The Death of a Powerful Man: Bishop Eddie Long

long Yesterday I was sitting in worship service and my cellphone vibrated and when I checked, it was a news highlight that Bishop Eddie Long had passed away. I didn’t know if it was true or not, so I took a few minutes and checked a few other sites and sure enough, he had died sometime early Sunday morning. I shared that information with my parents who I was in worship service with and both had a look of total surprise on their faces; I did not. I’m no psychic, able to foretell coming events, but the last time I set eyes via the internet on Bishop Eddie Long, he didn’t look well. At that point, while others checked out the same photos of him that I had seen, I saw a lot of social media posts about what could have been the cause and I remained quiet. I had read stories over the past several years about possible indiscretions regarding Bishop Long and again, I didn’t comment and I decided to not play judge or jury because it wasn’t my place and its not anyone else’s place either. It is our place to pray for a family who has lost a loved one. It is our place to pray for a congregation that is now in mourning over the loss of a man they didn’t hold judgement against. Despite what the headlines had been saying over the years, some did what the Bible said and they prayed and forgave in order for them to be able to move on and continue the work of the Lord. Isn’t that what churches are supposed to do? Its what I thought.

I’ve never been to New Birth in Atlanta, but I had heard about all of the great things they were and are doing for the community. A lot of that started with Bishop Eddie Long and his heart for the people. The things I could see and witness are the only things I am able to give response to. Those crimes he was accused of committing happened behind closed doors and what it did was pit one man’s story against another. People chose who they wanted to believe in based on what they read in the media as if they were actually there and saw it happen. Now, I’m not proclaiming guilt or innocence and I don’t know everyone involved stories, but I don’t need to know. All I need to do is pray for the situation and pray for healing of those involved. Social media though, has allowed people to become judge and jury and as their opinions spread, so do lies that then are exacerbated to the point that someone in another state or country reading the stories on the internet become angry, vengeful and yes, judgmental. I, again, chose not to take that route. I could have an opinion about what I read and share it on the internet helping to fuel the fire of anger that spread across the world. I didn’t because in the quiet of my own space, I prayed that God would heal a people; heal a nation. This wasn’t the first of this kind of story and it wouldn’t be the last. Throwing social media stones at a situation that I’m not involved with or getting angry at the church over it would not be the best decision. I didn’t want to carry hate or hurt in my heart about another person’s dilemma; trust, I have enough of my own issues going on  that I don’t need to focus on someone else’s and I believe we all do.

Bishop Long may have had issues and personal demons, but who doesn’t. Is it our place to judge and jury? No. Lots of people benefited financially from the settlement, but did it take the hurt and pain away? No. Are those who are in leadership positions in churches perfect people without demons and vices? No. Is Bishop Long’s death some sort of karma coming back on him to extract a price for his wrongdoings in life? No. None of us knows what karma looks, feels or acts like. We’re going by what we think and not by what we know. The bottom line is, Bishop Long was a man with a title, held high up on a pedestal and if it were you or I, people would gasp at our secrets as well and then judge and jury us. I believer in God’s Word and I believe that He is the only TRUE judge and jury and I don’t care what any court says. In the end, God will have the final say when we all stand in judgement alone to answer for what we’ve done in our lives from the day God breathed life into us, until the day he took that last breath away and said your will is now done. The life Bishop Long led is more than the bits and pieces we all know about, not personally, but through the words we read on the internet, in a news or magazine article. I understand he did some great things to help where no other help was on the horizon.

There were recipients of cars, houses, bills being paid, prayers and words of comfort that none of us no all about. Those are the deeds of a powerful man. I have had struggles in my life and though I didn’t turn to a church for help, I turned to my parents who have always been there with their trusty safety net. Because of them, I made it through and because of Bishop Eddie Long, there is another person someplace who survived and can proclaim they made it because of his helping hand, words of encouragement and whispers of prayer. Anyone who can touch a life and provide a need is a powerful person and that, too, was Bishop Long. I’m not condoning anything he did in his private life, but we don’t have access to that other than what we hear about third, fourth and fifth-hand. I could believe those or I could believe him, but I chose to not do either. I chose to mind my business, let those people handle their business and in turn, I sat back and prayed that they would all survive and get back some semblance of life. If not, there are other powerful people that God has raised up in the form of doctors and counselors and it is my prayer that those who need it will take advantage of it and begin to heal. There is a lot of healing that needs to take place and it’s not a time to throw stones at a man who is no longer here to see and hear it. Who is left are his wife, children and congregation and what they need from us most right now is their prayers. Pray that his wife finds comfort in knowing that God knew what was best. Pray that she is comforted knowing that her husband of many years is no longer in pain. Pray that she has the strength to comfort her children who lost their father. Did you not have a father that you wished could be around you to console you, place his arms around you, give you advice, smile at you, laugh at your jokes and love you with all of his heart? His children did and right now, they don’t need people playing judge and jury about what their father may have done; they need a people who understand what it means to lose someone and can offer words of comfort and prayer as they go through. There is a congregation that despite the cloud that hung over Bishop Long for years, they still believed in him because they believed that God uses all kinds of people to bring His Word to the masses and in this situation, He used New Birth and Bishop Eddie Long. We may not like what we have read, but were you there? If not, pray for those who were. Find compassion for the situation for everyone involved and not get excited over your chance to jump on a bandwagon of vile words and hatred. You may not have had Bishop Long’s issues, but there are issues and if there was a spotlight shown on the skeletons in your closet, I hope you would want to find comfort in a world of people who understand that none of us are perfect. We al have problems and I’m sure, so did Bishop Long.

Problems or no problems, it didn’t take away from the fact that some people did and still do consider Bishop Long a great and powerful man. He may have done wrong, but he also did good and if one life was blessed because of the life he led, then he did what the Lord told him to do. I know I go about my life everyday and there are things that I do that don’t glorify God and His plan for my life and the lives around me, but I try and that’s all each of us can do. While some sit around and persecute Bishop Eddie Long, someone else is saying a prayer of thanks because they lived another day not starving, not out in the cold or jobless, unable to feed their children. If in your life you touch one person and because of you their lives changed for the better, then I consider you a great and powerful person because you made at least one positive difference. Through his good and his bad, Bishop Eddie Long did that and for that, I consider him a powerful man. I choose to let God deal with the wrong Bishop Long may have done in life and while I can still pray, my prayers go up and out for the family, congregation and friends he left behind. They are the only ones who are left to deal with the aftermath of his passing. I don’t know what he died from and I don’t care. What I do know is that there is a large group of people who need my support and prayer today and I choose to give that instead of spreading hatred because there is already enough of that going around.

Peace!

Cheryl

http://www.cherylbarton.net

 

 

 

A Change

changePeople oftentimes wait until the new year to decide to make a change in some aspect of their life. I see resolutions about weight loss, going to church more, finding a new job or just about anything to be sure they don’t repeat an old habit from the year before. In my mind that means for an entire year, you settled for something that made you unhappy and waited on bated breath for the new year to come in to make a change. A change can come and be made whenever you are ready for it and not just at the beginning of a new year.

I personally never make resolutions or declarations of things I’m going to change about myself when a new year comes around. I could say I’m going to spend more time in the gym and exercise or even walk more and I won’t do it. I could say I’m going to cut out fried food in the new year, but I don’t see that happening either. I can even say I’m going to make sure I’m in church every Sunday for every service and with technology that allows me to enjoy a wonderful service from someplace else around the country via my computer, I’m gonna say right now, I’m good with the plan I’ve laid out for myself to stay connected. I find that if I resolve to change something from what was the year before, I’m declaring that I allowed myself to live unhappily before and that’s more unacceptable to me than making a promise to myself that I know I won’t keep.

Each year that comes along I try to be the best person I can be. I’m far from perfect and I don’t strive to be perfect because how big of a let down would that be to finally discover I’m not perfect after planning to work hard to get to that. I’m not saying I would never set a goal for myself that may be a hard one to reach, but the goals I set are done so that when I wake up each day, I appreciate the fact that I woke up. I look at each day as a brand new slate to fill in with all sorts of exciting things. I know that there are still 24 hours in a day, but no one can tell me that time isn’t moving at an alarming rate. Is 24 hours still 24 hours or is 24 hours more like 12 hours. I can still remember 2010 as if it were just yesterday. Where is time going and what am I doing with the time given to me?

I kick off every day like it’s the first day of the rest of my life and the only thing I resolve to do is make a change from what I did the day before, not insinuating that the day before was lacking anything. That day is gone, never to be seen again, but this new day? Oh it’s filled with so many possibilities of making everything around me better, more pleasant and livable so that at the end of the day, I’m smiling as I lay down and give my body a rest because I feel good about what I did in the 24 hours that I was given.

If you find that there is a need to make a change, do it whenever you first think about making that change. Don’t wait for a time in the future when there is the possibility that making that change won’t mean as much to you as it did when you first thought about it. A change allows you to redirect from a path you were on to a new one and as long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others around you, go ahead and do you. A change is good and if it makes you happy, those around you can live in the overflow of your happiness and will be glad when a little bit of it drops down on them. Let an everyday change in the right direction be what motivates you to be a better you all the time and now just on the first day of a new year.

Go ahead and change something today! I dare you!!

http://www.cherylbarton.net

Death, I Feel Your Sting

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I don’t know if there was this much death all around me when I was younger. I can’t remember so many people passing away that I actually know. Is it that because I’m getting older, those I know are getting older as well and death has been coming for people in large numbers?  I’ve gone to so many funerals in the past few years that I’ve lost count and I feel like I’m always waiting to hear about the next person gone, but never to be forgotten.

Recently my cousin passed away and he wasn’t too many years older than me. We pretty much grew up together always going to a lot of family functions, road trips and hanging at each other’s houses. He was best friends with my oldest brother who passed away a few years ago. I remember when my brother passed, my cousin mentioned how lonely he had become since my brother was gone. They did a lot together and what they liked to do the most was watch sports together and if they weren’t watching together, they would call each other on the phone and talk about a play they’d just seen in one game or another. They had become so much more than just cousins, they were brothers from different mothers. That’s a very special title that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Years ago I lost another cousin who was the sister to the cousin who recently passed away and I used to call her my sister from another mother because I felt that even though we were not sisters, we were as close as two sisters could be. We shared everything and I remember telling her secrets that I’ve never told another person. We shared our good and our very bad and never judged each other. I remember times we would sit in my apartment back in the 80’s and we’d sit up all night just talking and I mean the sun would literally come up and we would still be talking from the night before. I still have letters from her that she wrote me when she was away at college. My connection to her was strong and when her brother passed away recently the first thing I thought was, “Death I feel your sting.”

By that I mean everyday I feel the hurt and the pain of the loss of a family member or friend, but it really stings when another person around you passes away. I think about my cousin and all the dreams she had that never happened and over the past few days, she’s been on my mind heavily and I feel the hurt as if she just died. My thoughts turned from her to my brother whom I think about every single day and the pain of that never seems to go away. That is a daily sting and on days when it gets extremely overwhelming, I cry through the hurt wishing it would help ease the pain a little. Then there is my nephew who I didn’t talk to everyday, but when I did, I loved hearing him call me Aunt Cheryl. I miss him everyday and I feel that he didn’t get enough time to really get a grasp on how great life could have been for him as an adult. Leaving this life so early, having so much more he should have done is another sting that pierces my heart.

Death I feel your sting when I think of the years I lived with my grandmother and though I always thought we were close, we were really close after that. When my daughter was born, it was she who cut the cord and that was just as special to her as it was to me. I always told her that and it would make her smile. I feel the sting when I realize there is so much about my life that she has missed and I know she’d be proud of me. My thoughts of her take me to remembrances of my grandfather who was my main man. He always made me feel special and there was always a joke in my family about how whenever my grandparents needed to change the locks on their door, I always got my key first before their children. I was the only grandchild who had a key to their house and yes, I felt extra special. I spent a lot of time with them, time that I still remember as if it were yesterday. I remember the sting of losing him and that still lives with me today.

So many have gone on that I remember and lots over the past several years. Does the sting of the loss ever go away? Will I ever truly be able to rejoice knowing they are in a place of peace, with no pain and no worries? People believe or don’t believe in a lot of things and I believe there is a place where our spirits go and when I pass on, I will be reunited in spirit with those who have gone on home. I can’t say that right now it eases the pain of the sting of losing them, but my faith tells me to believe that the love I have for them will keep me connected to them forever, even in eternity.

Death, I feel your sting and it’s all around. The pain gets larger and spreads wider with each loss of a family member or friend. I want you to know I feel it and I’m thankful for it because it’s also a sign that I love and when I do, I love hard because if I didn’t, that sting would probably feel more like a prick.

Rise, Rise Up and Walk

follow-your-dreamsI was recently asked where do I get my energy and why does it seem like I have more hours in the day than the 24 that everyone else has. The question was asked, “when do you sleep?” Then the statement was made, “you must never do anything besides work and write.” Well let me make this very clear; I sleep as much, if not more than most people at night and I mean I get a good night’s sleep. It’s true I work a full-time job which I’ve had for the past 27 years. I won’t say much about that other than to say I’m thankful for it. When I’m not working or writing a new novel, I’m out line dancing, karaoke, going to the movies (which I love doing even in this strange world), I enjoy hanging with friends eating steamed crabs, I enjoy traveling and most of all, I love time with my family, which I do often. I enjoy indulging in a good mystery, espionage or crime novel and every chance I get, I have my eyes glued to the television watching something sci-fi or one super hero or another (Yes I love Arrow, Jessica Jones, Shield, The Flash, etc) and anything else even similar to that. See, my life isn’t just working and sleeping.  I find a lot of time to also enjoy life, but what I don’t do is sit around and wait for things to happen for me. I’m a go-getter and that will never change.

My question back to this person was, “what kinds of things do you do in your spare time?” The response I got was, “what spare time?” So in other words, other than working and taking care of your kids and husband, you don’t really do anything else. Did you ever have goals or dreams for yourself that you have not been able to fulfill? Your kids are basically all adults now and you and your husband should be enjoying a sense of empty-nesting and really finding lots of fun things to do. I got a side-eye on that comment.

The conversation at this point got interesting as she starting telling me about plans she had been thinking about for years of projects she wanted to do, businesses she wanted to start and dreams of being an actress in local plays; nothing big like Broadway, but she’s always wanted to try out for one of the local playhouses. We talked about why she hasn’t started on any of those things and I heard nothing, but a lot of excuses of why she hasn’t or why she can’t.

When someone asks me, how do I do so much, be prepared for me to come back with, why don’t you do more? From what I’m told there is this one life to live and I don’t want to get to the end of if still holding on to a dream or a goal that I could have worked toward and possibly fulfilled. I want to at least make an attempt. I never wanted to be a romance author, but once I put that first book out, Bachelor Not For Sale, I realized I could be so much more. I took on starting my own publishing company and now I’m about to expand that into publishing the works of other writers; helping some writers to become authors. I don’t know how far this business will go, but I never would have discovered I could get this far if I had not gotten up and did something about it.

There is a saying that says, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” If you don’t start none, there won’t be none! I say make today the day that you rise, rise up and walk into your destiny. Get your vision board out and start working on that dream. You may or may not see it come to fruition, but I believe you will get sense of satisfaction just by cranking away at it.

I went to the store today and brought my friend a journal and gave it to her with a note telling her to start writing down all of the things she ever wanted to do, but  never did. Start with the small things and accomplish those one by one. Once you see how easy it is to get through those, write down some bigger ones and start tackling those and each time she accomplishes something, make the next goal or dream a little bit bigger. One dream she told me about was she’s always wanted to make these personalized throw pillows. She’s had a sewing machine for years and it’s been gathering dust. Many years ago she made them and people always told her that she should make them and sell them. As a friend, I told her to make sure I was her first customer. I knew what it felt like to work on a dream and have a few supporters who purchased my first book, not caring how good or bad it was, but they did so because they believed in me.

Rise, rise up and walk into your destiny and let nothing stand in your way. There are enough hours in the day for you to spend some time on your own dream and not just those of the people around you. There is this ONE life to live. What will you do with it besides what’s expected.

http://www.cherylbarton.net