Monday, January 11, 2010

Help My Brother - Juan Roberts

Pause the MixPod playlist while you watch the video.

This video is an amazing illustration of how brothas are to assist each other behind enemy lines ... and we are all behind enemy lines.

Not sure what country this took place in, but the first dog is wounded while attempting to cross the highway -- badly. The second dog sees his comrade in trouble and without hesitation, dog number two endangers their own life to drag dog one to safety ... inch by inch ... until they both are out of harms away.

Notice that dog two did not ask what the problem was or if dog one needed help, dog two just jumped in to support a friend in need. No questions. No judgements. No hesitation.

This hit me like a tone of bricks.

In 2009, I did what this dog did with brothas multiple times and most of the time, I got burned. I am in the mode of not helping anyone anymore. Not a good place.

Let me know what you think.

Bro. Juan

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Baddest Yacht EVER!

Pause the MixPod playlist while the vid does its thing.

The Bad News Was Wrong

I’ve been talking to brothers throughout the holidays about stress.

Not just dealing with the job, our women or church stuff, but REAL, BONIFIDE S-T-R-E-S-S. The kind of stress that has put some men flat on their backs. The economy has financially devastated so many men to the point that they are wondering if God even hears their prayers or will deliver them.

We are reading our Word, holding fast to the promises of God. The fact is that this has been going on so long that brothers are tired, no exhausted, better yet, feeling wiped out.

One brother shared that he feels like he is drowning and can’t catch his breath all of the time. Another was unable to speak without weeping, so he shut up most conversations. Many brothers are fighting hard, continuing to press towards the mark, striving within their salvation and trusting God explicitly, yet they/we are looking up from the inside of a HUGE whole that has no ladder.

Yes, there are moments of confidence in Christ that shine on us, but those are like brief breezes on crazy hot stifling days. In those moments, many find that they see clearer and feel they can get a prayer through, like being on the roof getting a clear cell signal. Then the darkness of fending off depression comes back and fills their thoughts.

Personally, I find that being still helps me—sitting still in a quiet place and listening to God’s subtle voice in a still small way—sometimes I'm alone in the car. I am not one of those Christians that gets the booming clear direction from God Himself, the order of my steps comes in bits and pieces of life —TV, reading, conversations, prayer, driving. His quiet assurance guides me and holds me up, keeps me going, keeps me fighting. The Holy Ghost dresses me with the armor of God and helps me fight each minute/hour/day.

Listen, I thought I was down for the count in January of 2008 … for real, but I’m still standing 2 years later, thank the Lord. A series of devastating life circumstances coupled with the economy have given me a new understanding of longsuffering. I confess that there are days I just want to give it all up—the mortgages, cars, debts, ministry work and accountabilities. I strategize how to just fade into the background and lay in the cut until the struggle ends. But that’s not gonna happen.

What must happen is I get up, workout, shower, eat a good breakfast and get to work, kiss my wife, love my family and friends. I gotta find a way to lift my spirits and thank God for another day to praise Him, to worship Him and magnify His name. Hallelujah!

I’ve discovered that the armor of God not only protects me from the snares of the enemy, but the armor protects me from hurting myself; from doing stupid stuff and claiming stupid stuff, like failure, weakness, lack of discipline, vague decisions, etc.

I heard a minister say yesterday that, “the good news is … the bad news was wrong.” I love that concept. Keep strong brothers. The man you are becoming is the man that can greet life with the strength of God … right now. Continue in faith, grace and mercy and lead your family into 2010. Heavy loads can be deposited on Jesus. Let them go. Wear this world loosely. Don’t let ANYTHING get between you and your salvation—not money, power, material things, love, nothing, that’s the only way to ensure that you will stand strong in Christ and bend ... but not break as the trials come at you.

You are not alone. Never alone. Never give up. He will deliver you.

Bro. Juan Roberts

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The New Norm

Emails from all over the country are hitting me daily. The economy is much worse than being reported in the popular media. The unemployment stats are not even close to the reality facing the lives of men and their families every day. A LOT of people are only one decision away from being at the world's mercy. I believe that we are all facing a NEW NORM. What's that? Let me tell you.

We are going to have to learn to live with less income, more expensive goods and services, less health care and definitely more costly credit. Our lives are transitioning into existences filled with less options for success, fewer mechanisms for achievement and no privacy. Our expectation that 'things will get better is dimming.' As RFID technologies impact/control modern living, we are all going to have to accept government/corporate access into our dwindling privacy. Information technology will govern our livelihood, purchasing ability, health choices (or lack there of), our educational decisions and offer less tolerance than ever for crime offenders.

As most of us are still rapidly over consuming, which leads to major debt, which equals slavery that ultimately leads to death. Along the way, we are becoming engorged with stress, inflated with false doctrines that promise fix the immediate issue, but deny the power of God's word through submitting to it. Our daily walk with Christ is being consumed with extreme need and deliverance focus so intense that discipleship gets lost in the sauce. The difference between those with and without is drastically shrinking. Those with are starting to imagine what it would be like to not have and those already without are preparing for how to survive with more people in their ranks. Non-profits know it. Corporations know it. Financial institutions know it. Government knows it. Churches are starting to get it.

SIDE BAR: Churches felt all of this early on -- at least three years ago. I had meetings with various churches about their ministries beginning to feel the pinch of people's pockets, their faith that God is the only solution, even that Pastor's were the closest to God. However, by the urban Christian church being so disjointed and non supportive of one another, the reality of lasting the economic decline could not be prepared for and is subsequently being managed with continuous conferences and celebrations. With the amount of collective financial activity generated by these events, we could manage our own group insurance for the saints. We could provide our own educational/housing capabilities and even impact preventive health care that significantly improves the Christians.

Today, we are all in the midst of being, 'caught off guard.' I taught an 8-part class in 2007 that foretold of a lot of what is going on now, called "Wag the Dog." The class dealt with the rise of the Luciferean principles of SELF that are integrated into our lives and how the church can recognize/prepare for them ... if we really want to. I suspect that many ministers never wanted their people to be so aware of the 'new norm' enveloping us all. The concept of 'self' is destroying us all.

This is not doom and gloom. It is all spelled out in the bible, it is just not talked about much from the pulpit or in our weekly teaching. It has caused me to settled on this one thing -- trust God only. Lean on him for everything. Let go of control, because no matter how much I attempt to self-manage, I cannot. Ultimately, God is in control.

Prove or discredit what I'm saying. Be aware of the infusion of the concept of self into our lives. Watch out for the me, I, my, self, etc. that is included into every aspect of our lives -- news, advertising, programming, entertainment -- can you say reality TV or YouTube? The new norm is driven by man trying to control life as we know it ... as we are eye witnesses and participants to its decline. This topic is bigger than any one president or government. Errant political momentum is crashing us into the Word faster than we know it. We are living in biblically expressive times.

Last word, have faith in God and Him only. As things get worse, He must become the new norm for blood-washed believers.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Physical Violence Against Brothas

Pause music to the right before you play video.

I've been getting hit all day with the chatter about the double standard being used against Chris Brown. Wow.

I do not for a second think that Chris has an appendage to lean on -- NONE. However, the brothas are upset about the conversation they are having with their female friends/associates/families regarding Rhianna being told to cut Chris off for ever.

Many guys are asking what if he has been hit/threatened/abused for months or years in a relationship and has explained to his woman that he does not like it? Men love their women and tolerates the abuse, but no one, not even their mothers are telling them to leave her, cut her off or otherwise be resolute in discontinuing any contact with her. Hmmmmm

On the other side, I have discussed this with a few women and no woman seems to think that female violence is 'as bad' as male violence. Perhaps it is due to the publicity of the classic physical abuse scenario -- he kicked her butt. Apparently a LOT of brothas are dealing with some violent women. I mean hard core, punches, skin punctures with weapons of varying types and of course the world famous slap to the face. However, no one even begins to equate their issues with her violence as overtly negative, let alone life threatening. I watched Rhianna talk about impacting girls who may go back to 'him' and be killed. Now I see what brothas are asking, "what of I get killed?" "Who's crying for me?" Hmmmm

This is catching me off-guard y'all. I has dismissed the whole Rhianna situation off as hip hop mess, but not so. Men are facing similar violence all over the nation and the islands, but cannot ... CAN NOT expose that he is being battered. What? Brothas are punks? What? Naaa, can't be.

See, I just added to the stigma. It was that easy to do it. There has to be a scripture that addresses this, but it escapes me right now. I'm just blown away.

What I can say is this. If you are in an abusive relationship, you have no Godly obligation or responsibility to stay in physical danger. Separate yourself from the violence -- male or female. Put some distance between you and the offender and seek the Lord for a viable solution once you are secure. I know prayer works. I know the Lord will keep you safe. Keep your head about you while you are being safe.

This is bigger than I thought. I gotta pray on this some more. Later.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Shacking Brothas

Lately, I have been hit from multiple brothas with questions about being single and living together with a woman, let alone as a Christian man. What the ....?

When did this even become a question? I mean, when did it become even a consideration that 'sharing the same address' was a possibility for single opposite gender Christians? I know I am old school and I make no apologies for that. NO, is my direct answer to each brotha. Shacking up is not OK. PERIOD. I have been hard on them about the excuses they have shared with me about why they asked the question. Check this.

Brotha One
She was evicted and needed a place just until she could get a spot. She figured it would take a couple of weeks, but what she didn't know was that her credit and rental history would take a hit and it happens fast, so she's in week 9 and counting. He went on to say that they have only slipped once so far, but he admits that he is getting weaker the more he is exposed to her thongs in the dryer or her smell in the mornings after she is gone to work. He works from his condo, so he is tempted all day long with the notion of snooping in her room. He says they go to bible class together, talk about the Lord all of the time, but the commonness of their relationship is getting comfortable in his three BR place ... on the ocean ... 12th floor ... with maid service.

Man, get your head straight! You cannot do this any longer. She has got to go. I know the priority of finding a new place has also 'slipped' and you definitely are not being the voice of reason when it comes to sleeping arrangements as room mates. You are a heterosexual man and you're feeling her. You gotta step up and be the man in this situation. STEP UP. Think about it man, how is she being seen by her set? Her parents? Her church circle? Your neighbors? You are allowing your good to be 'evil spoken of.' You are not protecting her honor or the sanctity of your mutual professions ... as a Christian.

Brotha Two
This guy just has a problem with secret lust. His neighbor has become dependent upon him, because he allows her to sleep over at least once a week. Why? She was raped a few months ago and suffers from severe anxiety and fright during the night. He comforts her on his sofa until the wee hours of the morning, when he retreats to his bedroom and she sleeps on the sofa until daylight.

He says that he only holds her, but admits his excitement ... at times. Trouble signs: She is becoming more comfortable in his kitchen; she comes over earlier to cook for him, wash for him and even clean for him. Trouble! She is wearing less and less around him and behaves like he is her brother. Yeah right!!!

Man you ain't foolin' nobody but yourself. You know that you are playing with FIRE. Help her get some therapy and prayer, but guard your faith bro. Don't keep acting like you got it all under control, knowing that if she offers to 'thank you' for all that you've do for her by doing something for you -- you are toast my brotha. You know this. Besides the appearance of another worldly relationship by a fake Christian for everyone to point at. You gotta find other options for her ... and you.

Stand on His Word in Your Life
These are just two of the men that I have been communicating with. I don't go into all of the scriptures that apply to each situation, that's for ministers to cover. My gig is to respond to you with what the Lord gives me. Know who you are and what you represent in God. If you have to ask, you know you're already in a bad place. If the Holy Ghost be true in your life, honor God first -- not so-called friendship. Men must set the tone of their relationships. God expects it. Lead with heart He's given you, not logic. Trust Him in all your ways and He will tell you what to do. Ask yourself: "Have you gotten God's approval to do what you're doing?" "Have you honestly done everything possible to help her to live separately from you?" "Are you expecting God to forgive you if you do slip?"

Last Note: Each situation detailed was done with the approval of the brothas. They want more feedback, so if you have some suggestions, anecdotes and/or scriptures for them, please send them. I have been out of the 'single' game for 29 years, so I can only give so much insight. If you have more, give it up to help your brotha.

Link: Is Living Together Really That Big of a Deal?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sleep Apnea Brotha

I admit it. I spent most of my adult life as a loud snorer ... LOUD.

I presumed that it was completely normal, because my dad snored so loud it shook things in the house. All that changed when I had a sleep test in 2004. I discovered that how I slept had me at death's door and I never suspected it.

How many other brothas think the exact same thing about snoring. I found that most men think that snoring is normal -- WRONG.

My Sleep Apnea Story
My life went like this, I was always tired, but powered through life tasks. I had trouble staying awake in the movies, in church, while reading or sitting still anywhere or anytime. I had to take naps before driving any distance, because I was notorious for nodding while driving. At least three years before being tested, I would wake up during night soaking wet, from my body going through the apnea process of stop breathing, choking awake, falling asleep and choking awake ... all night long. I don't know how my wife endured all those years of my snoring, scaring her when I stopped breathing ... Jesus. We were so miserable.

I got the courage to press my doctor to prescribe me a sleep test. I received a sleep clinic diagnosis that determined that my blood oxygenation level was 'beyond dead.' Normal levels are 94-100. Danger levels begins at 88-89. Fellas, I was at 53. In my sleep I stopped breathing over 150 times an hour. I was suffering from hypoxemia. In my case, this blood level status played out as Severe Sleep Apnea.

The Apnea Journey
Apnea is the cessation/pause of breathing or very shallow breathing during sleep. When the brain realizes it NEEDS more air it forces the heart to beat faster and breathing rate increases and the body reacts like it has been in a race.

I have personally experienced my brain/body/lungs demanding air as I would choke awake. This is critically dangerous. Sleep Apnea can contribute high blood pressure and major heart issues, including heart attacks. There is a debate about the relationship between strokes and sleep apnea. Ha! There's no debate in my mind. I talk to brothas all over the nation and more and more of them are getting tested, and finding that they can get help that will change their life.

My personal belief is that sleep apnea is a major factor in strokes among Black men. I contend that the medical community does not seem to want us to know how sleep apnea is negatively impacting our culture. Do you know a brotha that just dropped dead from a stroke or a heart attack? If so, ask someone close to them if they were a heavy snorer; if they ever stopped breathing while sleeping; or if they had any of the symptoms I described earlier.

Black and Latino brothas are leaving here at an alarming rate from strokes and heart attacks that can be directly related to apneic sleep governing their very lives.

The sleep test changed my life ... for the better. GET TESTED.

The Test
The testing process was super simple. I arrived on a Wednesday after Bible Class. The guy at the sleep clinic was former special forces in Ireland, Jim. He patiently explained to me everything that was going to happen (I guess he could see my apprehension). He introduced me to terms like CPAP and BIPAP and answered all my questions (you know I did some research before going). He hooked me up with lots of EKG type connectors. I was given a quiet clinical room with a single bed and he basically monitored my sleep. At about 6 am he woke me up. I thought I had just nodded off until he told me what time is was. I looked out the window ans saw daylight.

When I tell you that the test was one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my life, I mean it. For the first time in YEARS, I had slept for 8 straight hours. I felt the best I had in YEARS. Gentlemen, I could not remember the last time that I had slept more than 1-2 hours at a time. Do you know what that does to your body, mind and spirit? Sleep was destroying me. The Lord sparred my life. Oh my God. It was glorious. I felt more alive than I could ever remember.

I received a prescription for a BIPAP machine that I use until this day. I travel with it at all times. I use it every night, nap, whatever.

Why I am Telling You all of This
I have been telling anyone/everyone that I know about my apnea experience. SLEEP APNEA IS MORE THAN JUST A DISORDER -- IT IS KILLING BROTHAS. Some brothas I've talked to have listened and been tested and gotten the treatment that works for them. Others have not been tested and are not here any longer ............. I know that God spared my life.

Medically, I am not supposed be here. Spiritually, I am on a mission to serve as the Lord He leads me. I've lost 50+ pounds, exercise and de-stress regularly, and I've completely changed my food intake behavior. No more reflux meds, HBP meds, cholesterol meds. I am respecting His temple.

I pray that if you or anyone that you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, do what you gotta do to get them to be tested. DO IT. Please do it. I know a lot of brothas no longer have insurance, but be a pest to whomever until the test is done ... it could save your life or the life of someone you care about.