#BetterThanYesterday, Christianity, Education, Life, Moving Forward

But God!

Growing up my identity was all about basketball. It was my world and at many times education came second. I never thought I would ever pursue a Master’s degree.

In my earlier years of life (elementary & middle school) I was all about academics. In fact, in middle school, I once had a 4.0 gpa and an overall 3.5 gpa. As I entered into high school, my life began to shift. My priorities, my decisions, and my mentality was slowly walking away from being a great student.

Continue reading “But God!”

Christianity, Life, Moving Forward, Uncategorized

I Am Adopted: Why The Role Of A Father Makes A Difference 

Throughout my life, I’ve felt the ups and downs of life. What I mean by this, I have felt what it is like to be loved, and I have felt what it is like to be hated. The hatred that I felt may have been my perspective, but it was real.

I want to invite you into a reality that I faced growing up and the reality many others have faced and are facing. This post is quite lengthy, but I guarantee you will not regret reading.

As a young kid in his teens, I faced emotional abuse.

To be transparent, it was my earthly dad who did all of the emotional abusing. As a young teenager, he shared words with me that you do not say to another human being let alone your own son. Hearing such demeaning and life sucking words created in my life fear, insecurity, a lack of confidence and a false belief in my identity.

I began to believe in the words I was hearing. Often as a teen and even as a kid I would hear, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words would never hurt.” Whoever created this rhyme and words I would like to meet them face to face and share some choice words with them (kidding but not kidding).

Words do hurt. Words are painful. When a kid, a teenager should be experiencing words of encouragement, words of love, words of comfort, words of affirmation but instead receives the opposite this creates voids, holes, and gaps.

For me, my heart sank each time I would hear such words. I remember my heart breaking over and over again. Early on when the heartbreaking words were said to me, I would share some choice words back, and that led to more harsh words being said back to me. Eventually, I would do my best to fight off and ignore the words I was hearing. I would stop saying words back, and this led to my heart becoming numb.

What I continue to see:

Now, at the age of 28, I work with a lot of inner-city teenagers. Many of these teenagers are facing and have faced the battle I faced as a teenager. Many do not have a dad in their home let alone in their life. Some do have a dad around and like me, their dad share words that are not helping and only hurting.

A Father, the role of a male figure in the home and a child’s life is so important. Sometimes I do not think dads understand how much of their presence, positivity, care, and words can affect their child’s life. If they did, maybe they would learn to become the type of Father they need to be.

I have shared my emotional abuse that I faced with others, the disconnect of not having a loving and comforting Father and I realized I am not alone. I’ve come to learn that all people have issues, baggage, deal with life’s experiences and tragedies in different ways. How a Father deals with life will either have a positive or negative effect on their child’s life.

I want to share with you some mind-blowing statistics about kids that grow up with an absent Father:

1. 5 times the average suicide rate:
2. Dramatically increased rates of depression and anxiety:
3. 32 times the average rate of incarceration:
4. Decreased education levels and increased drop-out rates:
5. Consistently lower average income levels:
6. Lower job security:
7. Increased rates of divorce and relationship issues:
8. Substantially increased rates of substance abuse:
9. Increases in social and mental behavioral issues:

(These stats along with the full article can be found here: https://thefathercode.com/the-9-devastating-effects-of-the-absent-father/ )

Now that we know all of this information, what does a person do to overcome the emotional abuse, the lack of love from a Father and the absence of a Father?

First and probably the most important step is to forgive. As a young adult in college, I found myself on my dorm room floor crying. I was crying because I was reliving and remembering all of the words that were said to me from my dad during my childhood and teenage years. Through the pain, hurt and tears I came to a place where I knew in order to move forward from the pain, I had to let go and forgive.

I’ve learned that the longer I held on to the pain the longer I would stay in prison. Unforgiveness, carrying hate and anger is like being locked in a prison and drinking poison. You slowly begin to die inside and I was tired of dying. Maybe you are too…

Let us turn to the Gospel! Stay with me. Something good is about to be shared:

Then there came Romans 8:14-17

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

I was suffering internally. Like most with an absent dad or a dad that was emotionally abusive, I needed love, comfort and to be uplifted. I needed to believe I had a purpose, and that there was a Father that loved me for being me.

At age 17, when all felt lost and like the world was crashing down on me there was God. A Heavenly Father that opened up His arms to me, who looked at me with splendor and said, “come, my son, let me be your Abba Father, let me be your Daddy God.”

Up until 17, I called my earthly dad, “daddy” but I now had a Heavenly Father that wanted to replace all of my evil thoughts toward my earthly dad and begin to experience the unconditional love of my new Daddy!

So many people that deal with “daddy issues” view their Heavenly Father through the same lens as they do their earthly dad. I am here to share with you; our Daddy God wants to show you what real love is like. Our Daddy God wants to pour into your life and build you up. Our Daddy God wants to heal your heart and help you overcome your pain. Our Daddy God wants you to forgive your earthly dad. Our Daddy God wants to set you free from your past so that you can move on with your life.

To move forward, you have to confess the anger that is in your heart. You have to forgive. Forgiveness starts with your acknowledgment of your pain and hatred.

Pray this prayer aloud:

Daddy God.

It is me. Your child. For so many years I have been carrying around this heavy weight in my heart. I realized today; I cannot move forward with hatred in my heart. Daddy God, I am asking You to perform surgery on my heart. I know it may take me a while to get over the absence of my earthly dad and all of the pain that he created for my life, but I am ready to move along with my life. Will you become my Daddy God? Will you show me what a real Father is like? Will you help me release all of the pain and will you fill my heart with unconditional love?

I am your child. You have adopted me. I am called to be the light of the world. I am a part of Your chosen generation. Give me purpose. Give my life meaning. Help me see others the way You see me. Help me love unconditionally like the way You love me.

I leave everything in Your hands, trusting You know what to do with my life, my mind, my spirit and my soul. I am Yours, and You are mine, and together, we are going to be just fine.

Thank You for loving me, Daddy God.

Thank you for holding me in Your arms.

P.S. I pray the love of the Heavenly Father meets you right where you are reading this. Just know you are not alone and God can do a major work in your life. He did it for me and He can do it for you.

God bless you. I love you. Please share this with others and pray for all those that are hurt from their earthy dads.

Christianity, Courting, Dating, Life, Love

Dating vs Courting

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What if I told you, everything you ever learned about how to date, how a man pursues a woman and how a woman should prepare herself for a man was wrong, would you believe me?

As I entered my mid-twenties, I began to question my thoughts toward dating. I began to evaluate all of my past dating experiences. I began to read books on dating vs. courting. I began to search the Bible on what a healthy relationship looks like and I began to talk with married couples on their approaches toward their marriage. I began to talk with singles as well as non – married couples. After spending years analyzing and processing, below you will find my thoughts on this hot topic! By the way… I am no expert. 🙂

Let’s define dating:

Dating – Past the friend zone into a mutual liking of one another where two people are building a relationship. Usually built around selfish needs and physical intimacy while giving your best impressions of “who you are.” This is a relationship that is usually short term.

Let’s define courting:

Courting – Pursuing one another with healthy boundaries. Having a long term view in mind of the relationship. Building off emotional and spiritual intimacy rather than physical intimacy.

This is below list is in no specific order. I numbered the list so in the comment section; you can respond by saying I agree or disagree with # such and such… and you can share why you agree or disagree.

  1. Dating is usually selfish. – Why is this? Usually, both parties do not have the other’s best intentions in mind. You tell yourself you do, and think this in the beginning but really you are thinking, what is in this for me?
  1. Dating is usually all about “me” first. – Why is this? Shall we say self-gratification? Your needs and desires come first. Your needs and desires are important but the problem with this is, if your needs and desires aren’t being met, well on to the next.
  1. Dating is usually short term. – Why is this? All dating relationships are not necessarily taken seriously. I mean, who wants to date forever with no serious commitments or ultimate common goal in mind? It amazes me how women will stick around for years with the hope of getting married, when their man doesn’t have any intentions of getting married.
  1. Dating usually leads to break ups. – Why is this? Most people in dating relationships do not know how to handle conflict. All conflict is not bad. Conflict helps you grow. It is usually hard for those in the dating relationship to see this. There isn’t the same team mentality. For example: we may get into it and disagree from time to time, but this does not change our view of each other, our respect for one another or our relationship status. Why? Because we are still on the same team.
  1. Dating usually leads to looking for what’s wrong with the other person. – Why is this? People in dating relationships are constantly thinking and pointing out what’s missing in the other person, how he/she does this wrong, what you don’t like, how different you two are, and for this reason, dating relationships are called off. The self-centered view and perspective leads to going nowhere quickly. – I mean, what did you think? You would find someone just like you?
  1. Dating moves fast, and the relationship is usually rushed. – Why is this? Sparks are flowing, both of you are excited and maybe even too excited that the time being spent together on the phone, in person, and in conversation leads to confusing deep like and emotion for love. Usually before 6 months into the relationship someone says, I love you. – You mean to tell me, after 6 months, you love everything about a person you just met? Ok…
  1. Dating doesn’t usually start off with the end in mind. – Why is this? With dating, often, the two involved in the relationship do not have a common end goal. Hopefully, the end in mind is marriage. Most dating couples are not working towards marriage. What they are working towards is keeping a broken dating relationship together.
  1. Dating usually leads to not growing healthy as a couple. – Why is this? Stages of building in healthy ways are skipped. Such as: Getting to know each other’s personalities, the past, family backgrounds, life goals, life challenges, relationship challenges, dreams, goals, how to respond to conflict, and the list can go on and on.
  1. Dating usually leads to having sex or sexual interactions usually within the first 3 months if not sooner. – Why is this? Well, I am in a quote on quote relationship, so this should solidify that it is okay to now, go to the next level in our intimacy. In most people’s minds, this means having sex. There is not a lot of time spent getting to know one another, which ties into the last dating statement mentioned above. Sex can quickly lead to lies about how one feels about the other. – We all know a person does not have to love someone to have sex with him or her.
  1. Dating usually leads to hiding who you are. – Why is this? It is easy to put on display, my life is together, I know what I want, and I know where I am going in life. Usually, with dating the two in the relationship show their best versions of themselves. Especially in the beginning stages of dating. I mean who would want to date someone that has multiple struggles and issues in life? – Dating is much like our social media accounts. All good with little bad to show.

Before you decide to rip me apart, think about all of your dating relationship experiences. Now ask yourself, with the list mentioned above, how many of those dating statements are true? I am not at all saying dating cannot workout, or it doesn’t lead to marriage, or it cannot be healthy. What I am pointing out is the downside of dating that I see every day. The dating that I have been apart of in the past.

People can make poor decisions and try to justify those decisions by saying, “we weren’t that serious, we were just dating.”

If you are dating, what is your commitment? What are you committing to? What are you working towards? If you do not have clear answers, it is time to re-evaluate your dating relationship.

I do believe there is a significant difference between dating and courting. I would love to hear your thoughts on this blog post in regards to dating vs courting!

P.S. For Christians, I don’t think it is a sin to date or that it is wrong. What I do believe, there needs to be a re-defining of the meaning and purpose of dating.

 

Christianity, Life, Love, Moving Forward, Uncategorized

My Marriage Exposed Me

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Here I was, thinking I had it all together. I had love and my relationship all figured out. I was going into marriage confident that I would never be the one to create conflict and confrontations in our marriage. I would always make my wife feel like she is the most beautiful woman that ever walked the earth. Boy, was I headed for a huge wake up call.

As I was preparing for marriage, reading books, listening to sermons, podcast, conversing and learning from married men, I came to a point where I felt like I had arrived in my relationship with Jasmine before we got married. The struggles from my past, such as, communication, not being me focused all the time were behind me and I had now become the man she needs me to be for a healthy marriage.

After about the first month or so of being married here is what I learned:

  • I am not as kind as I thought
  • I do get upset, frustrated and even angry
  • I struggle with showing the love of Christ daily
  • I am not the best communicator
  • I do have selfish tendencies
  • I can be self centered

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In result of being exposed to a lot of my weaknesses through my marriage, I have been able to own up to the fact that I still have a lot of growing to do. This is great. I am thankful for this but sometimes I get discouraged and overwhelmed. Some days I am not the best servant leader for my wife. Some days, I don’t put in the best amount of energy and prayer for our relationship as I should. Some days, I am mediocre.

Whenever I am exposed to a weakness, I want to go straight to work and turn whatever weaknesses I have into strengths. As a former collegiate and semi-pro basketball player, turning weaknesses into strengths in my game came natural. I watched film or my coach would point something out and boom, I’m spending tons of energy every day to become the best I can be. With my marriage, this is the approach I know I need to take. I need to continue to remind myself, with every healthy relationship, it takes a lot of time, energy and consistent effort.

Marriage has an unique way of saying, “you don’t have it all together. You do have a lot to work on.”

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Here are my closing thoughts about my marriage exposure:

I look at my marriage as God looks at His bride, a.k.a. His church. The church can be messy and so can you and I. The church can be out of order and so can you and I. The church can be a broken vessel and so can you and I. The church can have many flaws and so can you and I. The church can be a bad representation and so can you and I. The church can fall short and so can you and I.

But here’s the beautiful part about the church! Are you ready for it?

The church is beautiful and so are you and I. The church is God’s masterpiece and so are you and I. The church brings God great joy and so do you and I. The church is like a broken clay pot that has been pieced back together to make beautiful art.

This is what I have to remind myself:

I am apart of God’s bride. I am forgiven. I am redeemed. God’s mercy and His grace has been extended to me. Even though I will continue to fall short, and not meet all of Jasmine expectations, Jesus is her Savior and not me. Only He can fulfill her inner most desires. My role is to love her like Christ loves me: Unconditionally! This I can do. Through every struggle, shortcoming and battle, Jasmine and I are still on the same team just like you and I are still on God’s same team. We are all in this together.

God has an unique way of saying, “you don’t have it all together. I have a lot of work I want to do in you.”

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My Prayer is this: For all that God has given me to share through our story; that our story will inspire you to seek and desire a closer relationship with God. My prayer is for you to see that God is getting the glory for the work He has done and is doing in our lives. We are not perfect, we don’t have it all together or figured out. We love God and each other and we are willing to live this out so others can see they too, can do the same.

Be blessed my friends!

P.S. Here is our wedding video:

Here are my Wedding Vows:

Jasmine… When I think of love, I think of us
When I think of love, I think of you.
Bone of my bone. Flesh of my flesh.

Ripped from my rib. Created from dust.

There’s no denying what we share
Through the years. Through these tears
I share my heart. I give you my everything
My submission to Christ. Commissions me to love you
Like He, Christ, Loves the church

Jasmine…
You are more precious than gold
You are my love story that’s being told.
You are a virtuous woman
Your worth is far above rubies…

Jasmine…
I vow to be there next to your side
Through the good times
And through the not so good times
I am yours and you are mines
Together we can
No.. no together we will

Jasmine,
I vow to love patiently
I vow to be kind…

I vow to put even put the toilet seat down
I vow to keep my basketball shoes out of the bedroom.

I vow to allow you to wash the dishes.

In all seriousness…
I vow to not be jealous
I vow to not boast and be proud.
I vow to not be rude and demanding.
I vow to not be irritable
To keep no records of wrong doings
To never lose faith
To never give up,

I vow to always remain hopeful
To endure in every circumstance

Jasmine Marie Martin,
I vow to love you with all I got for the rest of my life!

 P.S.S. We would love to hear your love story and how we can be praying for you! Don’t forget to comment and share on social media to help encourage someone else that may need to see this.

 “God is far more concerned with doing a work in you before He does anything through you.

Christians, Courting, Dating, Forgiveness, Life, Love, Moving Forward

Give Her A Ring Or Move On!

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Give her a ring or move on. Bold huh? Not really. This is something I had to wrestle with. This is something I had to do. There is a Scripture in the Bible that says: “When I was a child, I thought as a child but when I became a man I put away childish things.”

Back Story:

I became an unashamed born-again Christian at the age of 17. Before the age of 17, I was a full-blown immature child. When it came to relationships with the opposite sex, I was no good. I struggled. Lying, manipulating, poor treatment and just doing whatever I wanted.

I didn’t grow up with great representations of how a young man should treat a lady. I learned how to treat women from the movies I watched, from my boys and what I thought in my head was right. So when God got a hold of me at 17, I knew there were many changes to be made. Starting with my view on love, relationships and women.  Continue reading “Give Her A Ring Or Move On!”

Christianity, Forgiveness, Life, Love, Moving Forward

God, Why Is It Hard to Love You?

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You’ve been there before right? Telling God how much you love Him. Praising Him for all of the good times. Thanking Him for making it through all of the difficult seasons in life. We’ve all been there before. It seems more times than often we can give God great lip service.

Surely, God is the center of our life. Surely, He is the best thing that has ever happened to us. Surely, He’s been there for us through the good, bad and the ugly. But wait… Why do we have a problem with loving God?

Love, as we know it, is an action. It is a verb, meaning we should be acting upon the love we say we have. What I want to draw to your attention in this post is how our love should be lived out daily, not just talked about daily. In particular, our love to God. Our love to God should come out of obedience. Here’s why I believe this: Take a look at this verse.

“If you love Me, keep my commands.” – John 14:15

This verse continues to work on my heart. In other words, Jesus is saying here, “if you really are about that life, if you really are down with me then you will follow what I say.” He didn’t quite say it like that but sometimes I translate in the hood version so I can better understand.

 Here’s my thought towards obeying and following Jesus words. Following Jesus commands is not a bad thing. Think about it, what bad in your life can come out of following Jesus?

“You don’t have a sin problem, you have a love problem.” – Henry Blackaby

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” – 1 John 4:20-21

I’ve been there before. Being full with hatred in my heart, not quite understanding why it was there, I had to desperately seek God for years. I had to cry out to Him, have long talks and walks with Him. Many times I had to ask God to rid the anger and hatred in my heart. I still don’t fully understand why this hatred was there. All I know is, God, over the years helped me overcome this hate. Maybe, you need to allow Him to do the same for you.

My last thought towards why it is hard to love God is the love we are to have for our brother(s) and sister(s). If the love of God is in us then how can we hate another human being? If God’s love is in us, how then can we say I hate this person? We love a God we have never seen and we hate a person we have seen? Nah, that is not the love of God in us.

“If you have a hard time loving people, you have a hard time loving God.”

P.S. God wants to destroy the hate in your life and fill it with love. Trust me, He had to do this for me!

Uncategorized

Don’t Be Afraid To Love

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For years I was afraid to love. I was afraid to give another human being my heart, my trust, my everything. Love can be scary. Reading books about love, magazines about love, watching movies about love, and seeing how love was dealt and dished out in my home growing up left me with questions. Questions like: Is this for me? Can I seriously love someone for the rest of my life? What if love doesn’t work out the way I want it to? What if someone breaks my heart? Will I ever recover?

Coming from an environment, background and childhood where love was tossed around like a game, I began to become callus to what real love looked life. I experienced glimpses of what love looked like, what it felt like, how it was to be shared and received but still I didn’t have a definite understanding on love. (I’m still learning as I go)

When it came to love, for me, during my teenage years I wanted to experience something real but I was trapped in a game that most young men play. Which is, abuse love, make it seem real to women, lie to women to get what you want, just don’t get caught up in your own game.

I was scarred. Not many good examples around me, fighting against the system in which I grew up in, the games I played with hearts and trying to find my pathway in life, the Creator of love met me on my journey in life. I heard about a love that was unconditional, a love that was unchanging, never ending, a love that was powerful enough to change my heart, my way of life, thinking, and actions. This type of love that I was hearing about intrigued me. It didn’t seem real. I certainly knew I didn’t deserve to experience a love so genuine; especially given the way I was abusing love. But I got captured!

A 17 year old young man, fighting against his environment, fighting against what everyone else was doing, fighting against becoming a statistic, fighting against society, culture, fighting against lust; the battle to living in love certainly seemed like a battle that could not be won. In this process of allowing this great divine love to capture me I had to come to the realization that I had to let go of everything I knew, everything I had been taught and throw it out the window.

There I was. Standing at a cross road where my past and future were clashing. There in the present was a Savior calling me to let go and stop being afraid of change. To stop being afraid of His great love. Not sure about you but change can be scary. It’s not easy letting go. Think about it. The God of the Universe, the Creator of all, desiring you to give up your life to come and be apart of something greater. To come live with Him. Is that not crazy or what?

Being afraid to love and not knowing how to love is a real struggle. Is it easy to love? No, it’s not but having a God that helps, a God that provides, a God that guides, makes it all possible. We don’t have to be afraid anymore to love. We can let go of our doubts, insecurities and we can love freely. We can love with everything we got. We can love with every fiber. As we love our God and continue to develop our love relationship with Him, He will shape each love relationship in our life. Love is the greatest gift of all and I want to continue to live and dish out all of the love I have to give while I am here on this earth. Amen!?

1 John 4:18

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”