Archive for June, 2014

Dr. Maya Angelou & the Power of Listening and Love

June 12, 2014

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Dr. Maya Angelou passed away on Thursday, May 28 and as President Barack Obama said, she was truly a phenomenal woman who also was a first-rate author, poet, civil rights activist, playwright, actress, director, composer, singer and dancer among many other things.

What is it that made Maya special?  I think there are two things in particular that stand out.  First of all, she was the rare person who knew how to listen.  She honed this skill as a young child at the age of six, when after a traumatic experience of being raped, and feeling that it was her voice that caused someone to kill the man who raped her, she  didn’t speak for nearly five years.

The Bible tell us “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:18). Yet, we too often we reverse this and we’re quick to speak and slow to listen. We would do well, however, to be like Dr. Angelou and to learn the art of listening and in particular to God.  Indeed, Dr. Angelou’s final words inscribed on her Twitter account were, “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”

Dr. Maya Angelou was also a woman who radiated the power of God’s love.  She revealed this in a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey when she described what it was that made the key difference in her life. She described reading the line “God loves me” over and over again and said,

And finally I said, “God loves me.” It still humbles me that this force that makes leaves and fleas and stars and rivers and you, loves me. Me, Maya Angelou. It’s amazing. I can do anything. And do it well. Any good thing, I can do it. That’s why I am who I am, yes, because God loves me and I’m amazed at it. I’m grateful for it.

We too should be grateful.  Grateful for Dr. Angelou and also grateful that the same God who loved her also loves us.  We should be grateful because nothing will ever be able to separate us from God’s love and His love is the most powerful force in the universe.  Dr. Angelou was tapped into this source of love and was an ambassador for it and we must do the same!

Following is one of my favorite one my favorite prophetic utterances from Dr. Angelou about what it means to be a person faith.

“I’M A CHRISTIAN”

by Maya Angelou

When I say… “I am a Christian”

I’m not shouting “I’m clean livin.”

I’m whispering “I was lost,”

Now I’m found and forgiven.

 

When I say…”I am a Christian”

I don’t speak of this with pride.

I’m confessing that I stumble

and need CHRIST to be my guide.

 

When I say… “I am a Christian”

I’m not trying to be strong.

I’m professing that I’m weak

and need HIS strength to carry on.

 

When I say… “I am a Christian”

I’m not bragging of success.

I’m admitting I have failed

and need God to clean my mess.

 

When I say… “I am a Christian”

I’m not claiming to be perfect,

My flaws are far too visible

but, God believes I am worth it.

 

When I say… “I am a Christian”

I still feel the sting of pain,

I have my share of heartaches

So I call upon His name.

 

When I say… “I am a Christian”

I’m not holier than thou,

I’m just a simple sinner

who received God’s good grace, somehow.

 

Author ~Maya Angelou~

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“The Real MVP” (May 9, 2014)

June 12, 2014

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The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been featured prominently in the news in the past couple of weeks.   One of the stories has been cringe-worthy, another story noteworthy and another praiseworthy.

The cringe-worthy story is about NBA Owner Donald Sterling and his racist remarks about Black people. We’ve already heard too much about this story, but it is a wake-up call that racism has not ended. The noteworthy story has been about the Washington Wizards.  For the first time in decades they have made it into the second round of the NBA playoffs and this gives us Washington fans something to cheer about.

The praiseworthy story is about NBA All-Star player Kevin Durant who is from the Washington metropolitan region.  This past week while receiving the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award, in a tear-jerker of a speech, Durant said of his mom, “You made us believe. You kept us off the street. You put clothes on our backs. You put food on the table. When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate and [you] went to sleep hungry. “You sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.”

Durant’s words are touching because he recognizes that if it weren’t for the stellar contributions of his mom, that he wouldn’t be where he is today.  Many of us can also say of our moms that they have been the real MVP’s in our lives.  The sacrifices our mothers have made and continue to make are unquestionable.  They build-up our self-esteem, and tell us we are somebody when everything else around us is saying we will not make it. They love us when no one will; nurture us when we feel empty inside; stand by us when we are down, and always encourage us to rise above our circumstances.

Mothers are truly special people, and they remind us so much of who God is. So we say to all of our mothers THANK YOU for all that you do and may God continue to bless and keep you. You Are the Real MVP!

Peace and Blessings,

Pastor Kip Banks, Sr.