Tag Archives: murder

Why I Stopped Watching “Power”

Do you watch “Power” on Starz? I did. I got hooked when it first came out. I was fascinated by the story of a drug lord wanting out of the game.

They say anything 50 Cent touches turns to gold, and I have to say, he did good with this series, as far as viewership and money is concerned. I believe much of the story correlates to his humble beginnings on the streets of Southside Jamaica Queens, which is where he is from.

The first two seasons were great. Recently, I caught up with Season 3 and 4.

I am not sure if they hired a different writer, but I saw a change in Season 3. It was darker and more violent.

As a Christian, I struggled through the episodes, fast forwarding through the soft porn and violent scenes. All you see is a bunch of different characters being killed a variety of ways. It doesn’t take much genius or creativity to kill a bunch of characters off.

I wrote to “Power” directly and expressed my thoughts on the change. As artists, we have a responsibility for what we put out there for the masses to consume. Life is inundated with senseless killings and untimely deaths, must we then replicate it for television? Especially in this instance, where the youth who admire and emulate 50 Cent are watching?

There are famous rappers speaking out against drugs, guns and gang violence, but then we have those who don’t, who produce shows like “Power” which propagate and glorify it. I understand it is just a show, and it’s for entertainment, but unfortunately, art imitates life and life imitates art. As embellished as it may be, stories like “Power” happen in real life, which is why it can be written about in the first place. As I mentioned above, 50 Cent has input and plenty of material to pull from his own life.

The only thing I liked about Season 4 was the scene where Kanan (50 Cent), who is a stone cold killer, develops genuine feelings for Tariq (Ghost’s son), who he was going to kill to get back at Ghost. That was about it, the rest was a disappointment. “Power” went from being unique and well-written, to being a vehicle of exploitation, violence and greed.

Listen, I am all for truth and good stories, but there is a fine line being crossed, when it’s riddled with sex, murder, and violence. We wonder why our society is disintegrating, and our youth are becoming more disrespectful. The reason is because what our society is ingesting. You are what you eat. If you are only ingesting garbage, then that’s what is going to come out.

The Bible says, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) Whomever we associate with rubs off on us, whether good or bad. It can come by way of what we read and watch, too.

Gang violence, bullying, cyber bullying, disrespect, bad attitudes, suicides… are part of the framework. The only ones untouched are those who produce shows like “Power,” and are afforded the ability to be insulated from that reality.

At a certain point, we must ask ourselves, is writing and producing shows like “Power” necessary? The visuals that multitudes ingest weekly, don’t go away. There must be accountability. Greed can not override responsibility. As artists we must be concerned with what we are putting out there and how it is going to affect the minds of impressionable youth; our future generation.

As a believer, I had to take a step back and look at it from a spiritual standpoint. How is watching fornication and murder going to benefit our broken society? We blame our government, our President, but as artists, we are just as responsible for what is happening around us, by what we contribute and produce to feed millions of viewers by way of flat screen televisions across America.

Those who write books, produce television programs and make movies have a greater responsibility. We as artists owe it to our youth to produce substance. What we make or produce directly affects the climate of our society.

We have a choice to make. I made one. I am no longer going to partake in watching senseless violence. As an artist, there are ways of conveying things without being graphic, explicit or violent.

As much as I loved “Power,” I will no longer be watching it. I won’t judge those who do, as it is a personal decision. But I’m afraid if we continue moving in the same direction, things will only get worse.

Artists have the privilege of using their gifts which God blessed them with as a way to inspire and motivate change in our society. We are the voice. Change begins with us.

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The Prisoner’s Wife by Asha Bandele

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Price: $15.99
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

As a favor for a friend, a bright and talented young woman volunteered to read her poetry to a group of prisoners during a Black History Month program. It was an encounter that would alter her life forever, because it was there, in the prison, that she would meet Rashid, the man who was to become her friend, her confidant, her husband, her lover, her soul mate. At the time, Rashid was serving a sentence of twenty years to life for his part in a murder. The Prisoner’s Wife is a testimony, for wives and mothers, friends and families. It’s a tribute to anyone who has ever chosen, against the odds, to love.

 

***  Vlog Review: https://youtu.be/N4kqoD6gDmw ***

 

Review

I decided to read The Prisoner’s Wife after reviewing Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor. Shaka listed it as one of his favorite books, and I can see why. Asha Bandele is a beautiful writer, who penned a powerful memoir like a poet that she is.

I must admit, it was not an easy read. She touches on topics which gave me pause and had me reflect on my own life. In some ways, she and I share similar pasts which is why I identified and was profoundly moved by her writing.

The Prisoner’s Wife is a love story, but not an ordinary one. It was about her personal journey of falling in love and marrying a man named Rashid, who was serving a life sentence for murder.

One of the things I learned from reading this memoir is when someone is incarcerated, not only are they doing time, but so are their loved ones, which is what happened to Asha. She spent the majority of her time alone, other than the letters, phone calls and occasional visits.

I commend her for writing the truth and not painting an unrealistic picture. She did not romanticize her experience, but was bold, brave and courageous. She exposes the truth, shows the difficulties, and obstacles related to loving someone in prison.

If you were ever curious about what it’s like to be married to someone serving time, I highly recommend The Prisoner’s Wife. 

Asha Bandele is an author and journalist. A former features editor for Essence magazine, Asha is the author of two collections of poems, the award-winning memoir The Prisoner’s Wife, and the novel Daughter. She lives in Brooklyn with her daughter.

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Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Convergent Books
Price: $14.00
Purchase: Amazon | BN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Shaka Senghor was raised in a middle class neighborhood on Detroit’s east side during the height of the 1980s crack epidemic. An honor roll student and a natural leader, he dreamed of becoming a doctor—but at age 11, his parents’ marriage began to unravel, and the beatings from his mother worsened, sending him on a downward spiral that saw him run away from home, turn to drug dealing to survive, and end up in prison for murder at the age of 19, fuming with anger and despair.
Writing My Wrongs is the story of what came next. During his nineteen-year incarceration, seven of which were spent in solitary confinement, Senghor discovered literature, meditation, self-examination, and the kindness of others—tools he used to confront the demons of his past, forgive the people who hurt him, and begin atoning for the wrongs he had committed. Upon his release at age thirty-eight, Senghor became an activist and mentor to young men and women facing circumstances like his. His work in the community and the courage to share his story led him to fellowships at the MIT Media Lab and the Kellogg Foundation and invitations to speak at events like TED and the Aspen Ideas Festival.

In equal turns, Writing My Wrongs is a page-turning portrait of life in the shadow of poverty, violence, and fear; an unforgettable story of redemption, reminding us that our worst deeds don’t define us; and a compelling witness to our country’s need for rethinking its approach to crime, prison, and the men and women sent there.

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Vlog Review: https://youtu.be/ER3t-xnHgE4

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Review

Writing My Wrongs is about the power of hope, change, and redemption. It sheds light on the reality and truth of mass incarceration.

I have read many books about prison, but never as poignant, gritty, and honest as this one. This memoir provoked me in ways I had not expected.

Shaka Senghor is an inspiration and a great writer. He was born with a gift which he was able to develop during his time in solitary confinement. It was through reading and writing that he was able to heal and find himself.

His story taught me that people deserve a second chance, and should not be limited or defined by their past.

Writing My Wrongs is an important and powerful book, which touched, inspired and encouraged me. I hope it gets into the hands of the youth in public schools, detention centers, and prisons across America. I highly recommend it.

In conclusion, I want to thank Convergent for sending me this complimentary book in exchange for an honest review.

Locked up for nearly nineteen years, Shaka Senghor has used his incarceration as a vehicle for change. Through years of study and self-reflection, he has transformed himself from an uncaring “thug” into a principled, progressive man who refuses to allow his circumstances to define who he is or what he’s capable of.

Once a very angry, bitter young man, it was books that saved him from self-destructing and allowed him to see beyond the barbed-wire fences that held him captive. In an environment where hopelessness and despair grow like weeds, writing became his refuge. Eventually, he began writing creatively, tapping into the growing interest in street/hip hop literature. The author of six books and countless articles and short stories, he is inspired by revolutionary prison writers like George Jackson, Malcolm X and Donald Goines.

Whether writing street lit or poetry, Shaka speaks the truth about the oppressive conditions of the ‘hood and the not-so-glamorous side of the streets. He writes in a way that compels his readers to see the hope and humanity of a discarded generation shaped by the crack epidemic, the fall of the auto industry and the rise of the prison industrial complex. He is soon to be released and is eager to begin working with youth through gun and violence prevention programs in his hometown of Detroit.

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Christianity Today

I don’t know about you, but lately, I see so much confusion within Christianity. What happened to the simplicity of the gospel? Where did it go?

Courtesy of Creative Commons

I was one of those Christians who never read their Bible, but in the past couple of years, I have been reading it diligently. To my surprise, I am slowly becoming aware of things I used to passed over, and not pay attention to.

Some Christians get offended when you speak on various pastors who preach a false gospel. They call you judgmental or negative. However, what they fail to understand is how contrary their messages are to the Bible. And yes, I’m deliberately not calling them out.

What I have analyzed is how certain groups of Christians will focus on key scriptures as their premise or basis of doctrinal belief. When they spout these particular scriptures, it does sound exactly as it’s being conveyed. However, that’s the deception. The scriptures are being taken out of context and not going along with the entire theme of the Bible. This is why I say it’s so important to read the Bible.

There was a time I bought into the lie of seeking Heaven on earth. Where everyone will be as one and in unity. Where there is unlimited grace and favor, no matter what you did. A god who supports gay marriage, adultery, murder, child pornography. Anything goes, because God is a loving God and He doesn’t condemn people to hell.

I’m sorry, but that’s not true. God loves the sinner, but hates the sin. He loves the homosexual, prostitute, pimp, drug dealer, murderer, child molester, and adulterer, but He doesn’t love their sin. He doesn’t condone any of these things that specifically go against His very nature and Word. No, He doesn’t accept it, and yes, there is a hell, and it’s real.

Christianity today is do it your way. Where grace abounds, no matter what you do. A feel-good Christianity, where they worship a Jesus who laughs all the time and slaps you on your back, and says, “ata-boy or girl”.

Yes, God is a merciful, and forgiving God. He rains on the just and unjust. (Matthew 5:45) However, He doesn’t accept everything. We shouldn’t abuse or take His grace for granted either. (Hebrews 6:6)

As Christians, we have to make a choice. Either we are all in or all out, but there is no in-between. He hates lukewarm and spews it out of his mouth. (Revelation 3:16)

What kind of Christian are you?

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Blaque Widow by Allison Grace

Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Illuminnessence Publishing
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0983048185
ISBN-13: 978-0983048183
Price: $11.99
Purchase: Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Taryn Durand believed in happily ever after but the man she married didnt believe in her. After being married to someone that didn’t love her or want her happiness she sought it out on her own in a way no one imagined. Taryn eventually gets her mind, body and soul right and in that she meets Asher. There’s something different about Asher yet he knows there’s something different aboout Taryn. Soon the differences that keep them apart will bring them together and they will be fighting to either stay together or live their lives separately. Will true love prevail?

Review

Blaque Widow draws you in from page one. The story is about the main protagonist, Taryn and who endures abuse by her mother, Edith, and her ex-boyfriend Trenton who happens to be sleeping with her mother.

After Taryn tears away from Trenton and her mother. She meets Devon, with the hopes things would be different and he would love her unconditionally. Sadly, after they got married, he starts to abuse her too.

It was only when Devon dies from an “accident” that Taryn was set free. She decides to join a gym and meets Asher, who becomes her personal trainer. They seem to have a connection and chemistry, however, because of all the abuse she endured, she is afraid to let him in.

Allison Grace creatively pens the consequences and affects of abuse. She exposes the self-hatred, and how abuse plays out mentally, emotionally, psychologically and physically. This story shows the extreme measures of what could happen, when abuse is not addressed and goes unchecked.

Blaque Widow is shocking, surprising and suspenseful. The story ends on a cliff hanger, and I look forward to the sequel.

Meet Allison Edwards formerly known as Essence M & now known as “Allison Grace”. The beautiful brain behind Illuminnessence Publishing, founded in  2007 by this avid writer/ reader who began her love affair with words at a tender age. Allison went on to create an extensive catalog of unpublished works including poetry & short stories.

Allison’s passion for words began in early childhood, she had always been fond of reading about life, love, poetry and short stories. As she matured, she challenged herself to hone her craft, exploring various story lines and navigating into the tumultuous world of adult relationships. Throughout her teen & young adult years she decided to put pen to paper and indulge one of her fantasies, to become a writer. Some of her favorite authors include Donald Goines, VC Andrews, Jackie Collins, Judy Blume and ZANE. This eccentric choice of novels allowed her to see different genres, writing styles and what they entailed. Each were very different and taught her a lot with regards to target audiences, story lines, and descriptions. Nothing prepared her however for her venture into Urban Literature.Allison’s first experience with Urban Lit began when she, as an avid reader received a message from one who promoted for a brand new unknown publishing company and was seeking assistance in promoting novels. Members would receive a chance to win free books and other spectacular prizes. Allison jumped at the chance and was soon an official Street Team/Pep Squad member of the “Cartel Publications” spearheaded by Essence Best-selling Author T Styles and her partner Vice President, Charisse Washington. They both would play an important role in Allison’s literary career later on as mentors.Their influences and support caused Allison to link up with KingPen A.S of HHEAT Magazine and she was able to co host a show with him featuring authors on Blog Talk Radio. Authors interviewed include K.D Harris, Jason Poole, Iesha Brown, and much more. This allowed Allison access to an industry untapped where new and established authors were able to speak with her regarding novels they wanted to promote. She then took on the responsibility of hosting her own radio show which showcased authors such as Takerra Allen, Tanisha “Mahogani P” Pettiford as well as others. During this time, Allison shamelessly continued to promote The Cartel Publications and began writing her first novel.

It is with that unwavering tenacity that we’ve arrived at this point. Allison’s first venture into self publication “Broken Promises Never Mend” became available in paperback in January 2010.  An amended version of which was released June 2010 in paperback, which features a new cover. It premiered on Amazon for Kindle, as of June 2010 as well. Allison learned various lessons while putting this novel together. Some of which she’s still learning to this day and with every novel she improves her craft and tries harder. She proved that by releasing a follow up to her debut less than a year later showing naysayers that she wasn’t a one hit wonder.

The sizzling sequel Bound By Lies debuted on Amazon for Kindle, February 2011 to rave reviews and is still causing mouths to drop with an ending that rivals its predecessor. Both novels are considered an “underground success” and were edited by Brandie Randolph of Editing Couture. Allison followed up with a novel for the streets entitled Bittersweet which showed the world that she was here to stay. During a brief hiatus, Allison published a short story series (Bitch Clique) that brought just as much drama as an entire season of “Scandal”.

Allison is currently focused on a collection of other works slated for release in 2016, under her  imprint “Full of Essence Publications”. The idea to reinvent herself came about with prayer and the desire to be so much more than she already established herself to be. In 2013, Allison Grace was signed to an independent publisher “Sevyn McCray Presents” spearheaded by Sevyn McCray and David Weaver of SBR Publications. Her novel under that imprint PrePaid Mistress debuted at number 5 on the Amazon Bestsellers list for African American women’s fiction. She followed up with the sequel Prepaid Mistress 2 and also revamped her ebook series Bitch Clique Reloaded into a full length action packed standalone. in 2015, Allison released an emotionally charged novel focusing on domestic violence and addiction entitled Blaque Widow. Allison anticipates an abundance of blessings in 2016 and beyond beginning with work on other titles she’s got in store as well as promoting authors that seek her assistance in publishing.

“I was blessed to enter this industry and know how hard it is, so the least I can do is give back.” she says with a gleam in her eye and a smile on her face. This native New Yorker prides herself in assisting others and promotes literacy to her children. This isn’t the end of Allison Grace and we can tell she’s got a long way to go but the rewards have been phenomenal.

You can follow Allison Grace on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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B-More Careful by Shannon Holmes

Print Length: 292 pages
Page Numbers Source
ISBN: 1592323146
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

From the streets of Baltimore, Maryland hail an all girl clique called the Pussy Pound. At the head of the clique is Netta, at her side is her close friend, Mimi. Both women are armed with a do anything-for-the-money attitude. Quickly it becomes clear that Netta will go above and beyond the call of duty in her quest for the almighty dollar. Under her tutelage the Pussy Pound becomes infamous on the streets of Baltimore as they attract and target some of the most prominent dope boys in the city. With each hustler that they bed the Pussy Pound becomes more deeply entangled in the game.

As the consequences of their acts catch up to them. They soon discover that the streets of Baltimore are an unforgiving place and there is a heavy price to pay for their treachery.

Review

B-More Careful was a raw and gritty account of what takes place in the life of the streets. The premise of the story was based on betrayal, deception and treachery.

I would have rated this book five stars had it not been for the excessive typos and grammatical errors I came across. Nevertheless, Shannon Holmes is an exceptional and talented writer.

B-More Careful was fast paced. I was able to visualize and feel everything as if I was there.

I admit, I had a difficult time getting through this story. The characters and content felt so real to me. In reading this story, which took place in Baltimore, I came to understand the realities of the streets. The game is certainly not a lifestyle I would want to be a part of, because of all the danger, backstabbing, jealousy, envy, betrayal, greed and revenge which is paramount.

B-More Careful emphasized the life of drugs, money, sex and murder. There is nothing glamorous or attractive about it based on what I read. This story made me sad.

Shannon Holmes did not sugar coat anything. He gave it to you straight and to the point. The characters who stood out for me were Black, Netta and Mimi. Black and Netta being the most ruthless of them all.

Unfortunately, there was no happy Hollywood ending either. All in all, B-More Careful taught me a great deal and opened my eyes to the harsh realities of a world I knew very little about.

Shannon Holmes wrote his first novel, B-More Careful, while in prison. When it was published, it immediately became a #1 bestseller, making him a major name in a new generation of fiction: hip-hop fiction. He then launched Triple Crown Publications, one of the leading publishers of hip-hop fiction, with Vickie Stringer, and wrote more novels, including the #1Essence bestsellers Bad Girlz, Never Go Home Again, Dirty Game and Caught Up.

 

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The Hustle Chronicles by Blacc Topp

Publisher: Blacc Star Media Group
ISBN-10: 1622093712
ISBN-13: 978-1622093717
Price: $10.00
Purchase: Blacc Star Media | Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

Julius Jr.s’ childhood is far less than perfect. He is torn between his mother and father who are going through a bitter divorce. His world is turned upside down when his father takes him from the comfort of the family home in Benton Harbor Michigan to the brutal streets of South Dallas Texas. When Julius Jr.s’ family is gruesomely murdered his life takes a dramatic turn. His mother Naje moves to Texas to care for her youngest son and finds herself drawn into a conspiracy that threatens to not only take the life of her youngest son but hers as well. Roll with Julius as he grows into the ultimate hustler and unrelenting killer that the gang-ridden streets of South Dallas often breeds, where pimping, drug dealing, treachery and betrayal go hand in hand.

Review

I happened upon Novelist Blacc Topp recently, and decided to explore his writing. The Hustle Chronicles is his debut novel which was released in 2012.

Little did I know, I would embark on a suspenseful ride of twists and turns. I immediately fell in love with his writing, the story and the characters. Especially, Julius Sr. and Julius Jr. Their bond was special and touching.

Novelist Blacc Topp does an extraordinary job of evoking emotion as well as conveying the inner workings of the mind and heart of his characters. His writing style is raw, sensual and thought provoking. He draws you in, and seduces you with his vivid and detailed descriptions. It’s as if he’s holding your hand and guiding you through an experience you won’t forget.

Blacc Topp is a creative genius and a master of words. His unique and original style has taken this genre to another level.

I highly recommend The Hustle Chronicles, and any book he pens. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Novelist Blacc Topp was born to a father that was a gangster turned preacher and a mother that was a singer, artist, and scholar. He was born into a family of preachers, pimps, prostitutes, drug drealers, dopefiends, and squares. Blacc Topp was raised on the streets of South Dallas, Texas. After the death of his father, feeling as though he had nowhere to turn he turned to the gang. The neighborhood gang, Dixon Circle 357um Gangsta Crips is where he would learn to become ruthless and unfeeling. Although he was deep in the gang and game, he continued his studies for fear that his mother would make him move to Florida.

By the age nineteen he had been shot three times and was on his way to the Texas Department of Corrections with a forty year prison sentence for distribution of narcotics. While inside he lost his youngest sister to the violence of drugs in 1996. After serving seven years, he was granted parole (mainly due to his mother’s efforts). He used the education that he obtained inside to land a job at a top engineering firm in Texas. He used his love of word play to push himself to local fame on the hip-hop scene in Texas and Florida but, he would lose his mother to cancer in 2006, only to lose his oldest sister to cancer in 2008 and he knew something had to change. He began to chronicle his life, his mishaps and his capers which gave birth to The Hustle Chronicles, his debut novel and soundtrack of the same name.

You can follow him at: Novelist Blacc Topp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Jesus Isn’t A Racist or A Murderer

A few weeks ago, I read this letter by Ray Jasper who was executed last Wednesday night in Texas.

Ray Jasper

Ray Jasper was 18 years old when he murdered David Alejandro.

David Alejandro

At the age of 33, David Alejandro was a lead singer of a Christian band besides running his own recording studio. Before Ray Jasper, an aspiring rapper, killed him.

Jasper had previous sessions in Alejandro’s recording studio prior to the attack. He devised a plan with two others to steal Alejandro’s studio equipment.

I’m not sure what possessed Jasper to make a tragic mistake in taking the life of someone he considered one of the nicest people he ever met.

But what I do know is that his final letter evidenced a changed man prior to his execution last Wednesday night.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, which is why I consider the death penalty unethical. I know there are Christians who don’t agree with me.

They quote bible verses in the Old Testament as their justification and reason for why they believe capital punishment is allowed by God. However, when I look at the New Testament, the new covenant, Jesus didn’t go around killing anyone.

Saul (before his name was changed to Paul) persecuted and killed Christians. If Jesus was in favor of the death penalty, he would have killed Paul on the road to Damascus. Yet, Jesus didn’t kill him, He showed him mercy, grace, love and forgiveness.

There are thirty-two states in the USA supporting the death penalty. Meanwhile, there are many on death row (or serving life sentences in solitary confinement) who are innocent.

Currently, there is a series on CNN called Death Row Stories, which is revealing a few of the many cases of those who were on death row and are now exonerated.

I’ll tell you this, I wouldn’t want to be those who are killing people by lethal injection, and have innocent blood on my hands the day I see Jesus.

In my humble opinion, the prison system is modern day slavery and the death penalty is a modern day genocide, where whites still lynch blacks by lethal injection.

Yes, I’m white and writing this. I refuse to pretend or turn a blind eye on the reality of racism in this country.

Jesus isn’t a racist, so therefore, neither am I.

As Christians, I believe we shouldn’t be in agreement or in favor of the death penalty. My heart grieves for all those who are innocent and sitting on death row or serving life sentences in solitary confinement.

Christians need to take a stand for change and be a voice for the voiceless. The death penalty is antiquated, inhumane, unethical, barbaric, and needs to be abolished.

Human beings do not have a right to dictate who lives and who dies; only God reserves that right.

What are some of the ways which we can advocate to abolish the death penalty?

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I Could’ve Been A Contender

“You don’t understand.  I coulda had class, I coulda been a contender.

I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum which is what I am, let’s face it.” ~ Terry Malloy

The above is taken from the movie, On The Waterfont, a poignant and powerful scene.

My godmother had told me about this movie over the weekend. So, I decided to venture over to the New York Public Library and borrow it.

The movie hit home for me because a close relative who I love very much works as a longshoreman. Actually, I have quite a number of relatives who work or have worked at the waterfront.

It’s a rough job. I’ve been privy to a lot of it based on my relatives working the docks.

They love their jobs immensely, but there is a lot that comes with it that isn’t so attractive.

This movie brings such realities to the forefront.

There is much to be said on the topic, however, this isn’t my focus.

“I could’ve been a contender.”

Have you ever felt this way in your life?  If it wasn’t for someone or something, your life would have gone differently?

I definitely feel this way. I made some wrong decisions in my life and based on those wrong decisions, my life went a different direction.

One example of this, is when I left home at the age of 19 and eloped. To me, that was the single biggest mistake I’ve ever made because I was going to college at the time and had to drop out.

I got married too young. I was immature. I was naive. I didn’t have any life experience. I should have focused on completing my college education, instead of getting married (i.e., I was married once before).

A wrong decision changed the course of my life.

I’m not sitting here dwelling on it, however, I do recognize how our decisions can pretty much make or break our lives.

“I could have been somebody.”

Yes. I truly believe I could have been somebody if I didn’t have negative associations.

In this movie, his brother was the one who sold him (Marlon Brando’s character) out.

His brother placed bets and fixed who would win. He told him it wasn’t his night. His brother’s decision destroyed his boxing career.

Which is why the above scene broke my heart. I am well aware of how one wrong move, by a person or a bad decision, can change the course of someone’s life forever.

I am grateful the Lord gives us second chances. I don’t know where I would be today if He didn’t.

Have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it? Also, has God given you a second chance?

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He said He wanted to Kill Me

Last night I decided to go to church for prayer service. Before I was married and had kids, I lived at Times Square Church. I was there every Tuesday and Friday night and all day Sunday. I even served on the choir before someone told me they wanted to kill me.

I never told a soul. I just stepped down quietly from the choir. I mean, who in their right mind was going to stay in the choir after that? Maybe I should have stayed, but deep down, I was disillusioned.

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Early one Sunday morning, I was praying alone in the choir section when I sensed a presence. I opened my eyes to find a tall male standing before me. I recognized him, he was in his choir robe like me. He said he needed to ask my forgiveness. I asked him for what (since I never had any dealings with him). He said for wanting to kill me.

I think I was traumatized at that moment because all I said was, I forgive you. I can’t believe that’s all I said.

Why couldn’t I have told him, “Hey dude, what did I ever do to you to warrant your wanting to kill me?” I mean, wouldn’t that have been more normal?

Eighteen years later, I think back and wish I would have had enough courage to ask him why.

I went through a whole gamut of emotions and questions. All I was doing was praying. Aren’t you suppose to feel safe in church? I did not feel safe at all. I actually never looked at church the same way again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Times Square Church greatly. It is where God brought me, put me, planted me and where I grew up in the faith. It is where I first experienced the presence of God. The preaching is phenomenal and I’ve made great friends there. Many who are now leaders or serving overseas as full time missionaries.

It’s not the church’s fault, it’s not anyone’s fault. However, last night, memories began to flood my mind and emotions began to well up. Yes, I forgive this man, wherever he is. The irony of it all is that I didn’t even know his name. But his face will be forever etched in my memory.

Conceptually, I understood at twenty-seven that evil was using this man as a host. But it’s still hard to grasp something like this magnitude, especially since it happened in church by a supposed brother in Christ. I couldn’t understand it, still don’t and perhaps I never will.

However, since then, I no longer close my eyes when I pray in church. I do for second or two, but then I open them again. I only pray with abandon when I’m alone and in the confines of my home.

I wonder if anyone else has had a similar experience in church?  If so, please share. I would love to know I’m not alone.

Posted in blogging, christianity, faith, forgiveness, Healing, prayer | Also tagged , , , , , , , 25 Comments