant with humans AND all of the living creatures in the Ark.  God stated, "Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth" (Gen 9:11 NIV).

Although I am not finished reading the book, it has sparked some thoughts.  I have considered the events in life and how reporters call them isolated "natural disasters" as apposed to revelations depicted in the Bible.  For instance, Hurricane Katrina, earthquakes in China and Haiti, wild fires in California, and most recently the sinking holes in Guatemala.  These are all things we should consider our part in affecting their existence.  Could our affect on global warming possibly play a role in the wild fires that sparked in California.  There is no question that our obsession with oil has certainly taken a drastic toll on the wildlife and animals in the Gulf due to the oil spill.

Our thoughtless ignorant actions have consequences.  Those consequences may very well be "natural disasters", but as Corinne Bailey Rae's song depicts, Love's On It's Way.  To those of us who are constantly trying to reverse the effects of living our disposable lifestyles full of waste, we are reminded of God's covenant.  As those things we read about in Revelations appear before our eyes, do not have the spirit of fear, but remember God's love and the covenant of hope with the sign of a rainbow.  God is love and Love's On It's Way.

Welcome Back!

I took a long hiatus for grad school and now that I've gotten my degree... I'm back!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Can Christians Stay Faithful on Reality T.V. Shows?

Being a Christian on the Real World is full of the same challenges in the “real world”.

Shows such as MTV’s Real World and BET’s College Hill put young adults in a co-ed house, sparking sexual tension and inevitable conflict. Usually the cast sleeping arrangements on these two shows consist of 3 to a room one person of the opposite sex. Outside of the house they have to work together on special projects. They very seldom show the cast interacting with other people, unless they bring guests to the house. Roommates, co-workers and even best friends are bound to have a few cat-fights.

It’s extremely hard to avoid temptation and quarrels in a setting like this. Being a member of a sorority, I know first hand, how easy it is for people to start a simple conversation and then have it escalate into a petty argument. I love my sorors dearly, but we are all leaders and sometimes don’t value each other’s opinions as much as our own. When we’re mad, all the sisterhood’s ideals get thrown out the window. If some of those moments were caught on tape, I might be a bit embarrassed by my temper tantrums and ego trippin’. It is often said that women are natural gossip girls when more than one is in a room. True, True, True! I’d like to say that me and my sorors are different, but we are just as human as those reality t.v. show casts. We’ve seen it over and over again with Lauren Conrad and her ex-best friend Heidi Montag on The Hills (MTV).

The Bible tells us that quarrels are never a good thing. In Prov. 17: 14, quarrels are described as a breaching dam and we are encouraged to drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. Simply agree to disagree and move on to the next topic. Proverbs 26:20 says, “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”

Who are we to judge Stephen (22 at taping) from Real World: Denver who was caught on camera cheating on his girlfriend (afterwards aired his attendance to a local church), and America’s Next Top Model: Cycle one's Bible flipping contestant, Robin Manning (accused of flashing Mr. Jay off camera, after refusing to pose nude). We all make choices that affect our future and the people that are associated with us. The only difference is that the world has a record of their sins to rewind and playback… forever.

The Bible teaches us to submit to God. James 4:1 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?” When we truly desire to be Christ-like we understand that God will not put more on us than we can bear at any point during our life. Meditating this reminds us to hold our tongue. As true Christians we must do as 2 Timothy 2:24 tells us to do, “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach not resentful. So the writer, presumably Paul, has charged us to lead by example.

We have seen people take extremely just stands for their faith, such as Shannon Stewart (24 at taping), who considers her self to be a devout Christian. Stewart refused to pose nude for a photo shoot on Cycle one of America’s Next Top Model. “Just trying to be Christ-like,” Anna Bradfield said, to defend her right not to pose nude during the first fashion shoot of Cycle two “If I show it [her body] to the whole world, what’s so special when I give it to [my husband]?” she questioned the panel. She was eliminated from the show that week.

So, maybe we need more strong believers to become billboards for the Lord. “Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Tim. 4:12)

Are you curious to know what the Bible say about the show producers and people who watch arguments and fights for the sake of entertainment? He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction. (Prov. 17:19) Let God judge them, but try to encourage others to take the same just stand as a faithful Christian.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

How Strong Women Pray

“How Strong Women Pray”
“How Strong Women Pray”

Bonnie St. John’s newly released book, How Strong Women Pray should be on your reader’s list. This book pulls very diverse women together through a spiritual connection – their prayer life. 27 ladies from different walks of life share how their strength is magnified by the power of prayer. For these women, turning to God, not only during times of trial but moments of gladness, kept them afloat in a world that places so many obstacles before them.

Their personal stories are inspirational and force the reader to see life through their eyes, if but only for three pages. Take time to read Barbara Bush’s story about raising her son. Those who have serious dislike for our president may look at him through a different lens. Other stories are included from Maya Angelou, Dorothy Height, Susan Taylor, Nadia Comaneci, Johnetta B. Cole and Kathie Lee Gifford.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why Did I Get Married? - Character Review

A new movie offers advice to strengthen Black families, beginning with marriages.

“84% of African American marriages end in divorce”, according to www.divorceandkids.com in 2001.

Tyler Perry’s new film, Why Did I Get Married tells an interesting story of eight college friends in distress about their marriage. Each of their secrets are revealed at this annual winter week – long marriage retreat, threatening four divorces if they don’t do some major damage control. Tyler Perry is known for writing screenplays/scripts loosely related to Christianity.

Very different from Madea’s Family Reunion and Diary of a Mad Black Woman, his fourth movie was funny, but lacked the overt religious tone that is Perry’s key signature. Though Janet Jackson, Malik Yoba, and Tyler Perry are amongst the lead characters, Jill Scott’s role seemed to be the sole God-fearing character of the bunch.

Sheila (Jill Scott) is the embellished stereotype of what a Christian woman looks like and how she thinks. Shelia is over weight and allows others to verbally abuse her because of her insecurities. Often beating her husband to the punch – line with her own fat jokes, she tells herself her marriage is failing because she’s a “big girl”. I have heard males say that church women can be cute, but are not sexy and usually are plus size women. Ladies, I am sure we have several comebacks for these brothas, but they will have to learn on their own…

Shelia separated herself from her friends to learn a lesson of her own. With the help of a God sent friend who pointed out her natural beauty, Shelia realized that the Lord had not given up on her. She was able to let go of the hurt and anger she felt towards her selfish husband, in return for her own confidence. She let go and let God do his thang! She didn’t really have a choice. Sometimes we are forced to stop “fixing” our situation(s) ourselves.

When we open our eyes and allow God to remove us from our bad situations/bad relationships, know that there is more to gain on his end. Don’t feel as though you have nothing to give without your significant other. Though he may have left you broke, believe that he hasn’t left you broken.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

God, Why Did You Make Me A Woman?

Many times I have wondered, as I’m sure most women do, why God made me a woman. Since the beginning of time men have had more power than women. History tells us that we have struggled to get more power over men rather than equality. Eve was created to be Adam’s helper, yet she stepped out of her place when she gave Adam the fruit of the forbidden tree. And his weak leadership skills allowed her to influence him. (Genesis 3)

By being single, for a short time Adam knew what it meant to live in undivided devotion to the Lord. Paul said, “An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of the world – how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided.” (1 Corinthians 7:32 & 34) After God gave him a wife, he desired to please Eve. Adam had the experience/knowledge of what it was to be a single man, something Eve didn’t have.

Some women look at men’s relationship with God, as it relates to power, as just more responsibility. Those women tend to be more content with being single than others. These are the women that don’t mind waiting. But, what about the independent woman? The “Go-Getter” in her career who thinks she can transfer that same attitude to her “love” life?

Single Christian women that study the bible know what their role is compared to men, but we are also human and can use a little reminder. I’ve always struggled with waiting. I am a city girl and enjoy the fast pace society that I live in… I believe in fast food drive through windows, self check – out lanes at the grocery store and of course online shopping. Though, it would be very convenient to google Mr. Right, it’s just not gonna happen that way. So, I’ve taken the time to be busy during “the wait”. I’ve been working on me and my relationship with God and others. I’ve learned a lot and I understand that if I were truly ready that God would have blessed me with a husband already. Along with that, God may still be working on him; even Adam had to wait for Eve to be molded by God before he had a wife… The only difference is he was expected to search for her.

God doesn’t expect women to search for their husbands (Prov. 18:22). I must admit that at times that frustrates me to no end… I want to “do something” about my status… (Ironically status is often used interchangeably with power). Independent women see what they want and go after it. That strategy often puts us in powerful positions and makes us advocates for the women’s progression movement. Not exactly a negative thing, but a prudent woman progresses as God allows her to.

In Proverbs 8, wisdom and understanding is described as a woman. “For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. I, wisdom, dwell with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion… I have understanding and power (Prov. 8: 11, 12 &14). Prov. 8: 17 says, “ I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” It takes “the wait” to become those things. The man who finds you at the end of your wait gains wisdom and understanding making him favorable to the Lord… Talk about bringing something to the table!

So, Why did God make me... to be a good thing! (Prov. 18:22)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Husband and Wife: Are We Compatible With God?

Part 1: Lord, What is My Role?
American culture has “progressed” for women, thus making us more independent in nature.

“Daddy’s Little Girl” learns to become so self-reliant that she begins to take on some of the roles of a man. This is often done with good intentions, but the results lead to confusion and our actions take us further away from God’s intended purpose for women.

Today, more women are providing for themselves and their families as the main breadwinner and the primary caretaker, assuming the role of mamma and daddy, husband and wife.

Adam and Eve are the first example of a husband and wife that we have in the Bible. Before Adam was given a wife, he was given a job, working in the Garden of Eden. It was then that God explained to him not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and explained that he would die.

Now let’s stop for “station identification.” Man was alone, following only God’s instructions. When you were a newborn, having no knowledge of good and evil, your first instinct was to be dependent on your mother/father for everything. When we are single we should be like newborns, like Adam when he was single doing the Lord’s work, dependent on God’s instructions because our Father knows what’s best for our future.

After Adam worked in the Garden and the rules were explained about the forbidden tree, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Surprisingly, this is not when he made woman. At this point, God created the animals and brought them to Adam to see what he would name them. “But for Adam no suitable helper was found.” (Gen. 2:20) God knew that Adam would recognize that none of the animals were comparable to him. To come to this realization, he allowed Adam to search for his helper unknowingly amongst creatures that did not have the same kind of relationship with God that he had. Sound familiar? How often do we search for a mate that we want to be a humble servant of God within people that don’t even share a comparable relationship to God?

The Bible doesn’t tell us what the conversation between God and Adam was regarding what took place to create woman, but somehow he understood that God created her for him out of his own flesh. Just as God created Eve for Adam to be his helper, God has created someone specifically designed for you, men. Stop searching for your “Eve” among serpents and lions. Women, allow God to bring you to him. While you are waiting, meditate on Paul’s advice to singles. Concern yourself with the Lord’s affairs. (1 Corn. 7:32) “I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” (1 Corn. 7: 35)

Part 2: Conversation With Paul
Understanding how God created men differently from women is much harder to comprehend then why we are created.

Physically and emotionally we are designed differently. Physically, most men are built with more muscles to work and take care of people, places and things. Their natural instinct is a desire to fix problems and situations. Most women, on the other hand, like to analyze and understand problems and situations before we attack them. Emotionally, men seem to be a bit more logical and consistent than women.

Paul recognized a pattern in men of being weak in relation to women. He makes it clear in 1 Corn. 7 what his opinions are and what God’s commandments state for married and single lifestyles. (1 Corn. 7:6) He had very strong ideas about marriage.

When we look at marriage from a historical perspective, we can understand why Paul preferred singleness to marriage. Let’s revisit Adam and Eve where we last left off... God had just brought Eve to Adam and he called her woman. In an analytical conversation with the serpent, Eve gave into temptation and ate of the forbidden tree. After which, Adam put his commitment to Eve before God and consequently lost his job in the Garden of Eden. Paul reminds us in 1 Tim. 2:13 and 14, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”

“Eve was deceived, while Adam ate the fruit deliberately, author Michelle McKinney Hammond wrote, “He knew the cost of partaking of the fruit, but he also knew the cost of not eating it – separation from Eve. He chose Eve over God at that moment.” (What to Do Until Love Finds You, pg. 179)

Sometimes, for a moment, we allow our fleshly desires and impure thoughts to consume us. Though Paul was writing to the church in Corinth, his letter still pertains to Christians, today. There are questions and problems that arise in our lives due to our cultural environment. Paul’s advice allows us to discern right from wrong and further more what is expedient. God allowed Paul to practice self-control. According to Paul, self-control was his gift from God and he wished we all had it. (1 Corn. 7:7) He wished more people would be married to God, devoting ourselves completely to pleasing God and no man (or woman).

While studying how to strengthen my role as a single Christian woman, I imagine how a conversation would go with Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. (Ephesians 1: 1) Though I may find Paul to be a bit extreme at times, I understand that his nature as a man was to fix the status (remain single) where situations develop that can lead to sin. But, was not Paul a man, just as Adam was a man? All men (and women) have fallen short of the glory of God. I agree with many of Paul’s perceptions of the single man’s devotion to God, but question some of his tactics. God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone and gave him man’s best friend… Still a feeling inside seeks a piece of them (symbolically their own flesh) is missing, a suitable helper. That same feeling encourages man to pursue women in search for oneness/wholeness. As a woman, my human instinct is to want to understand what is keeping Christians in sin. What is provoking us to sin? Does it begin with our thoughts? I would suggest finding ways to remove those thoughts that stir us to sin as singles and married couples. Know that you will sin if you are married or not married. Ask yourself; will you be stronger with a helper or without one?