Will Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp & More in the Gospel & Christian Communities #MuteRKelly After Lifetime’s ‘Surviving R. Kelly?’

Hello World,

He may be the self-proclaimed Pied Piper of R&B, but the Gospel/Christian community gets down with R. Kelly too, quiet or not as quiet as kept actually. But after the three-day-in-your-face, testimony after testimony riddled exposé aptly and tragically titled “Surviving R. Kelly,” will those who claim to have a higher calling such Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp & more mute the man who sings “Your Body’s Callin?”

And I won’t be a hypocrite. I’m including myself in that community. As I’ve communicated here before, I came of age in the golden era of the ’90s. I graduated from high school in 1992 which was also the year that “Born in the 90s” debuted. This was when R. Kelly was still with his group Public Announcement. Man, I loved that album. “Dedicated,” “Honey Love” and “Slow Dance (Hey Mr. DJ)” were my three favorite songs from that album. His voice was earnest, sensual and melodic plus he was fine too. It was a no brainer for the pastor’s daughter who was exploring her newfound freedom as a college freshman. I remember dancing to his songs at parties, which I couldn’t attend when I lived at home with my parents. The next year, he went solo with his album “12 Play,” and I loved that one too. Whereas his first album with Public Announcement was more sensuous, sex and plenty of it was the theme of “12 Play.” The man knew how to blend his sexuality and artistry, and songs like “Bump ‘n Grind was the perfect backdrop to “Freaknik.”

In 1994, his collaboration with teenager Aaliyah as the producer for her debut album “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number”produced some instant hits as well. I LOVED the jeep remix of “At Your Best (You Are Love).” Me and my girls most definitely bumped (old school word) that song in my girl Keet’s pink and white Geo Tracker jeep when we went to see and be seen at Greenbriar Mall after reuniting back in the A from our various college campuses. It was genius to make an Isley Brothers song jeep worthy “bump”able.  Now back then, we didn’t have social media but slowly through magazines like VIBE, I learned that the close vibe between 27-year-old R. Kelly and his 15-year-old protégé Aaliyah may have more than an older brother/younger sister scenario…much more. VIBE writer Danyel Smith’s Dec. 1994/Jan. 1995 article “R. Kelly: The Sex, The Soul, The Sales And The Scandalous Marriage to Teenage Superstar Aaliyah” made that clear. Me and my girls discussed the issue, but by then, adulthood as in play-time-is-over-and-now-it’s-time-to-find-a-job- after-college-graduation was ahead of me and what R. Kelly did or did not do with one teenage girl would not deter me.  I went on with my life following college graduation, but R. Kelly had earned himself a spot on my college days playlist. And when I was feeling nostalgic, I could and would listen to his songs to take me back to when my most serious issue was deciding if I should start partying on Wednesday night after three days of classes or postpone partying till Friday when I could party without worrying about getting up for class in the morning.

But I didn’t have to be nostalgic about his music because the hits kept coming and not all of them were raunchy either. “I Believe I Can Fly” debuted in 1998 and became an instant hit worthy of being played at anywhere  from church services to preschool graduations.

That’s probably around the time that the gospel and Christian communities took notice.

That was also around the time that I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ as well. I tried to clean up my playlist and no longer listen to certain kinds of music, but I was happy that R. Kelly didn’t necessarily have to be banned. “Lean on Me,” Kirk Franklin’s song featuring R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige, Bono and came out at that time and I loved the collaboration. I thought “I Wish” was a beautiful inspirational song.

As it turned out, R. Kelly, the self-proclaimed Pied Piper of R&B , could turn out a gospel hit as easily as he could an R&B hit. That’s talent, I tell you. Whitney Houston’s last gospel song (written by the R) “I Look to You” before she passed in 2012 was haunting considering all that she had been through. And the way R. Kelly sang his rendition of the song he gave to her at her homegoing…chills…

And since then, more gospel artists have employed his services from Isaac Carree’s 2013 hit “Clean This House” to Marvin Sapp’s 2017 hit “Listen.”

And yet even as he helped people praise God and presumably praised Him himself, the Pied Piper of R&B was allegedly  luring young girl after young girl into his virtual harem according to what was revealed in Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly.” It may have began with Aaliyah in the ’90s but sadly it did not end there. If what has been revealed in the three-day documentary is true, R. Kelly is a pedophile – plain and simple. Last year, when #MuteRKelly movement began here in Atlanta, I FINALLY began to come to grips with the alleged facts as they have been presented. He allegedly operated what amounts to a sex cult up in Johns Creek, which is a suburb of Atlanta, my hometown. I couldn’t look away anymore. I couldn’t recall my college days bumping “Bump ‘n Grind” at Freaknik, praise the Lord with R. Kelly plus Kirk Franklin with “Lean On Me,” “Step in the Name of Love” at a grown folks’ party, reminisce about my single days with “Feeling Single” and on and on in peace. And now, after surviving “Surviving R. Kelly,” I’m muting R. Kelly.

At least one other Christian is joining me – Chance the Rapper.

How about you?

Any thoughts?

 

 

Seven Scriptures to Remind Us that Jesus is the Real Reason for the Season…2018…

Hello World,

I don’t know about you but December always seems to fly by…Between making Christmas lists, shopping with the masses, sending out Christmas greetings via e-mail or snail mail, going to Christmas parties and other events, preparing for the New Year and regular life stuff, it seems there is never enough time to do it all and so I almost look forward to January when life is back to its regular pace…

And if you noticed, I haven’t mentioned Jesus at all…That is because with all I have to or want to do, I can forget that the birth of Jesus, God’s precious gift to mankind, is the real reason for the season…And so to prepare my heart for this season and hopefully help you prepare your heart for this season too, I have decided to list seven scriptures that take the focus off of the worldly expressions of the Christmas season and help us to focus on Jesus…

1. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23 I just love that Immanuel means “God with us.”  Jesus was born so that God could be with us…Remember that the next time you feel alone because you are not…God is with us!

2. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 Look how much we are loved by God! He sacrificed His one and only Son! What have we sacrificed for God lately? Something to remember and act on at this time of the year…

3. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 Every time I see Christmas lights, I’m going to remember that God is the father of heavenly lights and that every good and perfect gift is from Him…I’m feeling better about the Christmas season already…

4. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 Although we will never be free of sin this side of Heaven, we can still accept God’s gift of eternal life with Jesus Christ who helps us not to sin…

5. “…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” 1 Peter 3:15 At some point during this Christmas season, we have to know that everyone around us does not know the real reason for the season…I hope I’m ready when the opportunity arises for me to tell somebody about my Lord and Savior…

6. “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 Do  you want the desires of your heart? Of course 🙂 Then we have to delight ourselves in the Lord and His purposes…Now, this does not mean that we send up a list of what we want and then He delivers gifts like He is some Santa Claus in the sky…No, this verse means that mysteriously when we align ourselves with the Lord, His desires for us become our desires…and then we get the desires of our heart because they are His desires for us too…

7. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14…This time of the year especially I have to make every effort to give glory to God and live at peace with others…I wish those in government would remember that…

What helps you remember the real reason for the season? This isn’t a traditional Christmas song but this song helps me to remember why Jesus left His home in Heaven on high to come to earth way below…

Merry Christmas!!!

Any thoughts?

Should Divorced Men Such as Dr. Jamal Bryant, Newly Named New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Pastor, Be Allowed in the Pulpit?

Hello World,

Now that Season 3 of OWN’s “Greenleaf” is over until next season, I’m back to finding my religious drama and intrigue in real life! LOL.

Last week, Atlanta was abuzz with the news that Dr. Jamal Bryant, founding pastor of Empowerment Temple, an A.M.E.  megachurch of about 10,000 members in Baltimore, Maryland was leaving his church to be the new pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, which also has about 10,000 members, in Lithonia, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. He will preach is first sermon at New Birth on Sunday, Dec. 9.

The announcement has people talking for many reasons. One of those reasons is that Bryant’s tenure comes after the death of the controversial church founder Bishop Eddie L. Long, who passed away in January 2017 after battling cancer. Prior to his death, he wrote about his life in his memoir “The Untold Story – The Story of Adversity, Pain, and Resilience.”  In a previous blog post about this memoir, I wrote, “Is Bishop Long going to address what really happened with those young men who accused him of sexual misconduct as their claims were settled out of court and why he settled? That’s all people want to know at this point!” What is ironic about that post, which I wrote in 2016, is that the post was about Bishop Long AND Pastor Jamal Bryant. Here is a link to the post “Bishop Eddie Long Releases New Book ‘The Untold Story’ While Pastor Jamal Bryant Sidesteps Paternity Claim Today… What Are The Biblical Requirements for a Pastor?” I had no idea that two years later that these two men who be forever linked by last week’s announcement.

And that blog post brings me to another reason why people are talking about Bryant being named pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Even without all of the Bishop Long controversy, Pastor Bryant has enough controversy that he can claim on his own – from a fairly recent out-of-wedlock paternity allegation to the admission of infidelity in his previous marriage to Gizelle Bryant, one of the stars of “The Real Housewives of Potomac.” He was dating R&B singer Tweet but I guess they have broken up because I haven’t heard anything about them still being together. He referred to her as his “Last Lady” in the clip.

Below are a few comments I saw on New Birth’s Facebook page following the announcement last week:

“New Birth still has members?”

“WoW I’m shocked they gave it to Jamal with all the scandals he been through…but no man is perfect and I wish him the best.”

“Facts: No pastor wants the debt associated with NB! It will take a name to fill the seats & ‘encourage’ people to give! We are all flawed & human! However, for the church’s sake, i pray there’s real accountability worked into his contract! Literally, he just left court on stalking charges! There’s a pattern of poor judgment! I’m just gonna pray!”

 “Plenty of women to choose from.”

“Wow, I can’t believe these are Christians on the church website with this garbage. Talking about men of God like we are talking about Love and Hip Hop! Messy!!! Truly I wish that Pastor Bryant would not even go down there in this mess. Because he is loved and wanted at Empowerment Temple and ALL over the country. Half of the people on here don’t support the church financially or spirituality. The way our world is today we better, get our lives together. We don’t know when the Lord’s going to call us home. Please stop being so quick to point out what we think is somebody else faults and get our own selves in order. NB congregation on your new appointed Pastor. Pastor Jamal, love you! I will be praying for you and supporting you the same as I did at ET. I believe in you and the God we serve.”

“Episode of Greenleaf Coming!!!!”

“So he switching denominations!?”

See ALL of the 538 comments and counting HERE.

All of this chatter has got me thinking about being a pastor as a single divorced man. If real life is stranger than fiction (like what went down on OWN’s “Greenleaf” following the divorce of Bishop & Lady Mae), what should be expected from the pastorate of single divorced man? And should single divorced men be allowed to be pastors at all? Years ago, Atlanta-based but known worldwide pastor Dr. Charles Stanley, who is one of my favorite pastors, caused a lot of controversy when he decided to remain pastor of his church, First Baptist Church of Atlanta, following his divorce. His stance was particularly controversial when he previously said he would step down if he ever divorced.

Do you think divorced single men should be pastors? Below are three views on this topic:

  • While many in the Southern Baptist Convention called on him to step down over his divorce, Stanley refused to give up his role as senior pastor. ‘God said you keep doing what I called you to until I tell you to do something else,’ he told CNN. “I got that straight from the Lord. … I was simply obeying God.’ He added: ‘If somebody doesn’t love you and doesn’t want to live with you, you can’t — nowhere in the Scripture does it say that you’re to preach the gospel until someone does this or that.'” excerpted from “Charles Stanley Names Successor but Will Remain Sr. Pastor, Says Retirement Is Unbiblical” by Leonardo Blair
  • “In the end, it remains the choice of the congregation whom they call to be a pastor. If a man was divorced prior to becoming a Christian, then 2 Corinthians 5:17 comes into play: “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” A divorced man’s pre-Christian life is certainly part of the “old things” that pass away. Life in Christ warrants for all believers a “new lease” on life. Congregations may also, legitimately, conclude that a divorce for a Christian man was so long ago in the past that it should not hinder his witness or his work in the pastorate. There are no hard and fast rules; only principles, to guide a man in the ministry or a congregation seeking a pastor. ” excerpted from “The Divorced Pastor: Is He the Husband of One Wife?” by Michael F. Ross
  • “I really think we need to look at it on a case by case basis, especially if the man was divorced for one of the two biblical exceptions: the wife’s infidelity (Matthew 5:32) or an unbelieving wife divorcing him (1 Corinthians 7:15). Although I respect an autonomous church’s right to set whatever policies it deems appropriate (as long as those policies don’t violate Scripture), I, personally, don’t think it’s right to deny a man the office due to his wife’s sin that he had no control over and may have done everything in his power to prevent.” excerpted from “The Mailbag: Can a Divorced Man Be a Pastor?” by Michelle Lesley

If you are unfamiliar with Dr. Bryant altogether, here is a brief bio from the AJC. Boston-born Bryant, a third generation pastor, is a graduate of Morehouse College, Duke University and Graduate Theological Foundation. As he failed the 11th grade and received a GED, he started at Morehouse College, which is in Atlanta, on probation. He is the father of 5 daughters. Also, his sister Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis is a relationship counselor for Pastor Chad Johnson and his fiancée Michelle Williams, formerly of Destiny’s Child, on their OWN reality show “Chad Loves Michelle.” (I am really enjoying this show by the way.)

I listened to Dr. Jamal Bryant being interviewed on a local radio station V-103 last week, and he is very personable and upfront about the fact that he has not been a perfect shepherd. And I especially loved how he closed out the interview with this prayer “Lord, Your Will. Nothing More, Nothing Less & Nothing Else.” The first time I heard that prayer was from Bishop Greenleaf, my favorite fictional pastor! LOL. I don’t mean to be cavalier here because we’re talking about real lives and the saving of souls, but art is inspired by real life…

Anywho, any thoughts Saints?