Why Is God in Heaven?

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Why is God in Heaven? That’s the type of question that children have all the time. How do you answer them? Do you feel uncomfortable or unsure? Perhaps you have responded with the same type of canned answer you may have received as a child. Don’t feel bad, you are not alone. Most adults don’t like to admit that they aren’t always certain how to address these types of topics with children.

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Bryan Popin, is a gospel artist, pianist, writer and producer dubbed “Little Boy Wonder” by the musical genius Stevie Wonder. His first life-changing prayer was at age 11. By age 18, he graduated from Bible School becoming a licensed Minister.

Bryan has written over 200 songs and earned a #1 spot on Billboard’s TopGospel Album last year. He was also honored at this year’s Annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards coming on the heels of receiving his first Stellar Award nomination earlier this year.

But despite his successes, undoubtedly one of his greatest titles next to being husband to his sweetheart Susan is being father to SIX children!

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CFU: How do you explain that God is not make believe even though you cannot see Him?

BP: For me and my family it was always engraved in us at a young age, God was just part of our lives.  We prayed together, talked about God openly and made sure that He was not just this BIG God out in space, but someone that cared about our feelings, our daily life, our thoughts, our faults, our hurts, our victories, our confusion, our pain… all of it.
BP: I always remember my Dad saying…”When you want to sit in that chair right there you do what, you just sit. You trust that the chair will hold you, the screws are tightened, the wood inside the cushion is not rotting and frail, but rather you don’t even think, you just trust.” We don’t see the wind, yet we feel it and know that that is called wind because we are taught it.

God’s Majesty

BP: There is beauty all around us.  All of it is God’s creation.  The mountains, hills, grass, oceans, lakes, sky, sun.  Even, the small things we take for granted.  Water, food, a chair to sit in.  All of it is a blessing for us and to us.  We must never take anything or anyone for granted.
BP: My wife and I teach all of our kids that God works through people.  How people are different and that is God’s creativity.  Our differences are beautiful.  Culture is beautiful.  Be open to let God use you, speak to you, work through you to be a help and blessing to someone or something.

Train Up a Child

BP: I think it’s really important to teach your children to pray at an early age.  To have a real relationship with God.  They will find God on their own through their own life experiences, but because it was engraved in them when they were young, they will run to God rather than away from God.

Why is God in Heaven?

CFU: Have your children ever asked why is God in Heaven?
BP: Yes, we have 6 kids lol!  Ages 4 months, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 19.  Usually what happens is 1 will ask a question and another will answer it, almost spot on.  Not because they are so smart, but because we have spent the time to pray with them, teach them and show them the way.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

BP: My 3-year-old little man Joey, actually asked this question as he is more of our blunt, very open and curious child.  Immediately my 9-year-old son Max, replies saying why do you think that God only lives in heaven?  God lives in our hearts.  Well… as a Dad who tries to do and say the right things, yet most def messes up more than I would like to… I was beyond proud of my kid at that moment!

God is Omnipresent

BP: I think it’s important to teach children that God is everywhere and is everything.  He is not just in one state or one city or one building.  He is bigger than that.  He can be in TN and NY at the same time.  He can speak to someone in California at the same time He speaks to someone in NJ.  He works through people, uses those that are willing to hear His voice, take the time to spend with Him and be open to His will.  He is a creative God.  His beauty is everywhere.  In people, in everything we see.  The grass, dirt, sunset, sky, mountains in the horizon, ocean… His beauty and creativity is everywhere if you open your eyes to know that there is a creator and take the time to enjoy His creation.
BP: Heaven is definitely a real place.  But, it is not the only place God dwells.  Heaven is also not this earth that we live in.

Why Does God Take Our Loved Ones?

CFU: We tell children that God is good what about when He our loved ones die?
BP: This is never easy.  Children usually ask things we adults struggle with and do not ask.  For me, I’ve always been taught and known that the world we live in is not heaven.  The world we live in is not just good.  There is bad and evil in this world.  Instead of blaming God for the bad/evil, I think it’s important to be thankful we have God.  Through the pain, through the hurt, through the frustration, through the sadness.  We have Jesus, the Holy Spirit to help us, comfort us and give us strength during these times and to also help prepare us for these times.

All Things Work Together for Good

BP: God is good, and God will use any circumstance or any situation, any failure, any hurt, any defeat or any loss that was meant to hurt us and HE will turn it around for His good.  To help someone that is going through what we’ve gone through or to allow that situation to drive us or catapult us to a direction in life He wants us to pursue or shift us too.
BP: God is good, all the time.  We live in a world that is not perfect.  Only heaven is perfect.  There is death, pain and loss on this earth.  What are you going to do during this season or time in your life when you experience this death, pain and loss?  It’s always important to mourn with those hurting or for those you cared about.  God gave us feelings.  After time, we must transform those feelings and our mind to speak life over our mind, our situation and our feelings.  This is a daily lifestyle process.  Speaking God’s word over our life, our children, our mind, our circumstances.

Armor of God

BP: I think one of the scariest things is to not know the word of God.  It’s like going to war with no armor.  There is so much more than just a relationship with God.  There is a plan for your life and an outline to equip you along the process.  The goal is to use what you’ve learned and know and apply it to your life and pass it on to your loved ones, family, children.

Do as I Say AND Do

CFU: How important is it for children to see adults worshipping God?
BP: I think it’s INCREDIBLY important.
I have been in full time music ministry now for 22 years.  It’s all I’ve ever really done.  From a teen to now a Dad with 6 kids lol!  When I was a teen, I saw my wife, Susan, worshipping God at a church service conference.  I was overwhelmed with not just her, but how wholeheartedly you would worship.  Hands fully extended, smiling, crying, dancing.  It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.  Obviously, I had to know more about this woman and eventually marry her lol!

Like Mother, Like Daughter

BP: One time, during a church service, I remember looking down at Gigi, my 5-year-old daughter, her hands were fully extended and she was trying to worship like her Mommy.  Eyes squinting as she would watch Momma, then close her eyes and worship, then open her eyes and look again at Momma!
BP: When I was in my teens I took piano lessons from a Julliard professor in NYC.  He would ask me to play a classical piece that I never saw before.  I would then ask him to please play it for me first.  After I saw and heard him play it, I understood what it was supposed to look like, sound like and feel like.  I could then almost play it as a copycat as he played it for me.

Action Speaks Louder Than Words

BP: Point being, if we don’t show our children the way, who will?  If we don’t teach our children the way, then who will?  We must not just teach our children from a book but show them with our actions as well.  Both are important.

Memories of Dad

BP: One day I found out that my Dad served in special forces for the army when an old newspaper clipping fell from a high shelf as I was helping them move.  My Dad never said anything about war, serving in the armed forces or anything to me while growing up as a kid.  I picked his brain that day, asking him everything I could think of as I was so proud of him and thankful for his service.  One thing he told me I will never forget… when or if a soldier was to lift their hands and surrender, it was the absolute last resort.  It was letting the other party know that you are wholeheartedly theirs.  You surrender your life, your heart, your ideas, your thoughts, letting everything go and place your life in their hands.  Truly surrendering to what they want to do with your life.
BP: With that now engraved in my mind, every time I see someone worshipping with their hands lifted or I decide to lift my hands in worship… I remember this statement from my Dad.  I used to question why people would lift their hands and what the point of it was.  Never again.

Daddy’s Ministry

CFU:  Your children know that you are a singer, but do they understand that what Daddy does is not the same as mainstream entertainer/performers?
BP: My wife has taught all of our children that God uses Daddy to go to churches and help people by encouraging them through his music. That Daddy is in ministry and it is more of a calling.
BP: Usually when I pack up and leave, I hear my little 3-year-old Joey say…”Daddy, God wants you to go help people again?”  They just know the calling on my life and what I do.  Most times I try to take them one at a time, so they can see what ministry is about. So they can see with their own eyes what Daddy does. They help me with my CD’s at my product table, carry my keyboard, whatever they can do to help.  More importantly, they spend quality time with me doing God’s work.  They see how people are encouraged through the music and how it connects with people’s heart when they see how Jesus touches their life.  How God uses the music as a tool to encourage people and how it brings people together.  Oh yeah, and that church and ministry can be alive and fun too!  I love what I do and want them to see that I love what I do.

Suffer Not the Children

BP: The last thing I want my children to do is suffer because my priorities are out of order.  I learned this years ago, when I didn’t value the very things God had already blessed me with yet gave me the grace to restructure and reorder my life.  I promised myself I would never let me family be negatively affected by ministry because I let them feel not important.

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Thy Will Be Done

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All Christians want to go to Heaven, but no one ever wants to think about dying. However, death is inevitable for all human beings whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. But being prepared for one’s death is a choice.

“WILL” You Be Ready?

Will preparation is a helpful tool that hopefully would ease the burden of decision-making by families and loved ones in the event of your passing. It is a legal document that sets forth your personal wishes for any assets or personal belongings you would like to have assigned to either family, friends, favorite charities, Churches, etc.

What Happens if You Die Without a Will?

If you have a living spouse or children, the decision-making may be left by default those who are legally recognized as survivors of the deceased. If you die and do not have relatives or designated beneficiaries then you will be regarded as an intestate person.  Depending on the rules of your state of residency at the time of your death, the state may determine that your assets be given to a next of kin or they may take possession of your belongings if no next of kin exists or can be verified.

Going Up Yonder

Another reason for preparing a will is to avoid any unnecessary unpleasantries between family members and/or friends. By making preparation for your arrangements in advance, you can save your relatives both time and money. Funeral preparation can be a very stressful time for the survivors of the deceased. It is also a time that family discord often hits a feverish pitch.

Suddenly everyone remembers what the deceased had promised may have promised them. Whether it is some treasured heirloom or personal piece of property, if it is undocumented then it is hard to prove.

Sad as it sounds, it is all too common to have family members stop speaking over material things. Whether it’s Big Momma’s ring or a coveted family punch bowl, the passing of the deceased is sometimes overshadowed by family infighting.

So why don’t more people take the time to prepare a will?

Common Myths Surrounding Will Preparation

  • Once you prepare a will, you are more likely to die sooner
  • Only rich people have wills
  • You need a lawyer to prepare a will
  • I don’t have any assets
  • I have assets but I’m still very young
  • Will preparation is expensive, complicated and time-consuming

“WILL” You Face Reality?

  • People who prepare wills do not die any sooner or later than anyone else. The truth is, none of us will know when our time has come. The Bible tells us life is but a vapor. None of us know the exact number of days assigned to our lives. We aren’t even certain about tomorrow. (James 4:14)
  • Anyone who has acquired anything of personal value regardless of cost should prepare a will. By preparing your own will you get to make the decision as to who your belongings will go to rather than have it haphazardly decided by people who may or may not be privy to your final wishes.
  • Hiring a lawyer isn’t always necessary, especially if there are no large estates or complicated transfers of assets involved. Online legal technology provided by companies such as LegalZoom, can allow you to create legal documents on your own without the use of a lawyer.
  • Assets are not always defined monetarily. Anything that you would consider a treasured possession can be an asset, particularly if it is something you would consider leaving to someone as a remembrance of you.
  • If you do have assets such as a home, car, business or something else of considerable value, you should consider protecting yourself legally with a will.  A  documented will clearly states your wishes in the event of your passing regardless of your present age. Death is no respecter of youth.
  • Will preparation doesn’t automatically have to be expensive, complicated or even time-consuming. LegalZoom again is a great resource for do-it-yourself legal documents that can be customized based on your personal needs.

Time “WILL” Tell

There’s no perfect time to start considering preparing a will. Most people unfortunately don’t even think about it unless they suddenly become ill. Preparing a will is not something that is done because you think you may die soon. Do it because you already know with certainty that you can’t take any of your earthly belongings with you.

Hearses do not come equipped with a U-Haul. So before you “fly away”,  consider getting  your house in order. Once your will has been completed,  the next step will be to assign either an executor, which may be a trusted family member or friend or a hire a professional advisor to execute your final instructions.

A will can also be easily changed using what’s called a codicil, which is basically an amendment. Changes sometimes are sometimes required due to unforeseen circumstances or new life events.

When it comes to preparing for your end-of-life events you can either opt to let THY will be done or risk trying to figure out the timing of your own mortality and let the chips fall where they may. Preparation will always the best choice.

Surviving Church Hurt

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How Do You Define Church Hurt?

Church hurt is a term that is frequently used when a believer hurts another believer. Gossip, slander and isolation are just some examples of behavior that can cause individuals to feel as they do not belong. It can be emotionally distressing to undergo bad treatment in general,  but these feelings are somehow magnified when they occur within the church.

Church hurt can sometimes be a result of misplaced anger or one’s unwillingness to handle correction or take constructive criticism. Nevertheless, while it doesn’t even seem plausible that the two words church and hurt would even be associated with each other, it’s one of the primary reasons people give for leaving the body of Christ.

Sticks and Stones

As children we’ve all heard the phrase “sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you”. But they can, and do especially if they’ve come from fellow churchgoers or God forbid the actual shepherd of the church.

Preacher’s Pet

The role of the clergyman or clergywomen of a Church will always be perceived as a position of power. A position perceived to be closest to God. Similarly, those who are closely aligned to the Pastor, are often seen as an extension of this power.

Whether it is the spouse of the minister or the head of a ministry in the Church, titles somehow suggest superiority. Church officials are often viewed as an object of favoritism  rather than individuals appointed based on their ability to lead.

These hierarchies have oftentimes led to dissension amongst fellow members causing harm not only to individuals but to the Church body as a whole. But why?

Unrealistic Expectations

Church members for some reason expect more from each other. Just because they see each other on Sunday mornings, worshipping the same God, they expect each other to think the same way about everything.

Church members have a hard time allowing themselves and each other any margin error. The expectations are somehow different just because they are Christians. The truth is, people are people and will forever be flawed whether they are in the Church or in your workplace. Here’s another eye opener for you, there are people at every Church, so church-hopping is not the solution.

For it is Written

  • Christian or not, you aren’t going to like everyone and everyone will not like you. But don’t let that stop you from loving them. (John 13:34)
  • God sees everything. Not only does He see what others have done to you He also sees how we choose to respond. Two wrongs have never made any one person right. (Romans 12:17-21)
  • Stop judging each other’s standards. Being a Christian is not a title it’s a declaration of one‘ s determination to pattern themselves after Christ. If you want to be like Jesus, don’t be petty. (2 Timothy 2:14)
  • Don’t get an attitude with God just because God’s people may have let you down. His ways are not are our ways. (Isaiah 55:8)
  • Jesus cares about everything that you care about. If you’ve told everyone with ears what has happened to you, then why not tell Jesus? When you need answers go directly to the source. (Psalm 18:6)
  • Speak with the person(s) who offended you. This does NOT mean confront them. If you’ve received an apology accept it. (Matthew 18:15)
  • Don’t be afraid to do a bit of self-examination. If you find yourself having personal issues at every church you attend then perhaps it’s time to ask God to reveal you to YOU. (Psalm 139)
  • There are always going to be people determined not to let an offense go. They will carry their hurt and pain like a trophy from church to church and even make it a part of their testimony. Pray for them. (Matthew 24:10-12)
  • God can change situations and hearts when you least expect it. Readily receive any offers of reconciliation. (Ephesians 4:32)

Finding a Church Home

Here is where you have entered a judgment free zone.

If you’ve been out of church for a while or perhaps you have relocated and have yet to settle down with a new church home.Search for church online for free. Let’s Pray Together is a nationwide church search database available to church seekers and those who volunteer to list their churches as a resource: LetsPrayTogether.org

If you still need assistance finding a church or if you have specific requirements for the church you are seeking. Email: MetaWashington@siriusxm.com with your request.

 

July is Fibroids Awareness Month!

Nearly 20% to 80% of all women develop fibroids by age 50. For women of color, this number has climbed to an astonishing 90%. But what exactly are fibroids? Even those who have them are sometimes unsure what they are and what do they mean for a women’s reproductive health?

What are Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyomas or fibroids are benign smooth, noncancerous growths of the uterus that usually occur during a woman’s childbearing years. These tumors may vary in size and quantity. From barely visible to very significant.

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Fibroid Symptoms

Many women who develop tumors may never experience any discomfort, while others suffer from a variety of unpleasant symptoms including:

  • Excessive bleeding, cramping and pelvic pain
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent urination/difficulty urinating
  • Menstrual periods lasting a week or more
  • Bloating and/or constipation
  • Back pain, headaches or leg cramps

**NOTE** If you are currently experiencing any of the symptoms above for any prolonged length of time. Please schedule a checkup and speak to your physician right away to discuss available treatments and options.

What Causes Fibroids?

While there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the actual cause of uterine fibroids. Advancements have been made to identify possible triggers and correlations between factors such as genetics or diet.

Erica Campbell of the multi award-winning duo Mary Mary, radio host of “Get Up! Mornings with Erica Campbell and one of the stars of the new TVOne docuseries “We’re the Campbells” is a wife and mother of three. 

In March 2018, Erica posted this message on social media to share her post-op experience after undergoing a minor surgical procedure for fibroid removal.

Erica continues to be an advocate for encouraging women to be proactive about monitoring their health.

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CFU: How did you first come to the realization that you had fibroids?

EC: I had excessive bleeding for 2 weeks straight. My energy was low. I was nervous whenever I wore light colors.

CFU: When is medical surgery usually recommended to treat fibroids?

EC: I believe God allows us to feel pain as a trigger to change! Anytime your blood is low your body doesn’t have what it needs to survive. I can’t say when for anyone else should go, so I just listen to your body and the Holy Spirit!

CFU: Does having fibroids always result in needing a hysterectomy? Are there any special dietary recommendations for those that suffer from fibroids?

EC: No absolutely not, a hysterectomy isn’t always needed! You can definitely make dietary changes and do your research! Take ALL processed food out of your diet! Add more green vegetables and cut out sugars, and you will see a change. Another things is a lot of big brand sanitary napkins are actually toxic! Find natural products to use they’re much healthier for your body!

Marketing & Self-Promotion 101

Welcome to Marketing & Self Promotion 101. Congratulations! Your music has been published and now it’s time for the people to come and be blessed. WRONG.  Creating a positive buzz around your project means mastering the fine art of marketing and self-promotion. The gospel music industry is a wealth of amazing talent with both new and old artists constantly vying for the public’s attention.

As a new artist, getting the word out about your project will require lots more than a few tweets and Facebook posts. Self-promotion and marketing of your brand has to be purposeful and well-orchestrated.

Here are just a few things to keep in mind before you “Go and Tell it on the Mountain”:

Market Yourself Spread the Word

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  • Real marketing and self-promotion begin long before your project is complete.
  • Network, network and network some more to get your name and brand familiar in the minds of your potential audience. Don’t just look for the hookup, do the homework.
  •  The gospel industry is an extremely tight-knit community. Word of your reputation can spread and quickly become “gospel” for better or WORSE.
  • Social media engagement involves more than 20 consecutive posts of you with a CD in hand reminding people to BUY…BUY!! Do this and you’ll be saying “Bye, Bye” to your audience.

Better to Give than Receive

  • Don’t pass on the opportunity to perform for F-R-E-E. Church concerts, civic events, conferences and even weddings are perfect opportunities to not just be seen, but most importantly heard as well.
  • Emailing industry leaders to say “I want to send you something to listen to that will bless you” is not a good opener. It’s cliché and most music professionals already have more music than they have time to listen.
  • Get sound advice from as many industry professionals as you can. Established artists, managers and consultants with a proven current track record. If you are blessed with an opportunity to meet someone significant please don’t pounce. The objective should not be to get your CD in their hands as fast as you can.

My Sheep Listen to My Voice, I Know Them, and They Follow Me…EVERYWHERE!

  • Get rid of the glam squads, the “slay all day” stylists, praise posse and all other non-essential persons to your brand NOW. Representing yourself as a serious artist should be your focus right now.  Lest not forget, “the crew” helped cause tragic downfall of M.C. Hammer.
  • Your Pastor, family members and friends as dear and well-meaning as they may be may not be experienced enough in the industry to act as professional business managers and publicists. Running a church doesn’t count as artist management experience.

Gerard Bonner is Founder and CEO of the Stellar award-winning 24/7 internet radio station Bonnerfide Radio and Co-founder of Gospelflava.com.  Gerard is a well-respected gospel industry veteran with over 20+ years in the business. He is a fountain of knowledge and is an expert consultant working to help shape and define the careers of indie artists nationwide.

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CFU: What’s one of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen indie artists make in terms of marketing themselves?

GB: Let me give you two big mistakes that indie artists make relative to marketing themselves. First, they usually forget to budget for marketing. They tend to put more budget into production, recording, and styling than they do marketing. There’s little planning and strategy put into effectively marketing an independent artist. As a result, the independent artist drops a project with an even steeper uphill climb.

Secondly, independent artists have a tendency to over inflate their reach. Only Beyonce can drop an album unannounced and have the world react significantly. Mary Mary once said “We treat every record as is we are new artists. We never assume that people know who we are.”

A strong social media following doesn’t always equate to great sales. Independent artists have to be ready and willing to put in the work behind creating awareness for their new efforts and it requires more than a lone social media post.

CFU: Have you witnessed any recent major shifts in the gospel industry that indies should be aware of?

GB: There are several major shifts that have happened in the last few years. At the top of the list is the way in which listeners consume music. People are streaming more than buying. It makes more sense economically for the consumer.

We went through a period where the gospel community was trying to push buying over streaming. However, the independent artist needs to embrace streaming because this is where consumers are. Artists have given streaming a bad name because the payout is vastly different than purchases. However, long term, streaming can be better for artists.

Because listeners consume music differently, independent artists need to prepare for multiple sources of revenue. Gone are the days where merely releasing an album will pay the bills. Indie artists need to tap into multiple ways to use their art to make a living. That includes streaming, teaching, workshops, and perhaps even keeping their 9-5 corporate jobs.

CFU: What sort of consultation services do you offer indie artists?

GB: We offer a number of services to assist independent artists. Our consultations cover a wide variety of topics ranging from marketing and advertising to artist development and management. We look forward to working with artists to really establish individualized paths to achieve long term career success.

You can sign up for our consultation services and be sure to mention the special Church Folks United code “INDIE” in your message:  BonnerfideRadio.com/consultation/

Are there better times than others for an indie artist to approach the market with their product?

GB: Traditionally, it’s best to avoid releasing music during the 4th quarter of the year, as consumers tend to be focused on Holiday purchases.

However, the BEST time for an independent artist to release product is after they’ve created a demand for the effort. That means their needs to be intentional work to create awareness and a need for their product and their voice. People are no longer randomly supporting artists in general principle. Time and money are valuable to consumers. They need to know they are investing in something that fills a need for them.

Create the demand and the support will soon follow.