Our Mother Who Art In Heaven 

Standard

So the verdict is in, Octavia Spencer is my favorite actor. 

And yes, I used “actor” on purpose even though she’s a woman. (I’m a proud gramma nazi with an English degree. I know how to use words good. 🙃)

Any who, I used a gendered term because it serves my purpose when examining her role, as Papa, in her most recent big screen feature The Shack based on the New York Times Best Seller by the same name. 


I first came in contact with the novel in 2011. I was going through [what my 22 year old self thought was] a very rough season of transition. 

I was unloading to my friend, who’s one of my spiritual mentors, (a lot of people’s salvation can be traced back to sacrifices she made as a Michigan State University undergraduate). My dear sister in Christ, Elon, listened to my concerns. She heard my desperation, confusion and hopelessness.  

At the time, I thought I needed a car and a boo to make my life better. Elon knew I needed a shift in my understanding of God and who He is. She suggested I read The Shack and I did. 

Ever since, I’ve had a recurring picture in my mind of a big Black woman facing the sink singing and dancing to rock music whenever I think of God’s love for me. So when I saw that familiar image on the movie screen, I was again reminded of how God meets us where we are. He meets us where we are to take us where we need to be. 

The Shack is a great depiction of that. The shortened storyline is this. A white man, Mack, has a traumatic childhood. He grows up, marries, has children and has a life altering experience as an adult that made him feel distant from God. One day he goes to the shack and has a supernatural encounter with God, the trinity. 

He meets God the Father, played by Octavia Spencer, who’s affectionately referred to as Papa. He meets Jesus, played by a man who looks to be of Middle Eastern descent. He also meets the Holy Spirit who’s personified as an Asian woman. 


So like the main character, Mack, and probably every other reader I was stunned that God the Father was not just a woman, but a Black woman. 

But then again… why is that shocking? Many of the Black women I know and have heard of collectively consistently embody the characteristics of God. 

This is a powerful image of humility and strength. The woman pictured was not the only descendent of captured Africans who breastfed their masters’ children. It’s a commonly known fact that after slavery Black women could only find jobs that forced them to serve their oppressors. Black women have shown the character of Christ by doing something that is extremely difficult for the proud, serve someone who may never understand who you really are. Jesus died for people who will never acknowledge Him as Lord.
More than likely, even the most ignorant person recognizes the person in this photo. Here’s Rosa Parks. A woman who, like Christ, KNOWINGLY went into a situation that cost her life as she knew it. She, like Christ, was arrested and abused.  Because of her sacrifice and her willingness to be crucified, the course of history was changed forever.  If you haven’t already, meet Ella Baker. Ella was a leader who built leaders who built leaders. Like Christ had disciples who made disciples who make disciples. She is known for leaving a legacy that ensured the generation after her would be equipped to do more work than she did. Like, the Lord did.  

My granny… widowed mother of 8 who raised each of them and their children to understand how love overshadows every hurtful word and every offense and that it is what enables us to press through the hardest times in life. She taught us that life happens and sometimes it hurts, but the happenings and hurts cannot break the bonds of love when it’s pure. Just like Christ’s love for us fueled His ability to be cursed, whipped, spat on and nailed to a cross. 

These Black women in this picture remind me that life should be enjoyed and shared with a core group of people who understand your plight. 
These Black women who have mentored and discipled me. Some of these women’s shoulders have been soaked with my tears. All of their phones have had texts with my questions. All of them have shown me the importance and impact of laying down your own life for the purpose of seeing other people be freed. Like Jesus. 
My fellow Black women, for your resilience, for your healing hands, for your supernatural ability to forgive, for your humility, for your ability to love without expecting, for your ability to give without the expectation of reciprocity, for lying down your life for others, thank you for being a shining tangible example of our Father who art in Heaven. 

You Can Actually Do It All

Standard

Who are you? Why are you? What do you do? Why do you do what you do?

Answer those. 

What’d you say for “What do you do?” More than likely you answered with your job. Our culture teaches us to place our value and find our identity in our occupation. 

Think about it. As a kid you probably answered this question innumerable times. “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” Then you had to do a project to research that thing. Then you were told to go to college so you could be that thing. And perhaps you’ve become that thing. 

I’m sincerely proud of you! But I have a question. What else do you wanna be? What other titles do you wish you carried? What are some hobbies you wish you could invest more time and energy into? 

Why haven’t you done those things? Is it because you believe you have to choose?

Well… you don’t. 

Take this guy. Clearly he’s a speaker of some kind. And clearly a musician. He plays jazz and has a single on the charts that rivals pop artists like Bruno Mars and Rihanna. Listen Here!

He’s clearly a family man. 
And he’s lettered and has dope friends who are doing great things. 💁🏿‍♂️👨🏾‍🎓He travels and mentors. 

And through 14 years of sermons and teachings he has pastored me and numerous others. 

My pastor has been the embodiment of exercising EVERY gift God has given you. His leadership and example inspire me to tap into all of my talents and not alllow anyone to pigeonhole me into one arena. But people seriously struggle with the idea that anybody, especially a pastor, can truly be multi-faceted. It’s so bad that he had to release this statement on Facebook in February because his music has been gaining more attention. 

“Hey FB Family! I have been fighting a vicious rumor for about 8 months and it has now hit a new level. It has been reported that I am leaving Lansing and resigning as the Sr. Pastor of the Epicenter of Worship. This rumor is an absolute LIE!! I am not leaving Lansing and last Sunday WAS NOT my last Sunday. In fact, Epicenter is expanding its footprint in the region. We currently have 3 churches in Lansing (two sister churches and HQ). With the help of about 50 people in Detroit we have opened Epicenter of Worship Detroit and it is doing well. IN 2017 ALONE, WE HAVE ORDAINED OVER 12 MINISTERS FOR GOSPEL MINISTRY IN THE REGION.   

Yes, I am a jazz SAXOPHONIST- musician but that doesn’t take away from my pastorate. Why can’t I do multiple things and still LEAD HEALTHY CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES? I am asking EVERY EOW MEMBER TO MEET ME ON SUNDAY AT 10AM!! HELP ME PUT THIS LIE TO REST!!!! NOW YOU HEARD IT STRAIGHT FROM ME!!! THE LION IS OFFICIALLY AWAKENED! LANSING GET READY FOR EXPANSION.”

What I’ve learned is this… My job is what I do. It’s not who I am. Who I am is a child of a supreme being who created the universe with His words, who split apart a sea, who set a water soaked altar ablaze, who showed prophets visions of things thousands of years before they happened, who impregnated a virgin, who became a human, who died, who came back and who gives His Spirit to those who receive Him. If that’s my Father why would I relegate myself to one way of expressing myself? 

Who are you? Why are you? What do you do? Why do you do what you do?

Who’s stopping you from doing and being more?

Thank you, Dr. Sean Holland for living your life as an example for others. 

You can purchase your copy of Steps of a Good Man here👇🏾

Black Christian Millennial Survival Kit: 2017 Edition

Standard

I’m a Black Christian Woman.  I’m a Christian Millennial.   I’m a Black Millennial.

I’m Black. I’m a Christian. I’m a Millennial. And all that matters all the time.

But it feels like they matter even more with the inauguration of Billionaire Donald Trump being just hours away.

I kinda went into detail in Dear White Jesus… about navigating the life of an advocate who identifies as Christian, but I feel like we need a little more focus to help us make it through this year and beyond.

So here are a few things every Black Christian Millennial should have in her/his survival kit.

You have to…

1. …have right mindset.

Paul was serious when he said “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Last night, I heard my pastor say, “We need to train like soldiers, not athletes. Athletes train to play games. Soldiers are always preparing for a battle.”

That’s us, friends. Anybody who is tasked with loving people who speak, act and vote against us is engaged in a battle. But I’ve read the end of the book, we win.

2. …focus.

Who are you doing this for? I’m specifically talking to millennials who chose Christianity for themselves. Are you a Christian on purpose? If you are, what’s that purpose. Keep your focus on why you are doing this. Do not let church or church people push you away from Christ. It’s tempting, but when those thoughts come up, CAST. THEM. DOWN.

3. …indulge your creative side.

This is serious work. Already, you may feel depleted because you’re a lazy entitled millennial.

Contrary to what media likes to say, millennials are hardworking people. Many of us juggle multiple jobs. Give yourself time to just be. Sing. Dance. Write. Learn something new. Do not get overwhelmed.

4. …get drunk in worship regularly.

Lose yourself in the presence of the Lord. Really get drunk. Your mind will benefit from you taking a break from reality. The world will benefit from you bringing heaven down and changing reality.

5. [In all thy getting,]…get an understanding.

We can’t afford to be ignorant of political processes. Get involved in your community. Read articles from credible sources. Ask questions!!

6. …respectfully, challenge your loved ones.

We can’t afford to continue to engage in conversations with people whose perspectives we don’t understand. Don’t be so afraid of being offensive that you become comfortable being passive. We have to love these people for real. Love doesn’t always leave people with fuzzy feelings. (Think Jesus on the cross.)

7. Pray.

You have a God you can talk to directly. Don’t forget that. Pray for change. Pray for wisdom. Pray for focus. Pray for your leaders. Pray for our future. Pray for this nation. Pray for the Kingdom to come. Pray for revival.

Pray for yourself. Don’t feel bad for feeling bad about what’s happening. People on the outside don’t really understand the cognitive dissonance we deal with sometimes by being Black and Christian during a historical period when there are fewer religious people than ever before. Believing in holiness and fairness at the same time doesn’t always seem likes it’s allowed. Watching a Black president prep a racist, misogynist and every other ist is hard, but allow the Lord to heal you.

We gone be alright, OhCAE?!

Dear White Jesus…

Standard

Last night, we watched President Barack Obama give his heart-wrenching farewell address in Chicago. Along with many of my Facebook friends, I found myself reminiscing on my college days. The first time I voted for president, I voted for a Black man. Even then I was aware of how big of a deal that was. But coupled with those feelings of nostalgia was the ever present nagging of the knowledge that I know a lot of people who are planning a party for his last day in office. They’re  planning a parade for Trump’s election because they are actually excited for these next four years.

You see, as a pro-Black devout Christian I navigate a complicated existence. I live by Proverbs 31. Not the part we quote about what a woman should be and do, but the part that talks about how it’s our responsibility to defend the defenseless. (Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Proverbs 31:8) My life’s work is to serve children who live in urban areas, as well as their families. I am a Black person who’s aware of what it means to be Black in America. I work daily to awaken other people to those implications. As a Christian, it is important to me that people understand truth. I understand how oppression is lifted by accepting truth.

I’m an advocate by nature, trade and calling. So it’s a struggle for me to align myself with a brand of politics that makes its name based on oppressing others who don’t believe what Christians believe.

A few nights ago, I watched Meryl Streep’s viral speech where she expresses something that reminded me of sentiment I heard from a conservative Christian figure.

They both expressed that when the leader of the country does something it permits citizens to do the same. The concept is that when a leader does something it conveys the message that the behavior and/or belief is a new societal norm. Meryl Streep was referring to Trump’s overall childishness and his mocking of people with differing abilities. The religious person referred to President Obama’s allegiance to LGBTQ people.

So… what does this have to do with the title of this post?

White Jesus is the guy  in the pictures we grew up believing was Jesus. Only perceived white supremacy could make it okay to depict a god with skin that light to represent someone born in Bethlehem.

White Jesus is the one who has pushed many Black people away from Jesus and church because his followers beat White Jesus into some Africans and their descendants through slavery. Then those White Jesus followers used the bible to explain why slavery was just. The bible has stories of enslaved people. It doesn’t condone it. The scriptures that speak about slaves obeying their masters are instructions to help people live in the society that existed. They don’t say the society was right.

White Jesus is the ultra privileged guy who validates conservatives’ beliefs that they are justified in their practices of blocking and hating legislation that benefits LGBTQ people and that supports people’s ability to choose what happens in and to their bodies. They do this while simultaneously hating refugees, poor people, people of color AND Muslims (and any other religious group). All of their anger about policies and support of policies that ostracize people groups are all in the name of Jesus.

In the name of Jesus… Jesus, the man born in a place that wasn’t his home. Jesus, the Middle Eastern man who hung out with sinners. Jesus, the man who crossed the ethnic and societal lines and offered living water to a woman at a well. Jesus, the God who came so that EVERYONE could have access to life and that more abundantly.

I don’t have a problem with him, per se, but White Jesus has a whole lot of followers though and they make it really hard to go to church or want to get to know the real Jesus.

White Jesus makes me aware of the social privilege I have because I’m a Christian living in Western society. Having privilege is almost uncomfortable for me as a Black woman. However, living with identity markers that are historically oppressed makes it impossible for me to not use my agency to speak out against wrong doings by others in my group.

Believe Just Because You Can

Standard

I have learned something recently that it so simple that it’s hard to comprehend. If you want to believe in something, just believe. Did you get that? If you want to think something is true then just think it. And when you are convinced that it’s true, you’ll start to act as if you believe it. 

I really wanted to believe that God’s word is true when it says ask and it shall be given, but in order to show I believed it I had to ask and expect that I’d get what I asked for.
It’s hard to believe God will give you something you don’t even want. That’s why it’s important to meditate on the Word. The Gospel according to John tells us the God is His Word and Jesus is the Word wrapped in flesh. When you meditate on it, you meditate on Him. Before you know it, His thoughts are yours. Your desires are His. 

You’ll be able to move past wanting random things and getting disappointed because you can’t have them. 

As you meditate, you’ll learn to wait. I don’t just mean sit idly, I mean to really wait on God. You’ll know the difference because the bible says that waiting on God will increase and renew your strength. If waiting is making you weaker, assess yourself. Are you being purposeful or doubtful? 

It’s hard to believe God for some things, but He knows that so He gives us faith. So believe because you can. 

OhCAE?

Can I Pray For You?

Standard

I know this is posting to my social media pages, but I’m taking a break from Facebook and Twitter. However, I feel led to extend this offer. So if you see this and the answer is yes, either click the link and comment on the actual blog or send me an email at evans.claricha@gmail.com. 

Feel free to share it with anyone you think would want prayer. 

  

He Is Listening

Standard

In high school I was very depressed but I kept it a secret. So I secretly cried many nights and that was my only relief.When I got to college, I got saved and everything changed for me. One day I was sitting at my desk in my dorm and out of nowhere I could feel the same overwhelming sadness come over me and I almost cried but I stopped and reminded myself that I am new. 

I wasn’t sure what the appropriate response was, but I opened up a New Testament Bible (with Psalms & Proverbs) that was on the desk and randomly flipped it open and I read the first scripture I landed on. It said “Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless? I trust you! And I will praise you again because you help me, and you are my God.” (Psalms 42:11 CEV)

That was the first time in my life that I REALLY believed that God heard and listened to my silent cries because He said to me exactly what I needed to hear in that very dark moment. All I had to do was turn to Him (His Word). 

I’m grateful that God reminds me of that moment from time to time because when life gets difficult some days I can’t help but wonder where God is when I can’t perceive Him. But I’d like to encourage every reader by letting you know that God knows and sees all and He is concerned about you.