October 16, 2011

The bestseller that describes the essence of my living

"We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn." – Mary Catherine Bateson

The benefits of reading and aspiring to learn from what we read cannot be overemphasized. Good books can change mindsets for a flourishing society. Indeed it is people who make up a society and when they are influenced positively, a fruitful world is created.

My favourite book is a bestseller and is ever fresh as I read it year in year out. Each time I read it, there is always something new for me to learn or apply in my career, relationships and my life.

My first real encounter with the book was in 1991. Because it’s voluminous I was only opportuned to read it from cover to cover in 2006. Before I used to read chapter by chapter and sometimes I would re-read chapters. Despite the fact I have read it cover to cover before, when I pick it up it seems I had not read it before. I seem to see another angle to what I have read. And if the portion am reading speaks to a present situation, it comes alive in a greater dimension.

I have come to realize that the more I read the book, the smarter I become. The book says a lot about day to day living such that when I apply its teachings, I am regarded as smart! It teaches me to prioritize my goals and if I follow my goals in order of priority, I am known as organized and efficient.

I struggle to cope with challenging situations that come my way. On such occasions, I act thoughtlessly and sometimes I regret my actions. One day as I battled, I read a portion that said, “If you crumble to pieces in the time of crisis, it means there was nothing in you in the first place.” I began to learn that in peace and tranquillity, solutions to my situations arise and when I apply them, it sometimes amazes even me that the solution occurred to. I began to learn that difficulties will continue to raise their heads but I don’t always have to fall to pieces or throw tantrums each time. The book teaches me to be joyful in the midst of my circumstances and know I have the power to overcome and the strength to keep going. In the end, victory will be mine and a personal transformation can take place even in difficulties.

I have also discovered that in reading, understanding and applying what I read, I discover my true self which is devoid of selfishness and is people oriented. When I focus on helping people, my problems become surmountable.

The book makes me understand that we can have a better society if we can accommodate and appreciate all men irrespective of culture and race. Furthermore, when we learn to treat others like we want to be treated, we can have societies infested with goodness and no evil. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

The book is an anti-depressant, a tranquilizer and pain killer that reduces my daily stress. It tells stories of those that have gone ahead of me for me to learn from. I don’t have to learn everything by personal experience. And it assures me that my challenges are not unique to me. 

It is a life coach, mentor and skills’ builder focusing on making me a better person for myself, family and friends. It x-rays my life and brings up hidden things to the surface so I can do away with them. It builds confidence in me and encourages me not to compare myself with others but to be content and maximize the talents and gifts in me.

It trains me on the principles of prosperity and teaches me how to be wise with money. I ought to master money rather it mastering me.

The Bible is indeed my favourite book. Though written many years ago, it is still relevant today and will still be a treasure for the future. Individuals need it. Nations need it. As I read some famous quotes, I realized many also value the bible as much as I do:

“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
- Unknown author.

“...In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.”
 - Robert E. Lee.

"I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated to us through this book."
- Abraham Lincoln

The Bible is a guide, a director and a teacher. It is a builder, encourager and a light to my path. It creates order and administers discipline in my life. It shapes me to be who I am called to be and it is all I need to tackle the challenges life throws at me.

Image from Pamela Hodson @ dreamstime

October 10, 2011

How to stop being buddies with sins IV: Focus on God

After church service, I felt like screaming Eureka! I felt my struggles are over! Well at least, that is how I felt as I left church.

God opened my eyes to the reason for the ups and downs I have been experiencing as a Christian. Indeed the journey should not be a struggle.

The pastor spoke about our significance and the meat of the sermon was identity revelation. I understood that the reason we struggle in our relationship with God is that we focus on behaviour modification and not identity revelation. Well, that is what we have been taught in church for long and so we have been programmed to focus on changing our behaviour.

But you know what? We can’t on our own, change our behaviour. That would be working out our salvation the wrong way. Focusing on behaviour modification makes us focus on ourselves and that is not what Jesus taught. He encourages us to forget about ourselves and look to him. He said when we do this, we shall find both ourselves (our child-of-God selves) and him (Matthew 10:39; The Message – paraphrased).

It made sense as I reflected on my life. When I focus on avoiding sin; that is when I commit it. Yes, what I fear will come upon me! For instance, yesterday I was having a headache which persisted. I decided to lie down for a while. Initially I wanted to read but I did not think the headache would allow me. At the same time, I could not sleep and then I started worrying that my mind was idle and that could precipitate unholy thoughts. This is a typical case of me worrying about committing sin rather than focusing on Jesus.

The sermon confirmed what I sensed God has been trying to tell me. When I focus on him and continually gaze on him, with time I shall observe that my sinful habits are no more. He would do the pruning as I remain connected to him. Anything that will prevent us from being who he has called us to be will be removed as we continue to develop our relationship with him.

As I studied John 15 (The Message) today, I realized I should focus on my relationship with God being intimate and organic; to please him and obey his word. What does it mean to be organic? Organic in this context means to develop naturally. The relationship should be seen and applied as an essential part of my existence; a constituent necessary for my completeness.

When our relationship with God is intimate and organic, we shall bear bountiful fruit (multi-faceted; multi-component and multi-dimensional) naturally with no struggles.

When I focus consistently on him and not on my sinful habits, with time sin will become foreign, wither and fall off. He will do the work.

As I behold him, I become his splitting image. Yes, we are who we behold. God is without sin and so we shall be without sin. Remember it is not an event but a process.

Lets us not pause the process by going on a break or sabbatical for it will prolong the process. Rather, let us be consistent in gazing on him. Remember, as long as Peter looked at Jesus, he walked on water, but as he removed his eyes from Jesus, he began to sink.

Do you want to stop being buddies with sins? Focus on God consistently and persistently!

Image by Vanell @ stockfreeimages.com

October 2, 2011

How to stop being buddies with sins III: Approaches to bible study

In the story of Mary and Martha, Jesus made it clear the kind of relationship he desired with his people. God understands that we have affairs of life to attend to but those affairs can be better taken care of if we can spend time at his feet like Mary.

When Martha interrupted Jesus to report Mary; Jesus said Mary has chosen what was vital and it will not be taken from her. Let’s learn to come at Jesus feet to receive strength, power, wisdom, joy, peace and patience to face whatever challenges may come our way.

Studying the word is being at the Lord’s feet, hanging on every word and tapping from the Most High.

One of the reasons a number of people do not read the bible is because they don’t understand it. I used to have such a challenge when I used King James Version of the Bible. However, studying the bible has been a delight since I discovered The Message. This version has made me realize the bible is applicable to a 21st century Christian. Yes, bible versions in contemporary English such as The Message can help us appreciate the word of God.

Come to the word prayerfully and determined to be dealt with, willing to let God reproduce his character in you. Then you can get up from your place of study having taken a dose for the day which will nourish and keep you.

There are a number of ways to approach the study of the bible. You can choose any approach or apply a number of approaches.

Study by book
You may study by choosing a book to read. If you are new to the word or you have decided to return to the basics in your relationship with God, I would recommend the book of John which I am reading currently. It teaches a lot about Jesus and how he related with our father in heaven. If Christ is our model, then we ought to learn how he succeeded here on earth to obey his father till the end.

Afterwards you may choose to read the other books of the gospel – Matthew, Mark and Luke; and some letters of Paul such as Romans and Hebrews. In Romans, Paul discusses the life, death and resurrection of Christ and exposes the beneficial implications to us while in Hebrews, he teaches us to let go and let God. You can read the books one after the other until you have read all and then you start all over again.

Study by Topic
You may also choose to study the word by topic. If there is any topic you don’t understand or you want to know more about; you can do so with the help of a concordance. Perhaps you want to know what God says about suffering or self-sacrifice; then you can make use of study tools to achieve this. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance can help you undertake an exhaustive study of the topic.

Study by symbols, people or time
Fire, water, earth, passover, tabernacle, numbers, places and colours for instance are symbolic and worthy of study. The number 3 is symbolic for balance or completion while number 7 is for perfection. Purple is for royalty and gold is for kingdom. I also see gold as refinement. So you may choose to study to know what these symbols signify.

You may choose to study the lives of people such as Jesus, Abraham, Daniel, Joseph, Steven, David etc. How you want to study by time is up to you – flood age, fire age, Christian age, before Christ or after Christ etc.

In addition, you can use a number of study tools in order to enrich your output.

Have a study notebook
A number of times as you study and ponder on the word, God may expound a passage or verse and it will be great to write what he is telling you and you can meditate on it. Many days later, when you read what you have written down, it will be fresh. God’s word is so alive that each time we study; there is always a fresh angle to it.

Look for study tools
You can use commentaries, bible dictionaries, Bible guides such as devotionals

A site to go for a number of bible study tools is BibleStudyTools

Now having studied, Apply!

Ephesians 6:13-17 (The Message)

Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon.

Need I say more? You are more blessed if you are a doer of God’s word. You are an overcomer if you are a doer of God’s word.

Like the song by casting crown; at the Lord’s feet we find all we need, we ought to dwell there and never leave. Yes, we should operate from there. Sin cannot be your buddy if you operate from God’s feet.

How do you study the bible? Share by leaving a comment to motivate and encourage others.

September 25, 2011

How to stop being buddies with sins II

No one who sincerely has opened up to Christ delights in living in sin. Once any sin is committed, the Christian is sorry he undertook such act. The hearts of a number of Christians are not seared though they struggle with sins. Some of us have become frustrated thinking the sins we struggle with have overpowered us. We have hated and quarrelled with ourselves when we could not resist temptations.

Overcoming sin is not what we can do by our strength. We need Jesus! We need the Word. Hence the next approach on how to stop being buddies with sin is:

Eating the daily bread consistently
For us to better understand the urgency to consistently pray, study and meditate on the word of God (the bible and God’s word through our inner man and children of God), God gave me an illustration:

For many of us that have a computer, be it laptop, notebook, desktop, tablet, etc; we know that when we don’t install an antivirus, our personal computers get contaminated. This contamination can affect the computer in various ways. Malware is a term used to describe unwanted and malicious softwares programmed to destroy files, cause data loss, reprogram a computer, steal information, send email spam, and the list goes on. Malware include viruses, worms, trojans, rootkits, backdoors, spywares, botnets, keystroke loggers, etc. These are computer contaminants which can make computing, browsing, and online shopping experiences uncomfortable and frustrating. So to avoid such frustrations and losses, we ensure we use antivirus. An antivirus software is used prevent, detect and remove malware. Recently there are anti-malwares with total internet security ensuring computing, browsing and online shopping experiences can be stress free. However, it is not about just installing an anti-malware; the anti-malware has to be consistently updated because creators of malware are consistent in their creation.

If we can work at preventing viruses, worms, trojans etc from infecting our personal computers or stealing information from our laptops/computers; should we not also safeguard our souls and spirits? Sins are contaminants that the devil consistently brings to our attention. Some of them are obvious but too enticing and pleasing for us to reject their invasion. Some are concealing like the trojans preventing us from recognizing them initially until friends or families bring to our attention the unpleasant trends in our lives.

Studying and meditating on the word is like an anti-malware to detect and prevent sin from taking root in our lives. In the last article we discussed making prayer which is another anti-malware a lifestyle. Each anti-malware must be updated as the devil will consistently run to and fro looking for an unprotected child of God to kill, destroy or steal from. Praying and studying the word form part of our daily security from the schemes of the enemy.

Never read the bible for formality sake but study so the word which is Jesus (John 1:1-2) can be internalized. See the word as your daily bread without which you cannot survive or withstand or shield away the darts of the enemy. The word taken in yesterday may not be enough to resist the schemes of the enemy today. As the days go by without the study of the word, you become unprotected and exposed to the enemy to do as he pleases.

Hebrew 4:12-13 (The Message)
God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word. We can't get away from it—no matter what.

Ephesians 5:26 (The Message)
Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.

The word of God is sharp enough to uproot all that is not of God within us. The word of God shields and defends us. It provokes us to listen and obey God. In addition, the word of God beautifies and causes us to radiate with holiness.

Let the children of God arise and stop being buddies with sins by consistently; never relenting to study and internalize the word of God. 

Image by Jane Conversano @ dreamstime

September 11, 2011

How to stop being buddies with sins

In the last article, I had some illustrations to show we can stop being buddies with sin. We need to be tenacious in kicking sin out and it has to be sustained. We have to match force with sustained resistance. We must continually resist the devil and refuse to gratify the desires of the flesh.

In this article, I would like to share one of the ways we can stop encouraging the devil to run our lives.

We should have sustained prayerful lives
Prayer is a two-way communication with God whereby we pour out our hearts – needs, desires, fears, queries – while God shows us his ways and deeds. It is an avenue for God to rub off himself on and in us. If we are consistent, he reproduces his character in us and over time we can become his splitting image. Prayer is never a hit and run process. It is not meant to be occasional or to be undertaken only when we are in need. So when we are consistent in prayer, the devil loses his hold; we focus on pleasing God and as we continue to focus on God, righteousness becomes a lifestyle.

I have shuttled between prayerlessness and prayerfulness; and so I know the difference. When I am prayerless over a period, I begin to pick up sinful habits that I had conquered. This is compounded when I am in the midst of people that encourage such sinful habits.

However, one thing I noticed in this shuttle between prayerlessness and prayerfulness is that God did not abandon me. He would always nudge me back to him. I can’t help but to wonder if it is because of some prayers I had prayed early in life.

I remember way back in 2003, I prayed, “Oh Lord, please do not let my conscience be seared. Let me be tied unto you like the belt of man is tied unto his waist”

Sadly, I have been on this shuttle several times over the years; the inconsistency has done me no good. It affects the spiritual temperature leaving one lukewarm which God detests and provides a loophole for the devil to creep in gradually and if the lukewarmness continues, the devil strategizes to make one his abode.

When I am in the prayerful zone, I am safe, swimming in the ocean of righteousness; feeling like a conqueror and I testify of God’s goodness freely.

When I am in the prayerless zone, I am like a house infested with all sorts of insects. I know I ought to get rid of them but I continue to encourage their presence and at some point I begin to think I can leave with them as long as they are not visible to visitors. It is also difficult to testify of God freely without being overwhelmed by guilt. In addition, there is a voice that is quick to remind me of my sins.

A skin infection starts on one spot and spreads all over the skin. A small fire at one end of the forest can raze the whole forest. A crack in a dam can lead to flooding in a city destroying infrastructure and taking lives.

 I choose to think of prayerlessness as a sin – a small unrecognizable sin that initiates more and bigger sins. It is an un-ceremonial and unacknowledged invitation to the devil to take charge of our lives and destroy us. The devil will take charge without us remembering when we handed the driver’s seat to him. If we leave him long enough, he will cause such havoc with terrible consequences.

If we want Jesus to be continually in the driver’s seat; live a righteous life and be above principalities and powers, then we must be prayerful.

If we want God to reproduce his character in us; then we must be prayerful.

We must make prayer part of our lifestyle; we must delight in communicating with God continually. Only then can we overcome and stop being buddies with sin.

Image by Coral Coolahan @ dreamstime

August 28, 2011

We can stop being buddies with sin

I have a year devotional given to me by a friend. I am not a regular with devotionals but because of the effort and money my friend spent to ensure I have the devotional, I decided to use it faithfully. Recently I read a portion that really sparked fire in me. This devotional is written by a renowned Pastor in Nigeria, Pastor E. A. Adeboye and that day’s devotional was titled ‘force complements resistance” In it was an illustration – imagine if you are about to get into your bed and found a snake wanting to share the warmth of your bed because of the cold outside.

Now there was no way I would allow that. I would not sit on the bed; how much more lie down to sleep. As I began to think of it, I remembered back in my university days, the room I stayed in first year was near the toilets. And as long as our windows were open, we had rats to contend with. There were three of us and we would get up and chase the rat until we either kill it or it escapes. It was difficult for us to sleep without getting rid of it. A rat would come right up the bed; run right on top of the blanket and if any part of the body is exposed, it will be bitten.

First, it’s difficult to sleep if you have something running all over you even if you are separated from it by a blanket! Secondly, the rat could be infected. Now that is not cool at all. So as the rat comes in through the window, sleep goes out through the same window. Sleep can only return when the rat is killed or leaves through the window.  So I and my roommates would get up and make a choice. We don’t want the rat and so the chase would begin. There would be no sleep until the intruder is gotten rid off.

We struggle with sins or weaknesses for years because we have not matched force with resistance. Yes, we don’t like our struggles with sin and we pray about it. Sometimes, we cry; hate ourselves and wonder why we have not overcome. We overcome the first month and fall back to the sin the next month. Our victory over sin requires a forceful evacuation! Total annihilation with no opportunity of a bounce back! It is a battle and you must make a choice to win and the victory must be sustained. You can’t sleep with an animal that is not your pet. You would do everything to get rid of it. So do everything to get rid of sin.

Although it is a battle, it is also possible to have a sustained victory over sin. I spent time thinking about the illustration and the more I think of it, the more I realize that the scripture – submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee is not farfetched. Our lives are under siege with the devil working tirelessly to ensure that we do not conform to the image of God. We must strongly refuse to please the flesh or satisfy the unholy longings in us planted by the devil. Remember, the devil can only dangle sin but he cannot force you to commit it. So get up and make a choice!

I am on my way to have a sustained victory over the weaknesses in my life. As I give more room to God, there shall be less and less space for sin.

I would like to learn from you. Please share how you think one can have sustained victory over any weakness or sin.

Image by Daniel Bellhouse @ dreamstime.com

July 24, 2011

Jesus, initiator of centripetal and centrifugal forces that keep our lives in orbit

I bet a number of us have studied a particular chapter of the bible time and times again and each time a different verse(s) would strike us and come alive. If we choose to meditate upon the verse(s), God expounds in awesome ways.

Recently, I meditated on The Message version of John 3:29-30:

29 -30"That's why my cup is running over. This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines.

This was John’s response to his disciples when they reported to him that Jesus was becoming more popular and attracting more people. This information did not upset John. Rather he was happy to slip to the sidelines.

I mused, churned it and God took over. It became clear to me that it was better if Jesus was at the centre of my life and activities. If he is at the centre, creativity and productivity will be higher. Since I don’t have the power to keep all things in equilibrium, having Jesus at the centre was the ultimate solution. Then I began to see him as the centripetal and centrifugal forces that keep me in orbit. I continued to churn; wondering how to fully apply the thoughts.

I had to refresh my memory of what I know about centripetal and centrifugal forces. I sensed God was trying to say we can’t do without him. So why try?

It was easier for me to understand that Jesus is the centripetal force pulling me to him. But how is he the centrifugal force?

First let me explain the forces. Centripetal force (centre-seeking) is the force that pulls an object towards the centre; thus making a circular motion possible. Centrifugal force means to flee from the centre. Centrifugal force does not act on the object but acts on the source of centripetal force to displace it from the centre. Interestingly, it is not the centrifugal force that causes an object to fly out of its orbit but rather it is the removal of the centripetal force.

Okay, I know we usually regard circular motion as going nowhere but are you aware that acceleration occurs in circular motions? Furthermore, application of circular motions achieve results such sedimentation and separations. It is also applied in carousels and turning cars to mention a few. And the moon!

The moon is kept in orbit by centripetal and centrifugal forces. The moon is pulled towards the earth by centripetal force and centrifugal force pulls on the earth and helps to keep the moon in motion. There is a balance between the two forces – they act in equal measure but opposite in direction. Imagine if centrifugal force was greater, what will happen to the moon? The moon would have taken off and probably land in my backyard, crashed to pieces.

Jesus is the influence that keeps our lives in equilibrium. Everything going on whether palatable or unpalatable is balanced by Jesus. He applies the centripetal force to make us seek the centre which is him.

But how does he apply centrifugal force since it is a reaction to centripetal force? Just like centrifugal force is needed to keep the moon in motion, we also need centrifugal force. Centrifugal force can be trials and tribulations. Depending on how we respond to them, they will just be the counter force required to keep us in equilibrium. The centrifugal and centripetal forces are net forces that keep us seeking the centre. The presence of Jesus and God inflicted trials in our lives are to keep us centre seeking.

However, we can respond in such a manner that it may appear that the centrifugal force is greater and may succeed in removing the centripetal force. When the centrifugal force becomes greater, it means we are responsible for the imbalance. This is because as Paul wrote to the Corinthians; the trials God bring our way are within our limits and he is always present to help us through them. However, when they exceed it means we have brought upon us the consequences of our disobedience. Our disobedience displaces the centripetal force which is the presence of Jesus from our lives. May we not allow sin to prevent us from always seeking the centre.

But then, brace yourself! Jesus is not just the centre; he is also the orbit. He is the sphere of influence on our lives and he is the main director of our lives. In sum, it is all about him!

I would like to hear from you. Do you agree that Jesus is the initiator of the forces that keep us in orbit? Perhaps God has revealed more of this to you. Please share. 

July 17, 2011

Learning from robots to improve our relationship with God

You may ask having read the title, ‘what can we learn from robots?’ Now before we get into that, let’s really understand what robots are. Robots are mainly machines that programmed or commanded to undertake tasks in which it mimics a human or an animal. Some of them like those made in South Korea are made to interact with humans. They are expected to work using their own sensors and intelligence. They do not have emotions though we are almost given the impression from some movies. A robot is able to do a task repeatedly because it is programmed to do so. It does not have to think about it. And so it does not try to rationalize the instruction; complain about it or contemplate whether to do it or not. It just executes the order.

Now what can we learn from robots? Obeying instructions! Robots always comply to instructions. When God gives us instructions, he knows better than we do. He has seen the end from the beginning before giving the instructions. So when we do not comply or dismiss what we hear, it is disregarding the one who gave the instruction.

One man in the bible that has challenged me is Abraham. God had promised him that his descendants shall be like the sand of the sea. If sand of the sea can be counted then so shall his descendants be. After 25 years of God promising to give him a child, he had Isaac. When Isaac had grown; perhaps a teenager (age was not specified) God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham did not negotiate; he did not try to remind God about his promise and he did not dismiss what he heard. Rather he complied; he set out to sacrifice Isaac. As they prepared for the journey to the land of Moriah as God directed (Genesis 22), Isaac observed there was no animal for sacrifice. He asked his father Abraham who simply replied, “The Lord shall provide”.

Abraham sure acted like a robot by being instantaneous in his obedience with no complaints or debate, though I would like to consider him a robot extraordinaire. The only aspect we are to learn from robots is complying. However, like my friend Ada said, ‘while robots obey out of duty or programming, we ought to obey out of love.’ We ought to obey out of the knowledge we have of God. Yes, I realize that whether our obedience is instant or delayed; undertaken happily or grudgingly depends on our faith and knowledge of God:

“By faith, Abraham, at the time of testing, offered Isaac back to God. Acting in faith, he was as ready to return the promised son, his only son, as he had been to receive him—and this after he had already been told, "Your descendants shall come from Isaac." Abraham figured that if God wanted to, he could raise the dead. In a sense, that's what happened when he received Isaac back, alive from off the altar”. (Hebrew 11:17-19; The Message).

Abraham’s knowledge and belief in God enabled him to pass the test of obedience even though he stood possibly to lose his only son.

All said; obeying God is not in our power. No wonder Jeremiah talked about God training him to obedience (Jeremiah 31:19, The Message) and David pleaded with God to train him to obey (Psalm 86:11; 25:4,5; and 119). David went ahead in Psalm 119 to state that he had more insights than his teachers and was wiser than the elderly by thinking of God’s word and doing what God told him.

If we keep disobeying or obeying grudgingly and not out of love, God will communicate less. However, the more we obey the more God reveals. Our lives and community will be better for it. Our relationship with God will improve; our purpose here on earth accomplished and God will be glorified.

I would love to hear from you. Do you think that Abraham’s kind of faith is still possible in our time? Can we obey God like Abraham and have the kind of relationship he had with God?

Image by Leeloomultipass @ dreamstime

July 3, 2011

How to access true success and fulfilment in life

One day, I was reading John 5 and verses 19 and 20 caught my attention:

So Jesus explained himself at length."I'm telling you this straight. The Son can't independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing. (John 5:19-20; The Message).

I began to realize I cannot boast in anything I may have achieved because it is God the father that has enabled me to accomplish. Furthermore, if Jesus who is equally God could acknowledge this, who am I to think I can do good, achieve success and have a great life all by myself? And if God is the enabler, who am I to look down on myself and think I cannot? If I don’t believe I am able, it means I don’t believe in the one who has created me and endowed me with great potentials. I don’t believe in the one who created me and saw that I am good. All I need to do is emulate Christ who only did what he saw his father do.

As I thought of it, I understood that as I look unto God and see, then it means that whatever I see can be done. As I continue to focus on God, then I begin to live in a realm of possibilities. I shall no longer think that anything I see is impossible to achieve.

Indeed you and I are created to do the impossible! All we need to do is focus on God. Whatever we see in the spiritual realm is possible in the physical realm.

Then I imagined - if all God’s children are looking unto him to see what He is doing; will all be seeing the same thing? As I thought of it, the awesomeness of God dawned on me. He is a huge multitasker! He is willing and ready to involve each one of us in all that he is doing. He can attend to all of us and can show us different things at the same time. The difference will be based on each person’s make up and level of relationship with him. 

For instance, if he is healing someone in my vicinity and gets me involved in it, he may be comforting another and gets another child of his involved in the task of comforting at the same time he is involving me in healing.  He may be showing me how he wants to influence the world through me which will be different from what he may show my sister simultaneously. 

So when there is a need not met, a gap not bridged or a challenge not surmounted, it means someone may have been distracted from focusing on the great multitasker. 

Jesus met the needs of people who came to him (even those that did not request like the man by Pool Bethesda) bridged the gap and surmounted all challenges because he focused on God. He did not take decisions on his own:

I can't do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I'm not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders. (John 5:30; The Message)

Jesus, while on earth carried out only the orders of our Father. There was nothing he did on earth that was his own decision. I believe that was why he was extremely successful. He was well known and revered. Of course the religious people were not happy with his success and popularity. Yet, the Pharisees could not kill him before the appointed time; he escaped every trap set for him and he had the right words and solutions for each situation.

His focus was to glorify the one who has called him and in so doing, he was also glorified!

As I pondered, it became clear that real and sustainable success is achievable if I can forget my selfish ambitions; focus on God and do only what I hear from him and see him doing. When my focus and delight is doing the will of the Father, he will include me in everything. As I continually align with his will, I shall discover his desires and my desires will be one and in the end I will achieve true success and be fulfilled. 

As I focus on glorifying the Father, I will be glorified. As you focus on glorifying our Father in heaven, you will be glorified.

Image from dreamstime by Marcia Cirillo

June 19, 2011

Reach out to the hand of mercy

I am sitting down wondering
Am I justified to write today?
I am called to be an ambassador
But I fail uncountable times.
I promise God I won’t do it again
But I don’t keep the promise.
And I am tired of failing on my promises!

As I sit feeling unworthy to look unto God
 I sense God assuring me that I will make it
But I don’t want to make it tomorrow
I don’t want to make it next week
I don’t want to make it next month
I want to make it now!

Reach out to the hand of mercy, He says
No matter what you do, I won’t let go
I will stand by you and help you grow
I will stand by you until you make it
Reach out to the hand of mercy now

I am too embarrassed; I want to hide
I don’t deserve to be called his child
But he stands by me though I don’t
Even before I sin, he alerts me
Yes, he alerts me but I choose not to listen

Yet when I sin and I am down in the pit
He stretches his hand to me in the pit
He encourages me to reach to him
To reach out to the hand of mercy

Even if I fall so many times
I will keep reaching out to his hand
I will keep reaching out to his mercy
Until I become who he believes I am

And you, no matter the lies of the devil to you
Reach out to the hand of mercy
Until you become his splitting image
Reach out to the hand of mercy  

Image by Pakhnyushchyy @ dreamstime

April 10, 2011

How to live a life of one who is created for exploits

Do you know as a believer in Christ, you are crowned by the father to lead his people by doing exploits? And if we do know, do we understand the implications? 

Our father opened my eyes to understand this: As a believer, I sit in heavenly places with Christ. I am crowned in majesty and endowed with queenly robe. Then, imagine a queen with a soiled robe! How much power will she exert? How can she influence her subjects? When my robe is soiled, I become self-conscious and it hinders me from taking giant steps. When people see my soiled robe, would they listen to me? Will they take me seriously when I tell them that I know the way to eternal life? Then I sensed God saying, “Do not soil your queenly robe. Do not displease the one who has enthroned you. Do not meddle with the things of this world for it will hamper your reign!”

However, our daily interactions with the world pressurize us to conform to its dictates. Trust me, I face this battle daily. So how then can we live a life of exploits? How can we daily please the one that has enthroned us?

1. By first understanding you cannot do it on your own
Jesus taught us a branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it is attached to the vine. Apart from God, we can do nothing. Even Jesus who is God himself said he could not do a thing on his own. He acted upon his father’s instructions. He did only what he saw his father doing. So if he saw the father heal the sick, he healed the sick. If he saw the father raise the dead, he raised the dead. In sum, his father was doing exploits through him. So we need not worry about the possibility of us humans doing exploits. Indeed, Jesus assured us we shall do greater exploits than he did in three years. How? For our father will work through us. All we need to do is remain attached and in intimate relationship with him.

2. By studying and emulating the life of Jesus, our model
The book of John reveals to us, Jesus’ relationship with the father and he encouraged us to relate with the father in the same manner. Because of his intimacy with the father, he did exploits and the father was pleased for he said Jesus was his beloved son in whom he was pleased with. As you study the life of Jesus, you will find out that the will of God was his focus. He was always looking for ways to glorify his father. He understood that glorifying the father was his reward. He got a message that his close friend, Lazarus was sick. He could have gone to heal him but he chose to delay because he knew that the resurrection of Lazarus will glorify God more and draw more men unto God. From the book of John, I understood that the impact of the miracle on the lives of the Jews continued for days. But then, think of it! The impact of the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection is still felt today!

The book of John is loaded with how Jesus related with the father and his exploits. In effect, I have made up my mind to read the book of John over and over until I see its geometric impact in my life.

3. By dying to self
Death to self cannot be over-emphasized. If we don’t die, we cannot reproduce ourselves and consequently reproduce God. Jesus taught in John 12 that for a seed to reproduce itself many times, it ought to die or it will only remain a seed. When it dies, it sprouts and produces fruits and many more seeds. If you die to self, die to this world, you will have your life back forever, true and eternal. When you die to self, you will draw more men to the father. Death to self enhances intimacy with the father and when we are intimate with the father, like Jesus assured us, whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. Remember Samuel? His words did not fall to the ground. God was alert and constantly honouring Samuel’s words. In fact I think Samuel case was like that of Jesus who said, “I am not making any of this up on my own. The father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it” (John 12:49; MSG). Jesus also said “The words I speak to you are not mere words. I don’t just make them up on my own. The father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act” (john 14:10; MSG). Isn’t that awesome? Christ did not live for himself while he was on earth. He lived for his father, our father. He was not out to have his own ways and ambitions. He made God, the father the goal and purpose of his life.

I am crowned and endowed by our father to lead his people to him by teaching the word. I am to worship him through science and writing. What a privilege! 

So what are you crowned and endowed to do?

Image by Leonard John Matthews @ flickr.com