On Intersections Between Strong & Weak (A 2012 Musing)






[Image by Lucy James Photography on Flickr]

An Intersection between Strong & Weak is actually between Sweet & Bitter. Two polar opposites. Two extreme roads, one narrow, the other wide. Two arrows, one bent, the other straight. Two diversions. Two different choices. Two peas in a pod, one dark, the other bright. Two separate lives. Two characters. Two split personalities. Two roads to take but only one choice.

There's a secret I'd like to share with you-- When the year 2012 arrives in all its majesty and splendour, you will (consciously or unconsciously) have to choose between being tenacious (strong) or lax (weak). So tell me, dear friend, which road would you find yourself taking when you get to this intersection? Strong or weak?

More than 2000 years ago, God bestowed an unusual strength upon a guy who grew to be tall, good-looking, and fully endowed with his daring dreadlocks and almost arrogant well-defined muscles. The Talk of the Town indeed. Who didn't know him? There was no one who couldn't tell of his great exploits. Even foreigners were very much aware.

His unusual strength was given to him for a reason-- that he should deliver the Israelites out of the hand of the Philistines, so that the children of Israel could once again feel God's presence and know that He was indeed their protector and Father. So God chose a barren womb to bring forth a hero. His name was Samson, and at some point in his life (let's call it an intersection), he had to choose between Strength and Weakness.

See, he was born to be set apart. Called a Nazirite from the womb, he was destined to be holy by staying away from wine or grape juice, and fresh grapes or raisins (anything that was plucked from a grape-vine). He was also not to shave the hair on his head or go near a dead body. (References: Judges 13 & Numbers 7). But one sad day he defied destiny by eating honey out of the mouth of the carcass of a lion, he who was supposed to stay away from the dead. From that day, it seemed as if his life went on a downward spiral. He kept getting caught in the wrong places and with the wrong women who tempted him, and in the process lost his dignity and was captured by the Philistines. Sadly, the Bible says in verse 20 of Judges 16, "But he did not know the Lord had departed from him."

So he was plunged into captivity where he became a DISGRACE and a scornful topic in front of the Philistines who he was supposed to be defeating. But here's the thing, even in captivity he made a very important choice between strength and weakness, and in the last few hours of his life he called out to God, "O, Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines."

And with his last breath, He pushed the pillars of the building in which he was chained, taking down about three thousand men and women (Philistines) in the process. It was recorded that Samson took out more enemies at his death than when he was alive. What a triumph.

YOUR OWN STORY:

Now, your own story will be different and more triumphant than Samson's, in Jesus' Name. No, you will not go before your time.

The point is that today I encourage you to choose STRENGTH in 2012. No matter what circumstances have come your way in 2011, whenever you stand at the intersection between Strong & Weak, choose STRENGTH.

Choose strength. Choose victory. With one blow, defeat failure. Even if you failed at something in 2011, remember that the Word of God says, "For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again," (Proverbs 24:16). Also remember the Word that says, "Through the Lord's mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness," (Lamentations 3:22-23). It is never the end of the battle until the victory is won. So dear friends, aim for the crown in 2012. It is yours for the taking. Isaiah 61 prophesied about Jesus saying, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon [Him], because the Lord has anointed [Him]...to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." Any year can be your acceptable year if you believe. 2012 can be your acceptable year. Because Jesus was born, you are free to take the victory. Because of Him, you can start afresh because of God's grace. Sin no longer has any hold on you because He bore your sins when he died on the cross. Because He chose to be strong for you, you can also choose to be strong today. And whatever you believe by faith will be yours.

Please, when you stand at the intersection of Strong & Weak in this new year, tell me you will choose STRENGTH and defy all odds.

God bless you, readers. HAPPY NEW YEAR...and looking forward to writing again in 2012. May God strengthen you with His own strength in 2012, and may you never give up because He has not yet given up on you. Would love to read from you in the comments, and until 2012...Ciao!!! Choose strength :)

He Sees The Depths of Your Nakedness, So Run to Him






[Image by Jean Goff on Flickr]
"People! Come and see. Please, I beg you. Listen to me," she screamed. She wasn't yelling to anyone in particular, but to everyone who dared to stop and listen.

It was a busy market-place, oh yes, she knew. But what had happened to her only minutes ago had compelled her to discard all sense of reason.

She halted every worry about the way she looked some miles before she got here. Crazy hair, sweaty face. No longer did she care about appearing delusional. She just kept running, loose, wild, and free like a mad woman. "Quick," she told herself. "Faster." She wanted to tell everyone the news. Lost her pair of bathroom slippers in the process, but she didn't care. Couldn't find her scarf, so she allowed the wind to blow through her naked brown strands of hair, plunging them into mad cascades down her back.

"Believe me when I tell you this," she screamed again. "He saw my nakedness." Maybe no one stopped to listen because not one of them understood what she meant by nakedness.

"No, no. I don't mean my body. I mean he told me everything I've ever done. Secrets about my life. And not just that, He has given me what no one else can ever give me. Living water. Come and see this man."

One young boy finally stopped to listen. Then an old woman. Suddenly, at the mention of her nakedness, people began to stop to listen. And one by one she told them what had happened at the well...

(true story told in the form of fiction)

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Nakedness is the very essence of you. No clothes. No coverings. No false appearances. Nothing of that sort. I tell you, your nakedness reveals you just as you are. In your birthday suit- the way you were born.

Let's look at two instances of nakedness.

#1. When Adam and Eve sinned, they realized the essence of their nakedness. So it was that when God came to walk with them, as He usually did in the cool of the evening, they ran away from Him because they knew He'd see right through to the depths of their essence. So they decided to flee, shameful of what they had done.

#2. The woman at the well, hers was a different story. She did not feel judged when Jesus saw her sin, instead she felt His love when He offered her rivers of living water. (Full story in John Chapter 4).

What was the difference between these two instances? In the first, nakedness brought guilt, but in the second, it exposed love. Jesus came to redeem us from the judgment nakedness reveals. His salvation tore the curtains of the temple so that you can run into the Holy of Holies. No longer do we need an intermediary, He has carried the burdens of our nakedness to the Father, and we are now the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. In other words, when God looks at your nakedness today (your mistakes, your sins), He sees Jesus on the cross. He sees His Son's righteousness.

He sees everything you've ever done since the day you were born till this very hour. He sees you when you wake up in the morning, to when you sleep at night. He sees you as you read this blog. He sees your sins. He sees your struggles. He sees your determination and accomplishments. But more than that, He sees your VICTORY in Christ.

So, today...please run to Him. Yes, even because He sees your nakedness. Don't hide in the bushes, you cannot hide from God. Run to Him. He is merciful. His hands are waiting to embrace you. Run to Him. He is the Father of the Prodigals. Run to Him. He is the redemption for your naked sins. Run to Him. He is the source of living water. What man cannot tell you, He will tell you about yourself. What man cannot do for you, He will do for you.

There's no longer the need to run away. Jesus has paid a very dear price for you. You can now run to Him when He sees your nakedness, not away from Him. That's what the woman at the well was trying to tell the people.

Question for the Day: Have you ever considered running to someone who sees and knows everything about you (and who genuinely loves you)? God does, so run to Him first. I Love you readers, but God loves you more. Looking forward to reading from you in the "comments." Happy 1st of December. New month, new beginnings :)  



The Three Killers of Fear | Power, Love, A Sound Mind






[Photo by David Pons on flickr]
Short Fiction

A pounding knock on the door jolted Jemimah and she almost fell off the dining chair. She tried to steady herself but her hands were shaking. She was afraid. And it certainly did not help that she'd been thinking of all sorts of frightening scenarios just before the knock.

"Who is it?" she yelled. Then she remembered the phone conversation from this morning and she knew exactly who it was. She dropped the papers on the table, put on her rubber slippers, and dashed for the door. "I'm coming." In seconds she was there.

As soon as she opened the door, she flung her arms around him as though she'd been waiting to do so all day. His leather jacket was freezing because of the cold weather, but she held on tightly nonetheless, even as the unfriendly wind blew in her face.

"I'm so glad you're here," she whispered.

"Jem, are you going to let me in?"

"Hmmm. Is someone is being feisty here?"

"Well, are you?" He laughed.

"Only if you ask me nicely."

"Okay. Can I come in?"

So much for asking. Without waiting for her reply, he shoved himself in-between her body and the door. In amazement, she watched as he took off his jacket, hung it in the near-by closet, and headed straight for the papers.

The papers. The frightening papers. She felt like opening a hole in the ground and hiding down there for a while.

"What time is the presentation?"

"Seun, I already told you this morning that I'm not going."

"Well, I came to tell you that you are."

"What do you mean?"

"You need to kill your fear and step out in faith. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

* * * * *

The spirit of fear visits each of us at different times in our lives, and when it comes all hell lets loose. When it comes, we feel like we're going to make a big mistake. Something that we will never be able to recover from. And then we choose to let it take over and we never take a step forward so that we don't make a mistake. Then we begin to move around the same mountain again and again, never moving into the promise land--- our promised Canaan.

But I'm breaking my "break" today just to tell you that there are three things more powerful than the spirit of fear. According to 1 Timothy 1:7, these three killers of fear are "God's power, God's love, and a sound mind."

A) All POWER belongs to God. If anything else tries to rear its ugly head against you, or tries to show you how powerful it is compared to God, remember Psalm 62:11, "God has spoken once, twice I have heard this, that power belongs to God."

B) LOVE: 1 John 4:18 says it all. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out all fear, because fear involves torment."

C) A SOUND MIND: If your mind has 100% faith in something, then 100% percent of the time you will be certain. The mind is our seat of reasoning, and hardly any serious action is taken without a certainty in our minds. If your mind can move you to do something, then it can also move you to rebuke fear. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." There you go: every thought must be captive to Christ. And Christ only brings victory, not defeat. So a sound mind must reason that we are ALWAYS victorious, no matter what.

I hope I've been able to convince you that you possess three killers of fear within you.

Let's talk about it. Is there anything that makes you afraid? Have you defeated fear in the past? How? Are you willing to put 1 Timothy 1:7 in mind every time a fearful situation arises? I hope you do. Love you all, will be reading your comments, till next time on the Lamp :)


A Passionate Intermission






© My friend, Singer/Songwriter: Bona Ekundayo. BonaSings.com


First, a Letter to you
Dear Readers, I have missed you. I am still working on my writing project, so the hiatus is taking longer than I expected. But I wrote this little piece today, and I can't wait to share what I have with you. Enjoy. 
Love, 
Me. 

"You've Got to Be Passionate About Something."

Passion is what drives the world today. Passion is at the core of your very being; the internal piece of matter that is unseen but yet a vital force to your very existence.

Without passion, you have no moves on the Chess Board.

This is how Paul introduced himself to the Galatians, "I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when He who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone." Galatians 1:14-16 (ESV).

Three phrases struck me:
1. "So extremely zealous."
2. "Advancing beyond many of my own age."
3. "But when He revealed His Son to me."

Those three phrases describe someone filled with so much passion for the truth.

See, what he considered to be the truth before his encounter with Jesus was not the truth. But he was passionate about it regardless, even in his ignorance, and God saw his passion. Yes, God saw the passion that ignited through his veins and coursed through his blood.

There's nothing wrong with believing a theory is true. When you're passionate about what you believe in, God sees your heart. And He knows the kind of person you are (whether you know the God that He is or not). He will see that you're not one to fold your arms and do nothing in the world. He will see that you're either hot or cold, because He sees everything. He is the Apha and Omega. He was there before the foundations of the world and had seen you before you were born.

But there's one thing God will never do, and that is sit back and let you be passionate about the wrong things.

That's why Paul had a personal encounter with Jesus. His passion was so extremely in the wrong direction, that God knew the only way to give him the TRUE revelation of Jesus was for him to meet Jesus himself. And this one encounter changed his whole view on life. He diverted all his resources from being passionate about the wrong things to being passionate about the right things.

The questions here are: Are you passionate about something? What makes your blood boil? Search your heart and ask yourself. Why are you the way you are? Do you search for the truth?

You've got to be passionate about something, dear. You've got to be passionate about the truth. For if you know the truth, the truth shall set you free. The truth will visit you at your point of need and liberate you from lies that have successfully bound you in chains up until the point where you get a hold of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. This Jesus that we preach, He's met us personally at our points of need. He has a kingdom that never ends and will never die. Even when all passes away, when dust meets dust, and when skies fade away...He will still be there as before.

Even while I am away, God is working on me...directing me to see the passion He has given me, and ultimately directing me to resources to use.

May you have a personal encounter with Jesus. May your passion be re-ignited today. May your heart's desire for the truth be fulfilled. Don't stop your search. Don't hinder your passion. Keep searching scriptures. Keep scratching the surface of God's love until His love overshadows every single thing that you do.

Until I write again, my prayer for you today is that your various passions in this life be re-directed and re-aligned with the truth of God's Word & His love for you. Amen.

Selah.

PS: Looking forward to reading your comments on Passion, and to sharing this on Twitter & Facebook with your friends. Also, please visit BonaSings.com (the young woman in the photo above) and meet a Singer/Songwriter God has filled with a passion for Him. 

On Being Thankful for June & Sweet Hiatuses


The winds are blowing towards the proverbial North, and just like a kite runner, I must run along now with my paper kite swaying in the wind to wherever my hand leads it.

I'm thankful for the month of June. Last year, God was a "Faithful God" to me. He gave and He sustained I, my husband, and my entire family, till the very end.

In these past six months, I can say God has been my "Confidant." He's been the friend that listens when no other is listening, and it's been such a fantastic thing to act like I'm talking to myself, when indeed it's God I'm talking to. Father, I love You.

In this month, I am also thankful to you readers who decided to nominate the Light-A-Lamp Blog for best Religion Blog. Christianity is a Religion, but more than that, it embodies the heart of God, that He sent His only begotten son just so that you and I can be close to Him (redemption)- and that we can be broken from shackles which bound us in our past.

But we must travel beyond the walls of Religion, we must be the hands and feet, and we must have ears to hear the words God is telling our generation today. This blog is not merely about Religion. We are more than rules and regulations. We are more than Religion. We don't do it because we have to, but we do it because we're in love. And when someone is crazy in love, they begin to do things that they can't believe they are doing. *Giggles*

I'm thankful for you who nominated this blog for the Nigerian Blog Awards (NBA). You're wonderful and amazing. Of course, the blog would love your votes as well when you are ready to do so.  :)

On Sweet Hiatuses:

In July, I will be going on a long journey with my pen and paper. I have to. Away from distractions, just me and the Holy Spirit speaking to me about a long-term project that I am supposed to write. I love you all, and may God continue to bless you even as you peruse the Archives of the Blog. Oh, I'll definitely miss you :)

PS: All the contents of this blog have been written specially with you in mind. Just go to the 'Top Ten Writings' on the sidebar, or the "Labels" at the bottom of the sidebar, and may the Holy Spirit lead you to what you need in your life right now.

Amazing How The Same Power is in You






[Image by His Noodly Appendage]
Fiction

Even with my frequent forgetfulness, that morning will forever be etched in my memory. It remains as clear as crystal.

I had peered closely at the child which came out of my womb at exactly two hours & thirty minutes into Tuesday. She had the same face as her father. The same rotundness. The same nose. A replica which could not be feigned, try as she might, not even if the entire medical staff decided to switch the babies in all the units.

I'd thrown my head back, evoking a loud-belly laughter. My eyes teared up and I wiped them with the back of my hand. And when my husband, who'd been sitting by my hospital bed reflecting, asked why I was laughing, I'd simply said, "No one can steal her away from you. She's your carbon copy."

Today, she stands here in our kitchen, and once again I look into those big brown eyes.

"It's my first day at work, mom," she says, as she tucks a strand of her naturally curly black hair behind her ear. "I'm kind of scared."

It feels like eighteen years have rushed by as fast as the Amazon river. Like a swoosh in the wind. A thousand years to us are like one day to you, God. It's already here, she's a grown woman herself now. She must take up more responsibilities. And receive Your power.

I take her hands into my experienced ones, and after we say a short prayer, I raise my head to look into her eyes again.

"Listen to me, honey," I say. "The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is at work in you right now. You've got to use it."

 She nods her head in agreement, but I don't know if she quite understands the impact of what I've just spoken into her life, even as she's leaving home for the first time to be plunged into the real world.

* * * * *

"[That you may know] what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named..." Ephesians 1: 19-21

The truth is, I don't know how to describe this kind of power. Or how would you suggest I describe it? Something so big that can raise a human from the dead? It's beyond me. Or you. Or anyone else. Or the depths of science.

It's incredible.

But one thing I can tell you right now is "that same power is in you."


Don't tell me you're not capable of achieving something. Because you are.

Don't tell me you can't do the unbelievable task in front of you. Because you can.

Don't tell me you're only second best. Because you're obviously not if the power used to raise Christ from the dead is the same one entrusted into your hands, and it's the same one in EACH OF US.

You can do amazing things.

Before you were born, that same power spoke a word, and things erupted upon the surface of the deep. Mountains, trees, oceans, valleys, creatures...man.

Before you came into this world, that same power parted the red sea, divided the Jordan, raised dry bones to life, flattened the walls of Jericho with human voices, caused the sun to stand still for 24 hours, provided manna in the middle of a desert, and water from a crack in a dry rock. That same power chose Esther (a supposed nobody) to be queen, Joseph to become Pharaoh's confidant, converted David from ruddy lad to giant-slayer, and Paul from murderer to spirit-filled.

Anything can happen when you're filled with this power. Things will start appearing where they weren't possible, and cups will be filled with water in a drought. But most of all, when something dies in your hands, this same power is the resurrecting power that can bring it back to life.

Question for today: Would you walk in this same power today, or would you just shy away from it by saying "this power could not possibly be in me?" Remember, it's toward us who believe.  
Listen to this:



Hidden Baskets of Left-Over Fragments






[Image by Vlasta2]



Left-overs are the forgotten, despised sisters of delicious well-cooked meals. They have always carried a derogatory meaning. Almost as though cursed, no one ever wants them. No one desires the remains of what someone else has eaten (or what they themselves have eaten). Oh, how despicable.

But have you ever filled the palms of your hands with soft left-over crumbs of bread from a breakfast meal? Have you ever had many guests at a party, only to be overwhelmed by what left-overs they throw in the thrash? 

Let me tell you something amazing: Jesus understood the power of hidden baskets of left-over fragments. See what he said after miraculously feeding five thousand men, women, & children with only five loaves of bread and two fish. 

"So the men sat down, in number about 5,000. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." Therefore, they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets..." [John 6:1-14]

* * * * *

In reading about the miracle that happened that day, I could not stop thinking about why Jesus felt it was necessary to gather up the left-over fragments. 

So that nothing is lost...(was what He said). So that no part of the miracle is lost. So that no part of the testimony is gone unacknowledged. 

In the midst of our testimonies, do we remember the spill-overs, or the remnants? 

We forget that God blesses us for one day, but it spills over to a thousand days after...so that nothing is lost. 

We forget that we're saved once, but it will last us for the rest of our lives unto eternity...so that nothing is lost. 

We forget that we're redeemed once, but we have enough grace to pour over to the rest of our lives...so that nothing is lost

We forget that we have in abundance so that we can share the spill-over of wealth to the hungry and thirsty...so that nothing is lost. And the baskets go around and around, in circles and connections across the entire globe...

"You anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over. Surely, God's goodness and mercies shall follow me all the days of my life." [Psalm 23: 5-6]

There's power in the left-overs of our testimonies. Think deeply about the last testimony for which you gave thanks to God. Do you find that there's so much more to thank Him for? Do you see that your testimony can be divided into twelve baskets and you might still keep filling up more baskets? 

In God's gifts, He never gives just one testimony...He ensures that as long as you remain in His embrace, your testimonies keep spilling into multiple baskets...and even the left-overs carry so much weight. So that nothing is lost. That's because a loving Father is not satisfied with giving His child just one blessing. There's always something more. There will always be the remnants of an indescribable grace. That's the power of baskets of left-over fragments, that our mouths will be continually filled with praises. To me, left-overs are no longer a curse. 

Question for the day: Have you ever had testimonies which spilled over, and one blessing kept leading to another? That's the power of your left-over fragments. Never forget those crumbs of blessings which spilled over from one. Have a blessed week, readers :)

  

A Perpetual State of Rejuvenation, Renovation, & Preparation





[Image by Sufino]

This is about me and how I was inspired by something I did.

On Sunday morning, I woke up very early with an extra burst of energy. Feeling wonderful, ecstatic, and almost whistling (I still don't know how to whistle), I sauntered (you might call it dancing) to our dainty living room.

"What can I do to create more space?" I asked myself. "How can I redesign it into something more amazing?"

Before I knew it, I was pushing couches aside, turning tables around, dragging shelves to the middle, and realigning the big old entertainment center into its new position. Not to forget we bought a new Art-work for the our dining area (yippee!!!). More space was what I wanted. More color was what I desired.

Questions were running through my mind as I reorganized. What if I had more than two guests soon? What if I were to host a fellowship meeting (which I know I am scheduled to do soon)? What if people came to visit, but they were more in number than I could ever imagine? More than what I was used to (maybe one or two people at a time)? There were so many "what-if's."

I was in a state of preparing for a great future. Yes, I've just started my own (albeit small) family, but it's never too early to prepare for a bigger event in one's life.

Today, I can tell you that I was able to create more room and add some more color to a once picturesque living room.

* * * * *

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. (Matthew 24:42-47).

Redesigning my living room space reminded me of how we all have to prepare for greatness. If greatness has not met you yet, how would it find you? Would you be prepared or would you be found wanting?

There are higher visitors that want to show up in your home- God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But when they come, would they find you prepared? When God wants to put you in charge, would you be ready to be a leader? When God is ready to anoint you for a greater purpose, would your head be ready to receive the oil?

Friends, I want to encourage you to be in a perpetual state of rejuvenation, renovation, and preparation. There's always gonna be a higher rung in the ladder, a higher place God wants to take you. Never get comfortable in a sweet spot. Never feel you've "arrived," because you serve a great God and He doesn't run out of ideas.

Question for the Day: Has anyone been feeling they need to move things around in their life to prepare for a greater purpose? If you have been feeling this way, then go ahead and prepare yourself for the greater works God is calling you to. How have you guys been? I've missed ya! Have a blessed week, Readers. 

Dear Giver, Please Love Yourself First








[Image by Martin Ujlaki]
Dear Giver,

I have a confession to make. You may not know who I am, or much about me, but I have been observing you for quite a while now. I might not know your last name, or even your first, but the little I've seen is enough to make me conclude that you are an amazing human being.

You give, and you give...and then you give some more. You don't get any rest until you've given for a day. That's why I call you "The Giver." I look at you from my window sill, and every step you take down the street carries such grace. Within each feet is someone lost, waiting to be found by you. Or a poor ragged man who would have gone without lunch, but you went and changed his hopelessness into hope. Or a young girl who thinks she's lost, but because you were there at the right time, she finds her way home again.

Sometimes, I wonder if you ever pause to take a deep breath.

The other day, I saw you with your brother. You two were joking about something, and then it turned into an argument. You must have been telling him not to make the same mistakes you made, but in the end, I watched you dip your hands into your pocket to give him the money he needed. Your brother is lucky to have you.

On another day, I bumped into you. You looked alarmed, but quickly regained your composure, apologizing profusely, and then bending down to pick up the piles of papers which fell from my hand.

"I am sorry, I wasn't looking," you said.
"I am terrible about watching out too, it's not your fault. Sorry."
"Would you like me to buy you lunch?" The Giver in you showed up in that second.
"Don't worry about it, dear."
"No, seriously. I owe you one."

You ended up buying my coffee the next morning, and you came all the way to the sixteenth floor to deliver it to my office. Your generosity, although you may not have realized it, had extended all the way from the first floor to the sixth, from your heart to mine.

Again, sometimes I wonder if you ever pause to take a deep breath. Sometimes, I think about you, and I ask myself if you ever stopped beside the beggar down the street to smell the roses layered on the green grass. Yes, you gave him the money, but I wish you paused to smell the flowers.

I pray for you every day. And I pray that you receive so much more. I pray you do, Giver, because you deserve it.

Yours Sincerely,
Your Admirer.
(fictional letter)

* * * * *

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. (Mark 1:35)

It's such a beautiful thing to be a giver. But sometimes we get caught up in the "doing" and not in the "receiving."

Before Jesus faced the multitudes, He often went up to the mountains alone. And what did He do when He went up there? He received a refreshing wind from His Father. And then He went back down to the throngs of crowds, to give what He had lovingly received.

That scripture, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself," further emphasizes that you have to love yourself (take care of yourself) before you can truly love (or take care of) others.

✪ You need joy in yourself before you can truly have the capacity to give joy.

✪ You need to love yourself first before you can totally lose yourself in loving someone else.

✪ You need to nourish yourself first to have the nutrients to pour out on others.

Dear Giver, please love yourself first. Then only will you have the "full" capacity to love others as God loves you. 

The Choice Always Precedes the Mission

[Image by misswired]
Just one choice will set the pace for your entire life's mission.

When that young ruddy-looking boy dusted his feet and stepped up to the Philistine giant, it was not a spontaneous or lackadaisical decision. His choice came way before the opportunity for the mission. David did not just wake up that morning thinking he'd be 'warrior of the day.' Think about it.

Before that single event in history, he chose God. He studied Him like a son does his father, and his conclusion was, "My God is able." It was not an overnight decision.

You see, God designed the world with choices, but He's always wanted us to make the right ones. On one side of the garden of Eden was good, and in another section evil stood its ground. If God made man for His glory, then our choices were meant to glorify His name forever. Glory does not come by restraining our free-will. It comes by allowing us to choose "good" for ourselves.

--------------------

"Choose for yourselves this day, whom you will serve..." Joshua 24:15

Your one choice will set the pace for your entire life's mission. 

If you want to choose God, don't worry about the mission that comes after that. Worry about making the right choice first, and only then will God begin to help you connect the dots. 

Little by little, just like David, you will learn by being stationed in the backyard where you have to lead sheep. By endurance and a little patience, you will begin to realize that God is able to do what He says He will do. And then one day, you will tear down a bear with your own hands, and you will know that the strength you have comes from a greater source.

The day you tear down a bear would be the day you get convinced that, truly, you can do anything God says you can do.

✪ Make the choice to be good, and good will find you.

✪ Make the choice to live a life filled with purpose, and purpose will find you.

✪ Make the choice to worship God, and praises will fill your mouth.

✪ Make the choice to study His word, and the Holy Spirit will teach you.

✪ Make the choice to find good friends, and bad company will desist.

✪ Make the choice to live with a Godly purpose, and that purpose will find its way to your home.

Friends, this life is first about making choices, and then the mission. Exactly how you're going to accomplish this (the steps, the objectives, the master plan)-- I can't tell ya, but that section of the manuscript comes much later after you've made the choice to do life God's way. Just do it. Make the right choice first.

Question for the Day: Is there a choice you've been afraid to make because you don't know exactly how you will fulfill it? Someone reading this might be struggling to make the right choice. Make that choice first (if the Holy Spirit is leading you to do so), and then allow Him to help you fulfill it. 

When You Can Do Something Bigger Than Yourself

[Image by eirasi on Flickr]

The scales fell off my eyes that night. I, Jeremiah, heard what I'd never heard before. That night, I lay on my bed tossing from side to side, wondering if it was really me the Lord was speaking to.

Did He think I was someone else? I did not want to get carried away to forget I was from the least tribe in Israel, Benjamin.

But as a matter of fact, it was me He was speaking to. To establish this, He said:

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you."

That's what He said. Can you believe it? Those words struck me on my chest, causing my heart to beat faster. There's no one greater than the Lord. If He says He saw me before I was born naked into the world, then so be it. But not only that, He came to my bedside to let me know who I truly am. If He didn't tell me, I would have continued living a clueless life.

"Before you were born, I sanctified you. I ordained you."

How does God ordain people before they're born? Does my foolishness in the past few years not count? Did I not get bad grades on my behaviour so far? I don't understand lots of world theories and preconceptions. How can I be sure about this so-called 'ordainment?' Ah, Lord, You are magnificent. You know it all, Master Potter. If you feel that even the mistakes of my past few years can be subject to Your will, then I submit to your majesty and sovereignty. Why do I think I'm mediocre, Father? Only You alone knows what it is you've created me to fulfil.

"Ah, Lord God! But I cannot speak. I am still very young."

Immediately I said that, I got reprimanded. "Do not say "I am Young," He answered.

Now that God has spoken, I lay right here in this same bed asking myself some questions. What is age to God? What is the length of years to God? In just one year, God is capable of teaching me everything I need to know. My mouth was too fast to complain. Am I wiser than the One who knew me before I knew myself?

"Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms."

That's it. He has said it, and by His grace, I can do it.

That night, I slept like a baby.

[Story inspired by the true account in Jeremiah Chapter 1]

* * * * * * * * * *

After battling with the questions in his head about why God had called him out in His youth, Jeremiah went on to give many powerful prophesies to the children of Israel. There are 52 Chapters of his words written in the good book.

When He realized that it wasn't about his small self, or lack of self esteem, He let go and allowed God to use Him. That's when He did something bigger than Himself. 

See, Jesus once said that God could raise up stones to praise Him. That's if we're not willing. That's if no man feels empowered enough to come forward. That's if you don't know that you can do something bigger than yourself, that you can worship Him in spirit and truth.

I've been wondering what next to write about, and I went back to Jeremiah. It made me realize that even in the busyness of our days, when we get so pressed in-between work and play, when we can't seem to get a breathing space and everything seems to be choking us...even in these looming seconds of our days, we can still do something bigger than ourselves. Yes, we can do the very "BIG" thing that God has called us to do. It is not by our power or by our might.

Question for the Day: Have you been feeling like you can't do "it" (whatever your "it" is)? I'm telling you right now that Jeremiah didn't think he was capable. But he did it. And if he did it, you can do it too. Just throw your hands up and let them reach out to God, don't throw in the towel yet-- that's not what God made you for. You're tougher and more capable than you know. But God knows. He knew you were capable even before you were born. 



When Foundations Are Destroyed (Special Edition)







[Image by His Noodly Appendage]


Muculent, slimy, and despicable bathroom tubs became the ultimate safe haven. Thousands of people huddled together inside them that fateful night. Trembling, they gasped at the onset of a 200-mile long tornado, accelerating forcefully and bearing down with all its energy.

From the eyes of those huddled down in the bath tub, tears began to fall. But who could tell where the tears would land in the midst of a losing sense of gravity?

Tears were falling, but they weren't landing. There was no place for them to settle with gusty winds rising from the tornado and carrying them along.

Screams escaped lips, but tell me, who could hear anyone in the midst of the overpowering noise?

Suddenly, roofs of houses (even grocery stores and restaurants) flew off their tops and right then, the effect of the tornado became more direct upon the bricks, mortar, and wood. Aligned pieces got dismantled, flying across big rooms, part of which had once been in fine mansions.

And just like that, in the twinkle of an eye, the foundations of a great city became terribly destroyed. This is the second deadliest day for a twister outbreak in the United States history. The death toll is 337. Many more people were injured, and as many as 1 million homes in Alabama are still without electricity.

* * * * *
"If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Psalm 11:3

When the foundations of buildings are being tossed in the wind, you can't do anything. All you can do is wait and pray silently that the walls don't crush down on you.

* * * * *

Now, let us move away from the tornado disaster which took away lives in the past week in North Carolina, Tuscaloosa (Alabama), Birmingham (Alabama), Mississippi, and Tennessee.  Look at your own life for a second. Does it seem that some foundations have been blown away by a tornado?

See, if your foundation is destroyed, you need to get the Saviour. Man cannot save you, but I know a mighty unlimited God who can. If your foundation is destroyed, you need to get His help. Again, when your foundation is being destroyed, all you can do is pray silently that the walls don't crush down on you...because they will if you don't have the right foundation. That's why you've got to build it right.

What Foundations?

Your Intimate Knowledge of God


Your Ideas About the Way to Live Your Life


Your Instigations About What Eternity Really Means


 Your Convictions About the Spirit and the Flesh-and the Difference between the two.


Your False Sense of Security in the Wrong Things


To me, if the foundations of all these concepts are not based on God, then they are being tossed by every form of virulent winds born into the world today.

Start from scratch again. You are already skilled as a builder, a craftsman. God made you in His own image, to be intelligent; you have the ability to lay the right foundation for your own self. Let us take our foundations and build upon the rock of Christ, upon which no tornado can bear down.

Please pray for the victims of natural disasters. Please pray for your own life and the concepts around which you have built your foundations, that they be the right ones. 

On Viewing the Fine-prints (An Easter Musing)

[Image by Madelinetosh]
That one moment when you stop and look into the sky, and you stretch out your hands as though reaching out to God, and you ask "what are the fine prints?" Or "What's the point?" Or "What do you have to do to get it?" Or "What if you'll never really know?"

In many documents, the fine-prints are the words with the tiniest fonts. They are usually so small that you can hardly read them, unless of course you raise the documents close to your face so that you can see them clearly. Unless of course, you think it matters. Unless it is THAT important to your life.

During Easter, the fine-prints of the entire meaning of Christianity are enlarged in bold so that hopefully everyone can see. In it we can understand what happened and why we are where we are today.

See, on that cloudy day, Jesus walked several miles with a cross strapped on His back and thorns on His head, to a place called Golgotha ('place of skulls')...to where murderers had been sentenced to death prior to His own sentence, just to die for you and me and to place the burdens on an innocent lamb, that blood might be shed to build a new covenant.

 Now in Him, instead of death we can receive life.

 Instead of judgment, we can receive forgiveness. 

 Instead of nails, we can receive love.

 Instead of consequences, we can receive forgiveness.

 Instead of leaving the earth to futility because of the sins of the world, we can embrace the Father again and receive new life and living waters that we might not thirst again in futility. 

[image by coconinoco]
That anyone....truly, anyone...who calls upon the name of Jesus, can be saved, even right here in the nick of time. Right here, while reading this blog. 

These are the fine-prints of Easter. In the midst of days off work, organizing Easter egg hunts, grocery-shopping for Easter bunnies, and groveling in the kitchen to make an Easter dinner. In the midst of all these is the reason this Friday is called "Good Friday." That He died for you and me, and on the third day (Easter Sunday) He rose up from the dead, collected the keys of Hades, and sat at the right hand of the Father. This fact, single-handedly, is the most important thing that could have ever happened in the history of the universe.


What this means to me is priceless. Happy Easter, people. 


Question: What does Easter mean to you? Readers, I hope you have the BEST Easter ever, and I hope you pause to reflect on these fine-prints.


For Length of Days, For Long Life



[Image by Mabyssal]
"Honey, close your eyes, count to three, and slowly repeat what I just told you."

I wrap my arms around him and rub his shoulders, gently cajoling him. He responds, but not what I expected. Then he gives me that look, the one where his eyes become smaller than they really are, and I immediately sense the gargantuan fear coming from somewhere inside him.

Motherly instincts tell me that he's just encountered a Goliath that he cannot defeat. He is shaking because he's afraid, and doesn't know how to tell me.

"Mummy," he mutters. "I don't think I can do it." He averts his gaze to the window sill. Outside, birds are chirping and going about their usual morning routine, whatever it is they do. One flies down to the sill to watch us have our conversation.

"Jeremiah, look at me."

I lift up his chin so that his eyes meet mine. "You're an intelligent boy, don't you know? All you need to do is tell yourself that you can do it. Never say you can't. You hear me?"

He shakes his head. And his fist. "But...but...I can't."

What is this I see? A tear sliding down his face. No, it can't be.

I reach out to him, this rascally naughty son of mine, and I hug him as tightly as I can. After all, he is only five years old and already at the top of his class. He's my own little genius, I tell you. I whisper into his ears, "Repeat what I taught you, Jeremiah. Don't be frightened. Now, count in fives to fifty."

He closes his eyes and opens his mouth only just a little. Muffled sounds come back to me.

"Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty." I stay right there and wait for him to finish. "Thirty-five, forty, forty-five, fifty."

When he opens his eyes again, I am right there looking at him with pride. I can never forget how widely he smiled.

For many weeks (and years) after that episode (he is now seventeen years old), he has not forgotten the count, and has gone above and beyond the call. I've seen my son rise up with confidence every morning, ready to take upon each day. Ready to use his memory to defeat any Goliath who tries to stand in his way.

For length of days to come, and for the whole of his long life, he will always remember.

*Fiction*


* * * * *
My son, do not forget my law,
    But let your heart keep my commands;
       For length of days and long life 
      And peace they will add to you.
Proverbs 3:1-2 


What results in length of days? What memories keep us alive, elongate our days, and give us peace? If we forget the law, how does that affect our lives?

My Musings:

✪ We are what we take in. Whatever we memorize as the truth tends to spread out into every area of our lives. Because of this memorized truth, we become stronger and stronger, and soon enough we will be able to defeat our giants.

✪ Whatever we know as the truth will be reflected upon every action we take in the world. If we know God's strength is made perfect in our weaknesses, then we will learn to feel strong regardless of circumstances. If we know that we're storing treasures in places where thieves cannot break into, then we will entertain a lifestyle of endless giving. If we know that meekness is quiet strength, then we will be willing to serve.

✪ Whatever we repeat again and again will become a part of us, the very foundation of our character. If you can't remember that the Word says "You're victorious in Christ," then it won't be part of your foundation. We have to repeat the Word so that we don't forget the truth about who we are.

✪ Although we want to remember always, sometimes we may forget. But just as we can pick up broken pieces of a bottle, we can always pick up the word of God to remind ourselves of His promises. This is why Solomon says, "do not forget," because there's a natural tendency to forget the Word and focus on what we feel are current pertinent issues.

✪ The life of a man is in God's hands, but our decisions also help us to live well. Our decisions produce longevity of life. Our decisions lead to peace or harmony. It's up to us to choose God's Word. Or the filth that comes with wanting a reckless lifestyle.

Question(s) for the Day: What specific word from God have you kept in your life that causes longevity of life? And what lesson(s) did you glean from this?

Three Gifts: On Bothering God, Faith, & Translations

[Image by Xtina, Flickr]
Last week visited, and along with it a barricade of blessings.

So, here I am, not holding anything back from you. These are the gifts with which I've been blessed, three videos sent to me by readers/friends. I hope that when you partake of them, your week will also be nourished. I made summaries of each of them.

1. On Bothering God:

If you have a loving father, you would understand that he would not mind being bothered by things that matter to you, right? Fathers want to know about the nitty-gritty of your life. They want to know if you "like that young man," or if you "want some more money," or if you "can survive in the field you've chosen." They want to know everything. And we ask ourselves why we should pray? We need to rise up and pray to God because He wants to be bothered. We need to pray without ceasing, because that's the heart of our Father. Here's the first gift-- sent from one of my most respected readers (and commentators), Ike.


2. On Faith:

"It's not just the evidence of things hoped for." Sometimes, we want to think that faith is simple. "Isn't it just believing something when you can't see it?" However, it would enlarge your mind to know that faith transcends that restricted definition. There's more to it. What do you do when you're repeatedly hurt but you still believe in God anyway? What do you do when all odds are against you, but you still stand on God's word? What do you do? One of my favorite bloggers posted this on her blog, and I requested to share it here-- a podcast where she speaks about faith using the power of "Spoken Word." Here's Kafo.

video


3. On Waiting for Translations:

"All of you people standing there, when the plane lands, clap your hands. Wave the palm branches! You singers over there, start singing," was what the leader of the Kimyal tribe said. Have you ever danced around your house because someone gave you the gift of the bible in your own language? Were you one of those patiently sitting on your doorstep waiting, praying that you won't die before someone brings the Word of God to you? And have you cried when you received something you've been waiting for your whole life? Well, the third video was sent from one of my wonderful friends, Ann. I hope you rejoice with these people, who at last, have received the Word of God which brings EVERLASTING LIFE. Isn't it lamentable how we, who have the Word of God already, sometimes take it for granted?



I pray you have the most exciting week ever. Three things you must do: Pray without ceasing, have faith beyond the ordinary, and wait on God for something far beyond your comprehension. Make someone's day by retweeting this post and sharing it on Facebook.

One Day in God's Will & One Thousand Gifts





[Image Credit]
I woke up this morning excited about two things... 

1) The blog A Day in God's Will is featuring a Guest Post I wrote, titled "Falling In Love With a Stranger."

2) Today, I will also participate in Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts, by writing about little things I'm thankful to God for below.

Here's an Excerpt from my Guest Post...
Falling In Love With a Stranger:

     Only pure unadulterated anticipation can make a woman swoon over a stranger like that. Why wouldn't she? She's known him more than anyone can ever know him, this man she's never met. Not just about him as though it were only a story of hear-say, but more of a deeper revelation of who he is. But of course, she should, right? He's been existing in her head for the most of her early twenties, and now that she's approaching thirty, he appears more clearly in the nooks and corners of every part of her wandering heart.
     She walks to her bedside table, switches on the small lamp, and confidently pulls out "The List" from the top drawer. The Japanese paper feels light to the touch and crumbles underneath her fingers due to the number of years it has been stowed away down under by she who will never reduce it to shreds...
Are you enjoying the story? 
TO READ THE FULL GUEST POST, please visit the blog "A DAY IN GOD'S WILL."


For Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts, today, I'm thankful for...

 

#1 For life and purpose. Realizing that life is not a "come-and-go" ordeal, it only has meaning because each of us were created to fulfill purpose. Look at the lives which, heart-brokenly, have been lost in the past few weeks due to futile clashes, wars, and natural disasters both in Africa and Japan. A wise man once said, "the best potentials can be found in the graveyard." Sadly, it's true. These are people who might never get to fulfill their purpose on earth. So as long as you're still alive and talking, you have the chance to LIVE fully and fulfill your purpose. Don't wait for later, do it now. 

#2 For HOT Pancakes & breakfast. On Friday, a co-worker brought in breakfast, and I got to eat three hot pancakes laden with syrup and butter. I felt very grateful to God for breakfast at that point. Doctors say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It was yummy. I hope you eat breakfast each morning.

#3 For Family and Skype. This week, I got to talk to my immediate younger sister through the video feature on Skype. Sometimes technology makes you feel overwhelmed, but at other times it brings you closer to the ones you love. 

#4 For the onset of Spring and summer. This Winter has been the most stubborn Winter I've ever experienced. It refused to say good-bye even now that April has come, but I can see that lovely Spring has come to slowly cajole her sister to go to bed, and I'm glad she's finally speaking up. Soon enough, sister Summer will also show her face, and she's not one to be shy. 

#5 For LOVE. Sometimes, love has its peaks and valleys, but I'm thankful for both because they build character. Thankful for my "better half." I was telling someone the other day that it's good to get with someone who, for lack of a better expression, "loves you more than you love yourself." That way, despite your imperfections, he will still be there for you anyways. 

What are you thankful for today?

What If This is the Filthiest of Places?






[Image by Stumayhew]
Out of somewhere, a strange wind blows heavily upon you, lifting up strands of hair, letting them rise above your shoulders only to drop again in cascades around your neck.

Wait, are you thinking it is a refreshing wind? Oh, no. You're mistaken. This one carries with it the stark staleness of desolate homeless men and women sitting on pavements with torn, wrinkled, rotten blankets and old socks.

See, you thought you'd be the least likely person to be found here, this despicable place of filth. No man should be here, not even them. However, here you are, holding up your right hand to cover your nostrils; walking in a zig-zag manner to avoid kicking them by any chance, seeing that they lie about like flea-infested dogs.

You try to block the stench, but there's just no way. It forces itself on you like a harlot, begging you to take it in.

...ѕυ∂∂єηℓу, уσυ яємємвєя ωну уσυ'яє нєяє...

That night at the revival, wasn't it you who came out lifting up your hands and wanting to be used? Yes, you came out crying, asking God, "What about me? I want to be Your vessel. Use me," you pleaded. You didn't know how or when you wanted to be "sent," but you weren't worried about it. The world was dying, and if you were living, of what use was life to you?

So you drop your hands, releasing your nose to allow the stench. You breathe in and out for the first time. At first you feel like fainting, but there's an invisible hand on your back keeping you straight. A voice speaks, "You will not faint, or grow weary."

In the light of this knowledge, you run to the first seemingly lifeless person, toss away his torn, wrinkled, rotten blanket. You take his hands in yours, even though they are stained with mucus and old chicken soup.

"I'm here to save you," you whisper, in the midst of your crying.
"What?" He doesn't seem to understand.
"I said, I'm here to save you, sir."

You begin to pull him up. The pulling gets tougher and tougher, and at some point you just want to let go, but that invisible hand comes back again, and two become stronger than one. That's it, the homeless man is up. You did it! You allow the tears to fall, but this time they are tears of joy.

So what if this is the filthiest of places?

✤ ✤ ✤ ✤ ✤

Children of God, when you find yourself in filthy places and dark trenches, don't be the first one to run away. Don't be the first one to cry, there's no need to. You were placed in the kingdom for such a time as this. So when it seems rough and you seem to be living the most difficult life, turn that difficulty into a miracle for someone else.

In case you forgot, let me remind you of who you are:

 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set above a hill cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14) | Hey, light exists in dark places.

 "Then [Jesus] said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19) | His followers become fishers, and fishers go through seasons of turbulent waters searching for the biggest catch.

 "And these signs will follow those who believe: in My Name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues, they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mark 16:17-18) | These people spoken about here will, at some point in their lives, be surrounded by demons and serpents which they would have to be courageous enough to cast out.

Question(s) for the Day: So what if you're in the filthiest of places in your life right now? Is it at work, or school, or in the marketplaces of your world? Will you stay right there and be bold enough to do what you were called to do?