#WhatsTheMessage EP 006: Black Love & Hate (Valentine’s Day Special)

We’re so excited to share a bonus episode with this week special for Valentine’s Day. In this episode Carmela and Claudia talk “Black Love & Hate.” Tune in as they talk about Valentine’s Day and the consumerism surrounding the day, Black Love, relationships, and dating. They also talk about the love people have for Kobe Bryant and how that love has turned into intense hate against award winning journalist, Gayle King. Towards the end they turn to discussing Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union’s son who has just recently come out as a Transgender girl. This is a fun, powerful, and inspiring episode that you do not want to miss. Make sure you check it out.

Make sure you’re following us on Facebook so you can watch #WhatsTheMessage every Thursday at 11am.




#WhatsTheMessage EP 005: Trump, Faith, and Evangelicals

In this episode Claudia and Carmela discuss President Trump and the Evangelicals supporting him. To help them in this conversation, they welcome Orlan Johnson, the Director for Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventist. In addition to his work for PARL, he also served on former President Obama’s campaign staff, and practiced law for over 20 years. Join us in this conversation as we seek to understand this presidency, the impeachment, and why Evangelicals are supporting him.

Make sure you’re following us on Facebook to watch #WhatsTheMessage every Thursday at 11am.




#WhatsTheMessage EP 004: Mothering While Black

 In this episode, Carmela and Claudia discuss black motherhood in America. Taking the shape of a more interview focus, Claudia picks Carmela’s brain about what it truly means to be a black woman in America and be pregnant, give birth, and ultimately raise a black child. Delving into black maternal death rates, the wholistic health of black mothers, and the burden many have of raising black children as a social and political responsibility, Carmela and Claudia dive into the hard truth of mothering while black.

Make sure you’re following us on Facebook to watch #WhatsTheMessage every Thursday at 11am.




#WhatsTheMessage EP 003: Two Kings With a Cause

 

In this episode, Carmela and Claudia talk about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, the importance of churches continuing the work of social justice, and the importance of the Bible in continuing that work. They discuss how Christ and Dr. King are two Kings who sacrificed their lives for the cause of justice.

Make sure you’re following us on Facebook to watch #WhatsTheMessage every Thursday at 11am.




The Finals: The Life and Legacy of Kobe Bryant

Time stood still on Sunday. The idea that this larger than life figure was snuffed by sudden death confused the country. People of all races, genders, economic status, and religion were in a paralysis of perplexion. The consistent statement across social media was, “tell me this isn’t true.” Everyone waited with bated breath for Kobe to call it all off, say it was a mistake, that it was his chopper but he wasn’t on it. Only to be disappointed that not only did Kobe die, but his daughter, her teammates, their families, and his pilot. Nine people in total, gone too soon.

First Quarter: Injured by Allegations

In spite of the gravity and grief surrounding he and his daughter’s untimely death, one woman took the time to remember his most famous mistake. In fact, just two hours after the news of Bryant’s helicopter crash, Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez tweeted a link to the 2016 Daily Beast Article “Kobe Bryant’s Disturbing Rape Case: The DNA Evidence, the Accuser’s Story, and the Half Confession.” Sonmez received much backlash for the insensitivity of the timing of her tweet, and her lack of regard for the charges being dropped, the young woman’s refusal to testify, the case being settled out of court, along with him issuing a public apology.

Referring to his 2003 sexual assault case, Sonmez stated in an interview that she found it problematic to omit this critical part of Bryant’s life and legacy. She believes the “allegations should not be minimized in any way,” but that in bringing them up after Bryant’s passing we show survivors that “No matter how rich and powerful and beloved [an alleged perpetrator is], we will treat them with the seriousness they deserve.”

Finding “her tweets displayed poor judgment [and] undermined the work of her colleagues,” the Washington Post placed Sonmez on administrative leave while they investigated her conduct. They ultimately found that while her comments were poorly timed and insensitive, she was not in violation of their social media policy, Hence, Sonmez was reinstated on Tuesday, January 28th.

Many questioned why Sonmez would bring up dropped allegations hours after Kobe Bryant’s death. But the truth is, these allegations were an injury in the first quarter of Bryant’s life. And careful review of the game footage of his legacy shows not only growth and transformation, but the fact that with the right choices, on a consistent basis, you can eclipse your greatest mistake.

Second Quarter: “Mamba Mentality”

Kobe began the second quarter of his life with a recommitment ceremony to his wife Vanessa in 2005. They went on to have four girls named Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, and Capri.

In five years, Kobe rose to the NBA’s 2008 Most Valuable Player. Spending the totality of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant played basketball for 20 years collecting five NBA Championship trophies, two Finals MVPs, one regular season MVP, and two Olympic Gold Medals.

Kobe’s success on the court was due to what he and others called the “Mamba Mentality.” The term is a riff on his nickname “The Black Mamba” or sometimes just “Mamba.” According to his autobiographical documentary Muse, Bryant created the alter ego “The Black Mamba” between 2003 and 2004 when he was at his lowest personally and professionally. This alter ego helped him to create his own philosophy. In an interview Bryant stated,

“Mamba Mentality is a way of life, it’s not an attitude per se. It’s a way to live. It’s not about living with a bravado. It’s the simplest form of just trying to get better at whatever you do everyday.”

It was this mindset that centered him allowing him to find himself, refocus, and begin to dominate again, both on and off the court.

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 16: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers takes a shot against the Golden State Warriors on November 16, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

After an illustrious career, Kobe Bryant soared to the top of legendary status as a shoe-in NBA hall of famer in 2019. He retired with a royal farewell in 2016, and began retired life focusing on his family, business growth, and even the arts.

Third Quarter: Kobe the Creative

What few knew about Kobe Bryant was that he was not just an athlete. He was also a creative. When he retired from the game, Kobe wrote a poem for the Player’s Tribune entitled “Dear Basketball.” He later turned this poem into an Animated Short Film for which he won an Academy Award as the executive producer in 2018.

In this vain Kobe Bryant founded Granity Studios a multimedia company. Kobe created the word “Granity” by combining the phrase “greater than infinity.” This streaming service produces an ESPN+ series entitled “Detail” that analyzes professional athlete’s performances. They also produce a number one ranked kids and family podcast entitled “The Punies” that teaches life lessons through sports and melodies.

Kobe Bryant went on to oversee the publication of three sports fantasy children’s books, and his fourth The Wizenard Series: Season One by Wesley King will be available in bookstores on March 31st. He also established a storytelling company and opened two sports training facilities entitled “Mamba Sports Academy.” And as if that wasn’t enough, he taught himself to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” by ear, and performed it with The Loring String Quartet. But of all his accomplishments, his greatest joy and achievement was coaching his second oldest daughter’s AAU basketball team called “The Mambas.”

Fourth Quarter: The Mambas

In fact, Kobe was with the Mambas at the time of his death. He was with his daughter Gianna, also known as “Mambacita,” along with John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan, when their helicopter crashed Sunday, January 26, 2020. The group was traveling to Thousand Oaks, California for a basketball game that Gianna, Alyssa, and Payton were to play in and Kobe was to coach.

Much has been speculated about what happened to cause this untimely death. Many people want definitive answers to understand why them, and others want details to figure out how to keep it from happening to others. But what we do know, is that Kobe Bryant was a man of many talents, multiple honors, awards, and achievements, but above all he was a family man who adored being a #GirlDad. Kobe’s winning shot didn’t take place during his farewell game in the Staples Center. Kobe’s winning shot was in the final moments of his life as coach of his daughter’s basketball team and father to his precious love, Gianna.

Kobe teaches us that mistakes are like turnovers, it’s how you recover that counts.

If there’s anything we can learn from this man and the complexity of his life, it is that mistakes do not have to define you. They do not have to be what stands out about you. Instead, you can make a comeback in life. You can focus your attention on what matters so that your mistake is one small turnover in a game that no one even remembers.

He may have died as the highest-paid team-sports player in history, worth an estimated $770 million, an NBA Champion, MVP, Olympian, Academy Award winner, author, self-taught pianist, and soon posthumous NBA Hall-of-famer. But Kobe Bryant will go down in history as the most famous dad to love his daughter out loud. Kobe, we salute you. Thank you for your example.




How Partnerships Help Us Prevail in Purpose

You cannot accomplish the purpose of God unless you partner with His posse.

In Exodus 17:1-13 the writer tells of how the Israelites journeyed out of the Wilderness of Sin and came to a city called Rephidim. A Hebrew word meaning “rest or stay,” the Israelites believed Rephidim was a place they could set up camp and rest from their long journey out of Egypt. To their surprise there was absolutely no water in Rephidim. Disgruntled the Israelites complained to Moses saying, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (v.3) The children of Israel were frustrated with their condition because their current location seemed to be a contradiction. Rephidim meant rest or stay, yet it lacked the very resources necessary to foster such activity.

I don’t know about you, but I get frustrated when I’m in a particular country, restaurant, or facility and what I expect is not available. For example, I can’t stand going to express fast food places in the airport. These establishments annoy me because they do not carry all the options found in the restaurant outside the airport. It’s frustrating to be somewhere whose very name means what you need, yet it lacks the actual resource. The children of Israel are frustrated because they’ve camped in a city whose very name promises an environment that is conducive to their rest and stay, yet it lacks the very thing they need in order to rest and stay – water.

Quench Your Thirst

Physically and emotionally weary from travel and leadership, Moses cries out to God asking what he should do. God gives Moses the most awesome response ever! He says, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink” (v. 5,6). In these couple of verses we see that God does not simply provide the children of Israel with water. Instead He is the water from which the children of Israel drink.

Look at the text again! In verse 6 God is standing in front of the rock. Moses is not striking the rock, but he is striking God Himself! What we learn here is that God is the first and most important alliance you will ever have because He will position Himself in front of the very barriers that are keeping you from having life and having it more abundantly. In that position, God will even allow you to go so far as to strike Him to get what you need.

God will allow your location, your environment, or your resources to fail you so that you learn there is only one entity that is inherently capable of not simply meeting, but also being all you need.

So, the first and most important alliance you need when you’re in a place that seems as like it doesn’t have the resources you need is an alliance with God. He will not simply give you what you need. He will be what you need.

Battle Grounds

Rephidim failed at being a place of stay because it lacked water. But it quickly failed at being a place of rest because it became the place where the Israelites had to fight their first battle.

In verse 8 the writer tells us that the Israelites fought the Amalekites in Rephidim. This leads me to believe that the Israelites initial experience with God as water was paramount. The Israelites needed to learn total dependence upon God for their livelihood in order to have faith strong enough to totally depend upon God in battle. This is of the utmost importance because we are victorious in battle when we fight with God, and not simply for God. What’s the difference Claudia? When you fight for God you’re attempting to do what He asked you to do in your own strength. But when you fight with God you’re doing what He asked you to do in His strength.

But the battles God often calls us to also require armies. And in order to fight with God and be victorious we need to partner with godly men and women. In other words, you need a “Godly Alliance.” Now, a Godly Alliance is a small group of people who hold you up while the power of God works through you so that you can prevail in within purpose.

Godly Alliances vs. Ungodly Alliances

Come with me to verses 10 through 13. The Bible says, that when Moses’s hands were up the Israelites started to win the battle. But when Moses became tired and his hands began to fall the body count quickly went in the other direction. Moses’s brother Aaron and his friend and colleague in ministry, Hur, were up on the mountain with Moses. (Side note: You can’t take everyone to the mountaintop, but you gotta take someone. Choose wisely). Watching Moses and the battle Aaron and Hur noticed a pattern in the power of God. Seeing how the Israelites would win when Moses’s hands were up and they’d begin to lose when his hands fell down, Moses and Hur grabbed a stone for Moses to sit on. Then they got on either side of Moses and held up his arms until the Israelites successfully defeated the Amalekites.

 

Aaron and Hur were a Godly Alliance because they had the spiritual discernment to see how God’s power was operating through Moses. They then took it upon themselves to position their friend in such a way that he would be successful in the assignment that God had given him. Furthermore, they positioned themselves at his sides as support. They did not encourage Moses to rest. No, his Godly Alliance positioned him, and themselves, in such a way that Moses could prevail in purpose. They did this because

Godly Alliances care more about you being victorious in the battles that God has purposed for you to fight than you being comfortable and rested; even in places where comfort and rest are expected.

Ungodly alliances, on the other hand, encourage you to take breaks. They see your fatigue, observe how drained your purpose has made you, and not recognizing God’s flow of power in the situation encourage you to rest. This is because

Ungodly Alliances care more about your present comfort than your long-term victory.

They encourage you to make decisions based on your present feelings and desires not thinking how those decisions could lead to defeat. Not a Godly Alliance! A Godly Alliance encourages you to resist what you want to do in present so that you can live victoriously in your future. I encourage you to find two people you trust. Two people who when your mind, body, and spirit are failing and all you want to do is rest, they go out of their way to change your environment on your behalf. Find an Aaron and Hur who are willing to help place you in the best position to prevail in purpose. But who also place themselves in the best position to support you.

God has given each and every one of us a purpose. In 2020, there will be times where we will find ourselves frustrated, drained, and just flat out failing. The question is, who do you have around you? Do you have a Godly Alliance, or an Ungodly Alliance? Do you have people to hold you up? I encourage each and every one of you to ask yourself

Who are my Aaron and Hur?




Message Daily: Holiday Break

Message Daily is our daily devotional podcast hosted by Pastor L. David Harris. Because of Pastor Harris’ diligence and consistency we’ve published 108 devotionals to you since we began in August. Wow! I’m so excited that we’ve reach OVER 100 Episodes in 3 months!

This most recent series entitled, “Power!” has truly been a blessing. It is season 2 of the podcast and has 84 life changing episodes. God has truly blessed and has shown up in really powerful ways in each and every episode. We know many of you have been tremendously blessed by each 15 minute segment, and we are grateful for your support.

This update is to let you know that Message Daily will be on a break until the new year. And we are excited about starting season 3 in January bringing you a whole new series for the new year. We know you’re going to be blessed.

But until then, please keep Message and all of us here in your prayers as we continue to curate and create new content for you for 2020. Also, please rate the podcast. The more people that rate the podcast the easier it is to find and promote. So rate! Share! Comment!

I encourage you to spend the holidays catching up on many of these awesome episodes. They’ve been so transformative in my own life and I know they will be for you as well. Take this time to reflect on God’s love and how He is dedicated to enacting His power in our lives.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Claudia M. Allen




#WhatsTheMessage: Tales of Church and Chicken

In this episode Carmela and Claudia discuss the frenzy around the Popeye’s chicken sandwich, WalletHub’s list of “the most sinful cities,” and Kanye West. They discuss whether sinful behavior is innate or if it is influenced by your surroundings. They also talk about Kanye West and his latest Sunday Services and Gospel Album discussing the affects of secular music on sacred songs. Is it ok for what Time calls “sex jams” to be turned into worship songs. Carmela also mentions a great plant-based fried chicken recipe. Check below for the recipe.
 
This is an exciting and controversial episode you do not want to miss! Make sure you tune in right here on Facebook every week to watch #WhatsTheMessage Let us know what you think! Leave us your thoughts in the comments. Like, Rate, and Share.
 
* * *
 
Donna’s Fried Chicken
 
1 cup gluten flour
 
2 tablespoons yeast
 
3/4 – 1 cup warm water
 
Couple shakes each of onion powder, garlic powder, salt
 
Mix together, and the result should be “doughy” and “pully.” You may not use all of the water. Feel free to play around with it in your hands. Let sit for at least an hour. It can sit longer if you are doing something else. It should get puffy. After desired time of rising is done, pull into pieces, flatten and drop in broth. Let boil for about 2-3 minutes. Remove and place in breading. Coat well. Drop in oil that is hot enough to fry. Turn when browned on one side. Finish browning and place in container/towels to drain.
 
Yield: About 20-25 pieces.
 
Broth
 
3-4 cups Water
 
Seasoned with about 1 tablespoon each of Nutritional yeast, McKay’s Chicken Style Seasoning, Garlic powder, Onion powder, Salt
 
Breading
 
1 cup whole grain flour
 
1 cup nutritional yeast
 
1 cup cornstarch
 
1 teaspoon each of the following: Salt, Paprika, Onion powder, Garlic powder, Cayenne or Red Pepper flakes, Thyme, Rosemary. Salt is optional.
 
Mix thoroughly and dredge “chicken” in it.



Spiritual Double-Consciousness

“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate to do, that I do…for to will is present in me, but how to preform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not do, I practice…So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”

Romans 7:14-16, 18b-19, 25b

“…double consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, – an American, a Negro, two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, who dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk

As a child of God born in and shaped by sin, I ever feel this spiritual tug of war within my mind and my members. On the one hand I desire to do the will of God and bring glory and honor to His name, yet on the other hand I feel my body and mind crying out to fulfill the lust of the flesh. My sin, ever before me, I wonder if it is truly possible to be of one mind, of one body in the Spirit when the law of God ever stands revealing my flaws and iniquities?

Spiritual Double-Consciousness

Like DuBois articulates concerning the African American’s journey on the color line, I too experience a “double-consciousness.” Only my double-consciousness is not restricted to my body. I have found myself living with a spiritual double-consciousness. I ever have the sense of always looking at myself through the eyes of the divine, measuring my soul by the law of a world that looks on in loving compassion, yearning for me to commit to their world and stop traveling in and out on dual-citizenship. I ever feel my two-ness, – a Righteous woman, a sinner; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose faith in the power of God alone keeps me from being torn asunder.

What makes it worse is that my fair ideals show that I am light, allowing me to pass. But true spiritual things are spiritually discerned and the spirit knows my darkness. I can’t pass in heavenly spaces. Places where God sits and clearly sees sin running through the veins of my actions. Running through my thoughts. Passing simply allows me the privilege of walking in earthly spaces and not be judged, because man can’t tell if I’m light or dark.

I think about this often. How these two souls live within me, the righteous man, the sinner. Sometimes I want to only be righteous, and sometimes I wish to only be a sinner.

Spiritual Identity

But the Spirit has revealed to me that I am called to find self-hood in the amalgamation of both. It is in my recognition of the sinful man that I understand that I am weak and in need of the strength of God. It is through such self-revelation that I desire to unite with the Spirit of God to be the righteous man. For unless God abide in me and I in Him, I cannot produce spiritual things; I cannot create, articulate, nor postulate of the Spirit because the Spirit is not in me. I cannot live and walk in the will and way of God, unless God live in me and walks with me.

Just as the black man is not simply American or Negro, he is the American Negro, I am not simply righteous or a sinner. I am a righteous sinner. The Bible says, “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again” (Proverbs 24:16a). Meaning my righteousness is defined by my rise, not my fall.

Spiritual Warfare

These two souls: the righteous, the sinner, living within one human body will ever war against each other, as the ideals of one will ever seek to oppress and suppress the ideals of the other. I cannot seek identity or belonging in one or the other, but must see the salvation that is presented in the fusion of both. I must understand that I can only find my righteousness in the only One who lived a righteous life. Therefore, I cannot settle for an identity based in my fall, for I am determined to continue to rise. It is God living within me that comforts me “because He [God] who is in me is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

I do not look to myself to live a righteous life. For no man other than Jesus Christ has done this. Rather I look to “Jesus, the author and finisher of [my] faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is because of His sacrifice and His spirit living in me that I can boast of my two-ness “[that] the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:10). For I am a sinner saved by grace strengthened to be a righteous woman.




“What’s the Message?” The Podcast

Finding the Hope in the Headlines

“What’s the Message?” The Podcast is a weekly show that that will air live on Facebook every Thursday, Morning at 11am. A show about current events, Carmela and Claudia talk about the top headlines from that week. Their approach is to tackle these topics and find the moral, ethical, social, spiritual, and personal message in them. If you listen to What’s the Message you will laugh, be educated, inspired, and leave looking forward to the next time Carmela and Claudia find the hope in the headlines.

Be sure to keep an eye out as we set to launch THIS MONTH! You can keep up with how things are progressing by visiting our Facebook page.

We know you’re absolutely going to love it! So meet us on Facebook Live every Thursday morning at 11am to hear “What’s the Message?” and find the hope in the headlines.