Faith Matters: Youth told be cool with Jesus, school

Young people can do anything they want in life by focusing on two important components, a speaker said Thursday during a school Black History Month program.

“You want to be hip and you want to cool — get some Jesus and get some education,” the Rev. Leroy Taylor said.

Taylor spoke to students, parents and other visitors at the program at Belaire High School.

“We don’t have no more excuses. We’ve moved from the outhouse to the White House,” said Taylor, pastor of the New Zion Baptist Church in Denham Springs, Rosehill Baptist Church in Hammond and Little Zion Baptist Church in Kenner.

Taylor was the main speaker for the spirit-filled program. Special musical guests were Kenneth Mitchell and the Voices of Praise; Nancy Armstong Holmes; The Jones Sisters of New Orleans; and the Rev. Perry Wrights and the Lighthouse Gospel Singers. Mitchell, a Belaire teacher, led the program.

The theme centered on black history and the black church.

Unfortunately, too many black people have gotten away from the church. And that is the cause of so many of the problems in the black community, Taylor said.

“We’re celebrating black history, but we’re still in darkness,” he said.

One reason is too many black people are now enslaving other black people, Taylor said.

“We’re still enslaving our own people by selling them drugs, by selling teenagers alcohol and wine and giving them cigarettes and liquor, and by telling them it’s OK to walk around with their drawers showing,” he said.

Taylor, 59, stressed again education and various challenges young black people face.

“We’ve enslaved our own people due to the fact that ‘Johnny’ comes to school and he don’t act right,” he said. “And we talk about him. All he does is sleep in school, but have you wondered why he’s sleeping in school — because he caught hell at home at night. No food on his stomach. No food on his table.”

But Taylor encouraged the young people that they could overcome any circumstance.

He shared his testimony about how he overcame obstacles in his life to earn college degrees. It’s all about attitude, he said.

“If you look at life the wrong way, you’ll always end up on the wrong end,” he said.

Taylor, who has been in the ministry for 36 years, told the story of going to a school in Africa and delivering $2,000 in candy for the students.

“Them children, in their own language, cussed me out,” he said.

The principal suggested to Taylor the students would have appreciated pencils and paper instead. He went back to the store on a bus to purchase those items.

“When I got back off the bus with paper and pencil, you would have swore Jesus had walked into the room,” he said. “Because those little black boys and those little girls know the key to their success is education.”

He encouraged their American counterparts to have that same desire for education.

“If you put yourself in the right posture, God will always make a way,” he said.

Then he offered: “You can make it if you try. Pull up your pants, young brothers, act like you’re decent. Stop calling these girls some of these names you wouldn’t want somebody to call your mother.”

‘Meeting Paul’

St. Paul Lutheran Church of Baton Rouge is presenting St. Paul.

The church at 2021 Tara Blvd., on the corner of Tara Boulevard and Old Hammond Highway, will host a free webinar titled “Meeting the St. Paul You Never Knew” at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Leading the webinar will be the Rev. Richard Rohr, a well-known Christian author and expert in spirituality and meditation. He is a Franciscan priest and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, N.M.

“His work on St. Paul is significant in that he presents a rather unique perspective on St. Paul,” says Sandra Guthans, assistant to the pastor at St. Paul Lutheran.

“There’s been a lot of Christian thought on what you would call dualism that is either/or, black or white, good and bad. We are trying to get away from that dualism and into a much more unified view of Paul’s perspective and the Christian faith.”

Rohr’s books include “Everything Belongs,” “Adam’s Return,” “The Naked Now” and “Immortal Diamond.”

Guthans says the church enjoys hosting such events.

“It’s important for us to provide educational opportunities in the Christian faith and to provide ways for people to become better informed and to become better practitioners and to make use of the facets available around the world to our members and the community at large,” she said.

Call (225) 923-3133.

Does the Apocrypha matter?

Even as a child, author S. Laws wondered about the books of the Apocrypha that were mostly excluded from her Protestant Bible.

After years of study and religious training, Laws explodes those books in his new book, “The Apocrypha: Does It Matter?: A Protestant’s View” (Xlibris Press).

The Apocrypha did not meet the requirements for inclusion in the The Old Testament but are included in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bibles.

Laws says in Judaism, the exclusion of the books began in the fourth century when Jewish rabbis refused to adopt them into their Old Testament. One reason is the Jewish criteria demanded that the Canon (books in the Bible accepted as being “inspired”) be in the Hebrew language.

Christians started including the Apocrypha in 382 A.D., when St. Jerome of the Roman Catholic Church had them in the Vulgate, a Latin term for today’s version of the Bible, Law says.

In his 129-page book, Laws takes readers through the history of the Apocrypha and gives a short introduction, summary and conclusion on each of the books. The Apocrypha books include Tobit, Wisdom of Solomon and Maccabees I and II.

“My book is not a commentary, but a simple review from my perspective,” Laws writes. “It is my intent to encourage people to read, study and research the Apocrypha in order to have a better understanding of the culture of that time before — and during the life of Christ.”

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or email