PENSA 2015 – The Good, The Bad & Suggestions


PENSA 2015This year’s Eastern Region’s PENSA 2015 Conference was GREAT! Hence, a big shout-out to the Pastors, Planning Committee and various leaders! The conference was held from the 22nd to the 25th of July at the Radisson Hotel in Philadelphia. The place was filled with so many youths, young adults, students and working professionals from North Carolina, Atlanta, New York, Florida, etc. The place was also filled with lots of Worship, Praises, Dance and the Holy Spirit was definitely present.

On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 representing excellence) I will give the whole conference a rating of 7.5. This is great considering how far we have come. I would like to discuss some of the highlights (the Good & The Bad) of the conference. The “good” is what I believe went exceptionally well, the “bad” simply means opportunities for improvements – things that did not go well. We can’t attain perfection, hence, there is always room to improve.But we have to give credit where credit is due and once again, major kudos to the planning committee. The suggestions portion contains information on things we can quickly adjust to further a greater experience in 2017.

Before you read this article, please follow the link and complete this 2 minutes survey. It is a personal survey just to gather information to assist in preparation for PENSA 2017. Because I would like for it to certainly exceed this years PENSA. We should continue to grow in Glory and GRACE! Below is the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3QTRD6J

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3QTRD6J

The Good:

1. The Preaching/Spirituality

The messages were great! They were messages we can all relate to and we can’t downplay the importance of a good message or well delivered one.

I have worked in Youth & Young Adult ministry for about 6 to 9 years depending on how you view it. I have volunteered with other Churches as a youth leader. I have led youth groups and I have gone on mission trips with young adults and youths as well. One of the most difficult things in this area of ministry (which I have done lots of times) is speaking or preaching at a young adults or youth events. Relating your message to current events can be tricky but the speakers were great and their messages were all timely. God definitely spoke through them and God definitely worked through them.

The atmosphere was prepped to have an encounter with God. The spirituality of the this event was something which will continue to transform our lives.

2. The Music (Sound Quality)

The sound quality was amazing! Often at times, we invest less in sound quality at various events but this year’s PENSA got everything right in the music department. We had great vocalists leading us to throne room of God with Worship and Praise. The band was amazing and the instrumentation were all on point!

3. Freedom To Dance In The House of God

I love to dance! Not the kind of two-step slow dancing, because in the presence of God, there is fullness of joy. I wear my emotions on my sleeves, hence, I express my joy with dancing. We had more than enough time to dance! Which is a great thing to do. I would rather see youths and young adults dance in front of their Creator and Maker rather than see them in the club doing so. The freedom to dance in the House of God is something I will always appreciate. We are young and full of energy and we will remember our maker in our youthful days via dancing.

The Bad:

1. Much Needed Break

We needed a break! Wheeew! I was tired and my youths were as well. I believe we defeat the purpose of gathering by gathering for so long. A 2 hour break or so will give people the opportunity to grab a snack, take a nap, network, refresh and refocus. Focus is key or else we miss the point of gathering. I would like my youth to focus but I can’t get them to focus when they are mentally drained and physically exhausted. God needed rest after intense days of creation and actually admonishes us to do so as well. Yes, we want to get the best out of the few days we are together, but to get the best, we have to be at our best and breaks and rest gives us that opportunity.

As previously mentioned, I have worked with other youth and young adult groups at different Churches and I have gone to different conferences and retreats. I went to a retreat last fall and as a youth leader, our plans incorporated a 3 hour break during the day for “Free Time”. With this free time, some of the students and young adults took a nap, others read, others did Bible studies, some played sports, and others got the opportunity to just have regular discussions. After the break, we told them they won’t be able to use their phones through out the evening service – guess what? They loved it and didn’t care. They did not care for their phones because they had been refreshed and done whatever they wanted to do with their phones – check in with friends and family etc. So they came back to the morning and evening sessions Alert, Focused and Attentive. We later broke into smaller groups after Worship and the Word and the impact was amazing. The discussions were rich and lives were transformed.

As a leader, it was tough running around trying to get my youths back to the conference room this past weekend because I sympathized with them. I am not a leader to dictate but a leader to go through everything with them to meet the vision. So I knew they were tired and needed a break.

2. Breakfast/Lunch

Fasting can’t be forced. When it comes to spiritually, it has to be from the core of our souls. God does not force us to pray or fast, and He does not force us to love. It’s tough to keep everyone engaged when they are tired and hungry. A good breakfast would have been great. We did not need to provide lunch because people could have gone back to their rooms and grabbed some snacks if we had breaks. A good breakfast and dinner would have sufficed.

As a leader, on Saturday evening, I left the hotel in hopes of buying some food for some of my youths. I couldn’t allow my students to step out but they were hungry and needed food and water. The water at the hotel was expensive and they needed something to eat for the following morning.

The idea of fasting is GREAT. But the idea of forcing a fast on young adults is not so great.

3. Extreme Emphasis on “Titles” 

This topic can be tricky. It’s important for people to be recognized for their hard work in the academia, but at a Christian conference when we hail people above others and constantly rub in their titles, it defeats the purpose of us decreasing for God to increase. Paul said it best, “…I must decrease, so He will increase”. Yes, it is great to know the title of a leader and speaker, it helps build credibility, but when we excessively gush over titles, it places certain people on the mountain and leaves everyone else below them. This can create certain problems in a religious setting like a conference.

It’s great that our youth can aspire to be Doctors, etc. It is great to let them know that it is doable and attainable. It’s great to surround them with talent and have people they can look up to, but we should be careful how we overly hail individuals. Truth is, not everyone is or can be a doctor and in the eyes of God, they are equally important and have value. Titles don’t give you value, but rather, what God has placed in you; Believe it or not, God has placed something special in all of us. You are of value!

Suggestions:

1. Break Out Sessions

The idea of having breakout sessions was great! Wish we would have had more break out sessions though. Having the opportunity to be in smaller groups to have discussions will be something we all appreciate. I understand it is a daunting task to break 1,000 people into different groups but with the right planning, it is doable.

Remember, more breakout sessions is just a suggestion.

2. Singles Seminar

This was also a great idea and it was a good event. I was not able to attend but from what I heard from my youth, it was “decent”. This should be great event. We have lots of young married couples who can come in and relate to the younger generation. It is great to see older married couples, but relationships have changed over the course of time and the youth won’t be able to relate totally with people on the extreme end of the spectrum. We tend to learn a lot more and better when we can relate. We need the wisdom of the elderly but we can’t ignore the wisdom of the young.

3. Bible Quiz Competition 

One thing young people want to do is compete and what isn’t great about Bible Quiz competition on a Saturday night at PENSA 2017?

Conclusions:

We are at a point in History whereby the Church has so much potential. PENSA organization is at a crucial focal point and it is make or break it season for us. We can’t continue to be the same or do the same, or else, we remain the same. PENSA conferences are great, but they should propel a much needed revival through out the Church and the nations.

We need fresh ideas and fresh minds. We should not go through the same cycles of Deacons/Deaconesses and Elders, we need fresh perspectives. We should allow people who do not have titles to lead. Yes, some people are “less spiritual” than others, but they have gift. We should at times ignore the titles and tap into the God given gifts He has endowed others with. We should be proactive instead of reactive. We should take charge and think ahead. We should charge forward. We need leadership guidance but we need leadership to trust us to lead to help transform this generation and beyond.

Share Your Thoughts, Share This Post!

Thanks!
Joe Darko.

Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko

Why You Should Not Worry About What To Wear for PENSA 2015!


PENSA Conference

PENSA Conference

The Church of Pentecost’s PENSA conference is underway. This weekend, I will be attending the conference in Philadelphia for the Washington and most of East region. Around this time of year, students, youths and young adults alike are preparing for the spirit filled weekend. They are scrambling to finish with last minute preparations and  are looking forward to an eventful weekend.

With the haywire of preparations, unfortunately, the spiritual aspect seems to be ignored. First off, I would like to commend the leaders and Pastors for doing their best to ensure that the focus of this event is on God and God only. I have been to a couple of pre-planning meetings and not once did I hear a leader or Pastor glorifying the need of students to show up in their best clothes, with that, I believe they subscribe to the train of thought of “Come as you are, but don’t come naked or ratchet”. This train of thought is something I support – so kudos to them.

On the contrary, it seems as though the students, youths and young adults sometimes lose focus of the task at hand. I have heard and seen lots of the young adults scrambling for “PENSA shopping” and ultimately worrying about what to wear and how to look. Now, hear me out, there is nothing wrong with looking nice and presentable for a conference, but once our focus is crowded with how we need to look, instead of how we need to fast, pray and worship, we miss the whole point of building a relationship with God. It’s great to look presentable and nice – we are humans at the end of the day and naturally, we have the tendencies of wanting to look nice at all important events, but we should not lose sight of the reason we meet and gather together from all regions in Worship.

A couple of things happen when we focus so much on “PENSA shopping” and extreme physical preparation instead of PENSA spiritual preparation:

1. We Do Not Come Spiritually Prepared

It is critical we get our minds tuned into the things of God as we prepare for these conferences. These conferences and conventions are not a social gathering for politics or speed dating, but rather a fellowship of believers meeting God for a spiritual encounter. This spiritual encounter needs spiritual preparation. A half day of fasting and about 20 minutes of prayer before you go will be beneficial to your overall spiritual development. But focusing on running to the mall and picking out some outfits only to look good, takes care of the physical needs while ignoring the spiritual. Yes, physically prepare! Go get your haircut, look through your wardrobe and grab something nice and presentable. Go to the mall and get something nice, but do not let that be your focus. If you don’t have money for a haircut or shopping at the mall, find something presentable, wash your hair or cut it yourself and show up for God.

2. We Do Not Give

Giving is important and not to be ignored. I do not oppose giving but I speak against how some of the leaders sometimes go about collecting or receiving these funds. I follow the Biblical principle of not being coerced or forced to give. Giving is more of a spiritual act than physical – especially giving to God. When we spend the little money we earn as young adults or youths to take care of our physical wants (not needs), we forget the needs of others and the needs of God. I often hear the Youth say “I don’t have enough money for offering” – yes you do, your priorities are just out of order – It’s not God first as you claim on your FB status or Instagram posts, but rather, it is YOU first. It’s not about your neighbor but about you. I have made similar mistakes in the past, but as I matured, I grew to understand Kingdom principles and I intertwined them with my faith. If you’re able to haggle your parents for new clothes for PENSA or dig deep into your accounts to look extra presentable, then I suggest you do the same when it comes to giving. I believe your parents will be proud that their young adult is focusing on giving to God. Giving to God is NOT compulsory – never let anyone force you to do so, but giving is a principle through out the whole Bible which need to be practiced. We should not give because we want to be blessed, we should give because WE ARE BLESSED.

3. It Becomes A Fashion Show Instead of God Showing Up

Once again, do not ignore the nuggets in my writing – it is not meant to attack or bash, but to bring to light a cycle we must break if we are going to focus on God at these conventions and these conferences and impact this generation and beyond. A fashion show is simply a show for people to showcase their outfits etc. Let me be real, GOD DOES NOT CARE ABOUT HOW GREAT YOU CAN DRESS AND HOW GOOD YOU LOOK, HE DOES NOT CARE – He already created you extremely and uniquely beautiful and no amount of accessories can disrespect that. As humans, we all like to look nice (it is great to look nice). But our focus on looking nice is also to please others and not God. Believe it or not, when people leave on Sunday to go home, they will go and face their own problems and issues and definitely forget about who looked  great and who did not – but God will remember who came for Him and who opened their hearts out to Worship, Praised and Prayed. Do not let this weekend be a fashion show. Dress well and nice, but not to please man/woman but pleasing God. Man/woman will forget and not care but God will always be God – He will love. Please Him.

Our focus at these Conferences/Conventions should be realigned and focused on God. God is more than enough. This weekend, forget about who, what and why and focus on God, God and God. Come as you are! Come prepared to Worship, come prepared to Praise. Come prepared to sing, come prepared to dance. Come prepared to have an encounter with God instead of an encounter with man/woman. Yes, you will see your long lost friends, you will get the time to mingle, take pictures, talk, etc. But do not lose sight and focus of what matters most: God! Jesus Christ.

Thanks!
Joe Darko.

Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko

10 Important Life Lessons You Can Learn From Floyd Mayweather’s Boxing Career For Your Own Success


FloydIn life, I’m constantly looking for ways to improve myself; I read books, seek advice and guidance, and also pay attention to the success and failures of others. To be honest, I don’t bother myself with the source of wisdom, knowledge and insight but rather, analyze everything and learn from everything.

In the world of boxing, Floyd Mayweather is not everyone’s favorite cup of tea. In fact, about 68% of people wanted him to lose his fight against Pacquiao. People are tired of him and they want nothing more than his downfall. This is understandable because Mayweather has made costly mistakes, has often at times comes across as arrogant and self centered and recently, he caught the media’s attention for domestic violence. Maybe he is putting on a front because of the career he is in, but nonetheless, he is probably the most hated athlete at the moment.

I certainly do not like certain things about him (excessive arrogance and case of domestic violence) but I sure think he is a master in the ring of boxing. I respect his skills, smarts, and wisdom of the sport. I respect his record and respect the fact that he is definitely one of the greatest fighters to step foot in the ring. Besides all of the negativity surrounding Mayweather, there is a lot you can learn from his career as a boxer. There are a lot of life lessons which might benefit you and I if we take heed to them. Ignore the dirt and dust surrounding him and you might find gold. Below are the 10 Important Life Lessons You Can Learn From Mayweather’s Boxing Career.

1. Your Failures Should Ignite Your Passion

In Atlanta 1996, during the semi-finals of the Olympic games, Mayweather lost a boxing bout to Serafim Todorov of Bulgaria. He lost by a controversial decision, similar to the Roy Jones Jr. defeat in the 1988 Seoul Olympic light-middleweight finals. This did not decide Mayweather’s fate – in fact, it is believed that the controversial loss fueled him to dominate the boxing ring; it would be his last loss. How many of us have allowed past failures to repeat themselves? Often at times, we get haunted by the same failures instead of allowing them to guide and help us succeed.

2. Work Harder Than Your Opponent

How many of us can actually say that they put in the necessary effort into their passion? How many of us actually work harder than our competitors or our opponents? In the Business world, companies fight for consumer sponsorship and support, and it’s evident that the companies who go the extra mile, put in the extra hours and effort succeed. You’re in constant competition for the best grade, the next job, etc. Figure out your opponent, enjoy the competition in fairness and work hard. As a leader I respect once said “don’t make it to the top leaving dead bodies behind”. Hard works breaks no bone. Sacrifice the time and resources and it will eventually pay off. One person close to Mayweather mentioned that, what we see in the ring is only a glimpse of what Floyd does at camp. He is believed to be the hardest working athlete. It obviously pays off.

3. Be Committed To Your Craft/Talent

We’re all gifted with many talents but the most successful ones among us did not only discover their talents, but stayed committed and worked on them. Figure out what makes you tick. Figure out what you do best and work at it. Commitment leads to success. Martin Luther King once said something along the lines of “if a man is a sweeper, and he always sweeps the streets with dedication, passion and commitment, the world will travel and pay to watch the man sweep”. Floyd is the kind of person people pay to watch. He is committed to his craft as a boxer and he has found a way to win with points while suffering minimal damage. His commitment is evident. If you hate him, you might pay to even watch him lose.

4. Once In A While, Reward Yourself For Your Victories

I’m actually guilty with this point but I’m learning to find ways to reward myself for my accomplishments.

I don’t believe in overspending or spending unnecessarily, but one thing I have come to learn is  how to celebrate my quick short victories by rewarding myself. Some people hate Mayweather’s buying habits – rightfully so, but when I pay attention to his behaviors, psychologically, he is rewarding himself. He believes that he has worked hard and should enjoy the fruit of his labor. How many of us take the time to go on a vacation and get some rest? How many of us take the time to enjoy what we have actually worked for? What is the point of working so hard if we are not going to enjoy the fruits of our labor? Rewarding yourself will refresh your mind, body and soul while serving as a motivation to do more and achieve more.

5. Spend A Lot Of Time Developing A Strategy

What we sometimes don’t understand about successful people is how strategic they are. They are usually calculated and purposeful leaving a little room for luck. Yes, luck can play a role in success, but when luck meets preparation, the rest can be history. Mayweather always develops a game plan for every fight. Recently, for his fight against Pacquiao, Mayweather did extensive research on PacMan. He actually convinced one of Pac’s trainers to join his camp only to learn from his opponent. After he studies his opponents, he develops a game plan and sticks to it. He then forces his opponents to disregard their game plan in the ring. He will tweak his game plan as needed, but for the majority of the time, he does not allow his homework to go to waste. He is strategic.

Strategic kings always won the war. Strategic generals won key battles. Strategic coaches won the big games. Strategic companies win over clients. Once a strategy is in place for success, all your actions will follow.

6. Be Comfortable Making Adjustments But Do Not Forget The Goal

Life will surely throw you curve balls and your success will be determined by how you respond and how you adjust. Most boxers who have fought Mayweather will tell you that he makes adjustments when necessary. Against Mosley, he almost got knocked out and Mosley thought he was going to win the fight; to his surprise, Mayweather adjusted and the results was a Mayweather Victory.

Life will knock you down no matter how many hours you spend preparing (but still prepare) – we prepare for the “knowns” and adjust to the unknowns. Mayweather does not completely abolish his strategy or goal, but tweaks his behavior to better align himself to the new threat or challenge. In life, we should be able to do the same if we want to be successful. We should not allow a minor hiccups to knock us out. In the Business world, we will face many hiccups, but the best companies will always adjust to meet their goals. Be comfortable adjusting and you will uncomfortable succeed.

7. Understand The Basics & Master Them

Back to the basics. The basics is everything. You can’t achieve greatness by ignoring the basics of all you do. If you are a people manager, you don’t only focus on the numbers, but your people because your people are the ones who actually work to help meet the business goals and score card metrics. Before you can do complicated math problems, you need to first understand simple arithmetic.

Most Championship teams in sports are known for doing something extremely well: the basics. The basics are like the foundation to a building. Without a strong foundation, the building is subject to be destroyed in tough times but a building a with a great foundation will stand the test of time.

In times of trouble and adversity in life, the basics are what will sustain you. Whatever you want to do in life, understand the basics and success will be your portion.

8. Be Patient

I can be impatient. What I want, I want now. This is a bad trait because patience leads to long term success and it is a weakness of mine I’m aware of and work on consistently – and it is paying dividends.

Mayweather is very patient in the ring. He takes his time from the beginning of camp and it shows in the ring. He is patient to understand his opponents. He is patient in setting his opponents up in the ring. He waits, jabs, waits.. more jabs, waits and then BOOM – he attacks. He waits for his opponents make a mistake and then capitalize’s on their mistakes.

In life, whenever you want something so bad, be patient enough to get it at the right time.  Trust the process and the patient with it. Slow and steady wins the race.

9. Focus On Your Strengths – Do What You Do Best

Mayweather is known for one thing: Defense. He is not known for knockouts, so he does not go pressuring for it. If Mayweather tries to knock someone out, he will leave himself open and possibly get himself knocked out in the process. He focuses on his strengths and fights his fight.

We tend abandon what we do best when the going gets tough and we tend to ignore our strengths. In life, we are all blessed with different strengths and capabilities. Learn to focus on them and use them to your advantage. Don’t fight your opponents fight, but fight yours.

10. Be Prepared To Be In For The Long Haul

Mayweather does not practice for a knockout. He does not practice for 12 rounds. In reality, he practices beyond 15 rounds. He wants a knockout without a doubt, but he practices as if he is not going to get one. He prepares his mind and body for a long and gruesome fight – so whenever a fight gets to the 7th or 8th round, when his opponent is tired, his conditioned body and mind is just waking up to do damage.

We often at times look for quick success or shortcuts but in reality the quicker you achieve something, the quicker you are prone to losing it. Anything worth awhile takes time.

BONUS: Ignore The Crowd

The crowd (naysayers, “haters”, critics, pundits, etc.) will only be a factor if you allow them. Against Pacquiao, the crowd got involved anytime Pacquiao threw hay makers. The crowd got excited even when PacMan was not connecting on his punches. This could have forced Mayweather to fight Pacquiao’s attacking style of fighting while making himself vulnerable, but he did not buy into it. He kept defending and countering. He stuck by what he knew best and what he was good at. He was not fighting the crowd or his critics, but Pacquiao.

When we fall into the trap of fighting the rest of the world, we ignore what is really important. His focus on his enemy is what led him to victory.

Just like me, you probably don’t like certain things about Mayweather even though he is only human. But to stay on unbeaten for 20 years is something we can all respect and learn from.

Thanks!
Joe Darko.

Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko

Dear Western World, Africa Does Not Need Your “Band Aid” Help – A Short Open Letter


An Open LetterDear Western World,

If you want to really help Africa, then stop sending us money. The money and “band aid” help only temporarily stops the bleeding. Get your hands off our Diamonds, Gold, Timber, Oil and our natural resources. If you are not fighting for fundamental structural changes to help alleviate the the real issues permanently, then we do not need your thousands nor millions of dollars. This “aid” is only to further exploit us for your own benefit.

You want to help Africa, well, fight the WTO and IMF to change their biased policies towards Africa. We have the natural resources to sustain ourselves. Your money won’t help because it is going to the pockets of our corrupt leader; but your power in influencing policies will actually help. You know what to do, but you might not do it because because of greed.

We understand that we do not have some of the best leaders. We understand that corruption has magnificently prevailed in our system but to be honest, you enjoy this. Where one loses, one gains! A corrupt Africa benefits the Western World. How? You can easily influence government officials for “favors” which benefits the West. A corrupt Africa is a weak Africa – this means, any superpower can easily “buy” power and influence. A corrupt African eventually leads to “brain drain” – our best students will not want to come back to African to help after studying abroad – they would rather stay and pay taxes. Where the system is broken, only the strong survives. Only the West and the corrupt leaders in Africa will benefit.

Africa understands what she needs to do, so do not add fuel to the fire. Get your hands off our natural resources and empower Africans to rise up against corruption starting with policies against global organisations looking out for their friends in the West. Use your power and influence to change policies if you truly care.

You claim you care, then take on this challenge and show us.

Thanks!
Joe Darko.

Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko

Just Stop The Facebook “Bible Verse Challenge” !


Challenge Accepted

Challenge Accepted

It’s quite obvious that majority of us are partakers of some sort of challenge on social media. As humans, we love challenges and “social challenges” do an amazing job of helping spread causes, beliefs, and messages.

Recently, I received invites to partake in the “Bible Verse Challenge” where an individual is challenged to post three different Bible verses on Facebook for three consecutive days; and to be honest, I have declined to partake (I will explain in the next paragraph). The purpose, I believe is to get a wave of people spreading the Word of God on a very popular social media platform: Facebook. This is a brilliant strategy and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.

My reason for refusing to partake in this particular challenge is because I’m focused on other challenges. I’m focused on the Giving Challenge. I’m focused on the Forgiving Challenge. I’m focused on Loving My Enemy Challenge. I’m focused on Loving God With All of My Heart Challenge. I’m simply focused on practical challenges which will yield greater fruits and draw others closer to God while I get sanctified in the process.

Anyone can post a scripture on Facebook but not everyone can truly love, fully forgive, completely serve, and totally sacrifice – this is Christianity. I can simply search on bible.com and just copy and paste a verse on my Facebook wall without even reading a word. How was I edified in the process? Sure, the word might impact someone else’s life, but just like in basketball, it will not be considered as a “high percentage shot”.

I’m not saying we should stop reading the Word of God and I’m definitely not saying that we should stop sharing the Word on various platforms, but are we going to live out the Word? Are we going to go out and feed the poor as Jesus did? Are we going to go out and give graciously as He commands us? Are we going to go out and love radically as He did? Or we’re just going to be complacent and just post to complete a challenge?

“High risk, high reward” – the greatest challenges are the ones the devil can’t partake in. The devil knows the Word but he simply can’t live the word. He can’t give, he can’t forgive and he ultimately can’t love. We have the capacity to take on the challenge of carrying our Cross and living out the World on a daily basis. Yes, we might stumble and fall, we might not get it right, we might breakdown, but once the challenge of Forgiving, Loving, and Giving is accepted, His strength will help us accomplish the task and His Grace will forever be sufficient enough.

Challenge Accepted.

Share this and Share your thoughts!

Joe Darko
Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko

Christians, If Jesus were Here Today, We Would Have Crucified Him


Crucifixtion Of Jesus

Crucifixtion Of Jesus

Think about it, as Christians, our lives were changed the moment we opened ourselves up to the radical love, teachings and story of Jesus. In the days of Jesus, He was seen as a radical. His teaching were out of this world. His ideas sounded crazy and His methods were strange. He constantly went against the grain, challenged the status quo, provided “weird” answers and asked thought provoking questions – through all of this, He revolutionized the world in the process and no where in the History of mankind has a Man been this influential and powerful.

Christians, let’s be honest: If Jesus were to be here with us today, we would have probably crucified Him. We are no different than the Pharisees of His time. The Pharisees were not evil, they simply did not understand how big God was. They did not understand His love and His compassion. They went by the books and anytime their ideas, thoughts and way of life were challenged, they flipped and certainly not happy. Often at times, Jesus would ask them thought provoking questions and they would be quick to stone him – eventually, they got what they wanted by helping help crucify Him. Ask yourselves this question: As Christians, how many people have challenged our thought process with their doubts, questions or suggestions and what is our response to their inquiries? Often at times, it is not well received and I will be honest, sometimes, we would love to give them a slap.

Jesus told them to love their enemies just as much as He admonishes us to love ours today. He told them to help the poor and needy just as much as he tells us to do the same. He continues to challenge us to live fully for God and not be bound by legalism. We were set free for a reason, but we continue to bind ourselves for no apparent reason. If Jesus were not radical in words and in deeds, He wouldn’t have impacted the world the way He did.

Just as much as Jesus was going against the grain, we are challenged to do the same in today’s society. Think about it, the Pharisees and the people of His time were told to retaliate – “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”; but what did Jesus say in Matthew 5:38-39, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” With everything in context and perspective, let’s not forget how crazy this might have sounded. This was extremely radical! It was insane at that time to hear something like this; no wonder they wanted to crucify Him. For years, they were stoning to death people who will indulge themselves in sexually immorality, especially women – but Jesus once again disarmed them when they were ready to stone the woman. We often read this chapter and think of the Pharisees as hateful people, but they were only a product of their culture. They were doing what they knew and what they had been exposed to. So the teachings of Jesus were foreign to them. As Christians, culturally, we have also been exposed to certain things and a way of life. But we forget that Christ continues to change us through the Holy Spirit. Christ continues to work in us and through us. In Romans 12:2, we are told to renew our minds and not be conformed to things of this world: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will We forget that culture can be deemed as “things of this world” and the passage above clearly states that we should not be conformed to things of the world. Culture is needed and it is a beautiful thing and we are all part of different cultures, but when it comes to your personal culture affecting the Christ Culture, we often conform tot he latter. We refuse to love unconditionally, we refuse to forgive, we refuse to support, we refuse to accept and we refuse to help, we refuse to be questioned and refuse to be challenged, etc. Christ Culture calls us into a whole new family with different beautiful people from different ethnic backgrounds, different thoughts, different mindsets, different suggestions and different lifestyles. Christ Culture pushes us out of our comfort zone and propels us to exhibit the traits of Christ in and outside the circle of the Church and Christ culture should definitely supersede our culture. We are being moved away from our comfort zone to be make an impact.

As a Pastor friend of mine (John Pavlovitz) said: “I always hold on to the bigness of God; that He is not threatened by questions, or doubts, or the examination of everything, our history, tradition, doctrines, creeds. He is not afraid of them, and what is true, will always hold up under scrutiny.” When we are challenged and questioned, we often get angry. When suggestions are made, which may go against the grain, we begin to feel insecure, we push back and the opportunity to have a great and open dialogue about Jesus turns into a war. We are admonished to study and show ourselves approved but do we actually do so? I’m not asking for us to argue, but we refuse to dialogue with those who might differ from us. We shun those who don’t believe in exactly what we believe in. When our actions are questioned by believers and non-believers alike, instead of using this as an opportunity to educate, we fire back angrily and sometimes respond in hate and fear. With myself included, sometimes we feel as though we are better than those who have not yet “seen the light”, so we automatically void of nullify their suggestions or questions and call them “faithless”. We hate those who speak up boldly forgetting that they also have the same passion and desire for the Church just as much as we do. Just because they do not do things the way we have been conformed to do them, we disregard them and push them to the side.

With all that mentioned above, I am not saying we should all run around the world just accepting any and everything – but through the love of Christ, we should allow the questions, the doubts, the suggestions and even the denial. We should in all things, allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us to bring about the salvation that is needed. We should allow our thoughts to be challenged, we should allow people to question us, because the God who hung on the cross 2,000 years ago is bigger than any question or push back. A the end of the day, He is the truth and He alone will stand firm amidst the doubt and scrutiny.

For a spiritual revolution to take place in our world today, we need to renew our minds, be open and led by the Spirit, be receptive to spiritual change and thoughts and be willing to sacrifice our pride and ego to better the Kingdom and Work of God.

As Christians today, I am convinced that if Jesus were here today, we would have crucified Him because his ideas, suggestions, thoughts would have also been radical as they were 2,000 year ago. Jesus revolutionized the world through radical teachings of love. He did not conform but went against the grain and that is what saved you and I. My question is, are we going to continue the Good Work He started with us or we are going to cling to legalism and conformation just like the Pharisees?

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Joe Darko
Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko

I Have Bad News: Racism Is Not Dead & It Won’t Die


Racism Is Not Dead

Racism Is Not Dead

I hate to be a bearer of bad news, but sometimes the truth is not always good. Yes, the effects of truth telling is always positive in a matter of time, but truth in itself is not always good news to the hearer and sometimes, the bearer. The truth is: racism is not dead and racism will never die. Ideological racism will not die. We tend to believe the current generation will totally do away with racism and help wipe it off the face of earth – but that is far from the truth. I doubt that we will be as intolerant as the previous generations but there will definitely be racists of all different shapes and colors in this generation and beyond, who will be racists simply based on ideology. Ideological racism is a simply a belief system asserting that a particular group is inferior to another. Even though various individuals may subscribe to racist beliefs, the ideology of racism itself is incorporated into the culture of a society and passed on from generation to generation.

The video below shows a group of college students joyfully cheering racial slurs in a song – and these are young adults in this generation. These are probably the same students who will cheer on their Oklahoma football team full of African Americans, cheer for their NBA teams and home football teams who are racially diverse.These are not students from the days of Selma. These are students in an era where by we have an African American president in the White House. These are students in the era where by we have a diverse group of athletes in the MLB and not the lone ranger Jackie Robinson.

At the end of the day, while I am disgusted by the video, I’m not surprised because I have come to terms with the fact that some people will choose to hate white people, others will choose to hate blacks, gays, Muslims, Christians and etc. Some people will not be able to accept that we all can’t be the same irrespective of our core beliefs. We are all different; from the strands of our DNA to the soles of our feet. A lot of things separate and divide us – but instead of bridging the gap of differences with love, we extend the division with hate. We are a sad race of species, because at the end of the day, we fail to understand what is important: we are all human and the grave of the Christian, Muslim, gay, straight, black, white and etc. is no different. We all face the same fate in life (death) so why not go through it all with love to make it all worth it?

Until the heart of individuals change, racism will not end. Someway, somehow, whether you are black or white, someone is simply going to dislike you. Not that ‘they fear what they do not understand’, but they have made themselves believe that they are far better than you because of the color of your skin. They do understand that you are different, but the deep rooted ideological racism will not give way for them to accept you and respect you for who you are as a unique individual.

As humans, we do not have to agree with other individuals but we have to love. We have to force ourselves to love even when it is not popular to do so. We have to commission ourselves to appreciate our differences and bridge the gap with love instead of hate.

Yes, the bad news is that racism is not dead and it won’t die; but the good new is that, love is not dead either.

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Joe Darko
Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko

Ghana, A Failed State


Ghana, A Failed State

Ghana, A Failed State

Let’s not sugarcoat the truth: Ghana is a failed state. Ghana is going to be 58 years old in about a week, but has nothing to show for it – do not say the Black Stars. At 58 years old, illiteracy rate is still hovering around 50%, only a good amount of its citizens have constant access to clean water and the whole country continues to live in an era of darkness – or “Dumsor” as Ghanaians will call it.

Yes, Ghana is young compared to other nations like the United States or other developed countries but that should not be an excuse for lack of constant success or growth. “A child who will buy a plane in the future begins by asking the price of a bicycle tire” – A Ghanaian Proverb. This simply means that our actions today can help predict who or what we are going to be in the future. Our decisions today is a good indicator of the future. If drastic changes don’t occur, Ghana will continue to fail because by the look of things, as the world around us continue to progress, we regress.

Malaysia is on the verge of being a developed nation and the interesting thing is, Malaysia gained independence the very same year Ghana gained hers. While Ghana turns 58 on March 6th in darkness, in August of this year, Malaysia will also be turning 58 years in light. The people of Ghana can sit and blame the influence of some Western powers, but that does not solve the issue of corruption in Ghana by Ghanaians. I do not expect Ghana to be a developed overnight – it is simply not going to happen that fast – but I would like for Ghana to trend towards a success. It is not the destination, but the journey. The people deserve to have competent leaders who should be committed to the success of the nation instead of the growth of their bank accounts. The people need access to clean water and they do need to operate with constant electricity.

On the basis on illiteracy, lack of electricity and clean water, I can simply conclude that Ghana has failed. We are in the 21st century for Christ’s sake. Without robust education, there is no future. Without electricity there is no productivity and without clean water to every part of Ghana, the health of the people are in serious jeopardy.

If Ghana does not break the cycle of failure and incompetence, it will continue to fail for generations to come which will be detrimental to the development of West Africa as a whole.

The Solution:
This does not start from leadership but the people. Yes, some leaders are going to be corrupt for the next few years, but if the people of Ghana can rise up and fight corruption and hold the government accountable, they will have leaders who will be willing to serve them instead of exploit them; they will have leaders who will look out for the interest of the citizens instead of serving their own interests. The people should force the government to put in place checks and balances to help curb corruption and the people should hold them accountable to the office of leadership.

Ghanaians often blame their leaders but they forget about themselves. Positive lasting changes starts from the “bottom up” and not “top down”. Bottom up approach comes from the citizens while the top down approach stems from the leaders at the top. In Ghana, the top down approach will not work, because it is evident that majority of the leaders only care about what they care about and not what will better serve the people of Ghana. But Ghanaian citizens can force the bottom up approach – they should not always wait to vote people out of office but rather be proactive about keeping the leaders “in line” and holding them accountable. The citizens of Ghana often talk more than act. They complain and do nothing about the real issues and the leaders have come to accept this – so they are not afraid to be publicly corrupt while insulting the citizens in the process. In Ghana, the leaders are bold to be corrupt because they know the people will not act but just talk. Talk is indeed cheap. Actions might cost you, but they promote value.

Ghana has so much potential to continue to fail. It has so much potential to be stagnant. The people of Ghana should rise up and demand the change they deserve. They should rise up and fight for themselves because they simply deserve so much better.

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Joe Darko
Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
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‘Christianity’ Can Make You Lazy


"Christianity" Can Make You Lazy

“Christianity” Can Make You Lazy

Where do I start with such a thought provoking title?

Christianity, for the most part, is deemed as “a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior.” Christianity starts with an individual first believing and accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal savior – believing in His core teachings of love.

This is where things start to get a little tricky – Christians are usually encouraged to fellowship with other individuals to share the experiences of life through Christ. During the fellowship process, Christians first find a “home church” to fellowship with. Based on the vision and strategy of the leaders, the Church serves different purposes for its members. For the most part, Christians are usually in Church on Sundays. A regular Sunday service comprises of Praises, Worship and the Word or Teaching/Preaching. The teachings also differ based on the denomination and core values of the Church and it is critical to the growth of the Church. Christianity as a whole should promote hand work, diligence, perseverance and love. But different facets of the diluted truth masked in “Christianity” can cause many problems including laziness.

“Say It, Claim It and Receive It” teachings as well as the “Prosperity Gospel” can reek havoc if not taught properly along with the whole truth of Christ. I strongly believe that the tongue is one of the most powerful tools we have as humans – the Bible clearly supports this fact by stating that “Life and Death lies on the tongue”. We use our tongue to praise, give compliments, encourage and uplift people – with the same token, we use our tongue to condemn, rebuke and sometime destroy others. In the Biblical and spiritual concept, I believe in speaking good things into your life and the lives of others but most importantly, I believe in working towards whatever you say in your life with prayer, faith, but more importantly, hard work and perseverance. The “Say it, claim it and receive it” gospel with no regards to the whole truth of the Gospel can make an individual believe that all they have to do is say something and magically, whatever they say will manifest in their lives. An individual trying to lose 20 pounds for health reasons can’t sit in the Church and say “I claim it.. I receive losing weight” and expect to lose weight without adhering to some form of exercise consistently. Jesus is not in the miracle business for your comfort – but for the kingdom.

The Prosperity Gospel follows the same trend. Listen, I strongly believe that God can prosper and give you riches in abundance; but Prosperity Gospel alone without the sound principles of the whole truth of the Gospel in Christ can leave people disappointed in the Church, in God and in themselves. We can’t choose to damage the same people we are meant to help. Christ is enough. The Gospel based on Christ and love is what turns the heart of men and women. The Prosperity Gospel allows us to focus on ourselves alone instead on God and our neighbors – in my next post (Selfless Faith), I will expand on how we have become a selfish generation of Christians and how we can become selfless just like the Man we follow.

If you pay close attention to the teachings of Jesus Christ, you will realize that Jesus was all about love and faith. He was about moving in faith through the vehicle of love. He did not only teach loving our neighbors, but extended it to loving our enemies. He extended our responsibilities as believers to a whole different level and He commissioned us to follow Him in faith. Faith requires hard work and requires a level of diligence and perseverance. It does not solely rely on “Say It, Claim It and Receive It” Gospel nor the Prosperity Gospel; but calls for “working out our faith with fear and trembling”. You might be motivated and encouraged by a Prosperity Message, you might say all the good things about yourself, claim all the great things wrapped in a particular message, but to be honest, without working out your faith in Christ, you might not receive whatever you are looking for.

In the Bible, According to the beginning portion of Acts chapter 3, a lame man walked. The story goes as follows:

“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”

Yes, Peter had no money but gave a word under the authority of Christ, but look at the bolded portion of the message: the man acted on faith.. He did not just sit and mope. He did not just sit to beg for more. He did not just sit to be lazy, but he acted on his faith. With faith, he got a helping hand from Peter and INSTANTLY, his feet and ankles became strong and he jumped and began to walk. Some of us are like the lame man. 2,000 years ago, we were helped to be on our feet by the man who died a horrible death on the cross of Calvary but we are still SAYING that we are crippled only to RECEIVE the coins and change from the lofty words of PROSPERITY messages. All you and I have to do is get up and jump and run in faith in Christ Jesus.

Christianity is not meant to make you lazy but rather, full of life for Christ in faith through love. Christ is indeed the Cornerstone. He is not enough, but rather, more than enough.

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Joe Darko
Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko

Science, Life & Religion


Science, Life and Religion

Science, Life and Religion

Recently, I’ve been talking a great deal about my faith to a variety of people. The debates seem to be endless but I’m enjoying every bit of it. I enjoy hearing the opinion of others and I definitely enjoy sharing mine.

This morning, as I read through the comments of a Huffington Post article, concerning a Pastor who no longer believes in the existence of a God, I caught myself very intrigued with the thoughts and ideas of atheists and Christians alike. I mean, it was like a war zone – but nonetheless, I was still intrigued. After reading it all, I came to a conclusion concerning Science, Life & Religion – the main themes during the debates on above mentioned post.

My Conclusion:

What is life all about? What is our purpose on earth? When it comes to these questions, science does not explain it all and neither does religion. God is bigger than science because within Him science came about (at least that is my opinion). Critical Thinking is definitely not the kryptonite of faith or belief, because no amount of human thoughts, ideas, or “critical thoughts” can comprehend the fullness of God. Faith or belief gives us the unlimited opportunity to first of all, view God as a supreme being bigger than life itself. It also gives you the opportunity to hope and believe in things which eventually defies logic – because where logic says “this and that is impossible”, faith says “ALL THINGS are possible. This is why the Apostle Paul in the Bible defined faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Science is defined as: the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. So while science mainly deals with the natural and physical, which is what we can see, feel, smell and touch, it does not deal with what we can’t see. It does not deal with the spiritual. For example: when someone dies, science explains it as the person simply has no life in them but science does not explain what happened to spirit of the individual which was housed in the body of the individual as life. Science does not explain where their spirit or “life” went. Did it just escape from the body into space? Science can’t answer that. Faith and belief on the other hand is not only restricted to the spiritual, but the physical. History records show the existence of Jesus and also the existence of the empty tomb. There is evidence that He existed, there is evidence that He was crucified and the empty tomb signifies that His body is no where to be found but He has risen.

When it comes to Science and Religion, incorporated with critical thinking, I do not only result to FAITH, but God, who is the author and finisher of my faith. For example, I have seen miracles happen in the lives of people where by critical thoughts and the greatest educated minds could not explain what happened, neither did science. The dictionary defines miracle as: an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws; an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs; an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment. Miracles happen everyday and they in fact defy reasoning or logic.

As a man of faith, I’m astonished by what God does in my life and in the lives of others – my faith tells me that there has to be a Supreme Being who is in charge of the Universe – but my faith can’t fully explain it all, but rather, fully accept it; because as human as I am, I’m limited but God is not. Who said there is no evidence to miracles? Evidence is simply defined as: something which shows that something else exists or is true. So if you are blind and someone prays for you and you miraculously see, the evidence is that “you were blind, but now see”. If doctors give a cancer patient 2 weeks to survive based on the behavior of the cancer cells, extensive research and evidence of their studies, and that particular patient happens to survive weeks, months or years past the given time, then that is a miracle. Even doctors will not deny the evidence of that miracle. They simply won’t be able to explain it. There is evidence in miracles – just that the evidence we see/hear as a result of miracles often leaves us speechless because it does defy logic.

The day the human mind can fully explain life as a whole is the day I will believe there is no God. The day the human mind can explain miracles is the day I will stop believing in God – this will never happen because there are certain things concerning life which we can’t simply explain. This is to tell us that we are not bigger than life, but rather, life is bigger than us. Anything we have created as humans, we seem to have some level of control and power over it – we seem to bigger than our own creations and understand the complexities of our own creations, but when it comes to life, God is the creator hence, we can only understand certain aspects of it but we can never fully understand it all! This is why some continue to look for answers to life and choose not believe, and others like myself choose to seek for answers from the creator Himself through building a relationship with Him not through his handy works, but through Him – Jesus Christ.

God is simply bigger than Science, Life, & Religion. He is the essence of the LIFE. You may ask, “what about death”. Death does not negate the existence of God, because we know of only one man in History who conquered death. Upon Him conquering death, death became part of life, that dying on earth had no power over eternal life. The sting of death was removed through Christ. He is the essence of life and the conqueror of death, hence, He is giver of everlasting life. This is why there is absolutely nothing you can do to gain eternal life, but to simply place your life in Him through belief. You don’t just believe in Christ, you live your life through Him.

I’m not completely debunking Science. Science actually helps us understand some aspects of life, but it does not tell the whole story. In my opinion, science allows me to admire the beauty of God.

My post is not to spark an argument, but debates are more than welcome. It’s also not to force anyone to believe in the God I believe in, but just to let everyone know that life does not revolve around us, but around something or someone much bigger than us. At times, we simply do not comprehend why people act a certain way or do certain things, how much more are we supposed to comprehend the fullness of God, who in my opinion is the Alpha and the Omega, the I AM that I AM, the God who created the world, the God who can heal the disease a doctor can’t, the God who can raise the dead, and finally the God who can come down from His throne to die a shameful death on the cross just for the eternal salvation of His people. Just because certain things don’t make sense to us simply doesn’t negate the existence of God.

Joe Darko
Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
Facebook: Joe ForChrist Darko