The Power Of Love

“I Can Do Bad All By Myself” is a story about the power of love.  April, the main character, is living a life less than what she deserves; and she is ok with that.  She is in a relationship with a married man to keep from being committed.  She would rather be by herself than take a chance to fall in love and have to suffer the pain of losing it.  Sandino (Adam Rodrigez), the border who takes a room in her basement, comes along, and is not afraid to show vulnerability.  He is strong and macho; yet sensitive and caring at the same time.  At one point in the movie, when April found out her mother died alone on a bus, Sandino held her and when she asked why, he simply stated, because you needed to be held. 

Can you think of a time in your life when you needed that: a human touch with no strings attached; but you felt you had no one to fit the bill?  I know it is the “Christian thing” to say “Jesus is all I need”.  But that is not God’s desire for us.  We were created to not only have a relationship with Him; but also to have fellowship with one another.  Unfortunately, we do not always want to obey the word.  We would rather be alone, than appear before another human naked.  We would rather hide our hurts; conceal the pain of broken promises; and disguise our wounds of despair.  We would rather cover up who we really are – than reach out and let the Lord heal us.  And contrary to popular belief, His preferred method is to use someone close by.  My pastor always says “favor comes on two feet”.  Meaning, God uses people.  And that is absolutely true about healing those obscure, mutilated internal wounds inside of you. 

Did you ever consider volunteering or visiting a loved one in a rest home may be the cure for your broken heart?  What about helping out at the children’s hospital?  The healing power of giving love is stronger than you think. 

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:12-13)

So can you do bad all by yourself?  Yes, when you take the lyrics to the title song to heart:

“Yeah
Since everybody knows what it is that I need to do.
Well do me a favor, let me worry bout me and you worry bout you.

[Chorus]
I don’t need no one to put me down,
I’m on the ground, can’t get no lower.
And I don’t need no one to hang around and make me frown just makes me look older.
And I don’t need no one to black my eye and tell me lies
Don’t wanna cry over nobody else
No no no no I can do bad all by myself.”

But when we sacrifice ourselves, our wishes, and our preferences for a friend, we give the greatest of all gifts and prove our love beyond any doubt.  And the hose that waters has to get wet.  Simply put, the love you give has to come back.

“I Can Do Bad …

“I Can Do Bad All By Myself”

[Verse 1]
Somebody told me once that pain is a game we all gotta play.
Then why am I in overtime and sudden death every other day.
I know that for the good of life there’s a price we all gotta pay
But I’ll pay till I’m poor and I still don’t know what it is to have a good day.
Yeah
Since everybody knows what it is that I need to do.
Well do me a favor, let me worry bout me and you worry bout you.

[Chorus]
I don’t need no one to put me down,
I’m on the ground, can’t get no lower.
And I don’t need no one to hang around an make me frown just makes me look older.
And I don’t need no one to black my eye and tell me lies
Don’t wanna cry over nobody else
No no no no I can do bad all by myself

[Verse 2]
Somebody told me once that running from the rain don’t make no sense.
I had my own dark cloud for awhile now, it goes where ever I’m going.
Yeah
Your telling me the grass just might be greener on he other side.
But I don’t wanna take a chance on dirt when I got grass even tho the grass has died.
Oh since everybody knows what it is that I need to do,
Well do me a favor, let me worry bout me and you worry bout you

[Bridge]
Some feel real bad for me
I didn’t ask you for your sympathy
No I know God is watching over me
So I guess that the good I was suppose to be
Ohh yes

[Chorus]

I don’t need no one to put me down,
I’m on the ground, can’t get no lower.
And I don’t need no one to hang around an make me frown just makes me look older.
And I don’t need no one to black my eye and tell me lies
Don’t wanna cry over nobody else
No no no no I can do bad all by myself

In the movie “I Can Do Bad All By Myself”, the movie pick for Ladies Night Out on the 3rd Friday,

Sandino asked April why she sleeps her life away; why does she hide her funny side; and why is she with Randy (married man)?

April replies “he helps me out – he pays the bills”.  That was her definition of love.

But Sandino said love is having someone there in the morning when you wake up among other things.  Said, “We’re all looking for love in some way or another”. 

 So let me ask you about your definition of love: “Is your way empowering you or rejecting you”?  Are you rejecting the ‘you’ you are supposed to be by holding on to all the pain of the past – trying to do it all by yourself?  Join us because you are not alone. 

Already know you can’t hold a good woman down.  You went to the edge of the ledge, but could not jump.  You held on and made it through: well, come help a sista out!

 Join us Friday 4/20/12 at 7 p.m. at Bethany Baptist Church, Lindenwold, NJ and discuss how you learned you are not alone. 

Aside

Not Without Prayer

Some years ago, I had the privilege of going overseas to Africa.  Before we went, we spent time learning all the dos and don’ts to help us navigate safely on foreign soil.  In Ghana for example which was like a military state, we could not talk about the president, the military, or politics.  You definitely could not bring any contraband into the country or break any of their laws.  They had the right to arrest you and hold you indefinitely without charges.  When we were leaving the country headed back to our base camp in Togo, a woman, who was taken behind a screen to be searched, began to scream.  They were beating her, but our guides told us not to even look over in that direction or we could be detained.  I was overwhelmed with emotion.  Frightened, because all the guards had become agitated, and we did not want any trouble.  Angry, because we all felt helpless that another human being could be treated so horribly.  We protested, but were told if we tried to intervene, we could be beaten too.  But it in no way compares to how Betty, portrayed by Sally Fields in the docudrama “Not Without My Daughter”, must have felt.  It was not strangers, the police or military soldiers that accosted her; but the closest person to her: her husband.  On a supposed two week trip to her husband’s homeland of Iran, after he had lived in the U.S. for 20 years, she found out he had decided they were going to stay, and there was nothing she could do about it.  In Iran, she had no rights.  He took her passport, all of their cash, checks and credit cards.  He would not let her use the phone, thus isolating her from her family.  The loving husband she knew for seven years began to beat her, and at times locked her in the house.  She could not go to the market without an escort.  She was forced to wear a burka.  In every way, shape and form, he took her independence.

 Have you ever had to move to a new state; or spent time overseas?  The culture shock, dialect challenges, and religious diplomacy can be mind boggling to say the least.  You can lose sight of who you are and what you believe. Maybe you have lived in the same place all your life, but in these crazy economic times, have lost your job and it has taken away your independence.  Maybe you have had to move into a shelter or with your in-laws.  Your diet has had to change because you cannot afford steak, salmon or the name brand peanut butter you truly love.  Where you like to shop for clothes has taken a hit.  With every aspect of your life being tainted, you may begin to feel isolated or depressed.  It’s like you lost your identity.

 This is when we need to follow Betty’s example in the movie – PRAY!  Before she was in trouble, we had no inkling she was even saved.  But when she found herself in the most helpless place in her life, every night she and her daughter asked God to change their situation.  And you have that same privilege.  It does not matter how long it’s been since the last time you prayed.  You have an advocate with the Father, and he has your best interest at heart.

 Of course less explanation and preliminaries are needed if you have been talking to him all along.  But it is never too late to start building a relationship with God: the all knowing, self existing one.  He just asks us to do a few things.  Pray believing (Math. 21:22); pray without ceasing (1Thess 5:17); and be righteous.   Because James 5:16 says “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” 

Now righteousness has nothing to do with how many of the 622 commandments you keep.  It is not even based on the first ten you learned in Sunday school.  Because as quiet as it’s kept, we cannot live morally right on our own, nor can we justify ourselves.  Everything we are is based on Christ, not rituals.  But He is looking for us to be absolutely genuine in keeping the two most important: Love the Lord with all your heart, as well as love your neighbor as yourself.  When that’s your focus, you will begin to notice things turning around for you.       

Minister Charmette Brown

 

Imitating Life’s Dark Side – part I

Did you ever think about what made the boogey man so scary, even though you had never seen him?  Or why you ran from your own shadow – and it kept chasing you!!!  Come on now – I know I wasn’t the only one.  I know at least three who can testify – Charlotte, Audrey and LyRae (my sister and cousins) were running with me one night: the first time we were allowed to walk home in the dark by ourselves.  Everything seemed larger than life.  Every sound made us jump. We were terrified of our own shadows, something that had always been with us.  It was because we feared the unknown.  And then to make matters worse, we noticed a man following us.  As he got closer, we began to run, and did not stop until we fell in the door screaming for help but laughing at the same time (because we were sooo happy to had made it safely).  A few minutes later, my uncle walked in and wondered what was wrong with us running like that.  Turns out he was the guy following us – not as a shadowy dark figure; but in the original Old English sense of the word shadow, sceadwian:  to overshadow, protect, cover.  

He was using a popular detective’s tactic also called shadowing which entails trailing another in secret; it was not to do us harm, but to make sure we made it home ok.  

I guess you notice the obvious theme of shadows emerging.  It seemed the only appropriate topic as many just observed Yom Kippur – one of the biggest shadows ever cast. 

Yom Kippur is a day set aside by God in Leviticus 23:26 to atone for the sins of the past year.  It is preceded by the ten days set aside as Days of Repentance called Days of Awe, (Yamim Noraim).  It is when the Jews believe God writes our names in “books”, recording who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter God’s decree. The actions that change the decree are “teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah,” repentance, prayer, good deeds (usually, charity).  On Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in these books is sealed. This day is, essentially, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and make amends.

It is customary to wear white on the holiday, which symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow (Is. 1:18). Some people wear a kittel, the white robe in which the dead are buried.

If we look at the lives of the two mothers from the movie “Imitation of Life”,  Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore) and Lora Meredith (Lana Turner) appear to be living Days of Awe.  Lora, a struggling white widow with plans to become a Broadway actress, loses track of her young daughter Suzie at the beach in the first scene of the movie.  Annie, a single colored mother, along with her daughter Sarah Jane, were homeless at the beach when she found Suzie.  Grateful, Lora took them in.  

The film progresses eleven years later to 1958, finding Lora as a highly regarded Broadway star living in a luxurious home in New York. Annie continues to live with her, serving all at once as nanny, housekeeper, confidant and best friend; but Lora’s tight focus on her career prevents her from spending time with her daughter Susie, who sees more of Annie than she does her own mother making the opening scene a hint of things to come in their relationship.

Annie and Sarah Jane have their own struggles, as the light-skinned Sarah Jane is in a constant state of turmoil over her identity and steadfastly wants to pass for white. Sarah Jane’s anger at being colored translates into animosity towards her long-suffering mother.  She hates having to leave the all white class and attend the colored school when her mom revealed her true identity.  To her, being colored drastically limited her future, and she was determined to have more.  She left home & moved to Ca.  Her mother went to see her one last time (Sara Jane asked never to come see her again).  Broken-hearted, Annie agreed, but summed up their existence:  she said she did not know why God made some white and some colored; why they were destined to serve – that‘s just the way it is.  But is it?  Does the color of your skin or your status really determine who you are destined to be in life? 

On her death bed Annie asked Lora to make sure to find Sara Jane and give her a beautiful wedding dress.  She said you should feel special when you die and when you get married.  It’s like she lived an ‘Imitation of Life’, wearing the ceremonial kittel grave clothes daily.  And she is not alone, sometimes life covers us with sin, debt, hatred, bitterness, envy, discontentment and the like – so much so, we forget we no longer have to live our Days in Awe.  We don’t have to imagine a better way – we can experience it. 

Colossians 2 (KJV) Says:

 6As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:   7Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

 8Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.   9For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.   10And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

 11In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:  12Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

 13And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

 14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

 15And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

 16Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

 17Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

  We will continue this conversation next time…

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

The 2000 U.S. Census was the first time Americans were allowed to identify themselves as “multiracial,” and more than six million people checked multiple boxes in the race and ethnicity category.

Included in the multiracial category, with a white mother from Kansas and a black father from Kenya, is the nation’s first biracial president – President Barak Obama. The media, however, have continually called Obama the nation’s first “black president.” But is that accurate?

During his first campaign, one columnist examining President Obama’s background summed up his racial identity into one equation: white + black = black. Really, in 2008?!

He’s not alone; most Americans see Obama as a black man, and he identifies himself as such. But there are some who will argue that by labeling Obama as “black” we are all ignoring a vital and legitimate side of his life.[1]  And what is most baffling about this whole issue is the fact there is still so much controversy over the subject of race in the 21st century.  The popular 1968 slogan “you’ve come a long way baby” would seem fitting to some; yet to a vast majority, in light of the attacks on the President’s character, the hard line many Republicans have taken – maybe not so much. 

Nestled almost 100 years after the abolition of slavery; and over 40 years before this census, is a movie simulating this controversial subject:  how do you deal with the identity divisiveness of a multiracial person.  In the 1959 movie “Imitation of Life”, our movie pick for the month, Sarah Jane, the biracial daughter of Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore), faced a dilemma as she tries desperately to ‘pass’ for white.  She refuses to play with black dolls; and despises having to live in the servant’s quarters.  She wanted the world to see what she saw when she looked in the mirror.  She saw herself as white; and wanted the world to treat her as such; however, she is met with great resistance from her mother, who feels she should face the reality of being colored.  But Sara Jane refuses to settle for her mother’s way of life and begins to lead a secret life. 

She pretended to be a rich girl with strict parents, to hide where she lived from her new friends – particularly her white boyfriend.   After sneaking in Sara Jane tells Susie (the boss’ daughter) about her white boyfriend.  She says “if he ever found out I was colored I would kill myself, because I am white too, and if I had to be colored, I want to die.  I want to have a chance in life.  I don’t want to come through back doors, or feel lower than other people; or apologize for my mother’s color.”  Susie gasps, as she continues, “she can’t help her color; but I can, and I will.”    Susie says he is bound to find out, but Sara Jane says “I am going to be everything he thinks I am.  I look it, and that’s all that matters. But is it? 

Is it enough to pretend to have more money than you do; or pretend to have a happy home; or is it time to reach for more.

Is it time for you to stop trying to ‘pass’ as a Christian?  How long do you think you can get away with serving God when it’s convenient?  Isn’t it about time you took an honest look in the mirror and ask the image you send out to represent you every day:  Mirror, mirror on the wall, how do I get out of this pit fall:  living life as a double agent?  It’s time for the real you to stand up.  Not for the world to see, but for you to be. 

But you have to get some of those obstacles out of the way; like not believing in who you are – inside & out.  You have to know you are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image.  And that has nothing to do with the color of your eyes or the hue of your skin.

A Holy God will have a holy people: “But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [conduct]; because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15:16). 

The basic idea of Holiness in the Old Testament was being separated from all defilement and from all forms of idolatry.  In the New Testament times, the emphasis has shifted more to inward purity of life and separation from the world. (See Rom. 6:19, 22; 12:1, 2; 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 4:24.)

 I think Ty Tribbet breaks it down the best in the lyrics to his song “Stand Out”.

 It’s about to go down, the battle has begun:

It’s time for you to choose, whose side you’re gonna be on.

 The devil is recruiting, tempting every man.  But he’s already defeated,

 All we have to do is stand.
No time for mixing light with darkness, Be black or white,

No more shades of grey, be separated be holy,

No matter what you do don’t bow; and even if you stand alone, Stand anyhow.

Chorus:
Rise up people put on your strength; There’s a war goin’ on
And we will win
Stand up and fight, let the kingdom prevail
With power and might
We will not fail
Stand Out (Repeat)

Everybody’s playing it cool, don’t want to rub nobody the wrong way
Almost like we tryin’ to fit in, acting like we don’t know the NAME
It’s time for us to stand out, and go against the grain
Forget tryin’ to be down; let the world know you’ve been changed
How you going to be the praise leader
But you listen to R&B, and Hip hop is on your ringtone
I’m trying to tell you God ain’t pleased,

and since when did it become cool for you to live together unmarried
Men with men women with women
Tell you God ain’t going to have it

Stand Out (Repeat)
It’s time to recognize, the war is in disguise
No time for compromise, wake up open your eyes
The devil is a liar, you must be hot or cold
You can’t blend in the crowd
It’s time for God’s people
To Stand out (repeat)
Oh (repeat) stand out


[1]  June 09, 2008|By Jason Carroll CNN’s American Morning

 

The Time Traveler’s Wife: Love Beyond Words

When you think of your love life, would you consider it to be more like a movie or a novel?

Bruce Joel Rubin, screenwriter for the film “The Time Traveler’s Wife”, our movie for the month, based on the novel by Audrey Niffenegger said “a novel engages the mind in ways the movie never can.  In a novel, your mind starts asking, well if she is this age, and he is that age, and they are saying this – what does that mean?  But the minute you try to do that while watching a movie, you are not in the movie.  “A movie is completely a heart/gut level experience, and occasionally the mind comes into play to engage with what’s happening.  Mostly movies are not observed in the mind.  Often, when your energy goes into your mind to watch a movie, you disengage from the story and it takes a little while to get pulled back.” 

 Do you approach love that way?  Disengage from your life to build a relationship with a man; only to wake up one morning, and find you have to back pedal to reacquaint yourself with where you were before you two met – your hobbies, your family, your friends; your God!

 Or do you take a novel approach.  You manage the emotional journey which allows love to jump in and out of control.  Here you permit yourself to count up the costs.  You build a more healthy relationship because it is not built on pure emotions.  You don’t fall in love – you choose to love. 

 And how about you and God:  how is your love life with Him going?  It should mirror Rubin’s description of the flow for the movie “if you get the love story right, the movement in time would work.”  However, all too often, our relationship with him is out of sync, so everything else in our life is too.  Your prayer life, church attendance, fasting time may be lacking.  Perhaps we have gotten lazy or too familiar with him.  We fall into a routine, and have the same conversations – Lord heal me; Lord touch my family; Lord go into the hospitals…. You know the list.  If you tried to pin point when and how you got there, you couldn’t.  You started off great, like the beginning of any relationship, when everybody is on their best behavior.  You fear if this person sees the bad part of you – the sin or your infirmities they won’t love you.  But when you grow with that person and your love develops into a strong bond, you come to a place where you can’t imagine life without them.  When you become one flesh, what may seem like an insurmountable flaw to someone else, appears as a light thing to you because it can’t compare to life without them.

 It reminds me of a line from the movie “The Time Traveler’s Wife”, where Clare (played by Rachel McAdams), said something that was so memorable when Gomez (Ron Livingston) tries to persuade her not to fall in love with Henry (Eric Bana):  “I have been waiting for him all of my life and now he’s here; it’s already happened, and I couldn’t even change it, even if I wanted to.”

 For those unfamiliar with the story, Henry is a time traveler.  He travels back to when she is a little girl and reveals himself to Clare when she is out in the field playing.  He builds a friendship with her, and tells her how they fall in love when she grows up.  He always tells her the dates when he will come back to visit so she never has to just sit and wait.  She knows him so well by the time they do actually meet, that his infirmity is not a handicap, but the vehicle used to bring them together in the first place. 

 So what brought them together when she was young has now become a hindrance.  It’s the same with God.  Your sin is what attracted him to you, and now it is like a thorn. 

 It reminds me of the story in Ezekiel 16 where the Lord shares of how he met us.  

Ezekiel 16:  ‎4 And as for your birth, on the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to cleanse you, nor rubbed with salt, nor wrapped in swaddling cloths.  ‎5 No eye pitied you, to do any of these things to you out of compassion for you, but you were cast out on the open field, for you were abhorred, on the day that you were born.  ‎6 “And when I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’  ‎7 I made you flourish like a plant of the field. And you grew up and became tall and arrived at full adornment. Your breasts were formed, and your hair had grown; yet you were naked and bare.  ‎8 “When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became mine.

 That’s God’s perspective, what’s yours?  When you think of your love life with God, how would you categorize it?  Is He the lover of your soul?  Are you his bride?  Or do you find yourself playing the harlot sneaking away from him every chance you get.  Take a few moments to really identify where you are, and staying true to the movie, we will pick up our conversation next time.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Women to Women’s Discovering God Ministry invites you out to another “Girls Night Out ” this months movie is The Time Traveler’s Wife…Come and journey with Clare as she struggles through fragments of time and seasons of loneliness, but she understands the power of endless love… so bring your tissue and your favorite dish and join us Fri. Aug. 19th at 7pm

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