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Showing posts from 2013

Missing Relatives at the Holidays

The holidays are a special time of year for many people, but it is also a difficult time.This is a special time to gather with family and friends to celebrate.It’s also a time when we miss our loved ones who have passed away.I’ve been talking about my grandma, granddad and Uncle Roger nonstop these past few weeks.I realized today that it’s probably because I miss them so much and especially this time of year.
My grandmother was not a sweet old lady.She also wasn’t Madea (however, she did have a pistol).She was one of a kind and I loved her very much.She was my ace.She was my best friend.We had special things we would do together.At Christmas time she would store all of her gifts in her closet and then that one special day, she would bring them out and I would wrap them for her.We would sit on her bed and talk for hours.She would tell me stories of her childhood and also report the latest family drama.I can smell her Salem 100’s right now.We would sit there and eat the boxes of chocolat…

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The Painful Side of Ministry

My friend Ms. Mary's* funeral is today.  When her son told me she passed away, I felt like I had been punched in my stomach.  I was shocked.  I was in disbelief.  I was in pain.  As tears began to flow down my face, I recalled all the statements we as Christians say at this hard time.  "She's in a better place now."  "...to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord."  "She's rejoicing in glory now."  "She's gone to be with Jesus."  While I know these statements are true, it still hurts to lose someone you love.  Even though they are sick, you are hoping and wishing for a miracle.  You are anticipating your loved one sharing their great testimony one day about how God healed them from cancer.  You wait, you hope and you pray.  When it doesn't happens, you remember that going to heaven is the "ultimate" healing, but you wonder why God didn't heal them here on Earth.  You wonder why your prayers weren…

What I Learned from Cancer

Cancer.  It's the word that we all fear.  The word that has caused so much hurt and pain in the United States.  I don't think there is one person who has not been touched by cancer.  In my family, we have both survivors and those who have passed away.  Even though we've had many medical advances, every time we hear the word cancer, we always assume the worst.  When we hear the word cancer, our minds go from diagnosis to death in a twinkling of an eye. 

On Friday night I was told that a sister in Christ was diagnosed with cancer.  I was told that she was extremely sick and that she couldn't walk.  My heart grew sad.  I feared the worst and I felt so sorry my my sister.  As I searched for magazines and books to take her (she loves to read), I fought back the tears.  You see, I first met Ms. Mary* at the homeless shelter.  She came to my weekly bible study class.  After she transitioned out of the shelter, she still came back for bible study.  I remember the day she told …

Why Women Hate Other Women: The Search for True Sisterhood

How many times have we heard the saying, “I have more male friends than female friends.”Or, “I really don’t deal with other women like that.”“What does she have on?”“She looked me up and down.”The truth is, many women don’t trust other women.We are envious, jealous, and downright mean to each other. But why?God has uniquely made all of us in His image.He says that all of us are fearfully and wonderfully made.So, why the drama?

It seems as though this behavior starts at an early age.We have one group of girls who have a sacred club that other girls aren’t invited to.We choose to bully, make fun of, or isolate other girls.Why?It has been my experience for no reason at all.Women tend to shun other women just because they feel the woman is prettier, smarter, and better than them in some way.I’ve also seen the flip side of that, where females are isolated because we feel the woman is not “good enough” to hang out in our crowd.
It starts at an early age and appears to continue through adultho…

Guilty as Charged: I have the tendency to be Martha and not Mary

We all have heard the story of Martha and Mary in the bible.  (Luke 10:38-42)  Martha was busy “serving” the Lord and Mary sat at the feet of Jesus to learn and commune with Him.  At some point, Martha complains to Jesus that her sister is not helping her with the work.  Jesus explains to Martha that her sister is doing the most important thing, listening to him. 
Now, for years people have been telling me to slow down because I was “doing” too much.  I admit I had the mentality, “I’ll rest when I go to heaven” or “You aren’t doing anything so don’t try to slow me down.”  On the flip side of that, I’ve had people make me feel guilty when I wanted to take much needed rest and rejuvenation.  I’ve been weary, but the need to “people please” or the feeling of disappointing God caused me to keep pushing.  The result: a tired Carmille. 
The truth is…we can’t keep pouring out if we are not being poured in to.  We can become so busy that we don’t have time to commune with the Lord.  We can fo…

Why I Care About Immigration Reform

Imagine a young girl growing up in a small town going off to college then law school.  She then takes the bar examination and becomes a licensed attorney.  She has accomplished what most people would call the American Dream; however, one thing is missing…her father.  You see, her father was deported when she was 3 years old and they have been separated ever since.  She has lived 30 years without him.              Her father came to this country from Nigeria.  He saw America as the land of opportunity.  Her mother tells her that before coming to America he believed the streets were paved with gold.  I’m not sure if his statement was figurative or literal, but I do know that he saw it as a wonderful opportunity.  Her father came to this country as a student on a Student Visa.  He was able to obtain a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.  He worked hard in school and earned both degrees.  He longed to begin his career as an architect in America. He desperately wanted his piece o…

Gifted for Leadership: Trapped in the Church

You Can Recover

Recovery is a long and hard process.  In fact, when we go through a painful experience, we often wish we can take a pill and make the pain go away.  The truth is, many times we must go through a healing process in order to be made whole.  Healing is an uncomfortable process.  We often feel weak and vulnerable.  We don’t like the pain, so we try to self-medicate.  We medicate on drugs, alcohol, shopping, eating, sex and relationships.  In fact, we make a lot of poor decisions based on what has happened to us in life.  However, it does not have to continue to be that way.  I know a man name Jesus who can heal you, who can cleanse you and who can set you free.  Jesus was not only a man, but He was/is God in the flesh!  Whatever your issue is, He can set you free!!  No what you have been through…you can recover!!!
If its alcoholism, “you can recover” If its drug addiction, “you can recover” If its neglect and abandonment as a child, “you can recover” If its verbal or physical abuse, “you can …

Stop Settling

My good friend Ed Adams told me shortly before he passed away that our desire to settle down causes us to "settle."  Ed was such a godly man who encouraged me to wait for God's best.  As I talk to men and women about their relationship issues, Ed's comment always comes to mind.  God created us to be social beings and we all have desire for companionship, but at what cost.  We often know what we deserve and what God wants us to have, yet loneliness creeps in and causes us to bend our standards.

I've even heard women say, "A piece of a man, is better than no man."  Since when?!?!?!  You are worth more than that!  And, fellas you are too!!!  The bible says that we are the apple of God's eye!  Zechariah 2: 8  We are fearfully and wonderfully made!  Psalm 139:14  Ladies, a man should love you as Christ loves the Church and gave himself up for her!  Ephesians 5:25  This is a sacrificial love!  This love is not physically, emotionally or spiritually abusiv…

Do you want to be made whole?

This weekend I had the opportunity to experience a mighty move of God.  I attended a revival within the walls of a prison.  Dictionary.com defines revival as a restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, etc.  And, this weekend I watched God restore life and strength to me, as well as, my sisters and brothers in Christ.  God never ceases to amaze me with His awesome wonders.

I watched as the members of the congregation came with an expectation...with a hunger and thirst for God.  I saw the Lord heed the cries of His people.  I saw Him reign down His glory.  I saw hearts healed, chains broken, and faith restored.  I saw the face of evil fall under the authority and power of the Holy Spirit.

I always enjoyed attending revivals growing up in South Carolina.  My heart is overjoyed even now at the opportunity to be revived again.  The truth is we get weak on our Christian journey and we need God to fill us up again.  However, I encourage you that you don't have to wait for a …

Discipleship and Mental Illness

I ran into Sam* today.  It's been over a year since I've seen him.  Before last year, it had been years since we've crossed paths.  Today Sam looked a bit better than the last time I've seen him.  At our last encounter, I barely recognized him.  When we first met we were both wet behind the ears.  I was fresh out of law school and he was fresh out of juvenile prison.  We met at a Young Adult Sunday School class.  He was so eager to learn about God and to start his new life.  He was a well-groomed young man and a pleasure to be around.

While my new brother was excited about his new found faith, he was also aware of the challenges of being young and "saved."  Sam knew the reality of the many obstacles he faced.  He often talked about how he didn't have any positive influences in his life.  He said most of his family and friends were addicted to drugs, alcohol and the party lifestyle.  He appeared to be in anguish over the constant pressures to participate i…

Everybody Needs Love

This week I learned of a brother in Christ passing away at an old church of mine.  Once again I was struck with grief because it was unexpectant.  This was yet another death that pierced my heart.  While the Church witnesses our sisters and brothers passing away all the time, this particular individual stood out to me.  You see, he was a brother who wasn't apart of the "in crowd".  He didn't have any position in the church or didn't serve in any ministries.  As a matter of fact, no one wanted to sit beside him or wanted to touch him. My brother had the appearance of a homeless man, even though he was not homeless.  He had an unpleasant odor and his clothes were unkempt.  So, when the time came to hug your neighbor...he found himself with very little hugs.  At some point, he positioned himself around those individuals who did show him love.

As I ponder the lost of my dear brother in Christ, I have been reminded of the story in Mark 1:40-45.  In this story there w…

Did Jesus Come to Save the Victim and the Offender?

I lost my friend Mercy* yesterday.  He was found lying dead in his jail cell.  I guess I picked the wrong day to grieve because as it flashed on the news the lady sitting near me said, "At least we don't have to feed him."  I'm not shocked at her response, I actually expect to hear a lot worse over the next couple of days.

You see Mercy* was a convicted murderer and in jail facing new charges.  He was accused of committing a heinous crime...however, when I found out, I wept in my office like I was weeping for my own brother.  I didn't want to see him leave earth that way.  I prayed that God would transform his life and use him within the walls of the prison.  I had to come to the realization that my thoughts are not God's thoughts and my ways are not His ways.  And, the truth be told, I would rather this way, than a needle in his arm.

You see, I was there when Mercy* was seeking God.  I listened when He questioned whether God could forgive a person like Him. …

Don’t Let Nobody Turn You Around

Over the last couple of days this song has been in my head…all day.  I’m sure I heard it as a child through my mother or at my elementary school; however, when I went on the Civil Rights Bus Tour a few years ago, a local Civil Rights demonstrator testified about singing this song: 
Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around
Turn me around, turn me around
Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around
I'm gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin'
Marchin' down to freedom land
Now, this song was sung during the Civil Rights Movement, but I think it can apply in other areas of our lives.  Many times when we face challenges, we want to turn around and quit.  We want to give up with the going gets tough.  In fact, some people may even push your buttons in order to get you to give up.  You should not allow anyone or anything keep you from fulfilling your dreams and/or God’s plan for your life.  
Keep moving forward…there is greatness inside of you!!
If you are having difficulty on your …

Let Me be Used as an Instrument

We are inundated with negativity everyday of our lives.  We see it on television, we hear it on the radio, we sense it on our jobs and we endure it in our families.  I am participating in a spiritual retreat in a few weeks behind the walls of a prison.  One of my assignments is to focus on the Prayer of St. Francis.  It reads:
Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
I’m still in the preliminary stages of my study, but I have some preliminary thoughts on this wonderful prayer.  Instead of b…

Showing the Character of Christ in the Face of Opposition

In my experience, it is easy to show godly character when things are going well.  Loving people is effortless when people are nice and kind.  But, the true test comes in the face of adversity.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”  When I first read this quote I thought it was inspirational.  However, when faced with adversity it can be a bit challenging. 
I find it challenging for several reasons.  First, when we feel we have been treated unjustly, we feel justified in fighting back.  In fact, we feel we are weak if we don’t.  We know the bible says that vengeance is God’s, but truth is, we want vengeance now!  And, we want it done our way!  Why can’t we fight back?  Why can’t we “put our religion on the shelf?”  Why can’t we allow are flesh to rule, if only for a moment?  And, on top of that Jesus, you want us to love our enemies?…

My Reflections for Passion Week

Passion Week consists of the days leading up to the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.Many times we focus on Easter Sunday without reflecting on the events that led to this horrific, but wonderful event.We celebrate Palm Sunday and then fast forward to the Crucifixion and Resurrection.This year I’ve been thinking about how this week can play out in our lives.
The Passion Week has taught me 5 things:
1.Seasonal People:I often read that some people are only in your life for a season.This concept is sometimes hard to accept because if we love and care for someone we anticipate them being present in our lives forever.Sometimes people move on due to life circumstances and others may simply change.The truth is…some people will love you today and hurt you tomorrow.It is apart of life.If Jesus who is perfect in every way had people praise him one day and yell crucify him the next week…surely we, who are imperfect, will have similar experiences.Did this stop Jesus from fulfilling his …

Tears of Joy and Appreciating Good Friends

I’m in love with Faith Evans’ new song “Tears of Joy”.  I first heard her sing it on television recently and I was touched.  Since that time, I’ve heard it played faithfully on the radio everyday.  The song reminds me of the new love and new found freedom in my life.  It touches my heart, soul and mind when I think about how certain people can impact your emotions for good or evil.  It made me grateful for the new found friendships in my life.  It made me even more appreciative of the friends who have been there over the years.  It made me think of Marlena Graves, Christine Fulmer, LeAnn Hill, Sandy Ellies, Cheryl Bynum, my Aunt Doris Stewart, Kim Willis, and Toni Jenkins.  Each of these amazing women have played such an amazing role in my life.  They are caring, gifted, intelligent, funny, and most importantly, faithful!  They have been there for me through it all.  They have no motive, but to love.  They ask nothing of me, but friendship.  To the ladies…if I haven’t expressed my app…

Broken, but stronger…Injured, but closer…Scarred, but still alive!!

I once heard a story of a wandering sheep.  Every time he was walking with the other sheep, he always seemed to stray away.  Every time he would stray, his loving shepherd would use his rod and guide him back on the path.  The sheep strayed so many times, but each time the shepherd would guide him back.  At some point, the shepherd felt he had to do more…so he broke the sheep’s legs.  The sheep could no longer walk.  He was injured.  He had to rely on the shepherd for everything.  The shepherd had to feed him and carry him.  After being cared for by the shepherd during this broken state, the sheep became utterly dependent on the shepherd.  He became closer than he had ever been before.  He became so close, he never wanted to stray again. 
How does this apply to us?  Many times we are sheep who stray away.  We live in a busy world with so many obligations and distractions; sometimes we don’t have time for God.  Sometimes the temptations of the flesh can lead us away from God.  Many ti…

Is Publicly Criticizing Other Christians Okay?

I have pondered this question for a long time, but I’m still searching for the answer.  In this new age of technology, you see constant criticisms of ministers on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  In fact, you don’t have to even turn on a computer; we hear it from the pulpit or in conversations with friends.  But, is it okay? I admit I’m a little discouraged at seeing other Christians tear apart other Christians on the internet.  Most criticisms stem from not agreeing with their theology, so we criticize them.  I’ve even seen many go so far as to call them false prophets and the anti-Christ.  Will we always agree with every minister?  No.  Should we?  Absolutely not!  But, for the sake of the Church, do we publicly slaughter them?
When I read comments and articles, it doesn’t come from one denomination or another.  I see attacks on all sides of the aisle.  I realize that we may disagree with the teachings of the pastor, but does that give grounds to slaughter them with our words?  The iss…

Gratitude

My friend asked me to prepare a word of encouragement a few months ago and she gave me the topic Gratitude.I must admit at the time, I wasn’t feeling too grateful.I was having a self imposed pity party and I felt justified.However, she told me the Holy Spirit directed her to ask me.I first thought yea…yea, the Holy Spirit didn’t say anything, but that was far from the truth.
I have found that anytime I teach something, God teaches me in the process.He uses my study time to minister to me first.The scripture says that the word of God is “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”Hebrews 4:12I can personally attest to feeling sliced and diced when reading the scriptures!!
So, when my friend asked me to prepare a message, I said the good Christian thing…let me pray about it.Now, some of us pray and some of us, well…let’s face it…use it as…

Why is this Happening to Me?

In the African-American church, we often hear the phrase, “Your current test is just a set up for your testimony.”When this is said, the church erupts in a shout.However, when you leave church and you’re in the midst of your circumstance, you find yourself asking “why”?You want to know why God is allowing you to go through this difficult situation.We often know the scriptures and cite them, but our hearts still ache.We secretly worry.We say “we live by faith and not by sight.”Yet, we don’t see a breakthrough anywhere in sight.We say “all things will work together for my good.”Yet, we can’t imagine this working for our good.We say that we’ve “given it over to the Lord”, but we continue to fret over the situation and discuss it with whomever will listen.We say that joy comes in the morning…yet, we cry all night and still feel sad in the morning. Well, my Bishop always says, “everything is either God sent or God allowed.”This phrase has helped me to realize that if God is in control, I’m …