Friday, November 30, 2012

Thriller Turns 30: There Will Never Be Another...

Today marks the 30th Anniversary of King of Pop Michael Jackson's Thriller, considered one of the greatest albums of all time. 30 years ago, this album was released and went on to sell over 42 million certified copies (with estimates actually reaching 110 million). With hits like "Billie Jean," "Beat It" and "Thriller," this album is still the best selling album of all time.

I was a young lass when this album hit stores -- back in the day when you had to physically enter a store and purchase an album. (For my younger readers, those were also the days that dinosaurs roamed the earth.) I can't remember exactly who in my household purchased the album, but I'd guess that my sister -- ten years older than me -- made the transaction.

What I do remember? For me, Thriller was love at first hearing.

Over the years, I've come to love a lot of music and many artists of various genres, but I don't think anyone's music has been quite like Michael Jackson's. It was revolutionary... mesmerizing.

When I was a little girl, I remember my parents discussing the greats of their time: Jackie Robinson, Joe Lewis, Nat King Cole, and many others. The comment they would make over and over again, especially when one of "the greats" passed away was, "Man, there will never be another."

I didn't understand their words then. But then I grew up to see and hear a few greats myself.

Today, the first thought that popped into my head about Thriller's anniversary was, Man, there will never be another...

There will always be great singers, great dancers, great performers. But there will never be another Michael Jackson.

Today, I leave you with another thought. What will be said about you when you leave this earth? Will people remember you as one of the greats of your time?

Wouldn't it be amazing if when people thought of you and me, they shook their heads, pursed their lips and said:

"Man, there will never be another person who loves other people so well..."

"There will never be another who cares so deeply for the poor, the homeless, the needy, the orphan..."

Or --

"There will never be another who loves and serves God with so much passion.."

We still have time to make a difference here on earth. We still have time to care for those in need of the basic necessities that we frivolously throw away. We still have time to love God and others well.

You still have time to -- as Michael would say -- "make the world a better place, take a look at yourselves and make a change."



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

2012 Election Results: I'm Just Saying...

You most likely woke up this morning feeling one of two ways:

  • Some of you feel dismayed and discouraged over the election results
  • Others of you feel triumphant and hopeful over the very same results
I actually have mixed feelings about the election. I'm happy that an African American man not only pulled off the election one time, but twice. Last night's election proved that Barack Obama's clinching of the country's top seat back in 2008 wasn't a fluke. For an African American woman that has studied our country's sordid past in the area of race, this fact makes me smile.

On the other hand, the election results around the country reveal some disturbing trends that give me pause...

I. The states of  Washington and Colorado legalized the sale and recreational use of marijuana for people over 21. 

For years, marijuana has had the reputation of being a harmless drug that many claim has desirable health benefits. However, according to a recent Yale study, marijuana can often be a "gateway drug" that leads users to try other, more harmful drugs later in life. Quite frankly, I don't want my children smoking marijuana to celebrate their 21st birthdays. 

II. My home state of Maryland and the state of Maine both voted to legalize gay marriage

I'm not going to beat the dead horse that evangelical christians are beating all over the country today, but I must note that the Bible clearly speaks of marriage as being between a man and a woman. The conclusion: our country has begun to silence God's voice on issues like these. We have become amazingly wise in our own eyes.

III. Oklahoma voted to wipe out affirmative action programs in state government. 

Voters in Oklahoma have decided that affirmative action programs are no longer needed in their state government's hiring practices. Now on the one hand, I see their point. We've witnessed an African American man being elected to our federal government's highest office -- twice. On the other hand, I know a lot of minority men and a lot of women of various races that could use a little help getting their foot in the door. Also, I worry that other state governments, corporations and universities will soon follow suit, eradicating programs that give minorities and women a fighting chance.

What discourages me today are the trends I'm seeing. The United States is rapidly moving the way of its mother country -- Europe. We are abandoning Judea-Christian beliefs and practices. We are abandoning the Word of God. We are abandoning the very ideologies that our country was founded upon.

And yet I am hopeful for our country. I believe in the U.S.A. And I believe in the God that still has the whole world in His hands.

This past Monday, my prayer group began our time with the following scripture, which, on the eve of election day, proved prophetic:
"Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made." Psalm 145:13
God is faithful. He is loving. He's got this. He's got us.

Every president has been confined to office terms, but God's dominion endures forever. And ever and ever and ever...



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Orphan Sunday: Let's Get Moving!

Today is Orphan Sunday, and at Mosaic Church, we'll spend the entire morning highlighting the needs of orphans in our country and around the world.

The statistics are staggering: there are more than 150 million orphans in the world. In the United States alone, 100,000 children are languishing in the foster care system, while waiting to be adopted. Many are older children. Some have physical or mental disabilities. Most have deep emotional scars.

Few are in their situations because of their own fault.

Almost all have been grossly neglected or abused by the adults in their lives -- the very people they have trusted to feed, clothe and care for them.

This problem can seem so overwhelming, you might be asking, "What can I do?" There are several things YOU can do for orphans around the world.

1. Pray for orphans in this country and around the world

Psalm 68:5 calls God "a father to the fatherless." If He is their true Father -- and ours too -- we must trust Him to ultimately protect these precious children. Even as an adoptive mother and someone who works diligently on behalf of foster care children in my state, I can't possibly touch every sweet little orphan girl in China or every abandoned baby boy in Ethiopia or every teenager right here in the U.S. that will soon "age out" of the foster care system.

But I can pray.

And so can you.

2. Consider foster care or adoption

I believe every Christian should at least pray about adopting or fostering a child. For many of us, God will call us to engage directly. For others He won't. Not every Christian is called to foster or adopt, but every Christian is called to consider it.

Today I stumbled upon "I Care About Orphans", a ministry of "Focus on the Family." This website presents an easy-to-read chart with the number of foster children waiting to be adopted in each U.S. state in one column and the number of churches in another column.

For instance, while my current state of Arkansas has 1414 waiting children, we also have 6343 churches. In my hometown of Maryland, there are only 718 waiting children, yet there are 5,816 churches. In the huge state of Texas, a staggering 13,481 foster children are waiting to be adopted. But get this: there are 27,505 churches in the "Lone Star State".

The obvious conclusion? If just one person from every church adopts just one of these waiting children, the U.S. would have no more waiting children. Imagine that.

3. Give financial support

There are so many ways we can give financially to the orphan crisis. One would be to find a reputable, God-focused organization working to solve this crisis and give monthly or at least once a year. I currently volunteer for The CALL (Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime), which trains prospective foster parents recruited from local churches, and we are forever in need of donors to help us continue God's mission.

Another way to give financially is to find families that are struggling to raise adoption fees. These fees can be overwhelming for sure (I know from experience), but the burden can be eased by monetary gifts from friends and loved ones. If Anthony and I hadn't been blessed in this way, there's no way we could have adopted my sweet Christian.

On Orphan Sunday, please pray about what you can do. And let's get moving!