Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Wisdom Of Christmas

In the last couple of days, my wife and I have been sharing the Christmas story with the kids, as well as singing Christmas hymns with them on a daily basis. It's been an awesome experience. There's so much to talk about in the Christmas story that reducing Christmas to just another event in history or a national holiday would really be a shame! Talk about the angelic encounters. Think about the personal sacrifice of Mary (which lady would want her grand wedding cancelled?). Talk about the courage of Joseph (his friends must have thought he was either mad, or just plain stupid). Then, the wonderful shepherds who kept their flocks by night and who joined the Angels to sing, "Glory to God in the highest, peace and goodwill towards all men". Did you give some thoughts to the role played by the innkeeper (was he/she the one who eventually helped with the stable)?And the wise men (the Magis)? The Christmas story wouldn't be complete without them. Please permit me to beam the searchlight on the wise men this Christmas. Will you?

The story of the wise men is a story that is shrouded in mystery. What we know about them is as much as what we don’t know about them. They seem to just show up mysteriously – and just as mysteriously they are gone. But one thing I am certain about is that the number of wise men and women increases in every generation as people continue to seek the Christ.

Let me share with you 3 different lessons that we can glean from the story of these wisemen.

   A wise man’s journey is one of FAITH


"Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East.” Mathew 2:2

What would prompt someone to leave the comfort of their homes to go on a dangerous journey? Romance? Maybe. Wealth? Most definitely. But faith? Hmmm – faith. “Where is He who has been born the King of the Jews?” What a probing question – there is no doubt in their language that He had been born – the question is “Where is He?” They had seen the star – the evidence was real – now where is He? They had faith that He was alive – that He existed – now all they needed to do was to find Him.

Their purpose was established – find Him. And so they were willing to risk everything to find Him. They were willing to leave the safety of their homes, to risk a journey to seek a King.
Can you imagine their neighbor’s reaction? And perhaps a conversations like this:

“Are you going on a journey?”
 “Yes.” they would have replied.
“Where are you going?”
“We don’t know for sure.”
“How far is it?”
 “Well we don’t know that either.”
"How long are you going to be gone?”
Well were not quite sure on that either.”
“ Gents, for wise men you sure don’t know much, do you?”

But you know they must have said the same things to Abraham when he left his home for the Promised Land. They must have said the same things to Noah who was building an ark – even though it had never rained in the history of the earth up till that point. They must have said the same kind of things to Peter, Andrew, John and James when they left the fishing nets to become fishers of men. What are you crazy? Are you insane? Are you out of your minds? No, not crazy – not insane – not out of their minds – they were men of faith.

   A wise man’s journey is one of WORSHIP.


“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh” – Mathew 2:11

When the wise men came on their journey, it was for the purpose of worship. They were not looking for what to get, but what to give. Compare that with what happens in our churches today and you’d really wonder. These men simply wanted to offer themselves and their treasures to the King. They spontaneously bowed down and worshiped. There was nothing systemic about this worship. No music. No drums. No pianos. I am not sure there was any sound. Only real worship. May I ask you this question? When was the last time you truly worshiped Him?

Their worship led them to give out of their treasures to their King. They gave very significant gifts. But there is more to worship than gold, frankincense and myrrh. Worship involves sacrifice and what better sacrifice to offer to the Lord than offering him yourself – your life.

The wisest choice you could make, now or ever, is to follow the example of the Wise Men and worship the Lord Jesus Christ. Seek Him the way they sought Him. Bring to Him what they brought Him. Recognize who He is and say, "Lord, my wealth, my worship, my witness is yours. Jesus, You are Lord."

   A wise man’s journey is one of CHANGE.


“And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route” Mathew 2:12

Isn’t it interesting that after they worshiped Jesus that they could not go back the same way that they had come? I find that to be a fact even today. Once you have met God you will never be the same. An encounter with God changes things – it changes you – doesn’t it? It’s always been that way.

When the wisemen encountered Christ, they were changed. When we encounter Christ also, he changes us! He transforms our lives. That’s the beauty of this season – when God sent his son, in human flesh, to transform us from the kingdom of the devil, to the kingdom of God. May you experience this change.

Are you a wise man?

On behalf of myself, my wife and entire family, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New year ahead.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Advice 3: Be a Good Steward Of God’s Resources

Each time I read the parable of the talents (which we could call the parable of dollars in today’s language), I am always intrigued about its simplicity and completeness. That parable explains how God, the owner of all resources will want us to manage them.

Let me start from the lesson I hope to close with – you own nothing! You are just a steward over whatever you have today. And you will give account of how well or otherwise you utilize these resources for the good of the owner (not your own good). 

Stewardship is the faithful and efficient management of property or resources belonging to another, in order to achieve the owners’ objectives! Please note the last phrase, “in order to achieve the owners’ objectives.” And if you are a student of the Bible, you will understand that God’s ultimate objective is to bring glory to Himself. The question is then, are you bringing glory to God with all the resources that He has blessed you with? Or is the glory to yourself, and all for your needs, your accounts and all?


The best way to live life to fullest and be fulfilled is to deploy all the resources that God has placed in and around you, to the glory of His name, and for the “betterment” of mankind. You will need to utilize your time, your talents and your treasures for His glory, and His glory alone.
Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moments to moment is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already                                                                                           C.S Lewis
Time

This is one of the most important resources that God has blessed us with. Interestingly enough, it is also one of the most evenly distributed resources that we have. Every nation has 24 hours. Every individual, sinner or saint has 24 hours. You can’t buy more. You can’t bargain for more. Whatever you want to do must be done within the confines of these hours. Several people waste time, some others spend time, and only a few invest it. How do you spend this resource? Are you a good steward of it? What do you spend your best time doing? How much of it are you giving to God? How much of it are you giving to sleep? How much of it are you investing in personal development? How much is devoted to community service and to helping others? How much of it is spent in front of the TV and on the internet? Think about it.

Treasures

I would need another post to fully dissect this one. One thing is very clear – if you show me your cheque book, I can tell a lot about you. What you do with your money (or treasures) says a lot about you and your value system. Is God at the very center of it all? Do you give to God? Listen, that money you have is not really yours. It belongs to God. He is only putting it under your stewardship and I hope you see it that way. And He is putting it under your stewardship for a purpose – to bring glory to himself. I know you have bills to pay and all that. And for sure you should – as it brings glory to God to pay your bills also. The point here is this – who is first? God or your needs? When you learn to honour God with your treasures, He blesses the rest and multiples it. If you cannot give to God, and to His causes here on earth, then, you have missed the reason why God blessed you with money. You have missed it big time.

Talents

God has deposited in you gifts, talents, abilities and skills. There is no one on earth who is not gifted in one special way or the other. Again, those special gifts and abilities are deposits from God. And they are to be used for His glory. If God has blessed with you a wonderful voice and you can sing, He expects that your voice and song should bring Him glory. If you are blessed with a special ability to organize, He expects that your ability will bring Him glory. You are a steward of these gifts and abilities, and the best way to deploy them will be for His glory. You’ll need to discover the special gifts of God in your life, you’ll then need to develop them, and deploy them as a good steward of His grace.

God has placed enormous resources at your disposal. Don’t forget the primary reason why He’s done that. It is for His glory. When you bring Him glory by being a good  steward of these resources, He sees to it that your life truly reflects glory. Wouldn’t you rather live that way?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Advice 2: Build Your Life On Scriptural Principles

Consider this for a moment. You are on the soccer pitch in a capacity filled stadium. You are about to take the last shot in the finals of a game that would be determined by penalty shootout. The hopes and aspirations of a whole nation rest on your shoulders. The game had been intense. Both teams have put in their very best for 120 minutes without a winner. Now, 80,000 fans at the stadium, and several millions watching across the globe are all focusing attention on you – some hoping you’ll score and others praying you’ll miss. You place the ball on the penalty mark, and take 3 steps backwards. The noise in the stadium is deafening and your heart beat is doing a double somersault! What a moment this can be! Whatever happens, your name will go down in the history books as the one who took the game winning shot, or as the one who caused the country to lose. It is a defining moment.
Our lives are a series of defining moments, strung together by passing time. 
Every one of us, at different point in life and career, are faced with defining moments! A lot depends on how we handle our defining moments. A lot depends on what we do at those moments, or what we don’t do; our decisions and indecisions. Our lives are a series of defining moments, strung together by passing time. 

I was faced with such a defining moment sometime in 1996. I had just finished my Ordinary National Diploma in one of the polytechnics in Nigeria. I was privileged to finish as the best graduating student in my class, winning the Rectors’ Award for that year. Shortly after, I was interviewing with one of the best oil companies in the country and was offered a job. The salary (as of then) was intimidating to say the least. I thought to myself “this would solve my financial problem and my family’s forever”! In the same week, I got my admission letter for a direct entry to a University, and was faced with a big dilemma. You may not understand how big this decision was if you didn’t know my family background. I needed the bucks so much at that time and any good way to get it would have been great. It was a big defining moment. I was going to play a shot that would later determine a lot of things in my life and career. Looking back retrospectively, I am glad I put the shot far beyond the reach of the goalkeeper (lol). Defining moments really defines. One way to better maximize your defining moments is to be “principle based”. When you live your life on principles, especially scriptural principles, you are better positioned to succeed.

As a science student in secondary school, I was fascinated by how our world was governed by laws and principles. These laws were no respecter of persons, tribe, age, colour or what have you. We were all subject to them and life is governed by them. We still are. Take the law of gravity for example. Anything that goes up comes down (except when a higher law is at work). It doesn't matter if it's in Australia or in Korea, in Africa or in the Caribbeans. Speak in diverse tongues for all you care, if you jump up, you are coming back in only one direction. I also learnt over time that principles don't change. Methods and techniques may change with time and technology but principles remain. The principle behind the automobile engine is still the same till date. However, the methods and techniques of building cars have evolved with time. If you stay put with a technique or method, you will soon become outdated. If you stay put with the principle, success is guaranteed.
When you live your life on principles, especially scriptural principles, you are better positioned to succeed.
 Principles give us direction in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. They are applicable to any given situation and will determine our direction. Those who do not have permanent principles will find themselves drifting along and making decisions that are personally expedient, short-term oriented and usually bad for their long-term success. May I submit to you then, that there are no better principles to live by, than those commanded by our Lord, who also lived by those principles? If you want to make the best out of your life and your existence, then, you’ve got to build your life on scriptural principles.

Here are some examples to think about:

You reap what you sow
If you play now (short term benefits), you will pay later.
If you want to be great, you’ve got to be a servant
Godliness with contentment is great gain.

Feel free to share on some other principles that has helped you live for God and succeed in life. God bless you.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Advice 1: Let God Be Your Source

Many thanks to my friend and colleague, Mogbekeleoluwa, I have my blog back! I’ve been strangely logged out for several months now, and couldn’t find a solution despite several attempts. I decided to seek for help, and here I am, back online. I am so happy to be back.

In the next few weeks, probably till the end of the year, I will be sharing a few pieces of advice with my friends. They are basically lessons I have learnt over the years, and in the recent past. Each week, I will share a piece, and will welcome comments/inputs, so others can read and be blessed.

I will start this week, with a fundamental advice, and perhaps the most important one:

Let God be Your Source:

In our age and time, we seem to be redefining success. Especially if you are from this part of the world, success is defined by how much you have in your bank account, they type of car you are driving, where you live, and the likes. We seem to have forgotten that no one can “really” succeed outside God. To put it bluntly, there is no true success outside God! I know a couple of those reading this will question me and say “Common, what about all those who are 'successful' and do not know God?” That is exactly why I used the word “true” to describe the kind of success I am talking about. True success takes its roots, and it’s depth in God. Success is much more than possession. It has a lot to do with your position with God. If God is not the foundation of everything you do, and live for, you are near the end of the rope.
Success is much more than possession. It has a lot to do with your position with God. 
 Remember the story of the rich fool? It is documented in Luke’s gospel chapter 12, verses 16-21. “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” What a story that that nails home my point. If it must be good, then, it must be God! When the root of your success or accomplishment is not God, then, I can predict that you’ll only be in the limelight for just a while. Very soon, the foundation will crumble, and the building will no longer hold.
Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.
Years back, I read about the famous 1923 “Who is Who in Industry” gathering at the Edgewater Beach hotel in Chicago, USA. There was a meeting of nine of the world's richest people at that time. Combined, these people had more wealth than the entire U.S. government at that time!! They were all very successful men, well respected and looked up to as people who had "made it". Newspapers frequently wrote articles about them, and many college professors had used these men as examples, to teach their business and finance classes, "how to make it" in the business world. The list includes:

Charles Schwab, the president of the largest steel company in the world and the first man in American history to make a one million dollar a year salary!!,
Samuel Insull, the president of the world's largest utility company,
Richard Whitney, the president of the New York Stock exchange,
Leon Frazier, the president of the Bank of International Settlements,
Jessie Livermore, a very successful stock market giant,
Howard Hopson, President of the largest gas firm,
Arthur Cutten, the greatest wheat speculator,
Albert Fall, member of the President's Cabinet,
Ivar Kreuger, head of the company with the most widely distributed securities in the world.

Even by today's standard, these were VERY rich men, and most people today would LOVE to be in their shoes..... or would they?? Let's look at how all 9 of these men, the most wealthy, powerful men the world, wound up at the end of their lives:

The first man to make a million dollars a year, Charles Schwab, died in bankruptcy just twenty five years later, having lived on borrowed money for five years before his death.
Samuel Insull had died penniless after spending some time as a fugitive from justice.
Richard Whitney spent time in Sing-Sing prison before his death.
Leon Fraizer, Jessie Livermore, and Ivar Kreuger all committed suicide because they were so unhappy with their life.
Howard Hopson went insane before his death.
Arthur Cutten died completely broke.
Albert Fall was sentenced to prison, but was released early so he could die at home broke and alone.

Need I say more?

God must be your source, and your foundation. It makes no business sense to gain this whole world, and lose your connection with the creator of the world. No sense at all.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Jesus - In Our Shoes

Several years ago, I read a classic story that reveals clearly the essence of what Jesus Christ, the son of God, did for us on the cross. Two thousand years after, we still remember and celebrate this day of liberation. Let me share with you the story of Dr Kane.

On February 15, 1921, there was a doctor who performed an appendectomy. He was Dr. Evan O'Neill Kane, who in over his 37-year medical career had performed nearly 4,000 appendectomies, so this surgery was not at all unusual except for two things.

First of all, this was the first time that local anesthesia had ever been used in major surgery. Dr. Kane believed that local anesthesia was safer than putting a patient completely to sleep. Most of his colleagues agreed with him in principle, but they wanted to see first if it would actually work.

So Dr. Kane searched for a volunteer, a patient who would be willing to undergo surgery while under local anesthesia. It wasn't easy to find one. Most people are squeamish at the thought of being awake during their own surgery. Others are fearful that the anesthesia might wear off too soon.

He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!"(Philippians 2:7-8)

Finally, though, Dr. Kane found a volunteer, and on Tuesday morning, February 15th, the operation began. The patient was prepped and wheeled into the operating room. A local anesthetic was applied. And as Dr. Kane had done thousands of times before, he cut open the tissues and removed the appendix. The patient had only minor discomfort and recovered quickly, dismissed two days later.

Dr. Kane had proven his theory. Thanks to the willingness of a brave volunteer, Dr. Kane demonstrated that local anesthesia was an alternative, even a preferred alternative.

But I said there were two facts that made this surgery unusual. I've told you the first: the use of local anesthesia. The second unusual thing was the patient. The patient was Dr. Kane. You see, in order to prove his point, Dr. Kane operated on himself. The doctor became a patient in order to convince the patients to trust the doctor.
Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.(Hebrews 2:18)
As unbelievable as that may seem, it is insignificant compared with what Jesus Christ did for us. The Great Physician voluntarily became one of us. He placed himself in our shoes. He left the glories of heaven to live on this earth as one of us -- to suffer our pains and feel our fears. Why? So that when you hurt, you will know that you have someone who understands - your Great Physician, and you will have confidence to go to him for healing.

He understands relationships. He was rejected by close friends. So, he understands when you have challenges with relationships. He knows what it means to grieve. He suffered the loss of close ones. He understands when you lose close ones and he is beside you to comfort you. He was the son of a carpenter and he practiced carpentry. I believe he faced challenges with customers and suppliers. Are you going through challenges at work? Believe me, he understands. Whatever you are going through, he became human and went through it, so he can understand, and can comfort you. What a saviour!

Halleluyah!

He is risen!!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Change Your Life Forever!

I recently came across a powerful quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower that got me thinking about the power of our choices. He said, and I quote “The history of free men is never written by chance, but by choice - their choice”. Powerful. In my humble opinion, I think it’s not only the history of free men that is written by their choices. It is the history of everyone. You are where you are today as a result of the choices you made, or you did not make, yesterday. The choices we make today will colour the spectrum of our life in the future.
The history of free men is never written by chance, but by choice - their choice.
The direction of our lives is determined by the choices we make every day. They accumulate and add up to our ultimate destiny. Success in life is not a gift. It doesn’t just fall on people like ripe apples! It is a choice that you have to make. You are a direct product of your choices. You are going to live tomorrow with the consequences of today’s choices. It is futile to squander today and hope for a generous tomorrow. Everything that happens in your life -both what you are thrilled with and what you are challenged by- began with a choice.

Here are some choices you can make - choices that will create for you a life of abundance and prosperity in all areas of your life.

1. Choose to become balanced spiritually, emotionally and physically. 

Our lives are best when we have these three major areas in balance. Never leave God out of the equation of your life. Infact, He needs to take first place in everything. That is the starting point. Spend some time cultivating your spirituality. Spend time to develop your emotional health. Spend time to be physically fit. You need to make a conscious effort to develop your spirit, your mind, and your body.

2. Choose to grow personally. 

This sounds simple but many people only wish to grow personally. They never choose to grow by taking actions, such as reading a book, taking a course, investing in knowledge, saving more money etc. Make a decision today to be a person who is on the never ending journey of personal growth.

3. Choose to always treat others right. 

We come across all sorts of people, many of whom will treat us poorly. We can choose to treat them right, no matter how they treat us. When they lie, we will tell the truth. When they cheat, we will play by the rules. We may get the short end of the stick some times, but in the long-run we will win. And most importantly, we will be able to sleep at night!

4. Choose to break a bad habit. 

Take them one after the other. Tackle it head on. If you don't know what it is, ask a friend. Then spend every effort you can to break that habit. Forget about the others, as you will get to them later. Stop smoking, get out of debt, and lose your excess weight. Exercise the power to choose!

5. Choose to work smarter. 

Many people I work with feel like they are out of balance. One of the first things I do is try to find out how much time they are wasting at work, which makes them work longer, which throws the rest of their life into chaos. Getting your work done by diligently working in the time you have will free your life up extraordinarily. Read up my earlier article on working smarter.

6. Choose to see your work as a way to help others, and not a way to make money. 

If you put your heart into helping others, the money will most assuredly come. Spend time helping others grow and your finances will grow with it. This is a profound truth.

7. Choose to sow more than you reap. 

There are many takers in this world, but our lives will be better as we become givers. The world will become better as we become givers. Give away your time, give away your money, give away your love. You will most assuredly get it back in many folds!

8. Choose to get home for dinner more often. 

The family is the most important group of people you will ever belong to. Make a decision today to grow in your relationship with your parents, siblings, spouse and children. This one choice you will never regret.

9. Choose to be positive. 

A positive mental attitude will surely put you miles ahead of your peers. Never say never. Attitude can make or mar your life. Attitude, more than aptitude determines your altitude. It is more valuable than skill. Choose a positive attitude and things will start to work for you
You have a chance today, to change your life forever. Make the right choices on a consistent basis, and I assure you, my friend, that you will live life more abundantly.

Enjoy!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Profitable For All Things...

In the past 6 months, I have used a gym for my workouts in a consistent manner. It has been part of my health goals for the past few years now, but I finally cracked it somehow. It's been an exciting and rewarding experience. I feel much better, healthier and fitter. I have also been able to see firsthand, how far some are willing to go to improve their physical state - for good and bad reasons.

As usual, apart from exercising and getting the benefits out of it, I have also being conscious to learn from what's going on around. I am most intrigued by the resistance training area. Here, you see lots of guys (mostly young men) trying to build muscles by lifting weights for several hours. The commitment and resilience shown is amazing. You can hear them shouting and screaming (and can imagine them having to deal with pains at home), as they try to make sure their chest muscle is visible for all to see. They do not even stop at that. Their diets are well regulated and they deny themselves meals that regular men will love to gulp down. They also invest in protein and vitamins supplements just to make sure they are in great physical shape. When done for the right reasons (though I doubt if this is the case), this could be great. Bodily exercise has several rewards and benefits. Apart from giving you a boost of energy, and better sleep, it can help maintain a good shape (without adding loads of weight) as well as leaving you generally healthier.
Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart.
However, when compared to godliness, these benefits of bodily exercises pale into insignificance! Look at the way the bible puts it " Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. “(I Tim 4: 7, MSG)

Interesting, isn't it? Godliness gives you benefits in this world and in eternity. Do you want to be fit today and forever? The bible recommends your tablet - Godliness. If only believers can put in a fraction of the efforts I have seen people put in at the gym, into daily exercises in God and in leading a disciplined life, I believe we will easily get rid of spiritual flabbiness and be better fit to live in this fast paced world. If only we will pray, read the bible and fellowship with God on a daily basis (it will shock you to know that most Christians don't), then we will be better equipped with strength and stamina - which are both important in order to finish strong!
Do you want to be fit today and forever? The bible recommends your tablet - Godliness.
Are you exercising yourself in Godliness as hard as if you were training for the Olympics? Or at least as much as if you went jogging to exercise? In other words, are you reading, meditating on and obeying God's Word to become more Godly? Or do you use the time you should spend exercising watching TV and surfing the internet?

Godliness is profitable in all things. It has spiritual benefits, physical benefits, social benefits, and financial benefits. Most importantly, it has eternal benefits. Wouldn't you also exercise yourself into godliness? Think about it.

God bless you!