Everyday Yana Jenay

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Confession:

I’m Triflin’

One of my least favorite sounds is the one that greets me every morning to let me know it is time to get up. Yep, you guessed it! It’s my alarm clock. Even though I’m usually awake before it goes off, I still groan and hit the snooze button before it gets too loud.

Unfortunately, my spiritual life has been like this lately. My spiritual alarm system goes off to say, “Yana Jenay, It’s time to wake up and start acting like a person who actually knows Jesus,” only for me to hit snooze before conviction gets too loud. The groans of my heart sound like,

Ughhh, I’ll have a conversation with the Lord about that later…

Ughhh, I don’t feel like thinking all deep about sin right now…

Ughhh, Can I just be great?

Yep, I’m triflin’! Just trrrriiiifffliiin… Because, here’s the thing, on some level, I knew I was wrong. I knew conviction was coming. I knew at some point, the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of me, would come for me. At some point, He wouldn’t continue to give me “just five more minutes. Instead, He would call out to me...

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead...” (Ephesians 5:13).

And though I was initially unresponsive to His call, I’m so thankful He persisted in convicting me.

Conviction. It is the Lord’s grace to me. It is the Lord’s grace to you. It is His way of not delivering us over to our sinful desires and instead calling us home. It is His way of ensuring we are not held captive by lies and habits that never truly satisfy. It is He way of redirecting us to the One who holds all the wonders of life in His hands and delights in satisfying all who come to Him. Conviction. It is good.

Father, forgive me putting off confession and repentance in the spirit of wanting to “live my best life”…

Father, forgive me for using mental fatigue as an excuse to put off a conversation about the vitality of my soul…

Father, forgive me for failing to believe, “You are my Lord; I have nothing good apart from You” (Psalm 16:2)...

AND

Father, thank You that Your love never fails, never runs out, and  never gives up on me. You, like, really love me!

Holy Spirit, thank You for living inside of me and continuously calling me back to what is good!

Christ, thank You for so many things, but in this particular moment, thank You for this truth…

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens — Jesus the Son of God — let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrew 4:14-16).

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New Year Feels

Oh for grace to trust him more….

It’s a new year, and I am ANXIOUS! As soon as 2019 rolled in, anxiety began to creep into my skin and my right eye began to twitch. I was so surprised by this rapid onset of feels. What was there to fear? God, who has always been good to me, had done way more than I asked in 2018. I prayed that God would give me three speaking opportunities. He provided eight! I prayed He would help me move past self-doubt to make significant strides in writing. One writing class and a whole lotta encouragement later, I have a website with a blog series that lived in my mind for years. He even went above and beyond that by allowing my writing to be featured on another blog! One article, The Half-Education of Jay-Z,  came in at #4 on their Editor’s Favorite Articles of 2018 while another, Questioning the Self-Care Movement, rounded out their 10 Most Read Articles of 2018! You see what I’m saying? God has been incredibly kind! And trust me, it’s God! So, why am I so anxious?

I’m anxious because I sense God inviting me to trust Him for more this year…

I’m anxious because this “more” seems to be out of my reach…

I’m anxious because 2018 was so good. Could 2019 possibly be better? Will it be worse?

Can God continue to do what I consider to be impossible through a busy, weak, and undisciplined me? I have a colossal habit of dreaming big, starting well, and not finishing. Was 2018 just a matter of me dreaming big and starting well? Will 2019 be a matter of me not finishing?

Oh for grace to trust Him more…

Oh for grace to trust Him more!

This simple refrain has carried me through these first few weeks of the new year. And though I don’t possess the answers to my questions, I do possess a relationship with a God who will meet me with His all-sufficient grace in every moment the new year brings.

For many Christians, we tend to primarily think of grace as God’s undeserved kindness for salvation. However, there is a secondary meaning of grace that is just as glorious. Grace is also God’s undeserved power to fulfill our God-given calling.

A few years ago, a friend asked me, “Yana, what do you fear the most?”. Before I could even fully consider the question, my lips parted to say, “I fear not being everything God created me to be.” I don’t think I fully understood what I was saying or even had an immense amount of clarity on what I sensed God created me to be. As a matter of fact, I know I didn’t. I just knew I didn’t want to miss it. I didn’t want to fall short.

Now that I have more clarity on who my Creator has made me to be, I want nothing more than to bring Him glory. I want to steward my life, my story, and His gifts with a great deal of intentionally and freedom. However, this desire gets choked out  when I focus solely on what I bring to the table.

I bring a track record of inconsistency.

I bring paralyzing feelings of self-doubt.

I bring weakness.

I bring pride.

It is only when I remember what God brings to the table that I am able to move forward.

He brings a track record of consistently fulfilling His work through broken and inconsistent people.

He brings a confidence in Him that every doubtful heart can trust.

He brings  grace that will empower His people to fulfill the good works He prepared ahead of time for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

Beloved, our all-knowing and wise God has provided grace that not only saves us, but also gives us the ability to be who He made us to be and do what He called us to do. He knows we can’t fulfill His calling on our own. Therefore, He offers His grace. And, this grace abounds. It is our daily bread for life and godliness, empowering us to “say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:12). It is the power by which we are strengthen to fulfill His calling.

Oh for grace to trust Him more!

May this be my daily refrain.


The Miseducation Series


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The Miseducation of James Fortune:

"I Forgive Me"

They say all good things must come to an end. And here we are at the end of The Miseducation of Music Series. I really can’t believe I've kept up with this blog for 3 months! Thanks to those of you that left a comment, clicked the like button, or even texted me personally to say, “Guuurrrrlll, I’m feelin’ this blog thing you doing.” It means a lot.  

I hope you have not only enjoyed this series, but that it has also caused you to think deeply about the messages we interact with daily through song and other forms of media. I pray we all get better at determining whether or not something that sounds good is actually good. That’s really what’s at the heart of this series and this blog. My goal is to tell the story of the triune God in such a way that causes people to reject false narratives.

False narratives like this one - "Forgive yourself." This one gets under my skin and though it doesn’t cause me to roll my eyes, I does cause me to use this emoji, 🤦🏾‍♀️, a 💯times over.

After his personal indiscretions were exposed publicly, James Fortune wrote an album to himself called “Dear Future Me." One of the first singles to hit the radio from this album was an emotional ballet, "I Forgive Me." You can literally feel the anguish of a person haunted by their guilt and shame as the choir shouts out, “I Forgive Me!”

Though the verses of this song are filled with the truths of the gospel, the chorus deviates from how Scripture teaches us to address our guilt and shame. In Scripture, we never read of a man or a woman seeking to forgive themselves. Instead, in Scripture we find the stories of men and women crying out to a holy God for forgiveness.

So, where does this idea of forgiving oneself come from?

In the times that I have failed (like really really screwed up), I literally have a physical response. Guilt builds up in my throat. My whole body begins to feel heavy. I avoid looking at people as a way to hide shame within my eyes. When feelings of guilt and shame overwhelm my soul in this way, they also begin to construct an identity for me that tells me…

“Yana, you’re no good.”

“You’ll never get it together.”

“All you do is bring everybody down.”

“Nobody like fo’real fo’real likes you.”

Yeah, guilt and shame are mean. They’re like the evil sisters in Cinderella. They’ll have you believing all kinds of things that aren't true about yourself. And I think because on some level we know the identity these evil sisters construct for us is untrue, we start to recognize that the way we view of ourselves is the problem. However, this epiphany can lead a person to the unbiblical conclusion that they just need to forgive themselves.

Beloved, the remedy to our guilt and shame is not to enter into the process of forgiving ourselves. The remedy to our guilt and shame is to agree with God’s declaration over us.

Scripture teaches us that God is the judge concerning sin and that all who seek refuge in His Son’s work on the cross will be declared righteous by Him. When we enter into a process of trying to forgive ourselves, we are removing God from His place as judge and putting ourselves there. But homie, you’re a harsher judge! Lay down this trick of false humility of trying to forgive yourself. Instead, accept God’s declaration over you as being made right with Him through Christ. Agree with Him. For who can stand against God’s declaration? Who can protest His Word? Not Satan. And friend, not even you.

Near the end of this song, Fortune echoes this  sentiment by calling his listeners out of their guilt and shame on the bases that God has already forgiven them. The task for us then is to live as those who have been forgiven. We'll pick up here next time as we start a new series called "Living" with a picture that helped me to grasp what "Living Forgiven" looks like.

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Just One More thing on LOVEHAPPY


Before we move on to the final song of this series, I feel compelled to share just one more thing on HAPPYLOVE. Beating a dead horse? Maybe! But, let’s just call it an interlude.

As I shared last time, the chorus of LOVEHAPPY caused me to reflect on God’s love and forgiveness. It also caused me to evaluate my ability to extend this same love and forgiveness to others.

Saturday, July 7th, marked the four year anniversary of my biological father’s death. Now, I don’t say biological to give you the impression that I don’t claim him. I do. I love Troy Conner dearly, but boy, “did he do some things to me.” I won’t divulge into all the details, but in short, his presence in my life was inconsistent and when he was present, he was often drunk.

My dad struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. And as you can imagine, this severely crippled his ability to be the father I needed and wanted him to be. It wasn’t until I was about 26 years old that my father finally gained freedom from this debilitating habit. When he did, he came calling. And yo, did this dude call! A LOT! Though I had always longed for the attention and pursuit of my father, I wasn’t ready. I mean, in my mind, I was like…

“I’m 26, I don’t need no daddy no more. I’m grown. 
Plus, I’ve like already been to counseling to deal with ALL of my daddy wounds. 🙄 
I’m good. 
Moving forward. 
Chapter closed. ”

Bruh, was I so naïve, so childish, all kinds of low key petty, and definitely still significantly hurt.

And though I would’ve considered myself to be spiritually mature, it was clear I wasn’t mature enough to extend to my remorseful father a LOVE that was deeper than his pain.

I wasn’t able to look beyond my expectations of what a father should be and see his humanity, his brokenness, or his need for God to intervene in his life and heal him.

Anger and bitterness was deeply rooted in my heart. So much so, that I didn’t pray for him. I never prayed for my father to be delivered from alcoholism.

My pain blinded me from his.

Though I don’t know all the reasons why my dad clung so closely to the bottle, it was clear that he was trying to numb his pain. What I understand now is that his absence had nothing to do with whether or not I was pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, or any other kind of enough. I wish I knew at 26, what I know now because when my dad came calling and asking for forgiveness, I offered him a mean stiff arm.

Beloved, have you ever been so filled with anger and bitterness towards someone? Are you currently withholding forgiveness from someone who has remorsefully asked for it? If so, may I offer three suggestions that might help you move towards forgiveness?

(1) Consider how it’s not about you. I know you’re hurt. And, I imagine, rightly so. However, here’s the thing about pain, it can make you extremely self-centered. Think about it. When any part of your body is severely hurt, usually all you can think about is the pain. It’s all you feel. Forgiveness often requires a measure of self-forgetfulness. It requires being able to look up and out of your pain to see the humanity and brokenness of the other person. This will likely help you to cultivate a posture of compassion towards them, which leads me to my next point...

(2) Choose Christ-like compassion. When I remember that the person who hurt me was born into sin just like me, it helps me to extend compassion towards them. Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 18 of a man who owed his master a debt that he couldn’t pay back. This man fell on his face, begged his master to not put him in jail, and promised to pay back everything he owed. The master had compassion on his servant. So much so, that forgave his debt. However, the next thing this joka does is go out looking for a fellow servant that owes him a lesser debt. And when he finds this fellow servant, he hems him up in a corner and chokes him! He fails to extend the same kind of compassion that his master extended to him.

I remember the first time I truly saw the meaning of this passage. After initially being judgemental of the servant, the Holy Spirit convicted me by showing me a picture of my dad hemmed up in a corner with my hands around his neck. (Yeah, true story. It's an ugly picture.)

Then the Lord brought my attention to the words, “fellow servant.” My dad was made of the same stuff as me. Sin. He was broken just as I am broken. And just as I need compassion, so did he. When I was able to see I wasn’t quite that different from my dad and reflect on the mercy God has had on me, the anger and bitterness in my heart began to melt. How could I not extend compassion towards him?

(3) Reflect on God’s love for you. One of my favorite passages of scripture is Psalm 103. In verses 8-10, David reminds himself of the gracious character of God. 

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and rich in faithful love,
He will not always accuse us
Or be angry forever.
He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve
Or repaid us according to our offenses.

One morning, reflecting on these words led to a self evaluation.

Yana, you can be kinda quick to anger.
As a matter of fact, you stay holding grudges.
You often deal with people according to what you believe their sins deserve.
And although it’s subtle, you definitely repay people back according to their offense.

OOOOUCCCCH! But, it was true...it is true. I struggle to forgive. It’s not my jam. However, when I reflect on God’s love and forgiveness, not only does it convict me but it also inspires me. For years, I tried to “just forgive” my father because it was commanded in Scripture. But, it was through reflecting on God’s love for me that helped me to forgive my father and pursue reconciliation.

Now, these three things may seem like an oversimplification. And in some cases, it might be. For those whose story is marked by abuse and significant pain, your process towards forgiveness may be more nuanced. And if you have not honestly dealt with your pain, I would suggest starting there, with your pain. Cry out to God. Don’t try to rush your way to forgiveness. Forgiveness is hard! You’re in process.

I’m thankful to say that just two months before my dad passed, we were able to reconcile. It took a few key sermons, a whole lotta counseling, and the help of a few trusted friends to get me there. However, Iet me keep it all the way 💯 with you, I still struggle with forgiveness. I constantly have to go back to these three things and more when someone hurts me. Just like you, I’m in process. Yet, I’m trusting that He who began this sanctifying work in me, will indeed conform me into the image of our compassionate and forgiving Christ. I'm also certain He will do it for you.

A helpful resource on forgiveness: Forgiveness:Breaking the Power of the Past by Kay Authur 

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The Education of Beyonce: LOVEHAPPY

 

 


I’m pretty sure I squealed when I found out that Beyoncé and Jay-Z dropped a new album. I had no idea how I planned on spending my Friday afternoon, but within moments I had curled up on the couch and pushed play.

Initially, I found the album to be confusing. It was a completely new sound. My ears struggled to take it in and I wasn’t really sure if I liked it. However, as I continued to listen to the album over the next few days, I found myself laughing out loud at Beyoncé’s candid ratchetness, thinking deeply about their views on the importance of Black Wealth, and in awe of how far they have come. The sound also came to grow on me as I realized that sonically it was an expression of The Carters' oneness. Their two sounds had become one.

I’m so proud of them! (Which is weird to say since I don’t know them, but hey, I am!) This album is not only a celebration of their love for one another, but it’s also the celebration of being on the other side of betrayal and many hurt feelings.

Now, I’ve been singing along with Beyoncé since the runs of “Say My Name” and though I’m not one to go around rallying all my ladies to get in formation, I’m a fan. I admire her ability to be both strong and vulnerable about her relationship with Jay-Z in her music. We can find the whole history of their love story in her discography.

They started flirting in “Crazy in Love”

Then his love was on top so she let him “Put a Ring On It.”.

That led to them being “Drunk in Love” and happily married with children.

Then Jay gave Bey some of the sourest of lemons and she made “Lemonade”.

The whole story is there.

In this new album, “EVERYTHING IS LOVE,” Beyoncé continues to keep it 💯and gives us an education on the kind of love that is required to forgive and recommit to someone who has hurt you deeply.

In the last song on their album, LOVEHAPPY, Bey and Jay give us a final recap of their complicated love story and share their commitment to move forward.

Jay-Z speaks of the lengths he has gone to regain Beyoncé’s trust.

They remarried…

Jay:
He went to Jared’s
I went Ja out in Pari
 
Bey:
You screwed up the first stone
So we had to get remarried

They moved...

Jay:
Y’all know how I met her
We broke up and got back together
To get her back
I had to sweat her
Y’all can make up with a bag
I had to change the weather
Moved the family west
But it’s whatever

They changed their lifestyle…

Jay:
No more clubs and Cali curfews
 
Bey:
Just private affairs and tighter circles

Jay is doing what is necessary to prove his commitment to his family. He is killing the arrogant, approval seeking, and tough guy persona and making grown man moves to keep his family together. And, I’m pretty sure this has a lot to do with Beyoncé’s resolve to love Jay-Z.

In the chorus, Beyoncé keeps coming back to this refrain...

You did some things to me
Boy, you do some things to me
But love is deeper than your pain
And I believe you can change
Baby, the up and downs are worth it
Long way to go, but we’re working
We’re flawed, we’re still perfect for each other

"But love is deeper than your pain" Like, WOW!

This line literally stopped me in my tracks as I was brushing my teeth one morning. Jay-Z has royally screwed up, but instead of tossing him to the curb, Beyonce is able to look beyond his indiscretions on the surface and see his pain. She understands that the root of his poor choices is the pain that lies beneath. This is highly mature! Extremely loving! And yeah, it reminds me of Christ...

I was drunk and at a house party where porn was playing in the background when Jesus first made me aware of my need for Him. I was at that party seeking to escape the pain of loneliness and my parent’s divorce. On the surface was drunkenness and lust, but beneath all of it was pain I was unable to heal. I am so glad that though God saw my sin, He was also able to look beyond my senseless indiscretions and see my pain! He lifted my life out of the pit I had made for myself and made me His own! He was and is so compassionate and loving toward us!

For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.  And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-10)

Beloved, Praise God! Though we royally sin against Him and are deserving of His wrath, He has withheld His wrath from us and poured it out on Christ so that we might be reconciled to Him. Why? Yeah, because He loved us, but even more so because He saw our helpless state. As the seasoned saints would belt out during Tuesday night prayer, “He looked beyond all our faults and saw our need!” Or, as David would say, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust! (Psalm 103:13-14)

We have been loved with a love that is full of compassion and that endures ‘til the end! And, though I am “fan-girling” over the love story of Jay and Bey, their art has led me to worship the One who has displayed an even greater work of love through the Lord Jesus Christ. HIS LOVE IS EVERYTHING! And, it makes me more than HAPPY to know that we have a Savior who addresses not only our sin, but also our pain with His LOVE.

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The Half Education of Jay-Z: Kill Jay-Z


When I first heard "4:44," I was like, “Yes! Jay-Z is back! Finally!!!” From the first track ’til the last, I was captivated by his no-nonsense humor and honest self-reflection.

Jay-Z opens up his album with a song called, "Kill Jay-Z." It’s like he knows that before he can get into the album, he has to address his infidelity to the incomparable Queen B, Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter.

So, after a long period of silence, Jay-Z speaks. However, his words aren’t addressed to us or even to Beyonce. Instead, he addresses his own soul and calls himself to die.

He calls himself to die to his need for approval…

Kill Jay Z, They’ll never love you
You’ll never be enough, let’s just keep it real, Jay-Z

He calls himself to die to self-preservation, aka “his tough guy armor”...

You had no father, you had the armor
But you gotta daughter, gotta get softer
Die, Jay-Z

He calls himself to die to the “ugh” of his soul that led to his infidelity…

You almost went Eric Benet
Let the baddest girl in the world get away
I don’t even know what to say
(Homie), never go Eric Benet*

In the end, he concludes...

Nah, Jay-Z
Bye, Jay-Z

By the end of this song, Jay-Z had me all in my feelings considering my own brokenness and the ways I, too, need to die to the approval of others, self-preservation, and the “ugh” of my soul that causes me to act out and seek comfort in old habits.

I love this song. It’s a human song. It’s a song about brokenness.

However, it kind of leaves you hanging. It’s a half-education. Though Jay-Z models for us how to confess one’s shortcomings, he fails to leave us with a pathway towards change. Kill Jay-Z is a confession devoid of hope for change, a half-education.

After his indiscretions with Bathsheba that lead to an unexpected pregnancy and murdering Bathsheba's husband to cover up his actions, King David wrote a similar song, Psalms 51. However, his words were not addressed to himself, his words were addressed to God.  While Jay-Z had a “man in the mirror” moment, David had a “come to Jesus” moment. And though we, like Jay-Z, need to do the heavy lifting of honest self-evaluation, David models the posture we should take after looking so deeply into the mirror.

David appeals to God for forgiveness and cleansing from his sin on the basis of God's character...

Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love;
According to your abundant compassion,
Blot out my rebellion.
Completely wash away my guilt
And cleanse me from my sin. (Ps. 51:1-2)

David makes God the sole judge over his life...

Against you – you alone – I have sinned
and done evil in your sight.
So you are right when you pass sentence;
You are blameless when you judge. (Ps. 51:4)

David asks for a new heart...

God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Ps. 51:10)

David is confident in God’s grace towards humble and broken people...

The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.
You will not despise a broken and humble heart, God. (Ps 51:17)

Now, to be real, this post has been real difficult for me. I mean, you might of noticed that two Monday’s have past since my last post, but I’m thankful. The delay has been for my good.

When I selected this song to be apart of the Miseducation of Music series, I was very critical of Jay-Z. But as I worked on this piece, I discovered that I am Jay-Z.  When I sin, I have a pattern of being more disappointed and frustrated in myself for falling short of my own expectations, instead of falling short before the Lord, who has loved me with an everlasting love. I have a tendency to set myself up as the judge.

Yana, you know better. Stop seeking the approval of others.

Yana, you gotta stop taking your frustrations out on defenseless strangers.

Yana, you’re identity is supposed to be in Christ. Duuuhhhh. 🙄

But, God is the judge. And, praise God, He ain’t me! He’s a gracious judge who doesn’t meet me with condemnation, but with faithful love, compassion, and help. Though He calls me to die to myself, He doesn’t stop there. He forgives. He cleanses. He gives a new heart to those who are honest and broken before Him. He provides us with hope for real life change.

So beloved, don’t go staring too long in the mirror examining your imperfections before lifting your eyes to the One who desire to meet you with compassion, relentless love, and help.


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The Miseducation of Sir The Baptist:Heaven


So, I have a question...

How does a song with universalistic lyrics get played regularly on a gospel station? 

A year ago, Sir The Baptist released his debut album, Saint or Sinner. With each song, he pays homage to his churched upbringing with the sounds of an organ and a choir. One of the most popular singles on the album is a track called Heaven. And yo, this joint goes hard! When I first heard it, I put my whole stank face on and “milly rocked” it out in the car. Like, “Yeah, we going to heeeaaa-ven!” 

But, as I continued to listen, my stank face faded. I could no longer join in on Sir The Baptist’s jubilant chorus once I realized we had different views about heaven. 

In this song, Sir The Baptist creatively and, dare I say, masterfully asserts his universalistic theological position by listing off how some of our favorite artists and athletes who have passed away are currently enjoying heaven. Tupac. Aaliyah. Muhammed Ali. Whitney. Nate Dogg. Prince. The song then crescendos into this classic gospel hymn...

When all God’s children get to heaven, 
Oh what a day of rejoicing that will be…

Now, without critiquing Sir The Baptist’s view or trying to use our finite minds to determine whether or not this list of earthly greats made it to heaven or not, let’s get back to my original question...

How does a song with universalistic lyrics get played regularly on a gospel station? 

Sometimes before playing this song or other songs with a little bounce in them, the radio station reminds its listeners of its mission statement to "bridge the gap between the streets and the church.” As someone who has a great appreciation for crafty lyrics laid over a dope beat, I’m totally here for it.  

However, given the conflict of interest that lies at the intersection of this song and the gospel station's mission, I'm not here for it.

Universalism teaches that all roads lead to God.
 
The gospel teaches that one road leads to God. 
 
Universalism asserts that you are your own bridge to God.
 
The gospel asserts that Jesus is the bridge to God.
 
Sir The Baptist’s heaven is about entering into an utopia that he equates with a good high.
The gospel’s heaven is about entering into the presence of a holy and benevolent God who transcends the highest of pleasures that could be experienced in this life.

Sir The Baptist’s heaven and the gospel’s heaven don’t match. Beloved, this isn’t our story. This isn’t our song. A song that carries a gospel sound with gospel-ish words, but doesn’t carry the gospel message, isn’t a gospel song. 

As more and more artists take on the sound and language of gospel music, it’s imperative that we listen well to identify the counterfeits.  

Because unfortunately, in failing to do this and continuously playing this song, this gospel station not only misses the mark of its mission to “bridge the gap between the streets and the church”, but it also makes the bridge into the family of God (aka Jesus) harder to find. 


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The Miseducation of Chaka KhaN::

I'm Every Woman


In 1978, Chaka Khan released her debut solo, I’m Every Woman, and boy, did this song and her voice make a bold impression. Since then, it has been covered by great voices like Whitney Houston, the incomparable Aretha Franklin and the always interesting Taylor Swift.

For years, this song has served as an anthem for women. If you turn this track on in any space where women are gathered, you'll see arms begin to rhythmically float towards the sky and legs strut with a little extra dose of confidence. It'll be sung out loud as a song of great liberation and an albeit newfound assurance that, as women, we can be whatever any moment or person would require of us.

However, have you ever listened closely to it's lyric?

Whatever you want

Whatever you need

Anything you want done, baby,

I do it naturally

‘Cause I’m every woman

It’s all in me

Later, she will go on to proclaim that she is not only able to read her significant other’s thoughts and anticipate his every need, but also anytime he feels like he is danger, she will appear within an instant.

She promises to be his all-knowing, all-sufficient, and ever-present refuge and help.

Say what, Chaka?

You’ll do this naturally, you say?

Now, I know the sentiment of these lyrics is intended express to her love interest that he doesn’t need to look to another woman for the love he is longing for, but Chaka is lying. And she is putting herself under a lot of pressure by making promises she is unable to keep. She can’t be everything he needs and if she tries, she wouldn’t do it naturally.

Naturally she is insufficient.

Naturally her knowledge is limited.

Naturally she needs an ever-present refuge and help as much as he does.

This is truly a miseducation of humanity and its implications are grave.

As women, some of us have the propensity to people please, bit off more than we can chew, and/or strive for perfection. We do this in every sphere of life. Relationships. Work. Physical Appearance. Forever striving to not only be enough, but to be more than enough. (P.S. Men do this, too. #superman)

However, there is only One who is more than enough.

There was another song written in 1978. It's a little hymn called He is More Than Enough. Growing up, I would hear saints at San Francisco Temple Complex C.O.G.I.C sing this truthful refrain during Tuesday night prayer service:

He is more than enough

More than enough

He is El Shaddai (God Almighty)

He is the God of Plenty

The All Sufficient One

God Almighty

He is more than enough

Beloved, there is only One that can make the kind of promises that Chaka Khan makes in this song.

Let’s stop fooling ourselves and others by trying to live up to Khan’s refrain. Instead, let's find comfort in the fact that we have access to the all-sufficient, all-knowing God who promises to be our ever-present refuge and help. 


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I Said I'd Never Start a Blog...


I remember where I was when I said it. 

I was standing in between the kitchen and the hallway of my best friend’s home. 

“I’ll never start a blog!”

I said it with such clarity and authority that my homie didn’t say a word in response. 

However, looking back on it, I think that was her wise way of silently saying, “I’ll give it some time. She’ll come around.”

Well, some time has passed and here I am “coming around” and starting a blog. 

But! ☝🏾

Before I (we) jump into it, I feel the need to share with you three reasons why I was so adamant about not starting a blog and the one reason why I finally am.

WHY NAH...

(1) A LOT OF WOMEN BLOG. Like a lot. Probs too many. And though I’m not interested in being yet another blogger taking up space on the internet, I'm also not interested in participating in a trend that may be reflective of a very disappointing reality. Think about it - Have you ever wondered why so many women are blogging? Yes, we are dope communicators. Yes, we are creatives that have something significant to say. But, I wonder if many women have flocked to blogging because they feel unheard. Unheard on their jobs. Unheard in their churches. Maybe even in their homes. They need an outlet. If this is true, then I fear the spaces where these unheard women live are suffering.  And, I’m not interested in encouraging this trend as the normative way that women assert their voices. 

(2) WHO CARES WHAT I HAVE TO SAY? It’s very rare that I’ll take a selfie. If that’s your thing, please continue to bless the gram with your beautiful face. However, for me, posting selfies is an outworking of my desire to be seen, admired, and desired. I fear, for me, that starting a blog could function like a selfie, just one of words. 

(3) SELF-DOUBT. This year a therapist informed me that I suffered from a condition called self-doubt. Yeah, it’s a condition. A paralyzing one. It's not quite like low self-esteem, which is mostly rooted in comparison and the perceptions of others. Instead, self-doubt is rooted in an inability to see and accept what’s actually true of you. For years, dear friends of mine have encouraged me to write. And, even though I be busting A’s on my seminary papers, I still struggle to think that I’m good enough to call myself a writer.  

WHY NOW…

STEWARDSHIP. Often times, when I’m in my car, I get these ideas. Maybe a song on the radio sparks it, a conversation I had with a friend earlier that week (that I’m processing for the 15th time), or something interesting I overheard in a coffee shop. Wherever they come from, they just come. Do you know what I say when they come? I say, “Man, that would make a good blog post, somebody should write about that.” Then one day, while I was in my car listening to Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman, an idea sparked. Before I could think the words “somebody should…”, the Holy Spirit interjected and asked, “When are you going to steward these ideas?” 

 

For me, this is a matter of stewardship. A stewardship of ideas and thoughts that are often stirred within the confines of my two door Honda Civic, Pearl. So, here I am starting a blog. I hope that you will join me for the ride. Next week, we will begin with the song that set this all in motion.