Beer over Wine.

“Throughout the later 20th century, wine makers have done a fantastic job of convincing people that wine is the complex, sophisticated drink for erudite people with discerning taste – and during that same time period beer marketeers have done just the opposite for their product. It turns out that these marketeers did all of us a great disservice.”

“Beer can be many things; from thirst quenching, sprightly and light to complex, full and contemplative – and everything between. Beer in all its complexity is blossoming to its full expression.”

“Those of you familiar with wine terms will recognize some of these terms, but you will also quickly realize that many of these can not be applied to wines. This is because as good as wine may be, wine just does not have the same breadth of flavors and aromas that beer does.”

slightly Buttery
and Complex
Crisp and Edgy
Expansive and Expressive
Firm with Finesse
Fresh, Luscious
with Rich Overtones
and Smooth Textures

This is me.
A beer in a society convinced that wine is the pinnacle.
Judged because I prefer jeans to slacks. Because my jazz
and hip-hop and rock mesh.
Because the Christianity I see biblically condemns capitalism and condones cursing. Because I believe courage is the highest virtue, while niceness is a vice,
and well-placed anger is righteous.
I exist in the tension between murder and taking life.
My feeling is poetry should work on pages, stages, and beats,
and some graffiti deserves galleries.

I know Christian culture ain’t always right
and European tradition shouldn’t be seen as king. I know most nobles wear name tags, yet remain nameless; always asking how they can help, never asked if they are well.

The Kingdom of God belongs to these.

I know that racism is wired into the fiber of our society.
I know I am often racist
elitist towards my own people
I look down on those who don’t understand as much as me.

I love beauty too much and value tact too little
and know
Passion and patience make ticking time bombs of men,
of which I am the least…
I am too many things, and oftentimes too much, but that’s okay, they say good brews take time.

Failing En[courage]d

I’ve been asking for summer hours at work for the last few years, and I was finally offered some recently. Today was my first day of that work, and at 7:15am, I was supposed to meet a group of people and drive out to Yucaipa to do some heavy lifting.

I thought it was tomorrow.

Long story, short, I didn’t have my phone when they called me twice this morning wondering where I was. I didn’t realize it until nearly 9 o’clock.

Embarrassing on so many levels.

I let that team down (who waited at least 30 extra minutes for me), my supervisor down (who helped me get that opportunity), and the ladies who actually offered me the hours. I know I’m one of the youngest employees, so my mistake may affect the way other young people are viewed, and being black and male in a white female-dominated organization doesn’t help either… I sent a couple apology emails and left a remorseful voicemail, all to no reply, and am realizing that I might not get another chance at this.

I’m okay with that.

In the midst of all of the negative that I recognized in myself in this situation, there was a stronger positive. My mistakes don’t define me. A few months ago a mistake like this would’ve sent me into the depression and I would punish myself severely for being a “screw-up” or for “ruining ANOTHER good thing” and telling myself that I deserve my consequences. The last two are still true, but I don’t need to anchor myself to them anymore. I know better now. Carrying that extra weight slows my progress forward while it drains and discourages me. Instead I am tethered to the positive of all of this; the humility I continue to learn, the discipline of using my calendar that I need to stick with, the maturity of acknowledging my flaws and owning up to my failure, a heart that accepts God’s forgiveness and looks forward to the grace coming to help me show who I know I really am beyond the mistake.

In the midst of my shortcoming, I am encouraged.

Extraordinarily Selfish

“”For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 19:45) […] They [the disciples] soon learned that servant leadership ultimately means giving up yourself so that others can have the life God desires for them.”
— C.Gene Wilkes, Jesus on Leadership

I’ve done this terribly.

Like many of us, I’ve spent the latter half of this week intentionally diving deep into the story and life of Nelson Mandela, desiring to know who he was, what he was motivated by, how he accomplished what he did, and generally desiring to know what life looked like through his eyes.

What moved me most was simple; a handful of letters he had written to his wife during his 27 year long political imprisonment. What was immediately apparent was that he loved her deeply. What also quickly became apparent was that he detested the fact that in many ways, the movement had to come before his family. He hated that.

But he did it willingly.

That is leadership.

That is why I fail at being a leader. I serve as long as it is convenient or beneficial for me. I serve people all the time, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t lay my life down. I do a little bit, give some encouragement, share some knowledge, but I don’t get all the way in and suffer, cry, and love people with all of me. I don’t give until it hurts consistently. I boast in my freedom and I love it so much it keeps me from pursuing my mission. Yeah, I serve, but I don’t live to do it, my life doesn’t revolve around it, and it isn’t what I’m all about. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t tell you what my life revolves around… Well, I guess that means it revolves around me, doesn’t it? I guess I’m just being selfish.

I’m not discouraged though. I’m excited because all of the difficult discussions I’ve been finding myself in recently are adding up to this moment. Every person that has told me that I’m not where I need to be, that I’m capable of more, that I have so much more to give than I currently am. I’m ready.

Finding a Voice. Forging Ahead.

Poetry is not preaching. It is my belief that a good “Christian” poem doesn’t simply state Biblical truth, but rather animates it. Poems should give us pictures and colors where we only saw words before. They should make us re-examine the depth with which we understand the things we perceive to be simple, and challenge us to engage the things that seem out of reach. It should open new worlds within common knowledge, not just restate it. Poems should fuse truth to us in ways that traditional study and research can’t. The same should be said of all art.

I’ve been fighting to let my writing have that kind of depth and as frustrating as it is, the reward is spilling over into all of me. My writing process is becoming more and more fulfilling, and my daily life right beside it.

I can only imagine how it will feel to actually excel at it! I’m very determined to know. Meanwhile, may God give me grace to keep diving deeper.

#71 Growing Pains & Preparation

The amount of writing I get done for this blog directly correlates with the amount of free time I give myself to write for leisure, hence my lack of updates.

I’ve been frightfully busy lately, and not only with school, work, and ministry; but I’ve been very concerned with my personal growth. Honestly, it’s been overwhelming. I’ve made a lot of unflattering discoveries about who I really am and a lot of my real motives are coming unearthed and they’re a lot more selfish than most people would ever expect of me.

I’ve made a number of apologies, broken a number of promises, and lost a couple friends because I’m not who they expected me to be; who I tried to make myself. I’ve been reminded several times though:

God is preparing me for where He’s about to take me. If I find my identity in presenting myself well before people, how much more would that consume me if I were given a large platform? If I found my solace in being a gentleman and treating women well, how much more temptation and heartbreak would I expose myself to if given a platform? As God breaks my preoccupation with being in total control, my penchant for isolation, my fear of structure and discipline, my fear of working hard for something, and my unconscious habit of building 5 levels of protection around my own ego, I’m starting to understand that I could not really be who I’m destined to be without this deep cleansing.

No matter how uncomfortable I get on some days, “This momentary, light affliction is absolutely incomparable to the glory that will be revealed in us” — Romans 8:18

#68 All I Have.

Lesson #1 “When you know what is right, do it immediately.” — Wes Bentley, Far Reaching Ministries

Lesson #2 That’s all you can do.

My WordPress app deleted two of my blog posts this week, the first happened right after it posted, the second, as I was trying to save it before posting it. Gone, as if they were never there to begin with. I lost about 2 1/2 hours between them which is almost infuriating. Still, I push on.

I spent the last three days chaperoning middle school students on an island, came home exhausted then drove to Pomona to my usual open mic, Lionlike Mind State. I’m currently typing this from a random Pomona parking lot a few minutes before midnight because it has to be done before I lose this magic.

Part of me wants to cry because of how far I have to drive home tonight, how many hours of sleep I’ll get by the time I get there, how long tomorrow will be on top of it, and how tired I already am to begin with. The other part of me though, has brought my paltry strength and effort to God and found some drive in the precious people of Pomona tonight. God has loved me extravagantly through them.

From one of the co-hosts, to the guest poet, to a guy I don’t even know, God spoke my language tonight. Some of it was as blatant as the specific words they were saying and some of it was simply subtle visions I saw as everything transpired. I couldn’t even say what because I can’t easily transcribe the significance of it all. I left very weary and very hopeful. I did all I could and it wasn’t enough, but God multiplies my little to supply His lot. Whether I succeed or all my effort is deleted, all I have to give is my all, God can do the rest.