The Day the Swing Called My Name:


Let it be known that kids also play dirty political games! Ayana was only five years old like I was at the time, yet she was taller than most. But if you glued your ears to the walls of our house in the middle of a hot afternoon, you'd hear her laughter all the way from the playground, laughing at whoever was a whimsical weakling and could not climb the swing.

Once I heard it, I would close my ears so tight with my palms, and tears would begin to fall. My parents thought I had a disorder, maybe "Attention Deficit Disorder," but they did not do anything about it. Once I caught them discussing it with the good neighbor, then I saw them laughing together. I do not think they understood the real reason why I cried every afternoon. Maybe because other symptoms also persisted: I would refuse also to go out to the swing area to join the rest of my siblings, I wanted to be with mummy and daddy all the time...morning, noon, and night. They thought I was old enough by now. But I sure wasn't as brave as little red riding hood. Oh, there was something else. When mama took my hands at 7 O' Clock, and we went for a stroll in the park, I would notice that all the kids had left with their own mamas and I would release my mother's grasp and run to the swing. But I always made sure to stand far away from it, many inches in front. So that when Ayana came the next day she would not even smell my footsteps. I would not climb. I would not swing. I was not as strong as the rest. Too afraid that I would be too weak to hold it and would fall.

But this crazy day came, and it was not as hot as the rest of the days the week before. I felt different today because it was my sixth birthday. At lunch, I told my older siblings defiantly (with head held up high) that I would be going to the playground with them. My parents looked at each other, but pretended they did not hear what I said. I was too excited and finished my meal before everyone. On this day, Ayana and the rest of the kids were there. She was watching me with those big white eyes as I took those steps to stand in front of the swing, poised to laugh, ready to pick on me. Slooossssh. Slooooosh. Sleeeeasssh. The leaves were crumbling under my feet as I stepped forward. The girl on the swing got up and gestured that I could get on. The swing called my name and I smiled. I took a hold of it and sat down. The wind worked with me and lifted me up...higher and higher...until I started to laugh...

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Who told you that you couldn't do it? Everything you think you cannot do is all inside a figment of your imagination. Who told you that you're different from the fire-releasing ministers, or the too-good-to-be-true people of the world? Who told you that you cannot make heaven? Who told you that you can't be forgiven?

The swing is right there, waiting to work with the winds on your behalf. Just silently waiting to take you higher and higher. Throw the notion that you cannot do "it," whatever your "it" is, away into the dust-bin. Because you can! Yes, you can run with your visions, goals, aspirations, and desires. You can even be the person who Jesus spoke about in the book of Matthew, when He said, "Be the light of the world and the salt of the earth."

The problem is that you're looking at someone else. Someone you think is stronger than you are. Someone you think is more of a leader than you are. Someone who will laugh at you when you tell them who you want to become. But you need to look at yourself and see the treasure inside of you. You can become a president, an ambassador, a King, a Queen, a CEO, an entrepreneur, or any other thing of empowerment...if you only look inside you. You can also come to know God more if you tell yourself that you can do it.

The swings are waiting...the winds are not blowing yet, until you hop on for the long haul.

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden." Matthew 5: 13-14

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Hey, Mr. Stony:

Hey, Mr. Stony
Where are my seeds?
The little brown dusty seeds I gave you
The ones that look like white dots in the middle of a sliced water melon
Did you put them in your soil,
Or did you throw them away?
What happened to them, Mr. Stony?

I remember yesterday so clearly
No, my vision fails really happened
It was only just yesterday, why would I forget?
My memory goes back for as long as I can remember
You were looking at me with your ever daunting eyes
I could sense the anticipation in your soul
A longing and an insatiable hunger in your spirit
A delectable humility to soak in every moment
A rare kodak moment of expectation bursting with exhilaration

Before I opened my hands,
Yours were already open
Before I spoke the Word
Your ears had already listened
Before I said "lift up your hands"
They were already all up in the air
And so it was that I buried my seeds in-between your palms
Inside the seat of your ability

Immediately you sprung from your seat
Like a mountainous volcanic eruption
Or fireworks that refuse to be restrained
You said you must go and plant those seeds
And maybe someday they would become trees
I smiled in knowing recognition of your willingness
I smiled, knowing you truly meant every word

Today has come and I thought I should visit
So where are the seeds, Mr. Stony?
The little brown dusty seeds I gave you
The ones that look like white dots in the middle of a sliced water melon
Did you put them in your soil,
Or did you throw them away?
What happened to them, Mr. Stony?

I wrote this because yesterday I read Mark Chapter 4 again...the parable of the man who went out to sow seeds in different grounds, and was reminded again of how sometimes we are like stony grounds receiving much seed with so much gladness but not having much soil to hold the seeds well, of how the seeds spring up immediately but have no depth and do not last long...of how we're so quick to say how these writings make sense to us, or how we're going to do something about them. How enough is enough and how there is work to do. Is the joy of reading these words only for a moment, or is it for the long haul? Is it just for the hour, or is it for a life-time?

The issue is...what do we do with the seeds when we wake up the next morning? Do we forget all about them?

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This Thing Called Tradition:

16-year old Jerome sat still on the white leather ottoman, holding tightly to the precious thing in his left hand. The thing looked like messy cloudy waves sitting on top a sea of life-less muddy water. It was in a little cream-colored cup which had letters strewn around it in a circular pattern, alluring to the eyes and pleasing to the mouth. It was like gold to him, this triple layered chocolate-flavored vanilla swirl Jell-O pudding. Nothing could dare to replace it all these years, not since he was two and still breast-feeding. Anyone that tried to change him eventually gave up on him. It was his permanent way of life, his very own inundated tradition. He held on tightly like his life depended on it, not caring whether he was currently fifty pounds over what his Body Mass Index indicated was healthy for his age. It did not matter to him- what people said, or whether there was a healthier substitute. He loved the life he was living; he felt as good as Shrek feels when he's hidden in a solitary place where no one can tell his true ugliness.

He squeezed the cup and a little Jell-O dropped on his jeans. He looked downwards, and when he saw the stains the waterworks began. The tears fell freely, although they say a grown-up boy should never cry. He wanted to break it...he wanted to tear this silly tradition into two. But he just couldn't fathom a single good plan...

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Is your life based on a failing tradition? Have you been telling yourself to stop something, or even to start something new...but you keep falling short?

Hey, God always has His arms open with unlimited chances! You can easily stop your ancient tradition. You can stop your "Religiosity" and move on to "Intimacy" with God. You can tell yourself that you don't just want to hear or read the scriptures, but you want to actually "do" what it says. You know something? No one will ever see the things that you read...not even a neuro-surgeon as powerful as Ben Carson can understand the depth of your knowledge about God. Only you can.

You're the only one that can break your unnecessary traditions: listening on Sunday without really understanding the words, doing good without knowing why, giving alms without loving the poor, settling fights without having the peace of God within you, waking up in the morning without knowing who owns your breath, preaching the word without being the messenger, singing along to worship lyrics without really worshipping, stretching your arms to heaven without understanding where God sits, doing what you usually do at the middle of the night without knowing that He sees you, being prideful rather than running into His arms again.

We're in a ludicrous season when each man should know his own calling and his own plight. We're no longer in the era of 'group-hugs' and 'family affairs.' Rather, each person should be ready to break his or her traditions into something deeper. There's no use leaving this world with a steady-set of rules that cause you to live your life with no revelation. My message today is "Yes, you can change. Yes, you can change any old tradition and have a more meaningful life instead."

It's a new day...a new dawn. A time to put the old traditions in the thrash and break forth into a deeper understanding of who God really is..."To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?" Says the Lord. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or goats. Bring no more futile sacrifices...wash yourselves, make yourselves clean..." (Isaiah 1: 11-20). To me, the 'multitude of sacrifices' written here is representative of die-hard traditions which people find really hard to give up.

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The Sign-Watcher:

It is midnight and you are ready to go. People call you a sort of "watch-man," but your job is really not to stay at the top of a watch-tower waiting for boats to pass by or arrive at your seaport. You, on the other hand, are a different kind of watch-man! Your self-assigned task is to watch for signs & wonders without anything such as a blink. Every single night as the clock hits 12:00, you pick up your indispensable tools: an old opaque magnifying glass, a crinkly torch-light, an ancient telescope, and a worn-out fall jacket. It's an obsessive compulsive routine that you've gotten used to at this point in your life. You can't change it. It is who you are, and it is what they know you as.

And so you walk out on your porch and put on your crinkly torch-light. You proceed to position your ancient telescope in such a way that you can see the brightest star, and finally you begin to watch for the move of God's mighty hands. Two weeks ago you spent your time studying the clouds; last week it was the darkness around the clouds. Tonight, you will spend your time waiting to catch the sunrise. You must not sleep if you want to see exactly when the sun rises. No man has ever caught the awakening of the sun, but what is impossible with others is possible with you. You know it. You can just feel it in your veins. You're an unstoppable watchman!

You are a sign-watcher. And that's just who you are.

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My mission this morning is to tell you that it's not all about the signs. Sign-watchers are those ones who actually miss the signs. I was talking to a friend last night and she said that many times we're waiting for the mighty and great works of God to prove that He exists, meanwhile He has already moved in the smaller things around us, but we didn't catch His movement. Sign-watchers usually, most times than not, miss it.

There were three young Hebrew boys who didn't miss it: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. These three were at the risk of being thrown into a very hot burning fiery furnace, just because they chose not to bow to the King's non-living statue. But it is what they said that shows that they understood that it wasn't about the signs: "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O King. BUT IF NOT, let it be known to you that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."

But if not...

What in the world? What kind of boldness was that? So what if God did not come in a whirlwind to rescue them? Honestly speaking, they didn't really care. They had already been previously convinced that God was real, so they didn't even need Him to show up at that point.

What if God doesn't rescue you today? What if when you speak to Him you get silence for words? What if your prayers haven't been answered yet? What if instead of perfection it seems like everything is spiraling downwards? The answer is that He may not give you a sign, but He sure does know what's going on. And He said that He will do He will. Stop depending on signs, just be someone who can bask in His matter what you're going through.

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When Sleep Becomes Invigorating...

I heard something inside me that caused my blood to boil and my spirit to get excited.

Sleep could be sweet. Sleep could become invigorating, just like little drops of water eventually become a stream, and a stream eventually becomes a mighty river. Slowly, but surely. Maybe unexpectedly. When I sleep I tend to stretch my muscles, pulling the fibers into sheer relaxation. I am not a static sleeper...sometimes in the middle of the night, I twist and turn sideways, and then I turn back to my original position. Sometimes I hug my fancy pillows, but at other times I throw them far away from me...maybe even on the carpet...or maybe on my bedside table, kicking everything therein away.

Sleep could become really invigorating, maybe even intoxicating. Like a drunkard who knows what alcohol does to him, but still will take a wrack the next time he sees a bottle. Sleep is very tempting. Not just physical sleep, spiritual sleep. It starts with a doze. A little doze won't hurt, a little snooze won't kill. Then surely, the lures of deep sleep take over...making you unconscious of the happenings of your surroundings. But when sleep becomes invigorating, you can always wake up. You can shout and say, " sure ain't my time to sleep yet!"

This was probably Fela Durotoye's thoughts when he quoted Isaiah 60 and verse 1, "Arise, and shine, for your light has come." Whose light? Your light? Yes, yours. There's something burning inside you and it has been caught by invigorating sleep for a long time now. There's something just waiting for the cock to crow so that you can open your eyes and see the first drops of sunlight...or maybe the fresh early morning dew on the soft green grass outside.

I don't know what that thing is, but the Holy Spirit has told you, and the vision has borne a witness inside your heart. You totally concur because you've been waiting to shine all these years. It is your time to shine, it really is. I'm not saying this because it is the gospel. I am saying it because if you take one look around you, there's darkness all around. When God saw darkness, He stopped for a second and said, "Let there be light!" And there was light. If you stop for a second and realize that darkness oozes out of the corner of every street, you will say to yourself, "Arise & shine...for my light has come."

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