Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It All Began In A Manger

What’s the big deal about Christmas? Why do we celebrate the birth of someone who died over 2000 years ago? Why does everything in the whole world have to come to a stand still to remember and celebrate this day? The interesting thing about it all is this – his birth wasn't really celebrated. His birth sure didn’t appear on the national dailies of his days. There were no fun fares. No fire works. No special team of Doctors ready to help with the delivery. It was an ordinary day. Were someone to chance upon the sheep stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem that morning, what a peculiar scene they would behold. The stable stinks like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep reeks pungently in the air. The ground is hard, the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor. A more lowly place of birth could not exist.
His birth wasn't really celebrated. His birth sure didn’t appear on the national dailies of his days.There were no fun fares. No fire works.
Were Jesus's birth to be more spectacular, maybe the city would have noticed. Unfortunately his birth went almost unnoticed. The city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility. Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren't looking. Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it?

The circumstances surrounding his birth however did not diminish the concept. A king was born. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa 9:6). In our world today, people are often remembered for the problems they solve. Of course, we know some people because of the problem they created (remember Osama Bin Laden?). However, they are not often remembered for long, neither are they celebrated. Solving problems is one of the ways that one can be remembered for a long time to come. Faraday is often remembered today for solving the world’s electricity problems. Jesus, the reason for the season today, solved the greatest of man’s problem – SIN
Jesus, the reason for the season today, solved the greatest of man’s problem – SIN
When God created the world, everything in it was good. There was no problem at all, until sin came in. The fall of man when he sinned exposed him to all kinds of things imaginable. Sickness came, Poverty got hold of him. Death overpowered him. Fear gripped him. Man entered into the “crisis” mode as a result of SIN. Sin is a sinker my dear readers. It sank the destiny of man, and still does till date. The greatest hindrance to enjoying a good life is Sin, and Jesus came to solve that problem. By hanging on the cross, he paid the debt he didn’t owe; all because we owed a debt we couldn't pay! Celebrating Christmas without understanding this is just like celebrating a mass. Christ is what makes an ordinary mass become Christmas.
Celebrating Christmas without understanding this is just like celebrating a mass.
As you celebrate Christmas today, ponder on these things. Ponder on the greatest love story ever told – the story of a man who laid down his life for his friends.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Questions You Must Answer Before You Die

About a week ago, we lost one of God’s generals in our generation, Dr Myles Munroe, and his wife, Ruth Munroe in a tragic plane crash. I am sure many (including myself) are yet to recover from the shock of his exit from this world. Dr Myles Munroe will never be forgotten for what he allowed God to use him to accomplish on earth. He was such a blessing to me, and to several others around the world. He challenged conventional thinking and helped us bring the Bible to life.

I had the privilege of listening to Dr Munroe live on more than one occasion. So, I dedicated my study time this morning to reviewing some of the notes I took from these conferences. I have chosen to share with you one of the ones that blessed me the most. It’s a list of 5 questions you must answer before you die! I believe Dr Munroe did great justice to these questions as you will see. My challenge to you today is “How are you answering these questions?” Are you living life with a consciousness of them, or just going by?

Your answers to these questions are very vital. They will determine what will become of your life here, and hereafter. They will also determine if you will die fulfilled or not, happy or sad. Whether you like it or not, you will be faced with these questions at some point – the worst case being on your death bed. It’s better to face them now than later.

What are these Questions?

Who Am I? (The Question of Identity).

This is perhaps one of the most important questions you’ll ever have to answer. Who are you? Do you have an identity? What is your identity? Statistics have it that about 99% of the world population have identity crisis. We don’t seem to know who we are. The tall wants to be short and the short wants to be tall. The fat wants to be slim and the slim wants to be fat. The old want to be young again and the young want to get old. It’s like a never ending cycle.

One of the things that made Jesus tick was that he knew who he was. No wonder one of his most popular phrase in the Bible was “I am”. If you don’t know why you are, then you’d most likely want to be like someone else. Do you know who you are? Do you know your identity in Christ Jesus?

Where Am I From? (The Question of Source).

“He that is from above is above all” says the scriptures. Your source determines the resources available to you. There are people who are still confused with the idea of evolution. When you discover that God is your source, and God alone, you will live to enjoy life better.
Until you know where you come from, you don’t know who you are. There is an old saying from the Sankofa tribe in Africa that says, “To know where you going, you must know where you come from”

Why Am I Here? (The Question of Purpose)

Do you know why you are here on this planet? When purpose is not understood, abuse is inevitable. You need to understand the purpose for your existence. You are not a product of an accident. You were made for a purpose and you need to understand what that purpose is.
Believe it or not, we came here to make a difference. We were not put on this earth to work, pay bills and die. You were created for a purpose. You must first discover this purpose, develop it and then deplore it for the benefit of the human race.

What Can I Do? (The Question of Potential)

This is a very important question. What special skills and talents have you got? What can you do with your hands or head to fulfill your purpose? This is what separates you from the crowd. It gives you an edge over your peers. You’ll never become successful until you recognize the special abilities and skills that you have and invest them in solving other people’s problems. You will be happy doing whatever you were called to do. You will have passion and will benefit financially as well because you’re excited about what you’re doing.

Where Am I Going? (The Question of Destiny)

In my opinion, this is one of the most important questions that is often neglected by people, until they realize they are at the very end of their lives. Then, it is almost too late. After all is said and done, where will you end it all? After getting the money, riding that nice car, going for that vacation and all, what eventually becomes of you? I like the way a wise man puts it “It makes foolish business sense to gain the whole world and loose you own soul”.

Some day through this medium, I hope to deal with each of these questions in greater details. However, ponder on them seriously for the moment and let it inspire change in and by you.

Stay on top!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Little Things Can Make A Big Difference

Today, while thinking about a scripture I read, I remembered an experience I had travelling from Lagos to Ibadan (both in Nigeria) in a public transport. I met a lady in the bus that amused me. She really looked like a very “tush” girl- well that was the first impression I had about her. She was actually in the bus before me and was helping herself with a Chicken Republic meal. Shortly after I sat down, a guy came beside the window where she sat, trying to sell her a skirt. “Do I look like a househelp?”, she blurted. “What’s the designer’s label on that?”, she further probed. Of course, she left the guy confused. I did not know whether to laugh or confront her. She had been really mean to the guy. Anyway, that somehow further proved her “tushness” to me.

However, in less than 15 minutes, I changed my mind about her. As soon as we set out on our journey, she started throwing everything imaginable out through the window – the bones of the chicken she was eating, the serviette she used to clean her hands, the plastic bag, the spoon and the drink bottle! I couldn’t take it again. “That’s not right” I finally said. “Why don’t you put everything in that bag? We need to keep our nation clean” I continued. Well, she didn’t agree with me! According to her, “This is Nigeria. The Roads are already dirty anyway. Whether I throw that out or not, the place is already a mess”. What an interesting submission.

Have you heard people around you say that? I have heard all sorts – “If you don’t take that bribe, someone else will. The nation is corrupt”. “Why are you bothering yourself obeying the traffic lights? No one else does!” “You cannot be a successful business man in Nigeria without bribing your way through”. I am sure you can list a dozen more.

What do you do when the “little” you are doing in your corner doesn’t seem to make sense? What do you do when right seems wrong? What do you do when you are being abused by other road users because you are trying to obey traffic rules? What do you do when you feel that the little you are doing doesn’t affect the overall outcome anyway? I recommend that you remember this story – it’s one of my favourite stories. It is the story of the star fish.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man that used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean." "I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man. To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die." Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!" At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."

I am sure you get the morale of the story. What you are doing may not make sense to others and may not affect the whole nation, but it may affect an individual and change him for life. It can affect a community. When your young son is sitting beside you, while you insist on obeying traffic rules, you are laying a great foundation for his future. When you refuse to accept bribes, despite the fact that others are doing it, you are touching someone at least. When you do things right, someone is watching…and that someone can be positively affected for the rest of his life. To that one, the little thing that you are doing makes all the difference!

What little thing will you do today, that will make a difference?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Living A Fulfilled Life

Fulfilled. What a word! Two simple syllable and yet so elusive to our frazzled and restless hearts. Who among you haven’t yearned for something even faintly resembling fulfillment in our frantic demanding “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” world?

Fulfilled is a great word. The only issue is finding it. You can find several definitions in the dictionary but do you have it in your everyday life? I am sure several people will offer anything in order to have a fulfilled life. Wouldn’t you?

Can I share with you some principles for a fulfilled life? These are principles I got from reading books and listening to audio messages, and they’ve helped me a lot in my search for satisfaction and fulfillment.

Count Your Blessings

Have you read my earlier article on “Count Your Blessings, Don’t Discount them”? If not, I recommend you take time to read it. Fulfillment has eluded most of us because we have not learnt to be grateful for the little things around us. “But godliness with contentment is great gain” opined a wise writer. Never take things for granted. Be grateful for the things you have and can afford.

Find Joy In The Ordinary

Eternal instants and moments. We’ve all witnessed them though we let them go without finding joy in it. Putting your arms in your husband's as you take an evening stroll. Listening to your 6 year old thank God for everything from goldfish to grandma. Never you underestimate the ordinary. They are laden with greatness.

Finish The Race

We live in a world that is only crazy about winning, not about finishing. You don’t have to win always. But you have to finish. Hang in there. Finish. Stick to it until it is done. But unfortunately, very few of us do that. Our human tendency is to stop before we cross the finish line. Our inability to finish what we start is seen in the smallest of things - A partly mowed lawn; a half-read book; letters begun but never completed; an abandoned diet.

Are you close to quitting? Please don’t do it. Are you discouraged as a parent? Hang in there. Are you weary with doing good? Do just a little more. Are you pessimistic about your job? Roll up your sleeves and go at it again. No communication in your marriage? Give it one more shot. Can’t resist temptation? Accept God’s forgiveness and lean on grace to be strong to overcome. Is your day framed with sorrow and disappointment? Are your tomorrows turning into nevers? Is hope a forgotten word?

Remember, a finisher is not one with no wounds or weariness. Quite to the contrary, he, like the boxer, is scarred and bloody. He finishes what he starts. He finishes strong. I strongly recommend you read the book “Finishing Strong” by Steve Farrar. I have personally read it more than three times!

Stay Positive

A positive attitude in invaluable in today’s world. There are a thousand and one things that will not happen the way you want it to happen every single day. How you respond or react to them will go a long way in determining whether you will be fulfilled or frustrated. It is not what happens to you that determined your fulfillment. It is what happens in you, as a result of what happened to you!

All things not being equal, attitude still sometimes win. I have found out that things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.

Finally, God wants us to live a fulfilled life. Do you know any other principle that can help? If yes, please share.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

It's Alright To Dream Again

Have you ever been in a situation where all hope seems lost and it’s like you’ll never come out of it? Have you ever had a situation that just proves impossible? Have you ever been in the middle of a crisis and you can’t think of a way out? Have you ever believed so much in a thing and it didn’t work out the way you planned it? You are not alone.
Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Madgalene came to the tomb and found that the stone was rolled aside from the entrance John 20:1 – Living Bible
It’s a dark Sunday morning. It’s been dark since Friday. It’s been dark as a result of events that have took place that Friday.

It’s been dark because of Peter’s denial. He had denied his Lord and Master on three different occasions. On one occasion, he swore that he never knew him when confronted by a teenage girl. It was still dark.

It’s been dark because of the disciple’s betrayal. No one except John had the courage to travel with Jesus all the way. They were all scattered abroad. They ran for their dear lives. Permit me to say that it was not only Judas who betrayed his Lord. Majority of the disciples did. They fled when Jesus needed them most. It was still dark.
Permit me to say that it was not only Judas who betrayed his Lord. Majority of the disciples did
It’s been dark because of Pilate’s cowardice. Read the account of Jesus’ betrayal and you’ll be amazed at the cowardice of a whole King. His name Pilate means close pressed or firm. You will agree with me that he was anything but firm on this particular day. He was been controlled by the crowd. He yielded to their wish even though he was dead sure it was a wrong thing to do. It was still dark.

It’s been dark because of Christ’s anguish. He must have gone through so much pain. How about a slap from one of the military officers after blindfolding him? What about the crown of thorn placed on his head? What about the heavy wood he had to carry most of the way down to Golgotha? What about the stripes that had to go round his exposed body? Consider the spiting, cursing and humiliation. What about the spikes that went through the hands that healed the sick? Oh, what anguish? No wonder it was still dark!

It’s been dark because of Satan’s glee. There was a party in hell over the events on Friday. As far as the devil and his agents were concerned, they were in charge now. The Son of God was dead and it was their time. It was still dark.

All these happened since Friday but it was still dark on Sunday morning. The only ember of light this morning was a band of women standing at a distance from the grave. They were the last to leave Calvary and the first to arrive at the grave. However, this morning promises nothing except an encounter with a corpse. They never imagined this could be the 1st Easter. They are not hoping the grave will be vacant. There was a time they dared to dream such dreams but not now. It’s too late for the incredible. The feet that walked on water have been pierced. The hands that cleansed lepers have been stilled. There noble aspirations had been spiked to yesterday’s cross. Their dreams appear dead and long forgotten.

Have you ever got to a junction like this in your life? A junction where everything seems dark? Where there seems to be no way forward? Where everything just appear gloomy? Before you give up and throw in the trowel, can you please follow me and see what happens afterwards?

Though it’s been dark hitherto, a miracle was just around the corner this Sunday morning. A double surprise was waiting for these women in quick succession!

First, the stone of the sepulcher had been rolled away! They must have been thinking of how to gain access to the sepulcher on their way there. But to their surprise, the stone was no longer there. As if that was not enough, they couldn’t find the body of Jesus in the grave again. While still wondering what could have happened, an angel explained to them that Jesus was risen as it’s been written! “You cannot be looking for the living among the dead”, the angel said. Suddenly, the darkness since Friday began to lift! A fresh hope sprang up in these women and later in the minds of the disciples.

After all the darkness, light shone. The greater the darkness, the brighter the glory of light. No wonder it was a special Sunday morning, one that we still celebrate till today. It was a morning with a great message of hope. That resurrection morning had a great message – It is Alright to Dream Again! Yes it is. The resurrection of Christ gives you this opportunity to dream again!

Happy Easter!