Craig Morrison: My father taught me how to see lumber in a living tree. Truth in a wall that was plumb
or a corner that was square. I don't mean to put myself above the law, and I never have...until now. I'm too old for this nonsense. My house is sound. My wife is due to get out of the hospital next week, and, uh...options are limited. We're going to move into our house. So...it looks like... either I'm going to jail...
or I'm going home. Either way, I can sleep with a clear conscience.
This Still Mine was piece was in my Netflix cue for over a month before I finally decided to dive in. What a jewel. The old soul in me walked away from this one with an even deeper appreciated for the fallen, dirty and broken aspects of life. Of course, we should strive for excellence in ever way. But the fact is, there hasn't been and never will be a soul who will take their last breath without any past mistakes or regrets. Another detriment to our peace is the tormenting and often paralyzing fear of error. But, at the end of the day we're really left with the only decision to do our best and allow divine providence to cover us where we fail. Perhaps grace really is the only healthy reconciliation between good intentions and not so good actions.
Craig's intentions were to seek after the welfare of his wife.
His actions broke the law.
What happens next? Craig received what he didn't deserve. I guess you'll have to watch the movie to find out the rest!
Look out for scene where Irene (Craig's wife) is recovering from a certain broken bone in her body and she's strolls in to the room to give him a hair trim (what's left of the few strands he has). LOL! What a rich moment. This movie is a keeper. So many principles to extract. WATCH IT!
Welp, I'm going for a walk now. On my new hip.....that the LAW said I couldn't have....and, that I didn't deserve.
Peace & Blessings.
1) Any of various thick, dark, sticky substances obtained from the distillation residue of coal tar, wood
tar, or petroleum and used for waterproofing,roofing, caulking, and paving.
2) Pitch is an auditory sensation in which a listener assigns musical tones to relative positions on a musical scale based primarily on their perception of the frequency of vibration.
"Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch."
I'm sure you're wondering what the above photo has to do with Genesis 6:14. In this instance, the term pitch is a bit of a double entendre (I love double entendres). And, to be honest, the photo is used to get your attention! So hang in there. It will all make sense in a minute.
Let's lean towards the first definition for now. We can learn a lot from the way Noah was instructed to build the ark. One principle was the use of pitch. A heated tar like substance which, once cooled, created a sealant to keep out outer elements like water, air and in some cases - enemy attack. It's interesting that in the midst of all the building, this little substance, if not applied, can cause the entire vessel (your life) to sink. Such a massive structure. So may hours of sweat and tears. Yet, all for nothing once placed in the field. Do you have the right pitch? Have you allowed God to do the work of sealing you so that you'll stand firm on the day of testing? The storms will come. This is a guarantee. Boulders will strike and even dent your vessel. But, the applying of the right pitch in advance will prevent much heartache both in your life and in the lives of those you lead. Having an instinct to await proper infrastructure is a golden characteristic. The waters of depression, the boulders of bitterness and the fiery darts of unbelief may have caused significant damage to your vessel (your life). However, there's still time. It's not over. If you've found your vessel at the bottom of the ocean, know that you still have value despite your situation. You are not forgotten. You are not abandoned. There's still time to be reshaped, refined, refinished and resurfaced for greater use than ever before.
3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
1 Peter 5:10
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
PITCHED: Success happens from within FIRST!
3 John 1:2
Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
Has your soul been pitched from within?
1 Chronicles 7:14
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
The Right Pitch: A double entendre
Definition 1) Having the right inner conditioning.
Definition 2) Performing in a way that is in sync with the maestro and in sync with those around you.
So, I'm in a bit of a rush to get catch a flight (New Orleans to Nashville). I had a belly full of happiness and ready to get back to the grind. The flight was to depart in an hour and 15 minutes and I still had to return the rental. Granted, the gas gauge was just inside of the "F" (for full). But, I wasn't about to get some ridiculous price per gallon to fill it up. In my mind, this little hood-looking station popped in to view. So I pull in to the station and the attendant directs me to a pump which requires me to pay after I finished. The sign on the pump says, "Pay Inside - Broken! I started to panic a little, then the biggest smile began to develop on my face. Possibly an insignificant moment to most, but for me, another reminder that our blessings can come from unlikely places if we're open to it. No, this spot wasn't pretty. In fact, it smelled like seafood, beer, pine sol and dirty mops on the inside of the store. But, the gas pumps were wide open and I was able to get what I needed and get out of there. Here I am, at this hood-station laughing out loud while being reminded that the broken things can still be a blessing.
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Growing up in Southern Louisiana gave me my fare share of exposure to the outdoors. I remember early mornings with my grandfather and his buddies on Spanish Lake which was a small stretch of water between my home town of Lafayette, LA and new Orleans. I wished I could understand their Creole French. But, then again, maybe it was an opportunity for them to discuss things too mature for my 10 year old ears. Mr. T-Keg was my favorite. Whenever he wasn't catching any fish, I could hear him mumbling something in Creole only to hear my grandfather respond with, "T-Keg, stop cussing them fish boy. They ain't do nothing to you."
I was also responsible to help clean fish no despite my desire to drop dead from being tired. Even if I didn't make the trip, it was mandatory that I help to clean. After all, I was going to participate in the eating. So, it was only fair that I participate in the cleaning. My hands smelled like a Pirate Of A Caribbean armpits by the time we were done. I'm suspicious they expected my exposure to the insides of the fish would curb my appetite. Nope! I gobbled down that southern fried goodness with ease.
The one piece of thread weaving through all of this was a sense of the enjoyment of each other's company weather you were family or not. In the boat, at the cleaning table and the eating table is were I felt planted, secure and loved. It was a blast! Partly due to their basic love for one another and due to the fare share of ice cold malt in paw-paw's ice chest. Regardless, these times were special and seemed necessary for good soul-health.
Although play time was very important, hard work was never belittled. That generation worked HARD! I mean HARD! REALLY HARD! They're what I like to call the keeping food on the table while never missing a game or recital generation. No matter how many hours worked or commuted, at least 4 family members were there for my baseball games, band recitals and talent shows. I could always hear mom in the baseball bleachers yelling, "Comon guys. Let's get one on," all the while in her work clothes. Those were special times; "Rich" to say the least. As an adult, I'm often envious about their ability to prioritize. They did community extremely well.
I, like many of us long for what they had. Having traveled a little, I can honestly say that places with a strong sense of community were the most enjoyable and socially warm. I sat and thought about this for a day or two and kept coming back to my grandfather's boat. Then, the aha moment happened. Boat Modeled Life! Makes sense right? No? Ok, well think of a boat and motor:
THE BOAT: The boat holds everything you'll need to stay afloat while pursuing your next catch. Safety vests (safety first), seats, tackle, ice chests, anchor, rod & reel and so on.
MOTOR: This is power needed to move you from place to place.
I see this as a picture of a healthy and balanced life. I like to consider our boat to be community (family, friends, etc.). The motor represent our jobs. It simply moves things along. Let's say we lose our job (motor breaks down). Well, there's the beauty of community (the boat) to help keep us afloat until we're able to solve the issue. Both play important roles in the life experience. But, I think there's something to observe about the size difference between boat and motor. The boat is much bigger. I think it's safe to say it's potentially the more important of the two. Why? Ever think of holding on to a motor when you're in turbulent water? Just a thought.
I'm far from a sociologist. Matter of fact, I had to spell check the word when I just typed it. But, I like to use this piece to hopefully strike a chord in us all when it comes to the way we do life and where were placing our time. Of course, work is important. A community without work is like a a boat with no motor. That's not productive. But, I am intrigued by the moves of high ranking CEOs like Mohamed El-Erian and Max Schireson who decided exchange high paying jobs for more time with his families. They're basically wanting to give their children a sense of affirmation and most of all - community. As the African proverb says, "It takes a village to raise a child."
We're all blessed with talents and services which should be offered graciously to the world both for-profit or as gifts. But, I like to submit Boat Modeled Life as a picture of a balanced life. Once we can get past our fears, insecurities and need for a fancy title, we'll see that community is a beautiful place filled with people who truly love us for who we are. This is of utmost importance for those who work from a platform (speakers, entertainers, etc.) where the platform becomes an inadequate place of refuge. What a lonely place. If this applies to you, I encourage Psalm 68:6 "God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land." To those are just sensing a need for more community, know that we're all the product of the very thing we're longing for - Community. Don't be afraid to take a step of faith towards joining that church, small group or here's one - getting to know your next door neighbor. Finally consider 1 John 1:5-7
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
A quick wiki on Nina's lead to a discovery of accomplishments which, in my opinion, supersedes any need for validation from what's considered to be a prestigious institution. The wiki post states the following:
"Simone was the recipient of a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2000 for her interpretation of "I Loves You, Porgy." She has also received fifteen Grammy Award nominations. On Human Kindness Day 1974 in Washington, D.C., more than 10,000 people paid tribute to Simone. Simone received two honorary degrees in music and humanities, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College."
She was later to be addressed as "Dr. Nina Simone" after receiving such honors (read more at http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nina_Simone)
SCHOLARSHIP? HA! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!
I couldn't help but think of the daily agony in her soul, from what she perceived to be failure. As one who is a product of a lower middle class urban upbringing, I'm well aware of the desire to make your community proud and for lack of a better phrase, "To pave the way." This sentiment is shared amongst most minorities. From those who helped their children to be the first in the family to go to college, to the minorities who later become CEOs. There isn't a better feeling than knowing you've done something to reward those who've invested in you, and inspire those coming behind you. Yet, having considered this point in Nina's life, I'm recognizing the unnecessary grief we often place on our souls, by believing the lie that we are somehow, unaccomplished. Weather it be of our own self affliction, or by the guilt placed on us by others. It's all a lie.
The fact of the matter is, if you're reading this, you're not dead. This means that your story isn't over. I'm sure if sister Nina knew the words of her life's future chapters she would resolve to exist in the utmost joy. Pondering this moment in her life, also reveals the reason for why depression is wreaking havoc on the minds and souls of so many people even today.
The challenges in our current circumstances are the fertilizers that help us to grow. If only we can see things in perspective (starting with me). Paul says in Romans 8:18, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." I believe this applies both to time and eternity. Nina sought the justice that Isaiah 1:17 spoke about, "Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow."
The bible states that the steps of the righteous are ordered by God, and that the righteous have never been forsaken, and their seed have never begged for bread. So, it's not over despite what any person, prestigious institution, or situation says. We may not always see exactly what God is going to do. But, He can give us the grace to say "It Is Well With My Soul."
Thanks "Dr. Nina Simone." You're still inspiring us.
There are moments in life that are a lot like fertilizer, though unpleasant, it helps us grow. In the midst of our trials, may God give us the grace to be aware of "Macro Vision."
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Shortly after my arrival to Nashville, I took a job working third shift at the Nashville International Airport. Good old BNA. It was a rain, sleet or snow job I started in one of the worst winters in the city. Keep in mind this is NIGHT TIME. As in, NO SUN! Also keep in mind that I'm from Louisiana. Southern boy! It was brutal. But, I needed a job. The red eye flights arriving in the early mornings served as a source of encouragement. I'd say to myself, "I'm gonna fly like that one day. A lot!"
I was always one of those people who was curious about the business behind an operation. So, I naturally inquired about how certain things worked. I simultaneously began to realize the less favorable position I had due to the color of my skin. But, I was determined to walk in excellence regardless. Being on time, helping with other people's responsibilities when I was finished with my own and doing the little things no one else wanted to do. After all, they knew I was an aspiring Christian artist, so having a bad a attitude would misrepresent everything I professed. I managed to make a few genuine friends on the job and I was honored to represent African Americans in the many "why do black people...?" conversations. It was a trip.
The department was responsible for an inventory report which was printed out at the end of the night. This simply served to let management know the what profits were for the day. I noticed my supervisor, once a distant man, beginning to warm up to me. I figured he was noticing my desire to do more. I'll never forget the day when he asked, "Mike, you wanna run the inventory report tonight?" I was dumfounded, but I was like, "sure!" This was my ticket out of the freezing cold and hopefully a move up in the ranks. So, for the next month or so I helped him run the inventory reports. It was awesome. He'd literally leave the office for a smoke break or two while I did the paperwork.
After six months a few dynamics changed. People were distant and the conversation circles broke up when I approached them. Something wasn't right. Turns out, there were a few thousand dollars which showed up missing. I couldn't understand who would do something like that. It was such a tight knit core of people. Some of whom had been working there for over 10 years. Good-ol'-boy types. At the some time my DJ gigs and session work around town started to pick up (shouts to Fogg Station & Rocketown). I was finally able to get my own place, bed and space. The couch thing just wasn't feeling fresh anymore. One of my co-workers, Eric BlaBla, knew I had a small studio at the apartment and he asked to come and check it out. I'm like, "cool man, come through!" During his visit we kicked it and had small talk. I showed him a few beats while we devoured a few slices of pizza. Then he was on his way.
The climate on the job began to get really weird. No one was talking and joking around during coffee breaks. I felt like an outcast. Plus, I was slowly taken off of inventory reports. I received a call from a DEA agent requesting to visit my apartment. He said it was protocol when money came up missing. I agreed and let him have full access when he came over. I literally stepped out of his way and let him do his thing. I didn't like this job environment anymore and wanted to leave really bad. But, I knew that leaving would elevate the appearance of guilt. So, I continued to work third shift and do sessions in the day time.
Another co-worker, Ron BlaBla (not related to Eric) started working full-time for another company during the day time. Lockheed Martin developed a data entry arm which processed misdirected mail. He wasn't like the rest of those guys. He was a true fella to the core. In passing he mentioned that Lockheed was hiring. Thankfully he said it in front of a few other co-workers because I was getting really antsy for an honorable exit strategy. THE NEXT DAY I met Ron at Lockheed. He introduced me to the HR rep. I filled out an application, eventually got the job and began training. I had a full time day job, part-time at the airport and doing sessions. Yeah, I was on my hustle.
The theft slowly became a thing of past. I finally let go of the night job once things calmed down. Plus, I felt myself being spread too thin. I actually fell asleep in my car one night after I clocked out. My boss knew I was done.
A year later I returned to Nashville after a brief visit back home in Lafayette (Go Saints). After picking up my car from the airport parking, I went through the terminal to pay for the parking services. One of my old co-workers was at the exit booth collecting money. He recognized me and we began to make small talk. I started to ask him who was still around. One of the names on my list was my old boss. When I mentioned him he said, "You didn't hear what happened?" I said, "Ummm, no!" "Man, that guy is serving time in a federal prison for theft."
My jaw dropped!
He began to fill me in, but I don't remember much of it. In that moment, all I could do is recall the events. It was like a well written movie. I must have driven around the exterior road of the airport 5 times in silence. I stopped by the old DEA office, which was located on the premises. The investigating officer remembered me and the events. He said, "Yeah, that's what happened Mike. But, I want you to know that I knew it was never you. I just had to follow protocol." After some small talk he shook my hand as if to say no hard feelings.
Later that day I called Eric (the guy who came over to check out the studio). He was no longer with the company, but he said he was aware of what happened. He said, "Mike, remember that time I came over to your apartment? Well, they wanted me to come over an take a look around to see if anything looked fishy. That's why it took me so long to come out of the restroom (The restroom was attached to the bedroom). He was snooping around. He said, "Mike, I knew it wasn't you and I told them that I refuse to be a part anything that makes you look guilty. I wasn't sure who stole the money, but I knew it wasn't you." I'm like, WOW! I hung up with Eric and sat on the couch in awe at how naive I was. Man, that DEA agent could have planted something. Eric could've planted something. Plus, I purchased a mattress during that time from my sessions money. How suspicious was that? Sheesh!
That season changed my walk forever. A new allegiance to the Lord developed in ways I've never known. He saved me from prison. But my heart was arrested. The realization of all this caused me to become His prisoner and I accepted the sentence with gladness. I was also reminded of the story of Joseph (which happens to be my middle name). Go check it out! It's a real soap opera.
The top of the 2nd verse of the song Broken starts with a line:
"You told me this, if I should ever find myself thrown under the bus /
that you would be my defense and bless me with the wisdom to discern who I should trust." /
That season at the airport contributed to that line.
Once we're a prisoner of Christ, it means that we are now meant for use in His service and NOTHING can interfere with that. We become His property and it's a good place to be. I hope this serves as a source of encouragement to all my fellow believers. No matter what situation you're in, know that God desires to have your back. There are some people who are smarter and wittier than you'll ever be. But, if you continue to walk in righteousness & integrity He will fight your battles in the blind spots of your life. I'm a living witness.
Lastly, be open to where he'll place you to accomplish his macro-agenda. He's in the business of establishing His Kingdom on earth. This also involves cultural, social and racial diversity within the body. After all, we're going to be together for a very long time - ETERNITY! So it's in our best interest to start practicing now.
Michael "Joseph" Allen a/k/a Maj BlaBla
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I've often found myself in the same situation as the father in this story. His comment "but, if you can do anything..." seems to position Jesus as "another option." It also sheds light on the fact that failure comes with a certain amount of trauma. We find this in the father's statement, "I believe, but help my unbelief." Years of his son having near-death experiences. Years of try this...try that. Frustrating. We've all been there. Simply put, it's not long into our walk with God that we begin to experience similar episodes in our lives right? What we perceive to be failure is only serving to refine us (Psalm 66:10). It is here that God:
It's been said that God isn't all you need until He's all you have left. Jesus often asked "...do you believe I can do this (Mattnew 9:28)?" It's as if He's saying,
"Am I the only option now? I know you've leaned on the practical things like hard work, spread sheets, politics & manipulations but they've all failed. Guess what, I was in control of that. Are you ready to see "who I really am" in your life? Now, bring me your (thing) and let me show you and everyone around you that I AM!"
What's funny is right before the "scene of the unbelief (Mark 9:14-29)," Jesus was on the Mount Of Transfiguration showing who He REALLY WAS (Mark 9:2-7)!
There's always a tendency towards a breach in our belief. Even Peter was on the Mount Of Transfiguration and he later denied Christ. Bottom line, is God is always faithful to allow our systems to fail. So that can come to Him having abandoned all other possibilities. Is He all you have left?
In the middle of system failure, He's helping us to believe.
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I love my Louisiana visits. Yesterday, my nephew pout & cry session from not being able to play his video game at the moment (long story). We pulled up a few photos of kids around the world who were not able to eat for MANY moments. Some who lived in garbage piles, others who were literally dying of starvation. The light came on and he understood. I patted him on the head and looked him in the face with satisfaction on this great lesson in "delayed gratification." Then, it dawned on me that I was looking at myself!! OOOOOOH!
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Thankful for these moments of inspirational nuggets. To the best of my knowledge, they're all originals (although nothing is new under sun...go figure).