What’s the point of praying? Why bother doing it?


the-power-of-prayerHave you prayed for something and never got the response you expected? Have you prayed for healing for a family member and still watched them suffer in pain? Have you fasted and prayed only to be hurt by God’s silence? Well, you are not alone. I’ve been there – several times. If I can be real with you as my faith cautions me to be, sometimes I ask my self “what’s the point of praying if I’m not going to get what I’m asking for?”. Don’t judge me yet.

If I’ll be real with you again, we’ve been wrong about the objective of prayer – this is why we’re often left broken and disappointed. Growing up, I was told to pray to God whenever I needed something, so I grew up with a selfish mindset about prayer = “it’s supposed to be when I want something and how I want it”. I became selfish and misunderstood the objective of prayer. But prayer is not truly about us. Prayer is beyond us. It is something we do to stay connected with our maker and not an executive order. Prayer goes beyond our needs and wants.

Picture this: You’re a parent and you have a son/daughter. Your child only talks to you when he/she needs something. After they get what they want, they go back to their room, lock the door and just live their life.

The next morning, they come to you and ask for a ride for school – you drop everything you’re doing to drop them off. On the way to school all they do is stay on their phone, smile and giggle while texting their friends or consuming the plethora of information on social media. You try to start a conversation, but you get ignored. You drop them off. The story stays the same when you pick them up.

This time, they ask you nicely with the puppy face “daddy, can you please get me the XboxOne today?” Your child is sweet after all, so you can’t deny them. You get them the XBoxOne hoping it will make them happy and possibly strike a conversation with you. Failed. A week later, they break up with their boyfriend/girlfriend, and at their lowest of lows, they reach out for consolation. You console them and encourage them. After a week, they get better and ignore you again.

At the age of 16, with a provisional license, they ask you for a Ferrari. They know you can certainly afford it, but you know what’s best for them; you know they can’t simply handle such a car at a young age. You know the “fast life, in the fast line” is detrimental to their development, so you get them something for a start – a Honda Accord. They get furious and frustrated with you forgetting that you meant well. This time they ignore you for more than a week for not getting the Ferrari they wanted. My question is, would you want to be this parent? In this position? I bet not.

This is how we sometimes treat God, but God wants more than just providing for our needs and wants. He is our Father. He will always be there and provide for us – especially our needs. But prayer digs deeper than that – prayer builds a bond, establishes a connection, strengthens our faith and builds a beautiful relationship through endless love, strong mercy and sufficient grace.

When my dad was sick, I remember praying for God to heal him completely; but he passed. At first I was hurt and upset and I asked God, “what in the world is the point of praying?” forgetting that, just like a father, He knows best and I should trust Him in ALL situations and all circumstances. Tough, but no one said it was going to be easy. Prayers shouldn’t leave us broken and disappointed – it should fortify us, give us peace and hope. God is okay with us asking him for things, but he wants more than that. Just like the father, He loves us endlessly and wants to commune with us. He wants to build that bond. Who are we that He is so mindful of us? We are nothing to be honest, but He chose us. He chose to create us in His image and likeness. He chose to make us unique and He chose to relate to us. Prayer is what bridges the gap. It’s what connects us to Him. He enjoys talking to us and loves hearing about our day, our struggles and our problems. Just like the father, He wants something uniquely deeper with us and we shouldn’t deny Him of that. About our wants, believe that He has heard them all, but trust that He knows best and we should trust his answers: Yes, No, and Wait. He knows best and will never lead as astray.

Read, Share, Comment! God bless!

Joe Darko

Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
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The Ultimate Authority & Plan of God


God's Master Plan

Have you ever yearned for a particular miracle for so long that you began to doubt that it will ever happen? Sometimes in life, we get to a certain place where we lose hope and so much faith that we forget about the ultimate authority and power of God. I know I’ve been there and you’ve probably been there yourself. Sarah was in the exact same position.

In Genesis 18, some angels visited Abraham. While they ate, one angel said that Sara (Abraham’s wife will bear a child). Sarah overheard their conversation and laughed. I probably would have laughed too. You probably would have done the same. Abraham and Sarah were old and there were no Viagra to help their cause; so of course there was lack of faith and doubt.

How was this awaited miracle going to happen in the midst of doubt? Simple: God. When God chooses to lift you up from a specific situation, (while faith at times, is a prerequisite for miracles) He the creator of the Universe has the ultimate power and authority to override your lack of faith and doubts to perform a miracle in your life for His Glory. God had a plan for Abraham and Sarah and not even Sarah’s laughter or lack of faith was going to stop His plan.

God has a plan for your life. You might have lost faith in Him. You may have some doubts but for the sake of His Glory, His plans for your life will come to pass. Believe it or not, but I hope you will believe.

Read, Share, Comment! God bless!

Joe Darko

Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
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Why are the Redskins playing better? One word: Fearless


RedskinsThe Washington Redskins are playing the best football I’ve seen since 2012. To be frank, they’ve actually surprised me with their recent from (4 wins in a row) and there is definitely something different about this team and as a long time Redskins’ fan, I can sense it. You know what, I LIKE THAT.

The defining moment for me came when the Redskins were playing the Bills. It was 3rd & 7 but a false start penalty moved the Redskins back 5 yards. At 3rd & 12, as a long time Redskins’ fan, I thought they were going to throw a two yard pass and magically get a first down as they have done for decades But something happened: Cousins stepped back and with a five step drop, rifled the ball between defenders for Pierre Garcon for a first down. I was in shock. Seriously. For the past 10 years or so, I have not seen a Redskins’ team playing so fearlessly. This is something a Patriots’ team under Tom Brady will do. This is what a Colts’ team led by Manning will do: they will play to win the game and they will want it more than their opponents. But this is my beloved Redskins under Kirk Cousins – a QB who the whole world doubted. A QB who almost doubted his capabilities and a team which was pegged to finish dead last. They proved everyone wrong and I certainly LIKE THAT.

This fearless attitude started before the season when Jay Gruden made a bold decision to play Kirk Cousins over Robert Griffin. It was not a popular decision and he could have lost his job if things didn’t pan out. But he believed in himself, believed his guts and believed Kirk Cousins was the right person for his system. To be honest, I believed Kirk Cousins was the better QB for that specific system, but I didn’t think Kirk Cousins was going to learn and grow this fast in one season. I simply thought Jay Gruden was going to be fired for being so bold and fearless – but it worked for him, it worked for the Redskins and it sure works for me. I LIKE THAT.

Players like Hall (who I am beginning to believe is a vampire) is playing at a high level – hitting running backs like a linebacker. Breeland is not afraid to cover the best receivers on the field, Will Compton invokes fear in offenses and Kerrigan and Preston Smith are hunting QBs. Our D-line with Hatcher, Francois, Hatcher are being disruptive while Mason and Dashon continue to make crucial plays. The offense is clicking. Jordan Reed is busy being a beast while Jackson and Garcon are destroying defenders with speed and hands. This team is something else and I LIKE THAT.

The Redskins might not have played a winning team this season (2015 season), but believe this, they are not afraid to. I’m not in the locker room, but I strongly believe that this team is ready to take on any team in the NFL. They are ready to fight for every inch and ready to defend every inch. They are not afraid to fail. They are not afraid to make mistakes and they are not afraid to “go to war” for each other on the field, because they know that fear will cripple them on the field. They are FEARLESS and to be honest, they want to win more than the other team does – they make themselves believe that and make the other team believe it too. They are not afraid, they invoke fear. They bring the fear which can’t defeat them. This new-found attitude is what Championship teams are made of and the Redskins are a Championship caliber team. I believe it and I’m not afraid to say it. I LIKE THAT!

Read, Share, Comment!

Joe Darko

Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
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#HTTR #ILikeThat

I’m a die hard Redskins fan and I love what DeSean Jackson did!


DJax

DeSean Jackson

Yes, be mad at him all you want. Hate him all you want, but that guy plays with passion: DeSean Jackson. I like DJax, but I am a Redskins fan first. With that said, you have to appreciate players who play with passion and who want to win at all cost.

Call that a “bone head” move – that is what it is, but up until that point, the game between the Washington Redskins and the Cowboys was a boring one. A game which solidified the words of the pundits: a rivalry of two dead teams. The game was boring not because of the Cowboys, but because of the Redskins. They were flat out out-coached. With a backup QB, the Cowboys were more than willing to take risks and actually looked like the team ahead of the NFC East or should I say, NFC “least”. The Cowboys did not stop looking for Dez Byrant or Williams or Jason Witten – they kept looking for ways to push the ball downfield.

On the other hand, the Redskins were playing extremely conservative. On that note, the offensive coordinator should be fired or the head coach should go. The Redskins actually have a very decent team. They have two or three speedy receivers who can start for any team. They have a tight end who can also start for any team in the league, two good running backs and a decent QB who can manage a game. But during the Monday Night game, the Cowboys looked like least in the East. To be honest, as a Redskins fan, this is not the team I want representing us in the playoffs. We simply did not want to win.

As I watched the game, I constantly said to myself “we don’t want to win this game”. “the Redskins are going to lose because there is no fire and passion on the offense” – hold and behold, we lost! We deserved it. We did not play to win, but to lose. The running game wasn’t working, but we kept running and running. As a former football player, I understand why you sometimes stick to your game plan, but as a winner I understand why you sometimes have to do whatever it takes to win – which might include ditching your game plan and do what is working. The passing game was working. Whenever the Cowboys blitzed, our fast receivers were open, but we decided to continue to run the ball and sometimes run into the blitz. (Pause for a minute – does Kirk Cousin know how to audible or check out of a play?) Yes, at times the run game looked good but for the most part, it was not working. The Cowboys were in man coverage 85% of the time and were 75% of the time sending 1 or 2 linebackers on a blitz, this means, your fast receivers are more than often in 1 vs. 1 coverage. Which offensive coordinator wouldn’t salivate over that. It’s not like the Redskins were going against Darrell Revis and Richard Sherman – they were going against beatable cornerbacks. Give DeSean a chance and take the top off the defense, throw it to Reed more than 3 times a game, throw it Garcon on crossing routes, hit one of our receivers deep – heck, we might get a passing interference call. Simply play to win! Take chances! And that is what DeSean did.

He took a chance. A risky chance and it cost the Redskins badly, but he was trying to change the fate of the game. Let’s be honest, the Redskins were not going to win that game no matter what (especially after the first quarter of play). The Cowboys wanted it more and were better prepared and better coached. DeSean Jackson being a winner was willing to change that fate. He wanted the ball and wanted to win so bad that he was willing to take a costly chance. It did cost the Redskins, but the game was lost in the first 4 drives. We forced 3 turnovers but came up with 6 points. The game was not lost because of DeSean Jackson, it was because of leadership and vision (or lack there of) stemming from coaches. Let’s be honest.

Yes, I’m a Redskins fan and I love what DeSean Jackson did. He showed he wanted to make something happen. In life, those who succeed are the ones who push beyond their luck they persevere, they take risks, sometimes higher risks, they take chances, they play to win the game!

Why so serious? Live a little


Why so serious? Live a little

Why so serious? Live a little

Last night, as a weekly routine of  mine, I called one of my college mates to check up on him. We briefed each other on what was going on in our lives with regards to career and family. After the “serious” conversation on family and career, we talked about our time at Penn State University. The discussion brought laughter – we laughed a lot on the phone. We laughed about our interesting experiences in college. The memories.

Yes, we were all about academics. We were focused on school and wanted to graduate within 4 years or less. In the process of our academic pursuits, we lived; and through the course of living we made some mistakes: did some stupid and crazy things. We cherished every moment and lived in the present. Just like the norm, we were “broke” college students but life seemed so good. Money makes life easier without a doubt, but the joys of life comes in so many ways money can’t buy. We shared what we had with our circle of friends and enjoyed every moment life presented to us.

After the call, I tried figuring out what had changed. Yes, we have responsibilities now: Careers we both enjoy with very reputable companies, customers or clients we are obsessed about, family, bills and loans and etc. Believe me, we are still focused and our priorities are aligned appropriately – but in all fairness, we have become a little boring. Things might not the same, but they are similar: In college we had a job – go to class, go to the library, do homework, be part of an organization and etc. Currently, we go to work, learn more about our customers when we come home, join a cause and make a difference. But it seems as though life outside college has made us boring. We love our respective companies just as much as we love our alma mater. We love our jobs just as much as we loved our course of study. Family is still a priority and there is still 24 hours in a day, but we have found a way to become boring. We have found a way to conform instead of feeling alive. I mean, none of us is married (and marriage and kids shouldn’t change anything) but at least we have a little disposable income (more than what we had in college) to take trips, and enjoy all that life has to offer. Whenever we get married, we should be able to live life with our spouses and children. Life doesn’t stop after marriage or child birth – it begins. It broadens the horizon of what two or more people connected at a deeper level can do together.

One thing we all can’t escape is old age and death; and every day that we refuse to live a little, laugh a little, travel a little, love a little, forgive a little, sleep a little, check up on someone a little, we end up dying a whole lot more. You will make mistakes whether you play it extra safe or not, but your mistakes will be worthwhile if you enjoy every bit of it. Your memories will be worth sharing and many more opportunities will be presented to you to do and achieve more. Yes, you should save for your retirement, pay down your debt, support your family, join a good cause, but don’t forget to live. Stop taking yourself and everything in life seriously because life is bigger than you and I.

Joe Darko

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

An Open Letter To RG3: Why You Are Struggling & What You Need To Do Now!


RG3 After A Touchdown Pass

RG3 After A Touchdown Pass

I have been a fan of the game for a while and I’ve a been a die hard Redskins fan – which will not change. For the past 13 years or so, it has been one heart break season after another. But in 20012, RG3 brought us hope. Yes, Robert, you gave us hope but that hope seems to be diminishing but I’ll continue to be a Redskins fan and continue to be a fan of yours! I liked you when you were in college and fell in love with you when you joined my team as a Redskin. To be honest, I don’t care about what the world says, I still like you as a person – but with regards to football and playing QB there is a lot you have to do or else, your days are numbered at the Quarterback position in the NFL and as much as I love you, if we do not see any improvements this season, just know that out of love, I will be glad for you to be benched – no hard feelings.

This letter is going to address 3 major points:

  • Why you were so good in 2012
  • Why you are currently struggling
  • What you need to do NOW

Why You Were So Good In 2012

Like I stated earlier, I’ve been a Redskins fan for years and I try to watch each and every single game every single Sunday. In 2012, you broke into the scene and dominated. You dominated for many reasons, but if I were to dissect the game as an analyst, you dominated because of the offense you played under the Shanahans. The read option really helped you a lot. In the read option, when executed properly, for a quick second, the defense will remain still – this gives an advantage to the offense as a whole. In the read option, you need quick receivers who can quickly get open, you need a running back who can run the ball well and also sell the fake and you need your QB to do one thing, read the defensive end, give to the ball to the running back or take off. On passing plays off of the read option, the process is similar, most of the time, the running back and QB sell the run fake and the quarterback quickly releases the ball as the linebackers try to get back in coverage. In 2012, you excelled because you to make only one or two reads.

After watching the first 4 games in 2012, I was able to call majority of the plays you would run a QB. It was that predictable but hard to stop because it suits your strengths: one read or quick read passer. You had a receiver in Pierre Garcon who could easily and quickly get open and you had a running back who was able to sell the fake and run uphill. Defenses were frustrated, because they could tell the play was coming but they could not stop it all because they had to hold each and every player accountable in that offense. Whenever a play broke down, you were quick enough to run to the edge and gain a few yards. Defense had to account for you, the running back and receivers and to be honest, in 2012, defenses were not ready. As usual, defenses eventually adjusted and get better and they did and slowed you down a bit with the read option plays.

Why You Are Currently Struggling

You are struggling for a variety of reasons:

  • You are not going through your reads – With the read option, you didn’t have to go through the progression, but now that the read option is not a threat, you have to drop back, go through your reads and make a decision – this is something you are struggling with. As a fourth year QB, it is a major problem because defenses are not afraid to stare you down and they are not afraid to leave the 2nd or 3rd option open – chances are, you will not get to them. This preseason so far, there has been 16 passes, 12 of which you did not take your eyes off your number read. As much as I love you, if a QB cannot drop back and go through his progressions, then he is not fit to be starting in the NFL. You go through one read and  when it’s not open, your basic instincts is to take off and run – you know why you are getting hurt often, because defenses have figured you out; they know you don’t go through your progression, so after the first read, they seal any running lanes for you and they try to take you out like they would a running back. This brings me to my next point.
  • You want to live and die by your athleticism at the QB position – The most successful quarterbacks just do their job and use their God given gifts as supplements. When your first option is not open, instead of doing your job and going through the second and third options, you do the running back’s job and decide to take off and run with the ball. You continue to do the running back’s job by trying to gain extra yards when you don’t need to. Your job is to control the pocket, go through the reads, throw to the open receiver and hand off the ball to the running back. You have lost focus as to what you are supposed to do and sometimes it’s sad to watch. As a QB, if you do your job and no one is open, you can simply throw the ball away. You have never thrown the ball away, but try to make something happen when you don’t need to. Sometimes it’s okay to lose the little battles in an attempt to win the war. The whole football game is a war and every play is a battle; and as the general at QB, you need to be wise to know when to throw the ball away – live to fight another day and when you start doing this, it will make you a more dangerous quarterback like Russel Wilson. The reason why Wilson is better is not because he has a better line – no, but rather because he plays the game like a true quarterback. He goes through his progressions, when no one is open, he looks for an open lane to buy time while he looks to pass, when it’s not there, he either takes off when he sees an open field or he simply throws the ball away. Also, I have barely seen Wilson trying to truck linebackers – but I have seen him slide and run out of bounds. We  know you are a track star, we know you have that ability, but at the QB position, you don’t need to be athletic but need to be wise – look at Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, etc. They are not athletic, but they do their job at the Quarterback position and it translates to results. Other quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Russel Wilson and Aaron Rogers who are semi athletic only use their athleticism when there is an opportunity to do so. Do Your Job RG3. There are a couple of things you need to be doing now as well.
  • What You Need To Do Now – The Redskins picking up your 5th option was all political. Listen, they want you to succeed, but they wouldn’t mind you failing. If the Redskins had let you go, the organization and the fan base would have been divided. Some of the fans including myself still love you. The Owner loves you and some of the coaches love you. But some believe you are not the right player at the quarterback position, so letting you go would have meant that they had given up on you, so they are only keeping you here for one more year and allowing you to play – if you fail, they will have a case that you are obviously not the right Quarterback for the job and this time, they will get the support of all of the fan base, including the owner and they will let you go or sit on the bench. It is a break or make it year for you – your failure might mean the end of a starting gig for you in the NFL. RG3, I believe in you and I believe in your abilities. I will forever be a fan of yours, because there is something about you and that thing is greatness. You are meant to be great and yes, the past few years have been tough, but “no pressure, no diamonds”. You are meant to steer this ship around. First of all, ignore the media, they are only setting you up to come up with stories to get clicks for advertisements for their platforms, so stop giving them something to say. You are not the best quarterback in the league. The title “Best quarterback in the league” is given to people who produce not people who have confidence. To be honest, you are just mediocre based on your performance for the past three years, but you have the ability to be great as you showed us in 2012. Let your confidence translate into points, that is how you will gain respect. Also, as a leader, learn to take the blame. Stop blaming the O-line and receivers for everything. Blame yourself at times – take the high road. The team played well with Colt McCoy at QB a couple of games last season. The online protected him decently, but when you came back, it all went back downhill. Take the blame when things go wrong and be a leader. Stop shifting blame. If you want to yell at your linemen like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, you need their respect and at this moment, your linemen don’t respect you. You earn respect by being a winning leader! You can’t be a loser and command some respect. You blame everyone but yourself. Even when you do not go through your reads, take off and get hit, you shake your head blaming receivers for not getting open and blaming the line men. They did nothing. Stay in the pocket, command the pocket and do your job. When they see you doing your job, then you can tell them to do theirs. Focus on the fundamentals of the game – you are a QB first and foremost, so lead as such. Do your job only and encourage the rest to do theirs. Go through your progressions – if you do not get the chance to go through your progression, we will all blame the o-line, but if you continue to take off when you do not need to, the o-line can’t protect you.Your last play during the preseason game against the Lions, you did what I have mentioned above – there were open receivers in front of you, but you just took off to show your athleticism and that led to a fumble and a concussion. Do your job and I’m sure the O line coach will do whatever they can to keep their job. Go through your reads and when you get the running lane, run towards out of bounds or slide. You mean so much to your fans but more importantly, you mean so much to your wife, your family and future kids – you can’t afford to take unnecessary hits and you can’t afford to continue to get hurt.

You are blessed with many gifts only a few have. You are smart, wise and athletic – use it, but prioritize. At the QB position, be wise and smart. I believe in you wholly and I believe you can prove the doubters wrong. You have something I see in you and I don’t care if the rest of the world does not see it. You have something special and you are meant to go beyond the stars of the NFL. Robert Griffin III you are an amazing human being and there is nothing you can’t do. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength – don’t rely on yours, but rely on His and do what you are supposed to do – once again, do your job and the sky is your limit. I will continue to support you and be here for you.

Yours’ Truly,

Joe Darko

A True Fan of Yours & The Redskins Organization

Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
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What You Could Possibly Say On Your Death Bed Should Motivate You Today


Home health nurse fluffs an elderly patient's pillow.

Home health nurse fluffs an elderly patient’s pillow.

Make no mistake about it, we will all die someday. When, how and where we’ll die, we have no control over, but it is certain for humans to live then ultimately die. I’m not afraid of death; I was once asked what motivated me ad my answer was “death”. I always say “to heir is human and to die is our ultimate fate”. This reminds me of certain major principles in life and helps me live the full life I’ve been blessed with.

Since we all die, have you ever wondered what you would say on your death bed? Are you going to have regrets? If you were to die today, what would you say? Wish you had spend more time with family? Wish you had loved your kids/spouse a lot more? Wish you hadn’t spent so much time at work? Wished you would have called your friends or mom more frequently? To be honest, these are some of the questions I ask myself whenever I think of death. I’m not afraid of it, so I think about it and it motivates me to do more and achieve more.

Remember my answer was “death” when I was asked what motivated me? It was a sincere answer because death is the constant denominator of our lives – we will all face it someday. The fact that I will die fuels me to live in the now and enjoy every opportunity presented to me. The fact that I would die or my mom will die someday allows me to sacrifice some of my “precious” time to enjoy her presence. My dad died of prostate cancer three years ago and even though he died singing of my praise of how good of a son I am, I wish I had spent more time with him. He appreciated the fact that I worked from the hospital when he was there for three days for cancer treatment, but I wish I were there with him before he got sick. My dad’s passing opened to my eyes to life, gave me a sense of purpose and gave me the courage to be motivated by our fate as humans – death. It gave me the opportunity to love people deeply, work smart, take vacations, enjoy moments with friends and be a difference in the world.

No one on their dying bed has ever uttered the words: I wish I had worked longer hours. I wish had not forgiven him/her. I wish I had ignored my wife/husband and kids a lot more. I wish I had spent less money and time on my family. It’s interesting how when we face our ultimate end on earth, we automatically become the people we are meant to be: forgiving, loving, relational, selfless, content, generosity, reasonable, etc. If you’ve noticed, these are the very same traits which promote good health and happiness irrespective of life’s challenges. 

On my dying bed, I want to go in peace with no regrets – but as human as I am, I look at what I could say and make life changing decisions to impact my behavior and help me become a better person, not only for myself, but for the rest of the world. Below are some of the regrets most people have on their dying beds and how they motivate me today.

  1. Wish I hadn’t work so hard – People often spend more hours at work they they spend with their families. I can be a workaholic at times but I am learning how to put work on hold and enjoy the fruits of my labor. Believe it or not, your company will move on without you. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and I have been tired to the point of almost getting sick, so I decided to simply take the day off today to rest, read and write and I will not regret it.
  2. Wish I would have forgiven a lot more – To heir is human. As humans we are all faulty by default, hence you are bound to be hurt by another individual. The hurt often imprisons us but forgiveness sets us free. Forgiveness also helps you physically. A research recently completed shows that about 60 percent of cancer patients had a problem with forgiveness. Some doctors are now including “forgiveness therapy” for cancer patients. This is not to say that every cancer patient is struggling with unforgiveneess but rather, to help us understand the potential side effects of not being able to forgive. Dr. Michael Barry, a pastor and author of the book The Forgiveness Project describes the negative impact of not forgiving: “Harboring these negative emotions, this anger and hatred, creates a state of chronic anxiety. Chronic anxiety very predictably produces excess adrenaline and cortisol, which deplete the production of natural killer cells which is your body’s foot soldier in the fight against cancer.” The next time you think about what could say on your death bed, learn to forgive.
  3. Wish I had stayed in touch with my friends: We often forget the importance of good friendships in our lives because we are busy chancing dreams. Dreams are good and they should be chased, but in the process of doing so, learn to take a step back and connect with your friends. What is the point of getting to the top and not enjoying it with those who were there for from day 1? I try to stay in contact with friends through social media and invest in our relationships by attending their events. Not all friends will do the same for you, but it has to be sacrificial.
  4. Wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself and not what others expected of me: If it were left to my parents alone, I would have been a doctor by now. Yes, it’s a prestigious job, but I did not have the passion for it. At a very young age, I learned that if I were going to be happy, I had to make certain decisions for me and not follow the crowd or live the dreams of others. People will always have expectations of you – some are realistic and some are not. Take advise but ultimately do what is for you and you will have no regrets. I’m not a doctor but I work for a prestigious company and I am happy.
  5. Wish I had spend more time with family – Family will always be there. After my dad’s death, I promise myself not to allow bad news to prompt me to visit my family. I should visit my mom and siblings just because I miss them and not because they are sick. I should take a day off and spend time with my mother and I should be the best family man I can be. Losing a family member is difficult and since our days are numbered, we ought to do a better job enjoying their presence.

What life changing decisions are you going to make today to impact what you could say on your death bed?

Share Your Thoughts, Share This Post!

Thanks!
Joe Darko.

Instagram: @joe_darko
Twitter: @joe_darko
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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.

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Thanks!
Joe Darko.

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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.

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Twitter: @joe_darko
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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.

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Twitter: @joe_darko
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