Author Archives: Not Church As Usual

About Not Church As Usual

A lay person who desires more from God and more from my worship experiences both public and private.

Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence

First, I want to apologize to anyone who followed my blog.  I know that it has been a while since I posted anything.  While I enjoyed reviewing Christian content and doing Greenleaf Reviews, I was failing at doing the things that God assigned me to do.  I needed to re-evaluate the initial purpose of this site. My initial purpose was and still is to reach those who are marginalized in the Universal Church, encourage and inspire along with addressing taboo issues of the church.

Suddenly, I was in a whirlwind spiraling out of control.  I lost family, friends, property, and finances. I was living a real-life Job experience. I was exhausted and frustrated.  How can I be an encourager when I needed encouragement? I looked around to find that my support system was lacking. I didn’t have it with family, friends, or even my church. It is hard to articulate the loneliness I felt and at times I still feel. I sought the Lord through spiritual disciplines and encouraged myself in him.  There were times where I felt it difficult to breathe.

As we entered the year 2020, many spiritual leaders preached on the subject of 2020 Foresight or 2020 Vision.  This year as we are halfway through it has unearthed and revealed things that “prophets” did not foretell.  The negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued genocide against people of color through police brutality and other acts of violence have divided our nation. Like 2 Corinthians 4:8 (KJV), We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.” I went to the throne beseeching the Lord asking for help, clarity, healing, and deliverance.  It is all so overwhelming and there are no clear answers.  My solace was found in Psalm 23.

Penned by David, Psalm 23 reassures us of God’s love, provision, and comfort. David, being a shepherd himself, acknowledges the great lengths that it takes to care for a flock of sheep. He uses the analogy of a shepherd caring for his sheep to reveal El Shaddai (the All-Sufficient God). By the end of the chapter, David is assured that God’s grace and mercy will be upon him all the days of his life and even in death.

Psalm 23 is not new to me. I have read and recited this chapter countless times. I recently celebrated the 29th anniversary of my 21st birthday. Seeking solace from the current events and personal trials, I revisited that scripture and created the following summation.

Verse 1:     GDP (Global Distribution System): God will always provide. We will experience no lack of our needs.

Verse 2:     RSI (Restoration Services Insurance): God offers comfort and support by the way of green pastures available to all Believers. Green pastures contain the Word of Life, which is nourishment for the new man, milk for the babies, and pastures for sheep. In these pastures, there is peace of mind regardless of whatever trials we face. Our souls are at rest in Him. These green pastures are never barren, never parched, and never eaten bare. The still waters are streams that flow from the Living Waters fountain. They provide too many refreshing drinks when they are thirsty and weary.

Verse 3:     GPS (Global Positioning System): Feeding upon the goodness of God means that we will follow his direction. God provides predetermined right paths for us to follow so that we may reach our destiny. God leads us by his foresight, his Word, and by his Spirit. This means that we must follow the instructions provided to us through his Word, fasting, and prayer.  Even when we go astray, God can and will track us. We can always get back on track by humbling ourselves, repenting, and reforming.

Verse 4:     CPS (Child/Christian Protective Services): In times of imminent danger, God protects and comforts us.  The imminent danger can be a deep as the valley, as dark as the shadow, and under the perils of death. The comfort is that we are walking. We are not running in distress. There is no substantial evil in it because God is there to comfort us through his Spirit and his Word. We will have holy security and serenity of mind.

Verses 5-6: FOS (Fellowship of Services): Amid our calamities and attacks from our enemies, God will converse with us. During our communion with God, he will provide three things:

  • Spiritual nourishment (recommended daily dose of intake)
  • Two Types of Anointing
    • Anointing of Healing: recovery from illness, revive from faintness, restoration of our souls when we want to depart. 
    • Anointing of Designation: an appointment of rank with acknowledging and the recognition of a new level of operation in the Holy Spirit
  • An Overflowing Cup (an unlimited abundant supply of goodness and mercy. All the streams of mercy flowing from the fountain, pardoning mercy, protecting mercy, sustaining mercy, supplying mercy that will chase us down all the days of our lives.)
  • We are always welcomed by God all the days of our lives.

While we are still contending with the fallout from COVID-19, injustice in our nation and personal situations be encourage. God did not promise that we would be free from trials and tribulations, but he does promise to be with us providing comfort, security, and provision. As the Apostle Paul says in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Product Review: Self-Guided Tour of the Bible

When we desire to have a closer relationship with God, the best way to do so is through the practice of spiritual disciplines.  The practice of spiritual disciplines helps us grow in the knowledge of God, his teachings, and how to live life, pleasing in His sight.  It is through studying God’s Word that we receive instructions in righteousness that allows us to be transformed by the renewing of minds. (2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 12:2)  There is a multitude of resources and tools available to assist us with the understanding of the Scriptures.  Sorting through the numerous resources and tools to obtain the basic knowledge of Bible can be a daunting task and disheartening to some who are new to Bible Study.

Christopher D. Hudson has written a plain, user-friendly companion resource book entitled, “Self-Guided Tour of the Bible.” This book is designed to be used with the Bible.  As the name implies, it allows one to study at his/her own pace. It is written using real-world scenarios and modern day examples to illustrate different concepts in the Bible.  It features maps, timelines, overviews, and charts all full-colored and reproducible for classrooms or small group studies.  There are 242 pages. Hudson cleverly uses a museum analogy to feature and highlight the various components of this companion guide.  Each chapter acts as an “Exhibit Hall.” Each “Exhibit Hall” provides a description of content featured.

This book serves well as a quick reference guide with multiple maps, charts, overviews, and timelines at your fingertips.  It would be great for new theologians beginning the journey of discovery of God’s Word. It is ideal for teaching biblical foundation training and teaching in a small group setting and for individual study.  I would definitely recommend this as a resource that should be a part of your arsenal.

Greenleaf: Season 2 Episode 2 – Strange Bedfellows

This episode is not as salacious as the previous episode. Nevertheless, there are some powerful topics addressed, strong zingers, and it helps support the framework for the season. Most of what is learned is this episode comes from conversations. It is not something that we necessarily witness at every turn.

Lady Mae has been providing Charity with support in caring for Baby Nathan who is suffering from a diaper rash that keeps him irritable and up most of the night. When Baby Nathan’s crying interferes with an intimate moment with his wife, Bishop asks the question, “Where is that baby’s father?” We learn that Kevin is now staying in a hotel and attending Fortify Family Meetings alone. At the church, Darlene give Kevin a belated Baby Shower gift and causally mentions Baby Nathan’s rash. Kevin is forced to pretend that he know about the baby’s condition and suppress his anger behind not being informed. He confronts Charity at the mansion regarding being informed about his son. What started as an intense conversation leads to a trip down memory lane and Charity asking Kevin to spend the night.

As Bishop and Lady Mae are reviewing church finances, they discuss the opposition from the Deacon Board and Bishop’s Round Table member, Betty Wilcox. They share the mindset that Carlton Pierce needs to go. Lady Mae delegates the task to Grace. Grace solicits Charity in hopes of saving Carlton’s job. When Charity’s pleas with her mother are dashed, Grace decides to contact Darius Nash, the news reporter who invited her out for a post scandal date. During the outing, Grace has a change of heart and offers the information off the record. When she learns that Lady Mae fired Carlton, she pays Carlton a visit to extend the olive branch encouraging Carlton to continue attending Calvary.

Henry McCready (a.k.a. Seedy McCready) is dying and Robert has texted Lady Mae several times to tell her. Bishop Greenleaf visits Henry and prays for him. Bishop attempted to find out about Daryl James’ offspring from the expiring Henry when Robert enters the room. Robert attempts to have a conversation with Bishop. Bishop informs Robert that he knows that he will need to forgive him one day until then he will leave him with his father until you have to deal with our Father. Robert has a tender moment with his father who has expressed that he is not ready to die.

Sophia tells Zora about her crush on Isaiah Hambrick. Zora suggest that Sophia attends one of his rehearsals. While Sophia contemplate whether she should let Isaiah know that she is interested, Isaiah invites her to his rehearsal at Triumph. Both Zora and Sophia attend. After he completes his rehearsal he greet them both but show that he is definitely attracted to Zora. Zora enjoys the attention until she sees Sophia’s face the attempts to keep Sophia in Isaiah’s line of vision.

Jacob confides in his wife as he is dressing. He has decided that he will speak with Pastor Skanks about Skanks blindsided everyone with the news that Jacob will pastor Triumph II. Jacob asks Pastor Skanks for some warning before making such a big announcement. Pastor Skanks indicates that he would have had he known and suggested that Jacob does not bite the hand the feeds him. He gives Jacob an assignment to go door-to-door in the South Winds (composed of mostly Calvary congregants) and promote Triumph II. Jacob meet a faithful Calvary congregant who he attempt to promote Triumph II and offer a tote bag and mug. The woman responded, “I don’t care if it came from the winding clothe that they wrapped my Lord in when He died. I am dedicated to Calvary.” Meanwhile, Kerrisa meets with Tasha Skanks to survey the parsonage. Kerrisa face expressed displeasure as Tasha tries to promote the finer points of the property.

Lady Mae has pleaded with her husband to speak to Jacob and tell him about Basie Skanks’ true identity. Bishop agreed to do so but when Lady Mae ask again he decides to have a frank discussion with his wife about the matter. Two of the best quotes from this scene come from Bishop Greenleaf. “May I be frank with you Mae? Ever since Gigi started preaching, you force that boy into my field of vision out of nothing, but I believe but jealousy for your own daughter. Ascribing him a call and a variety of talents that he never showed any evidence of having.” “He seems to have drunk the Kool-Aid you brewed and between the two of you I am about to lose my mind.”

After the discussion, Bishop does make the attempt to tell Jacob. Jacob expresses his contempt for his father’s conspiracy theories, refuses to listen, and rebuffs his father. Jacob told his father, “Basie, may not be perfect. He may be Boo Boo the Fool, but at least he is not a false prophet.” Jacob retires to his bedroom where Kerissa is waiting in the bed. He unburdened himself to her about wanting to be accepted by his father. This episode ends with Jacob, Kerrisa, and the children leaving the mansion.

Greenleaf: Season 2 Episode 1 – A House Divided

This was a great season premiere. This episode cleverly reveals varying levels of complexity for each character. We begin to learn the source of long-standing resentments. We bear witness to the aftermath of every explosive revelations. Our suspicions are confirmed as more secrets are unraveled. Each member of the Greenleaf family is forced to process hard truths and alliances are truly tested.

The numerous scandalous events has severely impacted Calvary indicated by drop in attendance, lack of growth, and decrease in pledges. The measures implemented to stop the church from hemorrhaging have not proven to be fruitful. Lady Mae blames Grace and Grace blames the multiple scandalous events. As Grace speaks with Deacon Sykes to pinpointing a viable solution to stop the church from hemorrhaging, the task becomes combatting the negative and opposing mindset of parishioners.

The stress of it all is taking its toll. Charity has loss one of the twins and is induced to keep her and her unborn child safe. Bishop Greenleaf’s symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are becoming more prevalent. Grace has grown intolerant of unrealistic expectations place upon her with no regard to her personal sacrifices. Tensions build between Jacob and Bishop Greenleaf resulting in Jacob losing respect for his father. Kevin desperately seeks a magic bullet for his same-sex attraction in hopes of saving his marriage with Charity.

After losing the Beale Street Blues Bar, Mavis is spiraling out of control. She has regressed into a depressed, pill-popping alcoholic. Her involvement with Alonzo Ashbury, who is significantly younger than Mavis is a pill popper wannabe legendary blues guitarist, further complicates matters. When Mavis’s role as Alonzo’s business manager and lover collide mixed with alcohol is the perfect recipe of toxicity. Her pipe dreams of Alonzo being discovered with Mavis at his side as they travel the world together are burst when Alonzo decides to heed Bishop Greenleaf’s advice. Robert strongly desires the connection to family and community. When it is not willingly given, Robert resorts to strong armed tactics.

Jacob acts a emcee or worship leader for Triumph’s grand breaking service. Deputy Mayor Arnold Lenard and the Greenleaf family with the exception of Lady Mae were amongst the attendees. Jacob’s charismatic, enthusiastic, and almost pastoral stage presence gets the attention of all especially First Lady of Triumph, Tasha Skanks. Tasha who remarks about Jacob’s presence captures the attention of Kerissa setting next to her. After introducing Pastor Skanks, Pastor Skanks sings Jacob’s praise then announces him as the pastor over Triumph II. The news stunned each Greenleaf family member including Jacob and Kerissa. It is evident that these turn of events have pitted Jacob and Bishop Greenleaf against one another. At Charity’s baby shower, Jacob attempts to converse with his father, but Bishop intentionally ignore his son.

Mavis crashes Charity’s baby shower and gives an exposé of family secrets in a drunken outburst. She suggest a romantic involvement with Bishop Greenleaf. She accuses Bishop Greenleaf of having ulterior motives for sending Alonzo Ashbury away. She gives us insight to the abuse she suffered as a child. She was forced to live in shed while Lady Mae receive gifts, clothing, and trips to Nashville with their father. She exposes Lady Mae for habitually turning a blind eye to abusive conditions and accuses Lady Mae of failing to intervene on Faith’s behalf. Unbeknown to Mavis, Lady Mae was being molested by their father. Mavis leaves the Greenleaf mansion in a drunken rage seeking to locate Alonzo and talk sense into him.

Finally, Bishop Greenleaf’s return to the pulpit is well received by congregants and as he raises his hand to greet well-wishers his hand is shaking. After services, Bishop is in his office when the double doors open. Through a brilliant ray of light emerges Pastor Skanks who has come to deliver a portentous message to Bishop Greenleaf personally. Bishop Greenleaf demands to know why Pastor Skanks seeks his demise. Pastor Skanks reveals that he is the son of Daryl James.

Product Review: Rose Guide to Discipleship

The Rose Guide to Discipleship offers a clear and narrow direction on building upon one’s life as a Christian. It present an honest representation of how to pursue God and living as a one of His followers. Within the 286 pages (not including the appendix), author Lee Woods touches upon 30 topics ranging from faith to spiritual disciplines. This resource does provide guidance by introducing thought-provoking questions and encouraging the examination of Scriptures.

Woods does not try to sugar-coat the challenges that one might experience as a disciple; however, he highlights the encouraging passages found in the Bible. He also addresses legalism and why being a part of a church community is vital to a Believer. This is a good read and can be implemented as one-on-one or group study. It would definitely be beneficial for those who may need a refresher. It provides practical instruction on how to build a personal and corporate relationship with God and the Body of Christ.

I have performed a lot of reviews relating to discipleship. I would have to say that I believed I have identified a new favorite. It provides the building blocks for growth as a disciple. I would highly recommend this any teachers seeking to educate people in discipleship.

Product Review: Self-Guided Tour of the Bible by Christopher D. Hudson

When we desire to have a closer relationship with God, the best way to do so is through the practice of spiritual disciplines.  The practice of spiritual disciplines helps us grow in the knowledge of God, his teachings, and how to live life, pleasing in His sight.  It is through studying God’s Word that we receive instructions in righteousness that allows us to be transformed by the renewing of minds. (2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 12:2)  There is a multitude of resources and tools available to assist us with the understanding of the Scriptures.  Sorting through the numerous resources and tools to obtain the basic knowledge of Bible can be a daunting task and disheartening to some who are new to Bible Study.

Christopher D. Hudson has written a plain, user-friendly companion resource book entitled, “Self-Guided Tour of the Bible.” This book is designed to be used with the Bible.  As the name implies, it allows one to study at his/her own pace. It is written using real-world scenarios and modern day examples to illustrate different concepts in the Bible.  It features maps, timelines, overviews, and charts all full-colored and reproducible for classrooms or small group studies.  There are 242 pages. Hudson cleverly uses a museum analogy to feature and highlight the various components of this companion guide.  Each chapter acts as an “Exhibit Hall.” Each “Exhibit Hall” provides a description of content featured.  For example:

Exhibit Hall Description
1 Diving In: Quick Reference of the Bible
2 Getting Your Bearings: Basic Bible Geography
3 Grasping the Story: A Time Line in Bible History
4 Meeting the Characters: A Who’s Who of Bible People (When & Where, Scriptural References, Key facts & Events)
5 Exploring the Content: A Breakdown of Bible Books (Who, What, When, Where, and Famous Verses)
6 Getting to the Heart of the Bible: Jesus’ Life and Teachings
7 Connecting the Dots: Jesus throughout the Bible
8 Peeking into the Future: Heaven, Hell, and Eternity
9 Summarizing the Message:  Major Themes in the Bible

 

This book serves well as a quick reference guide with multiple maps, charts, overviews, and timelines at your fingertips.  It would be great for new theologians beginning the journey of discovery of God’s Word. It is ideal for teaching biblical foundation training and teaching in a small group setting and for individual study.  I would definitely recommend this as a resource that should be a part of your arsenal.

Greenleaf: S1 E13 – What Are You Doing Here? Review

Sophia, Grace, and Kevin find themselves contemplating the future in their separate scenes. Sophia takes in the picturesque scene looking at the mansion from afar.  Grace sits on her bed in deep thought.  Kevin considers Charity’s conversation with Carlton and Wanda as she explains her trauma away as he ease drops. Charity and Kevin try to navigate through their marriage in lieu of what Kevin revealed.  Charity has concluded that Kevin cannot explain it away and has to face his true identity.   Disregarding doctor’s orders, Charity performs her solo in church.  Later, she asks Kevin to give her space and time for the sake of the twins.

Bishop Greenleaf visits Robert in jail. Robert is requesting that Bishop Greenleaf acts as a character witness in his upcoming sentencing hearing. Robert warns Bishop Greenleaf that with his incarceration and assets frozen Henry McCready will not keep quiet for long.  Bishop Greenleaf refuses to mock the memory of Faith by making Robert shine and damns him to hell.  When Robert is unable to get Bishop Greenleaf to comply and Danielle Turner still expecting to testify, Robert’s lawyer makes a suggestion to make a deal with the District Attorney.

Grace discusses her options with Michael Carpenter.  She tries to determine if she returns to Phoenix with Sophia would that help or hurt her chances to bring Sophia back to Memphis. She is interrupted by Noah who informs her that Henry McCready is in the church conference room.  Henry McCready tells Grace that she must assume the responsibilities of taking care of him now that Robert is incarcerated. Grace learns that Henry is terminally ill and needs hospice care.  Grace works with Kevin to ensure Henry is placed in a convalescent home and is comfortable.

Grace returns to Mavis’ Beale Street Blues Bar notifying Mavis that the McCready patriarch is dying.  Mavis realizes that is why she has been receiving calls from him. Mavis inquired about how Grace learned Henry’s illness. Grace explained that Henry came by the church.  Mavis asked Grace if this meant that she was remaining in Memphis and Grace responded, “Yes.” Grace endeavors to reassure Mavis that she will be fine.  Sadden by Grace’s decision to stay, Mavis recounts a time when Bishop Greenleaf was simply James Greenleaf.  Mavis expresses her sorrow for leading Grace down this path that leads her back to the pulpit.  Grace tries to get Mavis to visit with Henry McCready, but Mavis declines.

Henry expresses his dying wish to see both of his girls. Grace responds honestly that it probably was not going to happen.  Henry reveals that no one truly cared for him.  What appeared to be Robert’s benevolence towards his father was actually Robert’s buying Henry’s silence. Grace presses her grandfather to divulge what he knows.  Henry gives an account about the fire at the First Baptist Church with the caretaker in the basement was not an accident.  This implies that Bishop Greenleaf was potentially involved in an arson and possibly a murder.  Robert used this information to blackmail Bishop Greenleaf.

Pastor Basie Skanks has plans to build a $40 million Christian Community Center directly across from Calvary Fellowship World Ministries. This is the same property that Bishop Greenleaf had a prior interest in purchasing for a pool and community center. Pastor Skanks uses “God’s will” argument with Jacob to persuade him to run the facility. As Kerissa weighs in on the opportunity, she tries to identify a place for herself in this Christian Community Center.  Kerissa asks Jacob to make and inquiry to see if Pastor Skanks would be interested in having a school a part of the Christian Community Center. Jacob leery of Kerissa’s intentions asks if she was concerned about Alexa. Kerissa response that she thinks it would be fun for them to work together.  Apprehensive about how this may impact his father and Calvary, Jacob has a conversation with his father about it.  A unconcerned Bishop Greenleaf, tells Jacob to following Pastor Skanks plans and be his eyes and ears.

Lady Mae presents her sermon on the “Virtuous Women” at the Annual Women’s Day Conference.  Her sermon was designed to buy the acceptance and support of the women in Calvary to be the interim pastor.  Instead, as she is preaching about the strength of the “Virtuous Women” the crowd begins to cheer Grace and not her. She attempts to look supportive by joining the others in clapping for Grace.  Isabel does attend the conference. After the conference, Isabel is greeted by Noah with flowers in his hands.  She informs him that she has a hotel room and they go to get re-acquainted.

Lady Mae urges Bishop Greenleaf to speak with Grace after how the conference attendees responded to Grace receiving her as the “Virtuous Woman” that will deliver Calvary.  As Grace quibbles about remaining in Memphis or moving back to Phoenix to be close to Sophia, Bishop Greenleaf informs Grace that he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease.  He attempts to reassure Grace telling her not to worry as his treatment plan is effective. He acknowledges the inevitability of having to retire from the pulpit making his plea for Grace to carry the torch.  Grace appeals to her father about having Jacob return.  Bishop Greenleaf refuses stating that Jacob has to find his own way and it is about her. Bishop Greenleaf believes that if Grace returns to her post that the war between her and her mother will end.  Grace decides to stay to honor her father’s request.

Grace ascends the pulpit once again.  The church is relatively full compared to previous services.  Before she begins to preach, Grace is very openly and honestly addresses the sexual molestation scandal to the dismay of her parents.  She initiates a moment of silence for Robert’s victims including Faith and for those who know about abuse but refuse to speak out.  Lady Mae reached across to Bishop Greenleaf for comfort as the congregation reacts to hearing that Faith was a victim. Grace continues by encouraging people to break their silence when others are suffering. Grace emotionally admits that there is nothing that anyone can say to explain, honor, or grieve it adequately but God. After the moment of silence, Grace asked the congregation are they ready for a new thing. They respond by cheering and clapping.

Lady Mae enters the Beale Street Blues Bar to confront Mavis about her role in her ruin. A heated exchange between the sisters ensues.  Lady Mae blames Mavis and Grace for executing their righteous indignation upon the Greenleaf household.  Mavis refusing to be Lady Mae’s scapegoat fires backs at Lady Mae regarding her refusal to accept accountability, her failure to protect Faith, and her unwillingness to see Robert as a sexual predator.  Mavis orders Lady Mae out of the bar instructing her only to come back when she is willing to face the truth.  Lady Mae leaves.

Ray returns for Sophia and the family says their goodbyes.  The other family members had filed back into the mansion except for Grace.  Grace spots an unmarked car and a police car approaching the mansion.  Robert exits out of the unmarked car and begins his ascension to the mansion doors.  Grace looks directly at Robert and asks, “What are you doing here?” Robert glares at her with a smirk on his face and continues to climb the stairs.  Lady Mae meets Robert at the top of the stairs attempting to block entry.  Robert kisses her on the cheek and nudged her to the side as he enters the mansion with the police.