November 21, 2017

What do you seek to achieve? Do you tire of inadequacy? Complacency? Do you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe? -A message of greatness that rests heavy on my heart.

I saw this video yesterday, and it has resonated with me ever since that original viewing. I think I watched it six or seven times just today. Capture the inspiration of finding more inside of you.

Someone close recently hurt me several months ago without much extended explanation for a decision that impacted both our lives in my opinion towards our detriment. While I do not think this person intended to make me feel inadequate as a human being, the feelings of rejection did….like I was not good enough to be in the relationship with.

I truly do believe that God works for the good of those who follow Him, but I also believe that will power in the choice to sacrifice time, effort, sweat, blood, tears, relationships, fun, sleep, and other opportunity costs weighs in. I am not entirely convinced that those who will and work less achiever greater, trusting that God will do all the work for them. The question for both you and me stands: what are you willing to give up now to reach your destination point later?

In fact, I think we come to a breaking point at valleys in our lives whether we decide to truly want something bad enough to reach for it, or to just let it go and give up. Are you willing to try again? Are you willing to step up? Are you willing to endure?

I think most give up because with the responsibilities of everyday life, what appears impossible just seems too hard. We settle for survival to pay bills with a job we each hate to go to everyday. Then in the back of each of our minds, we negotiate with ourselves that we are doing what is right….it is okay to live in misery if I provide for my family. I am a grown up. I am too old to go back to school. I just do not have time. My kids need me, and I cannot work full time while I finish the book I always wanted to write.

Some of my goals: Right now I seek a new job where I actually want to go to work each day (first goal). Right now I seek to start a second Masters degree online (second goal). And right now I seek to meet a polite, educated girl who wants to start a family, living within close proximity of our families (third goal).

At some later point, I seek to become a nationally known speaker and author, advocating for the disabled, and I will earn a doctorate in addition to two Masters degrees, not because I have to but rather because I want to.

It does not matter what others perceive of your goals. It only matters whether you perceive if you can achieve them in your desires to accomplish.

I ask myself as I write this entry – “why can I not be the most successful man the extended Cartee family ever witnessed?” I again ask myself like Derek Rose in the above video, “Why can I not be the most successful in the league…..in everything there is, in everything I am, in everything I do, in everything I want to become?” I am my own worst enemy, and I determine the outcome of the predicament I find myself in. For me, this is not a pride question. On the contrary, it is a question of whether I choose to live in mediocrity or the greatness before me?

Sometimes you have to get up and realize the cost of the achievement you seek. When you lay on your backside, the only direction to look is up. Do you sulk in the downwards spiral of depressive clinginess? Do you excuse and explain every act of inaction? At some breaking point, you decide to give everything, everyone, and God your very best, or you live crumbled in feelings of inadequacy that someone else caused you to feel. I choose to reach for higher heights today because I do want to be the most successful Cartee who ever lived not just because I can but rather because I will.

Keys/Principles to Productive Thinking and Doing! WE DO AMAZING!

Recently, as hinted in the last entry, I have not quite felt like myself, but I feel that as believers in dry seasons, we often learn the most about ourselves and our own character. These are among some of the reminders to productive thinking and doing God recently reminded me to live once again.

1.)    When you do not know what to do, just do something!

 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

Many times I wake up in the morning, and I do not know what to tackle first on a laundry list of tasks and responsibilities. I am not always sure if I choose right task foremost, but I know starting requires that I just do something. I believe rest honors God, but I also believe we were created to work. Therefore when productive, we naturally feel good about our hard work.

2.)    Do not beat yourself up with guilt, shame, and failure!

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2 (NIV)

Speaking of guilt in wrongdoing, I am guilty of this one among the best of them. If I received a nickel for every time I beat myself up, I would be a millionaire right now. I simply believe we are already free from sin because of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in us. Therefore, there is no positive energy or results with the beat downs of our own egos. I have no secrets for this one, other than spending more face time with God. In prayer, the Spirit breathes joy into us without worrisome thoughts encompassing our thoughts every second.

3.)    You are part of a chosen generation and royal priest hood! Amazing is just what we do!

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV)

Simply said, we are God’s people, and we will carry out amazing works when we do something first and stop beating up ourselves as our own worst enemies. Be your own best friend, and stop that destructive way of thinking today and now!

Here are a few songs that motivate you to rise, praise, and dance for both you and God in celebration of this day.

CELEBRATE EASTER WITH MEANING – The TIME to RISE is NOW!

Romans 8:9-11 (The Message)

But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

Yes, corporate America and our favorite drug stores insist that Easter involves chocolate bunnies, golden chickens, and plastic eggs for sugar highs toddlers already experienced one too many times. Really we all love the egg shaped peanut butter Reese’s eggs. I pay an extra fifty cents at the register for the special holiday chocolate shapes.

The real meaning of Easter continues to be the Message of the Christ and King who resurrected for both you and me, even if commercial America will never acknowledge this deeper message. I continue forward inspired every time I become reminded of a revival meaning that a valley will soon turn upwards in my own life. Eventually we resurrect with every experience for a new day, a new time, and a new memory to compose and make wonderful musical tunes.

I challenge my readers to live this month of April in an all out capacity to rise up if you continue to live in the doldrums. Jesus did not die for our heads to turn downwards in survival of the fittest with the insanity and fear perpetuated by media in their mediocre stories of discouragement and lack of inspiration. If you read the newspapers and watch television news more than your Bible, that might explain why you seem depressed with the immersion of negative outlooks every day, most narratives written by those without a relational God in their lives.

The time to rise in your life and even my own is NOW! Jesus Christ dies and rose again from the dead so that you and I could live eternally. Listen to me carefully – we live in this absolutely free gift of the Holy Spirit because God loved us just that much!

That realization in your life brings power to the risen resurrection of Christ. The resurrection of Jesus gives each person strength to rise out of any challenge that adversity sets before us. We make excuses for inaction in every area of our personalities when genuine need from others comes our way. I believe the opposite should realistically be true. The power of resurrection through the Holy Spirit impels us to step forward without excuse. Fear subsides because we step forward honorably.

I say this to myself in the mirror as much as I do to you this Easter Sunday. It is time for you to rise up in the freedom of Christ with whatever holds you back. No excuses….no explanations….no reasons why you “can’t”….just do it! Step forward! Journey in the vision you see that you can no longer ignore. God desires more for you than just a downward, cloudy, foggy feeling. With prayer, make a decision this Easter Sunday that enough is enough. Through the resurrected power of Christ, rise up today! Get up! Stand up! Resurrect! When you get fired up for Christ, you get fired up for life! And your life will never be the same. If you have questions about resurrection salvation through Christ, feel free to contact me through the contact tab above!

When you resurrect with Jesus, excuses never become the norm. Taking charge of eternity certainly does. If James Cartee can rise as a natural human being, so can you! So rise today! And pursue forward whatever dreams lie eternally on your heart. The time is now! Celebrate Easter with newfound meanings in newfound ways to resurrect daily with Jesus Christ.

My Best Christmas Gift This Year – A New Home in Grace Midtown, Atlanta, Georgia – Video Imagery!

12 It is not an enemy who taunts me—
I could bear that.
It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—
I could have hidden from them.
13 Instead, it is you—my equal,
my companion and close friend.
14 What good fellowship we once enjoyed
as we walked together to the house of God.
Psalm 55:12-14 (NLT)

You know – coming to a new place and town can always be somewhat daunting for those taking the pilgrimage for new opportunities. I have backpacked around the world through Europe, South America, and the continental United States. However the move to Atlanta felt like a move to China for me. I stressed about it in both unusual and unique ways as I was about to experience a test unlike ever faced before; however that is not the subject of this blog and journal entry, even though adversity has been withstood.

In the last two months, I radically experienced two different spectrums of faith: religious churches versus real churches. When I mention a religious church, I mean a legalistic body that follows protocol, rank of title, and certain constitutional procedures and policies. We live Christ in the confines of these guiding principles, placing Jesus in the realm of a box or church structure.

On the flip side, I experienced a real church with real people in the relationships evident at Grace Midtown Church, the home I will inevitably join if I am granted my wish and blessing to make Atlanta my permanent residence for a few many years. Grace is not solely defined by a box of rules. This body of God is defined by the teaching of a real and live Jesus Christ.

Probably more than ever before, through the internet, face-to-face interaction, and phone calls, I have felt more called (literally and spiritually) to this church for growth in addition to security and comfort in an unfamiliar place with recent troublesome and turbulent circumstances. The following video gives a slight feel for how this church rises up to higher heights, much like Birmingham Church of the Highlands, another purpose-driven real community.

I took my home church, Church of the Highlands, extremely for granted when I firsthand experienced a really bad religious institution here in Atlanta upon first moving here. While some might think it wrong to blog about any such church, it became increasingly apparent between stagnant structure of so-called faith versus a life-breathing organization that brings fresh air to our lungs in relationship, small fellowship, and Big Time plays for heaven size purposes. When I escaped the perils of that lost freedom of boredom and routine, I found Grace Midtown House Churches through the referrals of friends in Auburn, Birmingham, and an unusual phone conversation with a rather special college junior obsessed with Arabic culture and building the firm foundation of house churches within Grace Midtown.

And so as you can see in the previous video, I found a home of real people with real worship and real intentions to ask me about me and invite me to activities without my lead, a very unusual social approach. In other words, I am used to introducing myself and meeting others. It was nice to have others do that in my direction, in my favor, and in pursuit of joint relationship with Christ. More people prayed over me at Grace Midtown in six weeks than a year anywhere else I have ever been. Now that is a Christmas present of fellowship worth blogging about! Have your way with me here, Lord! Have your way with me!

Grace Midtown, I owe you an extreme multitude of many thanks and appreciation. While I am not sure where God will place me in 2013, I am so firmly glad and grateful for the meaning you restored into new life relationships, strengthening my faith for a firm presence of mind to rise next year as a new creation. I am ready and willing to be a part of your family once my destination is set, delivered, and whispered into existence. Thank you for the best Christmas present I received this year – your body of believers!

If you, as a reader of my blog, find a faith community like this, you will truly never be the same as these videos illustrate including this past Christmas service at the Gwinnett County Civic Center and Arena. I challenge you this Christmas and this New Year in 2013 to find something that will never make you feel the same again as you live and pursue Christ in the present in real community. Find a body of believers to celebrate holidays like this!

The Call From the Orphan – God’s Heart! Why Do Churches Hesitate to Rise Up?

I once heard Chris Hodges, Senior Pastor of Church of the Highlands, ask his 15,000 member congregation, “Do you know why some people are gay? I think I figured this paradigm out.” We all sat on the edge of our seats with the expectation of some Scripture revelation, the secret this long debated question about to be answered. Hodges continued, “I think it is because they are lazy.” The building audience erupted into laughter at his proclamation. He asserted that a relationship with the same sex was much easier than one with the opposite gender. I must agree that my guy friends and I never fight! I really cannot remember the last time I fought with a guy, seriously. I admit that a relationship with a significant female other is real hard work. I understand Hodges’ logic on some unusual levels. After his awkward moment of humor, Hodges began his Sunday sermon.

Does this same statement apply to churches that ignore the cause of the fatherless (in addition to the widow, the poor, the diseased, the underprivileged, and so on)? Are church leaders and passive congregational members lazy? Most will claim that the temptation to fall into complacency in Pop Culture Christianity is easy. How many people genuinely volunteer and serve in capacities outside of a Saturday Southern football tailgate? In my opinion with where I worked in the past two years (not the Salvation Army headquarters), most settle for each night’s schedule of sitcoms and sporting events on ESPN. Many don’t do anything outside of family and watching television for the local community and international relief. Even my own family is guilty of this epidemic on several accords. We conduct ourselves according to convenience.

I serve as the current Christian Alliance for Orphans State Coordinator for Orphan Sunday. I am responsible year round for gearing and managing events, seminars, discussion panels, and anything related to the cause of the fatherless, even radio interviews. We specifically focus on Orphan Sunday, November 4, with a concentration for a national and international movement where thousands come together for one day to stand for the orphan. The Christian Alliance for Orphans stands as a joint coalition of over one hundred organizations who commit themselves to save every orphan for the sole sake of God’s Glory. We were after all adopted by our Heavenly Father!

Recently I approached several churches in the Greater Birmingham metropolitan about participating on Orphan Sunday, November 4th. Between last year (2011) and this year (2012) with this annual celebration in advocacy for the orphan, I definitely received more “No’s” than “Yes’s,” sometimes even with simple requests for orphan-focused prayers, still to receive another “No.”  I even had ministers commit to events this year with their given word without following through, some things I worked hard on through my own free time through volunteering, only with nowhere to implement my hard work.  A great example of someone who fights for the orphan is Jon Walden, Executive Director and on air personality for Revocation Radio, a nonprofit radio station who plays Christian music that honors God, healthy for the ears of youthful listeners (as opposed to the cussing of gangster rap or any other colorful music).  Jon is interviewing five individuals over the air with leaders from five different orphan-related organizations. Walden remains busy with public appearances, youth rallies, a family, and his own mission with his nonprofit ventures. He makes the extra effort for the sake of ministry, not excusing the assistance with his own busyness with life responsibilities. Many could learn from his diligence for all the causes he stands for simply for the sake of Christ. Nothing more else motivates him so. Jon Walden rises to the challenge, and I wonder if other nonchalant ministerial leaders will do the same.

Another example to emulate as a country is Rwanda who seeks to eradicate orphanages, YES, THERE WILL BE NO MORE FATHERLESS in the next twenty years within this country! I mean no disrespect to this country or any other African country, but in the eyes of western politics, this is a third world entity. Countries with much more economical means stand still while those less fortunate pave the way for something many should have initiated a long time ago! Leaders in Rwanda have risen together as The Church to train citizens within their country to raise orphans. Rwanda does not ship their troubles to other countries. Internally they seek to improve as a country within their own borders. Nothing wrong exists with international adoption; however I am inspired when a country heals an epidemic for the fatherless at home, for example our failing foster care systems, which we still have yet to remedy in the United States.

While hosting events is not necessary with commitments, fighting and caring for the orphan worldwide is not an option. In fact, God commands it through His Biblical Word. For those of us who lack initiative, reference the following Scriptures:

Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)

“Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.”

James 1:27 (NIV)

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Exodus 22:22-24 (NIV)

“Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”

John 14:18 (NIV)

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Psalm 82:3 (NIV)

“Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”

I think the question remains worthwhile to consider: Are leaders in ministry too lazy to fight for the cause of the orphan? The blessing and burden to carry the cause cannot fall solely on those who actually rise to acknowledge the world’s fatherless. The rise for change is not easy. Anything for the sake of Christ will never be easy. But leaders like Jon Walden step up to play for eternal reasons often beyond those who live more on earth than in heaven with human indulgence. I grow tired of fighting without the support of local church leaders. I challenge the next time a door opens for church leaders to rise, instead of offering lame excuses for why this conflicts with a year round sermon scheduled series, year after year ignoring our call to solve the problems of this world. If Rwanda can, I am confident any United States congregation can as well. It is time to stop the laziness and to work hard for God’s Glory. Together we can and together we will fight for the fatherless and end the orphan epidemic. It is not impossible! It is very doable! And if you make the decision to lead and take a stand, God will honor our hard work for His Heavenly Heart.

Personally seek to feel the CALL of the ORPHAN through this video about Orphan Sunday, 2012! We are adopted! God never abandoned us! And we should never abandon them, the fatherless!

Orphan Sunday 2012 from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Young and Talented – “Lost Dreams” featuring Kate Devick. Have you lost your dream? Find support in Relationship! Rise and Resurrect!

We continue our Young and Talented (YT) Hip Hop series with another of my favorite songs, Lost Dreams. If you missed out on the first of this series with the hit song, TOO FLY, click here for an official introduction to YT and his life-changing music (the first blog entry of the YT chronicles).

“It is kind of upsetting how I chased that dream, but I couldn’t quite catch it. It’s lost.” With the power of Christ in us….in me….in you, our dreams will certainly never become lost. However I believe YT’s lyrics hit home in that we all feel lost in pursuit of our dreams as we fall down again and again over and over. Failure is one of the most discouraging factors especially when as a theme in your life it never seems to go away no matter how hard you try. God’s Word claims that the testing of our faith develops perseverance.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 (NIV)

I remember at one point in my life when I wanted to quit college, withdraw from UT-Chattanooga, and move back home with really no clear direction on what to do next. I recollect that I received a phone call on my cell from the Vice Chancellor of the School, Dr. Richard Brown, who mentioned the following: “We, the family, at UTC, certainly do not want to lose one of our best and brightest students. What can I do to make it work for your return this spring?” Our dreams and goals only become accomplishable through the assistance of others like Dr. Brown through support networks. I do not care who you are or what you have accomplished in life. We all hold our current positions only through the foundation and support of those around us some way, somehow, or in some fashion. Someone in everyone’s life supported, assisted, or helped him or her to accomplish in career, faith, or perhaps even our own spiritual journeys. You are who you are based on those you surround yourself with, friends, family, leaders, and mentors. Dr. Brown continues to mentor me as we catch up sporadically in life through email or over the phone or even sometimes over breakfast when I visit Chattanooga. He continues to serve as a reference while I seek further opportunities in life on a number of different levels. I guess he changed my life then and continues to do so now.

In regards to support with those you associate or surround yourself with, I know one person who lives for bar-hopping like a professional sport, drinking like a fish and bragging about it, versus those actively involved in the church with devout, firm, and stable relationships with others and God. The bar-hopper cusses like a sailor and really exists for self-satisfaction with a mediocre position at his present job. I would rather hang with those I know I will see in eternity rather than a smoke-filled room with individuals who seek to indulge our worldly desires and their own sinful nature, living for boozes and our desires of the body. Those I surround myself with in life define who I am with input and a shoulder to lean into. I want friends to remember the night before when they wake up the next morning with whatever transpired. I am not opposed to drinking. I am opposed to those who cannot control foolish, immature ways. I may still live at home, but I would like to think I act my age as a twenty-nine year old male. If easily influenced by those around you, I am not entirely sure dreams will come true. It takes a true confidence in God to become more, to stay the course, and face adversity with the grit to overcome it.

I love the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, because the movie resembles the resurrection experience that all true Christians face, recognize, and rise from. We trip. We fall. But as Bruce does best as Batman, we eventually rise as the hero of our own dream to possibly defend and protect what is most dear to us. Alfred never gave up on Bruce Wayne in the first movie, Batman Begins, as he almost gave up when Wayne Manor burned down due to the revenge actions of the League of Shadows (the group Wayne essentially caused the downfall of with the death of Ra’s al Ghul). Alfred as the best friend, father-figure, and protector to both Batman and Bruce reminded that “we learn to pick ourselves up.” As his adopted sons and daughters, God never gave up on you or me, and like Alfred in the Batman movies, the right friends never will either. We best succeed when reminded that when we fall, we continue to learn to pick ourselves back up. We rise to become stronger than ever before. Like Batman and like Christ, we resurrect through the adversity we face to reach the other side. Then we save the city and defeat evil villains, perhaps with a resemblance of spiritual warfare. Perhaps that is a blog entry for another day though.

Bruce Wayne: I wanted to save Gotham. I’ve failed.

Alfred: Why do we fall, sir? So that we can
learn to pick ourselves up.

Bruce: You still haven’t given up on me?

Alfred: Never.

As you listen to this music video, think about a low point you passed through. We all suffer from the thoughts of lost dreams, but when we reach for the sky with the right positive support and a God who loves us, calling us each individually home by our God-given name, we cannot and will not fail. Our dreams will never be lost. In fact, it is very inevitable that they will transform into our own reality. I encourage you to believe and pick yourself up because with each fall, we grow. And eventually with that growth, our time will come. Go, do, and seek to believe once again. Eventually our efforts catch up to fulfill whatever it is we hope for, desire, and seek to achieve.

YT (Dr. Mannheimer) currently teaches the subject of Sociology in Hip Hop Music and Culture at Florida State University. He continues to press forth with both his academics and music, apparently intertwined. I would say his dreams are anything but lost. He just had one of those “is it worth it?” moments that all of us have with the words and vision of this song and video. I guess he decided his dreams were absolutely worth it, and we will see just how many stadiums Andrew Mannheimer fills up with support from friends like me. I do believe with the God we worship anything is possible.

Follow @SuperYSuperFly on Twitter here.

View videos at the YTRaps1 YouTube channel.