A whole new world…

It’s official… I’ve been writing for a month!!! So far, this has been an interesting journey for me. Every morning, I wake up between 3:00-4:00 am to say a prayer, open my heart and share it with you. Seeing the responses both on- and offline have been incredibly encouraging. There have been times where I didn’t want to write but I am reminded of one simple thing… it’s not about me.

As men, we are born and bread to have certain standards, outlooks and expectations. As children, we learn how to “suck it up and be a man”. When my own children fall down and have ‘boo-boos’, my 1st response is, “is it bleeding?”, then “does it take all of that” and finally “are you okay?”… There is an inherent “manliness” that we learn and pass on. And, in order to be a man, you have to act a certain way.

The problem with the ‘be a man’ system of teaching is that there isn’t balance. And, unfortunately, whenever there is imbalance in a system, the system will correct itself. The correction of this system was the movement of ‘coming out of the closet’. Gay men rebelled against the system. They protested against it because as individuals they didn’t match, or conform, to what the system was trying to generate. But again where there is imbalance the system will correct itself… Now, there is soo much attention given to being “politically correct” that it’s almost a bad thing to be gay, or sympathetic to their cause.

The same principles apply to religion, as well. Growing up we were taught the “Heaven or Hell” message and we were in many cases frightened into giving our lives to Christ for fear of going to Hell. The message of Christ is that of love and not fear. So when the fear runs out, so do the people. People rebelled against the harsh teachings of Christianity and embraced inclusivism; everyone is going to Heaven; being saved doesn’t require all of that and many, many other doctrines. But, again it was in response to the lack of balance that was presented.

I am not gay and I am not sympathetic to their cause. I am not a ‘backslider’ embracing non-Biblical truths. I am a man with real concerns about life, with real feelings, with real desires and dreams. I am a husband with real desires for my wife and goals for my family. I am a father who is concerned about raising my children in this society, who is very interested in nurturing strong men and productive future citizens. I am a son, a brother, a cousin, a friend, a minister, a musician, an insurance broker, an entrepreneur, a computer guy… I am all of these things and more. It’s like the old tagline for the Transformers cartoon… “Transformers… More than meets the eye”.

Purpose drives ALL of our lives whether we know it, or not; whether we like it, or not. One of the primary reasons that I continue writing is to share with other men the fact that we can still be strong men and still experience heartfelt pain; that we can be men and cry like a babies; that we can be men and want love… It doesn’t make me any less of a man to wash dishes, or clothes, rather than wash the car. It doesn’t make you any less of a man to read a romantic novel versus Sports Illustrated. All of these things bring balance. They make us well-rounded men. Riddle me this, why are the most popular subjects that WOMEN read generally about MEN? I’m just saying…

Finally, after some poking and prodding from friends, family and fellow readers, I have started my own webpage site devoted to writing. Please, please, please check it out often and share with YOUR sphere of influence. I am contemplating greater things in this area and I need your support. The website address is http://www.JackieSmithJr.com

I love you ALL!!!
Stay blessed,
Jackie

Check out my website… http://www.JackieSmithJr.com

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Time brings change…

Letter from 2012-12-01

I was sitting in my office thinking about all of the different things that happened yesterday and which one particular thing to write about. Yesterday was a good day. I experienced more positive than negative. It was Friday… there’s a couple dollars in the bank. It’s the weekend. So, no work today. We’re planning to hang with some of the family today. I’m in a great mood. Things are good. I’m smiling.

Last night, at the end of our practice, we had a time of sharing and testimony. From time to time, we NEED to kick the agenda, or the business at hand, to the curb and just talk to each other about what’s going on in our individual lives. There were some great victorious testimonies that were shared. One of the things that we discussed was the various religious backgrounds that we all had come from. It was a very light conversation but here is the clause… Please try not to be offended because I just may be talking about your church :-)

I was brought up in an Apostolic, or Pentecostal, church. I belonged to the First Church of Everybody Else is Going to Hell. We believed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ; one way to the Heaven and that being thru Jesus; we believed in baptism(completely immersed) in Jesus name, not Father, Son, Holy Spirit; and receiving the Holy Ghost with speaking in tongues as proof. If you believed anything other than this then you were going to hell.

One person was brought up Baptist. Once saved always saved. We are born in sin but saved by grace. Once you were saved, you could do whatever you wanted including smoking, cussing, or whatever else you wanted to do. Baptist born, Baptist bread and when I die, I’ll be Baptist dead.

I know people from all types of religious backgrounds but nowadays we ALL attend, or join, the same Non-Denomination, or Inter-Denomination, church. All believers, all together, serving the same God… I think it’s cool. But, how did this melting pot of religion occur? What happened that allowed people from such opposing teachings to come together and fellowship as one?

Well, I truly believe that time brings change. It’s like when you first meet your girlfriend, or wife. They are the most beautiful person God ever created; Heaven just dropped them out of the sky just for you; their every step seemed to be upon fresh rose petals; they could do no wrong; everything was right… Then they passed gas in front of you for the first time. What in the world!?!? Where did that come from? Or they went to the bathroom and didn’t close the door. Or it’s bedtime, why are you putting that stuff on your face? That’s the her-side but what about us, guys? What about that argument about whether, or not, I snore? Or that first night after eating White Castles? That wasn’t me, of course…

What I’m saying is that over time, we get more and more comfortable with each other. And the same has occurred in American religion. We work with, shop with, have fun with these other believers. So, why not worship with them. We’ve become a melting pot of ideas and beliefs. This is a good thing. But, like having that second bowl of Pinto beans for dinner, not everything good continues on that ‘good’ path. Because of all that combining of ideas and beliefs where is our true standards? What exactly DO we believe today? With the advent of the American Mega Church, many times the message has been diluted in order to accommodate all of the people.

I believe that EVERY church has a purpose. The key is, knowing what that purpose is. Some people need the “you’re going to hell is you don’t change” church in order to for them to reevaluate their lives. But, at one time, I belonged to a church where the pastor stated he would refer to sin as ‘misbehaving’ because the word sin was offensive. Guess what? I needed that church because I had been hurt by church. That soft touch ministry is what kept me. There are the prosperity churches where the main message is about gaining wealth. Again, no problem there… If we serve the God of abundance, we’re heirs and joint heirs to the kingdom then why shouldn’t we have some money.

So, my question to you is this…
Time does bring change. Are these changes good, or bad? Why do you think so?

I love you ALL!!!
Stay blessed,
Jackie