Motivation

Nature Speaks, Nature Remembers: My Strong, Protective Flower Tree

Flower Tree

(Photo Credit: Ginnie Ann Daniels)

I had some trees cut around the house that seemed likely to fall. After the trees were cut, some of the remaining stumps left such distinctive prints. One, in particular, evoked the memory of when Billy and I, as a young couple 30 years ago, purchased our home. What follows is the dominant impression this idiosyncratic tree, uniquely mine, engendered.

The tree reminded me of you 30 years ago when we first moved in, so strong with muscle limbs, protecting our little family from storms and harsh sunrays. Yet, with time, the strong become weak but still try to withhold winds and persevere. Each year, more dead leaves fell, and we could tell—with unspoken words—this once robust tree was dying.

Flower Tree

(Photo Credit: Ginnie Ann Daniels)

Your strong roots embedded lasting memories for your seedlings, family and friends. We have to let go and start anew. With exultation, however, we never forget that the strong leave roots in the dirt with everlasting memory of the last leaf that fell.

I can now look out of my window to see and remember my strong, protective flower tree.

In loving memory of Billy Daniels, spouse of Ginnie Ann Daniels, married nearly 44 years (23 days short of 44 years).

Ginnie Ann Daniels, El Dorado, Arkansas, Author

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Editor

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Pop-Up Sermon: Unload Unnecessary Baggage

Although we keep important items in our metaphorical luggage, too much unnecessary stuff remains. Continuing to carry all of this junk weighs you down, presses you small. “Bag Lady,” one of Erykah Badu’s most powerful and popular songs, reveals the toxic nature of maintaining excess baggage, and people disregard at their own peril the valuable lessons this song offers. You must realize that immense stress will kill you. It’s essential, therefore, to remove stressful phenomena and people from your life. Don’t get buried in the baggage you elect to transport.

Today is the right time to release the excess, dispose of the trash, and organize the clutter. Consuming and hanging around mess will turn you into mess. If you really don’t like mess, then get rid of it. Don’t go another day dealing with unhealthy stress levels, guilt, shame, condemnation, worry, and fear; tap into a hope on the inside of you far greater than them all.

When you cannot find any joy and benefit in a thing or person, then it’s time to disconnect from it or him or her.

You possess the power to improve your life today: dump the junk now.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: Show People Themselves

Couple Arguing

(Photo Credit: Urbanette)

One of the most effective ways to show people how they behave is to respond to them the same way they respond to you. This, of course, goes against what is traditionally taught in most faiths. From time to time, however, you need to expose people for who they are by demonstrating to them how they act. Jesus often employed parables (elementary teachings) to make profound and enduring statements. You might contemplate approaching people in the aforementioned way as a means of adopting a similar pedagogical practice used by Jesus.

By temporarily choosing the ways of others, you can cause them to abandon their unfavorable conduct, considering they will not like when these ways are used against them. This strategy presents a meaningful opportunity for you to teach them valuable lessons and change their lives potentially forever.

At some point, you simply have to let folks know their behavior is unacceptable, and you must engage in efforts to discontinue their troubling conduct. You possess the power to ameliorate those around you.  Although they may not know yet, you’re the change they need to see in their lives.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pop-Up Sermon: Be Valued and No Fool

Be No Fool

(Photo Credit: No Way Girl)

With this piece, Revolutionary Paideia launches a new weekly feature, “Pop-Up Sermon.” What is “Pop-Up Sermon”? From one sentence to a full-length piece, this feature, “Pop-Up Sermon,” will offer you a sermon that you might not receive from your church’s pulpit. Uncomfortable truths will often be submitted to you. As spineless, milquetoast, equivocating, and self-serving preachers are becoming more prevalent, I commit to being that preacher for you who will deliver what you might not want to hear but need to hear. The central goal is to speak some relevant, useful words into your life at least once a week. Be sure to check out Revolutionary Paideia each day, considering a “Pop-Up Sermon” could emerge at any time.

Today’s Pop-Up Sermon:

Learn to appreciate people. When people fail to appreciate you, then you have a responsibility to teach them how to appreciate you. This may, unfortunately for them, mean ignoring them. Know your worth; then govern yourself accordingly. Don’t let folks use you, and don’t be their fool.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Be Yourself: A Simple But Powerful Message

Enjoying Life

(Photo Credit: The Stress Relief Program)

Be yourself.  In the postmodern epoch, too many people in the United States and across the globe are focused on being “people-pleasers” and aren’t focused on simply being who they are.  When you exercise the freedom you have to be yourself, you open up a world of new possibilities for yourself.  People who don’t have the courage to be themselves are being dominated by the bondage of fear.  You can make a decision today to liberate yourself from the bondage of fear.  Fear arrests your development.

Never be afraid to chart your own course in life.  Don’t worry about not seeing a model of who you would like to become—be the person and change you desire to see.

It’s never too late to start living a life of true freedom.  You’re not really liberated until you make the decision to live your life on your own terms.

Give yourself the chance to be the best you.  This is only possible by releasing yourself from the pressure to be someone who you aren’t.

Live your best life.  Muster the courage to be yourself.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Avoiding Problems Doesn’t Remove Them

Black Man

(Photo Credit: madamenoire.com)

If you keep running from your problems, you will never find a resolution to them.  When you try to pretend like your problems aren’t there, you’re only making them worse: the longer you avoid seeking solutions to your problems, the more difficult they become to address.  Too many people attempt to sham like they have conquered the quandaries that have given them the most pain.  It’s becoming popular for many people to say they’re “reinventing themselves,” “renewing themselves,” “living a new life,” and etc., but the reality is a true change in your life materializes conspicuous signs of change—not facades.  When many people say the aforementioned things, they’re making an effort to have others to believe their lies; they want others to think they’re living a life where they’re facing their problems directly when they’re not.

If you’re really “reinventing” yourself, “renewing” yourself, and “living a new life,” then why are there no substantive ostensible changes in your life?  Why are you unwilling to truly be yourself?  What continues to hold you back from real progress?  At the core of the answers to those questions is one’s intentional effort to run away from, hide, disguise, and bury his or her problems instead of working to defeat them.

You don’t have to live your life trying to hide and evade your problems; you can conquer them.  You must, however, be willing to deal candidly with those problems.  One can make serious progress toward remedying his or her quandaries when he or she musters the courage to confront them boldly.  Too many people attempt to bury their problems behind materialistic phenomena like money, cars, clothes, jewelry, houses, jobs, degrees, and etc., but trying to camouflage those things that are eating away at you will inevitably lead to your own undoing.

Although you may fool a number of people with your efforts to present your life as devoid of problems, the majority of folks know you have some problems—no matter what you say.  Everything’s not always going good for you.  Life exposes us to occasional challenges and problems, so don’t try to act like you’re so special and exempt for this reality.  When you invest significant time in trying to prove to others that you’re living a newly “invented” and “transformed” life, you already know authentic happiness doesn’t exist in your life, and you’re the one who is preventing real happiness from existing in your life.

Don’t allow pride to keep you from asking for help from others.  Additionally, don’t let your pride be the ultimate source of your problems.

It would be so much better to see someone truly living an ameliorated life than living a life of continuous lies; a life where one dons a faux happiness.  While things may not be going great for you right now, don’t try to pretend like they are.  Make a strong effort to engender the change in your life that will produce genuine positive results and progress—not results and “progress” that have to be fictitiously manufactured.

Boldly face your problems today and have a truly improved tomorrow.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His by Max Lucado

Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado

Just Like Jesus: A Heart Like His ( by Max Lucado, the popular author of numerous Christian books, presents the dominant thesis that God loves you the way you are but He does not intend to leave you the way you are.  Lucado contends that God wants you to develop a heart like Jesus and He wants to make you just like Jesus.  The author asserts that the central focus of a true Christian’s life is patterning his or her thoughts, words, and actions after Jesus.

I found Lucado’s book to provide a substantive understanding of how God will assist you in becoming what He wants you to be.  At the end of the book, there is a “Study Guide” for each chapter that enables the reader to engage in critical thought about each chapter.  By including this “Study Guide,” the writer evinces his serious desire for the reader to grasp the importance of each chapter’s primary messages.  I agree with Lucado’s overriding thesis that God loves you just the way you are but He does not intend for you to remain the way you are.

Too often religious leaders don’t let people know they have greatness already within them.  When Jesus comes into their lives, He activates the greatness that lies within them.  Lucado’s book is vital reminder to readers that God can use them for His glory as He transforms them into the people He needs them to be.  I found his argument that God longs for total control of humans’ lives to be at the core of what it means to be a Christian and a significant message for postmodern Christians to contemplate and embrace.

I highly recommend you purchase this book today!  The book can be purchased here: http://www.thomasnelson.com/just-like-jesus-5.html and you can read other reviews of this book here: http://www.booksneeze.com/reviews/bybook/9780849947438.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson to compose this review.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison