One Birth, and Now More Than A Billion Births

[Image by Mike Anderson]

A new life
A new beginning
The first chapter
The first verse
The first of all firsts...

A young woman falls in love, she marries her knight-in-shining-armor, and then nine months later a baby comes in a carriage. I've been musing about the power of birth. The womb of a woman is heavily prepared before the seed of a child is planted. The chamber where the child would be incubated for nine months is carefully and intricately supplied with numerous new blood vessels which will serve to carry essential nutrients and oxygen from mother to child. The womb is where the features of a child develop: the oval eyes, the suckling lips, the chubby cheeks, the long arms, adept fingers, artistic flair, calculating brain, flailing legs, and average-sized waist.

And when the child is born, purpose begins...

Think about generations and generations of new births. In one family tree, a woman brings forth a child, and that child grows up and births another child, and that child brings forth yet another child, and the journey continues. But we must understand that the reason the birth of a child is so important is because we're not just born into this world for the sake of randomness, but there's a purpose for which we're born. There's something significant that you and I must achieve or attain before we leave this earth, and that's why there's beauty in every birth, in all the regions of the world today.

Then, surely, it's no wonder why God chose to use a 'birth' to bring us redemption. A birth introduces a new life, and all things new.

Through one birth, more than a billion births have now been redeemed. Through the birth of Jesus, more than a billion lives have been saved. And if births have been redeemed and lives have been saved, then purpose on earth has also been restored. This is the joy of Christmas: that Jesus was born to redeem us and reconcile us back to the One who first loved us. Through His birth, we've been joined to His family tree and are now connected directly to the source of life. And through us, the diffusion of His fragrance on the earth, every generation that comes out of our wombs (natural or adopted) will also be connected to God.

Because He was born, I've been re-born, and my purpose has been established in Him. Praise God who makes all things NEW.

"Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Luke 1:30-33

So as you reflect on what this Christmas means to you, I pray you understand that because He was born, you can also receive your new birth: in life, love, joy, happiness, truth, good relationships, prayer life, fellowship, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, revelation, power, and every other good thing the birth of Jesus Christ has orchestrated.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year, Readers!!! God bless you, and see you on the next post :)

Notice Me or I die

[Image by Kathryn]

Hell hath no fury like a woman on the prowl. This morning I did the same thing again. I stopped at the coffee shop on the way to work like I've done every single day since the first time I saw him three weeks ago. Surely, he must have noticed me by now. Unless he's blind.

Each day, just for him I wear something different, and you know, try another color combination of make-up. Today, it is a unique blend of purple, the universal and distinguished color of royalty. Yet, each day he sits there like a handsome statue, over a cup of wonderful-smelling coffee, crisp white shirt and black tie, typing hundreds of words on his laptop for some mysterious document, and acting as though he hasn't noticed me yet. Maybe he's a journalist on a tight deadline, only stopping here every morning for his regular cup of coffee. As soon as the clock hits 8.00a.m, he starts for the door again. I am assuming his job begins at 9.00a.m, just like mine.

Each day, I grab my own cup of coffee and take the empty seat on the table beside him, hoping that the scent of my expensive perfume rises towards him like a sweet-smelling offering. On some days, I admit I spray too much, but it shouldn't matter. The trick should work soon. So I begin my own routine, bring out my journal and pretend to write romantic poetry. Sometimes, I giggle and read a line or two of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poems aloud, as though I'd written them myself. Yet, the journalist never looks up from his laptop. He keeps typing and typing words that have not been written for me.

Once, he looked up at the ceiling, twitching his eyebrows like I'd said something wrong. I almost thought he'd look me in the eye, or say something, but he didn't. I wonder, when would he ever notice me or speak to me? I will keep at this routine until he says something sweet.


How strangely we think sometimes. We know we want something so badly, but we choose the wrong way to get it.

Remember blind Bartimaeus? He didn't play the fickle game of "Notice me or I die." Instead, when He heard that Jesus was passing by, He screamed His name:

"Son of David, have mercy on me," he shouted. [Read the story in Mark 10:46-52]

And when those discouraging folks told him to keep quiet because Jesus had better things to do, he shouted even louder: "Son of David, have mercy on me." And Jesus stopped, ignoring those who wished He would just keep walking, and then healed Mr. Bartimaeus' eyes so he could see again, telling him "Your faith has healed you." His faith was not in silence, but in action, and that's what came through for him.

If you are not noticed, it is because you have not yet spoken or shouted, and because your faith has not been translated into voice or action.

We say we want to love God more, but we don't call His name early in the morning or at the middle of the night. We don't ask Him what His favorite things are, or what colors He secretly used to paint the rainbow. We don't sit at His feet, massaging them until it tickles Him. We don't whisper our innermost secrets or heart's desires in His ears, but rather we choose to indulge in someone else...another human just like us. We don't fellowship with those who can lead us in the right direction, instead we knowingly allow people to take us down hell's path.

We don't activate our faith.

We say we want to love God more, but we don't read our love poems to Him, instead we settle for giggling and reading them to ourselves. We don't tell God that we've loved Him since the first day we met Him and we're ready to love Him till the day we die. And we don't do things to back up our statements.

We play the little game of trying to get God to notice us at coffee shops, asking Him (in our minds), "Can't you see how big my problems are?" or "Can't you see that I need you?" instead of searching His word to find what He has already spoken to us.

There are two kinds of people in this world: Active & Passive. I tell you, the active ones will get a better grasp of who God is, because they actively search for Him and find Him. Whenever you get a tug on your heart, shout, if you need to. Don't just sit and wait for help to come.

Question(s) for today: What are your views regarding active & passive activation of faith? If you've been passive, do you seek to be different today? May this post transform your faith into action. Have a God-filled rest of the week guys :)

Love When It Hurts: The Kind That Does Not Push People Away

[Image by Eatmorechips on flickr]

Torrents of rain poured outside, and as a result, wind circuits drifted freely through the open window of the living room. The reward for standing by the open window was the mighty rush of wind against her chin, sauntering down her neck and unto her firm shoulders. She could hear thunder strike three times outside, followed by lightning, during which the room lit up and she was able to see his face clearly again. Mark's face. Her husband's face.

He came close, but she touched his chest and pushed him away.

"Why are you pushing me away?" he asked. She could see the hurt in his face, but she strengthened her resolve.

He took another step towards her, just one step, as though he was unsure of his decision. Then three more. Yet, she pushed him away for the second time.

"How can you look at me after what I've confessed?" she asked, tears flowing down her cheeks. Thunder struck again. Just the right tempo for the mood. Tonight, she'd finally confessed to Mark that she'd had intimate relations with his best friend of twenty years. One thing had led to another...and...and...she was so sorry.

He was hugging her now, pulling her closer. But she was trying to push him away again, trying to refuse his forgiveness. He would not let her.

"You're my wife, Yemi. It can't be over between us. We should talk about this."

His chest was moving back and forth against hers, and she knew he couldn't control his tears anymore. Why couldn't he just act like any man would and look at her with disgust? She loved him, yes. But adultery? How could she? Was she even forgivable after this sin?

"It can't be over between us," he said again, between stifled breaths. "I love you."

With one more push of the hand, and for the last time, she pushed him away with all her might. She decided that she didn't need his forgiveness. That night, she built a brick wall in-between them. He stood there in the shadows, hands to his lips, shaking his head...trembling.

* * *

The fictional story above is about a man who tried to break the brick walls by forgiving his wife, tried to talk to her...but she wouldn't budge.

These past few days, I got stuck while reading the 6th chapter of Galatians (the second verse), which says:

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."

For a moment there, I scrunched the muscles of my forehead and stared at the ceiling. I certainly know a few folks who would rather sit on their high horses than share their innermost heart's burdens with other people (and to be honest, I'm included in this category myself sometimes).

So I began to ask myself why? Why can't we just love each other sincerely so that it becomes extremely easy to share our burdens with one another? I mean, it's not a bad thing to be highly selective in friendships (this is the second side of the coin where we have to be wise about what we say, how we say it, and who we say it to), but sometimes we often go to the extreme with our selectiveness and push people farther away from us.

See, we're not the first ones to undergo harsh treatments from the world. When Jesus was on earth, he was despised. The same people who kissed him were the ones who killed him. Yet, He never chose to love selectively. And because of that He openly spoke of blessings, He publicly healed, and everywhere He went, He bore the peoples' burdens (as long as He shared the same space in their presence).

As I reflected more on this, the Holy Spirit began to teach me that it is "only when my flesh dies completely that I can be totally yielded to that kind of love." The kind of love that bears another's burdens no matter how I feel.

The kind of love that does not push people away. 
1. It remains the same even after someone hurts us.
2. It does not choose to be a superhero, but allows weaknesses to showcase God's strength.
3. It does not pretend, it's just being yourself.
4. It does not do things for others as a way of reciprocating, but does things without the need for receiving back. 
5. It gives, gives, and gives without getting tired. 

Galatians Chapter 6 Verse 9 says, "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."

If we think about this carefully, it is because we get tired of loving people that we push them away and can't share our burdens (or help people relieve their own deep burdens). As @Toyeen4Love said on twitter yesterday, "I pray He WILL continue to enlarge our capacities to love others." In addition, I pray He will continue to enlarge our capacities to forgive others, so that we can be closer to them and share each other's burdens, fulfilling the law of Christ. 

Personal Update: Blogsville family, I've missed you. Thank you for being so generous with your prayers and comments on the last post. The journey of writing this month was definitely worth it. Although I didn't reach the 50,000 Word Count for NaNoWriMo, I'm grateful that I was able to add 7,570 words to my former manuscript word count of about 30,000. I'll extend the discipline I've built in the month of November to December, and see what will come of it. Feels good to be back. 

Question For the Day: Do you know of anyone in your life to whom you can extend the kind of love described in this post today- the love that does not push people farther away from you, no matter what they've done in the past? 

My November Voyage & Deep Gratitude to my Father

[Image by mbgrigby]
I hear them calling out to me at odd hours of the day, those feisty, notorious characters of my novel's work-in-progress. They burn with an alluring desire for their voices be heard, to tell their story. They want the world to know who they truly are. Not just the fictional figments of the world's imaginations, but true stories that have happened before throughout our existence, and will continue to happen till the end of time.

Hurts, pain, survival, salvation, redemption- these characters want you to see where they've been, and where they are determined to go.

So, in order to listen to them more carefully, to truly let them teach me who they really are, I will join the rest of the NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) participants, as we embark upon a very sacred pilgrimage to find the voices of our characters. I believe it is a voyage that has beckoned to me for a while now, and I will not turn my back on it. So dear readers, I'll be 'gone till the end of November' (like that famous song sweetly says). Feel free to devour the previous posts on the Lamp Blog, and meditate on them till I get back with something new in December.

Deep Gratitude to My Father:

In the month of November, we celebrate "Thanksgiving" in the United States, and in this month, I have a deep sense of gratitude towards God. You know, it's not like everything He promised has fully manifested in my life or my family's yet, but I can see that He is working behind the scenes, doing things that only Him could have ever thought of. I'm thankful for so many things, beyond this rather short list I'll give right now:

* For Purpose: I don't want to imagine how it feels to live a life without any direction from God. According to His word, He has promised to "order the steps of the righteous." And though sometimes I do not understand the things I do, it has happened many times than I can count that at the end of every project I come to the realization that God's hand was in it all along.

* For hubby: He does the most romantic things sometimes. For instance, I might be whining about needing something, and then he goes in secret and buys it for me. Oh, also for his selection of movies for our downtime. Whenever I'm the one choosing the movie, it's usually a bad movie thank God he's been assigned the task of always choosing the movie to watch.

* For Laughter: I called my dad some days ago, and the way he laughed made me giggle. There's nothing like pure joy emanating in the form of laughter, and I'm thankful to God that although things are still taking shape, He has given us the peace that passes all human understanding. Some of my family and family friends lost some loved ones to death, but my prayer is that God will continue to cause us to laugh...because we will be rest assured with a unique kind of peace that can only come from one source.

* For Connections: Sometimes people don't understand when I tell them, but some of the best friendships have arisen from my social networks (Blogger, WordPress, and Twitter). I strongly believe that for some of you, our paths have not merely crossed casually, and that there is a purpose as to why we've connected so strongly. So let's keep connecting, shall we?

Happy thanksgiving, lovely readers. See you all in December. Love you lots! PS: Let me know if you're participating in #NaNoWriMo too, so we can do this together :)

The Frailty of Your Humanity

[Image by Beni Ishaque Luthor]

22-year old *Talatu watched the events unfold from the old drab brown sofa where she lay taken by an extreme unknown sickness. There were five other people in the room. Speaking with hushed voices, shameful whispers. Her parents stood over there by the window- mother with her white hair held tightly in plaits, her simple blouse and matching wrapper worn firmly around her small waist, and father hunched way too low on his walking stick, having to bear with listening to mama talking forever like she always did. Two aunts and an uncle surrounded them, also listening to mama's low-pitched rambling words.

Something crackled in the near distance, and when she looked, a fire had been lit to keep her warm. With the last strength in her body, Talatu kept her eyes wide open. She wondered what would happen if she closed them. Would she wake up again? Or would she give in to death? She decided that although it would be a hard thing to do, she would keep her eyes open until she could no longer do so.

Because her eyes were open, she noticed when mama walked over to the drab brown sofa, bent down to place her frail shaky hands on her neck.

"She's too hot," mama screamed. "We cannot stay here and wait any longer."

Mama looked at papa who looked away as though he had suddenly given up all hope for healing. He shrugged his shoulders, her mother could do whatever she pleased. So mama snapped her fingers and ordered aunty Hauwa to go and fetch the village doctor.

A few minutes later, the old man who'd been summoned was standing in front of the sofa, holding out a brown calabash containing some type of ominous liquid.

"Drink this," he urged with his deep sunken voice. "It is a bitter liquid, but you will be well after that."

He was right, it was very bitter. But wellness did not come. After a few days of her intestines crying out, the only words she could say were, "Oh God, please help me."

*Talatu is a Hausa name which means "Girl Born on Tuesday."

* * *

What do you do when you've reached the peak of your humanity? When your arms can't bring down the rain? When your own arms can't save you? What do you do? As much as we want strength instead of fragility forever, we have to come to the realization that our humanity is frail.

"All men are like grass, their glory like flowers; grass withers & flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." 1 Peter 1:24

The only constant thing, the only thing which will not pass away is God and His word. When we understand that, it pulls us closer to the One who framed the world with His hands. Every other thing becomes second best. The only way to live for all eternity is to get the life which He has freely given us, eternal life.

Question(s) for the Day: Do you realize that your body has its limits? What are your priorities? What do you dedicate your whole life to? God and His word, or the selfish desires of your flesh? Happy NEW MONTH of November. Have the most blessed week ever, your best days are ahead of you if you keep meditating on God's word. May you prosper & be in good health always.

The Whirlwind Dream and a Rock to Stand Upon

[Image by Troy B Thompson]
Three days ago I had a whirlwind dream, took me to different places. I was taken back to my class in secondary school (high school), and once again I was serenaded by the familiar faces whom I knew before. There were also some brand new faces I'd never seen before. I was the repeater in their midst, the older one. I found myself plunged back into the basics of Mathematics and English, and I was enjoying it, and excelling in all my classes.

Three weird things happened. 

The first was that on the first day, I had no padlock for my locker. I looked around wondering how I could resolve this padlock situation. I considered leaving my locker open for the night while I sought to buy a new lock the next morning, but I changed my mind, not wanting anyone to steal my textbooks. So I asked around, "Does anyone have a spare lock? I'll give it back to you when I buy mine," I pleaded. A very rich girl offered me a big lock with a beautiful design carved on the metal, so beautiful that I wanted to have it as my own. But on reflecting further, I changed my mind. "If I use this one, I can assure you that someone would break into my locker, thinking there was something expensive therein to steal," I said. I refused the offer. Someone else gave me a simple lock and I thanked her profusely.

The second weird thing was that I had to live in a boarding house, just like old times. I had to wear an orange checked dress, the one everyone had to wear. I had to wear a certain type of sandals too, just like everyone else. I also had to have a pail or bucket so I could fetch water to bathe with every morning. It was a nostalgic feeling, as I'd done all these things before.

The third event was the silliest thing ever. I had to chase a monkey. Okay, let me explain. I wanted to get my sister from her class, but she couldn't come out because she said there was a monkey in her class. Anyhow, I took a peek and saw the monkey, it saw me too and started chasing me. I ran far enough until it caught me, and all of a sudden I turned around and started chasing the monkey. I was able to catch it and removed the 'chasing spirit' from that monkey. I think this was the most hilarious part of the dream.

* * *

In the dream, after these three events occurred, a Boris Kodjoe look-alike came to explain the dream to me. Seriously, he looked like Boris Kodjoe...same shaved head too.

He said that if I have a steady rock upon which I'm always standing on, although all sorts of things may happen around that rock, like kicking my toe against the rock, I will always remain standing. In the dream, I had to go back to the basics even as an adult, I had to learn Mathematics and English all over again, and I had to live like a child in a boarding school. But the thing is I always had a rock to stand upon, the Rock of ages- God Himself.

What Does This Mean To You, the Reader?

I shared this dream with you just to let you know that life can take you places. Sometimes, you'll find yourself climbing a stepping stone, and at other times, you might find yourself being plunged back to the basics to learn something afresh. As far as you're standing upon the rock of ages, God, who remains unsifted even while you're being sifted from one place to another, you will have nothing to worry about. You can kick your toe against the rock of ages for all you want, and sometimes you may stumble, but as far as you're holding on to the One who NEVER changes, it shall be well in your world.

Scripture(s) for the Day: "And the Lord said, "Behold [there is] a place by Me, and thou shalt stand [be fixed, be stationed, be established, be upright, be erected] upon a rock. And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock." Exodus 33:21-22, KJV.

"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock, and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; but it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock." Matthew 7:23-24, KJV. 

When Your Seed is Enough

[Image by Enrico Policardo]
My lips parted open as I sat in the pews. Could it be that the preacher had been stalking me for many years? In just one Sunday morning, every little scripture quoted, and every little anecdote added, seemed to point invisible fingers towards where I sat, satisfied to be behind a few heads so that I could cover my surprised face and leave my lips ajar.

Right then, I made a decision. I would walk to the altar, even at the cost of receiving glances from the other people of the congregation, whose eyes were like arrows in pure daylight, watching closely to see if I would trip on my way to the altar, or how I would kneel down, or how much I would put down as my seed. But I wanted to lay a seed on the altar- a seed which would serve as a thanksgiving to God for bringing such a magnificent revelation to me on this day, a revelation that would keep me firmly planted in good soil for the rest of my life. I wanted the seed to bless the preacher in some way, and hopefully to grow exponentially into unfathomable fruits.

And so, I dipped my hand into my hand-bag, grabbed my brown bulky wallet as fast as I could. Excitement filled my spirit. The hairs on my arms began to form fine goosebumps, even as I scrambled for something worthy to serve as a seed. I could not wait to run down to the altar to drop my seed. But just then, my right hand fell unto my lap and I looked at it. Right there, clasped around my fingers, was a one-dollar note. No. I didn't want to give a dollar. I dipped my hand into my wallet for the second time in a few minutes, but I found nothing else. I stared at the dollar note, and it looked back at me. It was all I could muster, my fine one dollar. How small a seed. How far would it go? What kind of fruits could a dollar note produce? Was it even worth it?

* * * * * 

Do you know the true meaning of this verse?

"He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." 2 Corinthians 9:6-10. 

A few days ago, I studied the use of the words 'SPARINGLY' and 'BOUNTIFULLY' in the original context of this scripture.

#1 Sparingly (Greek Word, 'Pheidomenos')---> from the verb Pheidomai which means to spare, forbear, or refrain (explanation: to refrain from doing something that is in your capacity to do. To withhold a portion of something on purpose, when you can give or do so much more that would be more befitting).

#2 Bountifully (Greek Word, 'Eulogia')---> to be a blessing or to speak praise.

What does this really mean?

You see, it's really not about the one dollar note. It never has been. It is all about your heart and whether or not you're willing to be a blessing to someone or a group of people (Eulogia). If you're giving everything you can give, and it is still small, God will reward you bountifully. He sees your heart and He's the One who gives seed to the sower (verse 10).

One important fact that many of us have missed out on is that it is not really about the money, but about whether your heart is a generous heart. Money is not the only way to sow a seed. Seeds come in different shapes and sizes- in kindness, in love, in presence, in peace, in joy, in laughter, in priceless gifts which cannot be counted.

So if your heart is generous enough, I want you to know today that Your seed is enough.

Question for the Day: "Have you ever felt like you're withholding something back from God when you don't have that much money in your bank account?" God sees your heart, and He will supply seed for you to sow, seeds which come in different shapes and sizes. Oh, and don't forget He is Jehovah Jireh (Provider) and the condition of not having money to give all the time is only a temporary one. Have a blessed week, guys :)

The Washing of Water With the Word

[Image by Tbsteve]
"You're a fish."

A good friend told me in the Fall of 2007 when she opened my room door and caught me in the act. On a day when young men walked about, scouting the campus grounds, and pretty college girls reciprocated, cat-walking along dimly lit dormitory corridors and moonlit courtyards, I was caught grabbing my bath towel and dashing to my bathroom.

I smiled back at my friend, and then I told her I wasn't what she thought I was. On that sticky day, I only needed to feel that second downpour of pure cooling water drenching me from the top of my hair strands to the bottom of my small toes, making the heat subside and silently refreshing my bones. I was hot and the shower was needed to solve all my problems, even though it was the second time that day. I was not a fish. I did not have double showers every day, just on really hot days.

* * * * *

It is indeed universal knowledge that water does some very nice things. It cleanses the body, refreshes, cools, warms, and quenches our ever-growing thirst.

But this particular scripture always blows my mind when I read it.

 "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." Ephesians 5: 25-27. 

5 Things I realized:

#1: There's something that cleanses better than water. It is the word of God. Baptismal water is an outward show of being renewed, but without an accompaniment of the Word of God, it is nothing. Water cannot remove visible spots or wrinkles, but the Word of God goes beyond removing such things as the world deems as permanent scars.

#2: Love is the declaration of the word, and it sanctifies and cleanses, more than water.

#3: The word 'washing' is the Greek word 'Loothos' which means 'a bath or baptism.' The 'Word' is the Greek word 'Rhmati' (Rhema), which means 'Utterance/Declaration.' In essence, this scripture is indicating that we need to be baptized in the word of God, just like the baptism of water. The word (an utterance or declaration) is the highest purifier. It is the affirmation that denounces any contradictions. It says "you can do it" when everyone says "you can't do it."

#4: Our words are very powerful. If a man presents his wife before his peers, and sings only good songs about her, leaving her weaknesses behind, then only her light will shine. His peers will take his word for it.

#5: Calling those things that be not as though they are is like washing of water by the word. The water aims for the cleansing of physical things, but the word of God is a deeper baptism into which we are not ruled by events that present themselves as facts.

Encouragement for the Day: Water can cleanse your physical body, but only the Word of God can cleanse your heart. Sanctify yourselves with His word, and you won't go wrong. 

Sincere Love Goes Beyond the Ordinary | A Handwritten Post

[Image by RedAndre]

2 Corinthians 6, "We commend ourselves as ministers of sincere love."
 Philippians 1:9, "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight." 

This post has 8 of my personal musings on 'sincere love.' It is inspired by Michael Perkins' handwritten posts. Enjoy my handwriting.

Question(s) for the Day: What other point(s) can you add about 'sincere love'? Can you differentiate fake love from sincere love? I hope you have a beautiful weekend, readers. Would love to read your thoughts. See you on Monday. 

When Eyes are Opened:

[Image by Toni Blay]

Marcia's eyes were puffy the moment she came out of the womb. They were tightly closed, shutting out every penetration of light from the real world. Even when she screamed, fluttering her little arms and legs about, almost kicking the nurse as she was being given her first bath, her eyes still remained close.

Nevertheless, for the first time in fifteen hours, she blinked twice and opened her eyes. Andrew and Marian, the newest parents on the block, smiled and cooed at her as she lay bundled up in her mother's arms. They waved with excitement because their baby could now see them. "Hey, little one. This is mummy, and here's daddy," Marian said. The baby actually smiled like she understood. She kept staring at daddy, and he kept making funny gestures. It was a beautiful sight to watch, the first time her eyes were opened.

* * * * *

The first time a baby opens his or her eyes is truly a beautiful thing to watch. I'm sure you parents out there can testify to that. In fact, even more beautiful is the first moment the baby distinguishes who the mummy is and who the daddy is, and then forms a different kind of bond between parents and siblings.

But there's something even more amazing: the first time our spiritual eyes are opened to see the unseen things that are not visible in the physical world. Paul wrote to the Ephesians:

"Therefore...I do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of the inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe..." Ephesians 1:15-21

How can you see the sun if you don't open your eyes? How can you recognize the characteristics of a person's face if you haven't trained your eyes to recognize it? In just the same way that a baby's eyes are opened to see the world, we also need to open the eyes of our spiritual understanding, which are not unveiled on the day we are born but on the day we get "born again."

When we are born again, our eyes are opened to understand that the spiritual controls the physical, and that things happen first in the unseen before they translate into the physical. Battles are fought for you and I before we even wake up in the mornings. As I reflected on this on Friday, I began to realize that the Red sea was already separated in the unseen before Moses stretched out his rod to separate it, obeying God's command. I also perceived that Jesus was already sacrificed for the world long before He was led to the cross; the decision had already been made.

Therefore, we must never relegate the unseen to a level of irrelevance. It is highly important that we understand that when we pray in our closets, battles are being fought for us in the spiritual realm. So my prayer for you today is that you become sensitized to the Holy Spirit, so that He will show you secret things even before they get manifested in the physical world. So go beyond the physical to see God's handiwork in your life. Make yourself available for the Holy Spirit to teach you more about your purpose by spending more time in His presence, and by reading the word of God. Gradually, you will be able to identify how the unseen plays out in your physical world.

Question for the Day: Have you ever felt the Holy Spirit leading you to do something, and then you find out later why you had to do it? (although at the time you were being led to do it, you thought it was the most absurd thing ever?)

Things to Do While Waiting for Your Testimony (And My Own Story):

[Image by Alejandro Groenewold]
God has done a great thing in my life that deserves to be shouted on the rooftops.  

For the past three years, I've only had part-time positions, and I've been waiting for a door of opportunity to be plunged into a full-time professional setting. So I waited, and I prayed, and I cried, and I waited. I applied for so many positions and heard nothing. One year turned into two years, and two years into three. But still nothing. Yet, God knew the right position for me...and the right time. So He allowed me to dabble with these part-time positions until last week. In this past week, I applied for a position, I got a call and was scheduled for an interview. All in one week. In the next two days after the interview, I was told the position was mine; I'd been selected out of four great candidates who were interviewed.

I've never had my own office, but now I do. I can design it, organize it, and arrange it the way I want. On my first day, I was also plunged into the concepts of project management and an area of leadership. One beautiful thing about this testimony is that this job is higher than any other thing I've applied for over the past three years. So in those moments when I heard nothing, I did not understand fully that God was preparing a better place in the background. I'm sharing this with you just to let you know that if you haven't heard any answers, please just stay in the presence of God...don't go away. He's right there with you, and He is preparing a place for you.

Things to Do While Waiting for Your Testimony:

1) Praise God All the Time: In the good times and bad, He is still God. He isn't with you only when things are looking bright. But He is with you ALWAYS, He said, till the end of time. This means that if you have the knowledge that He's with you, you will praise Him in and out of season. You will thank Him for your past testimonies, and for the things He is about to do with you.

2) Know what His word says about you: There are things God has already written concerning you. Let me give you an analogy: if you have a map of a maze in your hand, and you are in the middle of the maze, there's this confidence that will come over you that will let you know you're going to make it out of the maze. Why? Because you have a map and you can read it. Even though the maze takes you through many alternating paths, you will still have confidence that in a few hours you would be at the end. It's the same thing with knowing what God says about you. If your circumstances try to lie to you, you won't be moved. How do you know? By reading His word.

3) Celebrate With Other People: Don't cut yourself off from the world. Because something great has not yet happened to you does not mean it will never happen. The bible says in Romans 12:15 that we must "rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." When you celebrate someone else, when it is your turn to be celebrated, you will not lack a person to celebrate you. But when your nose is turned off to the world and you become dejected, in your own time, there won't be anybody left to celebrate with you.

4) Don't Give Excuses: Don't say you cannot do something for God because you don't have the finances. If God has led you into doing something, He will make a way. He makes a way when there seems to be no way. Walk by faith, not by sight. Don't wait. Every second counts. Also the bible says in Luke 16:10, "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much." There were some things that God asked me to do, which I struggled with, but I still did them. If I didn't do them, how would God hand over the bigger tasks into my hands? The key is faithfulness to little things.

5) Surround Yourself With the Right People: From my experience, when I've surrounded myself with the wrong sets of people, they never lifted me up. But when I surround myself with people who have a purpose in life, who know where they're going (although they might not have reached it yet), they fill me with so much hope. Also, I surrounded myself with friends who made me laugh and made my situation light. There's this friend that cracks me up so bad, that I'm even giggling as I'm typing this.

Question for the Day: Are you waiting for a testimony right now? Stay in the presence of God. He will come through for you. I'm a living testimony that He came through.  

When Crowns Do Not Matter Anymore

[Image by BaconStand]
You can also listen to this post: 

Something spectacular happened to them that night, those twenty-four elders. Something very strikingly sobering. It was as though a group of twenty-four great men suddenly became only tiny specks of dust in the presence of a majestic God, and as though they became nothing more than a bleak mirage in the middle of a tyrant storm. 

They weren't nobodies, but were men of extreme importance, excellence, authority, and relevance: kings, warriors, leaders, senators, prime ministers, ambassadors, and possibly even presidents. The chapter of Revelation 4 simply calls them a title I really like: Elders. 

But something mysterious happened to these great men on a night when they stood around a greater throne. They witnessed something that went way beyond the grand schemes of their areas of leadership, and they became undone. Unclothed. Dis-robed. Undressed. Unimportant. Insignificant. Less competent. Less of elders. Less of kings. More of servants. More of children. More of sons than fathers. 

They touched their heads, removed their crowns, and lay their crowns on the ground in front of God.

"....the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before His throne, saying: "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created." Revelation 4:10-11.

Only few men truly deserve crowns, out of these the most hardworking of them all. The ones who start from scratch, without anyone there to hoist them up the ladder. Those who become rich out of only a few pauper's coins. Those who inherit no wealth from their fathers or mothers, but still make something good out of their lives. Those who show kindness and generosity, even when they have nothing much. Those who give to other poor people, even when they are poor themselves, these ones deserve crowns. 

Pastors, Farmers, Vine-dressers, Artists, Bricklayers, Fashion Designers, Architects, Medical doctors, Engineers, Teachers, Researchers, Authors, Scholars, Kings, Presidents, and men and women of other hardworking professions...these ones deserve medals, and crowns, if I may add. Those who didn't get there without shedding some form of pain and hard-earned sweat. These ones are great men and women who deserve crowns. 

But there comes a time when crowns don't matter anymore, and this, my friends, is when we are thrust into the presence of a God who wears a greater crown. The Life-Giver and the Master Architect, for without Him, nothing else can stand. 

There comes a time in our lives when we will understand that this life, and the acquisition of material and spiritual crowns, cannot compare to the majestic nature of who God is. Even if we want to spend our lives acquiring more than one crown, one day we will leave this earth without a robe, and there will be no crowns in the graveyard. 


Today, I join the twenty-four elders to place my crown at the feet of God: every accomplishment, every accolade, every significance, every writing, every degree, every praise, every word of kindness from a stranger, I lay them all at the feet of God, because to HIM BELONGS ALL THE GLORY. 

Question for the Day: Are there any crowns in your life that you need to lay at the feet of God? When you see yourself standing in front of His throne, like the twenty-four elders, and when you become undone, please do not withhold your crowns from Him. Have the most beautiful week ever. Your best days are ahead of you. 

Broken Toys | A Guest Post by Michael Perkins

Michael Perkins is someone I admired from the first day I started reading his blog. He is a pastor, husband, father, and a family man, and he's someone whose trademark is the simplicity of life. He is young (28) and has been married for 7 years to his lovely wife, April. Ethan (5) is their only child. His blog is called "Untitled," showing that He really is not interested in taking all the glory, but giving all the glory to God. He loves God, and he has a passion for connecting with people from different places, and for spreading the hope of Christ to those who are hurting. He also has the COOLEST handwritten blog posts. You can also find him on twitter as @MichaelDPerkins (you should follow him).
"Broken Toys"
[Image by AdamCohn]
 My son, Ethan, has a lot of toys.  Actually, that is probably an understatement.  He has way too many toys.  The other day I was in his room going through them.  I had every intention on throwing away the ones that were broken or missing pieces.
The Spiderman with one arm…
The Incredible Hulk missing his head…
The GI Joe Man with faded paint…
The Hot Wheels Car that is missing a wheel…
The puzzle that is missing pieces…
Ethan came in and asked what I was doing.  When I told him that I was going to throw the broken toys away he said this, “But dad, I can still use them.  They are still good even though they are broken.”
John 4:28-30 says, “Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,” Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" They came out of the town and made their way toward him.”
The woman in the story had a fidelity problem.  She was broken.  Christ didn’t throw her out.  He used her.  She witnessed to a whole town.  Lives were changed.
There are many modern-day-woman-at-the-wells out there today.
The person who was a jerk in the past…
The person who slept around in college…
The person who has been through divorce…
The former drug addict…
The person who is in financial ruins…
Can I be honest with you?  I’ve been the one broken toy.  I’ve been the one who has done things I’m ashamed of.  I am the one God didn’t throw out.  And for that I’m grateful. 
We’re all still good, even if we are broken.

Question for the Day: Have you ever felt like a broken toy? 

PS: When you feel like a broken toy, remember that God will put you back together again, and that He can still use you in your broken state, you only need to trust him. I hope you enjoyed Michael's guest post. Please make sure you have the best weekend ever, and see you next week. 

The Rise of Ranks & Ten Thousand Troublers

So you think you can fight one demon? Well done, comrades. How big your strength! But can you fight ten thousand demons?

You see, as David rose in ranks, one day he realized something so profound that would completely change his outlook on life. He observed that in his most abysmal state of life, in the days where he had nothing else to do but take care of sheep, in the days where the most complex mathematical calculation he needed to perform was simply to keep count of sheep, in the place of no accomplishments, he had the greatest tranquility and hardly no demons or troublers coming his way.

But when he got anointed as the next king, and big things began to happen to him, although he received many accolades, he also fell into the trap of a bunch of haters. So could it be that if we want peace, we must not strive for anything big? Could those who dare to dream big experience an increase in ten thousands of troublers?

David cried out to God, "Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. Many are they who say of me, "There is no help for him in God." But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head." Psalm 3.

Yes, if you dare to dream big, you will have an increase of troublers. It is not a curse, it is only due to the envy your blessings are bound to cause from people who cannot focus on their own blessings.

Those who buy estates will experience harsh competition from their peers; stock brokers will experience the drowning effect of the economic downpour, architects will be downgraded by others for the flaws in their designs, and writers will continually face the growing challenges of finding their unique voices in the midst of ten thousands of others.

But do not be afraid, my friends. For with each new promotion comes a new challenge. The bigger your dreams, the bigger the devils you're going to have to fight. Why shouldn't you be afraid? Because Exodus 14:14 tells us of a God who is bigger than ten thousand troublers. It says, "The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace."

So if you believe in the one true God, you should take a hold of your promotion without fear. You shall hold your peace, because ten thousand troublers ain't big enough to topple your God.

Question for the Day: Are you faced with a new promotion where you have to fight a bigger devil than before? Then this message is for you. Hold your peace, and be confident and fearless, for God has already gone before you to fight for you.

PS: This Friday, please watch out for one of my favorite bloggers, as he would be writing a guest post for the Light-A-Lamp Blog. Did everyone in the U.S. enjoy their three-day labor weekend? I sure did. Please have a blessed week ahead. 

On September 3rd, 2006, A Blog Was Born (4th Anniversary + Give-away)

[Image by TuTuWon]

This blog was born with a fiery post called, "One Day of Dominion." It was on a late Sunday afternoon, right at that moment when the sun was tired of working and was moving away so the moon could come and take its shift, that this blog began. I had received a message that would forever change my life. It was called "Taking Back Dominion," (or something along those lines) based on the garden of Eden story and how God wants us to have dominion over every thing in this world.

Since that lovely September, this blog has not just been a medium for sharing, it has also served as my accountability partner. I am more excited to read my bible than ever, just because I know how lovely it feels to find a mystery that I didn't know before. Also, this blog has been my teacher. Comparing my earlier posts to my latest, I've observed a tremendous growth and a greater sense of maturity. I've made mistakes along the way, I've fallen, but God always has a way of using it all for His glory.

Please enjoy this little gift I created for you, the Lamp's faithful readers and first-timers. It's a free e-book and it's a compilation of some of my favorite posts on this blog. I hope you enjoy it. Happy 4th anniversary to the Light-A-Lamp Blog.


PS: I've never remembered this blog's anniversary date. This year is the first that September 3rd is in my stream of consciousness, so I'm sure you can tell I'm excited that I remembered. Lol. Have the most fulfilling weekend.

You Don't Defend God, He defends Himself

[Image by Cayusa]
If you have a father who you love so much, who has sacrificed his livelihood just to see you not make the same mistakes he made when he was growing up, who raised you up from nothing, who gave you a special pet name shared only between you and Him, who during cold winter nights covered you with a blanket, who later put you in charge of his entire estate, and then watched you closely like a proud lion watches over his cub, then you might want to defend him when he's standing in the midst of throngs of people spitting ridicule on his face.

But what if all He did for you was so that when the crowds began to make mockery of Him, you would not join them? What if you're only supposed to stand still, knowing that He's strong enough to protect Himself? 

Everything God has revealed to us about Himself shows us that He's stronger than us. His sacrifices are priceless and His sufferings divine. Our strength can only go so far, not in a million times compared to His.

So what makes us think we can spit some scriptures in defense of His name? What makes us feel we have a built-in material that can be panel-beat into a shield for His chest? To protect Him from the fiery darts of His own creations?

No, the creations cannot defend their creator, for only Him can defend Himself. The powers He has given unto us cannot supersede His own. He is able to show Himself strong and mighty without us. He is able to secretly touch the hearts of kings and Princes, and when He is ready, He will expose the bonds of wickedness. Our own business is to show love to those whom He has called us to approach. We're only supposed to share the good news of the gospel, that no matter who comes to the Father through Jesus, he or she will be saved. That Jesus paid an everlasting price for you and me. You don't defend God, He defends Himself.

"Uzzah put out His hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error." 2 Samuel 6:6-7

Question for the Day: Have you ever tried to defend God? Have you ever tried to stop Him from falling through the cracks? Maybe this is for someone, you need to let go and let God defend Himself in your life. He is stronger than you can ever imagine, don't try to defend His strength. At His own perfect time, He will make His strength known.  All you need to show, to yourself and others, is His endless LOVE.

The Truth About the Heroism of Our Personal Stories (Part 3)

[Image by StallKerl]
When nobody can explain how your life can change, when predicted destructions become salvations, when doctors predict death but God grants life instead, and when hatred grows into insurmountable love, God is definitely at work. In this third part of learning the truth about the heroism of our personal stories, I want to share the stories of three lives that were changed by the mighty hand of the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.

Greg Outlaw, CEO of AllAboutGod ministries:

Monica's Story:

Former Rock star of KORN, Brian Welch:

Meditation for today: Instead of asking you a question, I want you to think about your own personal story. This weekend, try to spend more time meditating on those things in your life that only God could have done. I'm not talking about things that can be logically explained, but those facts that cannot be logically explained. How when you cried out to God, He answered you. 

PS: Later on today, another lovely blogger/writer will be featuring a post from the Light-A-Lamp Blog on her journal, please feel free to check out Nikole Hahn's Journal and read my guest post there, "Your Life is Already Happening." Have a lovely weekend basking in your testimonies. 

The Truth About the Heroism of Our Personal Stories (Part 2)

[Image by Wonderfulhorriblelife]
See, my life has never been straightforward. I learned that God was evident in my life from an early age, when He would show up when my family had a need. So, for me, it's always been about God showing up.

Career wise, I've never had it together. Whereas some people have heard a voice telling them what path they should follow, God has always spoken to me by shutting doors and opening a single door of opportunity, increasing my confidence that this is the path I must follow. I always thought I'd be a medical doctor, but after two years going down that path, the door was shut down. It was only when I was forced out that my eyes were open and I realized that I was created to be an artist, not a paint-brush one, but merely a creator of new things. He also wanted me to write to inspire. I'm currently working on a bigger writing project, and I have to say the idea is way over my head, even as the work of fiction is slowly unfolding and forming a specific substance.

Accident wise, some might say I'm prone to that. So many technological devices have fallen prey to my clumsiness. I've had water poured on my laptop, phones fall into the toilet, and phones almost being crushed by buses on major highways. But the biggest accident I had was literally flying through a glass sliding door, and causing the glass to shatter into pieces here and there, and I even have a scar on my nose to prove it. I always joke around by telling people I was fighting with Jackie Chan, instead of saying what really happened. I could have lost my life back then, but God kept me. He knew that it was not my time to die, that I had so much to live for and so much to give. The most amazing thing is that I look into the mirror everyday and show some conceitedness by admiring my beauty, despite an almost fatal accident.

I can go on and on about even more intimate things that God has done for me, but I'll save these stories for future testimonies.

God is not just a distant entity to me, in Him, I live, breathe, move, and have my being. He is the air I breathe, my Oxygen, my Source of life. He's never failed me before, and He never will. 

Question(s) for the Day: How personal is God to you? 

PS: There's a video I want to share on this blog, about a man's personal story, but the video hasn't been posted yet. I will post it once I get my hands on it. Hope you enjoyed my personal story today.  

The Truth About The Heroism of Our Personal Stories (Part 1)

[Image by Malik]
A superhero is not just the guy drawn on the cover of a comic book, with a mask and long flowing cape, flying across the horizon with a rescued woman or child in his hands. The meaning of the word 'superhero' will continue to be misconstrued for as long as the media lives. We are the world's true superheroes when we dare to pen our personal stories, reflecting those genuine moments of fear and distraught, and how at the end of the day, we get rescued. If we dare to give the powerful testimonies of our journey, success, and salvation, then we dare to save a life.

I was eleven when I accompanied my mother as she entered a dim-lit market stall located off a major street in Lagos, Nigeria. Somewhere between the bargaining of the prices of onions, peppers, and tomatoes, and the little treasures finding their way into our shopping basket, I would notice a green animal locked up in a cage, sitting on the floor of the market stall. When the owner apprehended the object of my attention, he proceeded to explain to us that the animal was for sale, and that it was called a chameleon, and that it had the ability to change its color if placed in a new environment (with a different color). That was my first encounter of an animal that had the power to change its own skin color.

A moving personal story is the environment which forces human beings to change their own colors. It pushes us to choke back our tears, because even if we cry, we cannot change the bitter truth of that story. A true miracle is more impacting than ten thousand fictional miracles. One real voice crying out for survival is truer than ten thousand fictional prisoners of war. 

However, just like many readers and writers, fiction has always been (and will always be) a place of escape for me-- the fantasy that connects my real world to a distant kingdom. It helps me to relate to people's experiences, and when I write fiction, I only do so to reflect what goes on in real life. After all, J. K. Rowling said during her 2008 Harvard Commencement speech, "Imagination is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we've never shared." Yet, I've realized that only a true story can jolt us into receiving our own salvation.

How else can we explain why one of the strongest books of the bible is the Psalms, where David writes his own memoir-- how there were people who hated his guts, how he ran away from his enemies, how he pleaded with God to kill all of those who sought to kill him, how he sinned and asked for forgiveness, and how God walked with him even in the valley of the shadow of death?

Our reality exceeds our ideologies. We can write about castles all day long, but unless we dare to write of our experiences of living in a real castle, we do not get to be the real superheroes. This, my friends, is the power of writing a memoir, or even writing a personal blog post. Let your true stories change the lives of those who know you, just like the true story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ saves thousands of lives around the world each day.

Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants, You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger (Psalm 8:2); There are many who say, "Who will show us any good?" Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. (Psalm 4:6)

Question(s) of the Day: How much do people's personal stories of salvation and success impact your life? Do they provoke you more than fiction? 

PS: I got inspired to write about the heroism of our personal stories, after spending my entire Saturday afternoon reading Alligator Leg's blog from start to finish. She's in the process of writing/publishing her own memoir. I listened to a powerful personal story on Sunday, and I plan to post a link to the video on Wednesday (Part 2). Cheers readers, see you on Wednesday :)