Operating in the Spirit

It is absolutely, nearly 100% impossible to look someone in the face and say “I love you” when they have just expressed vicious hatred toward you. It is so, if you are operating in the flesh. Our flesh is one of the weakest elements that exists in the world. I am not just speaking of the fragility of the the skin here; I am speaking also about the utter lack of control we sometimes have over how our fleshly feelings, emotions, and urges make us feel. This is all well and good, because we are all human and we have feelings and emotions and it’s not our fault if we feel hurt, or hatred, right? Wrong. The Word of God tells us that if we truly want to be followers of Christ we have to separate ourselves from the flesh in order to please God. Romans 8:5-8 details this fact:


“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

Though it’s stated here plainly, doing what the Word says is rarely easy. Why is this? Why is it that God calls us to go against our humanly bodies and instead operate in the spirit (Spirit?)? Though this isn’t the state in which He created us (consider the fall of man), He did know we would experience these struggles and that our flesh would be susceptible to such pain. Why then, I ask, does He ask us to rise above? How does He expect us to be able to overcome the desires and urges of the flesh, when it’s SO easy to just give in and get angry, have sex, or hate someone?

I think the answer lies in Jesus. God knew we would have such a hard time alone; he knew that we were slaves to our sinful nature and could not break that bondage without a supernatural force. That force is the Son of man. The blood of Jesus overpowers the blood of man. Meaning, the act of Jesus dying on the Cross was enough power to break through the bondage of the flesh and rise above the earthly body we all have. This is how people are able to say and show “I love you” to someone who is outright mean to them. This is how people are able to deny their flesh and abstain from sexual acts until God blesses them with marriage. This is how people are able to forgive, even when they are still hurting. This is how we can overcome, as believers in Christ. Jesus is our power, and without him we are quite literally helpless.

In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus reprimands his disciples for falling asleep when He requested they stay awake. He reminds them of something that they (and we) should have already known:

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

So, I charge my readers to follow this decree today and everyday. No matter how mature we are in our faith, we must always remember that our flesh is weak and can only be strengthened through prayer, discipline, and the Jesus. He is able, even when we are not!

Blessings,

Danni

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Hair Identity

It’s official: I am having a hair crisis! I wish I could firmly stick to Ms. Arie’ s words and truly embrace that “I am not my hair,” but I find myself completely dissatisfied with how I look from the neck up. Well, let me clarify: I like my face and the features God has blessed me with, but this hair has got to go (or grow, whichever looks best).

I need to find my hair identity. I have been searching for 26 years with no luck. My mother put a relaxer in when I was 11, so she says (but I honestly swear it was really like when I was 4). I have had a chemical perm on my head for as long as I can remember. My dad made me get it cut short when I was 12, I went through a mushroom/bowl cut phase, I’ve had weave sown and glued in, worn a wig, put in highlights and even colored it once. In short, my hair has seen more products than Walmart.

I decided that going natural might be something I could do. Upon moving to Atlanta this summer, I’ve met several black women who allow their hair to exist in it’s natural state: free from chemical straightening. I am all for whatever is most healthy and natural for my head, but I am 100% struggling with the way it looks right now (and has looked for the past couple of months). I thought cutting it shorter would be helpful, but I was wrong. My bangs don’t look right around my face and my thick hair is just not cooperative. As a matter of fact, I would fire it if it was an employee of mine. Sadly, it’s not.

I just want a solution. I just want to find out what my identity is with my hair. Not saying that my hair identifies me, but I want to identify with it. I want to look in the mirror and adore the way the follicles are styled. I want people to see my hair style and smile, knowing it looks pleasing on my face and “fits me.” You know how you have that one outfit that is your “knockout” get-up that when you wear it you feel most like “you”? For some of you it might be your sexiest dress or your robe! Whatever it is, when you wear it you feel like you’re real, you know? I my hair to give me that feeling. I want my hair to add to what my face already says: “wow, she’s beautiful!”

I still entertain thoughts of cutting it very very short, as I love the way my face looks void of hair around it. It truly accentuates my natural beauty. I don’t know what to do though….praying for clarity.

Until next time,

Danni

Master

Last night in my New Testament class a man was praying over the class and he used the word “Master” to refer to God. I don’t know why, and even know after much thought I can’t explain it, but I felt offended by this term. Not that I don’t think God is the Master of all things, the Creator, the Author, the Alpha and the Omega, but it was just odd to hear this man continually say “Master”, as if he was someone’s slave.

My personal feelings about the word probably come from the connotation that American society has for this particular word. There are 35 dictionary definitions of this word, and each of them really has a different meaning of it’s own. Ranging from “someone who is in command of a particular trade to a presiding officer, it is no wonder I have some what strong feelings about this word. But what interests me the most is that definition #15 simply states, ” The Master (in bold), Jesus Christ.” If this definition is in a secular dictionary, why then do I have issues using as a believer in the sovereignty of God? Could it be that I am conditioned by society to think of NO ONE as my master, but to do whatever I can to be a master of other people and things? Maybe it’s because the word is so closely related to bondage and chains in our society and in our history, but in the Kingdom of God it’s the absolute opposite! I am willing to believe that in calling God my Master, I am freed from the chains and bondage of sin, oppression, and the like.

I know for sure is that I feel strongly lead to embrace this word and begin to feel comfortable using it. I want to passionately cry out to the Lord and knowingly call Him Master, without feeling like I am less of a woman, but instead feeling like I am whole because I have accepted His full command. It’s not that I don’t trust the Lord or thing He isn’t in complete control; it’s just that WORD! It’s time to overcome words and follow my heart.

Learning to embrace my MASTER,

Danni

Learn and Feed

Another teacher shared this website with me, and I thought it would be appropriate to let the “world” know (or atleast the 20 or so people who read my blog on the regular).

www.freerice.com is a site where you can play educational games and donate grains of rice to people in need. My students have really been getting into this today on the English Vocabulary level, and I’ve discovered that you can also do other subjects. I was just testing my knowledge in Italian and English Grammar, and I realized that other people would really enjoy this too. I would also like to turn this into my own public service announcement, for those of you who incorrectly use the words further and farther, their and there, to two and too, and any other variation of horrible grammer. Please go to this site and fight world hunger, as well as world ignorance.

Happy Learning you World Changers!

Danni

Why I Fast….

Traditionally, when people say they are fasting, it is from some form of nurishment. I think these traditional fasts are highly effective and are Biblically supported. I have done food fasts, and seen good results and answered prayer.

I have found that in my personal life, however, that God really speaks LOUDLY to me when I remove the biggest distractions in my life. Last year, those distractions were my cell phone and television. That fast was one of the hardest things I’ve gotten through, but the implication and results are still with me. I no longer waist money on a cable bill and I have really found myself cherishing personal time with God, instead of always looking to my phone for entertainment.

This year, I find myself relying on other vices. Twitter, for one, is something I abuse! Instead of going to God with my thoughts and issues, I often go to the web and tell the virtual world. This isn’t healthy. Also, I am on facebook WAY too much. I have probably lost precious hours of my life looking at people’s wedding pictures, reading posts, and checking out status updates when I could have probably read the entire Bible by now. But, let’s get serious, Leviticus and Number have got nothing on crazy photo albums from old high school friends. (Sorry Moses). I want to learn to find a better balance, though. I want to learn more discipline when it comes to how I spend my “free” time. I want be closer to God…and further from my computer screen. Finally, I spend way too much money eating out. Getting my finances in order is a major priority for me, so I need to start at the root of the issue: waisted money.

So, no more facebook until January 31st (a 21 day fast) and I am continuing my fast from Twitter and eating out (37 day fast) until February 6th. In 10 days God has already revealed BIG things to me, so I am trusting that by eliminating another distraction, He will be able to show me that much more. I can’t wait to gain understanding of the vision He has for my life! I can’t wait to meet and marry my husband. I can’t wait to be the woman God wants me to be, but let’s me honest, I AM enjoying the process. In short, I can’t wait!

Blessings to you all! Please keep reading if you want to follow my fast and continued journey with God!

Who Do I Say I Am?

I can’t express how elated I am right now! Today was BY FAR of the best days I have ever had at work, in any job. This isn’t because it was devoid of problems, nor does it mean I went a whole day without reprimand or disciplining a student. Today was so incredible because my students blindly walked into the most important topic their generation is facing right now, and I was able to speak truth into their lives, without mentioning God, Jesus, or The Cross. My message was clear though, and I will be praying that it sticks with as many as God will allow.

My 9th grade classes are getting into our short story lesson, in which they will learning the elements of plot in every story. The element of plot that exists in EVERY story and in EVERY life that this: CONFLICT. Today’s lesson was to discuss and write about conflict: the ones we’ve faced, are facing, or have seen others face. The students shared their conflicts and were able to express they’re aggressions and feelings openly. In my first period class a student raised his hand and said that race was a conflict for him, and almost everyone in the room agreed. As I teach at a school that is 99% African-American, you can imagine that these students were of similar mind when they heard this complaint. I began to draw out of them what exactly was the conflict with race, and why this conflict existed. People talked loud, expressed anger, spoke about personal experiences, and a lack of answered existed as to how it all could get better. I told my students to start shouting out stereotypical words or phrases people use to label minorities in America. The list was so long I ran out of board space! I then asked them this:

“If you’ve all previously agreed that if someone called you a name that you didn’t agree with you wouldn’t tolerate it, why then are you tolerating being called all these names on a daily basis? How can you change the name that people call you into one that you accept?”

What’s ironic about this just “coming up” is that I’ve been talking about this topic in 2 of my graduate classes for the past few months (this past Tuesday night especially) and I can’t believe I was able to express to my students that which my professor expressed to us:

“If you change someone’s name, you change their identity.”

As a culture, African Americans, in general, don’t know their identity. We are typically told by the media and the government who we are and what we will amount to. If someone is constantly telling you who you are and what you will be, you will eventually become that. My professor told us the other night ( and I still need to check these facts) that around 83% of slaves who came over from Africa were LITERATE. A recent poll taken in the United States recorded that only 51% of African Americans are literate now. I don’t know if this is exactly accurate, but when I think about this, it makes sense. If we weren’t illiterate when we came here, but we are increasing becoming illiterate, it appears that we are believing what people say we are. Even if the statistics aren’t accurate, look around you! People call us poor, junkies, dead-beats, uneducated, lazy, loud, never on time, illiterate, drugged up, criminals, unreliable, and so on. I see so much of this on a daily basis because people have decided to accept the name they are given.

I want more for my students. I want more for myself. I learned a long time ago to refuse to accept the name people give me, but these kids don’t better yet. They don’t know that they have the choice to rise above any and every stereotype and be called a better name: educated, loved, loyal, stable, rich, wise, free, caring, successful, literate, civilized, proper, phenomenal, outstanding, trustworthy, honest, conquerer, capable.

I ended class by telling my students that this conflict is not only man vs. man, it’s man vs. self as well. We might not be able to stop the former, but the latter is completely in our control. I told them it’s paramount to know who you and the name you have for yourself, NOW. Decide now what you want to be called, or else someone will TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE, and you’ll believe them. I don’t know why I feel so passionately about this, but words just kept flowing out of my mouth when I was teaching this lesson on conflict. YES, it will ALL tie into the stories we read, but this wasn’t what I intended to teach today. My plans weren’t exactly what God has in mind, and today, I praise Him for this. I honestly think even if one students decides to do things differently, God accomplished something through me. And, on top of that, I learned some things about myself. I told my students to write the name they want to be called at the bottom of their paper before turning it in. I was blown away by the responses, and so impressed when several asked me if they could be called more than one thing. I said, “of course you can.” I’ve decided to turn this into an assignment which will end in us decorating the outside bulletin board with their new names. I cannot WAIT to see this!

Who do I say that I am?

I am loyal, trustworthy, successful, Godly, loving, caring, able, equipped, hard-working, dedicated, a little crazy, passionate, talented, happy, humourous, smiling, employed, blessed, surviving, ransomed, loved, alive.

Who do you say that you are?

Goodbye 2009

I have never been more happy to say goodbye to a collection of days. The 365 days that were 2009 literally started for me with a fight. I was in Orlando with my best friend and on the way back to Jacksonville we fought the whole 2 hour ride. We reconciled quickly, but I should have know that day that this year was not going to be an easy one.

My 2009 was riddled with loss, heartache, suffering, discomfort, and pain. I tried to record everything that happened to me, but after a while I simply couldn’t imagine NOT remembering the outrageous happening of my year. From police encounters to robbery; from the loss of my beloved grandfather to the fear not being able to pay my bills because I was literally broke. I have been through the fire this year.

I don’t want to use this entry to complain, though. Please know that eventhough this has been a tough year to get through, I DID get through it. And let me be clear, THE ONLY way I could have managed to even muster the breath to move on this year is because of my Savior and Redeemer, JESUS CHRIST. God Himself literally carried me through all of my trials, and I am often reminded of the Footprints poem and the beautiful picture that accompanies it. In the words of Marvin Sapp, I literally “never would have made it” without God.

Though this year was my toughest, it was also my MOST BLESSED. If I was honest with myself, I would have no choice but to say that God truly showed me favor and blessings without ceasing. When the hours were darkest, He was there to shine light. When I felt completely alone, He comforted me. When I was ready to give up, He loudly shouted, “I don’t think so!”

At the beginning of 2009 I entered into a 21 day fast, giving up the two things in my life that seemed to be major distractions: television and my cell phone (YES, my actual cell phone). This year, I have decided to fast again, this time for 37 days (the first 10% of the year) a tithing and offering to God for 2010. The two things that distract me or hinder me the most during this season in my life are Twitter (AGH!!) and eating out. I tweet WAY too much, to the point that when something happens I instantly form it into a 140 word catchy phrase to share with the tweet-verse. I need to, instead, go to God with my thoughts and issues. In addition, I waste a lot of money eating out. It’s not unhealthy food, but it’s a waste because I’ve already bought groceries! For this reason, it is unhealthy! The goals I have for 2010 (being financially stable, losing 50 more lbs, and taking steps closer to my husband) can only be accomplished if I eliminate distractions and truly seek to hear God’s voice.

This is my opinion, and I can only say that from my experience from fasting last year, I truly gained clarity when I took away the things that got in my way. I am believing in God to reveal BIG THINGS to me this year, especially during this fast. I plan to blog about my experience each day, and I pray that whoever reads this can gain something from my experience.

Prayfully believing in Big Things, This and EVERY year!

Danni