There is no big secret concerning the fact that I am not a fan of sports. In fact many that know me will quickly let you know that if I never saw another football, baseball, basketball or anything of the like my life would not be moved one way or the other. This is not to say that I am not concerned about some issues that surround sports and the athletes that make sports so popular. One thing that is ever present is the idea that sports figures serve as role models for much of the country. While there is little doubt that many of these athletes are wonderful and upstanding people I am not certain that I would hold any of them to the level of role model for me or those that I so care about.
I recall not long ago I was invited to an event in Baltimore. While I was not among the honoured guest it was an honour to be part of this event. One special person at the event was Baltimore football player Ray Rice. I remember there was much ado made about him before he entered the room. Frankly before he came I could not understand the uproar about this man that was to come. Still, I sat with some that I had worked with while eating some crabs (you must have some Baltimore crabs) and enjoying light conversation. Before long the announcement was made that Mr. Rice was about to enter and enter he did. Well, I expected a seven foot tall nearly four hundred pound man to break threshold as his massive being made it into the room. That was not to be as his body guards were larger than he was. And, being not more than five feet from him I dare say that impressed was not among the ideas that crossed my mind.
Now fast forwarding to events that Ray Rice wherein recently involved in presents the idea of an abusive man with a short temper. The fact is most of us know little about what happened that day in the elevator. One this is sure that Mr. Rice knocked out his then fiancé. That very act does little to promote the idea of what a good positive role model should be presenting to those looking up to him. And while I take issue with the idea that a sports figure is a role model simply by reason of him be a sports figure some see athletes as role models just because they are in the public view and play sports. Well, I have a different idea on what role models truly are.
I remember growing up in Baltimore having two step-grandfathers. Deacon Leroy Singletary (now deceased) was a hard working man from what I could tell and was a strong man on a number of fronts. I spent many hours with him and dare say that a bit of him has rubbed off on me. My maternal grandfather, the late Rev. William James Smith, is the person after whom I have been named. He was the pastor of a small Baptist church and one that I looked up to from as early as I can remember. Undoubtedly parts of him also rest in me and more than that name I am more than proud to bear. These two stately gentlemen were among the best role models of my childhood and have impacted me to the extent that I can and never will forget them.
Then the time came for me to enter the United States Marine Corps. To say that it was a challenge is to put kind niceties on things that were not always so kind. Early in my career I had the good pleasure of running into Master Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Witt. This giant of a man was not only a Marine’s Marine but also was a gentleman and a servant of God. He left this earth way too soon yet he impacted my life in ways that I cannot begin to spill in this forum. Suffice it to say that Tom was a man, a friend and a role model to make even the best step back and take a look of a man with tremendous stature and dignity.
Then there was my pastor in Hawaii. Dr. Wayne E. Anderson is a man that taught me the truth of Christendom. There were a number of things I would not have learned when I did except that this preaching, teaching, God loving man was found in my way. I can say with absolute certainty that the years I spent with this man were years of growing and learning. Yes, attending his church was much like attending book camp. There was much to learn and growing to be done. The good doctor was there for and with me through some good times and some bad times. Without him I would not have the Christian foundation I have today. Yes, Dr. Anderson served as another giant of men and a role model cannot be found in a better man.
My list of role models can go on and on yet I cannot ignore my current Bishop, Johnny C. Carrington, Sr. He is one of those old school preachers that grew up in the streets of Baltimore just blocks from where I grew up. So I had more growing to do when I returned to Baltimore and Bishop Carrington was there and remains there for me. He was there as I endured more difficult times and well as good times. Without him I could not have completed college. Without him I would not even be a member of the clergy. He is another man that stands tall and has pulled me alongside him. What a role model!
And there is another role model I simply cannot ignore. That is the Son of God, the Man Jesus Christ. Here is one that died for me and presented an example for me that points only to victory. My other role models have been wonderful and will be remembered until my last breath yet Jesus is the reason for my breath. Jesus was not with me just during portions of my life as those noted above rather He was and remains with me throughout my life. Jesus is in fact the pinnacle of role models. It is my hope that my examples to my children are enough for them to call me their role model as Christ is to me.
With this is becomes increasingly difficult for me to call people such as Ray Rice role models. It is not because of the negative incidents in their lives rather it is because of the lack of personal relationship. In order for one to be an effective positive role model the underlying characteristic must be relationship. Without relationship there is no one to look up to. If there is no one to look up to there is no role model.
The Whole Armor of God
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Put on the Belt of Truth –(Jesus is the Truth)
We are told to STAND having GIRDED your waist with truth. (Notice you need to keep standing, even if you feel like collapsing. Put on the armor of God and you will not only stand, but you will be victorious) We could go on a lengthy lesson on belts and truth but I want to make this easy to understand. Girding your waist/ putting on your belt of truth is simply knowing the truth and knowing how to walk as Jesus walked. It means you must know the truth and in order to know the truth, you must learn……. then to learn you must study God’s word. This is the foundation of every other piece of warfare.
- If you don’t know the truth of righteous living, how can you put on your breastplate of righteousness ?
- If you don’t know the truth of peace in Jesus, how can you put on the shoes of peace?
- If you don’t know the foundational truth of your faith , how can you lift your shield of faith?
- If you don’t know the truth of scripture, how can you lift up your sword, which is the word of God?
- If you don’t know the truth eternal life in Christ, how can you put on your helmet of salvation?
How do I put on the belt of truth?
Begin each day by putting on the Belt of Truth, which is reading God’s word. I just recently spent time reading 1 John. Here are truths I learned in the first two chapters: I am to live in obedience, I am to walk as Jesus walked, I am to live in love, I am to hold no anger or hatred to anyone, I am to abide in Him and His word in me, I am to live in fellowship with the Father and with others and I am to obey His commandments.
I needed to be reminded of these truths this past week. You could also study the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 or read 1 Corinthians 13 about Love. When I read the bible, I find truths to righteous living on every page. If you are just beginning, start by reading Proverbs or Psalms. Psalms 1 teaches us the importance of having the right kind of friends. Are you angry? Full of bitterness? Unforgiveness? Laziness? Lacking self control? Filled with lust? Search the scriptures for verses on these topics so you will learn how God wants you to live, this is learning the truth, this is putting on your belt of truth. Bible gateway has a topical index if you wanted to search an online bible.
Putting on the Belt of truth, Examples from 1 John 1-2:
1 John 2:3 we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
Truth: I must obey Him
1 John 2:5 -6 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Truth: I am to walk just as He walked
2 John 2:9-11 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
Truth: I need to forgive anyone that has hurt me or made me angry. The bible says to hate someone is the same as murder. If I hate, I am walking in darkness and neither is their light in me nor is their light around me to see the truth. It seems hatred for another causes spiritual blindness.
1 John 2: 15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Truth: Do I love the things of the world more than God? Would I rather sit in front of the tv or internet instead of spending time with Him? Do I put anything before God? Being prideful of accomplishments, wealth, material things is not from God the Father – check your life and see is this pride has snuck in. Am I living in the will of God, because only then I know I will abide forever with Him. Have I been helping others? Would I rather buy name brand items than help someone in need? Just thoughts……
29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him
Truth : Is my life a life of righteousness? Do my words speak righteousness? Am I an example of righteousness to my family.
As I ponder these truths, I can see areas where I am borderline or not living righteously… maybe in my sarcasm, my jokes, maybe my words haven’t been acceptable before God. I can see times where I’ve neglected my prayer time and put things of the world first before God. I know these are things I need to change.
Putting on the Belt of Truth, examples from Proverbs:
Proverbs 13:13 He who despises the word will be destroyed, But he who fears the commandment will be rewarded.
Truth: This shows me the importance of Godly living, that I need to spend time reading God’s word. If I don’t understand, I keep going and all the while asking for understanding for God will certainly hear my prayer. I will fear God and honor His commandments.
Proverbs 13: 20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.
Truth: Are my friendships with questionable friends the right thing to do before God? If I want to be wise, I must walk with the wise. If I chose fools for companions ( and we know who they are) destruction is ahead. (yikes, I needed that one too)
You might also enjoy reading : 77 DON’TS FROM KING SOLOMON (PROVERBS)
Putting on the Belt of Truth, Examples from Psalms:
Psalm 52:1-4 Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually. Your tongue devises destruction, Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. You love evil more than good, Lying rather than speaking righteousness. Selah You love all devouring words, You deceitful tongue. God shall likewise destroy you forever; He shall take you away, and pluck you out of your dwelling place, And uproot you from the land of the living. Selah 6 The righteous also shall see and fear, And shall laugh at him, saying, 7 “Here is the man who did not make God his strength, But trusted in the abundance of his riches, And strengthened himself in his wickedness.”
Truth: Why do you keep boasting of your angry explosions? Do you think you’re so tough? Why do you boast in your evil? You tongue is full of lies, hurting others like a sharp razor And you even enjoy it. You would rather lie than speak righteously. You are proud that your words can knock others down , your words devour others. In the end, your strength will be as nothing, your will be thrown out of your living place and God will destroy you forever – so stop being a jerk
Applying these truths to your life
I didn’t know and understand everything when I first decided to live for Christ. The Holy Spirit will give you understanding and help you understand how to apply the scripture to your life. It’s dangerous when you start to make your own ways and your own rules about your Salvation and your beliefs. In Romans 1, we are told that those who go their own way and make their own god based upon their own thoughts are living in confusion. The bible is your foundation, it is true and trustworthy. It is Holy Spirit inspired and every single letter is there by God’s will. It will change you and make you the New Creation in Christ that the bible speaks of in 2 Cor. 5:17
Okay, so now you understand your belt of truth. You can’t put on a belt of truth without the truth. The next two things you must put on are the breastplate or righteousness and the shoes of peace. Simply put, this means you are to apply these truths to your life and walk in them. There is protection in righteous living. There is protection when you live in peace with others. The two go hand in hand. You can’t have peace with others unless you are living righteously and you can’t live righteously unless you are living in peace . You can’t live righteously without the truth and you can’t live in peace without the truth.
Without this, you are unguarded and opening a door for the enemy to come in – maybe in anger, unforgivinenss, bitterness, etc.
So taking one step at a time, learn the truth (it will set you free) and walk in it. Once you have the 3 pieces of armor on, you will be able to easily pick up the last 3 pieces of armor – the shield, the sword and the helmet.
Below are a few more keys to the Belt of Truth that I discovered while studying a book on Warfare by T.Evans
1. adjust your life/thoughts/words/actions to the truth of God’s word
2. The belt is the foundation and place to keep the other armor
3. The Word sanctifies us and sets us apart for special use John 17:17
4. Be careful of the devils temptations, he mixes the truth with lies and knows your weak points
5. the devil tempted Jesus at his weakest point, after he had fasted for 40 days. Be careful when you feel weak, strengthen yourself in God’s word Matt 4:1-11
6. Put on truth, which is the word, which is Jesus
7. Endure through a testing time – in strife, discord, disunity, anger, malice, etc endure with your shoes of peace
8. Check your heart, actions and words. Be quick to repent when you realize your sins
9. Spend time in prayer…always. Ask for understanding, for a renewed mind and to show you if anything unacceptable is in your heart
10. Take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ
11. Fix my thoughts Phil 4:8
12. Jesus is the truth
For more about the Armor of God:
- Armor of God: Shield and Sword (www.prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com)
- Armor of God: Breastplate of Righteousness (www.prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com)
- Armor of God: The Shoes of Peace (www.prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com)
- Armor of God: What is faith (www.prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com)
- Armor of God: How can I have faith? (www.prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com)
- Armor of God: Know your enemy (www.prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com)
- Lust **warning** (www.prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com)
There are some who absolutely declare that all religious roads lead to the same end. For these people the celebration of God comes in many ways and many forms. These conclusions are despite the fact that Christian foundations are quite different than the founding of other organizations and thoughts. However the difference in these sects is more than obvious especially when you consider the way that many of the organizations were started. For instance cultic organizations such as Buddhism and Islam were started by individuals said to have matured to the level of deity while in Christianity its founder is part of the Triune Godhead.
John 3:16 clearly shows that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not parish, but have everlasting life.” Academically and theologically terms such as “hypostatic union” can be used to show the relationship between God and His Son. The idea of “kenosis” can also be employed to show how Christ emptied somewhat of His attributes in order to walk with man. However the point of this essay is to call attention to the clear truth that there are stark differences between the God of love which is the Christian God and the purported god of peace which is the Islamic god. You see the God of love seeks only to reconcile man by way of acts of love such as the love Christ showed as he laid aside some of His attributes in order to live as man lives. Herein begins the juxtaposing of Christianity and Islam.
Love is the founding factor of Christianity. God loved and so He sent His Son. Christ so loved the world that He was in full agreement with the Father (I John 5:7) to the extent that He humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross. This was not out of hatred or disdain for mankind rather love became the hallmark of the ministry of Christ not to condemn the world but rather that the world through Him might be saved. This is not the case with the founder of Islam. Islam (by many accounts) was born out of its founder’s disdain for Christianity. This disdain was a great reason for the Crusades in the 12th and 13th centuries wherein it could be argued that Islam sought to overtake the world by ridding it of Christianity. It is doubtful that the Crusades were born out of love.
The practice of Christianity is to love fellow man. It is not to harm him rather the practice of Christianity is to embrace individuals while hating the sin. With this in mind compassion coupled with love creates for the Christian a life of showing the love of the Father by expressing love even to those that reject Christ. On the other hand millions have had blood spilled because of Islam and those that purport that terrorism is the act of a “religion of peace.” Love did not crash into the World Trade Center more than a decade ago. Love had nothing to do with imprisoning a pastor only because he was a pastor. Love was not shown when three men were beheaded only because they were not Islamic. Additionally acts of love do not seek to force submission rather love allows choices such as Christians choose to serve the One and only God.
The truth of the matter is that many Muslims seek to force their view on “infidels” or they will suffer dire consequences. Christians seek to compel through the Love of Christ. Herein is the difference between Christendom and Islam; the former prefers love while the latter seeks conformity by force and even death. There are no true Christians that seek harm of anyone; not even Muslims. Yet there are some Muslims who cling to the idea that the only good Christian is a dead Christian. In this is the unadulterated truth concerning those that choose Christ and those that prefer Islam; the one works with the idea of love bringing forth reconciliation while the other prefers destruction in the hopes of gaining seventy-two virgins. So, the question must be asked; who will you serve? The One true and living God or the god of this world? I must say as the prophet of old once declared and say that as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
A reminder of 9/11/2001 from Zilla! God bless!
Originally posted on Femininican:
This is my personal story of September 11, 2001 and what happened after – as I experienced it 60 miles away from Ground Zero…
My father’s grandparents, (both sets) Irish Catholics, somehow managed to survive the Famine in Ireland which killed so many. They came to America to escape the oppression in Ireland and landed in New York City. It would be a hundred years before anyone in that family line ever moved out of the City to other places.
My mother is from a tiny country called Grenada. She saw there were few opportunities for a young lady there, so she packed her bags and came to find the “American Dream” in New York City. She found it. She also found my father and it was love at first sight. They met at the famous Rainbow Room in NYC and were married a few months later.
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August 22, 2014 is a day that will not soon be forgotten by me. It was the last day of my training as required by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). The four hundred hours of clinical and academic work was among the most intense four hundred hours of work of I have had in quite some time. The intensity was met with me being honoured to present the last worship service of the unit. As I began to prepare the homily I found it difficult to put on paper words that would adequately present the intensity of completion that was accomplished not by me alone but also my peers as we all traveled the CPE journey.
Despite my inability to properly pen proper words for the homily on that last day of CPE I could not help but think of Paul when he was winding up his ministry as he sought to encourage Timothy. In his charge to Timothy in II Timothy chapter four Paul says in part that he fought a good fight and kept the faith. This is to say that Paul endured many things during his ministry. He had to lay aside some of his own views in order to be effective in preaching the Gospel. This led him to journey down difficult roads which included Paul being shipwrecked, snake-bitten, imprisoned and other difficulties. Interestingly none of these things deterred Paul from meeting the task at hand. Paul completed what was required of him so that he could confidently declare that he had fought a good fight.
My peers and I have also endured a number of things in order to accomplish the mission at hand. While we were not shipwrecked or snake-bitten the trouble we endured was not for the faint of heart. We had the temerity to set our sights on completing CPE and would not relent despite the troubles that came our way. There were obstacles to be met both within and without the program. Some of us disclosed some of the trouble and yet there were many obstacles that were not mentioned but either me or my peers. Yet there was an absolute necessity to complete the task at hand. And so we labored tirelessly as we journeyed through the challenge of Clinical Pastoral Education.
I certainly can speak with no authority as to the totality of the obstacles of my peers yet I can say that looking over my life some might have counted me out many years ago. You see I was told my entire childhood that I was no good that that I would amount to nothing. I was the one in school that had few friends and was often the brunt of many jokes and the skinny kid that was the natural target of not just being bullied but also being beat up on multiple occasions. Certainly people such as my first grade teacher saw much good in me yet very few took time out to aid in positively molding this stuttering, quiet kid that just did not fit in any crowd. Even so it would seem that a tenacious attitude was being built for many years in the young loner that I was.
One might not have thought that a young skinny kid would do well in the United States Marine Corps. Unexpectedly this strong-willed young man became a strong young Marine and there was certainly no stopping from this point on. No, it was not easy even in the military but then there was no promise of an easy life. There was no suggestion that being a Marine would put to rest all of the worlds ills. In fact the contrary was the case as I was being molded not just to a Marine but also a man of character; a man of destiny and a man of audacity. I did not and would quit in boot camp and could not and would not quit on whatever else life had to offer. No, quitting was not an option and neither was holding to the idea that the quiet young boy would amount to nothing but nothingness.
There is no intent here to discuss my biography. That would take much more than an essay of around a thousand words. The intent here is to show that audacity is a necessary tool used to bring the best from all of us. You see there were some that said that I was not chaplain material. That would not stop me from walking toward that pull of ministry that is deeply imbedded in me. Yes, there were some that encouraged me to move forward but as in my childhood the idea of not pursuing was the drumbeat of others. There was even one peer who told me at least twice that I did not belong in the CPE program. Nonetheless my tenacious audacity would not allow me to march away from that which I knew was part of the work I had been working toward for a number of years. No, I could not listen to the dissenters rather I had to heed the call which is so much part of my life.
In heeding the call I walked through certain aspects of academia. More importantly my CPE journey led me to many people; some in beds and others sitting in chairs. I have talked with staffers including doctors, nurses and housekeepers. I have been on the bedsides of the dying and the crying. Some of those with whom I have ministered have been hurt physically while others were in emotional turmoil. Some just needed someone to talk to and others just needed the feeling of belonging. I have had the opportunity to minister to many while some have ministered to me. It has been a journey and a journey well worth taking.
No journey comes without bumps in the road. This is perhaps a point that Paul was making to Timothy. Undoubtedly Paul endured obstacles which may have seemed insurmountable. It is certain that many sought to discourage as well as ridicule Paul as he journeyed the road of pointing men to the Saviour. The tenacity of Paul serves as an example of all that have a need to persevere despite certain opposition. Giving up was an option Paul could not enjoy and I am certain that it is an option that the children of God cannot entertain. Determination is sometimes confused for stubbornness yet without determined audacity nothing will ever be accomplished.
No worthwhile journey comes with ease. Nothing is accomplished without some blood, sweat and tears. Yes there are sweet victories along the road of success and there are also bitter failures. Yet the failures are not reason enough to end a journey rather the failures make successes all the more sweet. So, as I have said in times past do not quit and don’t give in. Let God complete the work He has begun in you as you use that deep-seated audacity of completion to do the unique work that is for you and you alone.
Over the past several weeks I have purposely and intentionally not addressed contemporary issues greatly because of the magnitude of work as a chaplain intern. That work has put me in touch with people across the human spectrum. I have enjoyed working with Blacks, Whites, British, Columbian, Chinese and all types of people groups. I have found this to be greatly rewarding as I have learned many years ago that people are people are people and to suggest anything different is simply asinine.
I bring this up because of the present turmoil in Ferguson, MO. Here is a town riddled with cries of racism born out of false emotive responses to a police involved shooting wherein few facts have been made public. Thugs (many from other towns) continue to break into stores and steal from those who had nothing to do with the shooting. Vulgarity has run a muck to the extent that some “protestors” have used their fingers to indicate a false disdain for injustice. Obvious facts are ignored in the face of some flaming the fires of racism only to meet personal or political points that have done nothing other than bolster feigned outrage. This bolstering continues to be by political leaders, the media at least in some part and so-called civil rights leaders.
There are certain matters I have considered I as have watched this unrest unfold. For instance I have wondered why President Obama has once again injected himself in the middle of a local matter while he seems to pay no attention to the burning world around him? Why have Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton gone running to a situation in order to promote justice when the investigative process had not the chance to begin? Moreover why have they not gone to Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Dallas and other cities where Blacks routinely kill other Blacks? Are not those Blacks important too? Do they not deserve the same treatment? Also, why are these so-called protestors rioting in the streets? Can they not find a better way to vent their points of view? More importantly it seems to me that injustice has yet to occur. What about waiting for the completion of the several investigations before making crass judgments?
Now, there is no intent here to make little of the death of Michael Brown. The death is absolutely tragic no matter the circumstances leading up to it. However that does not mean that tragedy needs to be met with tragedy. There is no good reason for citizens to turn to crime in order to make points. Bad can only make bad worse so that my sidestepping from CPE discussions is truly highlighting and celebrating the diversity of those with whom and I serve and to those I serve. If the rebel rousers in Ferguson would but lay down their weapons of destruction perhaps there would be room in their hands for the tools of reconciliation.
To further this point a bit more it needs to be noted that some have suggested that the actions of the criminals here is the result of a so-called “Black plight.” It should also be noted that, well, I am counted as a Black person. I was raised in a neighborhood in Baltimore wherein the best chose not to go. In the neighborhood were Blacks, Whites and other people groups nearby. The thing is we got alone just fine. Yes, my parents were divorced when I was very young and there were definite family problems. Moreover there were social problems going on as well. Still the problems of the day did not lend to the idea of “Black plight” at least not in my mind.
And still I did not let my situation hold me back from who I am and my progress in life. Without presenting a biography of myself suffice it to say that I have had a successful life. I served in the military, have owned businesses, worked in law enforcement and have accomplished academic success that most will never. Pointing these things out is not to toot my own horn (all though I have also played a number of woodwind instruments) rather to show that one’s ethnicity has nothing to do with success or failure. It has more to do with the decisions and choices made. It is certain that there will be positive outcomes as well as negative ones. Yet one’s choices tend to lead to individual “plight” rather than that of an entire people group.
With that I would encourage all to lay aside senseless idiosyncrasies and pick up the tools of reconciliation. Perhaps when preconceived notions of wrong predicated upon no facts can be thrown out then the notions of wrong can be replaced with true justice which leads to peace.
When this unit first started my supervisor gave my peers and me a word that has stuck with me even until now. That word was “presence.” Presence presents the idea of being with someone in the good times as well as the bad. It is a concept that God instilled with Adam in the garden and is a concept that has been a continuum throughout humanity and even until this moment by way of the Holy Spirit. A way to further the idea of presence is with the practice of sojourning. Sojourning, what an idea to bring about intimacy in mankind from one soul to another.
Last week I had the good pleasure of meeting with a gentleman who called out to me from his room in the emergency department of Huguley Hospital. This gentleman was not in emotional turmoil like many that I have met but rather this kind one simply needed to have someone walk a short distance with him. So I stood by his bedside and listened, responded and simply came along beside this gentle soul. The visit ended up with not only me ministry to this gentleman but also him ministering to me. I had taken the time to sojourn with him which resulted in the two of us being all the better for it.
The point is that there are some in this life that think that they need no one but Jesus. Yes, we absolutely need Jesus with us in this life. Without Him our lives would be complete and utter failures. Yet man was created to enjoy companionship. That companionship can only come with someone who walks alongside and with another. It is not only knowing the sentiments of our neighbors but also feeling and experiencing the sentiments whether those sentiments are good or bad. Sojourning is part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Recall how that Jesus promised to send “another Comforter.” Now it is true that the term “paracletus” has legal definitions it comely presents the idea of one called alongside to help.
When the Holy Spirit walks with us in day-to-day activities He is sojourning with us. We, too, are called to walk alongside our fellow man. This sojourning means that we go through what our partner goes through. If they cry we cry. If they rejoice we rejoice. And when this is done intimacy is developed to the extent that when our sojourning friends have a need the call will not go unheeded because of the compassion developed during the steady gradation and journey toward oneness in Christ.
Hence I am convinced that, like chaplains, Christians at large would do well to walk with one another thereby strengthening and carrying the burdens of those too weak to carry. The matter of sojourning, then, has much to do with the relational aspect of Christendom rather than the prescriptive methodology many seek to practice. Yet I dare say sojourning does far better than any prescription.
Writing this post will probably be among the hardest for me to write. The reason for that is because it requires some vulnerability and being vulnerable is a matter that I have learned to shun on certain levels and embrace on others. You see, this culture does not necessarily embrace tears as strength particularly when those tears flow from men. This is because men are not supposed to cry; we are to ‘walk it off’ as though there were truly no hurt and no pain. Yet I have found that this mentality does little to strengthen or grow mankind.
All too often I think about that divorce I had to endure. It was a divorce that I did not want and a divorce that I felt was undeserved. The memories of the day my wife packed what she wanted out the house in Chesapeake, Virginia while taking not only my kids with her but also everything that I had in the world. There was no greater devastation to me than coming home to find the kids beds gone, my wife’s possessions gone and nothing left but a deafening silence. All I could do was sit on the steps in the house and cry. I cried so much that I think I filled buckets with the tears. However that would not be the last time I was to cry.
I use that backdrop as a prelude to the discussion of the tears I have seen here at the hospital. I am reminded of a recent encounter I had with a precious lady having a number of physical problems. As she began to pour her heart to me concerning family issues the tears welled in her eyes. Those were tears of hurt, pain and disappointment. Her adopted daughter was presented as acting in a rather cantankerous manner. The son of the daughter appears to be following in the mother’s footsteps. While nothing had been done to this dear lady she had the impression that her life had been a failure. She felt that she had done nothing right all because of her wayward daughter.
In encouraging this lady I began to draw a picture of all the people she touched in her life. I suggested that she imagine all those people lined up in the hallways all waiting to write a paragraph or two describing the way she touched their lives. As I talked the expression on her face began to change from hurt and pain to one of inquisition. The inquisitive look gave way to an understanding that she was significant and perhaps she had accomplished more than she realized. The tears, the crying changed from pain to acceptance of the fact that she had done well in her life. So, this lady in a short period of time cried because of hurt and also because of the relief in that she had done well and was not a failure.
I also began to consider my small group. There have been emotive moments wherein tears and crying could not be held back. And there were many reasons for those tears. Some of the tears were because of past hurt. Others cried because a fresh realization came that it is OK to cry and that crying is not a sign of weakness rather it holds within it much strength. Even I have cried for a couple reasons. Among those reasons is because the hurts of the past surfaced and there was no way to release the hurt except by tears. Additionally there was crying because the weight of the world was finally lifted from narrow shoulders. This crying served to cleanse, to heal and to relieve. What a wonderful gift God has given us by allowing us to cry.
My point in this is simple and to the point- it is OK to cry. In fact I would venture to say that someone needs to cry even as this is being read. So, go ahead a cry. Go and get your healing through tears. Go and get the much needed relief. Go rejoice in the fact that you don’t have to carry what you have not been designed to carry. And, don’t worry about what others may say. There is significance in crying and that crying is nothing more than an emotional release of things stored inside us. So go ahead and cry!
For one to suggest that the CPE journey is not about the minister would be a major fallacy. The journey has much to do with introspection and adjustment. This adjustment, though, is not all about the chaplain. The adjustment certainly betters the chaplain but the adjustment is not solely for the chaplain but also for those to whom he ministers. And this is the point of chaplaincy; it is not to use the positional platform as a box from which to promote academic and ecclesiastical wares rather it is an opportunity to “extend the healing ministry of Christ” which is the mission of Huguley Hospital.
As I began to reflect on this past week as well as my experience at large in this program I realized that I was not just walking toward my destiny of ministry but that I am already engulfed with that thing I thought I was walking toward. Take for instance the case of a lady I had opportunity to minster to. Here was a wonderful person in the emergency room. This lady was steeped in domestic problems. Her boyfriend had all but told her to kill herself. Her self-esteem was already much lower than it needed to be. This is not to mention the fact that she was busy caring for others, including her adult children, but that there was no reciprocal action as to her care. As such she felt alone that nobody cared so that she was in the hospital as a cry for help. Her way out, at least in her mind, was suicide. Yet she knew that suicide was not the answer. So, here she came to a place seeking healing not for any physical ailment rather for a deeply wounded spirit.
And so as this patient “regurgitated” her heart onto me I sat, listened and engaged in what turned out to be an excellent visit. My gentle probing coupled with word of encouragement caused this patient to realize just how good she is. Now, I cannot say that my visit with this young lady eradicated thoughts and intentions of suicide yet I can say that at least for a short time she knew that somebody loved and cared for her. She also knew that I was not there to get something from her but rather to give something to her and that there was absolutely no need for reciprocation. So then it dawns on me that I no longer walking toward my destination. Instead I am already involved in that destiny of ministry.
Not all the ministry that is done has to do with those that find themselves in tough spiritual and emotional difficulties. I recall when I was on call a few weeks back and I was asked to visit a patient desiring to see a chaplain. After responding to the room the discouraged gentleman simply wanted to be read Scripture. I promptly went back to the office, collected my Bible and responded back to that kind gentleman. We talked for a while and then I began to read the Scripture. After reading the gentleman and I began to talk about what I just read. This form of ministry was similar to the lady mentioned above; he just wanted somebody to talk to and wanted to know that somebody genuinely cares.
In this I can say of a surety that I am no longer walking to my destiny rather destination ministry has already been accomplished. It is in this that I seek to encourage all. Sometimes we think that we are walking toward a certain thing but when we look we have already met the destination. Take for instance those of us that drive on highways – all too often when driving our minds go to other things. Sometimes we are involved in conversation or perhaps listening to the radio. As we engage in those things we pull closer to the destiny. And then we look up just to see that we are no long headed for our destinations; we are there.
I suspect this is part of the “pressing toward the mark” Paul discussed in Philippians 3:14. Paul worked earnestly to please God in that which he was called. And while he was pressing toward that mark it is interesting that Paul was already doing that which God wanted him to do. His destination of ministry had already been met yet he pressed even harder even while in the fullness of ministry.
So then those that do not see themselves as having met their destinies might do well to look and see where they are. It stands to reason that the pressing is so intent that the full realization of destination ministry may not be realized even while there may be an encamping of work around those seeking to do ministry. Now, as you press to further your destiny and it seems out of reach look up and you may not be close to your destiny but already in the midst of certain destination.