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.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Affirmation by Juan Roberts

To the brother that asked me how do I talk to God, this is one way …

This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad for it throughout the day. I will magnify His name in my actions and thoughts. I will trust Him to guide my decisions. I will embrace His presence in my home, health, money, relationship, goals and secrets.

This day, however difficult, I will find a way to worship Him in mindset and deed. No matter what the struggle, I will trust that He has got my back … always. Even when I don’t feel or see Him, I know that He is with me/in me … listening, watching and caring.

I think God for mercy in my life. I thank God for grace during my lifetime. I thank God for giving me the will to be obedient.

This is one of my private daily affirmations. I say it when everything is going right AND when my faith is at its lowest/thinnest/weakest. Hope it helps someone,

bro. Juan

Monday, August 10, 2009

Purpose by Juan Roberts

Recently, multiple emails came from brothers in the UK, Chicago and here in LA. Main question: “how do I find my purpose?” I’m no expert on the subject, but below is my response to them, regarding what I know to be true in my life.

As the Lord has given me gifts and talents, I’ve learned to use them … all of them. The challenge is that many times, I forgot that I was not in control, but was simply a steward. I knew that, but it took a while for the reality to bounce around in my thick skull. I see now, at 49, that my purpose is inextricably woven to my gifts.

Today, I strive to do everything that God gives me to do, using my gifts and talents. Inherent in my gifting is a call to serve; a call to be a disciple … a cat that must do whatever it is with a sense of urgency. We never know who or what circumstance is depending on our obedience and sacrifice.

Don’t get it twisted; I’m not the ‘walk up to you in the mall and witness about the Lord’ (although I have done it). I am called to share what Christ reveals to me, in as creative a way as possible. A learned Noel Jones or scholarly Thomas Jakes is not my profile, but I am working to be a great Juan Roberts. Determined to serve with humility in whatever capacity God deems fit for me.

Through fear, trepidation, confusion or rejection, I trust Him to guide my footsteps each new day through the ebbs and valleys of life. I have learned to never waist a minute getting to an assignment. As Bishop Jakes says, 'I step into each moment.' When He says go -- I MOVE. I encourage anyone reading this to work your gift with zeal to the fullest. Please know that within your active faith is your purpose.

bro. Juan

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happily Ever After by Juan Roberts

I can across this video while researching another post.

My wife and I have worked in Family Ministry since 1983 and have been teachers and leadership directors since 1998. We've taught, conducted retreats, individual and peer-to-peer mentorship, etc. When I saw this, I just had to share it. Kudos to the producers and the participants.

Anytime I see men of color representing a solidly wholesome lifestyle with one woman -- you're gonna hear about it. We can't get enough images of couples in classic monogamous relationships.

If you want to see more, go to www.HappilyEverAfterTheMovie.com.

(NOTE: pause the site soundtrack BEFORE clicking play on the trailer)

LAST NOTE: Brothers, anyone that is going through some craziness right now in your marriage / relationship ... You Can Make It. No pie in the sky. I encourage you to lock onto getting through whatever it is and you will. I am a living witness that no matter how dark, nasty, terrifying your situation is to you ... Jesus is there also. There is nowhere He is not, so know that you are not alone ... EVER.

From my heart,

bro. Juan

Monday, August 3, 2009

Covering by Juan Roberts

Based on true events:

Ok, after 7 years of marriage, Raymond put his hands on his wife. He did not intend to, but the fact is that he did.

As I chat with Ray, he explains that he was dealing with some stuff at work and with a crazy neighbor. His wife had a tendency to jump in his face as soon as he crossed the threshold with the stuff of her day. This particular day was not the day for him to hear more of anything negative.

Before he knew it, he had her up against the refrigerator scratching at his arm as he held her tight by her neck, with only her tiptoes touching the floor. He doesn’t remember what was said to him or if he responded. He never heard the kids crying his name or even the dog barking at him.

He comes to himself. His reaction to the choking is that of a husband finding another man assaulting his wife, he yanks his own hand away and forcibly takes himself to the basement and stays for hours.

Ray just knew that the next steps he would hear coming down the stairs would be the cops. What seems like hours later, as he sits in complete darkness, the house above him is unusually silent – no video games, no running, jumping, laughing … not even TV. It is as though his entire family had left him. He fully expected them to disown him.

Then, he began to smell food being prepared. The nuances of home life began to peek back into existence. Just then the basement door opens. His wife begins to descend to his ‘perch of shame’ under the stairs. She meekly sits next to him in silence. Before long she slowly slides her hand onto his head and begins to pray. She covers his outburst, asks God to restore him and ends with a powerful prayer of forgiveness.

Fast-forward 25 years >>> Raymond and Simone are celebrating their 25th anniversary with family and friends. Speeches are going around the room aimed towards the happy couple. Raymond stands to toast his wife, but nothing comes out right away. He looks deeply into the eyes of the woman that has covered him with prayer ever since that day. She begins to get misty. Their 5 children make their way to their parents and they all melted into a group hug that fills the room with tears, praise and prayer. It is a profound ‘God moment.’

Raymond’s testimony helps me appreciate my wife more and more. She has covered me with prayer through some difficult times. While I was trying to be saved in corporate America or helping hundreds of people in a myriad of ways -- only to be burned. Even through devastating family tragedies. I have made arrogant headstrong mistakes and she still props me up when I want to give up from the self-induced pressure. Strong woman. My hero.

Thank you Sweetness.

Thank you Jesus

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Uplift by Juan Roberts

Multiple emails a week from men all over the world stream into my in box. These emails cover various topics from divorce to praise reports to emergency response issues. I find that I’m often pulled in different directions and sometimes don’t know how to respond to the brothas. What I DO KNOW is that the Lord always gives me a Rhema POV for their lives when/as they need it. These exchanges inevitably cause me to think, why me?

Proverbs 15:4 guides me when responding to anyone, but especially to Christians. When it comes to men of faith, I’ve learned that it is imperative to be very straight in these modern times. This site offers a genuine heterosexual ‘wiping away of tears’ from the spiritual warfare triage all around men of faith.

Can you feel what is happening? God is revealing to us that it is our choice to speak destiny into one another rather than ‘what WE think is right.’ The Lord compels us all to reach out and uplift our brothers -– this site is a testament to me being obedient to the Lord’s calling. As disciples, He has given us the freedom to be another brother’s miracle. Personally, ‘humble’ is not strong enough a word to define how it feels. In fact, me putting my name on anything in ministry, especially anything as public and this site is daunting.

Andrew Murray describes humility this way, ‘…without humility, there can be no true abiding in God’s presence, or experience of His favor and the power of His spirit.’ By uplifting others, I find Christ in the midst of my words and He heals me. I need Him now more than ever. Each of us can do the same. All of us can be our brother’s keeper. Indeed.

bro. Juan

Read all of Proverbs 15. It's powerful.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Roaring Lions by Juan Roberts

It is normal for a man to get tired. Especially if he is doing everything he knows to do to take of his family. It is even more normal to become absolutely weary/distracted/kinda pissed off while waiting on God.

Today, most men I know are grinding through the daily roar of modern day 'lions' all around us: threats of bankruptcy, insolvent bank accounts, the scent of foreclosure in every corner of our homes, frustrating and dismissive conversations with creditors and inflation syphoning off any thought of stretching a dollar.

Our breath is labored with a lack of confidence sitting on our chests. We look in the eyes of our family and see weariness creeping onto their backs. The time to encourage ourselves is long past and we, the priests of our homes, must find ways to stay motivated and persistently encouraging. The big question is HOW? When we are drained of even our reserved faith that we thought we had.

The Lord told me this week that we are in the proverbial lions den NOW. Roaring, hungry and aggressive lions. They are loudly stating their case in our internal monologues all-day-long, making it difficult/challenging/impossible to hear what the Lord is saying to us. We work hard just to keep our sanity. Brothas are striving to keep some focus on ministry, but it is becoming vague at best and absent at the very worst. Scripture just does not seem to answer real-life questions about modern problems.

But then I realize that the answer is in the acknowledgment of the place we are in. The lions den is a proving ground or sorts. A place for us to accept that Lord has got our backs. That we must "calm down, shut-up and quit trippin," as one unknown emailer put it.

He noted, Psalm 46:10, where it tells us to, "be still and know that I am God." The master of the universe has our lives under control. James 1:3-4 tells us that patience is the thing that will work a perfect work in us. I don't know about you, but I am sometimes unsure if I command the level of patience I should have to please the Lord. At the end of each day, I am whipped -- my mind, spirit and soul. I talk to more men that share that they find themselves saying, "I don't know" more than ever before. They hate exposing themselves to their wives that way.

My Personal Answer: I put in my mental earplugs, turn up the Word of God in my mind and drown out the lions ... after all, they are only making noise. The Lord did shut them up (Daniel 6:22).

Prosper in your spirit first,

bro. Juan