Tag Archives: faith

Reverend Mason Betha Devotional: Love Thy Frienemies

Every Monday I will share an anecdote and/or existential life lesson based on teachings from your favorite rapper’s favorite pastor, Ma$e.
“Even Cam get money again.” Book of Double Up, chapter three: epilogue. 

Since I began the Mason Betha Devotional, it was only a matter of time before Ma$e became a headline. A little over a week ago, Harlem Diplomat Cam’Ron told the world that Ma$se became a pastor to protect himself from the streets. The good reverend dismissively refuted said claims. 

The first single from Ma$e’s sophomore album was a Shalamar-interpolating number entitled “Get Ready.” For a project named Double Up, it was only right the Harlemite told the world it was “get money” time once more. After he shouted out several of his constituents, he saved the best for last, Camron Giles, aka Cam’Ron.

 We grow a part from many that we once thought we’d never be able to live without; this was the case with Cam and Mas. Not only were they teammates on the basketball court, they were both members of the hip hop collective, Children of the Corn[er Preachers]. After being delivered when P. Diddy named him pretty, Betha introduced his good friend to the Notorious B.I.G. and Cam earned his own record deal.

Cam’Ron’s star began to rise in 1998. However, after recording a song hymn called “Horse and Carriage,” the former Manhattan Center teammates had a falling out over money and Puerto Rican Judo (Oh, jou don’t know what that is?). 

Cam’Ron didn’t have any follow-ups as big “Horse and Carriage;” and it seemed as if he could have possibly faded into obscurity. Betha not only made an attempt to bury the hatchet with his friend, he wished him well, and prophesied as well. 

Cam got money again. If people never get a shot at a first impression, Killa was the exception. He rapped incredibly well, showed the world that real mean wear and drive pink, ushered in one of the most revered crews in the Diplomats, gave Bill O’Reilly his greatest interview, told 60 Minutes he would move and not snitch if he lived next door to a serial killer, and as he pointed out in a confrontation with Betha, made $140 million in Sizzurp aka Manischewitz for the hood.

The two gents had a love/hate relationship. While their paths have separated, the two will forever be linked to each other. For every falling out on social media, there is a report of the two playing basketball or something like that. Cam’Ron even reciprocated Betha’s ministry with the last song on his Purple Haze album, “Take Em to Church.” Many thought the song was a diss; but it was a friend telling his other friend “I love you brother, please take these lost souls to church.”

The powerful lesson in this is to always speak life into others. There are many friends, family, and constituents I wish the best of luck to that I wouldn’t have too much to say in person. It may be best to love them from afar; but always keep them close to your heart.

The Reverend Mason Betha Devotional: Moses, Aaron, and Blinky Blink

Every Monday I will share an anecdote and/or existential life lesson based on teachings from your favorite rapper’s favorite pastor, Ma$e. This week’s installment is a day late but never a dollar short.
“Now Angelica’s the one with all the exposure. Dil is the one who drop in the stroller. Tommy got the whole world on his shoulders. And Dil cries to sleep ’til his eyes get bleak. I couldn’t be Chuckie, Chuckie to petro[fied]. Chuckie get scared, Chuckie says “Let’s go.” If I was a Rugrat, it would’ve been so real. Me and my twin would’ve been just like Phil and Lil.”

By the fall of 1998, Mason Betha’s platform for had him sitting on top of the world. He even wrote a song about it (That’s for another devotional). Many top acts of the time solicited the good reverend and his ministry of self-love, self-awareness, and prosperity to magnify their own music.  

Somewhere between promoting his debut album and Harlem shaking the sophomore jinx with Double Up, Mase was going through a rough time. His first album had sold four million copies and his flame burned white hot. When mo’ money lead to mo’ problems, the Bad Boy found difficulty listening to his inner voice and preach.

In the middle of penning a piece about following man-made religions vs relationships with God called “Niggas Done Started Somethin’,” Mason received a phone call that changed everything. Legendary producer Teddy Riley solicited Rev. Betha’s services on for a song on the soundtrack to Nickelodeon’s full-length biopic, Rugrats, the Movie. Unsure of his own capabilities, Mase agreed to participate under the condition that his childhood friend, Blinky Blink gets to share the spotlight.

As he drove a car shaped like Reptar the dinosaur, Betha dropped the loaded gem mentioned at the beginning of this post. On the surface, it seems as if he is rapping about the characters of the film; he is referring to himself and how we all are Rugrats.

While he confidently sang, danced, and refused to keep his eyes on the road, Mase felt like Chucky. He was scared and needed inspiration; a Tommy so to speak. He remembered the story of Moses who was afraid to face the Pharaoh and free his people on his own. To boost his confidence, God sent Moses’ brother as accompaniment and the rest is history. In that moment, Blinky Blink was the Tommy to Mase’s Chucky/the Aaron to his Moses.

Being a little transparent, I related to Mase’s words. Had life been a little different, he and his twin sister, Stason Betha. For those who are familiar with the Rugrats chronicles, fraternal twins Phil and Lil did everything together; but fought like cats and dogs. 

Being a twin can make for an interesting dynamic. The phrase “Born alone, die alone,” doesn’t apply to us (I too have a twin sister). Sometimes this can cause difficulty in one finding their own voice and ultimately having more “Chucky” moments than others. 

Mase was so overwhelmed by the sheer mention of the Lil to his Phil, Blinky Blink immediately jumped in to let him know “You’re my little brother that I’ll run wit’.” 

Whenever we step out on faith, God always sends a Blinky Blink. Who is your Blinky Blink?

Hard Times Are Divine Interference

Views from the 17th Floor

“Crenshaw is a completely different world from Union Square,” I thought to myself. The laid-back Los Angeles groove of Terrace Martin’s “Valdez Off Crenshaw” in my ear buds was a stark contrast to my view of Lower Manhattan’s skyline.

It was my first day on the job in a brand new office. Shortly after I was let go from my day job, I received a call about an analyst position at my former employer’s corporate headquarters. I charmed my way through the interview and received a start date days later.

As I was walked around and introduced to the team, several of my new colleagues shook my hand and told me “We have heard great things about you” and “If they hired you, they think highly of you.” The pleasantries made me feel welcomed and validated.

Things have changed drastically within the past month. The job out of the company’s Queens office was okay at best. I took the job because it was a paycheck. Before the position came to fruition, I prayed to God telling Him I couldn’t “live this way anymore.” Some semblance of understanding in my personal life was happening, as well.

I believe in treating the small wins like huge victories. As soon as comfort crept in, everything was shaken up. I should have known this was about to occur. 

There are no accomplishments without adversity. There are times in which God tells us all “Sit yo ass down! Oh, you’re not going to? Then I will make you.” It sucks; but it is needed.

That’s where faith comes into play. To be transparent, I am quite the control freak. Not because I want to force things; I am very confident in my capabilities. I truly believe that unless God intervenes, there are very few things I can’t acquire. If I want something, I’m going to make it happen. 

Because of this mindset, I have an interesting dynamic with God. When I put my mind to something, He replies with “Ayo, you feel that way? I’m gonna test you and you will fail several times. Then you will have to chill, rethink some things, and try again, dead ass. I believe in you Chad and you’re my guy, so let’s see what you’re made of, b.” (Note: To me, God is a New Yorker)

My faith isn’t always the greatest. Maybe a better way to word that is that I have a lot of faith; but I don’t pray as much as I should. I mostly do about the things that I am thankful for as opposed to asking God for something. When I pray about something once, I let it go. In my eyes, to continuously go back feels like a lack of faith. 

I prayed to God to open up my heart and eyes and He been testing me in that area.As soon as hopelessness arts in, things begin to shift. 

Our moments of adversity are periods of preparation. We have free will to do whatever; so what we do with the down time is up to us. I detest arrested development (Not the group. I actually have a very funny story about my encounters with a former member). We all have traumatic events that stunt our growth; I try to eliminate much as that as humanly possible.

After my initial prayer three months ago, God put me in a position that took care of my immediate needs and gave me a glimpse into my future. Before I got into a routine, the door was abruptly shut. 

The way the job ended put me in a position to lean on someone I was hesitant to, due to our past. Opening up about my frustration set forth a chain of events that created a path to understanding. That feeling of frustration lead to thoughts I wouldn’t have had being in Queens.

While I was distracted with the daunting task of figuring out how to emotionally process shit, God worked under the radar. All of the thoughts and feelings I was under masked what was really going down. The position in Queens put me back into the company’s system with an email and ID number. While I was getting back into the swing of commuting to Queens, I had been saying “I want to work in the city again.” Sometimes the discomfort is just divine interference.

I couldn’t wait to get home and show Cydney a picture of my view of Manhattan from the 17th floor.

Giving You the Best That I Got

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Something I’ve never told anyone: other than Whitley Gilbert, my first crush was Anita Baker.  No rhyme or reason, I just remember watching her videos intently when they came on Hot Tracks in the late eighties.  I feel much better getting that off of my chest after twenty-five years.

The last three or five times that I’ve been to my local grocery store, I’ve heard ‘Giving You the Best That I Got’ play.  I always go a little slower through the store looking what I’m there to purchase and listen to the words of the song.  It has always been my favorite song from my original boo.  But more than anything, the song reminds me of Timile.  We’d decided that when we got married, this was going to be the song we first danced to.  It was my suggestion.  One summer afternoon Timile and I heard the song playing while we were in the car driving somewhere.  I told said to her that I think this had summed up our dynamic at that point.  I was tired, and didn’t know how Timile’s cancer was going to play out; but I was going to keep pressing on no matter how physically, mentally, and spiritually tired I was.  Timile saw that all the time.  I know that she would feel bad that she couldn’t really do anything to help me.  She knew I was burdened.  It was written all over my face.  I’d gained a lot of weight stress eating.  Many nights I’d have a drink as soon as I got home from work.  The look on my face was that of a man who is weary and had no choice but to continue giving unselfishly to and infant and a partner who was terminally sick; all the while figuring out life at twenty-five.

When I hear the song now, I have small flashbacks of that summer in Buffalo.  While it was tiring, it was one of the happiest times in my life.  As bogged down as I was, I was taking care of my family.  Whatever they wanted or needed I was able to provide.  Sometimes I picture in my head what that first dance between Timile and I would have looked like.  Wearing all white, I see the look on her face as the song played and she’d give me a sorta annoyed look because I’d make a silly face in the midst of a romantic moment because that’s who I am.

I learned a valuable lesson about giving unselfishly during that time.  They often say that those that give a lot know what its like to not receive.  I love my daughter with everything I have, but just about all she can do at this point in my life is take.  I sleep about three hours a night doing something or the other trying to provide for her or trying to just relax from working.  I don’t have much time to hang out and I don’t have a help mate to restore me on the days that I’m feeling the most down.  Doing for others is what keeps me going.  The more out of my way I go, the better I feel.  I think I feel that way because money is cool, but the time that it takes to go out of my way is the most important thing.  Like I said last week, it’s the most important asset and the only thing you can’t get back.  I don’t even expect anything in return from others.  The cynic in me says people don’t give that much of a shit because they’re selfish.  So I’m pleasantly surprised when someone goes out of their way for me.  I almost kept it too real with a friend of mine over this.

People often misquote 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter.”  The proper translation of “Love is patient” is “Love is long-suffering.”  Patience suggests endurance and putting up with someone.  I’ll be patient through bullshit.  We’re patient through commercials while out favorite TV shows, waiting for the subway, or sitting in traffic when we have somewhere to go.  You just sit and wait through it. Patience is an adjective.  No matter how you conjugate the verb it is a description of a feeling.  Long-suffering is an action; a verb.  It is also a better description because in spite of what songs say that’s what love is-action. Long-suffering is resilience.  It means waiting patiently without expecting any return (see what I did there?).  People who understand tend to see the world differently.

I think people fear showing love because doing so leaves them exposed.  It means being vulnerable to someone else and there is the potential of being hurt.  To that I say remember that phobias are irrational and fear is God-given for self preservation.  If you fear love, that’s all the more reason to give it.  It can hurt temporarily, but eventually you will be blessed for the suffering you’ve endured.

One more little anecdote.  Three years ago I was watching the Soul Train: Lady of Soul Awards.  They were doing a tribute to Anita Baker.  I forgot who else sang, but Tamia sang ‘Giving You the Best That I Got.’  I used to be in love with her too at one time in life.  When she sang “I bet everything on my wedding ring,” looked in the camera, flashed her ring, and winked I got very angry.  I hated Grant Hill like I was one of the Fab Five for marrying her.

 

What Turning Twenty-Eight Means

Since I got out of court last Tuesday, I have just about been celebrating my birthday.  Getting my visitation agreement amended was the best way to set off beginning a new year.

I enjoyed the last six days.  I got what I really needed: some me time.  Me time to do what I wanted.  On Wednesday, I went to the Kanye West Concert.  However, the real reason for going to the Yeezus concert was to see A Tribe Called Quest, who were the opening act and performing their last concerts as a group ever.  My friend and I wound up missic Tribe.  They kept saying that they felt bad, but I told them I didn’t care.  The little things mean the most to me, so the reason why we were late actually wound up being the best part of my birthday.  On Friday, I spent my birthday seeing my grandmothers in Queens during the day and that night having drinks with my good friends.  Couldn’t ask for much more.

Around 3 AM, I spoke a few words to a friend of mine that I think solidified that twenty-eight would be different.  This isn’t the time to say what that was, but there is a major difference between thinking something and actually declaring it out of your mouth.  It brings the words to life and you have no choice but to follow through with your words.  It’s one of those moments that no matter how things turn out in my life, I’ll never forget that conversation on the corner of 126th and Lenox Ave.  Ever.

You know how people ask if we feel different after our birthdays and the answer is usually “no?”  I woke up the next morning feeling different.  Was it just another day? No.  I felt the urgency to begin setting goals and planning how to achieve them within the next 264 days.  I thought about Cydney, the life that I want for her.  I prayed for those in my inner circle and something I don’t normally do: I prayed for myself.  I asked God to use me and my abilities to the best of my capacity.  After that, it was back to writing and taking the first steps to my next destination.

I think that I am my own worst enemy.  Being cynical is what holds me back.  While I believe and hope that positive things happen, I usually expect the worst.  I’m usually able to predict how things will happen based on probability and see things and circumstances through.  But I think that my mindset of knowing that things will turn out otherwise is me not having enough faith.  

James 2:17 is the verse that says that faith that is not accompanied by action is dead.  I think that work accompanied by little faith has the same consequences.  I’m pretty sure that I don’t have as much faith because I don’t actually speak much into existence.  I just think it and treat my thoughts like they’re something I’ve said out loud.  Friday night changed that.  It wasn’t much, it was something I have thought for a few months, it wasn’t something they hadn’t known already.  Nonetheless, I have a sense of urgency that has heightened. 

After the celebration comes the work.  Stay tuned…

 

In Due Time: Coasting

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As I have previously stated I am an OutKast fanatic. There is a song on the Soul Food Soundtrack called “In Due Time” featuring a rapper who was taking one of his first dips into singing named Cee-Lo on the song who drops an incredible verse. For those who do not know who Cee-Lo is, he’s a rapper from Atlanta who is part of socially conscious rap quartet called Goodie Mob (Good Die Mostly Over Bullshit). They put out a couple of incredible albums in the nineties and he eventually left the group. Eventually he put a couple of solo albums (Cee-Lo Green Presents the Soul Machine > The Love Below), wrote and performed some hits, was on a couple of tv shows or something; but eff all that: Get back to rapping.

Anywho… On In Due Time, Cee-Lo rap/sings one of the most poignant verses I’ve ever heard:

Struggle is just a part of my day
Many obstacles have been placed in my way
I know the only reason that I make it throughIs because I never stop believing in you
Some people wonder why we’re here in the 1st place
They can’t believe because they ain’t never seen your face
But even when you pray, the next day you gotta try
Can’t wait for nobody to come down out the sky
You’ve got to realize that the world’s a test
You can only do your best and let him do the rest
You’ve got your life, you’ve got your healthSo quit procrastinating and push it yourself
You’ve got to realize that the world’s a test
You can only do your best and let him do the rest
You’ve got your life, you’ve got your health
So quit procrastinating

Part of me being restless is that I welcome change. Routine is great and all, but I don’t like to do the same things day in and day out all the time. The saying is that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and getting the same results or something like that. Whatever. Insanity is when you do things differently and end up with the same results.

Why is that insanity? Because obviously you’re not listening. While doing your part and adhering to Thomas Callaway’s words of trying after paying, coming up short means having to wait. About a year ago, I spoke to my big brother Barry about my circumstances. Just venting to him about all that I was going through, being ready to move on from all that had happened since Timile’s passing, getting custody of Cydney, and being wanting better employment. He said to me “You just prayed and fought hard to get your daughter back. It’s your season to coast. God gives seasons to just coast and enjoy what He’s given you. When you’re up and moving around again, you’ll miss this season.” He also lamented to not get too comfortable in this season because laziness can creep in and you miss your moment.

I’ve taken this into consideration. However, the thing about being human is constantly coming up short. Sometimes we need to coast to be thankful for what we have, to be humbled, to rest before the next test is given, or even to lean on others to recognize who we have in our lives because we wouldn’t otherwise. Finding that balance is how to stay sane in the midst of what seems like unbearable periods of monotony, and incredibly loud silence.

Enjoy coasting. If you’re doing what you’re supposed to do then know it’ll be alright and you’ll be where you need to be… In Due Time

You just keep your faith in me
Don’t act impatiently
You’ll get where you need to be
In due time
Even when things are slow
Hold on and don’t let go
I’ll give you what I owe
In due time