Your pride

I searched her face for a sign: something, anything to convince me about the Principal’s statement a few seconds ago but there was none. I couldn’t feel my legs anymore as I dropped back into my seat and Mrs. Hakeem rushed for me.

When I got a call from the office of the Principal through his Personal Assistant stating that I was needed urgently, a lot of thoughts fled through my mind. I had just returned from lunch at the office when the call came in. I didn’t know what to think. Was Simisola sick? Did she have an accident? Did her father show up –as he had been threatening he would—at her school? It just didn’t cross my mind that Simi, my only child would be involved in bullying of any sort. So I was amazed when the Principal said, “your daughter flogged a child into coma.”

As soon as the call had dropped, I picked my purse and keys, locked my office and left the building in a haste. I only remembered on my way out to call Mr. John, a colleague, and ask him to tell anyone who asked that I was called at my daughter’s school.

The drive to Simi’s school that afternoon was filled with mixed feelings. Unlike the normal excitement and ecstasy I felt when going on the usual monthly visits, I was filled this time with fear and rage. What had happened to her? I feared. “Oh, is it that man, her uncaring father who had come to take her? I raged. Whatever it was, I would soon find out.

I hurriedly pulled over at the Visitors’ park and didn’t notice the windows were still wound down. The security tried to call my attention but I ignored him. It was Harmattan and there could possibly be no rains. The dry winds blew harshly on my face and on my thoughts. I was almost sure by now that it was her Dad, he had come for her.

As I walked to the Principal’s office, I met a few members of the staff. We exchanged greetings. Their faces wore expressions of sympathy and shame. My heart got heavier. I didn’t have an idea what the problem was, so I hastened my steps. In the office, even as the Principal tried exchanging pleasantries, I remained worried. I wanted him to spill the beans as soon as he could. It was until he asked that Simi and the house mistress, Mrs. Hakeem be called in that I began to think, it may not be her Dad after all. Yet I still knew it was a serious matter. I began praying inaudibly.

In a few minutes, Simi came in with head bowed, shoulders slouched and fists clenched in front of her. Mrs. Hakeem walked in, after her. It was then that the Principal started talking about why I was called. He started by saying that Simi had been a good girl. I nodded in panic and saw  Mrs. Hakeem nod too. Then, he said that he was disappointed in ‘my daughter’. She had flogged a 13-year old JSS3 student mercilessly. I sprang up before I knew what I did.

While I was still trying to understand where such behavior came from, he made the statement. “your daughter flogged a child into coma.” That was when I slumped back into my seat and began screaming, “Simisola Ogechi Akala has killed me.” “Madam, calm down, calm down Ma.” I heard Mrs Hakeem say as she rushed for me. Her plea wouldn’t console me.

After about thirty minutes, I am sitting in the car with Simi. I parked my car after I drove us a few meters away from the school gate.

“Simisola, what is your problem?” I ask, not looking in her direction.

My cheeks feel cold from the tears dried up by the harmattan wind and my eyes sting: hot and teary. She doesn’t respond. I pick the envelope that the Principal gave me. I didn’t open it then because he already told me its content- a suspension letter- but now, I open it and pull the letter out. I give it to her to read aloud. She does. I barely hear anything she reads because she is muttering the words.

When she is done, I take her face in my palms and look her in the eye. She begins to cry profusely. I let her go and ask her why she did it. She says the junior girl was rude to her and her classmates were looking to know what she would do.

“So it was your pride that put someone in the hospital and I have to foot the bills now. Eh?”

“She was asthmatic.”

“You shouldn’t have beaten anybody!!!”

“I’m sorry mum.” And she bursts into another round of tears.

“You are a child of God, Simi. Even though your dad is far away, which is best for us, you know how your dad…I point to the car roof, behaves. Love is God’s nature. It should be all you do and know. You would have let the junior go and reported her to the house mistress. Your classmates and some other students saw you right?” She nods.

“They would have witnessed for you. Pride is a very stupid emotion to act on. The Bible says God resists the proud and because you know God does not hate anybody, you understand that he hates such character and attitude. Everything done in pride doesn’t give glory to God. Why are we created?”

“For His glory”

“Good! You didn’t give God glory. You acted in the flesh!”

“Mum, I’m sorry.”

“I know. So what do we do?”

With a voice shaken from crying, belching at intervals, she said, “We will go and visit her in the hospital. I will use all my savings. You say what is best for us to buy.”

I hug her tightly, and say a word of prayer in gratitude for God’s word and His work in our lives when we let Him.

Kendra Okpara
©2019

Doubts, Me and God.

When I first faced doubts about God’s love for me, I was thirteen years old. I would love that you read to the end.

Experience has taught me how natural doubts are. They never mean that you are not a child of God. They only show that you are living in the physical too because, really, we are living in two worlds simultaneously, the spiritual and the physical so while we live in a world that is intangible, we also live in a world that our five senses interact with. Tangible. Point is, I am a child of God and I doubted.

I didn’t lose a loved one to doubt God’s love for me. I did lose but I’d already started doubting before then. I made prayers and didn’t see the answers. I tried to convince myself that God had a better answer because I was told that God usually had three answers, it was either a ‘Yes’, a ‘No’ or ‘Wait/Not now’.

Well, wasn’t God just unpredictable? I remember back then, I’d go to a church meeting and see other people fall under the “anointing” and think to myself, “What about me?” When prophecies came for people, I’d pray and hope that I would at least receive mine. I doubt I still need to say I didn’t. This was all before I lost a cousin to cancer. I’d watched my mum develop high blood pressure while she spent all her money treating my cousin with both ‘white’ and ‘black’ medicine before she passed on and everyone said “Let the will of God be done”. So I doubted.

One day at school, the principal said, “God will punish everyone that steals” annoI just felt, well, they deserve it. Truth is, you might find a lot of people say God punishes people but He loves them. This would have been fine if they said it with the plain reason the writer of the Hebrews had when he said, “The Lord chastens the son He loves” but no, They believe once you lose your job, it would be for something wrong (in the sight of God) you have done or you fall ill and people start asking, “Have you asked God for forgiveness?” “Have you really reflected on what could have led to this?” Oh. No one’s ever asked you that? But I bet one day, it seemed  like you woke on the wrong side of the bed and you started asking, “What have I done wrong?” Done wrong to who? And getting punished by who? 

So deep seated in our consciousness is the idea that God is holy and will therefore do whatever is “just” and “right” as He deems fit, no matter how evil it is. And no. We don’t like to call anything something as ‘killing’ evil if we “know” God to be the doer. We say things like, “Maybe God just took his daughter to test his love for Him. Weren’t those assumptions? Plus when did the value of evil change depending on who does it? There were doubts.

But Apostle James said God does no evil. He said by the Holy Ghost that God is not tempted of evil neither does He tempt any man that way. God said we should not kill or steal and infact, the ten commandments are written in one line. Love. He would not do contrary because He is love and He is unchanging. The fruits of the Spirit do not include killing or anger or even jealousy. Why even did Jesus say “Be like your Father who causes His sun to shine on both the just and the ungodly?” and why did Apostle Paul say in Ephesians 5 that we should be imitators of God by walking in love if all this  doesn’t show that God has just one disposition? Love! I didn’t know and so I doubted.

I can say my doubts were dispelled completely as I learnt from the writer of Hebrews that Jesus is the image of God, the full representation of who God is and I gleaned from the prophecy of Jeremiah (31:34) that we will all know God and the stability of His character when we understand how He forgives. How does He forgive? 

Jesus Christ, when He was asked how many times forgiveness is required, gave a brief reply heavily laddened with meaning. Seventy times seven. He was saying “Behave like God”, ” Forgive uncountably”, “Do not bear the number in mind”, “Forgive ahead of time”.

Same way Apostle Paul revealed in Corinthians that In Christ, God reconciled men to Himself and everyone who believed (in Christ) was a new creature whose sins were not being put against him. The Holy Ghost was teaching through the apostle that we receive forgiveness as a gift and that you were forgiven before you even faltered. What were those things that made me doubt again? What are those things that make you wonder, ‘Oh where is God? Why does He seem to be like this?

Well, Jesus, the image of God healed and if He healed, it means God doesn’t put illnesses in people or “permit” them. We live in a world whose system is dead. If Jesus cast out devils, He was opening our eye to say, ‘See! You did nothing to deserve this. God is not in it!” How about when He calmed the storm? He was saying, “God’s hand isn’t in these natural disasters” Don’t you love God? It was personally a relief to me to know that the enemy, subtle thief as he is was the complete evil. It unburdened me to know God is always for His creation.

Even as I read the popular John 3:16, I learnt that God’s love is seen in the fact that He gave Christ(His son) to die and take our place in judgement so that we are declared innocent. Apostle Paul supported the truth by again declaring in Romans that Christ showed His love for us by dying not for a good or righteous-in-themselves humanity but for a world of sinners and in Ephesians, he buttressed his point saying that God’s show of love supersedes all that we can imagine or hope for because He blessed us with all good things in God (spiritual blessings), made us partakers of the divine nature and given us authority by seating us with Him. Ah!

I tell you! I doubted no more!

I’ve been through the valley of doubt but have learnt that, in that valley is where the enemy wants to have us all. In the pit of fear. I’ve learned by gazing on the love of Christ that I can put faith in the God who is good and true. I can put faith in the God who loves because it is His nature, not based on my doings and appearances. I have learnt much more that God’s love for me is primarily seen in the eternal life in His son(1Jn 5:11-13) and the gift of no condemnation(Rom.8:1) all my possession because I received His spirit on believing(Eph 1:13), not necessarily in good grades or income flow or working inter-personal relationships because they are controlled by men. 

All the while, it hadn’t been God. It was me. My mind being tilled by the enemy. I now not only receive edification, prophecies or healings but I also give by the Spirit at work in every believer because I have learnt that faith in His name and acting on what the word says is all the victory I need ‘coz there is no limit to what God can do through the willing. 

I renewed my mind in the word and began to know God. Light came and dispelled darkness. Love came and chased fear. Faith came and doubts were gone. I have learnt to take my stand with God’s word. You should.

by Buzhoo (2019)

C. H. Spurgeon – A Biography

C.H. Spurgeon, in full, Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born on the 19th of June, 1834 in Kelvedon, Essex, England as the first of seventeen children to John and Eliza Spurgeon.

He was raised a congregationalist and became a baptist in 1850 at the age of sixteen. He preached his first sermon the same year and the way it happened would not be out of place if it was described as “he was tricked”. An older man asked him to go to the little village of Teversham the next evening

“…for a young man was to preach there who was not much used to services and very likely would be glad of company.”

It was only the next day that he realized the young man was himself.

In two years, he became a minister at Water beach, Cambridgeshire. Two years you say? Yes. Two years at age eighteen. The year was 1852.

He had no formal theological training yet was probably the most read preacher in England. He went on preaching up to thirteen times a week and could make himself heard in a crowd of 23,000 (He had an amplifier vocal chord). He had preached over 600 times before he was twenty years old. It was in that same year, 1854, that he became the minister at New Park Street Chapel in Southwark, London.

Within a year, there was need for a new structure due to the population of his congregation and from the opening in 1861 of the new tabernacle which held 6000 until his death, he continued to draw large congregations. However, in 1856, two years after he became the minister of the chapel in Southwark, he founded a ministerial college and a year later, an orphanage.

He founded sixty-five other organisations. When the organisations were listed on his 50th birthday, Lord Shaftesbury who was present said, “This list…were more than enough to occupy the minds and hearts of fifty ordinary men”.

He was married to Susannah Spurgeon and they had twins; Charles and Thomas Spurgeon.

Whilst Charles Spurgeon wasn’t known as a theologian, he was deeply theologian in thinking and his sermons were rich in doctrine. He believed doctrine was what made the Puritan age glorious than the “whipped creams and pastries which are in vogue”. He had a cross-centered and cross-shaped theology and believed that preaching the crucified Christ was the only reason why such crowds were drawn to his church for years.

He was an ardent fundamentalist and distrusted the scientific methods and philological approach of modern biblical criticism. Remember, Puritan? Unadulterated. Because of this, he was involved in many controversial theological discussions especially within the Baptist circle. In fact, the increase in the liberality of the Baptist Union was the reason he left the association in the year, 1887.

C. H. Spurgeon liked to refer to himself as a Calvinist and described the school of thought (Calvinism) as “placing the eternal God at the head of all things”.

He authored many sermons, commentaries, books on prayer, service and soul winning, magazines, poetry, hymns and more. Some of his book titles were Jesus came to save sinners, the golden alphabet, Life in Christ Vol. 1 and 2 and so many others. His sermons which were often laced with humor were widely translated and extremely successful in sales. He was influential across various denominations and if you have a little knowledge about this servant of Christ, you would have expected me to earlier introduce him with a name he was and is famously known as, ‘The Prince of preachers‘.

The source of the truth in all Spurgeon’s preaching was the God-breathed, inerrant Christian scriptures. He once held up the Bible and said,

“These words are God’s… It is pure unalloyed, perfect truth. Why? Because God wrote it”.

He was not just a Bible-based preacher but a Bible-saturated preacher speaking thus, “Oh that you and I might get into the very heart of the word of God and get that word into ourselves! As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf and consume it, so ought we to do with the word of the Lord. Not crawl over its surface but eat right into it till we have taken it into our innermost parts…but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible, until, at last, you come to talk in scriptural language and your very style is fashioned upon scripture models and what is better still, your spirit is flavored with the word of the Lord.”

He was consumed with God’s glory and the salvation of men, embodying Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:15, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” and stood as a witness to what happens when love for God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated truth feeds the flame of love for people; An explosion of zeal and energy, all aiming to glorify God and bring sinners into the fullness of joy with Him.

C. H. Spurgeon died at the age of 57 on the 31st of January, 1892 in Menton, France.

 – Buzhoo (2019)