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The Holy Spirit is the Treasure Within You

By Nick Westbrooks

Interpreted by Rev. Dr. Earl D. Trent Jr.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us, we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. –2 Corinthians 4:7-10

It was an amazing testimony of the human spirit when Manteo Mitchell broke his left fibula while running his final 200 meters of the preliminary 4×400 meter relay. Most runners would have stopped once they felt the pop and limped off of the track. But determined by his teammates’ dependence, he fought through the pain and finished his leg, allowing Team USA to make the finals. They would eventually earn a silver medal in the event.

Mitchell’s human spirit was the force that helped him finish the race. As followers of Christ, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the force that keeps us going day after ordinary day.

Take the apostle Paul, the author of the first and second books of Corinthians. Before changing his name and undergoing a life-changing experience, Paul was a Pharisee named Saul who used to persecute the same people he advocated for when he was writing to the church of Corinth.

After his life-changing experience, Paul became a missionary, building churches and spreading the word of Jesus Christ. Throughout his transformation and ministry, Paul faced challenges that he had to overcome through only the power of God inside of him.

Paul lets the church know that it was not him that overcame his obstacles. He puts this idea into perspective by comparing the physical body to frail and easily-broken jars of clay filled with a valuable treasure—the spirit and power of God (v7).

Paul’s analogy is a reminder for us today as we endure struggles and challenges daily. It is not us that gets us through tough times, but it is God’s power within us that is the driving force. We are mere frail, vulnerable and easily-broken jars of clay. But in our brokeness, the Holy Spirit inside of us provides the power to finish our race.

Nick Westbrooks: For the Ladies: 4 Reasons Why You Should Tell Him You’re Not Interested

By Nick Westbrooks

From time to time, I log onto Facebook, and see one of my female “friends” post a status stating something to this effect: “If I didn’t answer after the fifth time, why does he think I’m gonna answer now? He should get the hint.”

I don’t know. He may have gotten the hint or he may just believe that persistence is attractive, there was a technical issue, she overlooked his message or she was busy and didn’t get around to writing him back. I just named four possibilities why a guy would continue to message a female after not receiving a reply back, but there are probably many more.

I’m not a relationship expert, but I’m a logical thinker and I try to say and do what makes sense. The logical thing to do in this type of situation would be for the young lady to end the speculation and tell this guy directly that she’s not interested. But it seems like my generation is a generation of cowards in terms of communication. For whatever reason, we love to “beat around the bush” and avoid expressing our feelings openly. And being a part of the era of text messaging and social networks, we also avoid verbal and face-to-face communication.

I’ve provided four possible reasons why young women should tell young men that they’re not interested instead of hoping they get the hint. This isn’t gender specific; both young men and women avoid straight-to-the-point honesty, but I chose to address the young ladies, since they openly complain about this issue the most.

1. Telling him how you feel saves time.

You complain that he keeps texting and sending messages to your inbox, but you never asked him to stop or tell him that you’re not interested in conversing with him. Maybe if you did this, he wouldn’t have any doubts that you don’t want to talk to him. He won’t believe that you just didn’t receive his message or forgot to write back, because people do honestly forget to respond or mistakenly overlook messages.

It works in favor of both parties. The guy may be hurt that you’re not interested, but at least he knows that he can stop wasting his time by contacting a girl who doesn’t want to be bothered. He can move on to someone or something else if he pleases.

2. Telling him how you feel may minimize harm.

I had a good friend that told me she wasn’t interested in a particular young man, but she didn’t want to tell him because he’s a “sweet” person, and she didn’t want to hurt him. Personally, I’ve been in situations where I tried to find ways to let a girl down easily. Based on experience and observation, the best way to turn someone down without hurting him or her too much is to let that person know from the start that you’re not interested.

There’s no way to absolutely avoid hurting someone, but you inflict more pain when you leave that person guessing for a long period of time, while that individual builds up more feelings for you as time passes. You can’t be afraid to express your feelings, and you can’t be afraid of hurting someone, because in most instances, it will be unavoidable.

3. Telling him how you feel leads to less miscommunication.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are several reasons why a woman doesn’t respond to a man’s messages or texts that are unrelated to her interest in him. Women may believe they’re ignoring them, but men may misinterpret their nonresponses as “She probably didn’t get it, she just forgot to write back. Let me send another message to remind her, or if I’m persistent she’ll see that I’m really serious about wanting to get with her.”  

Ladies, tell him clearly and directly how you feel so he knows for sure that the reason why you’re not responding is that you’re not interested in him. There is no room for misinterpreted messages.

4. Telling him how you feel may lead to better overall communication habits.

It takes courage to express your feelings to someone, especially if you have to tell them something that he or she probably doesn’t want to hear. Once you do it, you realize that it’s not that bad, and you start the habit of being direct with people. You’re not only open enough to directly turn down a love or lust interest, but you’re also direct with the sales rep in the mall, your uncle asking for money and that co-worker that gets under your skin.

He may very well pick up on your hint, but he can never be too sure, and he knows better not to give up too easily. End all of the doubt, consider his feelings and save everyone some time by being straightforward and to the point. And ladies keep this in mind: He may be annoying you with all of the messages, but he still deserves respect. Be as honest and direct as possible, but be respectful.

On the other hand, some guys just don’t take no for an answer. In this case you may have to “unfriend” or block him on your social networking site, but at least you decreased the room for miscommunication by expressing directly and clearly how you feel.

Nick Westbrooks: Why Black Athletes Should be Educated

By Nick Westbrooks

Detroit Lions linebacker Justin Durant

In the midst of the controversy over Chick-Fil-A’s opposition to gay marriage, Detroit Lions linebacker Justin Durant decided to chime in on the debate. On Twitter he first talked about the company’s position on gay marriage and asked how “people not gon get the best chicken sammich and lemonade on the planet because of a personal belief…” Durant was then asked if he would continue to buy Chick-Fil-A if the company supported slavery. He said he would because the “chicken too tasty.”

Whether Durant was joking or not, it’s needless to say that his comment was ignorant and only reinforces the stereotype that Black athletes and entertainers are unenlightened. There is truth to the claim that historically slaves were trained to be physically strong and mentally weak. I won’t debate on whether the Willie Lynch letter is real or fake, but it’s undeniable that Blacks were bred and trained to be strong workers in the field, and the present-day manifestation is the superb athletic ability of slave descendants as Michael Johnson said.

We inherited the physical strength gene, but unfortunately, many of us inherited the mental weakness gene as well. Slaves were bred to be mentally weak as a method to dissuade them from resisting the oppressive force of the slaveholders. In 2012, White supremacists want Black athletes as well as the entire Black race to remain in a state of psychological slavery, and this is a reminder that our athletes should be educated even if they earn millions of dollars yearly to play sports.

We often make the mistake of stressing the importance of education to our elementary, middle and high school student-athletes merely for the purposes of meeting the minimal GPA and standardized test score requirements for the NCAA Clearinghouse, and we stress education as a “back-up plan” just in case they don’t make it to the NFL or NBA. Sadly, too many parents and coaches don’t even consider these reasons.

It’s true that student-athletes have to perform academically to play sports in college, and it’s true that the odds of going pro after college are slim. According to Beyond Sports U, 1.7% of college players go to the NFL and 1.2% of college players get drafted to the NBA.

But for those aspiring professional athletes and those who’ve already made it and are multi-millionaires now, they should realize that being educated is much more than earning a living. Education is a key that opens doors of opportunities and options, but it’s much deeper than employment and dollars and cents. It’s important that our Black athletes, both aspiring and professional, be educated in order to change their consciousness and not to make themselves and the rest of the race look like buffoons.

Furthermore, Black athletes should be financially literate. They hire agents and lawyers to ensure they receive the correct amount of millions, but with so many sports stars going broke, one has to wonder who’s managing the Black athletes’ finances and if they’re operating in the best interests of their clients. I also wonder about the conspicuous consumption and materialism that’s all too common with our Black professional competitors.

If Black athletes aren’t educated for themselves, they should at least be educated for the young Black boys that look up to them and aspire to the dream of becoming professional sports stars.

I’m not suggesting that every athlete needs to enroll in a university and get a degree. There are many professional athletes, who finished college or spent some time in college (Durant attended Hampton University), but a degree doesn’t make one educated, and a person can become educated without attending college. Additionally, we all know people — either personally or in the public scene — that graduated from Ivy League schools but make some mainstream rap artists look like scholars.

Black athletes should be able to read and think at a college level and most importantly, have adequate knowledge of themselves and their history, so they won’t make comments similar to Durant’s. With this, we can take steps to combat racism and stereotypes by proving to the world that we can be both athletic on the field and court and mentally competent as well.