The Hardest Way To Show Love: By Doing, Not Talking

[Photo by msabrzi on Flickr]

On the most dreaded night of my life, the night I was driven out because I couldn't pay the rent, there's one thing I will never forget. I'd been tired of walking, so I 'd found myself sitting down there by the road-side, alone with my brown duffel bag. I still remember how this woman looked when she approached me on the cold green grassy spot which had been merely a stone's throw away from the local grocery store where I used to shop. She was a chubby middle-aged looking woman, and she'd held a toddler in one arm and a basket in the other.

"Have you eaten today?" she asked. I shook my head. Apparently, with the chaos of trying to fight to retain my studio apartment, I'd forgotten to put the last bagel I owned in my bag. It was probably still sitting on the counter top if the land-lord had not yet thrown away that good last piece of food.

This woman then handed me a warm plate of fried chicken, rice, and stew. And a bus pass for the road. I didn't know what to say, I'd never been in such a position to need food before. I'd seen several homeless people before, but who would have thought I'd be one of those? I managed to mutter a quick 'thank you,' and I watched as she sashayed away from me, not knowing she would forever be at the highlight of my memories years down the line after I'd 'made it.'

She hadn't asked me what I was doing there. Or scolded me. Or looked distastefully at me as though I was not a fellow human being. She didn't have real money to offer. She didn't have a Bible, a pamphlet, or scriptures in sight. Just a warm meal, a bus pass, and a smiling toddler. And those were exactly the very mementos I needed to stand up and get on moving with my life.

(the above is a fictional account) :)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge... (Ephesians 3:19 ESV)

The Musing:

There have always been (and will always be), in every generation, a slew of talkers. Yet, we need to realize that talking is not the most powerful or effective way to give true love. We can talk all we want. Or even write a thousand pages. But the hardest way to show love might actually be the only true way. How? You might ask. It's just by 'being' the very instrument the talkers have described in ages past.

It's by doing, not saying. It's by going that dreaded extra mile. To show and not just 'say.' Action! A very pivotal and impactful stroke in the life of a human being.

This is most exemplified by Christ sacrificing His life on a cross, the totality of love. The complete giving of one's self. Each of us have only one life to live. He gave His own all up. Sheer sacrifice. Will we ever consider such a sacrifice? Maybe not death, but really just giving completely of ourselves? Talking alone will never travel the distance doing can.

There have been moments where I've pursued this kind of love before, and it didn't come by writing. It came by doing. Action. Those moments have been far and few between, and I crave for more of them. There was that one moment when I talked to the guy from the middle east. Or the other one where I met a woman on a bus and because of such interest I showed in the beauty of what was her life, a place inside her heart was touched, opened, and she obtained a renewed sense of purpose. She wanted to do things again. To reunite with her daughter. To finish a book of poems she was writing, and that little act of talking to her about her life opened up a can of love and energized the bones in her body.

Or those times I have been nothing but a silent listening ear.

Or stories I've heard of friends who've comforted their friends in times of turmoil with just their presence. Yes, only their presence. They didn't need to utter a word. They were just there when trouble came. 'Just being.' Sitting on the couch, staring at their friend's face, rubbing a shoulder perhaps? Or cooking that late night meal when their friend had no appetite or reserve to cook. They were just there. This is true love. Hard, unflinching, activated love that transcends what anyone can ever say. It stands the test of time.

And it doesn't have to be about strangers, it can (and should) start with our own families & friends who will always be in our lives, lounging around with hidden hurts of their own. Right there, up in our faces.

"If I speak with human eloquence
and angelic ecstasy,
but don't love,
I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God's Word with power,
revealing all His mysteries 
& making everything as plain as day,
and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "jump,"
and it jumps, but don't have love, I'm nothing.
If I give everything to the poor
and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr,
but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere.
So no matter what I say,
what I believe,
and what I do,
I'm bankrupt without love. 
Love never dies.
Inspired speech will be over someday.
Praying in tongues will end.
Understanding will reach its limit.
(1 Corinthians 13, The Message)

In these last four months of the year, I want to challenge myself (and you darling readers of the Lamp) to push into real areas of love that transcends words. I want to be better at this love thing. Phone calls are not my cup of tea, but may God Himself open up doors of opportunity for me and you to showcase the love of Christ that surpasses ALL knowledge, even without speaking so much. Even knowledge bows down to this kind.

Happy 1st of September readers!!! Activate the next & greatest four months of your 2012. Be the change you want to see in the world. The race continues...God bless you richly. I'll write again soon. :)

The Whosoever People

[Image by iladnaar on Flickr]

As Halima trudged down 31st & Henry street, she noticed the wind was blowing in an odd fashion today. Very odd, actually. Haphazardly, as though it did not know where it wanted to go. Leaves and sediments from the road rose and fell in the same breath, just as the clouds suddenly broke loose and the first raindrops of the day rattled down.

She looked down on the blue sequinned blouse she'd ironed not less than ten minutes ago. It was starting to get wet. What was the point? Perhaps she'd chosen the wrong day to make the right move. She told herself to stop doubting the decision and keep walking. Luckily, she only had a couple of blocks left to go and she would be there. She shouldn't change her mind and walk back to her apartment.

As she was trying to decide whether to make a dash for it or just keep walking at the same slow pace despite the onslaught of rain, a young man (couldn't have been more than twenty-five maybe) rushed to her side and put his gigantic grey-and-white striped umbrella over her head.

"I'm going down the next couple of blocks," he said, "I don't mind sharing. This umbrella is too big for one person anyway."

When it seemed like he wasn't going to take no for an answer, she mumbled a brisk 'thank you, I'm going down a couple of blocks too,' and kept walking, now with this guy in such close proximity. She didn't even know his first name. In her head, she was thinking, 'saviour.'

Soon they were there, at the last house on 31st & Henry. She turned to let him know she'd reached her destination, but he beat her to it, "I guess it's good-bye now. I've reached my stop," he said. How weird! They were going to the same place. "Well, it's my lucky day," Halima responded, "here's where I end my walk as well." The guy gave a grim smile and they both entered the building. He opened the door to let her go first. Squeaky door. Scary sound.

Same room number too. Room 10. They slipped into the back row. Five minutes late. Meeting already in session.

"Hi, I am Sandra," a woman in the front row was saying, introducing herself to the group, "...and I am...a recovering alcoholic."

"Hi, Sandra," everyone answered.

"Hello, my name is Stephan...and I am a recovering user. Been clean for three months."

"Hey, Richie here...I've come because my wife asked me to."

People kept introducing themselves and why they were here. It was getting to Halima's turn. She side-glanced at umbrella guy to her right, he seemed pretty confident in whatever reason he was here for. Was she sure she could do this?

It was umbrella guy's turn. "Hi, I'm Jide. I've been in this area for three years now. I'm just here to give my encouragement."

She knew it! Nothing was wrong with umbrella guy.

She stood up slowly, hoping nobody noticed how nervous she looked. "Hello everyone. I'm Halima, and I just got out of jail last month. This is a very big step for me."

"Hi, Halima." Just like that, the confession was over. As much as she didn't like saying that, she felt different once she admitted to who she'd been in her past. A liar and a thief. Something about the atmosphere felt warm. Inviting. Accepting. Right here, in this small tightly-knit community, she finally felt like she was home.

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

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved," Romans 10:13 (KJV)

The Whosoever People. I belong to this group, and you may not know it, but I can assure you that you do too. Whosoever. Regardless of where you were born, what circumstances you were born into, the kind of parents you have, your race, your culture, your language, and your idiosyncratic views on life. It doesn't really matter to God.

What matters is that from this moment on, you choose LIFE. That, in spite of all you are and all you've done, you realize (like David did in Psalm 22:9-10) that, "He took you out of the womb, He made you trust while on your mother's breasts...and from your mother's womb, He has been your God."

When you come to that realization, the barriers of cultures, circumstances and sin break down to reveal only one thing: CHRIST. He is all we will ever need.

 Many of us look down on others, and still others look down on us. Who's looking down on who? Each one of us was carefully knit in the womb, specially designed and orchestrated for something so profound in this world. You were not brought here to be ordinary but extraordinary. Made in the image of a miracle-working God and covered by the blood of His son.

The next time you try to classify who or what you are, I encourage you to start with, "Whosoever," because under this broad category, we are all ONE. From this broad title, if we are willing, the Holy Spirit will help us identify the SPECIFIC purpose we are meant to fulfil. But it starts by accepting the person across from you in the room. It starts by realizing that because we all think differently does not mean there are superiors and inferiors. It starts by accepting to walk in the right track, and there is only way to learn to walk right, by believing in the One who made you like Himself. Just believe and start from there.

Are you searching for your identity today? Run to the room where God is seated on the throne waiting to profusely bless the 'Whosoever People.' Aren't you glad you belong? 

For Destinations and In-Betweens, A Praise That Never Pauses

[Image by Scott W. on Flickr]

As human beings, we tend to put too much emphasis on the "now." We forget that the "now" or the present is only a piece of the pie, only a chapter of the book, and only a small part of the journey. In a flimsy judgment of the present, we disregard the past, or the strides we took to get to the past, and the future...or the tiny steps we are taking to get to the future. 

Why Do We Wait to Praise?

We wait for one major accomplishment after another before we sing our praises. We seek giant successes all our lives and suddenly find ourselves living only for big victories and ignoring the smaller precious moments. We win one and start praying to God for another. We want more and more, never satisfied with the sufficiency of the blessings in front of us. The in-betweens suddenly seem insignificant. The days in the middle of one success and the next feel like absolute torture. We forget that the entire journey of our life matters. What we don't know is that both the destinations and the in-betweens are equally important, and BOTH require God's praise. 

A Praise That Never Pauses

In every situation, God's proclamation about your life should be your very own proclamation too. Because, ultimately, what God thinks about you is what you should be thinking about yourself. If God's Word is true (and it is), then your praise should reflect it. Even when you're going through the valley, the way you walk should reflect your praise & confidence in the Lord. There's no need to wait for a new testimony to happen before you praise Him. What are you waiting for? You already know that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, that "all things will work together for your good," so why do you store your praises for the future?

No, I will not wait till I reach my next destination before I praise You, Lord. Yet, while I am still on the journey, I will praise You every single day. Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End, the Lion and the Lamb. You were there when I was born, and You are here now, even as I walk through the journey. My praises are not as a result of check-marks on a bucket list, they are just because of who You are. 

You, the Giver of amazing destinations, You are also the Giver of the journey. Whether I journey through the wilderness or the promise land, every second You are amazing and Your mercies are new every morning. Every moment You are the same. Yesterday, today, and forever. 

Why do we hand-select the days or weeks to praise You? We do not worship a 'feel good' God but an awesome God who knows the end of the journey from the beginning, the Master Potter, Creator of time. In every bit of our journey, both in the calm moments and turbulent times, we were created to praise Him and magnify His name. Turbulent times don't last, they only silently prepare us for our final victory in Christ. So dance even when it feels like it's difficult, child, yes even right now. Let your heart be filled with praises right now and every second of your life. It does not matter what you are going through, according to God's Word, you...yes you...are ultimately VICTORIOUS. 

"Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord," (Psalm 150: 2,6). | "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and FORGET NOT all His benefits," (Psalm 103:2). | Dear Readers, whether you walk through the wilderness or within the gates of the promise land, the Lord is good...and His mercies endure forever. Let your praise to Him be TRUE & LOUD today and every single second of your lives. We were created to praise Him. 

"Truth" | A Light-A-Lamp Guest Feature by Tolulope Ilesanmi


The people at Jairus' house knew his daughter was dead but Jesus said she was not dead, only sleeping. What is happening here? How could she be dead and not dead?

I believe what is being displayed here is two completely different levels of knowledge.

From these people's perspective, which is false reality, they were right, the child was dead. From Jesus' perspective of ultimate reality, a perspective of faith where all things are possible, where you refer to things that are non-existent as though they exist, the child is only sleeping and will soon wake up.

They were both right, one was just untruth. Jesus, the way, the truth and the life spoke the truth, the ultimate reality - the child is not dead but alive. The people did not see beyond death, because they did not believe but they were right in their assessment.

This is why I do not think it makes sense to argue with people who believe in evolution. In the absence of God, evolution makes perfect sense and is a brilliant theory. In the absence of God, the child is dead and that is both a fact and the end of the story. But the absence of God is a false hypotheses which can only be proven false by tangible proof, not by argument - it will be hard to deny a "dead" girl's resurrection.

Faith sees beyond the facts. 

Faith brings God into the mix and that changes the story, tangibly. Faith sees the truth and confidently proclaims it like Christ did at Jairus's house and nothing can stop the proclamation from coming to pass.

The truth is all things are possible to him that believes. Anything that suggests impossibility is untruth. We are often admonished to face reality, which is to face the facts but the facts are a subordinate reality. Ultimate reality is God's viewpoint. Anything different from God's viewpoint or God's word is false. If my senses contradict God's promise, my senses are wrong.

Faith is trusting God's word even when every other witness contradicts it. Why trust God's word? As Creator, He sees and knows what we don't. If He says speak to the mountain and it will move, I do not need to know how it will happen and frankly, it does not matter. After all, I do not know how in the universe He could have spoken the mountain into existence in the first place but He says He did and there are mountains to prove it, many of which I have hiked.

My task is not to understand, my task is to trust and enjoy God's creation. The interesting thing is understanding comes when we trust.

Tolulope Ilesanmi's Blog, Tolulope's Musings, is a place I frequent and love. I believe his writings are spirit-filled and God-sent to inspire and provoke our generation. I was thrilled when he accepted the invitation to share on the Light-a-Lamp Blog. I hope this Guest article inspired you to not only change and/or improve your perspective on what God's truth really means, but also I hope it healed you in places where you were sick before, and that it showed you that you can take God's Word and BELIEVE EVERYTHING in it, because it is TRUE in every area of your life and goes forth to perform what God says it will do. God bless you, Lamp readers. 

The Secret Behind Enlarged Territories

This very second, as the breeze gently touches the velvety curtains cascading your window sill, millions of people around the world are down on bended knees, in front of their own velvety curtains, and they are asking God for the very same thing. Every one of them (and this might include you and I) is muttering the same phrase, and if not aloud then in the silence of a meditative prayer, hoping that somehow the ever-loving Father would catch a whiff of the sweet aroma of expensive offerings of praise & thanksgiving, and that He would finally answer this one true deep request today.

"Bless me indeed, Father. Enlarge my territory."

Jabez prayed it. Abraham sought after it. Joseph dreamed it. Joshua acted upon it, he saw the territory and took the city. David sowed into it. Solomon asked with style. Ruth gleaned in it. Even Jesus sent his disciples outside their familiar territory to make disciples of all nations, thereby enlarging their limited scope of things.

The absolute truth is that blessings will surely come with an increase in space, or an enlarged territory. Blessings come with the freedom to stretch farther than you've ever stretched before. Or with the ability to go beyond your greatest imagination. Or to do what you formerly thought was impossible. The blessings of God can cause you to be fatter (not literally). To be more than the man or woman you ever dreamed of.

♖The Secret:

But what's the secret behind the purpose of an enlarged territory (blessing)? I was just reflecting on the prayer of Jabez and it occurred to me that in those days territories were not for bringing chairs outside and having a party. They were more for planting lots of vineyards and farm crops large enough to feed a fortified city. If a man was known to be "blessed," he usually was the owner of large farmlands.

Farmlands (and enlarged territories) represent fruitfulness: sowing seeds and reaping plenty, using the harvested crops to collect new seeds and then sowing again into the same land for the next season, owning livestock and selling farm produce to both locals and foreigners, and so much more. That's the reason why people wanted to be "blessed" and own "enlarged territories." It wasn't just to feed their families, it was for a greater purpose. People did not just pray for enlarged territories, they understood that a bigger land meant a bigger responsibility and a higher level of vision. The bigger the territory, the bigger the level of fruitfulness required.

[Image by Mauro Luna on Flickr]

♖There's So Much More:

Today, we have such a limited and myopic view of "being blessed." We live in a society where people ask for blessings through drive-thru windows. We think the phrase is only subscribed to owning big houses, cars, money, husbands, wives, kids, a white-picket fence (or a tall one with barbed wires), two dogs and a cat and a garden in the backyard. If you only think of material things when you think of "being blessed," may God enlarge your mind for this phrase goes beyond material things to the depths of a "productive mind."

I agree that these things are blessings, but you see, there's so much more where that came from. When God blesses, He is not saying, "take dear, I give you this gift today, when it finishes come back and ask me for another one." He is saying, "take this and turn it into a miracle." He blesses to sustain us for a lifetime. He gives something like 5 bread and 2 fish and expects these to feed 5,000 people. He grants us wisdom so that we can become innovators and creators (made in the likeness of Himself).

What I'm trying to do here is to inspire and provoke you to enlarge your mind-set of asking for a blessing. When you say, "Father, bless me indeed; enlarge my territory," don't pray for just a one-time blessing. Pray for a major investment that can sustain not just yourself, but the people around you for a very long time. Pray for Godly wisdom in every single thing you do and in every action you execute. Pray for excellence. Pray for zeal. Pray for passion. Pray for the strength to endure.

You were made for more than one-time blessings. You were made to be a seed planted for generations to come. Your blessings are not to be used one time and disposed of like disposable plates and cups, no, when God blesses you with something, it is for your entire POSTERITY. You have a deeper responsibility to take it and reproduce. It's like the story of the talents over again. The one who was given 5 went and made 5 more. The one who was given 2 took them and reproduced 2 more, but the one who was given 1 went and buried his own into the ground. What good is a territory if you cannot turn it into fertile ground for more territories to be constructed?

Dear Lamp Readers, may the Holy Spirit expose to you the true purpose of your blessing so that you will in return bless nations and generations with it. May you not pray just for a cup of water but for several wells to provide a continuous supply of water. May our minds be broadened today to pray for enlarged territories not with the old mind-set of getting scraps or bits and pieces from His foot-stool, but with the mind-set of getting the full ingredients to turn a vision into a harvest field that yields fruits year after year.

A True Olympian: Allow Me to Re-Introduce the Man David

I remember watching the Olympics and each time feeling like it was me running for my country in one of those races, stretching my body, head first, toward the finish line, and of course emerging as winner of gold. It made me giddy all the time seeing elated athletes who'd spent years of their lives practicing for just one big moment.

Now, please allow me to re-introduce a true Olympian. David.

Most of us know him as, 'a man after God's own heart.' Yet, being labeled as that is just a tiny reflection of the sea of his life. It's just a scratch on the surface. A peep into a giant hemisphere. It's a phrase with only 6 words, yet so intensely sedated with underlying power. I don't want you to sit there and only scratch the surface any longer. Let's go a few inches deeper to unravel what we might not have known before.

See, some of us will not know what a race means until we've truly run the race and reached the finish line, cutting through the ropes with our hands lifted high above our heads in demonstration of sheer happiness, with teeth all showing, knowing that our Olympics was highly successful, ready for the gold medal to be thrown around our necks. I doubt David knew. He was just like you and I in his early days. Not a king. Didn't even dream to be. A nobody. From a small tribe. He was only a young boy living for the thrill and excitement of life. Yet, all we see today are his numerous accolades at the end of his life, and he becomes a hero of faith in our eyes. I am amazed and truly humbled by his story. His life is one of the greatest and also one of the most challenging ones I've ever come across.


He started out as a young chubby lad working with sheep in the 'backyard.' And yet, when some of us are told to take baby steps in the backyard, what do we do with those steps? We cry wolf and wail, "why me?" We say, "I don't want to be here, I know who I am." Or the famous line, "I am better than this." What did David do? He practiced with his bare hands, no tools...just hands, as he couldn't use weapons yet. He used what he had and saw the magnificence of God as he tore down the bear and the lion which came to attack. Yes, as funny as it may sound, the backyard was where he learned how to spell the word 'M-I-R-A-C-L-E.' He did not skip school in the good ol' backyard. He was there every single day learning precious little concepts which would later re-surface in the latter part of his life.

Some years later, who would have thought a prophet would come with a bottle of anointing oil, by-pass all his older good-looking brothers and choose the youngest of them all, him, only still a ruddy-looking boy who was not even present in the gathering (still in the backyard) to be anointed as king? Because God strictly instructed the one who came with the oil,

"Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV). 

Readers, you need to tell yourselves you are able to compete in the Olympics of your life. Do you think it has anything to do with the way you look? Are you too skinny? Too chubby? Don't think you are the right height? Ladies and gentlemen, God spent a lot of time in molding you just the way you are right now. You are beautiful and by all means meant to look the way you are. Are you still in the backyard though? Yes, stay right there fixated in the place God has allowed you to thread until you are anointed (and fully equipped) to move to the next level. Cultivate the garden of your heart, because that's exactly where God is looking. Not on your immaturity. Or your appearance (by the way if you keep training, you'll blossom into the most amazing sight to behold in the years to come). The truth is, the training for the Olympics begins in your heart. Be faithful, be diligent.


Still, after such an anointing (and knowledge of who you are meant to be), it takes so many years to get there. It is not the day you have a dream or know your purpose that it happens. But see, David did not wait to be crowned as king before he began to talk like a king, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living Lord?" It would take so many more years before he actually becomes king, yet we see how he attains the stature of a king still. In the mean time, he was employed as an assistant to the current king, went out to fight for his country, and fought like a valiant knight. What are you doing while you're supposedly waiting for the crown? Are you waiting for consolation? A "sorry darling, that thing you're waiting for has not yet come"? Then your wait is in vain, because you are already a king-in-the-making who is wasting precious time. It's not when you ascend the throne that it shall be victorious with you. Go and take up the land now, victory awaits you now. There are Goliaths to be slain.


That's not the whole story. We all want a picture-perfect anointing, but what would you do if, like this Olympian, while you are waiting for the anointing to take effect, it seems like the opposite is happening? In David's case, the current king became jealous and tried to kill him so he had to run away to a distant land where he wrote psalms like Psalm 11 where he said, "if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?" and in Psalm 59, "Deliver me from my enemies, O God...O, my Strength, I will sing praises to you." Would you still praise God in the heat of the anxiety? If you don't know how to worship in the toughest of times, then you are not living life like a true Olympian. A true athlete knows that the end is different from the beginning and you have to keep worshiping the One who will make all things work for your good. Faith is the evidence of things not seen.


Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity. There are opportunities that seemeth right, but are at the wrong timing. What would you do if the one who tried to deplore your destiny is at your mercy? This Olympian, David, many years later after he had fled to the mountains to hide from those who tried to kill him, had the chance to kill his main attacker, Saul, twice yet he did not dare to "touch the Lord's anointed." Instead he said to God, "From Your presence let my vindication come. Deliver my soul from the wicked by Your sword, (Psalm 17:13). Something tells me that a wave of humility hit him those two times, reminding him of the "backyard" scenarios where, by God, he tore down the bear & lion with his bare hands. If God would do it again he wouldn't need tools. And God wouldn't need him either. Dear Olympians, because you've been practicing for many years does not mean the opportunity clad in gold and velvet right now in front of you is the right one. Wait for the God-opportunity.


Still (and you won't believe this), it would be many years before he becomes king. Saul is eventually killed in battle and David still mourns him. And even then, David is not crowned king of the entire Israel, but only of a sub-section of Israel--- Judah. He was 30 years old when crowned as king over Judah. And after that, it would be seven years and six months until he'd be finally crowned king of the entire nation of Israel and would rule for 40 years exactly. Some have tried to calculate the number of years from the time of his anointing as a boy to when he became king, but the Bible does not say explicitly. All I know was that it was a long journey packed with lots of training, but worth every step of the way.

Such an amazing race. Such a powerful journey. Such a beautiful encounter from boy to king, yet through humility and a heart ready to do it God's way. I observed while reading the books about David, that nothing else mattered to him other than being in the presence of God at all times. He secretly knew that this was the essence of life and victory. His 'All-in-All.'

The main thing is, with God we will always be Olympians from Day 1, not just when we reach 30 years of age or when we think it's time for our purpose to be unveiled. He has already painted our faces on a victory picture, but it's how we see the picture that matters. David saw it right. 

Although, I was still only scratching the surface, I hope I've been able to re-introduce to you, in a way you've probably never seen him before, the true Olympian commonly labeled as, "a man after God's own heart."

Life, Purpose, and Death

The truth is, I was shaken and in shock. I didn't have any words when the news came. What could I have written? Would it bring lives back? Would it take away the pain of those who lost loved ones? Would it make time go back to before those souls boarded the plane? No. Words don't have the power to do that. Words can't turn back the hands of time.

Today, after seeing the pictures of those who were actually on the plane, and how beautiful those faces were, I've found my muse, albeit for a few minutes. It could have been anyone.

Life is a gift from God. No amount of studies can determine exactly how an embryo becomes a fetus, and how bones extend in the womb, in preparation to be used after birth, or how cells populate the brain leading to intelligence. Yes, we can scientifically explain some of it, but not all. Only in bits and pieces. There's a reason for all of this. There's a greater purpose. And a plane crash (which could have been prevented) ending many lives, some of which had not lived past their first few years on earth, leaves a very tragic and sad story indeed.

One life is a bracket in time. It extends from one section of time to another, and then it ends. What truly matters is what we do in that space of time while we have this gift. It is our responsibility. We have been given the will to choose. We can either fulfill purpose or waste it. And on that last day, would we be worthy to hear God say, "well done, you good and faithful servant?" Would we?

I can only hope that those who lost their lives on the Dana Air Crash (the ill-fated Abuja to Lagos flight) on June 3rd left a good legacy behind. May God give all their families and friends His peace that surpasses all human understanding. Because words alone will not do.

The Walk & The Conversation

[Image by C. Pagani on Flickr]

"Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God." (vs 9)

"And God said to Noah..."(vs. 13).

The walk and the conversation go hand-in-hand, like two peas in a pod. There can be no conversation without a walk, and no walk without a form of exchange with the 'walking-buddy.' I have a group of friends who go walking in a park every summer. The last time they invited me, it was a beautiful walk. During the walk, each of us learned something new about the projects, new revelations, new the walk went on, so did our conversations tighten into three-fold cords.

So, needless to say, we really have to be near God to be connected. We have to be His walking buddy to understand His heart. There's no way you can be miles away from Him and still hear His voice.

In Genesis 1, I remember it said the spirit of the Lord was hovering over the waters. Very close. Near-by. As though God has been there all along waiting for us to realize that He's available to walk with us in this life. That it's way better when we do it with Him. It's less burdensome. It's less lonely. You have a Father who wants to take a walk with you, and during this walk called 'life' He wants to be part of your conversation. Isn't that amazing?

I want God to speak to me, so I'm willing to go on this very long walk with Him. It's first about the walk, and then the conversation. It's like God is saying right now, "Take my hand, let's go for a walk."

Let this ring in your ears today and always, "Take my hand, let's go for a walk."

This is Part 2 of the Chronological Series. I hope you keep walking with me as I go through the Bible chronologically. Stay blessed (and I hope to post more often than this) :)

God Don't Make Ugly

[Image by T.J on Flickr]

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)

We can argue that in our world today there are huge chunks of ugliness splattered about on lonely pavements. There are endless wars, severe famines, and desolate places. Many are faced with such an alarming height of poverty while others squander riches.  An unbalanced scale. A state of disequilibrium. Wickedness. Corruption. Injustice. Prejudice. Judgment. 

You put on your television set and what you see on headlines makes you cringe. Kony 2012. Syria Under Siege. Shootings in Universities. Suicide Bomb Explosions. Women and Children Shot by Soldier. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Bullying on the Rise. Teacher Abuses Special-Needs Children. And the list goes on. 

Let's take it home to our own bodies. We don't take care of ourselves. Obesity is at an alarming high. And those who aren't obese don't like how they look. We find ways to search for deformities in our bodies. We want to covet what our neighbors own and call it ours. We don't even see the beauty within us. 

Was the world really created for such ugliness? 

As I perused the first chapter of Genesis, I stopped when I got to the verse 31. 

"Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good."

I shake my head now as I realize that what the world was made for is not what it is used for. The original idea was different. The reasons you and I were knit in our mothers' wombs was to perpetrate beauty.  Imagine if every man decides to search for the true meaning of beauty. They would find it. And if every man searches, he would be a steward of perpetrating beauty in the world. Change only comes through people who are willing to search within themselves. And change is not always massive at first, sometimes it happens one person at a time. 

It will take one person changed by God from the inside out to understand what beauty really means, and to take back the definition of beauty. Beauty is synonymous with "good." The phrase "And God saw that it was good," was written 6 times in Genesis 1.

God don't make ugly.

This is Part I of the Chronological Series. 

The Start of Something Grand (Join Me)

[Image by K. Kenny on Flickr]

God has been so faithful, and you know what happens when He blesses us with more gifts? We seem to get busy.

As I type this, my mind is fast drifting toward the parable of the talents. You see, the essence of a profitable man does not just creep upon him in a day. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day. Rather, this embodiment of character is ingrained slowly, built upon rock by rock, day after day, such that after a while it becomes a solid trait that sticks permanently like glue.

However, there's SO MUCH MORE about this man! This faithful servant does not abandon his previous gifts or tasks. He only adds value to them. The reason he is blessed with more is not because of investments he is planning to make in the future, but because of his first investment (which can be called his "baby"). The first time he laid his hand to do work. The first major decision he ever made. The first time he decided to be faithful to God. These are the investments that make up his foundation in life. In the same vein, the Light-A-Lamp Blog is my baby. It's one of my first investments in being faithful to God. It's the tool by which my Father daily teaches me about the principle of "consistency." So no matter what big gifts are coming my way this year, I plan to, like the faithful servant, build upon my first foundation and remain faithful.

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey." (Matthew 25:14, 15 NKJV)

I have read this scripture several times before, and yet only a few weeks ago, the Holy Spirit gave me an important additional insight that I've missed before.

Did you see the phrase "to each according to his own ability?" Every action the owner of the house took was based upon statistics, not partiality. When he realized he was traveling to a far country, he checked the previous statistics of each servant based upon what they've been able to handle in the past and he discovered the following: Mr. A was recorded in the accounting books as the one who'd been the most efficient in his trading, Mr. B was doing okay (he'd made some bad decisions but always managed to bounce back) and Mrs. C had not shown any signs of improvement. So he gave A ten talents, B five, and C one. 

According to each one's ability...

And yet again, the statistics proved to be accurate as a measure for the future potential.

"Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lords money."(Matthew 25:16-18 NKJV)

Statistics don't lie. What have you done with the little you have? What do you have in your hand right now? The essence of a profitable man begins early in life. It begins right now, as you stare at these words. It begins the minute you lay your hands upon a new project. It is not obtained via sudden lottery wins or happenstance. It is a product of our continuous hard work. Our constant dedication to seeing creativity come to fruition and not giving up when it seems results are not showing...yet.

THE LESSON FROM THIS POST: New projects only build upon old investments. Therefore, in a purposeful effort to build upon my past work, I will start a new project.

In the next few months, I'll be studying the Bible in a chronological fashion via a study on Youversion. As I begin this new project, I will stumble upon light bulb moments, and I will be documenting those special discoveries I make here on the Lamp Blog on Mondays and Thursdays. I hope you will join me as I embark upon....the start of something grand....

A Better Kind of Champion

[Image by Ozgur on Flickr]

A champion steps out from the battalion. His appearance is terrifying. Look at him, who will dare to rise up against him? See how much he's prepared. There's a bronze helmet on his head, I don't think I can easily get to his head. Isn't that a heavy coat of mail around his body and a bronze armor about his legs? I try to calculate the likelihood of defeating him. 0%. No, 1%. Boy, I don't know. The metal won't let me get to him. It's too thick. I've never seen such a complicated spearhead. It must be custom-made.

As I stare at him, I slowly realize I have not yet considered what I have. I look at my bare hands, slowly I raise them up toward the sun and my palms become really hot. 

I start sweating as the implications of what stands before me in this valley start to set in. It's obvious the champion has everything for battle, and what do I have? Am I ready for this? My brothers think I'm a joke. 

As I consider these thoughts, the sun becomes brighter and I begin to squint. I've heard stories before of God causing the sun to stand still. I eventually close my eyes for a minute, and my life flashes right before me. All those times I kept my father's sheep, did not a lion come once to eat a lamb, and I ran boldly towards it and struck it dead, delivering the lamb out of its mouth? My God was the one who strengthened my hands for that moment of victory. Was it by my own power? I do not think so. So who is this champion that defies the name of the living God? What is his spear compared to God?

All of a sudden, I bend to the earth and dig into the soil with my bare hands. I find five smooth stones, well-rounded. My sling is already on my shoulders. I instinctively know what to do. I run to the front line where the champion stands cursing my God, and I shout so that everyone can hear me clearly,

"You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear, for the battle is the Lord's and He will give you into our hands."

I am indeed...another kind of champion. 

A re-telling of 1 Samuel 17.

* * * * * * * * * *

In whose name do we fight by? In our names? In our own talents, abilities, or prowess? Or in the name of the Lord? I think it's obvious whose name I choose to fight by. 

See, instruments and tools are only man-made. They don't compare half-way to the dynamic ways God achieves victory in our lives. Not that we shouldn't use these tools, no we should. But we must never get to a place where we depend on our man-made tools over God's ability. His ways are far more advanced in technology. His ideas are far more mind-blowing than our little ideologies.

There are two different kinds of champions. Those who depend on worldly intuition and those who simply come in the name of the Lord. The name of the Lord is greater. My challenge for you today is to be the better kind of champion who knows the true source of strength. Just as water has its source, strength also has its source. The Bible says, "In our weakness, His strength is perfected."

When you are achieving your wins and accumulating your trophies, to whom will the glory go? God or yourself? I choose God. He has made me a better kind champion who does not rely on man-made abilities, only so that through me He is glorified. Today, I choose to give ALL the glory to Him. My source and my joy. The Author and Finisher of my faith. The Lion and the Lamb. The Lover of my soul. The One who died only to conquer death and resurrect after three days to make victory a permanent emblem in our lives. I will never come to you with worldly intuition, because I haven't seen store houses laden with snow before He chooses to allow snow flakes fall around me in inches upon inches that I cannot control.

Dear Readers of the Lamp, as you accomplish great heights this week and this year, always remember the kind of champion you are. In 2012, I choose to remember. I missed ya, had a busy past few weeks, thanks for your emails and messages. :)

Only One Way For Water to Flow

[Image Credit: Ozium]
With synchronizing rhythm, we dipped our spoons into the big bowl of fresh fish soup set in front of us as we began to reminisce about old times.

Sitting face to face on a hand-woven mat which my younger sister, Amira, bought the last time she'd traveled to Nasarawa, the sweet aroma of the food migrated directly into our nostrils sparsely intermingled with Amira's shrieking laughter (which often sounded like she was coughing and laughing at the same time). There was something magical about Amira's laughter and sharing a bowl of soup that made this Sunday afternoon extra special.

"What's funny?" I asked. I'd caught the laughing bug too due to the contagious nature of her laughter. "Share the joke."

"You know how daddy uses a bottle of methylated spirit for everything?"

"That's his magic bottle of course. It works for every ailment and every disorder." I was curious as to where this was going. What did daddy do again?

"You won't believe the newest development." She took her hand away from her spoon for a moment and made a circular scrubbing gesture in the air. "Last night I went to visit and he was using the methylated spirit to wipe the dust off his DVD player."

"Ah!" I squealed. "That's a new one. He's too funny."

"Tell me about it." Amira's eyes glimmered in the dim light as she laughed.

"Well, I speak more life into his bottle."

She smiled when I said that.

"You know you're exactly like mummy though," she whispered. "Always saying, "I speak life into this" and "I speak life into that." You two never stop speaking life."

"Yes. You have to speak life into everything. Don't you know?"

"The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree," Amira answered, shaking her head as she dipped her spoon back into the fresh-fish soup.

Secretly, I knew exactly what she meant. There's only one way for water to flow, and that's down the hill. Every character I and Amira embodied today as twenty-something-year-old women was only as a result of what mum and dad painfully instilled in us over the years. Again, there is only one way for water to flow, and that's down the hill.


Has anyone ever asked you about your passion? Or why you do the things you do?

The other day I was meditating on the flow of rivers of water. They say water does not flow by itself but as a result of the gravitational pull downhill. It always flows from a higher level to a lower level, without which it would be stagnant.

Everything in our lives is based upon cause-and-effect. If you stay too long in the presence of your parents, you might begin to act like them. If you stay too long in the presence of friends, you might begin to talk like they do.

But what happens if you stay too long in the presence of the Holy Spirit? This is what will happen:

"On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38 (NKJV) 

The truth is if you have a deep passion for the things of God, it's not anything you could have easily fabricated. It's now embedded in your DNA. Your lasting passion for Him is only a cascading effect that results from spending much time in His presence. From running to Him and drinking of His water. It's a Domino Effect that can't be stopped. If you spend quality time with Him, it will be so obvious because you will begin to talk like Him and speak life into every situation. Your conversations will be spoken in His language, your movements will be like His movements, and your joy will be sourced from His joy.

That's the answer to all the questions about your ever-increasing passion: "there's only one way for water to flow and that's down the hill." Those rivers of living water flowing from Him to you are finally making their way from you to the world.

Dear Readers, may rivers of living water forever flow from your bellies and ignite every area of your lives like an unstoppable fire. It will never cease. May your passion for God be untamable, unobstructed, and unashamed. May it be seen in your speech and in your movements. And may your entire week be richly blessed because of His rivers of living water in you. Winter is finally going away and it's getting really warm in these parts. Till next time, love ya!

Beauty Still Thrives in the Heat of Life

She walks into the coffee shop at night, barely thirty-five minutes before shut-down. You remember her name. It's Mona. Yes, like the girl Leonardo Da Vinci painted, although she looks nothing like her. She's more beautiful, of course. Incomparable to the painting. Unrivaled. High cheek bones. Slender fingers. You feel you're a lucky guy to see her walk through the door. You only know her name because a few weeks back you couldn't help but ask when she came in for her regular Caffe Macchiato.

You stop wiping spilled coffee off the counter at the back. "Hey, I'll get this one," you say to the employee in front. He scurries along leaving you to serve the girl. You're not confused about whether or not she's smiling because it's obvious. Her smile causes her cheeks to rise higher, revealing the widest cutest dimples you've ever seen. "My future daughter will have dimples like yours, Mona," you mutter under your breath, half-hoping she heard you and half-hoping she didn't.

As soon as you get some free time, you walk to where she's sitting. "Do you mind?" you ask, pointing to the chair beside her. She shakes her head, and soon time flies as both of you talk about the abrupt change in weather from bad to worse and how politics will be tougher this year. Then she talks about the hurdles she had to overcome this winter.

There are three words she keeps repeating. "It's just God," she says, showing off her pearly whites. "He's my rock. I am a living testimony of His grace."

How such an ethereal and glorious creature like Mona could easily say "It's just God" baffles you. She looks like everything's perfect (a beauty to behold) and yet she's telling you of obstacles God has helped her through. Here she is, still standing in the most difficult of times. If she wouldn't have talked, who would have known?

She whispers again, "I can't afford this everyday, but I will someday. If God has brought me through what I told you earlier, He can bring me through this." And then, with grace, she throws her head back and giggles.

Beauty thriving through the heat of life. Imperfection intertwined in perfection. Weakness dipped in His perfect strength. It must be God in her.

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

From my experience, I know that beauty still thrives in the heat of life. How? When you're so soaked in the Word of God that every other experience (good and bad) lines up behind the Word. It becomes the very thing you live for-- the love that multiplies into every facet of your life, the bread to satisfy your hunger, the light to shine in your darkness, and the fortress to protect your city. God's word is the only way I know through which beauty shines through even in the heat of this life and through the droughts of wilderness experiences.

Check out this scripture in Jeremiah 17: 7-8 and tell me if you're thinking what I'm thinking.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit."

No one told you that heat will not come, or that there won't be years of drought. But the promise is that when those things come, your hope will be in the Lord, and your leaves...they will ALWAYS be green, no matter what.  

If You Could Die For Me, I Will Love Like You | A Valentine's Day Musing

[Image by Rayani on Flickr]

In anticipation of Valentine's Day, I sought to write something strikingly profound about love. But words failed me.

What is love? Do I really know? Am I worthy of writing about it?

More and more, as God keeps giving me the grace to 'walk the talk,' I'm finding out that love is a supernatural thing. A God thing. It's a very intricate web that goes beyond human understanding and involves so much more than a man giving expensive gifts to his woman or vice versa. Love is not the commercialized snapshot of Valentine's day where Cupid shoots his arrow and the man of your dreams finally proposes to love you forever. It transcends and goes beyond that. It encompasses everything we do on a daily basis.

Love is so much more than what we know and it makes me so emotional when I think about the depths of love and how often we slap the true meaning of love right in its face by our mediocre and superficial understanding of it. The Greeks understood it well enough to divide it into four categories: Agape, Eros, Philia, and Storge. Yet, they couldn't capture it into one. It was too complicated.

Capturing Love into One:

I've found a complete description of love. Something that captures love in its entirety. This is what it is:

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13 ESV)

The truth is if you can die for me, your love knows no bounds. Every other kind of love, you see, lies in the shadow of this one.

Every bit of love that we will ever show in this life can only be a fragment of His love. His love is the highest form and is what multiplies into the different facets of human love: the love between a couple, the love from parents to children, the love between relatives, and the love between friends.

God's love will drive you nuts.

It will transform your life completely and hold you until you're driven to action. It's the kind of love that makes you want to love like Him. It drives you to do the craziest things you never dreamed you'd be doing: defeating any form of failure, saving a total stranger from destruction, leading a soul to Christ, tearing up over someone you don't know, helping someone else fulfill their own dreams, and sacrificing so much time in helping a friend in need. This kind of love, in addition to the primary types we're familiar with, is at the center of God's heart but often forgotten. The love that chose to die for us whether or not we loved back. We ought to replicate it. We need to be crazy and heads over heels in love with people regardless of religion, race, language, or creed, and perhaps something we do for them will get trapped in their hearts and they will see God through us.

The Samaritan woman left her bucket at the well and became an evangelist of His love. She ran to the marketplace to tell everyone that there was a man called Jesus "who told her everything she ever did." Something happened to her while she was talking to Jesus. She'd most likely been feeling she was living a secret life, a life she thought only the numerous men she slept with knew about. But as she spoke with Jesus and He unraveled her secrets, she felt the loving nature of God pouring into her spirit strongly and all the burdens she'd been carrying by herself suddenly felt lighter. She left her bucket by the well and ran to tell anyone she could find about Jesus. The one who was loved much became the lover, and many of us have a similar story of the love that set us free.

This is my summary of what God's love will do to you: The one who is loved much by God will become the lover. If Jesus could die for you, then you'll become a lover too.

There will be no need to wait for someone to love you first before you love them back. There would be no need to focus only on Valentines Day, you would be a gift-giver 365 days a year. Your love will be selfless and not commercialized. That's what God's love would do to you.

I pray that on this day, love will have a deeper meaning for you. I pray it transcends the commercialization of Valentine's day and breaks through to the hearts of those of you who feel like no one knows what you're going through. That's not true. God knows. God sees. His heart bleeds when you bleed, and His hand moves to steady you when you shake. He is already calming your storms and healing your brokenness. His love speaks better things than the love of man.

It's not a cliché or surprise that I write about God's love today of all days. I am someone who has been deeply loved by Him, forgiven much, blessed much, and redeemed much. My whole life is a story of His love. And because of this I have now become, by choice, such a lover, never hesitating to tell you how record-breaking this kind of love is at every opportunity I get. You can't buy this kind. Neither can you find it in physical things or in men. Only in Him. Today would be a good day to open your heart and experience His love. In the wake of Whitney Houston's passing, we are reminded that life is fleeting, but see, God's love is everlasting and will remain even when everything else passes away (RIP Whitney). So let us grasp His love and be crazy about this kind of love today.

Happy Valentine's Day in style, Readers. Hold the hands of your loved ones and tell them that you will love them with the love of Christ, because that's the best kind of love you can ever give them today and always. And then of course, don't forget the chocolates, roses, and gadgets too. *wink*

"You Are Not A Label" (Not Defined by Circumstance)

[Image by]

With her forehead creased and lips transfixed into a contorted grimace, Nosa looked up at the woman  asking her the now-so-familiar question. She was defenseless. Thrust out into the open to be speculated upon. Singled out like prey. Caught like a fish in a net. A sense of foreboding suddenly broke upon her.

"Can I help you, Ma'am?" Nosa asked gently, using her recited secretary voice.

"Are you the girl who lived in the house that got burned? I saw you on TV. I am so sorry that happened to you."

"No, it's okay. Thanks for your concern. Is there something I can help you with?"

"They said it was five hours before they found you under the flames. It must have been dreadful being under all that smoke."

A small laugh erupted from somewhere within. The lady in red was an intruder to her circumstance. And there were many other intruders. People who don't know a thing about how it feels to be engulfed in flames, but yet choose to ask you about it. Boldly defining and labelling you as "the girl who got burned." How many other people will ask her how it felt? How many times would she have to explain that horrible feeling of death and suffocation she never wanted to remember again. She did not want to talk about that day. She wanted to push it far, far, away from the confines of her memories.

"Ma'am, thanks for your concern, but are you here to see somebody?"

"Ah, yes. Mr. Phillips. Is he in the office?"

"Please, have a seat. I will page him at once."

It took a while before the lady in red went to take a seat. She was staring at her face. At the scars from the fire.

When she left, Nosa slowly stretched her bandaged arm toward the phone on her desk. Trying not to wince, she lifted it up to her left ear, where the scorching fire had left a deep scar. She'd been out of the office for two weeks now, but she'd needed to come back or else she would have lost her job. It still hurt so much just to walk. Or bend. Or eat. Or talk. And the headaches were increasing.

But healing was coming, oh she just knew it. And if anyone dared to say much more about what she'd endured in that fire again, she was gonna say to them, "I have a name. I'm not "the girl who got burned.' My name is Nosa."


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

The Girl Who Got Burned
The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo
The Young Lady Who Can't Get Married
The Couple Who has no child
The One Who's Out of Status
The Sick Man
Always in Hospitals
The Jobless Man
The One Without a Degree
The, the, the [insert other labels]

Labels, labels, labels!

Are you defining yourself or being defined by others by something negative today? STOP now. Stop defining yourself by that condition. You are so much bigger than whatever is causing you to walk with your head turned downwards. Be confident in your esteem because the One who formed you in your mother's womb made you beautiful & wonderful.

Have you heard the story of the woman who was defined by a medical mystery in her time called the "issue of blood?" She'd been bleeding for twelve long years and her neighbours, family members, and friends all knew what was happening to they defined her as "the woman with the issue of blood."

However, one day she saw Jesus walking down the street with crowds of people following Him, and she must have said to herself, "I'm not going to continue being defined this way. I'm going to touch the hem of His garment and be whole once again." She did. And she got healed instantly.

Now, you might interject by saying "My story isn't as simple as hers," but what story is simple? I want you to know that there was nothing simple about bleeding constantly for thirteen years. Your case might be different, yes, but not unsolvable. Your own healing might come in a different way but the main thing you need to know is that whatever has been defining you for this long WILL end when you touch the hem of His garment.

I listened to such an amazing speech by T.D. Jakes (relating to this topic), and it blessed me so much that I'll share it with you ---> WATCH HIM HERE speaking @ Elevation Church. I hope you watch and enjoy it just as much as I did. But more than that, I hope you rid yourself of every definition circumstances have tried to give you. The best is yet to come for you. Just you touch the hem of His garment and see what happens. Everything good will come. Be patient. Let go and let God take over.

Dear Readers. May you never live your life by a definition based on a mere myopic condition that is smaller than God. He is bigger than every challenge that threatens to come your way. 

People Break Walls With More Than A Shout

I say:
I'm ready to break walls with my shout.
Waiting for God's strength to break forth through me.
Thou voice in me, I command you, SHOUT!

But He whispers:
"People break walls with more than a shout."

Really? How do they do that? What about the walls of Jericho? Surely, they broke down those walls with a shout. He whispers again. It's barely audible, but I hear Him. "You need more than a shout."

Most of us are familiar with the song that goes like this, "the walls of Jericho fell down flat, the walls of Jericho fell down flat, when the children of God were praising the Lord, the walls of Jericho fell down flat."

That song has this unmistakable vibe to it. It makes me feel like I'm about to destroy the devil's camp, like I'm part of a marching army, a though a movie director is in the background shouting to me from the other side of the set, "Lights. Camera. Action!" I'm dressed for the scene and all I need to do is SHOUT when the trumpets sound. Fiction or not, some walls are going to have to come crashing down.

Wait, wait, wait. Hold up! Rewind!

People break walls with more than a shout!

There are some important things we need to do before we even dare to shout.

I) Know the plan. Before Joshua executed this idea of marching around Jericho and 'shouting', He knew the plan. God had already told Him that they would take over the city. And even after that, Joshua sent two spies into the land to confirm if it was time to move. The men came back and said, "The people's hearts are fluttering because they've heard stories about God parting the Red Sea for us." Aha, that confirmed everything. So Joshua was certain that God's hand was in this and that He wanted them to get this territory. He had already paved the way by allowing terror to fall on the people. The road was zoned, the map plotted. The plan was set. If God is not in it, your shouting ain't gonna crash any walls.

People break walls with more than a shout!

II) Follow the instructions. The truth is many of us love shortcuts. I mean, we have shortcuts for everything under the sun. We have drive-throughs at banks, vending machines at work, pre-packaged lunches from grocery stores, and millions of Apps for our smart-phones. We're in a microwaveable generation where it's always time to go! But God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He still wants us to absorb the moment and take solid steps (not shortcuts), take in the entire process and build our character/personalities while we're at it. The instructions for taking down Jericho were: 1) Pack food and water because you will need it. 2) Cross over the Jordan River on dry land (it took them 10 days to walk through the river). 3) Every day (for 7 days) wake up in the morning and walk around the walls of Jericho 7 times (if you calculate the amount of times they walked around the city in those 7 days, it would be 7 * 7 = 49). 4) On the 7th day (and the 7th walk) when you hear the trumpets, give a loud shout (this is when the "shout" finally surfaces).

People break walls with more than a shout. But they also take over cities with more than broken walls.

III) Go in and fight for victory. What many of us miss is the action after the prayer. The fighting after the shout. The doing after the talking. The execution after the strategy. We're all puff and no smoke most times. If the children of Israel had only shouted, the walls would have crashed, yes, but the city still would not have been taken if the people had not actually fought the battle. (For full story, read Joshua Chapters 1-6)

So people break walls with more than a shout. But they also take over cities with more than broken walls.

I am so excited about this lesson that I am looking forward to applying it to my life soon. I hope you are too. Let us break down walls with more than our shouting, and let us take over cities with more than broken walls. Dear Readers, I hope you understand this. May God bless you and empower you to achieve victories by listening to Him for valid instructions this year.

5 Shocking Things That Make Us Forget

You finally find yourself on the fantasy vacation you've been purposely orchestrating for the past fifteen months. As you climb out of the yellow taxi, you hold your two luggages tightly in each hand, and then a smile breaks forth upon your face. You suddenly feel like dancing to a melodious tune, even while still standing out there on the side-walk. Alas, you made it.

As you step into this beautiful place, you're almost in tears because deep inside, you know how you had to jump through hoops to secure this two-week get-away. It wasn't easy, yet somehow you managed to do it. You're here. You're here! You can hardly believe it. After 6 years of working for the company, you could finally afford this luxurious vacation. A dream come true.

And so you wake up late the next morning and decide to take a stroll down the beach. Maybe take five minutes of your morning to do a personal inventory on your life so far, you tell yourself.

You put your hands in pockets full of cotton and walk down the beach with nothing but your bare feet, a pretty dress, and the sun kissing the tips of your shoulders. You pause once in every few steps to pick up sea shells and throw them against the lures of the wind. It feels so warm beneath your feet, and you feel you're far away from the evil throes of winter. Far away from storms, protests, tornadoes, or even earthquakes. It's just you in this quiet place, a rented island.

After walking for a while, you decide to sit on a tiny plot of the purest, whitest beach sand you've ever seen on this side of the Pacific, and then you raise your eyes to the sky to see how blue it is, and you smile for the second time today, because you just know...that you're in bliss right now and you don't ever want to forget this moment. A moment like this comes only a few times in one's lifetime, if not just once. An experience like this does not fade away easily. And if there's ever a place called one-mile-from-Heaven, this is it. Right here.

Your personal inventory reads like this: In the past year, you've lived in one of the largest, busiest, and most lucrative cities of the world. Check! You bought a house last year (not just a house, but a 2000ft home). Check! Furniture fit for a queen. Check! Employed a landscape architect to put olive trees in the backyard. Check! Water fountain. Check! Gated home. Check! Security. Check! Good pay. Check! Plus, being married to a man who loves you (and who is also made). Check! What more could you ask for? Your dreams have been fulfilled and are still being fulfilled even right now in this very moment. It's been challenging and life has not been perfect, but you can still say "Look, I have achieved all this."

But you, my dear, seem to have forgotten one critical thing. That it was God who brought you through this journey and you would never have been able to do it on your own without Him.

* * * * * * * * * *

Today, dear readers, I want to remind you of something that might not be a constant part of your memory. You see, before we were all born, God spoke the world into existence with a Word. And there was life.

Nothing exists in this world that was not framed by His word. All things belong to Him and originated from Him. He begot life and all that life has to offer. He is the ultimate Architect, designing the world to the standard of His majesty. He is the Author of Intelligence and everything intelligence produces, including our works (and the wealth these works provide) are from Him. By His Spirit, we also are moved to go out there and create beautiful things and attain conquests. There's no journey that we go through in this life that He has not orchestrated and allowed, so to Him all the glory must be 24 hours of every single day.

I read something this morning that reminded me of how we often forget the Source. In Deuteronomy Chapter 6, verses 10-12, the children of God were being reminded about 5 things that could make them forget about the miraculous journey God had brought them through:

“So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities (1) which you did not build, houses full of all good things (2), which you did not fill, hewn-out wells (3) which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees (4) which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full (5)— then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage."

Did you spot the 5 things? Large cities (or inheritances), houses full of good things, hewn-out wells (or sources of water), vineyards and olive trees (or natural resources), and the biggest one - FOOD. These things, which came from God Himself, can make us get carried away if we're not careful, such that we forget the Source of all things. So today, take a stand to REMEMBER. And remembering where we come from and how far God has brought us (even in the midst of challenges) causes us to break forth into praise. You won't be able to stop His worship.
What do you think about the things that make us forget? Sound off your thoughts in the comments. Lots of love, me.