Stellar Award-Winning Gospel Artist James Fortune Turns Page on Domestic Abuse & Divorce, Pens New Book!

Hello World,

I believe the God we serve is a God of second, third, fourth, etc. chances if we repent from what we’ve done wrong and attempt to live on a righteous path. Stellar Award- winning and two-time Grammy Award-nominated Gospel artist James Fortune says he is on righteous path following a devastating derailment.

Along with ELOHAI International Publishing & Media, Fortune has announced his first book Destiny Derailed: How to Get Your Life Back on Track by Leveraging your Past and Repurposing your Pain into Power. He chronicles his journey of healing and restoration after a major derailment —public scrutiny following domestic violence that occurred in his home and a subsequent divorce — in 2014. Destiny Derailed is a self-help memoir designed to empower every person who has been knocked off course, experienced loss, let themselves down, or thought that a situation they’ve experienced disqualified them from God’s promises. Destiny Derailed aids in giving readers the encouragement and biblical foundation needed to navigate any tough situation by seeking and believing in God’s promises.

With the recent release of his album “The Collection,” which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Gospel Chart, recent marriage and newborn baby, Fortune is a testament to the restoration power of Jesus Christ and proof that a destiny derailed is not a destiny denied. He hopes it is the first of many great informative and life-changing books.

Praise for Destiny Derailed:

“Instead of hiding in the shadows, James most effectively ministers from the broken place and
disarms devils by pointing the finger of responsibility at the one where it all began—himself. Let
this work bless you and teach you the most valuable lesson of all: saying yes to God DOESN’T
eliminate your frailties-it simply gives God permission to get glory out of them.”

Pastor John Gray, Relentless Church

“This book is so full of healing. James literally poured out of a beautiful place of transparency. By
the time you are done, you will be walking in complete healing! Forgiveness will set in, and
shame will be completely gone. Your scars will be turned to stars. People with the worst past can
indeed make the best futures.”

Real Talk Kim, Church of the Harvest, Fayetteville

“Whether you experience a private or public catastrophic decision, disastrous failure,
or a heinous attack on your life, when you are a child of God, your greatest setback
can be the precursor to your greatest comeback.”

Pastor Charles Jenkins, Fellowship Chicago

To buy Destiny Derailed: How to Get Your Life Back on Track by Leveraging your Past and Repurposing your Pain into Power, click on the link.

James Fortune is an award-winning gospel music artist, father, husband, and author. He lives in Houston, Texas and is best known for his transparent records that speak to the hearts and souls of his listeners. Learn more at mrjamesfortune.com.

Any thoughts?

 

 

Greenleaf Recap Season 3 Episode 5: Closing Doors…

Hello World,

I must say that this was the saddest episode I’ve watched of OWN’s “Greenleaf” (which has been renewed for Season 4!)  thus far and I will tell you why if you continue reading this Greenleaf Recap Season 3 Episode 5: Closing Doors.

Per usual, I will incorporate the title of this week’s episode in the recap and hopefully in doing so, I can illuminate some of the themes explored. And I’m sure y’all will let me know if I have done that successfully or not!

So without further ado…

Knock Knock…

Behind the closed door of her Calvary office, Lady Mae peruses a brochure for Howard Divinity School. (Is she really going to our nation’s capital to study there? I can’t see that. Now, I can see her doing a correspondence course or something like that but that’s about it. She’s too prissy at this stage in her life to submit to classroom rules. What y’all think?) She is interrupted by a call from Ms. Clara who has decided to NOT give the $2 million to Calvary.

Lady Mae tells this unfortunate news to Bishop in his office. He had already heard the bad news and they discuss why this happened when Ms. Clara had originally agreed to bail them out. Apparently, first of all, she learned that their IRS debt was a personal not institutional debt and secondly, she learned that Bishop and Lady Mae are on the brink of divorce. Her family values would not allow her to financially support a church led by a divorced bishop. Then the blame game and bickering start! “Mac was your brother,” Bishop says. “You told me those offerings were not taxable,” Lady Mae says. “I believed what Mac told me,” Bishop says. Lady Mae has a solution. “You’ll step aside and I’ll take over.” She reminds me Bishop that she had a calling and dumped it in the dirt for him and what did she get for her trouble? Bishop says, “Chanel and Tiffany!” Amen! (That’s me not Lady Mae LOL) And Lady Mae’s solution is not a solution at all according to Bishop. “You are sorely mistaken. If we divorce, it will be you who will exit the building not me. That’s nature’s way.” SMH…These two…They are so alike it’s ridiculous…

So I think someone should take a Bible and knock Zora over the head with it, but instead Lady Mae, who is now at home, knocks on her granddaughter’s door to tell her that Bible study will be in 15 minutes. It is now morning, but barely, as it 5:45! Yikes!  Zora thought she would be luxuriating at the Greenleaf estate, but Zora is the one who was truly sorely mistaken. As a new day dawns, Lady Mae and Zora read from the Bible together. Lady Mae has Zora read Isaiah 54:7. “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back.” I know this message is for Zora but I cannot help but think that Lady Mae thinks this verse applies to her calling as well. In fact, below is the entire passage in a different version.

For the LORD has called you, Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” says your God.  “For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger, I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer.

As Lady Mae and Zora are reading together, Sophia stops by on her way out of the door for a morning run. Zora scowls.  They have such a good girl/bad girl competition going on.

In another part of the house, Charity seems like someone knocked her out. She is an angry stupor and stares at a bottle of oxycontin pills. When Grace comes into her sister’s room to check on her, Charity spews out her anger. “Are you okay?” Grace says. “Why wouldn’t I be?” Charity replies. She blames her sister for her arrest at the Four Seasons hotel.

It’s obvious that not only a new day but trouble is on the horizon when Sophia clutches her side in front of the Greenleaf home after she finishes her morning run.

Sitting By Heaven’s Door…

Now that Clara aine coming up with the cash, Bishop is scrounging around for another solution. He tells his assistant Karine, who is Clara’s granddaughter by the way, to call Percy Thompson. Remember he is the one who introduced Lady Mae and Bishop and was in last week’s episode. Karine says, “I’m sorry about Nana” to Bishop. Bishop replies with, “God will provide,” but Karine doesn’t know how as she has a bemused expression on her face. Man will always let you down in one way or another, but God in Heaven is always our help!

But Rochelle aine worrying about going to heaven’s door when she wants to create hell on earth for the Greenleafs. She meets with her sister-in-law and lawlessness to conspire about how they will take down Bishop and Jacob. Rochelle wants Tasha to get Jacob to sign some papers (to trick him into giving up the church? I’m not sure.) and she is elated that Bishop’s IRS troubles are splashed across the front page of the local newspaper.

Back at Calvary, Lady Mae goes to Deaconness Connie to tell that she need not worry about the IRS scandal. “Bishop will step aside and I am ready to step up and take over.” But Connie is not compliant regarding Lady Mae’s solution. “Mae, it’s my feeling and the deacon board shares my feelings that our best hope for the future is a disinterested third party.” “Who is disinterested?” Lady Mae says. “Why Grace,” Connie says as if it’s obvious. And maybe this is part of the reason that Lady Mae is jealous of her daughter and or gives her such a hard time. Everyone can see that she is called to be a minister and Lady Mae put her calling on the back burner to support her husband’s call.

Also at Calvary, Sophia teaches the little children about faith by blindfolding them and asking them to move around the classroom. Roberto, her boyfriend, comes in and tells her that she is good with children. She says, “I think they’re good with me.” So sweet. He apologizes to her for attempting to push her beyond her sexual boundaries.

And yet in another part of Calvary, in Bishop’s office, Percy has shown up. Bishop inquires about how he got out of his IRS mess. He tells him his lawyer helped him rob Peter to pay Paul. Bishop says that he needs to speak with Percy’s lawyer, but Percy says he already has a ace in the hole. “That pretty little bunny that was prancing about at your party.” He’s been to Rochelle’s website and has discovered that she is involved in crytocurrency. “It’s growing faster than bad grass,” Percy says. He asks Percy for Rochelle’s number and Bishop asks for Percy’s lawyer’s number.

Close The Door…

In the most heartwarming moment of the show, Jacob is spending some quality time with his son behind the closed doors of his office. They are playing chess and his son beats him! This is the first time I’ve seen him and his son alone. Tasha comes into his office, prepared to push these mysterious documents in his face for him to sign. But she is so touched by what she witnesses that she makes up a reason to be there (the ac is too cold) and closes the door behind her. She has a heart after all…

Lady Mae has a heart too but somehow when it comes to Grace, her heart is cold. “So I spoke to Connie and I know about this coup of yours,” she says to her daughter at Calvary. Grace informs her that she is truly disinterested in the job. “I wish the two of you would forgive each other and move on…I don’t know where pride ends and weakness begins. I don’t want the church.” “Good because you will never get it,” Lady Mae tells her daughter. And with that mean-spirited comment, Lady Mae may have sealed her fate. Grace may not have wanted the church before, but now that her mother tells her she will never get it, those just may be fighting words!

After Lady Mae speaks with Grace, Connie has another conversation with Grace about who will take over Calvary if Bishop and Lady Mae divorce. Connie says Lady Mae must be on another planet if she thinks she is the change that Calvary needs at this time. In fact, that change of leadership will lead to a “big for sale sign” on the church. “That will be a change.” Grace continues to resist Connie’s suggestion that she be the one Greenleaf who will change the direction of Calvary. She reminds Connie that the offering went down when she preached last summer and that she will be preaching about Jesus’ unconditional love.

At the Greenleaf estate, Charity is forced to give her son to his father Kevin. She attempts to be stoic as she does so, but when she closes the door of her bedroom, she slides down the door awash in tears. She is coming apart for sure…

Rochelle’s plan is coming apart too because Tasha is having a change of heart about getting Jacob to sign the papers. She tells Rochelle that she hasn’t found the right time to present the papers to him. “Do you want to see Basie again?” Rochelle says. “Then make it the right time.” I’m not exactly sure how these papers are related to Basie’s return, but I miss Bootleg Basie! LOL

After meeting with Percy, Bishop decides that he needs Rochelle’s planning skills as it relates to money to help them pay off their IRS debt. He goes to her office to speak to her in person, but Rochelle Cross is now cross when it comes to Bishop. After he tells her that he feels the Lord led him to her door, she says, “You prayed and it brought you back to this Jezebel? Now why would I want to help you? You can’t throw me out and come back begging for favors.” That door of opportunity was closed.

Tasha gets back on track with the plan as she figures out a way to get Jacob to sign the papers, but I don’t know if she will give them to Rochelle though. During their conversation, Jacob tells Tasha how much she appreciates her help at Triumph. In fact, he considers her a member of the family!

Back at the Greenleaf estate, Zora is listening to music from rapper Ice-T before his “Law & Order” days. Apparently, she didn’t know that he was a rapper before he was an actor. (I guess these Millennials don’t realize that Will Smith was also a rapper before he was an actor! ) Sophia asks her if she wants to go to Zaxby’s and then she gets that mysterious pain in her side again.

Girl Next Door…

When Grace realizes that her mother is calling her as she is spending some time with Darius, she almost ignores the call. They are discussing him potentially being the First Gentleman of a church! But thankfully, she answers because her mother tells her that Sophia is in the hospital!

At the hospital, Grace learns that Sophia is suffering from an ovarian torsion and surgery is needed to see what is causing the issue. After Grace assures her daughter that she will be nearby when she wakes up, she joins her family in the waiting room. Charity’s behavior is odd to say the least. She yells out, “Being sliced open is not fun” and mumbles about losing her daughter. Her family thinks she is drunk and advises her to drink some water. So now we’re starting to see what is at the root of Charity’s pain. She definitely hasn’t had the chance to grieve the death of her daughter AND the death of her marriage in my opinion.

By the time Grace returns to see Sophia, the anesthesia has kicked in and Sophia is nearly giddy as she tells her mother that Roberto wants to marry her and respects the fact that she is saving herself for marriage. She dreams of having a home filled with children and puppies with him and Grace is excited that her daughter is in love (and feeling at ease in preparation for the surgery).

At the vending machine, Jacob has a quick discussion with Zora about staying with her grandparents. Unlike Sophia, she is perpetually moody and complains about gaining weight, not having access to TV and a computer, early morning Bible study, etc. (Y’all know that child is pregnant, right?) Charity comes over then and says to Kerissa, who replaces Jacob after he walks away, “Y’all really messed her up bad.” She attempts to get a candy bar but the candy bar refuses to come out. Like a woman who is out of her mind, she punches through the glass to get the candy bar. And although her hand is bloody, she uses her other hand to eat the chocolate! “I’m going to need stitches,” she says. Her family is stunned silent.

After Charity is examined and stitched up, the family learns that she is on Oxycontin which she was given after her Cesarean. In the midst of all of this chaos, Bishop pleads with Lady Mae once more. “These kids need their parents. They need us. Please let’s put all of this behind us.” But Lady Mae is no longer the girl next door ready to fit into Bishop’s plan. “I’ve reached a point in my heart where going back would be disrespect to God himself. They need their mother and father but they won’t have their parents again.”

Still, as a family, the Greenleafs, with Jacob pushing Charity in a wheelchair, make their way to the hospital chapel and recite the Lord’s Prayer together. And Bishop receives a text from Rochelle while there…More will be revealed later I’m sure…

Once the surgery is over, Grace receives some heartbreaking news…Sophia had ovarian cysts which were causing organ displacement I think. Her ovaries had to be removed thereby making it impossible for her to have children. Y’all, I’m almost started crying especially since we now know that having children with Roberto is a dream of hers and the fact that she is obviously great with children! Sophia wept in her mother’s arms. “I can’t have children,” she says as her mother holds her.  Grace says, “God has got you. You can lean on Him.” That’s kind of hard for her to believe at the moment. All of her dreams of being the girl next door with the white picket fence, handsome husband, babies and puppies seem to be in jeopardy with this horrible news! (It would be so unfair if Zora ends up being pregnant by a boy that she ultimately won’t marry and Sophia won’t be able to get pregnant by the boy she intends to marry 🙁  )

Speaking of horrible news, Bishop finally seems to be coming to terms with Lady Mae’s decision to move ahead with the divorce. He gives her a draft of what they will say to the church the next Sunday about their pending divorce. After he hands the draft to her, he says, “I’m sorry.” She simply says, “Please close the door behind you.” Wow…

Well, that’s it and that’s all…And it looks like there won’t be an episode next week. Apparently, it will return on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Thank you sooo much for reading my Greenleaf Recap Season 3 Episode 5: Closing Doors and my other recaps so far. If you would like to keep up with OWN’s “Greenleaf,” and my recaps, please click on this link to subscribe to my blog 🙂!

White Greenville Oaks Church of Christ Lead Minister Collin Packer Shares Support of Black Slain Worship Leader Botham Shem Jean…

Hello World,

I’m so disheartened and yet not surprised that Dallas, Texas police officers are reporting what was allegedly found in the apartment where 26-year-old Botham Jean, who is black, lived and was killed by Dallas police officer Amber Guyger on Sept. 6. The office-duty police officer, who is white, shot and killed him after thinking he was a burglar in her apartment when she mistakenly went into Jean’s apartment. CNN is reporting the items included “two fired cartridge casings, a metal marijuana grinder and 10.4 grams of marijuana. The search warrant indicates that officers went inside the apartment looking for drugs the night of Jean’s death, his mother, Allison Jean, said during a news conference Friday with her attorneys. She accused authorities of defaming her son.”

Further down in the story, it is noted that  “A CNN team visited Jean’s apartment Friday, where a small memorial of flowers and a photo with his mother adorn the front door. Several books were scattered around the unit, including C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters,” which was on Jean’s bedside table. Some dishes were left in the kitchen sink, and a bowl filled with ID badges, keys and notes covered the counter.”

Honestly, I don’t care what they found “good” or “bad.” What may have been found does not explain why this police officer shot this man who was in his own apartment and minding his own business.

All of that aside, I was encouraged when I saw a Facebook post by a white Texas minister Collin Packer who acknowledged the startling racial dynamics at play in this tragedy. Jean had visited his church a few times.

And if you cannot see the entire post, here are his words below:

Yesterday, I attended the funeral of Botham Shem Jean. It was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had. Botham was a man of God, a graduate of HardingUniversity, a worship leader, and a brother in Christ. We shared the same city and the same small religious tribe. He attended our church a few times.

8 days ago, Botham was murdered in his home. The shooter was not taken into custody until 3 days later. And yesterday, while I was sitting at his memorial service, those in power prepared to release the results of what often happens when African-American men are murdered: a thorough investigation into the life of a victim to criminalize him and somehow help others come to the conclusion that he, because of some flaw, “deserved” the bullet that took his life in his own home.

We don’t just murder African-American men. We murder their character. And we continue to justify systems that have continually devalued black bodies from the moment they arrived on our shores on slave ships.

I am a white minister in Dallas. My family has lived here for generations. I have benefited from so much that this city has offered me. But my experience is not the experience of everyone in Dallas.

And I refuse to be silent and complicit any longer. Botham’s Memorial Service, along with many other events over the past few years, have unstopped my ears and cleared my eyes.

In his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke words that still ring true in our day:

“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice…”

I want to challenge my white brothers and sisters in Christ to be willing to speak up for justice. May we be willing to stand in solidarity. May we be willing to listen without being defensive.

The voice of our brother’s blood cries out to us from the ground. May justice roll down like a river. Let us do what we must to tear down any dam constructed to block the flow of that river.

Also, in support of the Jean family, below is a positive image of Jean leading worship at Dallas West Church of Christ Church the Sunday before he was shot and killed:

May God be with the Jean family as they grieve the senseless loss of their loved oneBotham Shem Jean. Below is a Dallas News video snippet from Jean’s homegoing service last week. And here is an article about the entire homegoing service “Botham Jean ‘was the light in the dark room,’ Dallas minister says at funeral.”

Any thoughts?