Monday, May 30, 2011

I'm A Changed Man!

Changed men make for changed lives, changed families, changed communities. But where does that type of profound change come from? How does a man change from being negative to positive, from being weak and docile to strong and courageous, from engaging in self-destructive behavior to harnessing his authentic power as a valiant man of God?

As we witness St. Paul on a dusty Damascus road, we see that true and lasting change comes as a result of a direct confrontation with God; it is, therefore, profoundly spiritual. What we need, then, are men who have been changed spiritually, for spiritual formation is the foundation to an empowered life, as evidenced by a transformation of his intent and perspective.

The Acts record Saul, before his transformation to Paul, as suffering from evil intent, as he sought to “ravage the church.” His intent was wrong-headed, malicious and mean-spirited; he only wanted to see the church suffer. Saul sought the persecution of the early church. But look what happens; Saul runs into God on a bustling road to Damascus through a blinding light, which knocks him off his horse. God, though, does not touch Saul’s intentions, but works on his perspective, instructing Saul to “get up, and enter the city.” Paul ultimately becomes the trailblazer of the early church and history’s most revered son of faith.

Who really can recite the chorus, “I’m a changed man”!? It is the man who, simply, was doing something that was destructive and is now engaging in things that are constructive. If you’ve been abusing substances and you say I’m a changed man, but you are still abusing substances, it would be quite hard to believe you. When a man has truly been changed, his intent and his perspective change, as well.

For, the single lesson we can extract from Paul's unique visitation with God on the Damascus road is that sometimes God does not necessarily change our direction, but rather changes our perspective on the direction we're headed. Saul is instructed to go into the city – the same city where he intended on pillaging the church – but now his perspective is different, he now has a new mission! This change of perspective can only come by spiritual transformation. By spiritual I mean the inward dimension of life that flows from direct communion with God, a communion nurtured by prayer, ritual, meditation and worship. “Life is first an inner experience”, writes author Susan L. Taylor, “all the peace and security we are seeking is within us.”

"I'm a changed man" is a chorus, ringing with jubilance, yet the verses are made up of self-examination, vigorous reflection and the courage to move on in spite of our fear. You see, change may inspire fear in you; it may cause you to walk tepidly among the carnage of your insecurities. A lot of people have experienced failure because they could not handle change.

Changed men are powerful men; changed men are courageous, changed men are leaders. They can move mountains, they can launch global movements, and they can take a stand for righteousness. Changed men are what we need.

Positive Thought for the Week

"Change is the engine of the empowered life; if you are not willing to tap into the wellspring of your existence, to accept change, you will never move beyond your present shores."

-Author unknown

Did You Know?

Between the 1970's and 1999 the rate of suicide among black males climbed from 7.9 per 100,000 in 1970 to 10.9in 1997, compared to a modest increase in the rate for all blacks during the same period. Furthermore, since the 1970's, the rate of increase in suicides among black males in their twenties has been alarmingly steady. Source: Lay My Burden Down, Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis among African Americans, Dr. Alvin Pouissant and Amy Alexander

Don't Believe the Hype!

Hype: Teenage pregnancy is a runaway problem in the African American community.

Fact: African Americans ages 15 to 19 experienced the steepest decline in birth rates—42 percent—from 118 per 1,000 women in 1991 to 68 in 2002. Among African Americans ages 15 to 17, birth rates dropped by 52 percent between 1991 and 2002.
Source: Advocates for Youth

The Literati: A Crisis in the Mental Health of Black America

Suicide has always been a hush-hush topic in the African-American community; nothing silences a conversation more suddenly than talk of someone who has taken their own life, whether a family member or friend. With the publication of Lay My Burden Down, Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis Among African-Americans in 2000, the veil of secrecy and inherited shame was lifted and the subject was put out in the public arena. Its authors, Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint and Amy Alexander, offer a convincing, cogent and relentlessly grievous account as to the myriad reasons so many African-Americans suffer from depression and other mental health issues and how those reasons lay the groundwork for the ultimate act of self-aggression: suicide. In particular, and certainly disturbing, is the suicidal trend of black males in America, which tripled between the 1980’s and the end of the twentieth-century, according to the authors. The common element of this trend is the loss of hope, a virtue that historically underpinned the ability of blacks to overcome the legacy of discrimination, segregation and unequal justice. Says Poussaint and Alexander: “…the realities of modern life have begun to undermine the historic adoptions, the coping strategies that are part of the African-American culture.” Lay My Burden Down requires the immediate and consistent attention from anybody who senses the urgency of self-destructive behaviors in a family member or friend and is a must-read for policy chieftains, church leaders and grass-roots organizations.

An Interview with Rev. James David Manning

This interview was conducted by W. Eric Croomes on Friday, October 31, 2008 regarding Manning's comments on Senator Barack Obama.

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About the Editor

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Arlington, Texas, United States
W. Eric Croomes is a writer and playwright based in Irving, Texas and a native of Phoenix, Arizona. Eric is a graduate of Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, earning a Bachelor of Arts in religion and sociology and is founder and executive director of Millennium Men of Color, a non-profit black male advocacy group. In 2002, Eric self-published Dance in the Dark, Poetic Reflections on Love and Culture, a collection of his original poems and essays on love and relationship in the African-American tradition. Three to Eight, a play examining the hours when most teens become pregnant and most juvenile crime is committed, was Eric’s first theatrical release and debuted at the 2004 Black N Blues one act play festival at the African-American museum in Dallas. Brotha2Brotha, Becoming Healthy Men from the Inside Out, a spiritual primer for men of color, was released in September, 2006. Eric’s next book, Thoughts in Black and Male, is slated for release in spring 2008. COMING SOON: THEVILLAGEREPORT.NET Visit Eric at www.wericcroomes.com

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The Village Report with W. Eric Croomes is a registered trademark of The Apple Tree Group. All content authored by W. Eric Croomes is Copyrighted 2008.

January 19, 2008 issue of Golfweek Magazine

January 19, 2008 issue of Golfweek Magazine
and I didn't say 1958!