2 Corinthians 12:9

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

The power of Grace was more evident to me when God came through that year in that simultaneous dramatic events of life.

Being one of the best students in my faculty, many would not believe I could be struggling to understand Statistics and Research Methodology because I had a previous brilliant performance in a related course; but the truth was their “efiko” was having a tough time understanding the course. Their “efiko” was empty in statistics.

Not only that, their “SU” brother (Scripture Union brother) was seriously romancing with lust and about to lay with her, but being a leader in the fellowship, time was preventing the showdown. You can imagine the congregation model about becoming the specimen in the devil’s laboratory.

All of that was happening two weeks to the examination. So on this fateful day, I can’t remember what made me to pray. I had never seen myself so broken before. I prayed that God would grant me access to understand the most difficult course in my life and help me to lose appetite for immorality. I prayed until I fell into the hands of sleep.

It was incredible that, I was among the best students for the course when the result was released; and unbelievable how the passion for lust was lost in me. Indeed, I was helped by God’s grace for it saved me from failure and the sweet poisoned hands of lust.

The beautiful thing about God is the unending love to save us from the messy lifestyle. He is always ready to deliver us from danger zones if we will cry out for help.

There is assurance that He has sufficient grace to help us in times of need if only we will approach His throne of grace for inexpressible mercy and grace in times of need as rightly put in Hebrews 4:16. God needs our boldness and openness in running and speaking to Him when things are not going as they are supposed to.

The problem however is that many times we want to prove superheroes and pretend to people around us that things are fine whereas we’re on fire. However, it is only when we have the understanding that God only strengthens us when we expose our weaknesses to Him, until then, we will continue to struggle with our infirmities.

God is beckoning on you to see that the activation of His strength for you is in presenting your weakness to Him. God’s strength cannot be released nor His power be on you if you are still running in your strength.

Beloved, I beseech you to pause, present your area of struggling and infirmities to Him. For it was written in Isaiah 40:29 that, He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength; and in verse 31, the clause with assurance states, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Won’t you pray for strength for your accepted weakness?

© Josh’ Oloyede Oluwafemi.

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

Golden Boy

One step in front of the other
I watch you plant them
Like a weary traveler who has lost his way
Your back is burdened with a sack full of disapproval
And a lifetime’s worth of disappointment and doubt
But you shoulder it like it’s nothing
You smile at me, golden boy
And make me believe there is beauty to
The cracked burden of the tortoise

You’re just a little eccentric
I tell myself, every time I catch a glimpse of your pain
I believed I could heal you
You made me believe I was,
And I trudged behind you gladly
Cherishing every moment you put the pack down
And opened it.
But you never got rid of anything in the pack, did you?
I think you loved the sweet torture
Of owning exquisite pain
I learned to appreciate the beauty in pain
And see the hope dressed in disappointment

So I did nothing
Till you slipped right off the edge
And scattered in a burst of gold dust
Slapping my face with the truth I should have seen
had your beautiful, golden smiles not blinded me;
That I had no power to make you happy
That love could be as strong as pain
Or could be its equal

So as I stand at the edge of your cliff
I want to hate you
But I don’t
I will remember us as we were
And I will choose to be happy, golden boy
For both of us, I will choose life.

Miracle Ifechukwu
© 2019

So many times

So many times I get my heart disturbed,
Disturbed with vanity with things of this world,
World called earth that isn’t forever,
Forever I keep thinking of the blessings I want to get,
Get lost to pains, frustration, uncertainty,
Certainly wavering in faith neither did I know,
Know that I was gradually broken to pieces closer to ashes,
Ashes of dust back to Genesis,
Genesis creation was in His image and likeness,
Likened unto Him that created thee,
The truth have I forsaken,
For my sake He made it to the cross,
Crossing my heart to His,
His ways should be in my dose,
Dosing daily His pills,
Pills to make me whole again,

Okelola Oladayo Joseph
(C) 2019

The criticality of our lifestyle as world changers

An Issue Paper presented at the National Strategic Youth Missions Summit, Salem University Lokoja, Nigeria by Steven Kator Iorfa

Introduction

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.(Mt 5:13-16)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect(Rm.12:2)

We live in a generation where the undiluted Word of God is already scarce. The youths especially can no longer endure the sound doctrine of God’s word and therefore teachers, mentors, disciplers, pastors, etc. are beginning to look for more appealing ways of presenting the gospel. They adopt high sounding philosophical and psychological motivations to get young people coming to church, and in very bad scenarios, some have employed devilish methods to attract, exploit and retain members. 2 Timothy 4:3 is fast catching up with us and before our very eyes, our friends, colleagues, children, wives, husbands, fathers and mothers have begun to accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and are beginning to turn away from listening to the truth and are wandering off into myths. However, in all of these, our heavenly Father has affirmed over and over again in 2 Timothy 2: 19 that His firm foundation stands, bearing this seal:“The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” What more can we say? Generations may come and go, civilizations arise and fall, dispensations change, but the Word of God will remain. The interpretation of His instructions on Christian holy living and conduct will not be subject to geographical locations or changes in generations. It is therefore critical that as world changers, we begin to pattern our lives and conduct to reflect the change we want to make, the change God has called us to make. To do this, we have to adopt a lifestyle different from what the world knows, has defined and accepts. We have to conform and be transformed to the life of Christ, the kingdom lifestyle. 

This plenary addresses issues on godly living for young persons who are aspiring to change their worlds. And it must be noted here that asides the term “world” meaning the physical planet earth, our worlds could mean the different platforms our Father has graciously granted unto us to serve him through. Thus, I would be having us treat the term “world” in a generic sense that would encompass the worlds of politics, academia, fashion and entertainment, sports, health, science/technology and innovation, art. Even the world of religion and spirituality. We will briefly define some key terms and then go on to look at the lifestyle of a world changer, its nature and criticality.

Lifestyle: a) Someone’s way of living; the things that a person or particular group of people usually do; b) the particular way that a person or group lives and the values and ideas supported by that person or group; c) someone’s way of living, for example the things they usually do, where they live, what they spend their money on, etc.

Critical: a) of the greatest importance to the way things might happen; b) extremely serious or dangerous; c) extremely important to the progress or success of something

World-changer: A world-changer is someone who is committed to changing the world. A Christian online devotional has this interesting thing to say about who a world-changer is; A world changer is not someone who blends in, a world changer stands out, sticks out and stands up ready to make a difference. A world changer goes beyond the usual expectations of Christianity. A world changer finds the most intense demands that Jesus places on Christians and does not shy away from them but goes after them with all his/her heart. A world changer does whatever it takes to get the job done. A world changer pursues God passionately. A world changer has been radically, completely and totally changed by their relationship with God. 

The world changers’ lifestyles

a) Dressing 

Do we now begin this endless debate about dressing? About whether it is okay to put on this and that as world changers? A world changer knows that when our Lord gave a command, He meant it and they are determined to live up to the standard. A world changer does not conform to the standard of dressing dictated by this world. He or she sincerely yearns to fulfil the mind of the Father. A world changer knows that he/she is always in the presence of God the Father and permit me to say that there is no sincere child of God who does not know how to dress and appear before his/her father. As God is with him/her always, so his/her dressing also, always must please the Lord. Or has the interpretation of the Word of God suddenly become subject to geographical locations such that our compliance with and obedience to it varies from place to place? Have we become so pretentious that the intensity of our obedience increases with our proximity to church alone? Are we world changers? Do we desire to become world changers? Can we please let our dressing and appearance reflect the true nature of the life we carry? Let’s be reminded of the scripture in Hebrews 4:13 which says “no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account”, and remember that He knows the very reasons why we dress the way we do. There is a pattern for Godly dressing, the pattern a world changer is known by.

b) Earthly riches and wealth

What about the love and desire for earthly riches? I know this is another area most believers do not agree on. But has our Lord not also clearly stated in Hebrews 13: 5 that as believers we should keep our lives free from the love of money, and be content with what we have? For our Father has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. What does this mean for us? Does this translate to our living beggarly lives and becoming burdens to our brethren and the heathen who seem to prosper? No. Our heavenly Father has also promised in Mathew 6: 33 that if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then all other things will, in addition to His kingdom, be given unto us. We are not to live poor all our life. How else do we speak into the financial crises of our generation? How do we offer solutions to the enormous financial challenges of missions? We are to tap His resources for life, ministry and missions. But even if, He so desires, that through the denial of earthly riches, His children’s character be polished, shaped and sharpened, would we then as clay, tell the porter how best we want to be moulded?  

c) Prayer life and personal altar

A world changer is on fire for God and his/her prayer altar is always burning. He or she recognizes the Word of our Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 18: 1 that men ought always to pray and not to faint. World changers are committed to building an intimate secret life with God for they know that in it alone lies their strength. Therefore, they will not trade their Quiet Times and alone with God for anything else. They cherish the refreshing times spent in the presence of God and are always eager and yearning to return there. King David, a man who radically changed his world in his generation, had this to say about God’s presence; “one thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (Ps. 27:4).

Conclusion

In Mathew 28: 19, our Lord Jesus Christ commanded saying, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In other words, go therefore and change the world. How else can we change the world other than through the very best way we live our lives?

Firstly is the need to understand that the ability to really change our world and not just try to slightly improve it can only be divinely given with the ideas needed divinely inspired as in the case of Joseph and Daniel. Changing the world requires a power from Him that made the world.  Truly changing our world is about changing men and bringing them to the point that they become like Jesus. Where there is a complete transformation and renewal of the mind. It goes beyond an ability to put together a long list of exhaustive dos and don’ts to an internal transformation that seeks a fundamental foundation laying that equips an individual with the ability to take the right decision even in situations never met before or never put down into law.  This can only be achieved as God gives a man the ability to do so.

The second matter that proceeds immediately from the first is the fact that this ability is not available for every dick and harry. The decadence we have seen thus far cannot be attributed to the inability of God but rather the unavailability of usable men. There are those certified by heaven to carry out this task. Only such certified individuals get endowed with the divine grace to affect their generation and leave indelible marks of eternal worth upon the sands of time.  2Chr 16:8-9, makes it clear that God is actually more eager than us to demonstrate His power upon the face of the earth, but the bottle neck of the whole mix remains in the ability to locate such men on whose behalf He can show Himself strong. Such men that He can point to other men, such men about whom he can say “this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him”. It is needless to say that such men are scarce. This necessarily brings us to the point of realizing that it is such men who please God that will get endowed. Now the big question is what is the criteria, and the clear answer is “life”. There is that life that God is willing to associate with, that life that pleases Him, that life that He can call a friend. These are lives embedded in divine consecrations, lives that the actions you constantly see is a manifestation of the fact that they are completely sold out to Christ, again, lives who’s lifestyle is embedded in consecration. Heb 11 gives an account of such men in the Old Testament, men who loved not their lives. Even though they had limitations. They had not experienced the death and consequent resurrection power of the cross. As it is written Christ in you is the Hope of Glory.

The inability to connect with the almighty, the very SOURCE is what makes many resort to other means, but alas they can only be noise makers not change agents. If we must have devoted workers, honest students, faithful husbands, submissive wives, responsible fathers, sincere bosses, the list goes on… We must have correct lives to compel a following, lives inspired by God. True change comes from above.

We see few of such lives already existing in the world of missions, but many more are needed in business, law, engineering, medicine, banking…..lives before whom the Nebuchadnezzars of their professions will tremble and bow and acknowledge as in Dan 4:1-37. That the Lord HE is God. 

Steven Kator IORFA

© 2019

 

The strongest charm ever made: Samson’s tale retold

I lived a life full of pride. My life was awe with matchless grace. My hair was strength, my strength was grave. Nations and cities bowed to me and all I knew was victory. Victory, till I fell to charm. Now let me tell you about the strongest charm ever….

Yahhhhhh!!! I’m so excited to write this. Sometimes most truths are really just hidden in plain sight.

Let’s start by screaming at her, cursing out loud, and maybe, if we get the chance, we would still shake her hand; because she showed you the way.

On a cloudy Friday evening, I took the lone road I’d always stayed away from. The grasses were wet, my feet felt moist. The air was soothing and my heart was free. I saw her. I trusted her, why won’t I, When I had nothing to lose. She was the roadside beauty. Her wink always made me act funny. She was good; at least that’s how I remember it. She was on every man’s lips, only problem was, not every man could get so lucky; her attention had a high price.

I was muscular, athletic and strong. In many parts of that region, I was a kickass warrior. Trouble was my father’s name (laughs); I could almost always get away with anything.

She caught my attention that cloudy evening, when I chose the wrong street to walk my dog. I was careless as usual, not minding whoever my dog tried to disgrace. I loved it actually; what a Bruno he was. As I turned down the lonelier bend, there she was; looking. Charming her way, as usual, she was the first to notice, after all I had big abs. While I was still carried away by the stubbornness of Bruno, she was positioning herself for the kill or let’s call it; the catch.

My heart stopped, I couldn’t even contemplate. Was I delusional, such a beautiful somebody could not even have existed in your time? Call it whatever, but I was hooked at first sight. Unfortunately, I had developed poor wooing skills; like always, my muscles did that job. I was already on a spaceship to HERS and there was no turning back.

I saw her, I know I saw her. I cannot be mad, my two eyes caught her; smiling at me, and my godammmn legs just had to find out. Then we made out (and don’t even ask me what charm I used); I was getting wooed and I didn’t even know it. Her body was perfect, her sense of humor would make you feel like you had never laughed yet, there was no other girl on her level, she was phenomenal; and she knew it.

I was in trouble; and I didn’t even know it yet. I was trapped in the web of my desires.

I fell! I fell without a rope and don’t dare ask me where. I’d whisper anyway, I fell in sin.

It didn’t take long; I was already proposing pitching some permanent ideas to her father. She was my burger without the buck, my silent night on a stormy day, my rose without the thorn, she was my slut. I couldn’t bare it anymore, so I told her everything; my heart is yours.

He was my stuff, my war without the sword, my pass, my personal bodyguard, He was my crush. There he was sleeping on laps; I would like to narrate how beautiful he was, but let me bear my cross. I would have loved to trade souls, but money was always first.  

It was my first loss, she was my only cross, her lies were stronger than death, she was my curse. ‘My heart is yours’ I told her, and that was clearly her plus. The battle was lost the first time we crossed, but how would I have known that I had been jazzed.

Three times she asked and three times she tricked me. All she wanted was the gold and it didn’t matter if my eyes had to go. Three times I broke her bounds, but her jazz was too strong; because every single time, I only came closer to telling her, what made me strong.

Now it is gone, now I am no longer strong. Now she is gone, I wouldn’t even know if she’s not. My eyes are gone and so are my locks, now I could never kill a thousand men like I had with a jaw bone.

Her charm was strong, only it was not hers. My heart was wrong, it fell in LOVE.

Love; real or not was strong enough to cost me my strength.

Love; true or not, was strong enough to take Christ to the cross.

Love; now or later will cost you some sacrifice. May it be for the good. May it be for the truth. May it be real.

Love’s charm is unbreakable.

John Okor and Steven Kator Iorfa

© 2019

Ambition

IF YOU ARE YOUNG, THEN YOU ALREADY GOT A MAJOR PROBLEM…..?

You’re probably too ambitious.

I’m young like you, or at least my mind is. And you have no idea how ambitious I am. Unfortunately, that’s the sickness that plagues you too.

Yeah I know, I’m totally aware, that I just called your always present, overzealous, soulful Ambition, a sickness. A sickness that needs to go away and I’ll tell you why.

Don’t get me wrong, ambition is good. Good Ambition is good.

But your ambition, that your precious drive, that unexplainable passion has left you living a pixelated life. This is not a 100% match make, but I’m kind of sure you’re part of the 99; the 99 that don’t understand that ambition is the door, but patience is the key. In lay man’s terms; time, plenty of time is the avatar to your fire nation.

I said I’ll tell you why, so here is it.

Ambition is crazy, it’s the local dog off its leash, it’s a wild cat far away from the wild, it’s the wisdom-less chi that lives inside you, that tells you everything is possible. Everything is not possible mate, but some things are; just some things.

And maybe Ambition is not the problem, I mean; shouldn’t I simmer down on this factor that has accelerated civilization for all of man’s existence? Then you have to be the problem.

Yeah…I said it, I know I said it. You’re the problem. Because it’s a blessing to be blessed with even a little ambition, but yet the curse; cause it came with no ‘handle with care’ manual, it came with no prescription to tame your dose; its abuse.

So I’ll tell you why ambition is bad, firstly and apparently, you cannot predict how life will turn out. Secondly and famously, you will probably chose a style of attack that will end with you king dead. And I mean, from the plethora of options of people past, who have achieved their dreams, how exactly are you supposed to approach ‘this little light of yours’? Ambition is bad because 99 out of 100 of you will make it bad, preferring to pursue rather than to wait, preferring to strive rather than to be patient.

We all hate that phrase; be patient. I mean, what gives anybody the right, including yourself, to demand patience from you, when it is clear to all mankind that nobody knows the time, the place and the when, when everything could have ultimate meaning.

The problem with ambition is, you might spend all of your good years pursuing, striving after this dream, that islandic passion, without any applaud-able achievements to show for it, and yet, that drive will still be on heat, ambition will still not set you free.

I mean, isn’t it really ambitious of me to think that I could sentence Ambition to a life ‘outside your heart’?

And yet without Ambition, life will be a whole lot harder.

John Okor

(C) 2019