Sunday, 13 August 2017

Rehearsed

“Places everyone!”

“Lights, sound, camera, action!”

You can hear scurrying sounds as actors, actresses and stagehands move into position. The curtains go up, sounds of rising applause can be heard from every corner. The music swells and the first scene of the drama unfolds on stage.

It is the moment the cast had been waiting for. The very moment all their hard work would be displayed. The moment of truth you could say, after days and days of rehearsals. Learning scripts, rehearsing lines, practice, practice and more practice. All leading up to this moment when the lights are turned on, the curtains go up and the applause begins.

The strength of their skill is summed and measured by the performance they would give tonight. The fans they would have to please. The critics they would have to convince. The doubters they would have to ignore. The pressure builds on as the cast begins to deliver on their lines. Each character gets into position and on cue, they appear on stage. The rehearsed cry to be delivered with the death scene. Not one tear to be shed a moment sooner. The sounds that accompany the scary scene, not to be mistaken for a cheery voice.

The night goes on as the play winds down, the final scene to show the victory of good over evil. The carefully choreographed fight scene must now be delivered flawlessly. The villain holds his ground, the hero pushes on. In one final blow the villain falls, the hero stands tall in victory. Songs of freedom and success fills the air. The curtains come down on the stage to conceal the cast as the audience rise and applaud.

The heavy sigh of relief, the joys of successful completion as the cast and crew hug and laugh. In one final moment, it all comes together, leading on to the moment of recognition. The cast comes back on stage for a final bow and their approving fans applaud and cheer. It is a satisfying moment – when want you planned and work hard on, gets delivered as planned.

"In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury."
Proverbs 14:23 (KJV)


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

That's just the way it is


Machines, people and places all have something in common: they change over time. Machines become obsolete, people grow older and places transform. Living or non-living, time changes everything. From the beginning of human life, we experience the beauty of such change. Babies transform into toddlers, losing their teeth as they grow into young men and women. 

The young boy experiences changes in his voice as he becomes a man, and his strength again changes as he grows older. All life transforms over time – nothing remains the same. It’s amazing how we embrace the natural changes around us but resist the changes that life brings into our personal situations. The mother who refuses to let her daughter become an independent woman. The retired executive who refuses to accept that someone else now runs the company. The child who refuses to see moving up in school as a good thing. Everyone resists change, no matter how natural such change is.

The interesting thing is that, resist all you want, change is inevitable. The balance of life will remain. With each passing day and new waves of change, you will gain some and lose some. That’s just the way it is. So if the tides of time turn and transformation is inevitable, as rational people, the only logical thing we can do is welcome and embrace all forms of change. When your child becomes a young woman, let her go. When the time comes, retire gracefully. When the opportunity to learn something new presents itself, go for it. Nothing in life is constant. Everything moves and changes as time passes by. You’ll enjoy more and stress less if you realize this fact – it’s just the way life is.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

The Big Picture

Written by Olushola Osinubi

As a child, I enjoyed puzzles. I loved putting the pieces together to form whatever landmark, animals or drawing on the face of the puzzle box. I knew what the puzzle would look like when it was finished. But, I still had to do the work of putting the pieces together. 

Sometimes it would take hours. Other times, it would take days to get it finished. I learnt the best way to get the puzzles together was to start at the edges. Putting the straight edged pieces to first form the borderlines and then build from there. 
My puzzle pieces could be so many that each piece would not make any sense. Or the pieces would just not fit. I would try again and again until finally my picture would simply be – picture perfect. 
Life is like a giant puzzle. We usually don’t get the pieces or the purpose of events in our lives. We simply question the reasons for happenings in our lives. Why did I get laid off? Why was I betrayed? Why me? Why do bad things happen to good people.
Your life is like a big puzzle coming together. Missing pieces; lots of pieces; pieces that do not fit. Through the ups and the downs, the tests of fire and the storms. It is all working together for your good. The bible says in Romans 8 chapter 28 that everything is working together for good* (*abbreviation mine). God the master strategist is moving the pieces in your life and connecting the dots to make a beautiful masterpiece called your life.
So instead of fretting over the delays, mishaps, traffic jams and what not, relax! God sees the big picture of our lives and how the pieces would eventually come together. He is making it all beautiful in his own time.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Thankful for the negatives


Written by Funmi Yusuf

Many a times we are thankful for the good things in our lives. The great job, the kind spouse, the loving, healthy child, the car or home and many other things that I cant possibly fully mention. We have been taught to focus on the positives in our lives and downplay the negatives. We take on the "half-full glass theory with the belief that you will be happier when you do. Maybe, maybe not.

Today I want to challenge you to think differently, to take on a new perspective, to be thankful for the 'negatives' in our life. As preposterous as that may sound, I dare say that some good can also come from looking at the unpalatable moments and situations of in life and being thankful for it.

Here are my reasons, first off, it could have been worse than it is but it’s not. Secondly, it always gives room for learning especially when you assess your negative situation with a thankful perspective.

Another reason to adopt this view is that you never really rid yourself of your negative experiences, if all you do is sweep it under the rug in an attempt to focus on the positives. Negative experiences have a way of creeping up on you and damaging what you thought you had going well for you. They whisper little threats in those quiet moments of difficulties and paralyze your creativity.

Are you ready to take on this new challenge? Lets do it together, lets be thankful for our fears and failures also. Its only in that attitude of gratitude that we can you really conquer the limiting hold that fear has. 

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." I Thessalonians 5:18

Thursday, 8 June 2017

A burst of Insight



Ever had a moment when you suddenly had a burst of insight? It feels like a million flashes of images running through your mind. You tend to gasp in realization, jostled by the facts you had forgotten until that moment when it felt like someone literally turned the lights on. 

I listened to a story recently and that was when I had my light bulb moment. Two people—Bob and Richard—veered head to head trying to get a position. Each tried to work, talk, and manipulate their way into this role. They were both qualified, smart, and hardworking, so it was an interesting race to observe. Given their equal strengths, I couldn’t tell who would get the job.

One evening, they were asked to support a charity. They went to a mobile kitchen to help with food distribution, and then something went wrong. There was a fight between two of the people who were being served.

At the time, Richard was in the kitchen helping with the meal preparation while Bob was in the serving line. When the fight broke out, Bob stepped in, physically putting himself in harm’s way to break up the fight and restore order. Marcus, the Business Manager, was walking into the dining area and witnessed everything that happened.

The next morning at their business review, Marcus thanked everyone for their support. In an unseen turn of events, he announced that Bob was getting the promotion. Marcus added that Bob’s leadership skills became clear yesterday when he had to intervene in the serving line fight at the mobile kitchen.

In an instance, it hit me—an image I had forgotten. A memory I had subconsciously buried. A series of words I had once recited but, until now, had forgotten.

“...the race is not to the swift, or the battle to the strong...but time and chance happen to them all.”

Bob and Richard both had equal strengths and were both qualified to get the promotion, but only one could. Bob did because he happened to be in the right place at the right time to differentiate himself in a task that had seemed completely irrelevant to the role. We often try to show up and outdo others, but I think a better approach is to show up at the right place and right time and outdo ourselves.

When you’ve aligned your strengths and mastered your act, pray the right opportunity comes along and you are there to grab it.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Intricately Designed


When you think about the human anatomy and how intricately woven each part is together to ensure that it can all function effectively, you will acknowledge that the one who made it so must pay attention to details. Think about the technicalities of putting together a 50 storey skyscraper. You can’t have one brick out of place or one supporting structure wrongly placed. Every piece of each part of the structure is designed accurately to perform specific function. If something as mundane as the sand has some incredibly important function such as supporting continuation of life through vegetation how much more is the purpose of a man on earth.

God designed each one of us with so much care and he has detailed out his plan for our life. Our task is to work with him to discover it and make it happen. Looking back on past years in my life, I can see how my past experiences all add up to the picture I see today. What I struggle with is seeing how my present will add up to the future I have in mind. And that’s usually where most of us struggle. God wants us to trust him and trust in his design for our life. He wants us to give our best in our pursuit to fulfill purpose even though it sometime feels like groping in the dark.

If he took his time to design each intricate part of the earth, we have to trust that he cares enough for us and he’s got our life in his hands. Take your life decisions with more faith and confidence that you are not alone. You have the backing of the creator of life, you need not fear or overtly concern yourself about what will or will not. If you give your best, he’ll bless the rest.
"For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them."
Psalm 139: 13 - 16

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Something Worth Trying

“At least there is hope for a tree:
 If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
 and its new shoots will not fail.
 8 Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil,
 9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
 and put forth shoots like a plant.
Job 14:7- 9 (NIV)
I have an artificial small tree in my living room and it’s so amazing how every time someone visits me for the first time, they ask about the tree. The intriguing thing about my artificial tree is that it has a dry looking stem and green leaves, which in my mind symbolizes everything Job 14 was trying to say. That even after a bad experience, when you seem down and out, a little ray of hope can revive your spirit like a cut down stump nourished with water.

Growing up in sub-Sahara Africa I have seen this over and over again. Trees are cut down, plants are uprooted and many times left in its place to dry out. It begins to dry until the rain comes. Then everything that has seemed dry and dead comes alive after the showers. Like every cut down tree, a wounded soul feels dry, even dead sometimes. Life often sniffs the life out of you and you feel like this has to be the end. The only way to restore life is allowing the words of life into your soul.

How do you get the word of life in your soul? How do you re-energize your spirit to come alive again? “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you-they are full of the Spirit and life”. John 6:63 (NIV) spells it out nicely, the word of God – the bible, is full of life giving words. So if you need a boost, if you need to re-energize your spirit, if you need to come alive again, you need to allow the word of God into your soul. You need to read the bible. 

The book of Hebrews 4:14 (NIV) describes it like this, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”. Isn’t that refreshing to hear? That you have within your grasp something that is alive and active? Something that can penetrate your body, soul and spirit?  That sounds like great news to me, something worth trying, something worth sharing. 

Here’s a thought, draw up a reading plan or download a bible app this April and read the word of life for yourself. See what God has to say about you, your life and his plans for your future. Explore the lives of other people, ordinary people who have had their lives revived like water on a dry tree and learn how they did it. Take April as the month to discover for yourself the power that lies in the word of God. If you ask me, I’d say reading and doing what’s written in the pages of the bible has been one of my most successful winning formulas in life. 

Try it and tell me what happens.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Now, then and the moments in-between.

I recently learned that a friend of mine passed on. The news stopped me in my track as memories of this gentle soul flooded through my mind. I felt a sense of loss and sadness in that instance. Within few seconds of hearing the news, none of my big plans and important tasks mattered. All I could think about was a dear soul that would no longer walk the surface of this earth again…so sad.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the drama of living and the crazy drive to achieve some great feat that we often forget a simple truth. The sum of a man’s life is not in how he was born or how he died but in the moments in-between. I don’t know about you but I know that sometimes I am so focused on what I’m trying to accomplish that I forget to stop and enjoy the little detours that life brings my way. An unpleasant circumstance you have to go through may be more than just an inconvenience, it may be a great opportunity to bless the soul of another. 

However, if we lose sight of the fact that every moment in our life counts, we will misuse a simple opportunity to make a lasting memory.   Every air you draw in is a gift, so treat it as one. Every minute you spend on earth is a blessing, treasure it. Invest it in time with people you love, enjoy it by doing something that matters to you, prolong it by slowing down and taking in the moments. 

All you have is now and that’s all you can influence. It’s the summation of the actions you take in your ‘now’ that make up the story of your life when you pass on. What will you do differently now to ensure you live your life to the fullest that God designed for you to live? What life changes will you make today?

"Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom."
 Psalm 90:12 (NLT)