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)

Sunday, 19 February 2017

What's the deal?

By Funmi Yusuf

I felt compelled to write this piece after some reflection and meditation on the scripture, John 2:13-16. In these verses, the bible talked about how Jesus kicked out all the people that were trading in the temple declaring that it is a 'house of prayer', not a 'house of business'. I am guessing the buyers and sellers must have been members of the temple else they wouldn't have been allowed such access. I can only imagine how upset and disappointed Jesus must have been when he came in to pray but was met by all the distractions and vanity. I imagine Jesus came wholeheartedly, seeking to set aside the worries and pleasures of the world and just worship his father. Instead, he was being chased down by sellers and haggled by money changers. How sad.

Although in current times, the picture wouldn't be as dramatic as it was during Jesus's time (I hope), but the underlying fact of making the church a 'house of business' rather than one of prayer or worship is so prevalent. Churches have become competitors to one another and even worse, members compare their successes or progress against another's output. The very thing that we have been warned not to do because it is not wise.

The house of God ought to represent a place of holiness, prayer and reverence. Think about it, in the days of Moses, whenever Moses was to appear before God, the Israelites were often so scared and cautious that they preferred Moses going alone. They considered themselves unworthy and feared being struck by God's wrath. How much of that reverence do we have now for the house of God? Do we consider his glory or presence when we turn the place of worship to a networking spot for the purpose of advancing our own self ambitions?

The house of God in our time, although not filled with money changers, have become a place to pass time, meet new friends and business partners, follow fashion trends, set up business stands and grow our businesses. It’s not a bad thing to meet people in church but if your sole purpose for coming to church is to meet people then you have replaced a house of worship and turned it into a social gathering.

If we want God’s presence back in our churches, if we want people to walk in and get convicted of their wrong doing, if we want to see more of God like it was in the days of old, then we need to accord God and his house the respect He deserves. Simply put, take away the focus from the activities and focus on the presence of God and guard his presence in the house of worship

Let’s take the focus away from filling the pews to ensuring the lives of the people who sit in these pews are transformed by God’s presence. Take your eyes off the people, off the church leadership, off the contacts you can make in church and focus on God. When you walk into a church just dwell on his presence and watch him take control of your life. If you abide in him he will abide in you and your life will be fruitful in every way.

If you ask me, ‘What's your business in a church?”, I’d say, “Just to Worship God. Period.”

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Work on the kinks

In the last week I have learned that what doesn’t break you only makes you stronger. I have heard that so many times, even said so myself but I now, more than ever before, believe this saying. I found myself in a new terrain, navigating new waters and trying to make a headway. And like the beginning of every new process I really wanted to just give in to the pain and walk away. Unfortunately giving up wasn’t much of an option I had to somehow finish what I had started. 

With every passing day I was so sure I wouldn’t make it. I felt so stressed out, exhausted and emotionally drained at night time. I tried to find my center and draw my strength from within but made very little progress.  Every time I went through my day I was drained of every emotional and physical energy I had. I complained and complained and then finally stopped complaining because I was tired of listening to myself complain. Facing my challenge head on and I decided to just go with it and make it work. Not exactly sure how I managed but with the little energy I had left at the end of the week – I did finish my project and finished it really strong. 

As I sat in bed to unwind, I started to reflect on my week. I had learnt a few lessons: 

  • One; the more I complained the more magnified the problem became. If you have something challenging to do, don’t complain just take a stab at it and focus on solving it. 
  • Secondly I realize this “problem” or project exposed me to some of my flaws which I needed to work on. You learn more about yourself when you go through tough times. I’ve identified a few kinks that I need to work on to make me a better person. 
  • And lastly everything happens for a reason, and I mean it, everything. While I was busy complaining and trying to talk my way out of my challenge, I was completely blinded to the positives and the opportunities that solving the problem could present. It wasn’t until I stopped and focused on trying to solve it that I saw the bigger picture – the opportunities outweighed the challenges. 

A good lesson to learn in one week – don’t talk about the problem, focus on the opportunity it presents.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Celebrating a National Hero

By Olushola Osinubi

I appreciate your 31 years of excellent service to our Nation Nigeria. Your meritorious service in Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Pakistan, NIBATT 21 ECOMOG Liberia, Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta amongst so many others.

As we celebrate our fallen heroes today, I celebrate you my standing father who gave his life in service to ensure peace within and outside our boarders.

I am very proud to be a military brat and the daughter of a General. God bless our service men and women. God bless you Daddy. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.