Category Archives: My Musings

Where I share what I’ve been learning.

God is out of Time!

I originally posted this on Facebook on June 24, 2014.

God is out of time!
Really, He is. And that’s a good thing. Because God is not bound by the limits of the Timestream.

In the illustration above there’s this line drawn on a page. Time is like that line, with a definite beginning and an end (since our time is measured relative to the positions of the earth and sun and moon, we could probably say time began when God created them … probably). God drew that line on the page. Or you could say He is the page. That’s why He’s the Beginning and the End, because they’re literally in Him.

So time does not limit God because He is outside of it’s line. So don’t ever let yourself get worried that God doesn’t have enough time to get some things done. Years may have passed since His promises came to you first, but it does not mean He’s late. Also, the things He’s promised you may seem to require a longer time than is available … but time does not define or restrict Him. He can make all things align on your behalf.

In my ‘sci fi’-influenced mentality, I like to imagine that if God needed to, He could actually alter events in the past to create a new present. Perhaps that explains the ‘deja vus’ we experience once in a while (you know, the “hey, I’ve seen this before” feeling). OK, I know it sounds downright unbiblical, but I’m just saying He’s got that kind of power. He’s more powerful than you think He is.
He’s mega-awesome like that.

And if you’re in Christ that’s exactly what He did for you. The covenant required for your salvation, the price required for the sins you committed in these times– it was all done at that point in history when Jesus came and died and rose for you too. So whenever in history you are, if you accept His gift, you too can come to eternal life. It’s like He took your sins back in time and dealt with them in Jesus, and He died with them, and rose with the New you. His Grace transcends the limits of time itself, regardless of what you’ve done.

So yes, God is out of Time.
And that’s a good thing, too.

“My times are in Your hands…”
Psalm 31:15

What if I lose everything?!

I almost lost this blog a few weekends ago, and I was terrified. If you’re reading this then you know that it’s back up (like, obviously) but more than anything, what the experience showed me was my own vanity and things that I need to work on in myself. I mean, it’s just a blog! I should get a life 😁

It all started when I saw an advertisement for a task that would require storytelling and I was so excited to get on it. One of the requirements on the application form was for a link to some of my past work. Now I’m ashamed to admit this, but in that moment I felt really proud to put in the links to my recent stories-turned-books (Have you read Portal and The Curious Case of Doctor Maundy? Please do!There’s a behind-the-scenes series on writing I’m planning to put up here, so follow the page too so you’d be the first to know when it’s up. Gracias! 😁 🙏🏼). And when I say that I was proud, I don’t mean that in a good sense.

So I came over here to do a little touching up on the pages so that any visitor would see excellent and quality work … or something. I made a couple of edits here and revisions there when, all of a sudden, I found that I couldn’t save changes anymore. After trying a few more times I assumed it was just a fluke so I stayed off the ‘Net for a while. It wasn’t until I tried logging in again when I saw the message in a red block on my dashboard.

This blog had been suspended 😳.

I tried to access the URL on different browsers, but it said the same thing.
Now I’m usually generally chill, and I deliberately take myself away from undue tension, so I wasn’t anxious at first. I just figured there was something I needed to do to change this and that I’d figure it out soon enough. Maybe there was one of those Terms and Conditions I usually don’t read that I’d violated, I thought, so I scanned through them. As far as I could tell everything was in order.
As the hours turned to a day and nothing had changed I gradually realised that this was a serious problem. I came face-to-face with the possibility that I could actually lose this catalog of articles, stories and writings dating back to 2013.
The thought of it all shook me to my core.

What if I actually did lose everything?

Before I get to how we got it back up, I should point something out. This period and looking at it all showed me a bit about problematic perspectives I held.

What do I really have?

I realised that I had considered the blog as a possession of mine, something I worked to build, and an extension of myself. Sometimes I look back at the archives and feel that “started from-the-bottom-now-we-here!” feeling. This blog has been an experience all on its own. Many life experiences have occurred in its day. I’ve had days with so much traffic and dry spells stretching for months, but it’s all been part of the experience that’s been building up gradually. I’ve been learning what works and what doesn’t. I’m learning not to judge based on responses, but to also write in reader-friendly ways. I had every right to see this as my own.

Or did I?

Perhaps it’s valuable, and it is. But if the loss of something ‘valuable’ to me was going to affect me, then that says more about me than about the thing itself.P.S.: Someone reading this is wondering, “Dude, It’s just a blog! Get a life!” And writing this out now, I see that you’re absolutely right! I feel like an idiot now, but I hope you can learn from my idiocy.

My Value

Seeing how the thought of losing this made me feel less of myself made me realise that I had, somehow, tied my value and esteem to this blog and, by extension, to my accomplishments even offline. And that’s definitely not a good thing.
I find that many times I feel down when I’ve not got something new going on, or when I’m not being praised for something. And that’s completely unhealthy and destructive.I apologise if I’m being too open about my flaws here. I find that this year I’ve been doing that a lot.It’s subtle, but if my perspective of my value is defined by my accomplishments, then that means that I have also been determining the value of others based on their accomplishments. And as the cycle goes, I would also judge my value based on the applause, rejection or indifference of others.

This is the core of an inferiority complex. It’s something I was sure I had dealt with, but I was now seeing signs of it peeking out again.

Who Owns it, anyway?

In recent times, I’ve been encouraged towards, and am considering and planning the conversion of this blog to a full-fledged website. The thought process of it all has made me go back to the beginnings of this platform and to be reminded why it exists.
This is not really my own. It’s never really been mine!
Many things on this page have changed over the years, but the tagline has not.
Life, Hope, Faith … with some humor.
It’s my playground to show my works, but it’s really a channel for the Real Owner to reach others through me with the creative tools He gave me. It was an extension of myself because that’s how I’ve learnt to see myself: I am God’s Instrument to reach the world, and every of my platforms will do the same.
But what’s at the core is my life.
It’s my heart.

Jesus told the story of the rich fool, the guy who defined his security based on what he had. He described the man as “…he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21) I certainly don’t want that to be me. I want my life to be one that blesses and lifts others, yes, but it’s nothing if my life is not a delight to the Lord.

Like Jesus also said, “…where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34). If the Lord is my treasure, then that’s where my heart will be. That’s Who would define my desires and life’s purpose and esteem.

What does it say about me?

I am learning to remind myself where true value lies. I am valuable, not because of anything I’ve done or can do or will do, no. I was valuable long before I could do anything! I am valuable because of the One that made me, that knows me, that loves me. That owns me.

I am valuable to God.

My favourite verse, and more like a lifeverse for me over the past couple of years, has been Isaiah 43:1:

“…Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”

You are Mine.
I am His.My value is not tied to my accomplishments or possessions. Like Jesus said,
“…Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” (Luke 12:15)

For a child of God, you never really lose. If we lose anything good, by God’s grace it can be restored and we can get back up again. That’s the promise of God’s Word. Remember Job? Everything he lost was restored by the end of the book, in doubles!
Proverbs 24:16 tells us that a just man may fall seven times, but he rises up again.

But you know what?

Even if what was lost is not restored, even if our hopes and dreams don’t materialise the way we would have desired, God’s promise is that His own can still be secure and at rest, stable and unshaken. Hebrews 11 tells us about the wonders and exploits done by many by their faith in God, but it also tells us of many who through their faith in God were able to go through trials and mockings, imprisonment, stoning, temptation, torment and even death.

They lost so much, but their true treasure was never taken away. Their true Treasure could never be taken away.
I want to be that strong and stable on the inside.Like Psalm 46 shows us, God is our home and refuge, and He is the One alive in us, like a river flowing through a city, bringing springs of gladness. Even if the things that have defined our stability are ever moved out of place, we will not be shaken. We can always be glad.

It would hurt, and real loss should hurt. But with God, that’s not where the story ends.

We can always be at rest.

What am I learning?

I’m learning to understand true value. When I underestimate anyone or anything, I devalue them in my eyes and lose out on some of God’s greatest gifts, treasure in “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7). When I overestimate them, I make them idols and I project my expectations on them, thus missing out on what God would have used them to be or do, and unable to see the bigger and much more that God has for me beyond that thing/person. Idols keep us from seeing what’s really important. I do the same to myself when i underestimate or overestimate myself. I’m learning to know what God sees, and esteem as He does.

I’m learning to enjoy every moment. The Bible lets us know that while “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,” (Matthew 6:34) God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22,23). Every single day has an allotment of God’s supply for me and for you. We can actually enjoy His peace and rest, our own God-given Garden of Eden experience where I never feel the need for validation or affirmation because we’re constantly reminded of His validation and affirmation of us.

I’m learning to Live. Jesus said that He came so that we can have an abundant life, life to the full (John 10:10). I can face life trying to meet targets and deadlines and expectations, or I could actually live, and in so doing meet those targets without being shaken by the strain. To breathe in all that He’s got for me so that I can breathe out all that the world needs. And all of this both deliberately and ‘subconsciously’, I’m able to relate well with people, see myself and see them through God’s eyes, and without judgment.

I’m learning to be Free. Free from the allure of accomplishments, from the limitations I’ve known about myself, from the fear of failure or judgment, from the shame of my past mistakes, and free to lay hold on the ‘something better’ that God has for me.I’m learning to receive what He’s got for me freely, so that I can freely give. And, yes, even if it means I’ll never get it back. I’ve got Him, and He’s got me. And in the final analysis, that’s enough.

The blog will continue. I will keep doing things for the Lord by His strength and ability. I will keep creating things. But we can, and I will also have times where I’m not producing anything per se, and I will still be secure and joyful through it all.

That being said, Lord willing, you can look forward to a major release toward the end of the year 😉

And I’m also learning to clear the clutter. But that’s a post for another day. I think I’ve bared my heart beyond comfort enough here 😅.

Oh yeah, I sent a message to WordPress and the community personnel reached me to explain that my browser had was generating spam from my serial saving, and it was automatically suspended. So they got it fixed. Thanks, WordPress. 😁

So what are you learning, or what have you learnt, about loss and value? How do you handle it? Please share.
And thanks for reading!!!

REST: An Invitation to More

Ever since this year began, one thing that I’ve been learning is the value of Rest and what it is. Little did I know that in a couple of months most of the whole world would take a compulsory break. Many are working from home, some are laid off from work, and some are alone or with their families.

But even when work and activity are reduced it does not mean that we are resting, you know. In the past few weeks I’ve come to appreciate this more, and when it’s lacking I know I need to seek rest.
In this short series I’ll be writing about Rest and why it’s God’s intention and provision for us all. You can get the whole lowdown in the Twitter threads I wrote earlier this year here and here. I just thought I should bring it here as well, including what I’ve learnt since.

There’s so much activity around us these days. On and off the online superhighway there’s so much news, so many trends to engage with, mouths to feed, work to get done, deadlines to meet, expectations to reach and goals to, well, score I guess. It can be so overwhelming sometimes. I for one can identify.

The Net used to be my avenue for fun until work moved here this year. I found myself weighed down and overwhelmed. I just don’t seem to have the capacity for so much information and trending topics, with conspiracy theories sewn between. Deadlines whizzed by like traffic, horns blaring an’ all 😅, and I knew I needed a break.

This makes me to better appreciate the concept of the Sabbath.
The Sabbath, or Shabbat, is a Jewish tradition dating from the time of Moses. The seventh day of each week was set aside as a holy day of rest. It was one of God’s commandments to the Jews in separating them to be His very own people. In Exodus 20:8-10 He said,

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.

It is still the hallmark of Orthodox Judaism to this day.
Shabbat means ‘rest’ or more correctly, ‘ceasing from work’. See, that was the point. They could do all their work for 6 days but on the 7th day, all work was to cease. Even if it was harvest time, they would either harvest their crops before Shabbat or after Shabbat. As soon as the first star was seen in the sky, families would gather in their homes for the Shabbat meal, commemmorating it with a prayer of blessing. The day of rest would extend until the next evening, and thus Shabbat was done.

Note that this was not idleness. It is rest from work.

Now I’m not advocating the Sabbath day as a rule for all, no. It was an instruction as part of a covenant relationship God had with the people of Israel only. But, like with much of the Law, it was for their hygiene and well-being as well. If we understand the essence of it, it would be of great blessing to us because of what it tells us about ourselves, our work and of God’s nature.

And this is the three-fold essence of Shabbat as I’ve come to learn it.
– Rest for you
– Rest for your field (Note that I didn’t say ‘rest FROM your field. There’s a difference); and
– You know what, this is the best of the three so I’ll leave it for the end.

Shabbat is Rest for You

You need rest.
Our bodies need rest, and the Israelites were no different. They were a majorly subsistence and agrarian society at the time of Shabbat’s origin, so much of their work had to do with their survival. They relied on their fields and crafts for their livelihood, for their food and shelter and as a basis of commerce. They NEEDED to work to live, yet God was telling them to leave it for 24 hours.
It’s kinda like us today. We have needs to provide for, mouths to feed, and deadlines to meet. But if we stay in the constant grind of work it becomes slavery: a curse, far from God’s intention for us. We need a break even if we don’t feel like it. Unless there is a law some of us won’t stop working because we NEED to work.
This is one of the reasons I’m extra thankful for the concept of the Weekend, a legal break from work.

Do you know that the word holiday came from the term holy day? Or that the origin of a five-day workweek and 2-day weekend was tied to the need of Jewish workers to rest on Shabbat? (Check it out, it’s worth googling) It gradually extended to others, and Saturday and Sunday became legal holidays.
Just like Shabbat gave the Jews an opportunity to spend time with family and think on their covenant with God, weekends and holidays give us the opportunity to look at the things that matter apart from our work. To spend quality time with family and friends. It affords us the opportunity to see life as something much bigger than the bubble our work squeezes us into. It’s why when people go to relax they say they need to ‘unwind’.
When we are well-rested, we can go into the new week refreshed.
Just like the beauty of music is in the sounds and the pauses between, life and work are best enjoyed when there is a rhythm of rest even in a schedule of work.

Shabbat is Rest for your Field

Rest is necessary FOR the work you’re doing.
I first learnt this from the concept of the Sabbath years given in the Old Testament for every 7-year interval. After every 7 years, God instructed, the land was to rest from all tilling and cultivation. For a whole year!

Exodus 23:10 and 11 says

“Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.

I constantly look at that and wonder how they would have eaten or coped during that Sabbath year.
I imagine that they would have had to become more creative and strategic. In the time leading up to the Sabbath year they may have worked extra hard to have an abundance to enjoy in the seventh year. For money they may have had to explore other crafts like carpentry and pottery to make a living, opening their minds to other possibilites as opposed to the monotony they were used to.

I believe God, the primo Creator who paints the skies, loves variety! But that’s a discussion for another time.

The Israelites may have enjoyed a ‘Garden of Eden’ experience, where they are eating without cultivating or planting. For that one year they ate without working because the work had been done. The land was fruitful. That’s some rest.
I have found that when I face my work only for a long stretch of time, I lose the passion and drive that called me to it in the first place. When we see our work as our sole supply and focus it puts more pressure on it than it needs. Like driving an 18-wheeler on a road made for bicycles, the road will wear down until there are more potholes than roadways. Productivity suffers when there is no passion or capacity.

Whether it’s a 9-5 or freelance work or a creative endeavour, this still applies. I have seen it in my work too. When I’m overwhelmed I take a walk, or spend time with family and friends. Anything worthwhile to keep me away from the work. Sometimes my weekly meetings with church are my opportunity to cut loose and relax (And any of my church fam reading this can tell why my dry jokes come easily when I’m with them. It’s me unwinding, really.) And when I do return to the work, my mind is refreshed and rested. The time has afforded me the opportunity to consider and reconsider ideas. Some alternative methods of getting the work done have passed through my mind, or I have sought counsel from another who knows how to do it. Either way, I am coming back to it better because my mind is less burdened.

My mind is refreshed because I rested.

Because, you see, my mind is the field of supply, not the work itself. The work is just a medium to bring out what God has placed in me into a substrate (a job, or assignment, or task) in which it can be fruitful.

This is, in a sense, why academics go on a leave or vacation that is aptly called a ‘Sabbatical’. It is an opportunity outside of the grind of their usual grounds, so they can learn and practise in their field in a different environment. They are still working, but the novelty adds colour to an otherwise drone of monotony.

There are targets to meet and fulfil, but be deliberate about taking time to rest. Not all of us can afford to rest on weekends, but make the time. I know someone who I was told takes his rest on Mondays due to the nature of his work. Some take periods of rest everyday, which I also encourage.
Either way, for the field (your mind) to be refreshed, take time to rest.

The Core of Shabbat

So far I have looked at the essence of rest for you and for your mind for your work. But here is the best part, which gives meaning to the previous two.
You ready?
OK, here we go.
God patterned the Sabbath rest after His Creation Story of Genesis 1 and 2. After working in creating for 6 days He rested on the 7th day. In asking the Israelites to follow this pattern He was inviting them to share in a pattern that had been exclusive to Him alone all this time!

This is why the seventh day was set apart as a holy day. It was God’s Day, the day He set aside for them to come and join Him. So despite the problems they encountered day-in and day-out they celebrated God’s Rest in hopes of a future and completed Rest He would call them into.

Shabbat is God’s invitation to Himself.

Shabbat is an invitation to faith. It beckons us to a way of life where our trust is not in our work or livelihood or our abilities and limitations, but fully in God. That way we would see all these other parts of life as channels through which God, our True Source, can supply every need of our lives.

And, oh, Shabbat is a shadow of a deeper reality that Jesus called us into as He whispered, “It is finished.” Or as the Contemporary English Version put it, “Everything is done.”

Now all who enter in can face life’s battles, and indeed face all of eternity, from the Victory that Christ has already won. Living as something more than conquerors. It’s a life we gain access to by trusting our lives to Him, with the promise of seeing and experiencing greater and greater expressions of His glory in us through us and around us as we go deeper and deeper in Him.

Like in Romans 5:1 and 2 Paul wrote,

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Shabbat has always been about God calling us to His own domain of rest. As if God called us to visit Him for lunch, so we can experience what His kind of life is like.

And in Jesus, He opened the doors wide open so we’d never ever have to leave. In Christ, God is our home.

Hebrews 4 lets us know that there still remains a Rest for the people of God. But didn’t we enter that rest when we came to Christ? Or is that Rest Heaven?

Well, yes and yes. This Rest is an eternity with God, but it’s also the experience of the journey towards that. Truly, eternity with God begins when we accept God’s gift of eternal life in Christ, but the fullness of this will be when we are present with the Lord either in death or at His Return. There is really nothing like it, and it is absolutely something to look forward to.

Until then, it’s a crescendo of a journey as His lifestyle of Rest invades ours.

Even as believers sometimes we have those Martha moments (not the Batman “WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?!” kind 😉. But the Luke 10:40 kind). I can personally identify with Martha in that story much of the time. I have those moments where legitimate work and needs cloud me from the value God has for us outside of it in the quiet stillness, opening the door to pressure and eventually missing the point of what God is saying or doing. And that, missing God’s point, is sin and the root of all sin.

Trusting in His ability. Submission to His Lordship. “Not my will but Yours.” This is His Rest. Anything outside of this is disobedience and causes us to miss out on the Life He’s provided for us.

So I’m learning to live from this place and understanding. To live from His rest and, in my work, take time to rest. To work in and from peace, not the pressure of fear or loss.

His Perfect Love casts out all fear. There is no fear or pressure in love.

Living from that assurance that God is for you and that He loves you, that’s rest.

The Sabbath of the Lord is not bound to a day but for all eternity. The 7th day unended.

Jesus beckons us in. He says,

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 NKJV

It’s an invitation for all to enter.

Have you entered?


Thanks for reading!

I’ll continue this subject next week with ‘Breaking the Sabbath’ (and now you’re probably like, “Wait what?!”)

I’ve also got something planned for writers in my own journey that could be of help. Should be this week.

😁 See you then.

Drawing by His hands

Earlier today my sister’s family came over. And while playing with my 3-year old nephew, practising his writing and drawing, this conversation ensued.

BOY (my nephew): I want to draw Jesus.

UNCLE (me): Ok, here’s what we’ll do…
GRANDMA (my mum, not wanting us drawing Him wrong and blaspheme): Why don’t you draw something else?
ME: Don’t worry. I used to draw Bible characters.
BOY (who copies us every chance he gets): Yes, I used to draw Bible CARROTS!

And that’s where I lost it 😂

We’ve since drawn so many things together, from Jesus to angels to hands to cartoon carrots… I mean characters😉. It’s really my hand holding his, but he’s confident in knowing he drew them too. And when it’s something difficult we want to draw he asks me to draw with his hand.
It reminds me of how God works in us and through us. He does magnificent things through people that trust Him and place their hands in His. Things far beyond their abilities or limits, by His very Spirit alive in them.

Sometimes after he’s told me to help him draw something, he rebuffs my direction and turns humans into 5-eyed formless monstrosities, but he’s exploring his Creativity like I once did 😁 Looking at the mess he then asks for my help and we start again or modify it.
Reminds me how God is patient in teaching us. Our certainty that we know what’s best at the expense of what He says sets us back or delays us from getting to His good result many times. What looks best may not always be good or of God, you know.

And sometimes when we’ve decided what we want to draw, let’s say a face, we (I) may start with an eye. He asks what I’m doing ’cause it looks nothing like the face he had in mind. I just encourage him to be patient, that I know what I’m doing
Reminds me of God too. Some steps He leads us in may not look or feel like the end He told us about or that we were expecting. But have you trusted your life to Him? Is your hand in His; is He your Lord? Then you can trust Him to be with you through it all.
That’s the person who knows God is with them in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23).

This person may pass through a valley of crying and turn it into a spring (Psalm 84).

Just like his/her Father Who makes rivers out of the wastelands (Isaiah 43).

Drawing with His hands.

My nephew’s in his inquisitive phase too so we’re answering questions almost every second. It’s fun and exhausting, but makes me grateful for our Heavenly Father who hears my every question, spoken and unspoken, and guides me into His wonder.

In His much larger world, some questions fade away. Some persist and lead me to more in Him. Some questions I may never get the answers to until I see Him face-to-face.

And you know what? Then He’ll be all that matters, because He always has been.

POST-SCRIPT

I cannot express just how much it means to me how you all pushed out my story, The Curious Case of Doctor Maundy. Thank you so much ❤️🤗. I hope it blessed you. And I hope to be even more of a blessing. God bless you, everyone.

Here’s a little secret just for you: God willing, there are even more amazing and deeper stories coming. Already been doing some research on the subject matter. Anytime you remember, say a prayer for me please.

Also, I hope these have sparked something grand in you. All of this is just a tip of what God can do.

In this and in coming weeks I plan to share some lessons I’m learning on my writing journey. If you haven’t already, follow this page so you’re the first to know.

And finally before I go, I recently had the privilege of writing a feature in The Journey to the Extraordinary for the #21stCenturyBibleStories series by the amazing Osetemega Iribiri. Check it out by clicking this link, and also share your stories in the information at the end. Don’t forget to follow her on Medium. You’ll be really glad you did.

Thanks for coming by!

My Curious Case

If you are here then you most likely have read the story, The Curious Case of Doctor Maundy. Wait, you haven’t?! (dramatic gasp) Please go check it out at this link.

Good.

Are they gone? Are they all gone? Alright, now it’s just us people-who-have-read-the-story-already people 😁. Great, now we can get started. Phew!

I’ve always loved the symbols and pictures the Bible uses to describe how God came to save us from sin and death, and how He works in our lives. Light piercing darkness. A groom courting a bride that felt undeserving. A shepherd seeking a lost sheep. And, the image this story was based on, receiving God’s very life like we eat bread and drink wine.

If the part in John 6 where Jesus told them to eat His flesh felt strange to you, don’t worry. You’re in good company. The people in the room that day felt the same way. Eating His flesh and drinking His blood? “This is too tough to swallow,” someone said, pun intended or not. And I didn’t make that up. It’s recorded here:

Many among his disciples heard this and said, “This is tough teaching, too tough to swallow.”

John 6:60 (MSG)

But He didn’t mean it ‘literally’. It was a symbol of a sacrifice He was going to get done. So that the essence of it could forever be emblazoned on our minds, He solidified at His last supper with His disciples in what Christians call Communion or the Eucharist.

As the bread is broken we are reminded of His body that was broken for us. As the wine is poured we are reminded of His blood that was shed for us, His very life given so that we who were dead could come to life and have a relationship with God. I loved looking at these things, and I still do.

But as I grew and encountered the world outside my bubble, I came to see that the world is complicated. Not everyone sees things the way I do. People have sincere questions about the evil and decay in the world, and how that jibes with the idea of a God that loves us. Questions went all the way back to the beginning in Eden. If God loves us, why did He let us fall knowing it would hurt us? These and more made me consider what I believe, if I truly believed it or if I was just going with something because it felt comfortable.

Sometimes we need our bubbles popped, you know, so that the only thing that remains is what truly endures.

But then this made me come to realise, understand and appreciate the promise of Immanuel, a Hebrew term meaning ‘God with us’. As first seen in Isaiah 7:14, In the midst of Israel’s troubles God promised “Immanuel”, that Someone would come Who would be God with us (that’s what immanu-el means in Hebrew). But it’s so much more, and here’s why.

God has not been aloof from all our suffering. In His love He gave us free will and, when we chose the way that led to destruction, He didn’t leave us to our fate. He came to be a part of what we experience. Our hunger, our thirst, our joy, our pain. He knew no sin, but He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He became one of us. God as us. God amongst us. God with us. That is what Immanuel means, and that is what Jesus came to encapsulate.

Like someone once said, that’s why He’s the Word of God: He’s everything God ever wanted to say to us. And it’s true. God has always loved us and in embodying what love is, He wants to be a part of our lives and wants us to have a part in His.

But He is holy, and sin cannot stand in His sight. Friendship with God could not work.

And that’s why God went for the jugular in dealing with our biggest problem first, sin and death. Just as the bread is broken and loses its form, Jesus would be broken for our sakes, dying the death we deserved. Just as the wine is poured out and drunk, His life would be cast down for us. And this one offering would be what saves us from the slavery to death that we had lived in. And now that He is risen everyone that believes in Him and receives His sacrifice receives God’s life just like one swallows something eaten.

It’s as close as it gets.

Like the beloved poem by William Cowper goes

There is a fountain filled with blood

Drawn from Immanuel’s veins

And sinners plunged beneath that flood

Lose all their guilty stains.

This is why my story went the way it did. We were the walking dead and we didn’t even know it, because of the virus of sin that plagued our very souls. Death reigned in us, dooming us to eternal separation from God. But God did everything to end that. He came to have a union with us, becoming Man, so that He could extinguish that virus.

This lover of symbols couldn’t resist using this story to represent the mother of all living, Eve as Eva (well, Eve and Adam, actually) who instigated it all just as we would have. Andy represented Jesus obviously, and the greenhouse was Eden. DIABLO is Latin for devil, and pictures how the devil deceived them and prodded them towards the mistake.

But the story and work of Immanuel is not over yet, and that’s where Lisa’s story comes in.

One of the reasons there seems to be a disconnect between the loving Father the Bible speaks of and the God the world understands is because of the need of this, for lack of a better word, incarnation. People don’t see where the good all-powerful God fits in all the decadence we experience around us. But His plan is that everyone that has the life of God represents Him on Earth. We are the Light in a desperate, dark and dying world. There need not be a disconnect because He has placed you where you need to be to shine His Light. So that when they see your actions and reactions, they’ll see what God is about.

Even in suffering, they’ll see how God delivers us from or sustains us in the midst of the trial. Jesus said,

In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration;

but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]!

For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

John 16:33 (AMP)

One of God’s children, a man named Paul, told us of a time he also went through a rough patch like this, a problem that didn’t seem to let go. But here’s what God said to him:

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (KJV)

That’s why the life of a child of God is not dictated by circumstances. God’s grace and power that He provides is enough for us, and that’s why we can trust Him.

Even as believers we may not always ‘feel’ upbeat. There may be more month at the end of the money (no, that wasn’t a typo), or nothing in the bank, or many other reasons to be discouraged. There may be more questions along the way. . While we have a responsibility to always trust in Who our Father is, He knows us – our strengths and weaknesses– and He reminds us of His promise and helps us up. That’s where strength comes from.

…He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]

Hebrews 13:5 (AMP)

We’re human and for now, until the day we are fully united with Him in death or at His return, we see Him and His eternal realities dimly. As clear as it may seem, as close as God feels in our best moments, there is so much more ahead of us than anything we’ve ever experienced.

This is the promise Communion reminds us of. Fully in union with God, that’s what Jesus made us. And nothing can ever separate us from His love.

I truly hope this story has moved you and has been as much of a blessing to you as it has been for me. Thank you for reading this far.

God loves you, so much! Talk to Him today. If you haven’t already, ask Him for this Gift of His Life that He has for you. It’s yours for the asking, and it’s just the beginning.

No matter where or when you are in your life’s journey, He’s right there at that table with you. He knows what you feel. He knows who you are. And He loves you.

May the eyes of your heart be open to see Him better.

He adds life to the mundane.

He makes bland colourful

He calls it all very good.

He makes it beautiful.

Thank you so much for reading once again!

Are Roses Red?

“Roses are red, Violets are blue–“

Hol’ up! That poem ain’t entirely true.

Some roses are yellow, or blue or pink
And some violets are cream or … well, ‘violet’ (wink!)
But ‘roses are red’ is a rhythmic introduction
to a format that’s worked through time
for expressions of love and romantic affection
brought home with the vehicle of rhyme.

But love’s more than a poem or butterflies.
It’s more than we realise.

Love is responsibility. It’s sacrifice.
It’s a choice and a decision too.

It’s affection and it is submission.

It’s remembering it’s not all about you.

It can be expressed in words, and it should.
As well as our actions and deeds.
For every act of love
is a prone-to-blossom seed.

Used to think I had love figured out
But I’m learning there’s so much more.
Love is a school we must all go through
It’s lessons are really … raw.

Love isn’t posh or dashing all the time.
It’s often dirty and covered in grime.
For it is bound to stretch you
But, done right, it would build you up, too.

God showed His love to me
In the person of Christ Jesus.
He died in my place when I was His enemy.
He rose and helps me do as He pleases.

He doesn’t leave us to figure out
Our way through times of fear and doubt.
His Spirit assures us that we’re His own.
He never leaves us alone.

He makes us Love letters to the world
Expressions of His multifaceted Love.
Through us others can see and receive
The Love that comes from above. Doesn’t matter what anyone does
There’s none undeserving of it.
We love because of His Love towards us
It’s active in us by His Spirit.

If we give ourselves to living out God’s love
There’s so much we will find.
We can start with what’s in 1 Corinthians 13.
It says Love “suffers long, and is kind…”

Twenty

Twenty years.
It sure doesn’t feel like twenty years already. But I know that the years inbetween have been loaded with oh so much. This was probably the hardest article I’ve ever written because, while I knew I needed to get it done, I just haven’t been able to get through it. If you are reading this then that means that I succeeded (Yay!)
I can still remember that cold December of 1999. My father, after a long week of ministrations (yeah, he was a Pastor) and work (and yeah, he was a surgeon in orthopaedics), took us out as a family one Saturday. I always look back on that weekend, wondering if he knew it would be our last family outing, something we had not done in a long while. I sure didn’t.
That Monday, he was coughing profusely. He was taken to the hospital in an ambulance with my Mum and some of our church family. My siblings and I spent the night and the next couple of days at the house of a family friend and fellow associate pastor.
I can remember the midmorning of the 14th, when my Mum came with our Senior Pastor’s wife, Pastor Mrs Obasi-Ike, and we were called to meet with them in the living room. We were watching The Lion King for probably the 100th time when they called us. Quite the foreshadowing, huh.
I don’t remember what Mrs Obasi-Ike said. I only remember her speaking about my Dad, and the line that would define the rest of my life. “…he has passed on to glory. He is dead.”
I remember my sister Joana’s sudden gasp. My Mum’s eyes had been red all along, and now I knew why. I don’t remember my brother and older sister’s reactions. I too was processing the news.
I remember them all going inside and me staying in the living room with the other church ladies. They were talking about how I was probably not reacting because I was too young to understand. But this 7-year old boy did. My father had died. He was no longer here. I would never see him again. These facts were dawning on me gradually.
I cried that night.
The rest of the week passed by in a swift blur with every detail impressed on us. From the Service of Songs to the Funeral to the trip back home and on to his home town for the burial ceremony. We spent Christmas in Zaria with our family friends, the Adepojus, and New Years’ with our Grandpa in Offa.
I remember Grandpa commenting on how it was a new millennium. My Dad never got to see the new millennium.
I always wonder how my brother and sisters went through it all. We talk about it from time to time, but I know it’s not the same. For me especially, my mindset of the world and my existence was forever changed. I would go through my teenage years and adolescence with full consciousness of something lacking. I would observe my classmates and contemporaries and be always reminded that I was missing something. Sometimes I wondered if I would turn out well, or how I could turn out into the complete individual that I was supposed to be.
I wonder how my Mom felt through it all. We talk about it too, and will most likely talk some more today. I know it hit her the hardest. She would take on dual roles for the rest of our lives, something she never prepared for.
I know we all had a lot of questions too. Could it have been avoided? If we hadn’t been where we were would it have turned out this way? Did we pray enough? Was there something we could have done? If our parents hadn’t married, would this have happened?

GOD’S PROVISION
God used many people to cushion the effect of the loss. Oh, I am so grateful for our family in The Redeemed Christian Church of God in East Africa and here in Oyo Province 2. I am grateful for our family in The Navigators worldwide and in Nigeria. I am grateful for the support of our friends in Calvary Ministries (CAPRO).
I am grateful for our family: Aunty Deborah and Uncle Yakubu, Daddy Glory and family, Uncle Sola and Aunty Florence, Uncle Gbenga, Uncle Rotimi and Uncle Femi. They were instrumental in much of our childhood even till now.
For the Adepojus, the Babatundes, the Gbadamosis, the Ozidus, the Baiyes, the Onukas, Pastor Oni, Pastor Bolanta, Dr Arije, the Macauleys, the Gbades, and so many many many others.
There was so much support from people who accommodated us until we were able to stand on our feet. Who helped my Mum to get her car. Who were willing to sponsor our education. Who assisted my Mum in getting a job. Who drove us to and from church for months. Who have kept lifelong friendships
One of God’s greatest gifts to us was Family.

CHALLENGES
It hasn’t always been rosy. We have had our conflicts and bumps along the way, but God has healed every hurt.
Financially, we had to learn contentment early. I can still remember the day we cashed my mother’s N37,000 cheque on the deadline when we were supposed to pay the N30,000 acceptance fee for my admission into secondary school. You can imagine what we had for the rest of the month. Looking back I don’t remember the lack as much as the fact that we were fine.
We had to learn not to expect people to feel sorry for us. The world really doesn’t slow down for you to get back on your feet, you know. We learnt to make the best of what was provided.
It wasn’t always easy. But God has been with us all the way. Some places and opportunities we got were purely by divine favour and not through the machinations of human ingenuity.

LEGACY
God blessed us with a great man as father, and an amazingly super-woman as mother. Bringing these two lovers of God together was God’s wisdom. Godly homes are His wisdom in action, I tell you.
These two had giant libraries of books and videos full of godly material. From music to encyclopaediae to doctrinal writ we had access to so much that, even after Dad was gone, we had a great heritage to build on.
Many of the verses I know off-the-cuff were songs my Mum used to sing casually while doing other work. How would I not remember these Scriptures, especially in the moments when I need them?
Their good record gained them strategic friendships that have transcended times. Many people have favoured us because of our parents’ track record. All our lives we’ve met people who see us and reminisce on some good thing my parents did for them. Even to this day in my new workplace, a visiting retired staffer told me he was treated in my Dad’s hospital.

Our greatest treasure is Jesus.

Godly homes are strategic displays of God’s wisdom, and we are blessed to be the product of one.

HEALING
Going through these together helped in keeping us close. We had our fights and misunderstandings through the years, but at our core we always knew we were the best we had.
God blessed us with the gift of humor and laughter. My Mum bursts with joy and is now uncomfortable where people are frowning or down. She adds life wherever she is. Her grandkids love her so much.
Knowing my father was in heaven with God pulled me to seek God and the heaven He spoke of. I became a sort of escapist believer from a young age, devouring everything I could on heaven and the end times. I lived expecting the return of Jesus in my youth. But little did I know that God was using those times to shape my heart to seek Him, not just for heaven, but because He is worth seeking. Because of His love.
I grew up to understand that God is my Father. I grew to understand that my father had been a caretaker whose time was completed, and that God had always been my Father. That didn’t always make it all better, but I’ve lived most of my life with that understanding.
My siblings and I have been tools in God’s hand to encourage and bless many in our words and influence. No, we’re not celebrities or anything. But I hear testimonies and am thankful how God brought us out of the gloom we experienced.

LOOKING AHEAD
There is much that needs to be said of the challenges my father faced growing up and how God helped him become the man he was, but this is not the place for it. It is not my story to tell yet. But someday we will.
Do I still miss him? Of course I do, mostly because I am gradually forgetting the details of the person I am missing. To this very day I have my moments where I reminisce with God, where I cry my eyes out, and where I rise with the assurance that He is my Father and is with me.
The family has grown so much bigger. All of my siblings are married now with wonderful kids, to God’s glory. I am a grateful uncle!
Once, one of my nephews saw a picture of my Dad and didn’t want to let go of it. That tore at our hearts, realizing he recognised someone he had never met. Imagine when they finally really meet.
I can’t wait for my Dad to meet everyone.
I know he is at rest in the presence of the Lord he followed. I know when Jesus returns we will be reunited. Our attention will be taken by the Lord of course, and that’s where it should be.

WHY DID I WRITE THIS?

I know that someone else is going through similar cases of loss. I wrote this as an encouragement. There really is light beyond this tunnel because God is your Light.Our experiences may not be the same. But with the pen of our lives in the hand of the Great Storyteller, we are assured that will bring beauty in our stories, no matter how dark it might seem now.
When you trust Him with your life, you can also trust Him with your future. He is able to keep you and show you His beauty in the places of the ashes you have seen.
You are not alone.
I pray, above all, this is an encouragement to you as well. When Jesus died and rose He defeated death and the power it should have over us. He can give you the experience of that victory, going through life without the fear of death and its loss.
Treasure the memories of your loved one, though they may be gone. Thank God for the time you had with them. Commit the pain and hurt and regret and anger that you may feel to Him. He can take it. You can’t bear it alone. Don’t hold it inside.
Grieve. You have the right to. You must. But remember that you have hope in Jesus.
Talk about them. Talk about the good times and the questions you have. Don’t keep it inside.
If you’ve read this far, I encourage you also to be a listening ear for someone. Ask how they are doing, and care enough to listen.
If you need to share with, feel free to reach me at eonimisi@gmail.com.
Here’s to healing.
Here’s to victory.

He gives beauty for ashes

Strength for fear

Gladness for mourning

Peace for despair.

Grace, Truth, Love and Life

While It’s new and refreshing
It doesn’t always look dashing.
It’s covered in the grime and scrapes and scars
It risked in coming to where you are
To pull you up to where He is.
The cost of love, of sacrifice.
Goodness defined doesn’t always look nice.
This is what Grace looks like.

It sets before you a Standard
Far better than the you you’ve known.
You realise there’s a change you need.
And it tells you, “You are not alone.”
It builds you up, opens your eyes
Drops all masks and every guise
Leaves no room for lies.
That’s what Truth looks like.

The law of God shows His righteousness
From which we all fell short.
But His grace and truth came in Jesus Christ
Bringing all the Life and help He’s got.
Hor all that trust in Him
He holds in life through thick and thin,
Cleansing us from sin.
That’s what His Love looks like.

This teaches us to honour the Lord Not to take for granted His Cross
To follow Him in love and trust Counting as gain what, for His sake, is loss.
In surrender to His Sovereignty
We find our true identity.His divinity in my humanity. This is what Eternal Life looks like.🙂

P.S.: I fear that in my attempts to rhyme
Deep truths were oversimplified. But painting pictures in your heart is what this was for
As the Lord beckons you to explore His ‘more’.
😉

Known

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (20th Century Fox/Walden Media)

“But who is Aslan? Do you know him?” [asked Eustace.]
“Well–he knows me,” said Edmund. “He is the son of the Emperor over Sea, who saved me and saved Narnia.”
— from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’, by C.S. Lewis

Of all the lines in the Chronicles of Narnia, this is one of my favourite.
You see, as we grow, we gain confidence in the things we know because they help us to define our lives and the world around us. But do you know that there is Someone that knows you much more than you could possibly ever know yourself? There is so much more beyond what human knowledge can possibly grasp on its own, because our Maker knows us much more. Completely. What we’re thinking, where we’re going, what we’ll tweet next–EVERYTHING!
And that’s a good thing, either way.

Where we think we’ve figured it all out, He knows that there’s still so much more Help we need.
And where we think we’re too weak or incapable, He knows that we have so much more strength in Him.

Abandoning what we know of ourselves to accept what He knows about us is surrender …but it’s true freedom as well! Really!
And that’s why He’s the only one we need.

So what do you think you know about yourself? Your IQ? Your blood type? Your temperament? Your limitations?
Let no one decieve you…

What you know– what ‘they’ know about you– is nothing compared to what He knows about you. And what He knows is the Truth! And, like He told us, it is the Truth that makes us free.

So trust in what He knows about you.

‘You are My child
My ransomed one
the one for whom
I gave my one and only Son.

You’re to die for
I’ve proven that for sure
I’ve cleansed you
and, by my Word, made you pure.

With Me, you can go up against a troop
With Me, the giants flee before you
With Me, you can leap over walls?
With Me…what can’t you do?
Tell me!

It doesn’t matter what they think they know.
It doesn’t matter what you think you know
You’re who I say you are.
And, yes, it is I that tells you so.’

It may not seem easy to see as He sees sometimes. We may still see problems and limitations. And the Truth of God’s Word may not seem so easy to see.
But keep your eyes on His, your ears listening to Him, and keep your heart on Him. It’ll change you to become like Him. It’s gradual.
But it’s all headed to that day when we shall be like Him, TOTALLY!

To love like He loves.
To see as He sees.

To know as we are known.

‘For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.’

1 Corinthians 13:12

(Originally posted on my Facebook wall on October 31, 2013)

Thoughts on Eternal Life

Think of the pages of a book. Each page is a 2-dimensional construct, with length and breadth. But the book as a whole is in 3-dimensions: length, breadth and height.

Our lives in space time are like a single page in the volume of Eternity.

On this page we consider life in the dimension of length (years) and breadth (achievements). So when we hear the term ‘Eternal Life’ our first inkling is that it means living longer. But it’s so much more. It has more dimensions to it; height and depth, if you will. It is God’s Life not on the grade of man’s.

It’s God’s gift to any who believe and recieve. Maybe that’s why Paul would pray for believers in Ephesians 3:18 that they would come to “…comprehend what is the breadth, length, height and depth.” It’s all encompassing, having promise in this life and beyond what this life can fathom or contain.

In Ephesians 3 Paul continued that he prayed for them “…to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.” This part always fascinates me. It’s like plugging into a socket, but then that socket shocks and changes you forever. When we give our lives to and recieve Life from God, the course of our history and future, and our very definition of what life is aligns with His because we are assured of His love toward us. Even when there are challenges we are confident that He will keep us and/or show us the way out or give us the wisdom to solve it. We see no need to be covetous because He will never leave us nor abandon us (Hebrews 13:5) and with Him we have ALL we could ever need.

Such a person, who is assured in God’s Love and becoming a channel of His love to others, will live and do things at the scale of God’s standard more and more. He/she would live beyond him/herself and is more likely to recieve ideas and concepts that will bless others. The passions on God’s heart become their passions, and the temporal pursuits that this plane seems to offer either fade away into nothingness or gain more value in the light of God’s purpose.

Jesus called it Abundant Life (John 10:10), Life to the Full. Like a stream that becomes a rushing spring, gushing above and beyond the normal river course.

Height and Depth.

It’s where we’ll only ever truly find purpose in our life’s course. And as we follow Him it becomes clearer.

Just thought I’d share some of the things I’ve been learning. Hope this blessed you.

What does God’s Eternal Life mean to you? Do share.

😁