OF TIME AND VALUES

I took some time to reflect on the passing of time and its effect on our lifestyle. I thought about the impact time has had on our values and how we have changed our preferences over the years. I realized that what was hype to my generation a couple of years ago is now old fashioned. And what we were crazy over a decade ago now has a distaste in our mouths today. What we built our lives around before has suddenly become an unwanted relic in our space.Pebbles

Material possessions come and go and even an insurance policy cannot keep them longer than their determined lifespan. At best, you would get a replacement. Take a look at your parent’s house and look through the things you find in the house. Now imagine you want to build a new house for your parents and equip it for them making it as comfortable as you would for them. I bet a lot of the stuff they had in the old house would be given out, sold or destroyed. Those stuff would have no place in the new house. You might consider such things an intrusion in the new ambience you are trying to create for your parents. Now, some of those things which are now unwanted were da bomb in the years past. It appeared there could be nothing better than those items. We held unto them dearly and acquired more and more. Remember the TV in a box with shutters in front that now has a broken tube or the lovely 1980’s suitcase we were eager to take on a trip because we thought it just showed class. What about the trending fashion styles of the 90’s you had in different colours? Now you probably would be ashamed of wearing them today. Of course, there might be similar styles because of the fashion cycle we are sucked into, but it would not be that exact item, if you get what I am saying.

Time also has its impact on values. Time can appear to strengthen values and it can also erode them. Over time, we have redefined the values of beauty, confidence, devotion, faith, individuality, love, truth, … the list goes on. But I have learnt (and I am still learning) to reinforce the fundamental essence of certain values, placing value on the things that matter most – my relationship with God, my marriage, my family and the relationships I have built with people around me. The wind of time would blow over the things we hold on to, to twist and redefine our values in varying ways. We need to hold on to the things that matter most – things that bring real benefits, the things that money cannot buy. Know that material possessions are temporal and we can always get better ones. But getting a messed up value system can wreak a future. So never have a heartbreak over the loss of a material item. God is bigger than it.

Focus on nurturing the values that define your life. For example, nurture the habit of giving and generosity. Let giving be a very convenient virtue and not an act of compulsion. There are things you really can do without. There are some things you really would not need in future, contrary to what you think now. Bless someone else with those items. They would bless you from the heart. Remember, what you give out has not left your life, it has just become a sown seed in your ground. Luke 6:38 in the Message translation says, Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.

Be generous with words of appreciation. Find good things to say about people around you. When you condemn, criticize negatively and put others down, you have not improved your own life and you have not blessed another either. But when you appreciate others and speak kind and positive words, you attract goodwill, you speak into your future and you bring a smile to the face of another – which is never a bad thing to do. Proverbs 16:24 says, Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. Everyone has the capacity to appreciate others and to do so generously. If you can have a conversation with anyone, then you can appreciate someone. You only have to make up your mind to be more appreciative than critical.

You would also want to place value on your relationship with God. You could determine not to let anything interfere with that relationship. This is one relationship, like the one with your spouse and family, which must improve with time. You should be able to look back and say you have become more intimate with God over the weeks, months, years… Are we reading more of His Word, are we spending more or less time in prayer and communion? Has there been a change in attitude and character? Or are we explaining away our shortcomings, taking our acquisitions as a sign of God’s approval? Dear friend, time must have a positive effect on our relationship with Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

These are just some values that time must strengthen. You can keep getting better if you focus on what matters most in your life. These would always be relevant to your world and would never go out of fashion.

Thought check: What are my core values? How important were they to me five years ago and how important do I think they would be five years from now?

 

Advertisements

Christianese or Faithspeak

‘Bless you sister’, ‘It’s well’, ‘God is in control’. You probably might have heard these phrases or used them recently. These phrases and the like have become synonymous with Christians. Christian lingo or Christianese as some have called it are phrases that have come to be associated with Christians or Christianity. Its growth has somewhat been buoyed by an increased understanding of faith and the call to confess God’s word and speak positively. Several of these clichés have even found their way into the social and business world. I once heard a governor of one of the Northern states in Nigeria admonish cattle rustlers to become born again – trying to get them to change their ways.Mic

We know that the words of our mouths are very powerful, thus we have become more careful with the things we say, trying hard to make sure our words are largely positive. Once, someone was about entering an elevator going to the ground floor and asked the fellow he met in the lift if she was going down. The person quickly shot back, ‘I am not going down in Jesus name’. I can imagine the lady saying in her mind, ‘I beg, don’t curse me’.

Sometimes, Christianese phrases like ‘Praise the Lord’ or ‘Halleluyah’ are used as opening statements in noisy places to get people’s attention. Christianese has also taken a hit on not a few occasions. My pastor told me of a funeral he had to officiate some time ago (I tell you that is difficult). Trying to comfort the bereaved family, he said, ‘It is well’ and someone quickly retorted, ‘It is not well’.

Then there is also the abuse or misuse of Christian phrases or words associated with the Christian faith. For example, I heard a part of a song which said, ‘Maga don pay, shout Halleluyah’. Loosely translated it means ‘the deceived fellow has paid me the money, shout Halleluyah’. I find it ridiculous that Halleluyah, that expression of praise that means the same thing in every language, would be so unrighteously paired.

Also you hear people say such things like ‘I am strong’ when they feel a little under the weather. And when we try to politely respond, saying sorry, they say, ‘thank you’. This doesn’t add up. Why should I say sorry if you are indeed strong and why should you say thank you if you are strong? It would appear the state of weakness is being admitted, negating the earlier declaration. I think a better response should be ‘Don’t say sorry to me, I told you I am strong’. Funny right? Interestingly, when we get to the hospital, we tell the doctor exactly how we feel and forget the ‘I am strong’ song. I believe it is a declaration of faith to say, I am not feeling too good but I am already healed in Jesus’ name. It’s okay to say, ‘I ain’t got much cash now but God is supplying every need of mine. Yes, I am rich in Jesus name’. Faith doesn’t deny the situation, it declares the facts.

Our words carry the power and life of the Spirit when they bubble out of a heart yielded to the Holy Spirit. So it would be good to focus on the condition of our hearts. We should deal with the habits, weights and sins that we would hide behind our backs if we were standing before our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Then, with a surrendered heart, we can speak with a confidence that stems from the tree of faith and have in our hands the things we declare. It is interesting how yielding brings confidence and surrendering brings authority. But that is the dynamics of the Christian life for you. Then, it wouldn’t matter if you call it ‘Christianese’ or faith words. They would be words of power producing the things we speak.

MEN OF THE TRUTH

Sometime ago I shared some thoughts on fatherhood at a men’s meeting. At a time like this when we celebrate fatherhood, I consider it is appropriate to share those thoughts with you trusting you would glean some positives from them.

According to God’s design, a child’s complete development is dependent on the presence of a father and a mother in the home. Thus, fathers are crucial to the balanced development of children. You could be the father to your biological children or adopted children. Or you might even have the privilege of being the father figure to the young men and women around you. Sadly, we are beginning to see that the place of fatherhood is under threat from the subtle movement of the proponents of the convergence of sexes who believe that roles are interchangeable and can be carried out by anyone irrespective of the gender. The roles of the father and mother are not interchangeable and cannot be swapped. And thus the influence of fathers on human development cannot and should not be waved away.Father

Fathers must be role models for their sons and daughters and one of the dimensions of influence fathers bring to the mix is the influence of truth.

As fathers, we must speak the truth always. We must be people of our words. We see lying celebrated and promoted everywhere around us. It appears it is the preferred instrument of transaction in a world of competition and rivalry. Of course, it is the language of the devil. People lie and even lie that they are not lying. And really, you would always have to support a lie with another lie. When truth is thrown in, the cookie crumbles. Any agenda, institution or task built on a foundation of lies would inevitably collapse sooner or later. Lies, no matter how simple, can be very destructive. Interestingly, that little lie in what you thought was a trivial situation might portend a precarious situation for someone else. Make it a decision to always speak the truth, even when faced with a life-and-death situation. Tough words, right? But the truth always saves!

We must live by the truth – live by the Book of books. Our lives must be governed by the Word of God. That means we pass all issues, choices and decisions through the filter of God’s word. As fathers, let our words and conduct dovetail with the things we read in the Bible or hear at church meetings (where God’s word is taught). For example, we should, by our actions, demonstrate our respect for authority. When we run red lights at traffic stops, are we teaching respect for constituted authority or rebellion against order? To gain the honour of having your children hold unto your words, you must govern your life by the Word of God. Also, when we develop family cultures, these should be based on God’s word. When we introduce family traditions and develop values for our homes, the word of God should be our sounding board. We might want to ask, ‘How does this tradition or value resonate with what God thinks?’ Am I pushing a cultural ideology or building a godly home? These questions can be helpful as you develop your family culture.

We must defend the truth. We must be consistent with our stand. We defend the truth when we speak for the truth and practice what we say. We should be able to explain biblical truths and principles to our children so that they are able to deal with the challenges of life. Fathers should guide their children in developing the right perspective to life. Children shouldn’t be left to form their own opinion or viewpoint on life-defining issues. We are to train up our children in the way they should go. There is a way they are to go which we should guide them to set their feet on.

To be men of the truth, we should know the truth ourselves. We should know the word of God and know it thoroughly. Be as confident with the scriptures as a lawyer quoting sections of the constitution in a courtroom. We must fortify ourselves with sound knowledge of the truth. For us, the word of God is an invaluable and indispensable tool for building great families and it should not be far from our hearts.

Have a truly happy Father’s Day.

 

 

ARE YOU DRIFTING?

Lake landscape with dead tree

My wife told me of an experience she and her sister had way back in their teen years. They had gone to the salon to fix their hair on a rainy day. On their way back, they came across a flash flood and had to wade through it to get back home. They knew their way home and thought they could just walk through the water in a straight line. But they soon found out that the force of the water was gently pushing them off course. The flood had prevented cars from moving and several of them had formed a single file along the road, all parked and waiting for the flood waters to recede. People observing the situation advised pedestrians caught in the flood to walk alongside the cars. Following this instruction, my wife and my sister-in-law tried to keep in line with the cars as they waded through the water. They then discovered that when they took their eyes off the cars for as much as two seconds, they would have drifted off their set course, almost being swept away by the flood! That line of cars was their saving grace and by staying close to the line of cars, they were able to maintain the right course and get out of the flash flood.

A drift along our life’s course is something we tend to experience once and again. It takes a lot of focus and deliberate action to stay on course and fulfil our goals and purpose. The year is still relatively new and we have begun the race as it were, pursuing the goals we set at the beginning of the year or continuing with the plans we have been working with over the years. Once and again, we are buffeted by various forces of life tugging at us and pushing us in different directions. Over time, we might discover that we have veered off course in certain aspects of our lives and then we strive to get back on track. It is always good to prevent the drift if possible or spot it early and make the necessary amendments. Some drifts happen quickly but most happen rather slowly. You don’t realize how far off you’ve gone until you are checked by someone or an event. At times, we even begin to feel so comfortable on our new course that we don’t really believe we have drifted.

There are certain key areas we must watch out for drifts and ensure we remain on course.

Drifts can occur in one’s marriage. You discover that you guys no longer do the things you used to do together with so much excitement. The mojo is gone. Life happened and other things have taken the place of the investments you could have made in your marriage. There always has to be a deliberate effort to hold unto the reins of your marriage otherwise you would find out that other things take hold of those reins, push you out of the chariot and run you over before you know it. God forbid!

Drifts can occur in one’s career or business. You get carried away by little pecks and freebies that come with your current position or success and fail to move to achieve those business and career goals you set. You suddenly find out that you have put in ten years in the same place doing the same thing when you actually could have accomplished much more based on your original plans.

Drifts could occur in one’s spiritual life. Personally, this is the most dangerous drift we are exposed to. This drift could cost us eternity. Paul, in Ephesians 4:14, talked about the possibility of being carried away by different winds of doctrine. We must stay focused on the undiluted word of God and watch out for dilutions and inconspicuous corruptions of the Word of God around us.

You could have a drift in your life’s overall purpose. You could get into someone else’s course or race. You could begin to follow the wrong star or get mesmerized by the charisma of someone going in the opposite direction.

The good news is that we can avoid the drift or even get out of one in case that is the situation.

Have a plan for your day, your week, your month and your year. Your daily plan should ultimately fit into your plan for the year. That is, your plan for the day must align with your plan for the week, your plan for the week must align with your plan for the month and your plan for the month must dovetail with your plan for the year. Don’t keep the plan in your head. Please write it out so you could see it with your physical eyes and not just with the eyes of your mind.

Have periodic reviews of your plans to check how you are faring on your course. You must deliberately plan these reviews, setting aside specific times for the reviews. These reviews should cover all aspects of your life, assuming you have made plans for those aspects anyway.

Do daily recaps reviewing the events of the day. I have started doing this regularly. I even have a phone alarm set for this so that I don’t fail to do the recap. It provide an opportunity to review my expenses, tasks completed and those pending and to check if I am on a drift or on course.

Best of all, you must continually set your eyes and heart on the Lord. He is the star that would always keep you on course. King David said, ‘I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.’ This should be our resolution too.

Thought check: What areas of your life do you sense a drift? What tips have helped you avoid or handle a drift?

 

THERE IS SALVATION IN NO OTHER…

photo_3309_20070912At this period of the year, we take out time to specially celebrate the birth of our Saviour. We celebrate the One through whom God chose to bring salvation to mankind. We remember the good tidings of peace on earth and goodwill towards the human race.

A college recently put a professor on administrative leave for comments she made regarding the commonality of the God of different religions. She basically implied that the major religions served the same God. This sparked outrage in some segments of the society and reawakened the global debate on the similarities of religions. Highly placed church personalities have come out to speak for both sides of the divide. My opinion is that some people have made statements that appear to directly undermine the fundamentals of the Christian faith. I do not consider myself suited to be on the same pedestal with revered church leaders for a debate on the subject, so I would avoid an argument over the matter. I only feel I should say what I believe the Bible says and stand by what I have read in the Holy Scriptures.

I call myself a Christian because I have received the saving grace of my Lord Jesus Christ. I pray based on how the Bible has taught me to pray. I worship based on instructions found in the Word of God. My belief in God is modeled after what I have read in the Bible. My perspective on the after-life is based on the scriptures. My understanding of creation is founded on the inspired writings of the Bible. So I believe that my view of salvation must also be based on what is written in this same Bible. It makes no sense to cherry pick only what appears nice sounding in my ear and discard those parts of the Bible that run against public opinion.

In the Bible I have read the following:

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Acts 4:12 – Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Philippians 2:9-11 – Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I Timothy 2:5 – For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

I am not sure there are any other scriptures in the Bible that are contrary to the ones above – which is not even an exhaustive list of related scriptures. You might ask why a loving God would give access passes to only those who come through His son Jesus. Well, I probably would be able to answer when we find out why a five year old boy would die of cancer. What crime has he committed? I guess we can agree that God’s sovereignty permits Him to do things according to His own will and purpose – things that are beyond human reasoning. He has chosen to bring salvation through His Son and He has declared that all who believe in Him will be saved. He has announced and demonstrated His love to me. This call of love is extended to everyone – with no exception – who would believe in His son’s name. This call of love also requires that I love everyone irrespective of their inclinations because He is the Father of all. This is why I, declaring the good news of salvation, invite everyone to His banquet.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. May the joy and peace of this moment experienced thousands of years ago come alive in your lives this season in Jesus name.

Still in His grip.

SOAPIE AND SPONGEE

There is the story about a bar of soap named Soapie and a sponge named Spongee. Spongee had a great relationship with Soapie. They seemed to complement each other perfectly. Soapie was immaculately white, solid and smelled nice. When at play with Spongee, he got slippery and made lots of rainbow coloured balls. Spongee on the other hand was very flexible, rough and had a lot of holes. He was quite inquisitive. He had a way of picking up all sorts of things and hiding some in his pockets.

One day, he got himself covered in some smelly, sticky substance. He tried to shake himself free of the substance. But the harder he tried, the more of the substance he got on himself till he was completely covered with it. He wondered what he would tell Soapie, his friend. He knew Soapie’s first question would be ‘Where did you go without me?’ Now he felt very bad and did not want to see Soapie. He wondered how they would be able to play together again. He felt dirty and very different from spotless Soapie.

Soapie found him hiding under a small shrub just as it began to rain. Spongee had no choice but to tell his friend what had happened. Before long, Spongee was in tears as he recounted his miserable experience. His friend hugged him and tried to comfort him. Soon those beautiful rainbow balls started forming. Then Spongee noticed something else. Some of the sticky substance was coming off as the rain poured on them both. The more Soapie hugged him, the more the sticky substance disappeared. Soon it was all gone and he looked brand new. His joy and excitement knew no bounds as he flipped from one end of the field to the other. His embrace with Soapie had done the magic. It had taken off the smelly, sticky substance and had made him clean again. What he was running from was what brought him his freedom.

Sometimes, we are like Spongee. We get messed up and stained with sin and then we run away from what will bring us freedom. We run from God, we run from His word, we run from church meetings where we can get comfort and healing.

Think about this: The best thing that could happen to a pair of dirty hands is to caress a bar of soap under running water. But if those hands feel they are too dirty to handle the soap, they would remain dirty. Don’t run from the One who would make you clean again no matter how filthy you feel you are. Don’t run from the One who mends broken hearts, when you have been emotionally shattered. Don’t avoid the company of encouragers when you have slipped and fallen. Don’t toss aside the Book of wisdom when you have fallen into the trap of folly.

The devil has a way of making people feel continuously guilty when they have done something wrong. They want to hide from God like Adam did in Eden, forgetting that they are sons and daughters assured of their father’s unfailing love. If we keep yielding to the suggestions of the devil, he can establish in us an attitude of apathy and insensitivity to the Spirit of God causing us to drift further away from God.

Let’s always remember that it is for the messy and sticky situations that the Savior came. So when you have done wrong or your mind is messed up and you don’t feel like going to church, reading the Bible or praying, know that those things you are avoiding are what you need to get back on course.

Jesus says, Come unto me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matt 11:28). This call is irrespective of how you look or feel! There are no terms and conditions, just come in faith.

He asked me to tell you!

ONE CALL

I seek something

I feel I am not at my peak

I am not there yet…but where is THERE?

I am trying

I am struggling

I have gambled and taken chances

I have tested different methods

I have applied laws and THE LAW

I still feel something is missing

I still feel unsatisfied

There is so much silence or is the expected voice drowned in the noise around me?

I stop…I wait and then I move again. Did I move too soon? Did I wait too long?

I thought I heard something, but maybe it was just the dominant thought in my mind factory

I thought you said…but what has gone wrong?

I missed some steps, yes I thought I had a better idea

I stepped back, afraid to take the plunge…I only had excuses

It is still fuzzy…I can’t make out the shape or the boundaries yet

I still want to stay strong

I am reaching out for your hand to hold

I still feel the pull and I’ll go in that direction

I will keep going because you spoke ONCE!

 

©Godreigns Amedari