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“Stupid is as Stupid Does!”

Lou Coleman

Lou Coleman

By Lou Coleman

“Mama always said, “Stupid is as stupid does” – Forrest Gump

 

I tell you, too many of us “Believers” get stuck on stupid. We can be orthodox, faithful in our church attendance, givers, read our Bibles, pray regularly and still be stuck on stupid. Jonah was. In the beginning Jonah was stuck on stupid and he hadn’t learned a thing. And if we continue to keep repeating the same stupid sin, then we too are stuck on stupid.  Yes, the truth cuts, but truth never fears scrutiny.

 

The problem with most of us is that we have an arrested theological development. We go back to the way we always thought and don’t want to be shaken. But as Forrest’s sergeant asked in the movie, “What’s the matter with you? Are you stupid or something?” And just like Forrest, we stand at attention and bark, “Stupid is as stupid does, sir!”

Where am I going with this? Actions speak louder than words. Christian is as Christian does, faith is as faith does, and love is as love does. My friend, if you are still repeating the same sin that you did five years ago; ten years ago or even twenty years ago, and if you’re not growing; if you’re not even baby-stepping spiritually, then you’re probably stuck on stupid. The good news is that you don’t have to stay there. You can grow. You can change… starting today! As the writer of Hebrews challenged, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1). God wants all of us to keep growing in grace until He graduates us and takes us home.

You know there is a huge difference between knowing the truth and living the truth. All the things that Jonah said while he was inside the fish were all things that he knew to be true before he set foot on the boat. But even though he knew it, he didn’t live it. Even though he knew all that about God, it still didn’t stop him from running away from God. I tell you at that point we can be a lot like Jonah. We can know the truth about what God has done for us in Jesus, but that doesn’t mean we always live it out. We can know that we have been saved from our sin, but sometimes our lives don’t show it. Jonah never got it. He was stuck on stupid. He never got over his sin of prejudice. He was still bitter and angry as the book closed. He still had a high opinion of himself and he’s hung on to the petty. Jonah never learned the lesson that God was trying to teach him.  How about you? Or are you a modern day Jonah? “Stupid is as Stupid Does!”

Leadership Redux for This Generation

Hakim Hazim

Hakim Hazim

By Hakim Hazim

“The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.”

-Frederick Douglass

If we want to continue to be free from societal and self-inflicted limitations, we must return to our ancestral core psyche that enshrined faith, struggle, resilience and devotion to the cause of empowering our brothers and sisters. Those who survived the Transatlantic trip and gifted this country with their progeny were some of the most amazing people to ever walk the earth. They embraced these traits as their only hope and so should we. To be certain, we as a people have made tremendous strides. But it is curious to me that although our history has been replete with great spiritual fervor and passion, we are beginning to leave this out of our approach. Our most accomplished leader today was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He had a Gospel-oriented, political approach that implemented civil disobedience to achieve liberation for the masses of Black people. It cost him his life, and he gave it, without flinching. No man is perfect and without flaws, but I believe a flawless God chooses flawed people to carry out His will, if they are simply willing to suffer and struggle in order to fulfill His plan.

Given the current state of affairs, can any person of faith truly say this is God’s current plan for us? The incredible strides we made collectively post WWII to the Civil Rights Era slowed to a crawl only a few years afterward. Economic advancement was unleashed, but rife individualism accompanied this progress. What we need is leadership redux. Redux means to return or review a previous time and to glean from its benefits. We were a less self-centered people at one time. Driven by a great cause, we joined in and supported our leaders. The greatness of black leaders was their willingness to risk everything to move their people forward. History shows us that everything from great military campaigns to business ventures begins with risk tolerance. What separates pretenders from the valiant is risk, plain and simple. When it comes to social reform the same is true. Unfortunately, we don’t have men who will risk everything for their wives and families. We don’t have politicians who will risk their political career for the right thing or the people they represent, anymore. We don’t have godly men who will reject church opinion to comb the streets in search of the stray lamb that has little to offer the congregation. And because of this lack of leadership we can’t offer this generation what previous generations offered us. It is incumbent upon us to give them better.

We need to start fighting now and not concern ourselves with the winds of popular opinion. We must preserve the best aspects of our past and not prop up self-absorbed celebrities as the role models for our young. It’s great that many of our athletes and entertainers are making so much money, but we have to make sure their shine does not eclipse the pillars our fathers who made so much of our progress possible. We must remember those who risked being recaptured again into slavery to help others be free; those who sacrificed their lives to set things right, and those who labor still for the promise of what we can be as a people. Leadership redux is the only answer for our current state of affairs.

 

“It’s Your Thang Do Whatcha Wanna Do!”

Lou Coleman

Lou Coleman

By Lou Coleman

Nelson Mandala said,-“I Am the Master of my Fate and the Captain of my Destiny”… It’s true… The one thing in life which you have complete control over: You’re thinking!

Unfortunately, I have heard parents tell their children they were stupid and would never amount to anything. Ten years later, the child does not work, is on drugs, and is an alcoholic with a wasted life. Those words got into the heart and spirit of that child and directed that life. Everything said, came to pass!

Hear me and hear me good. If someone says to you, “You will never be successful.” “Your dreams will never come to pass” and you dwell on those words then by your own action you have given them life. Things people say about you cannot hurt you UNLESS planted, watered, and nurtured. What do I mean? You plant it by believing it. You water and fertilize it by dwelling upon it. If you do that, it will produce fruit. You must realize that YOU control your own destiny through the power of YOUR WORDS. You cannot control what people say about you, but you can control if those words take root and grow in your life. Don’t you know that WHAT YOU SAY about yourself SUPERSEDES anything that anyone says about you? You need to begin saying about yourself what God says about you. God says, “You are more than a conquer” (Roman 8:37). God says, “You can do all things” (Phil 4:13). God says, “You are the head and not the tail. (Deut. 28:13.) God sees you, “healthy and prospering” (3 John 1:2). You are an overcomer (1 John 4:4). NOTHING CAN STOP YOU! Not even the Devil (1 John 2:14). Your attitude must be, “I don’t care what anyone says about me, I am destined to win. God is on my side. He has a plan to prosper me and give me a hope and a future.” Because if you are going to live a victorious life you must think victorious and not allow negative words to take root in your heart. Refuse them and begin speaking God’s vision for you over your own life. God’s plan for your life is so much larger than you have every imagined.

Remember David? He had a dream to be king of Israel. At every turn, people were negative. His dad left him out of the selection process when Samuel came to anoint the next King. With Goliath, David’s brother Eliab was negative towards him (1 Sam 17:28), but can I tell you what David did? David just turned away and kept pursuing success (1 Sam 17:30). Your family may not understand but don’t let that stop you. People in authority may not understand. David didn’t allow that to take root either. David saw himself as God saw him – Victorious! You got to see yourself as God sees you. It doesn’t matter what people say. I have been criticized in every way you can imagine, but I refuse to allow those words to take root. I refuse to allow those seeds to be planted. I am reminded of Isaiah 54:17 that says, “No weapon formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shall condemn.” Do you hear what I’m saying to you?  We are the ones who are to condemn every tongue that accuses us.  And yes, I know that some of you have had people do nothing but push you down and tell you what you can’t do and what you will be. But I want to encourage and challenge you today. I want you to hear God saying, “You can do all things. You are destined to do great things. You are destined to sit on the throne.” God has seated you in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Break free from every trap set by negative words. Change your way of thinking and see yourself as God sees you. Refute every negative word formed against you.

King Solomon said it best: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). This is necessary for three reasons.   Your heart is extremely valuable. We don’t guard worthless things. I take my garbage to the street every Wednesday night. It is picked up on Thursday morning. It sits on the sidewalk all night, completely unguarded. Why? It is worthless. Not so with your heart. It is the essence of who you are. It is your authentic self – the core of your being. It is where all your dreams, your desires, and your passions live. It is that part of you that connects with God and other people.  If your heart is unhealthy, it has an impact on everything else. It threatens your family, your friends, and your legacy. I tell you, it is therefore, imperative that you guard it.

When Solomon says to guard your heart, he implies that you are living in a combat zone – one in which there are casualties. Many of us are oblivious to the reality of this war. We have an enemy who is bent on our destruction he not only opposes God, but he opposes everything that is aligned with Him – including us. Satan uses all kinds of weapons to attack our heart, even our on family and friends. For me, these attacks often came in the form of some circumstance that led to disappointment, discouragement, or even disillusionment. In these situations, I was tempted to quit – to walk off the field and surrender. This is why if you and I are going to succeed and survive as individuals, we must guard our hearts. It is more important than we can possibly imagine.  If we lose heart, we have lost everything. Guard your heart. Don’t limit God and don’t limit yourself. God will take you to victory after victory. You will enjoy the abundant life that God has planned for you. Now give the Lord a shout. Amen!

Now to all you “Sanctified Christian, Wholly than Thou.” You need to stop saying things that hurt, offend or are actually untrue. You need to stop engaging in unhelpful gossip, as well as using any put-downs or derogatory language. This behavior not only hurts others, but also corrupts you. You might say that sometimes things just slip out, but is that really any excuse? According to the principles of “guarding your heart”, the answer is firmly “NO!” You need to think in appropriate Heavenly Kingdom ways, so that, as a result, you can speak in helpful and God-honoring ways. Now shout unto the Lord, Yes & Amen! “It’s Your Thang Do Whatcha Wanna Do!”