Monday, August 30, 2010

The Nights Preceding The Solstices

It was sometime in May when I visited Paris. (My advise - do not go there alone/single. You will be tempted to have one of the opposite gender by your side). I unpacked, informed some friends I had arrived, watched some movies then took a nap. I woke up refreshed at about 7pm, had dinner and decided to go to sleep against my course the next day. Next thing, I received a call from my friends asking me to hang out with them.
"It is late", I responded, eyeing the soft, comfortable bed in my hotel room.
"The day has just begun, nobody goes to bed by 7:30 in Paris during this season", they replied.
I drew aside the drapes in my room. Lo and behold, the sun was up like 3pm in Nigeria. That is how it was till about 11pm that day/night. As I woke up late the next morning, I simply muttered, “This is the real meaning of longer days, shorter nights”.

It was sometime in November when I visited Aberdeen. I woke up early to catch the 8:30 bus. By 7:30am, I was done with all preparations. I stepped outside hoping to get a glimpse of the area around me. To my surprise, it was as black as night – 12 midnight in Nigeria. I went back to my room to take a nap since it was still night to me. To cut the long story short, I missed the bus and went late to class. I told myself, “My geography teacher never really explained the concept of longer nights, shorter days”.
Geography/astronomy has the different seasons, and the Solstices in some cultures are considered to start, separate or fall in the middle of the seasons. These Solstices are marked by different lengths of days and nights.

In life we experience different seasons, and we have the “nights” as part of them. The night in the context represents periods of adversity, trials, disappointments, despair, overwhelming confusion, uncertainties, obscurity or when you feel God is silent. I don’t know if you have passed through one of these or if you are going through one.

The days/nights preceding the Solstices taught me that though they are composed of nights, the nights associated with each day was of a different length. Bringing this to life, you might go through a situation in 2 months which took someone else 5 years to pass through. Similarly, you might face a situation for 1 year, which took someone else 3 months to go through. An example is of 2 friends who applied for jobs within the same organization and were both successful. One had to wait one month before she was called to start, the other had to wait for a year before she started. Imagine if you were in the shoes of the one who had to wait one year. Won’t you have felt inadequate, hopeless or as though what you were believing God for won’t come to pass?

Yes, in life, our nights have different lengths. The time you have to wait will be different from when someone else would have to wait, so do not compare. In some cases it might appear that the other person did not wait, because everything seemed to have happened so fast. You never know. What is sure is that “as long as the earth remains, there will be day and night” [Genesis 8:22]. No matter the length of your night, you will surely see the day. Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning [Psalm 30:5]. And you can be sure that God, who neither sleeps nor slumbers, is working all through the night in your favour. If He seems silent to you, do not lose hope for He says, “I will watch quietly from My dwelling place…” [Isaiah 18:4] yet working for your good. If you have to wait, I pray God gives you the grace and strength to wait on Him. God has made everything beautiful for its own time.

Related Devotionals From The Heart Of  A Loving Father – Working All Through The Night and I look On From My Dwelling Place.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Need A Man - 100% All Male

I cannot forget the day he changed the tyre under the rain. What seemed to me like a trailer's tyre, he managed with skill, strength and wisdom. As he worked, I watched the move of every muscle of his upper body. With the sensuous thoughts that ran through my head, it was no surprise that I was sweating under the rain.

There is something about a man’s masculinity that arouses a woman. His build, his strength, his ability to protect, ability to get things done, to fight for woman and to lead, are things a woman looks for in a man. The knight in shining armour (with his other instruments of warfare) remains somewhere in our dreams as the standard for measuring our man. However I have come to see that a man’s masculinity is much more than just his physical.

In the course of a discussion with a dear friend, I asked her,” How did you feel when your husband started praying about this issue that’s been bothering you?” She replied, “Like it was settled.”
“Same here,” I agreed with her. “When Mr. Rita prays for me, I just feel it is settled. Like he has fought my fight. I feel his greater strength, his skill and wisdom has been put to work successfully”.

It appears that church and religion are for the women. Some say women are naturally spiritually inclined, or women have more problems (lol). But this was not so. As I go through the bible from Genesis to Revelation, I see how God has desired to walk closely with men. I see as God has used men for great things. I see that God still desires to use men to do even greater things.


Man has been called to be the head (of the home). It is a great responsibility woman should not wish for. If the enemy attacks the home, the first person God will question is the man [Gen 3:9]. This responsibility surpasses bringing food and money to the table. No doubt as a leader he can delegate certain duties. A man is different from a woman in many areas – strength, approach, reactions, just to mention a few. These qualities of man, when applied in the spiritual, bring amazing results.

I am excited when I encounter men who pray. I am more excited when I meet men who seek the face and heart of God. I am most excited when I see men who, sincerely and with pure motives, are channeling their “masculinity” into the works and ministry of God. That is a man- 100% all male.

Today, I lift men up in prayer. May God help any man who desires to but is yet to make a decision to walk with Him, to serve Him, to humble himself before Him, to accept his role as spiritual head, and/or to make out time for a personal relationship with God. May such men have a fresh encounter with God. I pray that men will have the desire to study the men that have successfully walked with God, learn from their ways and understand the heart of God our loving Father. I pray that our homes and our world be filled with men who pray and are spiritually ready for inevitable wars. I pray for men whose hearts are aligned with God’s, that they may steer people, families, and generations in the right direction – even if it is one person at a time. I pray for men that pray. That is the masculinity that really matters.

Woman, do you have any man to pray for? Your husband, father, brother(s), fiancé, boyfriend, bosses and friends? What we really need from our men is more than their physical and material possessions. Agree with me in prayer. Prayer makes a lot of difference – this I mention because I know, not because someone told me so.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

To Follow or Not To Follow


It was sometime in 2004 and I had rededicated my life to God after a lady preached the Good news to me in a way that spoke to my heart. Everything seemed to be moving smoothly. I was studying my bible, going to church, attending fellowship at the office, just generally trying to be holy. I had told my boyfriend to stay away from me for a while, so I could build my personal relationship with God. I did not want to fall into sin.

1 month gone, and it was all perfect, until an old friend came visiting. It was a Friday. He drove from far to pay me this surprise visit. When I asked why, he said he felt lonely and realized I was someone he could really talk to and spend time with. You know how such words do women. I felt wanted. We went out for a lovely dinner. We talked and laughed till midnight. Then he decided to drop me at home (I was staying alone, in the BQ of my landlord then). He said he would like to spend the night over since it was quite late to drive back to his house. I said it was okay, as long as he sleeps in the parlor and not interrupt my sleep in the bedroom.

The next morning, after bidding him goodbye (for good), I told God it was over between me and Him. The guilt, shame, disgust, and low esteem I felt was nothing compared to the transient 5 minutes pleasure that ensued during the night. I concluded that I was not cut out for Christianity. I told God I was not going to bother myself about it, because I had fallen many times, and this was the worst of all. If what happened that night was with my boyfriend, maybe it would have been better. But with a guy that just appeared – that was worse that adultery, I told myself.

So I found myself at that decision point – “To follow or not to follow” God. I could see the path I was trying to run away from, but I knew my attempts had resulted in failure. I did not want to deceive myself so I chose “not to follow”. I watched my life deteriorate. I fell more into sin, I killed my conscience, my life was filled with pain and dissatisfaction masked by a charade. I was not happy and I knew the path I had chosen did not have good in store for me. I left church and fellowship (nobody cared) and entered a world of my own. I felt trapped, but said I will stick to what I had chosen though wondering if there could there more to life.

In retrospect, I think God was “dying for me” for in my sinful state, He gave me a dream about an acquaintance – a guy I knew, respected, but did not want to get close to lest he contaminates me with his good nature. I felt compelled to share that dream with him, only to realize that it was actually a message from God. So he opened up to me, we got talking, and with time, I felt relaxed in his peaceful and godly presence. Like Mary at the feet of Jesus, I enjoyed listening to his stories and teachings of God. As he talked about God, I began falling in love with God. 2 things he did that turned my life around – he told me he believed God has a plan and a purpose for my life, and he bought me a study book “Because of Jesus” by Connie Witter. Only a man sensitive to the spirit could have done such because I love anything exam-like (which was how the study book was designed). That study book made me realize I was already a virtuous woman, the proverbs 31 woman, not by my works or efforts, but because of what Jesus had done, and God was seeing me as righteous not the way I saw myself.

Small by small, I started liking God, but I was not rushing into a relationship with Him. You know how it is when a person is coming around you and you are gradually having affections for him/her? As my likeness for Him increased, I started disliking the things I used to do (though I had not stopped doing them). One day, I found myself at that point, “To follow or not to follow”. After thinking long and hard, and hearing His loving words, "Come to me, my daughter who is weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" [Matthew 11:28], I decided “to follow”, to try God, and see if indeed there could be more to life. That was in February 2007.

I am telling you, the sum of joy, pleasures, and happiness I have had before 2007 are nothing compared to what I experience as I decided to follow God and stay with Him. Life with God is beautiful. Only Him could fill a huge void in me, and make me whole. Despite the steep learning curve with Him, I cannot deny His unfailing love, His graciousness, His mercy and loving-kindness. Indeed there is more to life - with God.

I do not know if you ever have to stand at that junction to make a choice between “To follow or not to follow” God. If you decide “to follow”, you will never regret it (even if the enemy tries to make you regret). It does not matter where you are coming from or where you have been. When the Master Molder, the Artist that knows intricacies, the God who knew you before you were conceived, the One who made you a masterpiece, when you allow Him work on you, you will be amazed at what He can do with you and what can become of you.

For me, this I believe – Even if it is only 1 person whose life I touch, whom I shine the light and love of God to, or whom I help to stay with God, it is better that 2 of us are saved than we perish. For I do not know if that 1 person will become a Joseph Prince, a Creflo Dollar, a Juanita Bynum or a great man of God tomorrow, who will touch the lives of many others. I will be so delighted to sleep over at his/her mansions in Heaven.

Looking back at 2004 when I rededicated my life to Christ, I realize that I was working so hard to be righteous. It is not by power, might or works, but by the Spirit and grace of God. It is something Jesus Christ has already done for us. Remaining in Him is also not by power, might or works, but by His Spirit and realizing that it is a walk of faith. You may fall many times, but by His grace, You will stand up and walk with heads high.

Lest I forget, the acquaintance eventually became my adorable king, Mr. Rita as I call him on my blog. Doesn’t God have a great sense of humor?

Have a blessed week ahead…

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Unique For A Purpose

I let the sun go down on my anger that night because he did not help me prepare stew and he was not interested in learning. After cooking enough food for 2 weeks, I went straight to bed and slept in anger. The next morning I woke up and grunted, "The sink is blocked". I knew in the house there were no instruments for fixing a seriously blocked sink. But when I heard the sound of pumping, suction and flushing, I had to take a peek at what was going on in the kitchen. With his bare hands, he was fixing the sink. All the anger of the previous night instantly dissipated as I thought, "he may not know how to make stew but he sure is a sexy and skilled man at plumbing".

It began to dawn on me that our differences are for a purpose. The world is beautiful because we all are not the same. There are those around us that will make us laugh, those that will make us think, and those that will encourage us. We grow up in families. As huge as mine was, none had the same strength and weaknesses. We go to school and play/work with people. Each one has his/her unique abilities. We work in teams. Each has something to contribute, no matter how dormant a team member may seem. We should not look down on anyone.

You are unique for a reason. Along with this knowledge of uniqueness comes responsibility. For if truly you are a unique expression of life, then unique to you are the gifts, talents and potential to excel at the unique tasks which define your destiny and your life calling. No one else can fulfill what you have been uniquely created for. If you do not do what you should do, it will go undone, or done by someone else in a very different way.

Also, speaking of gifts for the body of Christ, God has given each of us a gift(s) from His great variety of spiritual gifts. He expects us to use them to serve one another. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. God never changes His mind when He gives gifts or when He calls someone. You can have, know and apply your spiritual gifts.

I take my hat off to all those who are applying their gifts and talents to shine the light and love of God in this world, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you. God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for Him and how you have shown your love to Him by caring for other believers, as you still do [Hebrews 6:10, NLT].

For those who are in the process of identifying your gifts and calling, or to take the bold step of responding to them, may your eyes be opened to see who you really are and what difference you can make in this world. I pray God will make you intelligent and discerning in knowing Him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is He is calling you to do [Ephesians 1:18, MSG].

May we not run out of time, health, love and wisdom without knowing why we are here, and having the information and tools we need to express our unique potentials and live an extraordinary life. May we not leave this life without fulfilling our purposes.

If you are interested in identifying some of your spiritual gifts, you may visit this link on Spiritual Gift Test (140 Questions, ZeL thanks for reminding me to warn all :-) ). I made an attempt. My strongest point went to writing (for now) and my weakest point went to celibacy :-) (My name is not Paulina!)

You are unique for a purpose, so also are the circumstances you pass through. Are you fulfilling what you were created for, taking advantage of the road you have travelled, or are you allowing the greatness in you remain latent?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Bully

Growing up as an extremely skinny, smallish and sometimes sickly looking child, was not an easy inferiority complex to deal with. Whenever anyone referred to the “broomstick”, “stockfish” and in advanced times “AIDS patient”, I knew who they were referring to. Some said such at my back. The ones that said it to my face did it often during exchange of words. But there was one special girl. Let us call her “Estella”. She was bigger than our mates. She was a tomboy. She could beat up boys. Her mouth was very sharp. Everyone feared her – how much more me.

My mother tried to help with my self-esteem. She called me “small but mighty” (knowing we could not deny the “small” part). It was from her mouth I first heard the word “charisma”. She said declared that I had charisma, and that anyone who gets to know me will like me.

When Estella had finished with those close to her size, I became her prey. She was impossible to deal with. She called me names. She shoved and pushed me. If I said any word back at her, she would hit me real hard. For me there was no point attempting to hit her back because I was no match for her. I had seen what she had done with others. I did not need to go home blue-black before I knew what she was capable of.

As I lay down one day on my bed, afraid of going to school the next day, I wondered how I could get back at Estella. Just before I drifted off to sleep, I remembered that I was “small but mighty”. I most likely had something she did not have. I was going to let her know about that the next day.

As usual, the next morning as I arrived, I was about to enter my class when Estella shoved me to a corner. “Stockfish,” she started, “I am going to break you this morning and have you for my snacks”.

I faced her boldly and said, “One day you will get tired of calling me stockfish. I am very intelligent, and that is something you do not have. Continue beating me. It is your mother who will beat you every time you fail because instead of reading your books, you spend time fighting people. And that is why nothing ever enters your head”. (Her mother was a teacher in school, and I can bet her poor grades were serious matter at home).

That did the trick, because that was the last time she touched me, insulted me or any other person in that school. By the time we got to secondary school, we had become friends.

In life, there is one I liken to “the bully”. He is none other than the devil. He is out to steal, kill and destroy. His schemes are centered on making you Doubt - question God’s Word and his goodness; making you feel Discouraged - if you look at your problems rather than at God; Deceives you that wrong things seem attractive so that you will want them more than the right things; makes you feel Defeated so that you will feel like a failure even before you try; make you Delay things, knowing that procrastination will prevent you from getting important things done. Have you ever found yourself in any of these situations?

As I think about the experience with Estella the bully, some things I learnt that can be applied when dealing with the enemy are:

1. Know who you are: - Though I was smallish, I knew I had something Estella did not have, which gave me an edge over her. When dealing with the enemy you need to understand that you are a child of God through faith in Christ Jesus [Galatians 3:26]. The DNA of God is in you.

2. Know that the enemy no longer has power or authority over you: - The authority that was originally given to man in the beginning, and was taken when man sinned, has been restored by what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus stripped the rulers and authorities of their power, and made a public spectacle of them as He celebrated His victory ... [Colossians 2:15, GWT].

3. Words have power to cause change: - When dealing with the enemy, the words that matter are the words of God. The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is our offensive weapon [Ephesians 6:17b, Isaiah 49:2]. The word of God is powerful and effective at driving away the enemy and destroying his work.

While this is not an exhaustive list, simply understand the enemy has no power or authority over you. You can overcome him and his ways because of who you are in Christ Jesus.

By the way, though I am still slim, I have added some height and body parts *wink* that would make one think twice before calling me those names I used to be called before.

Remain Blessed...