by Robert Earl Houston
Greetings everyone! I videotaped this a couple of weeks ago and I want to humbly share this with you. It’s a short, 10 minute, video diary of my infirmity – the skin cancer that sent me to the operating room on May 31, 2013.
I want to share it to encourage African-American males, especially, to get an annual physical. Get checked and don’t be afraid of the doctor – GO AND GET CHECKED. As a result of my begging (yes, begging) over 100 pastors from across the country have contacted me or emailed me or texted me and said they’re getting checkups. Praise God!!!!
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED!
by Robert Earl Houston
This week, I severed a relationship that goes back some six years ago. After hearing about the “good news” and hearing others talk about it, I gave my time and attention to the iPhone and trusted in the vision of their “Pastor” – Steve Jobs.
It’s been quite the relationship. Standing in the rain for the latest phone. I remember being in Memphis one year when an update came in and standing in oppressive heat outside to get the latest version. I remember being in Paducah and walking into an AT&T store without any problems and snatching up the latest phone.
I’ve been a great disciple. I converted my wife, several of my friends, even slipped in a reference to my phone in conversations with friends, loved ones, and even people I didn’t know. I remember showing my phone to a grandfather and his grandson on a flight and watching the kid’s eyes light up as I showed him the game, “Stupid Zombies 2” and remember him shouting, “Air Drop! Air Drop!” Ahh . . . Pastor Jobs had me tuning in for his once a year or sometimes twice a year, two hour presentations . . . and of course, his “one more thing” meant something wonderful was about to be announced!
But this week, I left the Church of iPhone. Rather than just to leave without explanation, I thought this might be helpful and explain to the new pastor, Tim Cook, why I left. I’ve been converted to the Galaxy Note 2, and am in the midst of new member orientation, learning all the ins and outs.
First, my Pastor ain’t like my last one.
Pastor Tim Cook is a decent guy, I’m sure. But he just doesn’t have the presence or vision like Pastor Steve Jobs. Pastor Tim looks like a guy trying to be cool, when Pastor Steve was cool. Pastor Tim looks like a guy who took off his coat because it’s hot, where Pastor Steve looks like a guy who woke up, threw on a turtleneck and had no intension of wearing a jacket.
Not only that Pastor Tim has not captured my imagination. I gave him a change. When Pastor Steve died on October 5, 2011 – a memorial service was held and it was announced that Pastor Tim was Pastor Steve’s handpicked successor – but that was not enough.
Secondly, this Pastor lacks vision
The iPhone has become boring. It’s true – it’s still one of the biggest phones out there, but the innovation has been lacking. The speed and camera is sometimes impressive, but the apps look the same today as they did two years ago. The phone is relatively small in this Phablet age. I’m 53 – I don’t need a 3″ phone, I need something I can see and relate to.
Vision brought me to Apple. Pastor Jobs had vision. I can’t even remember the name of the last phone that I owned before iPhone – because I was amazed that I could do so much with this device in my hand. Pastor Jobs kept things hush-hush until he presented the very best. He was like the preacher who never announced before what he was going to preach. Somebody asked him one day, “why won’t you tell us what you’re going to preach on Sunday?” He said, “Well, you might not come because you’ll figure it out and preach it around the block or you’ll say ‘I’ll skip it for a better sermon.”
#3 – My Pastor let’s me have fun
My Galaxy Note 2 is fun. I’ve been on medical leave since May 30, 2013, and I’ve had time, with my leg propped up to see what the phone can and can’t do. I like the fact that my phone doesn’t have to be tethered to my computer to add an app. I like the fact that even though I’m still an Apple person, there are apps that make my Mac and Galaxy Note “talk to each other.” The Samsung folk have got it right. I know, the argument will be made that Apple is “American Made” but according to their own documents, even though their offices are in California, on paper, they are based in Ireland. Samsung is based in Japan. So they’re both non-US companies.
The truth is I don’t want a phone that’s just like everyone else’s. I want a different screen. I want different apps. I want to have fun with my phone. I don’t want a Victorian device that does not allow for some personality. I don’t want to be a lemming, I want to be a sheep. I have different wool, different eyesight, different strengths, different weaknesses. I look for that in my phone. Accept me for my strengths and weaknesses, and show me that I can learn to do or be better.
Hmmmm . . . I also look for that in my Church and Pastor.
Your Comments are Welcome.
I was raised on gospel music. My mother, Naomi Houston, made sure that we were exposed to gospel music literally seven days a week. On Sunday morning, we had a steady diet of Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland, the Caravans, Rance Allen, GMWA, and other gospel groups. As a result every member in my family was gospel-musically inclined. My father, the late Minister Phene Houston, played the bass guitar. My mother was a Choir Director, lead soloist, and dabbled in some piano. My sister, Phyllis, is a church pianist/NFL mom. My sister, Nora, is a soloist and bass player.
However, my tastes in music are no longer limited to just gospel music, but, gospel music are my roots! I love jazz, pop, R&B, opera – just about everything except for rap (just don’t like it – or at least most of it). I’ve lived long enough to understand than gospel music has genres – traditional, quartet, praise and worship, contemporary, instrumental, rap (yep, rap), and other forms of expression.
One of my favorite forms is praise and worship. Tonight, while watching a DVR of “The Stellar Awards” I watched (and wept) as Israel Houghton was leading a chorus of “Moving Forward” – one of the most powerful worship songs I’ve ever heard. The lyrics caused me to reflect on what was a very personal sermon from me on Sunday. I dealt with DELIVERANCE. I broke several “preacher rules” on Sunday – most of all, we didn’t have a traditional Invitation to Christian Discipleship. Instead, we had an altar call and asked people to come forward – not for church membership, but for deliverance.
It was a cathartic moment because for me, deliverance had just come about in a profound way lately. I’m no longer bound. No longer tied up. No longer tangled up. I’ve been set free. Yes – even Pastors can be strong in their delivery of the way and still have some spiritual issues they wrestle with. As I preached Sunday – if there is something that you’re dealing with and you provide the solution – it’s victory, but when the Lord steps in and provides the solution – it’s deliverance. I have experienced not victory, but deliverance.
Those words of Israel hit me like a flood tonight. Especially as he walked off stage and audience was lifting the rafters, spontaneously, and kept recording this chorus:
You make all things new
Yes, You make all things news and I will follow You forward, oh
You make all things new
You make all things new and I will follow You forward
I’ve come to declare that if God has either allowed you to discover victory or deliverance – go forward. Don’t look back at your past! Don’t grab or create any “souvenirs.” Whether it was from a sinful circumstance that you created or were dragged into; Whether it was from a relationship that was toxic or you were the toxicity in the relationship; Whether it was from a past habit or sin that you thought you could never break; GO FORWARD!
You don’t owe an explanation or elaboration. Matter of fact, I can tell you this from the last few weeks – that which God has set you free from will be that which God will allow you to help others realize that same freedom.
Brother or Sister Pastor – GO FORWARD!
Brother or Sister Church Leader – GO FORWARD!
Brother or Sister Layperson – GO FORWARD!
God will allow you to experience a peace that you’ve never experienced, by His grace!