Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Stumble, Not Fall

I recently came across the seventh season of a crime and investigation series when I was flipping through the TV channels one day. As I was hooked after seeing only a few episodes, I decided to go back and watch the first six seasons on Netflix. Towards the end of the fifth season, there was a twist, and the writers started to introduce plots that made it seem like the lead character might die.

One episode was so direct that the main character was about to be blown to pieces by a bomb. My husband and I watched in suspense waiting for the inevitable. As we sat at the edge of our seats, holding our breath at the thought of what might come next, I suddenly remembered that there was no way this character would die today as I had seen her in the seventh season. I smiled, and told my husband to rest easy, our favourite character had a long and full life ahead of her. I could enjoy the remaining nerve racking scenes because I knew she would survive.

What a sense of relief you get from knowing that in the midst of uncertainty there’s an element of surety. The joy and satiety that come from knowing that even though you are in the dark about what happens next, God knows from the beginning how your story ends. So why fret, why worry about things you know or don’t, things you can change or can’t? It doesn’t matter what comes next. The end will be just fine.

One of my most beloved bible verses is Psalms 37:2324:

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

I love the fact that my steps are supported by the gracious and loving hands of God. Even when I don’t know for sure where I’m headed, and even if I stumble in the process of getting ‘there,’ I won’t fall.

Take a minute and think about that. Look at a scenario in your life right now that spells failure, and then change that thought for a moment and call it a stumble. Know for a fact that when you stumble, God reaches out to hold you to ensure it’s only a brief stumble. You won’t fall. The writer of your life does a better job than TV series writers, and the end of your story is good. Trust in God that you’ll only stumble, not fall.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Thrill of Living

We make everyday choices and hardly give it a thought. What clothes to wear, food to eat, taxi to take – mundane task that don’t require much brain power. We don’t think about it because they have become a natural part of our lives. We have done these simple tasks for such a long time that we can carry on doing them without giving much ado.  It’s now become a part of our lives. And that is fine.

With each passing day and as you master the chores of your life, there is a tendency to lose the thrill, to dissolve the anticipation of what another day brings and just carry on living. When 80% of what you do in your day life has become a routine how do you keep the thrill of living, the joy of change and the anticipation of the unknown tomorrow? 

‘Be thankful’ 

One of the ways I have found really helpful is keeping a grateful heart. To look at everything in your life, every day, and be grateful for the many gifts you have. I have found that being thankful helps you put lots of things in perspective. When you get out of bed in the morning be thankful you have air in your lungs. As you try to get the kids out of bed to get ready for school, while they protest getting out of bed, be thankful you can hear their cries. When you sit down to eat breakfast be thankful you have something to eat. When you ride the bus to work be thank you have a job to go to.

Take the time to view every simple moment, every casual activity, as an opportunity to be thankful. You will find your perspective begin to change. You will have a heart filled with joy, your mental and physical health will be boosted by the positive feeling in your body, your energy and productivity will increase because of the sense of privilege you have in the little things of life. Your outlook to life will improve as you anticipate your next moment to be thankful.

It’s a small thing to add on to your daily task but the return is worth it. Even when you find yourself in a tight situation, find something to be thankful for. It’s like turning on a flame; it will continue to burn until it consumes your entire being. Tune out the worries with a song of thanksgiving. Clear out boredom with a perspective on gratitude. Re-energize your life with a dose of joy. Take the time to be grateful and your life will be grateful you did. 

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”.
1 Thessalonians 5 verse 18

Friday, 1 September 2017

Mummy, I want to be a Superhero


I can’t count how many times my children have said “Mummy, I want to be a super hero”. Most kids between the ages of 4 and 11 want to be super heroes. Almost every young boy wants a super hero themed cake for his birthday. From t-shirts, birthday parties to lunchboxes, super heroes reign supreme. Children have this never-ending fascination with super heroes. To them, superheroes are “protectors of the universe” who fight villains or bad guys and save the world.

Jeff Greenberg a social psychology professor at the University of Arizona, says that the reason kids love superheroes is because they believe that superheroes are strong and powerful.  In the early part of their lives, children look up to their parents for love and protection. But as they grow up, they start seeking for role models (real and virtual) who embody the same power and positivity. Their belief in super heroes helps:
  • Kids to dare to be themselves, they believe they are born to be brave
  • Kids build confidence on the basis that super heroes can do the impossible
  • Kids learn about the difference between what is good and what is bad 

It is important that parents use their child’s fascination with fictional super heroes to teach them about real heroes. This particularly applies to the younger children who often can’t distinguish real people from fictional characters. As parents, it is our responsibility to help them understand how ordinary people of different ages, sizes, races, cultures, abilities, and religions become heroes based on what they have achieved, overcome or have been through. 

Superheroes of the Bible
Christian parents have a rich source of super heroes stories, look no further than the bible. You name the message to be conveyed and I can promise you that there is a good example or two in the Bible.  Examples that will teach them about real life super heroes and about God and his mighty works. Children love stories, and the timeless stories of the Bible speak to their young hearts and minds. “Bible heroes” are the best way to teach your children about courage, good virtues, heroism or even to correct their faults, shortcomings and mistakes.
9ijakids.com and the Bible Hero Games
9ijakids have gone one step further, we don’t just tell children stories, we use games as a platform for children to learn about and experience what it is to be a super hero. For us, games are not just for entertainment, it’s a powerful way to teach and re-enforce learning.  
9ijakids learning games:
  • Encourages children to learn biblical principles and remember them
  • Encourages children to pay attention while entertaining them
  • Educates children in an engaging and fun way
  • Are fun, fun and fun for kids and adults!

Research shows that that educational games help children between the ages of 3 and 7 to improve their vocabulary by as much as 30%, with a 9% increase in retention rate. In summary, wise parents invest in educational games to entertain, teach and help kids remember IMPORTANT STUFF!!!! What can I say about the “Bible Hero” game? It is a fun filled game to teach the kids about the mighty works God did through 10 bible characters including Esther, Gideon, Samson and of course David. Click on the trailer below for a preview of the game
Between now and September 2017, 9ijakids.com is giving 100 parents FREE access the Bible Hero games. Sign Up to www.9ijakids.com to be in with the chance for free access. 

About 9ijakids
9ijakids is a faith based educational resource. We use game based learning to teach kids the Bible, Values, Entrepreneurship and Academics. Visit 9ijakids website @ www.9ijakids.com to subscribe and play the Bible Hero game. You can also follow on Facebook, Instagram and twitter @9ijakids.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

You only need One


Written by Olushola Osinubi

Today I took a walk with my coffee in my hands and praise in my heart. As I mediated on what the spirit was laying in my heart, I closed my eyes and prayed. I didn’t utter any words. I just prayed sincerely in my heart, thankful for all God has given me. I asked him for direction, focus, and commitment.
What was laid heavily in my heart entered on Mathew chapter 25. Yes you guessed right, the story of the rich man who went on a long journey and divided his wealth among his three servants. To the first servant he gave five talents. To the second servant he gave two, and to the last one he gave one talent. All these were done according to each servant’s ability. This literally blew my mind! God has put in each one of us gifts, expertise, skills, knowledge, technical know-how in one area or the other, but according to our ability. What we can handle at each given time.
The story goes on to describe how each servant handled what they had been given. The servant with five put his skills to work, invested, traded, expanded and multiplied what he had. This produced an additional five talents. In the same vein, the servant with two traded and multiplied what he had. This action produced an additional two talents. But, it was on the servant with one talent my heart meditated on. He felt cheated. Life had dealt unfairly with him. Maybe if he had been born in better circumstances or location. Perhaps if he were taller; more handsome; a better speaker; great with logistics and or project planning. Maybe! Maybe! If only I wish… The servant then turned and concluded that the problem wasn’t with him but his really horrible boss. His master must be a wicked fellow who obviously liked the other servants better than him. He was a greedy fellow who wanted to reap where he never sowed. He was an unjust and unfair master.
This servant decided to keep the talent buried. It was only one talent and wasn’t good enough like the five and two. When the master came back, he returned it exactly the way he had been given-untouched. The story ends when the master told the servant that the least he expected from him was to have put it away in a bank to be used by someone else and yield interest. He then ordered that the one talent be taken away and given to the servant with ten.
In many ways, we are like the servant with one talent. We take a look at who we are and where we are presently, and then conclude that life is most unfair. God has forgotten us. But, the same question the spirit whispered in my heart this morning is what I’m now asking you. What exactly have you done with what you have? How have you made yourself and someone else better? Have you grumbled and complained? Or perhaps moaned about your situation? Or have you taken that one talent and kept multiplying it?
I share my prayer with you: Ask God for direction for your life; focus on what you should be doing and not on others, and commitment to follow through.
Have a great week ahead.


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