Saturday, 2 January 2021

2021 - A New Beginning

“Jerusalem, stand up, shine!

Your new day is dawning.

The glory of the Lord shines brightly on you.

The earth and its people are covered with darkness,

But the glory of the Lord is shining upon you.

Nations and Kings will come to the light

of your dawning day.” 

Isaiah 60: 1-3

 

It’s a new year and the dawning of a new beginning in so many ways. The past year was filled with many stories that we will all be telling for years to come. Some great but many sad ones. Despite whatever we endured in the last year, it's nothing compared to the greatness stored up for us in the year 2021. Our bible passage today is from the book of Isaiah. It talks about a time when God's people get to experience the glory of God in their lives again. That time is now.

 

If the past year left you in pits of disappointment, despair, loss, anger or fear, here is a word of promise from the Lord to you: it's time to rise and shine. This year, the Lord's glory will come over your life and will shine brightly on you and your household. Despite whatever may happen or not happen around you this year, you will experience his presence in your life.

 

God's light gives you direction. This year you won’t stumble or fall. The presence of the Lord will guide you and direct your ways. You will make the right decisions and will craft out the best plans for your life.

 

God's light gives you warmth. This year you won't feel alone. Whether you are single, married, or surrounded by family and friends, the light of God will warm your heart always. You will feel his presence all around you wherever you go and whatever you do.

 

God’s light shows you off. This year you won’t stay hidden. The light of God will launch you into destiny moments where you will shine brightly and bring glory to God. Whether it’s at work, or school, with your kids, or a talent you nurture, this year, God's light will launch you into greatness, and you will succeed in all you do.

 

As we step out in 2021 with our eyes fully set on God, drop all weights and sins that will keep you from rising this year. The light of God is shining on you no matter what, but it’s up to you to stand up and shine.

 

Think about a balloon. As long a weights (like heavy stones) are tied to it, it can never rise, but it rises when the weights are dropped. The fulfillment of the promises in Isaiah 60, verse 1 only happens if you drop the weights.

 

So what's holding you down? Weights of anger? Greed? Evil thoughts? You know those things that you do, which silences the spirit of God in you and pushes you out of God's presence. It's time to drop them all so you can rise and shine. This year make up your mind to always take the high road and stay on the path of living right with God.

 

While human strength cannot help you drop the weights, the spirit of God can. As you start the year, ask God in prayer for the help of his holy spirit to drop all weights and sin. And as you do, you will see the light of God shine brightly on you, and you will arise and shine.

 

Welcome to 2021. This year you will have new beginnings of greatness in your life as you experience God's light shine brightly on you and as he gives you something new to launch you into his planned greatness for your life. Amen.  

 

Blog post image by Flash Alexander from Pixabay 

Saturday, 5 December 2020

A New Song

There is a saying you may have heard; it says, "music refreshes the soul." The Soul – the very essence of our being. It is the part of our existence that lies between the world we live in and the world our spirit seeks to dwell. It is the part of us that lives on long after we are gone from this world. It is the part that seeks out its creator, the one our creator seeks. The Soul is the core of our being; it's the eternal being.

 

When disaster strikes, you may feel the pain in your body and could very well recover from it. However, if you let that deep dark feeling of loneliness and depression sink into your Soul, it will destroy your entire being. Look around you, see how worries, anxieties, and fear saps out life from souls around you. The hardship of our world serves to create a troubled soul. A troubled soul is a fertile ground for seeds of greed, wickedness, and evil to grow, which eventually grows into lost souls.

 

Since our world is riddled with pain, how can we protect our Soul from being consumed by troubles, pain, and wickedness? One way I have learned to keep my Soul free amid pain and anxiety is to sing. Music does refresh the Soul, especially if you are singing songs that inspire and renews your mind. You can't sing songs filled with anger, misery, fear and expect your Soul to escape those feelings. On the contrary, it's just going to dampen your spirit. It would help if you sang a new song. A song of worship to God. A piece of gratitude for the life you have. A song of hope for the future. A song of forgiveness and love for those around you.

 

I have found my Soul refreshed, freed, lightened, and renewed when I lose myself in songs of worship to God. Worship frees your Soul and brings you into God's presence. Psalm 16: 11 tells us that in God's presence, we will find the fullness of our joy. When you enter God's presence in worship, your burdens are lifted, pain is healed, and hope is restored. His presence releases your Soul from all worldly tension and frees you up to soar.

 

This month of December, make a note to yourself to sing a new song. A song of praise and worship. Break out in dancing in gratitude to the most high God, our ever-present help in time of need. It's been one tough year that I doubt anyone will forget in a hurry. A year of difficulty, loss, and pain that has left lots of souls troubled. You don't have to stay in a state of despair; come into his presence with worship and watch him do a new work in you. As you worship, your Soul is freed, restored, renewed, and made alive again. Music does heal the Soul, so free your Soul in worship to God.

 

This the season of joy – keep singing.

 

Blog post Image by Rob Slaven from Pixabay

 

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

The Master Piece


 

Every once in a while, something dramatic happens that throws a man’s life off course. It could be the loss of a spouse, a bad business deal, or issues with the law. Such defining moments often make a man wonder about what is essential in his life from that point on. It is so amazing how quickly a seemingly good situation can change and go horribly wrong, leaving people completely helpless and feeling utterly despondent. Everyone has gone through a time when all the plans have failed, all the help has been seized, and all the courage has withered in the face of an impossible situation.  

 

At times like this, it’s easy to throw in the towel and just assume your new life. Sometimes we try to make a sense of it all, asking why did this happen and what am I supposed to learn from this experience? However, at the end of the day, nothing about what you have just gone through makes sense, so what’s the point? It’s really frustrating and often discouraging to go through a major storm in your life. 

 

I recently watched a great man build an empire, and then he saw everything collapse before his very eyes. I watched in horror, completely helpless, as he lost everything he had worked for. I was deeply anguished as I watched him try to rebuild what he had lost, but his efforts were fruitless. Sometimes, he even gave in to his new fate. So, one morning, in an attempt to find some way to encourage this wounded soul, I turned to the book of ageless wisdom and found solace in Jeremiah 18: 4, “But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands. So the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him”.

 

This is a simple story of a potter who was working with some clay. He had a great design in his mind of the timeless piece he was going to make. This wasn’t going to be just another clay piece; it was going to become a treasured relic and adorn royal palaces. The potter worked with great precision and purpose. This was going to be his masterpiece—the emblem of his genius. However, as he worked on the piece, something unexpected happened, something he didn’t envisage—the piece was damaged during the creation process. The potter didn’t stop working on it, he didn’t cast away his masterpiece, and he didn’t throw up his hands in utter submission. He simply devised another plan—a plan that best accommodated the mistakes that had been made. He went on to create his masterpiece, but he had been given a different design.

 

It is inevitable that at some point life will come at you, and you will believe that what is coming will destroy you. It may be some enormous problem that could overwhelm your very existence, but like the potter, God is determined to keep working on you and transforming you into the masterpiece he intended for you to be from the very beginning. As life takes you down this winding lane, you need to remember to keep your faith in God’s master plan for your life because that plan was created specifically for you, for your unique circumstances.

 

It often takes a lot to keep believing against all odds, but it’s worth the effort. God’s plan for your life is all that matters, and in spite of the defining moment you might find yourself in right now, if you keep trusting in God’s plan and working in line with that plan, he will redefine your path and help you become the very best you can be. Just as the potter didn’t discard the damaged piece, God will not dispose of you. You mean too much to him.

 

 

Saturday, 3 October 2020

What I love about RedeemTV

 
 

It’s no secret that what you watch and read ultimately influences what you think. The way you think influences how you act and the way you work forms who you are. With access to all forms of entertainment via the internet and social media, our minds are continually being bombarded with messages that frequently conflict with who we want to be. We have to make the conscious effort to guard our minds with iron gates of self-control and only allow in content that influences our lives in the God-directed paths we desire to take. 

 

In today's world, it's sometimes a challenge to find family-type entertainment that we can watch comfortably in the living room, even as kids play around us without fear of the next scene on the screen. So when I found the free streaming channel by chance, I was super excited and decided to write about it. And why not? If I pay monthly for a streaming platform that I can't watch half of what's on it because the content is not pure-mind friendly, then I indeed can write about something I know can entertain and still bless your soul.

 

Here's my review on the Free Christian Online TV Station called Redeem TV, founded by Ken Curtis of Gateway Films. It's the Christian version of Netflix, and it is absolutely free to watch.  No ads, no pay per view, and no membership fees. The service is made possible by funds from donors, and you are encouraged to donate to keep the station going but not mandated to do so. To access sign up is required with an email and password. You can download the app on your phone, laptop, or Smart TV, and you can watch it from a web browser.

 

I love the fact that the platform highlights what’s new so you can keep a tab on recent releases. There are a couple of segments to help you find what you may be interested in. You can browse by Drama, Documentary, Children's programming, Biographies, Biblical films, Classics, Contemporary issues, to say a few. I have been enjoying this streaming goodness for two weeks now, and here is my shortlist of my personal favorites to get you started:

·      Vindication (Drama)

·      The Pilgrim’s Progress (Kids)

·      He Sends Rain (Drama)

·      Newton’s Grace (Biographies)

·      The Fall of Jericho (Biblical Films)

·      God’s Outlaw (Drama)

 

In the words of Solomon, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." Proverbs 4: 23 (NLT). To change the course of your life, you need to start with your mind. Make a decision today to only fill your mind with pure goodness and watch your life as it blossoms into the fullness of God's plan for you.

 

About Redeem TV

Redeem TV is a donor-supported, ad-free, streaming service with no fees which aims to provide edifying and redemptive visual media content for all ages. They offer over 1,500 quality dramas, documentaries, animated features, children’s favorites, episodic series, Bible studies and. Redeem TV is the latest effort of Vision Video, which has been distributing and producing Christian media content for many decades. Founded by Ken Curtis as Gateway Films in the early 1970’s with the purpose of distributing 16mm films to churches.  

  

Visit https://redeemtv.com/ to learn more

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Peace in the ember months

The month of September ushers in those lovely ember months that leads us into the end of the year. It opens the time of the year when lots of people focus on finishing. Most companies start to look at the bottom line as they near the end of the fiscal year. Individuals take stock of their achievements as they count down to the holidays. Even nature start to gradually move away from the bright and sunny summer, to welcome the cold and chilly winter.

 

This morning I woke up to pray about the winding down months starting in September, and all I could hear in my spirit was rest. It's been an incredibly stressful year for most, if not all, of us. Every color, creed, and age have felt the impact of the changes one way to another. People generally have had to endure more mental and physical strain in the past year, which is why the word "rest" is very timely for this season. 

 

Philippians 4:7 reads, "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (KJV). God's promise of rest is to have peace amid the storm. As we look to the winding down months, God will give us peace beyond the reality of the situation we may be in or maybe around us.

 

Creative minds thrive best when it's at peace. With God's peace in your hearts, your mind will relax long enough to conceive ideas to help you overcome challenges. You will see the same situations in a new light and have the inspiration to solve them. Your bodies will heal better as you sleep more and remain calmer through the raging seas. You won't make rash decisions that end up harming your life.

 

God's promise of peace is one to hold on to in these months, to allow our hearts and minds rest and be restored in his presence. The year is not over just yet, so don't write it off. Allow the peace of God to flood your hearts. Ask God to give you his rest and inspire you to know how to get back all you have lost.

 

This month, make a pact with yourself to cease from worrying and rest in God's promises. Take the time to free your minds from all the worrying and allow God's spirit to breathe new life and inspiration into you.

 

Welcome to the ember months of rest.

 

Blog post image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Three Little Angels on the Northern Line to Edgeware

Written by Folashayo Oke

 

I spent a whole afternoon with my friends, we had not seen each other in a while, and it was a lovely reunion. We spoke about what we had been doing, the future, relationships, and just generally hung out.

 

After such a lovely day, it was time to head back home. I got on the northern line to Edgeware, with a broad smile on my face reminiscing on the day I had. Suddenly my daydream was cut short by the voices of a couple arguing; they looked like they were in their mid 50's. The wife seemed furious and yelled on top of her voice, saying she will sue her husband. Her embarrassed kids tried to calm her down to avoid a public display. Her husband had a depressed look, worry lines all over his face, and his eyes were red with fury, he was the description of unhappiness. The kids tried to separate them with tears in their daughter's eyes, pain, confusion, fear, and embarrassment; you could tell that the occurrence wasn't happening for the first time.

 

When the commotion was over, I took the time to study each passenger on the train. Right across me was an old lady, she looked ill, her daughter tried to make her smile and told her all kinds of stories, but her face remained the same, no emotion instead filled with inexpressible pain. On my left was an overweight teenager who barely looked up except when a couple of teenagers about her age got off at a stop. All of them in their size six outfits cracking jokes and having a good time. When they were all gone she let out a sigh and put her face back down, no smile, no hint of happiness, on my far left was a hungry-looking man, the sole of his shoes had worn out, his torn sweatshirt, and his bag had a hole in it, he looked miserable.

 

At this point for some reason I felt despondent, the memories of the day I had was all gone, and all I felt was pain, I wished I had a way to make everybody feel better, to take their pain away and see them smile, even if for a brief minute. There was complete silence everywhere except the sound made by the train as it blazed over the tracks. The atmosphere was a mixture of the wrong kind of emotions; sadness, fear, regret, pain, loneliness, shame.

 

Two stops away from my stop a woman got on the train with three little girls, they were between the age range of three to four years, the woman looked tired, but the three girls had huge smiles on their faces, "finally a breath of fresh air" I said to myself if only there were a way to share this around. Suddenly one of the little girls walked up to the overweight teenager and said with all innocence "I love your hair, it makes you look gorgeous, I wish mine were like that," she called out to the other little girls to come to see, they all loved the hair. After a few minutes their mom called them to get back to their seats, they wave goodbye to the teenage girl whose head was now up high, and her face had brightened, she had this massive smile on her face.

 

A few minutes later, the older woman sitting across me dropped her book. Before I could reach it, one of the little girls grabbed it and gave it to her. Just before she went back to her seat for no reason to hug the old lady, her painful emotionless face turned into a smile, showing her incomplete dentition, and even when the smile faded away, her eyes still looked happy. The little girls were on their sit and suddenly started singing the famous Barney song. 'I love you,' the couple who had been fighting earlier looked at them and smiled and then looked at each other and smiled as well.

 

The train stopped at the last stop before mine, and the little girls and their mom got off, on their way out they all wove to the wretched-looking man sitting close to the door, he looked shocked at first, and then he spun back, the look on his face I can never describe, but I'll try and say in one word "priceless."

 

In a brief moment, three little girls completely changed the atmosphere on the train. Everybody was smiling, watching them walk away with their mom through the window. The teenage girl looked more confident, and the old lady still glowed in her eyes. The couple held hands now, and their kids looked happy, while the man at the door still had his priceless look. 

 

Often, we get carried away by the hustle and are continually living in the shadows of our shortcomings. We think we are too fat, too skinny, too slow or too fast. We forget to live, forget to feel, and bask in the feeling of pure and innocent happiness. Not the kind brought about by a specific item or person or thing, but one that comes from deep within, the feeling of pure satisfaction and content of just been you, of been where you are, or only been alive. I was reminded of that today in the strangest of ways by three little angels on the Northern Line to Edgeware.

 

Don't ever forget it!

 

About the Writer

Folashayo Oke is an Ex-investment banker turned Content creator. She is the Managing Director of Suss Productions, a leading production and content creation company in Lagos, Nigeria. 

 

As a producer and screenplay writer, she has been involved in the creation and management of several creative projects for international and domestic brands. She has also co-created, scripted, and produced highly successful web and TV content, including the well-acclaimed Inspector K (Season 1 and 2) and The Sauce with Red TV.

 

She also worked as the on-site Producer for Yvonne Orji's HBO comedy special, "Momma, I Made It" and several Live, scripted and unscripted content. Besides her success in producing creative content for brands, she also contributed to the theater renaissance in Lagos, Nigeria, through the writing and production of four original musicals and over 30 original songs in collaboration with This Present House.



Blog post image by  Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Making better decisions for successful outcomes



“Pay close attention to what I am saying. Farmers don’t just plow and break up the ground. When a field is ready, they scatter the seeds of dill and cumin; They plant the seeds of wheat and barley in the proper places. They learn this from their God. After dill and cumin have been harvested, the stalks are pounded, not run over with a wagon. Wheat and barley are pounded, but not beaten to pulp; They are run over with a wagon,  but not ground to dust. This wonderful knowledge comes from the Lord All-Powerful, Who has such great wisdom.”  Isaiah 28: 23 – 29 (The Promise)

I like how the verse above starts by saying Farmers don't just plow and break up the ground. It indicates that some thought goes into what they do. Every action the Farmer takes is calculated and for a reason. Nothing is left to chance, and nothing is without a purpose. It is a reminder of how we all need to re-channel the energy we have to live our lives wisely and in line with God's will.

What can we learn from the Farmer's story and his admirable wisdom for planting and harvesting? I picked up on four key things that can enhance our ability to make better decisions and achieve successful outcomes in life.

1. Timing
“When a field is ready…"  Isaiah 28:25

Verse 25 starts with the cornerstone word – When. We've all heard the famous saying, "timing is everything." That comes out so right in the Farmer's story. When the field is ready, he scatters his seed. Not before, not after. One of the excellent skills we all need to learn is knowing the proper time to take action. Some people learn this by experience, others by listening to someone else. For me, I have learned how to read the times by listening to my heart. Call it a gut feeling or intuition. Whether you discern the right time by intuition or experience, knowing the right time is key to achieving your desired outcomes.  You have to always be on the lookout to know when your fields are ready so that you can plant.

2. Action

“…they scatter the seeds of dill and cumin; They plant the seeds of wheat and barley .."  Verse 25

The verse goes on to talk about what the Farmer does. He scatters the cumin seed on the ground, but he plants the wheat underneath the ground. Like knowing the right time, you have to know the right thing to do. You can't stop for a selfie in the middle of a sprint.  Its neither the right thing nor the right time for that if you plan on winning the race. Knowing what to do is uber critical; there nothing as sad as seeing someone with a great opportunity that didn't know what to do with it.  Such opportunities move on to someone else. Be wise, read the times and when the time is right, take the right action for that time.

3. Location 

“…in the proper places." Isaiah 28:25

The Farmer reads the time, and when the time is right, he plants his seeds in the proper places. Anyone in real estate will tell you to think of the location when you consider buying a property. You can't build a mansion in a slum and expect to charge a premium for it. Some plants are desert flowers, while some grow by riverbanks. For each of these plants to flourish, you have to plant it in the right location. You can have the right business idea and pick the best time to start it, but if your customers can't find you, it won't work. Just like reading the time, and knowing what to do, knowing where to do it is critical to your success.


4. Skills

“After dill and cumin have been harvested, the stalks are pounded, not run over with a wagon. Wheat and barley are pounded, but not beaten to pulp; They are run over with a wagon,  but not ground to dust" Isaiah 28: 27-28

As we read on to verse 27 and 28 goes on to describe the action of a very skilled farmer—a farmer who knows what he is doing. The Farmer pounds the stalks of the cumin, and the wheat is grounded but not grounded to fine dust. The Farmer is skilled; he knows his stuff. He has mastered the art of his trade, which is what we should all aspire to. You can only achieve this through learning and experience. To be the best, you have to train to be the best. You can't sit and watch movies all day and hope to excel in your trade. You have to horn your skills over time. Like the Farmer, you have to put in the work to get the desired results.

The wise Farmer's story calls out four things that can help us make better decisions and achieve a more desired outcome for our life.

1.    Understand the time to know when to take action
2.   Take the necessary action when the time is right.
3.   Make sure you are in the right location to ensure it works.
4.   Know your stuff; you can't fluff it.

The story closes out by saying, " This wonderful knowledge comes from the Lord All-Powerful, Who has such great wisdom.” That's comforting to know that if we find ourselves falling short in any way, we can ask God for help. He gives wisdom to anyone who asks. And with his help, we can stir the course of our lives in the right direction to achieve the desired outcomes that God has in his plan.

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Blog post image by Pexels from Pixabay