Category Archives: Around The World

Tank And The Bangas NPR #TinyDeskConcert

If you’ve had a long MONTH like I have, then you’ll enjoy this mini concert given by the recent winners of NPR’s #TinyDeskContest TANK AND THE BANGAS! Based in New Orleans, this group has pushed the envelope of everything I once knew as music. To be totally honest, I was losing hope for music in terms of innovation. Though I mainly listen to Christian/Sacred music, jazz and neo-soul holds a very special place in my heart. Something about it (like gospel or worship) lifts me up and away from the stresses of day-to-day responsibilities.

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Yet and still, that genre has yet to birth something new. Other than Musiq Soulchild’s most recent project, and newcomer Chantae Cann — there is a familiarity that isn’t bad, but not altogether great!

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THAT WAS UNTIL….. I happened upon TANK AND THE BANGAS’ submission video to the NPR Tiny Desk Contest. TALK…ABOUT…IT! The multifaceted eccentricities and grooves of each line and stanza took my mind on an unfamiliar musical rollercoaster that left me exhilarated and wanted more! I immediately subscribed to the groups’ Facebook page eager for more updates. Today, on what is shaping up to be the end of a SERIOUSLY LONG work week, I came across the gem posted below. When I though TANK and her people couldn’t do it…they gave me more! I think I’ll wrap up my commentary here and let you enjoy the fruits of my scrolling. Remember, if this has been a tough day, week, month — good music and prayer can always bring you up outta that funk! HAPPY FRIDAY YA’LL!

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Blessings, Joc

CONCERT HERE:

http://www.npr.org/event/music/519418207/tank-and-the-bangas-tiny-desk-concert?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=nprmusic&utm_term=music&utm_content=20170310

 

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Ephesians 5 (MSG)

Ephesians 5The Message (MSG)

Wake Up from Your Sleep

1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

3-4 Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.

You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.

6-7 Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don’t even hang around people like that.

8-10 You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.

11-16 Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!

So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

17 Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.

18-20 Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.

Relationships

21 Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.

22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.

29-33 No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.

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When God Opens The Eyes of Your Heart

This year has been a doozy.

Never before have I wanted to see truly see God and His countless attributes, and never before have I experienced Him in such an intimate way.

Many folk question [Elohim] God’s existence DESPITE the fact that there is no other way to explain the function of the very brain they use to come up with these these internal questions. Despite the fact that their body is created to flow in a specific cadence and rhythm. Despite that when there is so much killing around, THEIR family is spared.

There are many things I can’t explain as a Christian [follower of Father God, Christ and His teachings] but those things are beyond our finite minds and to think it’s not is arrogance in the most blasphemous degree. With all of the turmoil mounting in the world: wars, famine, disease, killings, natural disasters; our prayer….our DESIRE…should be to ask God to open the eyes of our hearts. Not so we can unlock “life’s secrets” and rule the world, but so we can DISCERN His will, our purpose, and so we can see His goodness in the midst of what we experience as tragedy. Anything worth having is worth waiting/working for right? If we can apply that to relationships, jobs, and every day matters; WHY is it so hard to apply that to God’s revelation?

It’s easy to write off these recent world events, or job layoff, or family issues as being cruel and question God. But that’s not really going to help anything. Why not apply that same work/wait ethic to EVERY facet of life and when things happen we can’t explain, be willing to WAIT on God and WORK on humbling ourselves and seeking His face so He can reveal to us the understanding comfort that we so desperately seek. In Matthew 7:7-8 ESV Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” The answer given may not be one we want to hear, but if we press in and truly ask God for direction and wisdom, He will give it to us — if we believe and trust Him. 

1 Corinthians 2:6-16

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Again, this year has been a doozy.

Never before have I wanted to see truly see God and His countless attributes, and never before have I experienced Him in such an intimate way. He has opened my spiritual eyes in ways I could never imagine and it hasn’t been comfortable, but necessary. I asked questions. I recieved my answers. Now it’s up to me to rest in the knowledge and TRUTH that GOD IS IN CONTROL. Regardless of what we think or how we feel at any given moment, God is in control. It’s up to us to make the CHOICE to go with HIS will and trust that His plans for our lives are to prosper us, to help us fulfill our purpose and make a difference in this world — for His glory!

Watch/listen to the video below and really let it sink in that though this little boy is singing a song, it goes deeper than that! While he can’t physically see, His little spiritual eyes are being opened with every verse. I can’t help but believe that revelation and understanding like none other has saturated his life as he navigates the world.

Today, pray for the Lord to open the eyes of your heart. Ask Him to enlighten you and reveal to you the glory in your struggles, trials, and downfalls. Ask Him to help you hold on and keep your eye on the prize as you endure this unstable society that we live in. Ask Him to remind you of His faithfulness, protection, and guidance.

— Joc 

 

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Discerning the Enemy’s Mass Weapon of Destruction in This Season

Discerning the Enemy’s Mass Weapon of Destruction in This Season

Learn how to restore your hope.
Learn how to restore your hope. (Flickr)

Jennifer LeClaire is now sharing her reflections and revelations through Walking in the Spirit. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.


With violence raging on American streets, many are losing hope for a better tomorrow. Indeed, pessimism is gripping the nation on many fronts as the signs of the times manifest in our midst.

For the first time in American history, most Americans believe the next generation will be worse off than them, according to a CNNMoney/E*Trade survey. At the same time, strange viruses are spreading, some even causing death and blindness. There are wars and rumors of wars. The economic signs are driving people to store food and water. And persecution of Christians in America is on the rise.

I could go on and on. The point is, as a nation our hope is under attack.

On a personal level, you may have prodigal children that show no sign of turning back to the Lord despite your fervent intercession. Maybe you’re fighting health issues that look dire. Perhaps your marriage is on the brink of divorce. Maybe you’re battling weight issues you can’t overcome no matter what diet you try, financial issues that keep growing worse or some other issue that looks hopeless.

The enemy attacks our faith with fear for a strategic reason. We find that reason in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” See, you can’t have faith without hope. Your faith hangs on hope. If you partner with the fearful voices telling you things will never change—or whatever else those fearful voices are saying—you will move from faith to doubt to unbelief and eventually to hopelessness.

Prisoners of Hope

When I was in jail, falsely accused of a crime I did not commit, the situation looked hopeless. Three times I appeared before a judge seeking bail. Three times my plea was rejected—even with an ankle bracelet on home arrest; and even though I was a manager working with a large company; and even though I had a two-year-old baby whose daddy had just abandoned us.

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My attorney, a firm I paid a pretty penny to defend me against the bogus charges, told me the best I could hope for was five years in prison. That was the minimum sentence on the charge. I felt hopeless, but I had a fighting grandma who refused to tolerate injustice. She prayed and she took action. She found an attorney who was willing to stand up to the devil’s plans and pray through to the end.

During the legal battle, I got saved. I heard the voice of the Lord tell me I would be released on the 40th day. I confessed this to anyone who would listen but nobody would believe me. Beyond my grandma, my family didn’t hold out much hope. But it was just like the Lord told me it would be. After 40 days, I was released and fully vindicated.

In that jail, I learned to be a prisoner of hope. Since then, I have faced many situations that seemed hopeless. When I encounter these sorts of trials, I remember what the Lord said in Zechariah 9:12 (NKJV), “Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare That I will restore double to you.”

Expect Double for Your Trouble

That word hope is not like the world’s hope. The world’s hope is a wish. Bible hope is an eager expectation. When you expect something, you watch for it. Think about it for a minute, if you are expecting an important call, you keep your phone right by you, make sure the ringer is on and stop doing anything that would distract you from the ring.

We need to hope in God the same way. We’ve put in a call to Him—we’ve prayed—and He is going to answer us. I don’t know why it takes so long for some situations to turn around. I don’t know why we have to keep praying and believing sometimes for years without any visible results. I do believe our prayers release God’s power into a situation and some problems demand more power to chip away at the mountain than others.

We need to guard the hope in our hearts because, again, our faith hangs on our hope. We have many Bible examples of how hope and faith pay off. Moses hoped in God when it looked like the Egyptian army was going to overtake the Israelites. Nehemiah hoped in God when naysayers tried to stop him from doing what God told him to do. David hoped in God when it looked like Saul was going to kill him. Ruth hoped in God that she could escape her past. Esther hoped in God that He would save the Jews from Haman’s wicked plot.

Whatever we’re going through, we have to hold out hope. Job in the middle of his trial said, “What strength do I have, that I should hope?” (Job 6:11, MEV). Job lost everything he had. He was on the brink of hopelessness. His wife told him to curse God and die. But he held out hope and the Lord kept His promise. Job got double for his trouble (Job 42:10).

Whatever you are going through, put your trust in the Lord. Let hope be the anchor of your soul (Heb. 6:19). Let your praise prophesy to your circumstances. I assure you, what the devil means for evil, God means for good (Gen. 50:20).

Be a prisoner of hope—and believe God for double for your trouble.

Jennifer LeClaire

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We Are the Generation That Doesn’t Want Relationships

FOREWORD: This article perfectly describes the current generation (ages teens – early 30s) general view of relationships. The ONLY way to truly learn and know how to love is to follow the principles in the Holy Bible. It’s there in black and white — the ultimate handbook. Plus we have the greatest prototype in Jesus Christ. I am so blessed to have been raised in a household and exposed to how God REALLY wants us to “do love”. There is still hope for this generation ONLY IF they stop allowing social media and society’s “instant” mode of thinking. We’ve got to unplug and reconnect with one another! –Joc

 

We want a second coffee cup in our Instagrams of lazy Saturday mornings, another pair of shoes in our artsy pictures of our feet. We want a Facebook official relationship every one can like and comment on, we want the social media post that wins #relationshipgoals. We want a date for Sunday morning brunch, someone to commiserate with during the drudge of Mondaze, a Taco Tuesday partner, someone to text us good morning on Wednesday. We want a plus one for all the weddings we keep getting invited to (how did they do it? How did they find their happily ever after?). But we are the generation who doesn’t want a relationship.

We swipe left in hopes of finding the right person. We try to special order our soulmate like a request on Postmates. We read 5 Ways to Know He’s Into You and 7 Ways to Get Her to Fall For You, in hopes of being able to upcycle a person into a relationship like a Pinterest project. We invest more time in our Tinder profiles than our personalities. Yet we don’t want a relationship.

We “talk” and we text, we Snapchat and we sext. We hangout and we happy hour, we go to coffee and grab a beer – anything to avoid an actual date. We private message to meet up, we small talk for an hour only to return home and small talk via text. We forgo any chance of achieving real connection by mutually playing games with no winner. Competing for “Most Detached”, “Biggest Apathetic Attitude”, and “Best at Being Emotionally Unavailable”, what we end up actually winning is “Most Likely to Be Alone”.

We want the façade of a relationship, but we don’t want the work of a relationship. We want the hand holding without the eye contact, the teasing without the serious conversations. We want the pretty promise without the actual commitment, the anniversaries to celebrate without the 365 days of work that leads up to them. We want the happily ever after, but we don’t want to put the effort in the here and now. We want the deep connection, while keeping things shallow. We long for that world series kind of love, without being willing to go to bat.

We want someone to hold our hand, but we don’t want to put the power to hurt us in their hands. We want cheesy pick up lines, but we don’t want to be picked up… for that involves the possibility of being set down. We want to be swept off our feet, yet at the same time remaining safely, independently, standing on our own. We want to keep chasing the idea of love, but we don’t want to actually fall into it.

We don’t want relationships – we want friends with benefits, Netflix and chill, nudes on Tinder. We want anything that will give us the illusion of a relationship, without being in an actual relationship. We want all the rewards and none of the risk, all of the payout and none of the cost. We want to connect – enough, but not too much. We want to commit – a little, but not a lot. We take it slow: we see where it goes, we don’t label things, we just hang out. We keep one foot out the door, we keep one eye open, and we keep people at arm’s length – toying with their emotions but most of all toying with our own.

When things get too close to being real, we run. We hide. We leave. There’s always more fish in the sea. There’s always another chance at finding love. There’s just such a little chance of keeping it these days…

We hope to swipe right into happiness. We want to download the perfect fit like a new app – that can be updated every time there’s a hitch, easily compartmentalized into a folder, deleted when we have no more use for it. We don’t want to unpack our baggage – or, worse, help someone unpack theirs. We want to keep the ugly behind the coverup, hide the imperfections with an Instagram filter, choose another episode on Netflix over a real conversation. We like the idea of loving someone despite their flaws; yet we keep our skeletons locked in the closet, happy to never let them see the light of day.

We feel entitled to love, like we feel entitled to full time jobs out of college. Our trophies-for-everyone youth has taught us that if we want something, we deserve it. Our over-watched Disney VHSs taught us true love, soul mates, and happily ever after exist for everyone. And so we put in no effort, and wonder why our prince charming hasn’t appeared. We sit around, upset that our princess is no where to be found. Where is our consolation prize? We showed up, we’re here. Where’s the relationship we deserve? The true love we’ve been promised?

We want a placeholder, not a person. We want a warm body, not a partner. We want someone to sit on the couch next to us, as we aimlessly scroll through another newsfeed, open another app to distract us from our lives. We want to walk this middle line: pretending we don’t have emotions while wearing our heart on our sleeve, wanting to be needed by someone yet not wanting to need someone. We play hard to get just to test if someone will play hard enough – we don’t even fully understand it ourselves. We sit around with friends discussing the rules, but no one even knows the game we’re trying to play. Because the problem with our generation not wanting relationships is that, at the end of the day, we actually do.

Written by Krysti Wilkinson

http://www.krystiwilkinson.com —  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/we-are-the-generation-who-doesnt-want-reltionships_us_572131a5e4b03b93e7e435d8

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How To Ward Off Depression and Cuffing Season During the Winter

Good day to you all (in my proper British high society voice). I am literally running on the grace of God and fumes, but I was reminded that winter is upon us and this is a time to make sure our mental and emotional health is on point!

It is proven that the sun’s light and rays emit energy that revitalize our body to get us going. Take a moment to think about it. Do you work night shift and try to sleep during midday, or have you tried to fall back asleep at dawn after waking up to go to the bathroom? It sometimes takes a little while right? Well the sun functions as a natural alarm clock to let our body know it’s time to get up and go! (just Google it)

When fall swoops in and winter slowly begins to show it’s face, many people — especially those who are elderly or live alone — may find themselves more subject to depression or the strong need for companionship. I know this because this was literally my entire last two years of high school. My mood would change for no good reason and I was sad seemingly ALL OF THE TIME. I could be the bubbliest person at school and church, but deep inside my hormones and emotions were off kilter. At first I thought this bundle of confusion came with “that time of the month” (because let’s face it, that’s part of being a growing woman) but I felt down and alone literally from September to March like clockwork. That’s when I knew it was more than just a visit from Aunt Flo. After some research I realized that my rollercoastering emotions were due to the lack of sun and abundance of cold in my environment. During the summer I was happy and ready to take on the world…but once that fall wind hit, I just wanted to be snuggled up in the house with my own personal stash of sun rays to help me BE HAPPY.

Does any of this sound familiar? Some people refer to this as “cuffing season” where your need and cravings to not feel alone cause you to enter into RELATIONS with people you really have no interest in, in an effort to escape feeling alone.

Now that I’m coming onto the third decade of my life, I’m aware and know how to spiritually and physically combat the frigid cold; I want to share with you some of the ways that have helped me along the years:

#1 – Eat healthy. 

I don’t always get it right, but I make sure I eat at the proper times, and eat healthy during the winter. Whether it’s homemade chili or soup, or whatever — I make sure I comfort myself with good food rather than a “good time”. I’m not sure why, but it seems in season fruits, vegetables, and proteins tend to help you stay focused on church, work, and daily activities.

#2 – Exercise.

If you know me, you know I’m not America’s next gladiator, but I do make an effort to at least fit in a little running when it’s cold outside. No matter how much it may exhaust me, staying active helps release endorphins to keep me peppy. I always feel accomplished and better about myself when I’m done. When I’m not active and fall into the couch after work, it’s easier for my mind to start wandering and pondering on things I have no business pondering. Stay active and keep your mind focused. A 2005 study from Harvard University suggests walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression.

#3 – Hang Out.

Again, when it’s cold outside (ESPECIALLY if you’re single like I am) you really want to just stay inside and watch movies while taking the occasional nap. I’ve learned the hard way that this does nothing but isolate me from the outside world and make it harder for my soul to be revitalized and energized by fellowship. Sure I may not be able to go have a picnic in the park, but I try to make an effort to see my friends or talk to my family at least once a week. Regardless of how exhausted I may feel from every day responsibilities. After every conversation and every visit I always feel better and don’t feel as alone as I could’ve felt if I would have allowed the cold to block me off from civilization! Netflicks is nice, but it doesn’t replace human contact. If you MUST stay inside, put on some happy music and have a virtual party. Google Chat is becoming more popular so it’s easy to connect with others to have a good time. If everyone is busy, reorganize your house while jamming your tail off!

#4 Read and Research.

This may seem a bit on the boring side but hear (I mean read) me out! When it’s frigid outside and I feel a little “ho hum” , I start brainstorming about my future. I don’t just whip out a notebook of random scribbles; but I actually take some time to focus on figuring out what it is I’m good at and how I can do more of it. Try it! Start sketching out a business plan or researching degrees if you’re thinking about going back to school. Shoot, write about how you feel day to day …. look at Tina Campbell, she got a book AND an album out of her journals. I use this “cuffing season time” to grow in God and grow my dreams.

All of these tips have been great in helping me stay focused and happy, hopefully it’ll do the same for you! Now don’t miss me when I say NOTHING replaces the joy of knowing and having a relationship with God Almighty Jesus Christ, but these are some practical, physically tangible things you can do to ward off the “downies”. I want to add one last thing, if you know anyone who is elderly or lives alone, take some time to call them or send them a card. I’m telling you it will mean the most! If you want to do more, volunteer at the soup kitchen or Good Will, helping others will not only allow you to connect with people who need it, but also feel good about YOUR OWN life and help you stay grateful for the life you have.

Do you have any suggestions of your own?! Leave them in the comments section. I’d LOVE to read them!

Be blessed,

  • Joc

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Prison vs. Harvard in an Unlikely Debate

Prison vs. Harvard in an Unlikely Debate http://ow.ly/T1w05

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