Dancing in No Man’s Land: Moving with Peace and Truth in a Hostile World – NEW BOOK ALERT!!!

Hello World,

Are you tired of the conflict all around you?

It happens over and over again. A political argument with a friend, a fight about racial issues on the internet, a disagreement with a coworker―at the first sign of conflict, we flee to a bunker with people who think like us and attack everyone else. We feel safe there, but it’s killing us: killing families, friendships, civility, and discourse.

Our fractured world desperately needs a different way: people who will speak gently, value truth, and think clearly. Dancing in No Man’s Land is a rallying cry, a life-giving and practical journey into the way of Jesus that will revolutionize how you view conflict. You can choose to speak both truth and peace in the midst of war. You can step out of our bunkers and into no-man’s land, where only brave souls tread. It may look like you’re dodging cultural landmines. But you might just be learning how to dance.

What you just read is a description of my friend Brian Jennings’ new book Dancing in No Man’s Land: Moving with Peace and Truth in a Hostile World. Please see my interview with him below!

Why did you write this book?

Three things happened all in the span of one week, five and a half years ago (I know, I’m a slow writer).

First, I was reading about World War I. As the French and Germans battled each other, both sides dug into the earth. This was the beginning of widespread trench/bunker warfare. Neither side could advance without heavy casualties. The war was stalemated because of this tactic. The bunkers and trenches were full of rats, disease, mud, and sometimes dead bodies. Occupants dared not exit, because to do so would mean likely death. The land between the bunkers was called no man’s land.

Secondly, heated arguments erupted about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Some clambered to a bunker that accused, “If you support this bill, you hate our country.” Others shot back from an opposing bunker, “If you do not support this bill, you hate the poor.” People said these things in many different ways, but the message was clear: “You are either with me or against me.” I left many conversations thinking about bunkers. I didn’t want to hate anyone, which meant I needed to choose no man’s land – which meant I might get shot by both sides!

Thirdly, God taught me something from the book of Daniel. Daniel had been enslaved by King Nebuchadnezzar. He served the wicked king faithfully but, along with all the other wise men, was unfairly sentenced to death. Most of us would’ve plotted some form of revenge, defense, or attack. But Daniel 2:14 lept off the page to me: “Daniel responded with wisdom and tack.” Who does that? Throughout his life, Daniel never sacrificed a commitment to God’s truth or a desire to be at peace with people – even his oppressors. He lived in no man’s land.

The more I studied Scripture, I saw how Jesus also lived in no man’s land. I wanted to learn how to do the same, and I wanted to help the church learn how to pursue truth without assaulting those who disagree with us.

Why does the Church particularly need this message now?

Our culture is polarized, and the church has sometimes added to the mess. It’s possible for the church to, in its defense of truth, mistreat others. This only pushes them further into their bunkers, where they’ll attack back at us. It’s a never-ending cycle.

It’s also possible for the church to, in its desire for peace, to disregard truth – God’s truth. But every time mankind abandons God’s truth, they destroy themselves. God is loving and his ways are always best for our relationships, jobs, lives, and eternities. If the best the church can do is “be tolerant,” that’s a miserable existence. I hope you can more than tolerate me. I hope you will love me. I hope I can love you. Tolerance is cheap, but love costs a lot. If we separate God’s truth from our lives, we’re left with a powerless religion and a bunch of aimless lives.

When a woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus (John 8), he said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” He showed unmatched grace to this woman. He offered her a path to peace with God. But before she left, he said, “Go and sin no more.” Truth still mattered to Jesus. This book is a call for the church to pursue truth and peace – at the same time. If we don’t, we’ll wound people, close doors, and wreck lives.

How have people reacted to the book so far? Was there a personal cost in being so direct?

Last week I spoke to 150 Middle and High School students about the book. Two days later, I spoke to about 150 seasoned Christians who work for a large Christian organization. It struck me that both groups equally resonated with the topic. Numerous people, at both events, told me afterward that this topic hit them square between the eyes. They told stories about family fights, social media fiascoes, and how they were so troubled at our divisions. I can’t find anyone who doesn’t feel the repercussions of our world’s bunker-living.

Living in no man’s land does come with a price, but the rewards are far greater. People won’t be happy when you refuse to join their bunker. We all like people to be on “our side.” What’s been most startling to me is when I’ve been accused of being something that I’m not. I’ve been lumped with far-right-wingers and far-left-wingers. That stings, but the reward is that I have doors open with many people. I haven’t forfeited relationships for the sake of winning an argument. In fact, we’re able to have productive discussions about serious topics without beating each other up.

I joked earlier about what a slow writer I am, but the truth is that God has impeccable timing. I believe he’s working in many ways to help the church pursue both truth and peace, and I’m humbled that he chose to let me be a small part of it.

What do you hope readers will do with what you’ve written?

My prayer has been that this book will help people find their way to no man’s land. The bunker metaphor has helped me a lot. When a heated news story breaks, I now see people running for their bunker and firing at those not with them. Then I pray about where Jesus would be. He’d hold onto truth (regardless of what others thought of him), but he’d make every effort to also show love, peace, gentleness, and kindness to people. If we can do this, we can actually help people have their hearts changed by Christ, and we can develop both compassion and wisdom too. For a while, it may feel like we’re dodging lots of bullets, but if enough of us commit to the way of Jesus, it will begin to feel more like a dance.

Brian has graciously agreed to give away one free book! The first person to comment on this blog post will get a free book! After you comment, send an e-mail to me at jacqueline@afterthealtarcall.com so that I can get your mailing address.

Brian lives in Tulsa with his wife, Beth, and their four children. Brian preaches at Highland Park Christian Church and serves on the boards of Blackbox International (help for trafficked boys) and Ozark Christian College. He has written for Lookout Magazine, Christian Standard, and What’s In The Bible. You can learn about his books, Lead Your Family and Dancing in No Man’s Land: Moving With Peace And Truth In A Hostile World (May, 2018) at brianjenningsblog.com.

Any thoughts?

 

7 Reasons Why Prince Harry & Meghan Markle’s Royal Wedding Was the Best Royal Wedding Ever!!!

Hello World,

My husband couldn’t understand why yesterday I was nearly as excited as I was the day I got married almost five years ago (Yes, chile, we are almost at our first five-year anniversary!) A Royal Wedding is the like the Super Bowl, the NBA championship and the World Series (am I getting that right? so not a sports aficionado although I pretend to be sometimes) for romantics the world over! What’s better than an everyday wedding with a bride who feels like a princess and a groom who feels like a prince? A wedding with actual royalty!!! Bring on the Kings (with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. being my favorite earthly King…more on that later…) Queens, Princes & Princesses. Yes, I know as a Christian, I am a child of the King, but until Jesus returns, earthly monarchies will have to do 🙂 And I will not be made to apologize for my fan girl behavior…so take all of the shade elsewhere…And please indulge me as I make the case why Prince Harry & Meghan Markle’s Royal Wedding was the Best Royal Wedding Ever!!!

As a little girl, who just completed first grade, I woke up early with my parents and watched the wedding of Prince Charles & Diana on July 29, 1981. I actually do remember some of the details including her blue sapphire engagement ring. As the great lyricist Lil Wayne says, “bling bling.” (I had become familiar with that concept after my father read “Cinderella” to me.) Similarly, I watched Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding on April 29, 2011. I remember before William was born so it was nice to watch him grow up and get married.

But babay, when I learned that a shonuff sista (yes, I know she identifies as biracial and I respect that.) was the love interest of Prince Harry (my favorite of Diana’s boys. Who doesn’t love a red-headed bad boy?) I knew special attention must be paid. And my dues were worth it when they announced they were engaged on  November 27, 2017!  And from then, it was off to the races, galloping until their glorious wedding day May 19, 2018. And it was everything I hoped for and more…So without further ado, let’s go…

Started at the bottom, now I’m here!

1. It was the “Cinderella” story come to life! Complete with the evil stepsister Samantha Markle (the sister who is writing the book “The Diary of Princess Pushy’s Sister”), Meghan Markle was supposedly not princess material. (I know she is officially the Duchess of Sussex but whatever.) Biracial. Divorced. American. Roman Catholic. Older than Harry. An Actress. A Commoner. All are attributes that were supposed to disqualify her from going to the royal ball like Cinderella, but Harry didn’t care about all of that. She was the one and he knew that pretty quickly from what I’ve read. Ladies, if you love romance novels, “Cinderella” was likely the first one you read and this story showcases the same themes explored in this timeless love story. What others think of you and maybe what you think of yourself to some degree does not disqualify you from the best of what this life has to offer if only would believe.

2. What would Cinderella be without her prince? The Royals are usually austere at least by appearances but Prince Harry was in his feelings yesterday and he let the world into his adoration for bride when he uttered these words when he first saw her, “You look amazing.” Insert sexy lip bite and shy look from Meghan. “I’m so lucky.” My heart just melted. Like the songstress Anita Baker says, “I was caught up in the rapture of love.”

3. The inclusiveness of the wedding. As a black person, I was so proud that black culture was infused into the festivities. I’m pretty sure this is the first royal wedding to include an address given by a black minister. The Most Reverend Michael Curry, the first African American to serve as bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, delivered a word on yesterday. You hear me! Replete with references to slaves in the antebellum South to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., you could not only hear his address, you could feel it. “There’s power in love!” Yeah, his message was a little lengthy, but that’s how the black church rolls. LOL. And did you see that woman? The Church of England’s Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Queen Elizabeth’s chaplain no less? Who knew the Queen got down with blacks like that? And I love a female reverend! And she is Jamaican! Wah Gwaan! And “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King as sung by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir was magical in that moment! A gospel choir at the Royal Wedding?! And did y’all hear them sing”Amen” as the ceremony ended. Let the church say, “Amen.” I cannot forget 19-year-old Sheku Kanneh-Mason and his cello! A prodigy he is…And most of all, a black mama with locs and a nose ring!

4. How Harry Remembered His Mama. If you are in my age group and older, you remember the tragic death of Princess Diana and the heartbreaking funeral featuring two lonely looking boys. I cannot imagine the pain they felt having to face the world (and what a big world they have) without the protection of their mother as they grew up. He was a mere boy of 12 when his mother passed away. But from various accounts, he thinks of her all of the time. And that was evident in the Royal Wedding. Princess Diana’s sister Lady Jane Fellowes gave the reading and all of her siblings were there. Princess Diana’s favorite flower, forget-me-nots, were featured in the bridal bouquet, and Prince Harry reportedly hand-picked flowers from their private garden at Kensington Palace for the wedding. Also, “Guide Me, O Thy Great Redeemer,” a hymn sung at his mother’s funeral, was also sung during the ceremony. Meghan’s engagement ring also includes diamonds from her late mother-in-law. And Meghan is 36 years old, the age of his mother when she passed…Coincidence? Maybe, but maybe not…

5. The Celebs! I’m a pop culture Ph.D. so seeing some of my favorite celebrities in the mix made it all the more festive. New mama Serena, one of the sports wonders of the world, slayed with those gorgeous braids! The ever handsome George Clooney was giving me geriatric goosebumps. The newly married Idris Elba looked at home in his home country. (What the ’90s Gucci Purse was his girl (wife) wearing though? The sweater dress in spring of it all!) Our American Queen, Oprah, was flitting about, seemingly spreading fairy dust, like the fairy godmother that she is. (Cinderella y’all?) There were others that I spotted but these are the ones that I was watching.

6. One of the Mulroney Twins’ reaction when the doors opened to St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in England. His face captured how we all felt when Megan Markle was about to become the Duchess of Sussex! His toothless mouth agape with wonder was adorable and appropriate for the grandeur of what was to come…

7. Meghan Markle’s Wedding Reception Dress. I loved the demure quality of her wedding dress. But the dress that she wore to the reception “suits” her best…Not to mention it actually resembles the style of my wedding dress….

And I hope Harry turnt up just like dis at his wedding reception…

 

And there you have it…there’s more I could say, but I’ve given you enough to relive the highlights the royal wedding…So did I prove my case? Do you agree? What are your top 7 reasons?

Any thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restoring the Years Global Ministries’ Founder Dr. Rhonda Travitt Heals Through Counseling…

Hello World,

I’m all about healing – in mind, body and spirit.  To that end, let me introduce Dr. Rhonda Travitt, who primarily addresses spiritual healing which I’ve learned affects the mind and body. Dr. Travitt is a noted author, entrepreneur, certified life coach, and professional counselor. A celebrated international speaker, Dr. Travitt has a passion through a practical and Biblically sound approach to empower the life of the everyday believer and help restore them to proper spiritual health. The founder of Restoring the Years Global Ministries in Marietta, Georgia, Pastor Travitt genuinely engages her past experiences and openly shares her heart with those seeking an empowered and fulfilled life. Her commitment to reach the lost expands beyond the lines of age, nationality or gender. Please see my interview with her below.

Tell us more about you and your ministry, including any particular focus areas.

Restoring the Years Global Ministries is a five-fold ministry located in Marietta, Ga. Through five-fold, we believe in apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and pastors as well as signs, wonders, and miracles. Our primary area of focus is inner healing, simply being healed internally from the wounds, scars, past emotional conflicts and trauma through the power of the Holy Spirit. We’re no longer concealing our wounds with titles, relationships, labels and the like, but allowing the Holy Spirit to penetrate the deep and dark places, addressing them spiritually.

Please share more about your book “Rejection and Rebellion: The Twin Towers.”

“Rejection and Rebellion” is a self-help book that confronts both rejection of self and others while at the same time addressing rebellion — rebellion being the force that prevents us from making the necessary changes in order to be successful to be in our own personal life and space.

I found that a lot of people were masquerading in life because they felt they had to. I wrote the book to pull down the masquerade that some of us have felt is so necessary for survival, to allow for complete healing.

You recently launched Game Changers, an organization focused on helping tackle the recidivism rate in Georgia. What is Game Changers?

In essence, a reentry and mentorship movement Game Changers is a nonprofit organization focused on promoting successful re-entry and reintegration of returning citizens, ultimately reducing recidivism here in the state of Georgia.

We understand that the re-entry process begins the day incarceration begins, but the reintegration process is much more in-depth and takes time and customization. We have partnered with both the Department of Community Supervision and Department of Juvenile Justice, to name a few, and are looking to build and leverage these partnerships to accomplish a great work.

We believe in changing mindsets through mentoring, education and advocacy to invoke cognitive thinking as well as service programs tailored to meet the needs of our individual clients. Some of our service programs include mentoring and counseling, workforce development, adult literacy and GED classes and family reunification.

You have a passion for helping to equip women and men to embrace inner healing. Why a focus on inner healing, and what are some steps to take toward inner healing?

I focus on inner healing because I saw so many people who were labeled as successful, but they weren’t because they were not healed inwardly. To the human eye they possess all of the material possessions and prestige that we equate with success. Still, they lack empathy, compassion, peace and gentleness toward themselves or others they interact with on a daily basis. Thus it compels me to address these inner inequalities to bring wholeness and solidarity to every individual — man and woman —so that they may live and experience a holistic life as God has ordained through divine intervention by inner healing. The first step to inner healing is pulling down our inner mask we hide behind. Address the damaged little boy and the damaged little girl on the inside that hides behind facades, seemingly making them appear whole and complete outwardly but leaving them naked and afraid inwardly.

Is there anything more you’d like to share?

I’m currently keeping busy with NACC (National Association of Christian Counselors), teaching the concepts of Christian Counseling as well as certifying teachers/counselors. The school is available to leaders as well as lay members.

As chancellor and founder of the Apostolic and Prophetic School of Inner Healing & Deliverance, I teach on deliverance, and spiritual warfare — training deliverance ministers and five-fold ministers on the art of spiritual warfare. I teach on how to be free mentally, emotionally, socially and economically. I don’t want to be the church that focuses on one issue.

I love helping women and bringing them together. I love tearing down stigmas that women can’t get along. I have a new women’s empowerment group called the Queens and Rubies for ladies 18 and older. We meet monthly, coming together in our “safe space.” We’re naked, transparent, raw and unmasked — all for the sake of healing, deliverance and empowering one another to know that she’s worth it, she’s enough and that she is a Queen and a Ruby!

I serve on the Board for the Music Foundation of America and the Young Men of Standard. I have a passion for people and life, and also serve as the chaplain for the Motherless Daughters Foundation.

For more information about Dr. Travitt, go to www.rhondatravitt.com.

Any thoughts?