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Weeds In My Garden

I recently visited the airport to see a friend off. While he was checking in I looked out through the glass wall into a well-manicured garden. I soon recognized that there weren’t any visible weeds. This then got me to thinking, what exactly is a weed?

A quick check of the dictionary revealed several things to me – some more poignant than others. A weed is

  1. A wild plant growing where it isn’t wanted
  2. An undesirable plant in a particular situation or in the wrong place
  3. A plant that is not valued where it is growing.

 

I thought to myself that any plant can be a weed if it is growing where it is not wanted and valued. Imagine a rose growing in a tomato field. The rose doesn’t belong there it is not wanted, it is out of place. It might be beautiful to look at but it is a weed. Think about a grapevine growing in a rose garden. Getting in between the branches and the thorns… a sticky situation.

The beautiful scenery I saw caused me to reflect on my life. Are there weeds in my life? Maybe there are beautiful traits that are out of place or undesirable. Or maybe there are attractive things that are adding no value to my well-being or progress.

My wife often tells me that I am too patient. Is she right? Yes, she is. Now, don’t get me wrong, patience is a good thing but used incorrectly or in the wrong place, it becomes undesirable and like a weed. Being overly patient when you should be acting is just as bad as acting when you should be patient.

Since then I have been doing some self-evaluation. What weeds am I allowing to grow in my life? There may be good things that no longer serve a purpose for where I am heading or habits that need breaking and removal.

Whatever it is, as beautiful as the garden may be in your life anything that doesn’t fit, or doesn’t serve a purpose, or is uncultivated is a weed.

 

Bless

Pulpit of Embarrassment

 

As I sit here to write this I struggle to even piece the thoughts together. Should I be totally open? Should I polish it? Should I be tactful? I think openness is healthy, so I will let you all into my world.

One of the most painful experiences I have ever had was seeing the congregation of my church walking out on me as my band and I tried to engage with them at the end of a Sunday service. Was I preaching heresy? No. Was I doing some ungodly act? No. Was I being disrespectful to the pastor or members? No. My “sin” was presenting some original works, promoting my concert, and asking for support. In five minutes, the congregation went from approximately 500 people to about 15. Needless to say, I was totally embarrassed as I stood standing asking for their attention, asking for silence so I could make the announcement and do a few songs. Like in the parable of the sower and the seed, my plea fell on stony ground and the birds gladly swooped it up.

I learned quite a few lessons that day. Here are some of them.

Core support is never in the masses:

Having lots of people around you and cheering you on feels good. However, when the next trend or hip thing comes along, the masses will be gone in five minutes or less. The 15 people that remain are the ones that will support you in the good times and in the bad times. Whether you’re hip or unknown, look for the 15 people and keep going. Ask Gideon, heading off to battle the Midianites with 20 00 men, he followed God’s directive and reduced his army to 300 hundred. Guess what? He won.

Even at church, not everyone around you is for you:

Some will smile, maybe even compliment you, but they may not be for you. After that experience I asked God for discernment; in my naivety, I once thought every member of my congregation was “for me”. Well, the reality of life is different. Some will do things to malign your name as well as undermine your work and credibility. I have not and endeavour not retaliate in kind. I keep my peace by allowing God to renew my strength. I also continue to pursue a genuine relationship with Christ, and to engage in fellowship with believers who sincerely care about me as a person and who wanted to live out God’s word daily. Not everyone that calls you ‘brother’ thinks of you as a brother.

You are stronger than you know:

It was ironic. In the face of humiliation, my bandmates questioned why my “own” would treat me that way. Yes, I felt hurt, yes I cried, my wife was upset; we both wondered, “Why?” Faithful member, worship leader, keyboardist, former choir director: Why? However, after searching myself and dealing with the pain, I found a strength I didn’t know that I had. One that allows me to smile with the Judases knowing they will eventually betray. A strength to pursue in the face of challenges. The strength to cry out to God, to praise Him – even when I didn’t feel to. I am quite a skinny guy, so my muscular strength isn’t that much, but I found out that real strength is not measured in muscles but in heart, in passion, and in mental and spiritual resilience.

 

 

 

Passion can be a lonely road:

When you’re passionate about something, it can be a long, lonely trek. Your passion will be questioned and misunderstood. Your passion will be used as the barometer and thermometer of your walk with Christ. The thing that you are passionate about, some will consider it your idol because of your discipline and dedication to learn and improve. In my case, it is music. Needing to learn and grow in an environment where many are less passionate is quite disheartening at times. My passion and drive have been and at times probably are easily misinterpreted as “you love that thing more than God”. However, as lonely as it is, only God knows my heart and commitment to him. He will reward in due time.

 

So there you have it, a few things I learned from that experience, as painful as it was. I believe, and I am convinced, I have come out better. God indeed does work all things out for your good.

 

Bless

Testicular Fortitude

Testicular Fortitude

 

 

Father’s Day… a difficult time for many, a special time for some to celebrate and a nightmare for others.

I wonder, perhaps you do too, why it “appears” that Father’s day has less pomp and ceremony than Mother’s Day. I am not sure if it was always this way or…it’s just something that developed over time. Whatever the reason, there seems to be less attention paid to it as a commercial event.

My story may, or may not be similar to yours. I grew up with an abusive father. I saw and experienced abuse in my family of seven until my parents divorced when I was about 10 years old. It was interesting that I did learn to respect and honour my father regardless. My mother ensured that we understood the importance of honouring our father.

 

I learnt quite a bit from my father too, things I still try to emulate. The importance of being early; as far as I can remember my father was seldom late, He was a fireman, and I guess as a fireman the importance of one second was crucial to life or death. I remember shiny clean shoes – to this day I still use traditional polish, brush, cloth and wax, a learned art. Cooking; my father is a sweet hand man. His fish broth is to die for and he makes a wicked ginger-beer. Unknown to most, my father is actually a pretty good singer. Maybe someday he and I would share a stage.

 

Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on perspective), I learned how not to treat a woman, I learned how not to be unfaithful. I learned how not to give up on your dreams and passions. You see, by observing the way he treated my mother, I decided that I did not want to be remembered that way, that I did not want to model that for my son and daughters. My father wanted to be a medical doctor, a dream he gave up on due to the circumstances of his family. I endeavoured not to give up on my dreams.

Isn’t it ironic that probably the most sensitive and potentially crippling part of a man’s anatomy is also used to describe his strength? We are often asked, “Do you have the Testicular Fortitude?” Fortitude to make decisions, to go against the tide. Men, let’s be honest: many of us have dropped the ball (lol, did you see that?), and shown that we don’t have testicles at all when it comes to fathering. We take the easy way out, we follow the negative narrative that many of us experienced and just go with the flow. Yet, out of these same testicles is part of another generation yearning for some direction.

 

Well, I decided to engineer a change in the narrative when I read David’s deathbed charge to his son Solomon. The real measure of testicular fortitude in 1 Kings. “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go” 1 Kings 2:2-3 NIV

 

Do we really have the testicular fortitude? Or do we just know how to use our testicles?

We can change the narrative. Maybe Father’s day would be a greater celebration if we fathers apologised to our sons and daughters, let them know that we too may be struggling because our testicles have been damaged, and we have lost some fortitude. It is never too broken to mend, even the most sensitive parts can be healed. To borrow the now famous catch phrase from the former POTUS. Yes we can! Show testicular fortitude, Yes we can! Engineer and new generation, Yes we can! Heal the broken ones, Yes we can! Celebrate Father’s Day.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Father’s

Bless

Who?

Who told you black was ugly?

Who Taught you to fear your skin?

Without black we cannot see the stars.

Without black where would red, green, white and yellow begin?

I know it wasn’t God! because from your beauty all life would begin.

Because from your beauty all life would begin.

 

Who told you that hair could be nappy?

Who told you kinks were dirty?

Who told you fros were wrong and should be frowned upon

I know it wasn’t God!

For he gave you your hair as a crown.

 

Who told you, you were uncivilised?

Who told you, you couldn’t speak?

Who told you, you were illiterate, when for centuries you could already read?

Who told you your language was gibberish?

Who told you to change your name?

I know it wasn’t God!

Because he knows and called you by name

 

Who told you your drum was evil?

Who told you your rhythm was demonic?

Who told you to stop playing it?

And to play their rhythm…their music?

Who told you your music was dirty?

Who told you stop that song?

I know it wasn’t God?

He’s the author of music. he created it all.

 

Who told you your dance was unholy?

Who told you not to move your waist?

Who told you, you are a sex symbol,

Good for nothing except a nightly fling?

Who told you to stop dancing and taught you their dance instead?

I know it wasn’t God!

Diversity in praise is his plan.

 

Whoever told you is a liar!

Whoever told you is a thief!

Whoever told you wants to steal, kill and destroy!

Take away what God created you to be.

Whoever wants to rule you!

Whoever told you doesn’t care!

Whoever told you, is ignorant to the fact that God looked at you and said…

“It is very good”

 

Break free of the shackles

Free your mind of the chains

Let God’s image be seen in your blackness

His beauty…His creation…His and only…His

 

 

©2016

Stephen John

Published S2J2 Publishings