who am i?

"I write for the unlearned about things in which I am unlearned myself." - CS Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms

Thursday, August 29, 2013

On Girlfriends & Wives, Praise & Worship...


I was thinking about praise and worship and how similar they are to girlfriends and wives. Personally, I’m not much of a praise person. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I can’t move my body in dance to save myself, especially when there are others around me…. But when the world quiets down and it’s just me, I find my rhythm… Anyway, I’m more of a worship person, and it doesn’t rest entirely on the fact that I can’t dance. I just love to raise my hands, surrendered, connected and lost in the love of the father and mine for Him.

Everybody can praise. A girlfriend and a concubine would praise a man to the highest heaven and do the duck dance and a personalized version of the azonto for him as long as she keeps getting what she wants, as long as its fun. So, say he’s short, black, with a nose like… well like the kind of nose everyone loves to make fun of, and a pot belly for the world, married with kids and a whole truck load of bad breath trailing his every word… the girlfriends would praise him still and call him sweet names, and do a little dance for him. That’s until the gifts stop coming and then he’s just an ugly old man to her and she’s gone to the next person who can take care of her… Praise hardly ever comes from the heart for most people, it’s a headwork, and thus it’s easy to detach yourself emotionally from it.

But a wife worships!!!! A good wife is such a worshiper. She takes care of her husbands needs, goes beyond praising him for what she gets or intends to get from him. She dedicates herself to her husband and does all she can out of her love for him.
She isn’t all about what she gets. She’s all about pouring her heart out to love the man she chose to spend the rest of her life with. Thus for better of worse is a vow she understands and cleaves to no matter how hard it is.

There are loads of girlfriends in the church. When the music plays just right, they're all happy to do the dances and shout the loudest, but their praises stop when their needs are not met, when God ‘fails’ to grant them their request. That’s when they move on to the next alternative… you’ll be surprised at the number of Christians who still consult native doctors for solutions while they use the church as a cover for what they do.

Love wisdom like a sister;
Make insight a beloved member of your family.
Let them protect you from an affair with an immoral woman,
from listening to the flattery of a promiscuous woman.
Proverbs 7:4-5
Be the true bride of Christ, worship Him in Spirit and truth, and show Him you love Him, for better or worse, in sickness and in health your heart spills out your love for Him and your trust in Him…
We are told that we are the bride of Christ, are you really… Or are you just a girlfriend, ready to ‘flatter’ like the promiscuous woman and bolt when the tough times come calling?

Praise is great, don’t get me wrong, I just feel there’s less heart connection in it than worship… in my opinion! 
 

Friday, August 23, 2013

From Deep Within....

It's Friday evening and I sit here overwhelmed by the goodness of God... The song my heart sings right now is Mali Music's 'yahweh'... all the glory belongs to you Oh Lord....

Indeed my life is a testimony. I am the apple of God's eyes, I am His precious baby and how He loves me... How He loves me, How He loves me.... I stand in awe, I'm thankful, I'm grateful... Kabiyesi!!! I worship you... I love you... Thank you for giving You to me, I am nothing without you.
My life, all that I am, every blessing, every achievement, every favor, every privilege, every love I get isn't by my doing... All the glory belongs to you.

The Lord is good to me and His mercies endures forever. '.... I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises.' Psalm 34:1



Sunday, August 18, 2013

On Leaves and Animal Skins...


In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve hid behind leaves when they came before God... 
Leaves wouldn’t give you the cover you need from your sins. Many of us are still hiding behind leaves, but no matter how much we dress it up and style it, it doesn't change the fact that we're wearing leaves and it can't even cover a fraction of our sins. 

Why not just come as you before God, lowly and humble... Naked!
Understand that there’s grace in His presence, and He’s willing to pour out His grace that forgives and restores on you because He loves you. He’ll cover you with animal skin(in form of the blood of Jesus) just like He did for Adam and Eve. Animal skin that not only covers you decently, but also gives you warmth… 

Come before the throne of grace and be washed in the blood. The leaves of being religious can’t do it for you. There's a reason why the word says our righteousness is like filth... because it is. "We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we display our righteous deeds,
they are nothing but filthy rags.
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
and our sins sweep us away like the wind." Isaiah 64:6
the leaves will dry and wither and fall and leave you exposed!
Drop the macho act, you can't redeem yourself by doing everything right, just go to Him Naked, and thankfully receive His gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ and His blood. he leaves of 'religion' can't and won't do it for you.

You feel you've asked for forgiveness one too many times? When has God ever complained of being tired of forgiving you? Keep running back for cover, don't accept defeat and stay down when you fall. Your victory is in finding your way back to the throne of grace and rising up again and again and again and again and again... 
The beauty of God's love... Awesome!
"So let us keep on coming boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16(ISV)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Not Searching For a Soul-Mate...

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I read Hannah of the art in life's post and thought to share it here. After one year of marriage, she boldly declared that her husband isn't her soul-mate. Now that’s a controversial statement for the hopeless romantic girls to swallow, but she made a lot of sense and confirmed this thought I've had. She got me thinking about how we(ladies) get it all wrong sometimes… most times…. All the time. I’m not sure I’m able to summarize the post the way I want to, so I’ll just copy it on here and hope you enjoy it. Obviously not everyone would agree with here, but hey!!! Check out her blog here for pictures and more on this, the comment section is pretty interesting….

It might seem odd that on this, our one-year anniversary, I am beginning a post with the declaration that my husband is not my soul mate. But he isn’t.
I wouldn’t want to imagine life without James. I enjoy being with him more than anyone else in this world. I love him more than I ever thought you could love someone, and I miss him whenever I am not with him. I wouldn’t want to married to anyone else other than James, which is good, because I plan on being married to him forever, and he has to let me die first.
But I reject the entire premise of soul mates.
Do you remember those awesome Evangelical 90’s/ early 2000’s where Jesus was kind of like our boyfriend and we all kissed dating good-bye because we just knew that God was going to bring us THE ONE and then life would be awesome? And THE ONE would most likely be a worship minister, or at the very least a youth pastor, and we would have to be in college when we would meet at some sort of rally to save children from disease or something. We would know that he was THE ONE because of his plethora of WWJD bracelets and because (duh) he had also kissed dating goodbye and was waiting for me, strumming Chris Tomlin songs on his guitar as he stared into whatever campfire was nearby. We would get married and it would be awesome FOREVER. If you were like me, in devote preparation for this moment, you wrote letters to your future spouse, preferably in a leather bound journal dotted with your overwhelmed tears. Yes, I actually did that. Suffice to say that I found this journal over Christmas break and it was so embarrassingly awful and emotional that I couldn’t even read it out-loud to James because I was crying from laughing so hard.
But then my theologian biblical scholar father shattered my dreams by informing me that God doesn’t have a husband for me, doesn’t have a plan for who I marry. NOT TRUE I scolded him, attacking him with the full force of Jeremiah 29:11 that God “knows the plans he has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future,” and obviously that means a hott Christian husband because God “delights in giving me the desires of my heart.”  He slammed through my horrible (yet popular) biblical abuse by reminding me that the first verse applied to the people of Israel in regards to a specific time and just didn’t even dignify my horrible abuse of the second verse with a rebuttal. Nope, he said, a husband is not only not a biblical promise, it is also not a specific element of God’s “plan for my life.” God’s plan is for us to be made more holy, more like Christ… not marry a certain person.
(This advice was also used when I asked what college God wanted me to go to, accompanied I think by, “God doesn’t want you to be an idiot, so go somewhere you will learn.” )
And then he gave me some of the best relationship advice I ever got: There is no biblical basis to indicate that God has one soul mate for you to find and marry. You could have a great marriage with any number of compatible people. There is no ONE PERSON for you. But once you marry someone, that person becomes your one person. As for compatibility, my mom would always pipe up when my girlfriends and I were making our lists of what we wanted in a spouse (dear well meaning Christian adults who thought this would help us not date scumbags: that was a bad idea and wholly unfair to men everywhere) that all that really mattered was that he loved the lord, made you laugh, and was someone you to whom you were attracted. The rest is frosting.
This is profoundly unromantic advice. We love to hear of people who “just can’t help who they love,” or people who “fall in love,” or “find the one person meant for them.”  Even within the Christian circle, we love to talk about how God “had someone” for someone else for all of time. But what happens to these people when the unstoppable and uncontrollable force that prompted them to start loving, lets them stop loving, or love someone else?  
What happens is a world where most marriages end in divorce, and even those that don’t are often unhappy.
My marriage is not based on a set of choices over which I had no control. It is based on a daily choice to love this man, this husband that I chose out of many people that I could have chosen to love (in theory, don’t imagine that many others were lined up and knocking at the door). He is not some elusive soul mate, not some divine fullfulment, not some perfect step on the rigorously laid out but of so secret “Plan for My Life.”
But he is the person that I giggly chose to go out on a date with in college. He is the person who chose to not dump me when I announced that I was moving to France for a year, then Kentucky for another year. He is the person who asked me to move to DC and I chose to do so. He is the person who decided to ask me to marry him and I agreed. At any step here, we could have made other choices and you know what? We might have married other people, or stayed single, and had happy and full lives.
But now I delight in choosing to love him everyday.
I like it better this way, with the pressure on me and not on fate, cosmos, or divinity. I will not fall out of love, cannot fall out of love, because I willingly dived in and I’m choosing daily to stay in. This is my joyous task, my daily decision. This is my marriage.
Someday I hope to have daughters and sons. I am going to pray for their futures everyday, and I will pray for who they might marry, but also what job they will have, who their friends will be, and most of all, that they delight in becoming more like Christ. But when my daughters come home starry-eyed from camp announcing that they can’t wait till the day they meet the man God has for them, I will probably pop their bubble and remind them that God doesn’t have a husband stored away somewhere for them.
He has a whole life, one of rich and abundant choices. And it is awesome. 
Oh, and for the record — I like James so much more than my imaginary, obnoxiously religious, youth pastor future husband. When I asked him if he had written Future Me letters as a child, he told me he was too busy memorizing Pink Floyd lyrics. But then he ran in the next room and wrote down what 14-year old James would have said in a letter to 14-year old Hannah: “I hope you’re hott.”  That’s why boys didn’t get swept up in that movement… they knew the truth all along. theartinlife.wordpress.com
"all that really mattered was that he loved the lord, made you laugh, and was someone to whom you were attracted. The rest is frosting. " Just one of the lines that jumped out and gave me a chest bump.  You really should check out the original post and read through the comments if you're still a little confused. The rest really is frosting... but well needed frosting though.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Yummy Dates...


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I love dates. They’re extremely yummy, sweet fruits, and very nutritious as well. The date palm is a staple in the Middle East; they are one of the few trees that grow in the deserts where the water level is very low, their long roots enable them to dig deep to absorb water. It takes 4 to 8 years for the palms to bear fruits after planting. I always looked forward to buying dates from Dubai, and I was so excited when I realized I could get them in Nigeria as well, especially in the Northern part of the country. The next mallam pushing his wheel barrow just may be carrying dabino, as it's called in Hausa. Dried dates are more popular in these parts.

I’m drawn to the life of a date palm, and not just because of the sweetness it gives me… In a dry land it flourishes!!! In a dry land, it doesn’t wither and die thinking “there’s no water here, what’s the point?” Rather, it digs deep to find it’s source… water, and it buries itself in this source to sustain it. And it grows, it keeps growing. It doesn’t take just a year or two to produce fruit; it takes four to eight years. Enough time to give up in frustration, but it still stands tall and after that much patience, it produces extremely sweet and healthy fruit that can be enjoyed ripe and dried out and in every way.
 
Maybe you’ve found yourself in a dry land, maybe things seem hopeless and you look at all that desert sand and hot sun. Maybe it looks impossible, but you can always find God in every hopeless situation, dig deep through the confusion of your dry land find your trust in Him, hold on to Him as your one and only source, find Him in your despair and let your roots sink into Him, that the storms wouldn’t shake you or uproot you when they come, and though the sun scorches harder, you hold on tighter, trusting and waiting on Him even when it feels like there’s a delay. The deeper you dig your roots in, the taller and stronger you grow, ready to face the elements head on.
  
"Whenever God wants to do the miraculous in our lives, He invites adversity to do its work to bring us closer to Him." J.E Sturdivant @jesturdivant

Remember the date palm takes years before it eventually produces its fruit,  and when it does, it’s a succulent sweet thing that people desire, nutritious as well as pleasurable to eat. The fact that it looks bare in the years before it bears fruit doesn’t mean it’s useless or hopeless thus you don’t cut it down, so don’t cut yourself down because it feels like you haven’t produced anything of worth and it’s been a few years in this dry land, look and see how much you've grown, and trust that it's only a matter of time before your growth begins to produce fruit…

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

The process produces character in us… and it gives us hope, and our hope will not be put to shame… because we’ll yield the sweet fruit after the process. I love this bit in Demon Screw tape’s letters to his nephew Wormwood in the C.S Lewis 'screw tape letters' “He relies on the troughs even more than the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone elses”

You feel like your desert experience is too long? Well God’s personal favorites go through longer troughs than others… because He wants us to dig deeper in the hopeless situation and be deeply rooted in Him before He lifts us up, to be the towering green shade in the desert.

Don’t allow trials to trouble you. Paul shows us God uses them for His glory… not our glory, but HIS glory. They perfect us but serve His purpose. Tera Carissa Hodges @teracarissa

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree…” Psalms 92:12 Hold on to God and you will flourish like the palm tree even in the dry places of your life, even in the place that the world marks as a hopeless place, hold on to Him even when it feels like He’s taking too long… hold on and flourish like the date palm, bringing forth fruit in due season for the world around you, for nations to come running to you to draw from the sweetness of your career, your marriage, your children, your ministry, your business, your finances, your walk with God, whatever it is you're struggling with now.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Beauty...

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Watching the sunset is such a beautiful thing to do… In moments when I don’t just breeze through life, moments when I’m not just living but taking time out to live, I notice the beauty all around me. In those moments, I am left stunned and in awe of the creator.
 
Do you ever stop to just look around at nature and gasp like it’s the first time you’re seeing it, and then your chest gets tight and you get all teary-eyed as you wonder how God thought out something so beautiful? How He created beauty itself? How great our God is? Like how great is He…?
Our view of nature, the mountains, the sunsets and sunrise and landscapes and animals… the splashes of colors and shapes that gives beauty to the world are just a glimpse of God’s beauty, a teeny-weeny glimpse… because God is beauty Himself. What was He thinking when He thought to make things so beautiful? Probably Himself!!!
I’m glad that as He is, so am I… as beautiful as nature is, it’s nothing compared to the beauty of who we are… yes the nose is a little too big, and the smile crooked, but beauty is beyond your brown eyes and pointed nose… God is beauty, and as He is, so are you. 
We are beautiful in every single way, ways we can’t even begin to comprehend, because He who is beauty, has made us in His image, has made us like Him… isn’t that awesome?
Have you ever seen something so beautiful your breath is taken away? You know how they say you can’t see God’s face and live? My theory is, He’s so beautiful your breath is sucked out and your heart literally stops when you catch a glimpse of Him, there’s no living after seeing all of that awesomeness. :)
We haven’t seen God physically, but one of my best experiences of His beauty is beyond what nature shows me, it's beyond His blessings in my life... It’s in the place of worship. That moment where you’re overwhelmed by His presence, the awesomeness of Him, and despite His being invisible, you’re still bowed over by the fact that He is and you just break down in tears as you tell Him how much you love Him… That's the best experience of His beauty. His beauty is such a beauty to experience.
A line from King Kong says “It was beauty that killed the beast…” The beauty of God’s presence kills every beast raging around you, every beast of doubt and fear and discouragement. Seek His beauty, and slay every beast in your life :)
And like David “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord…” Psalm 27:4 Seek His presence and behold His beauty... It's the best thing you can ever do for yourself.

PS... I took the pictures myself. Not bad for an amateur if I may say so myself.
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