who am i?

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

Monday, April 18, 2016

Unguarded...

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I caught a cold. I haven’t been down with a cold for a while, the sneezing the sniffing, the headaches and the blocked nose…
I was upset that I caught a cold in the middle of a heat wave. I had survived the cold harmattan season with all the dust flying around; I stood in the midst of people sneezing around me. I conquered the cold, dry, dusty weather. I conquered the rains before then. So yes, I was upset that in the midst of what must be a clone of hell on earth, I found myself with a bout of cold.
The heat was stiffing. Humid, hot… the perfect weather to let loose and take off your clothes at any given opportunity.

So, I got thinking…. How come I easily caught a cold in the midst of the horrible heat and I’ve been able to scale through the cold and dusty weather scot-free? You see, when I’m in the cold, I know its cold, and so I protect myself accordingly. I don’t go round in tank tops if it’s snowing, or sleep in just underwear in the harmathan. There are duvets, and there are jumpers and sweatshirts… there are onesies and hot cups of tea and hot water baths to warm me up. I’ve got the cold covered.

But in the heat, my guards are down. It’s so hot I do the only thing I think to do… run into an air-conditioned room whenever I find one. Wear tank tops and shorts as often as I can. Sit in front of the fan with barely anything on, taking cold baths… and when I drink ice cold water, for relieve I let a some trickle down my throat to my chest. I chew on ice when I find any and just don’t take precautions because it’s hot, and all I care about is cooling myself off. In the mist of that carelessness, I expose my chest and body to the elements, cold water drying off on my body etc and there you go, an opportunity to catch a cold.
Expose yourself, catch a cold, cover yourself up, and avoid a cold.

Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. Prov4: 23

It’s the same way we tend to be on guard when in the world as Christians. We cover up real good like its winter or the rainy season, lest we expose ourselves and catch a cold or get hurt. We’re extra careful in business deals, relationships and dealings with unbelievers and we’re on guard. Then we get into church where its summer… and we expose ourselves to get cooled off. We’re no more on guard; our guards are completely let down… and suddenly we catch a cold and we wonder.
Guarding your heart shouldn’t stop outside the church. You should guard your heart even when you do business with fellow Christians in church… I’ve heard stories of being burnt. Don’t be completely exposed, people are taken most advantage of in the church.

I’m usual on guard whenever I get to hang out with that ‘unbeliever’ friend who is perfect, so I don’t fall for him because that’s setting myself up for something complicated, I’m guarded and I know there’s a barricade even as I laugh at his jokes and enjoy his company. It shouldn’t be any different when I hang out with a born again friend. Because even if there’s a chance that my laugh at his joke could turn into my heart skipping beats, I should be cautious about it, I shouldn’t fall blindly in love without knowing him well.

Guard your heart when you’re dating a guy/girl in church. You just let go riding on the waves of brotherhood/sisterhood in church and then get hurt and burnt because no guards were up and without warning, you’ve been marauded. Because he’s a Christian, you immediately trust him with all your heart and then he hurts you or somehow you find yourself pregnant and abandoned (it happens) The church is where a lot of sick/troubled/human people come to for healing, everyone is being perfected, so love them, fellowship with them, cautiously trust them… but act with wisdom. Don’t just date him because he heads a department in church, or date her cause she’s in the choir. The other day I had a talk with a friend and I just didn’t have the heart to tell him things about a church girl he’s in love with and trusts completely. I’d rather he finds out himself. I don’t think he allowed things to cook well i.e getting to know each other well before jumping on the love boat and letting his heart run loose around her. He’s about to catch a major cold, because he assumed it was summer in church and exposed himself.  
I’ve heard of business deals going sour with fellow church members cheating themselves and having messy fights. Employees disappointed at shoddy work ethics of Christian employees he employed based on trust and church membership.

Some messages being preached need to be guarded against as well. Honor your pastor, but don’t go out there to just any church ready to eat whatever is cooking on the pulpit without having a well guarded heart, guarded enough to make you think after a sermon and study the word for yourself, not hook line and stinker… then you find yourself lost and confused. Let him guide you, but be on guard as well. Some pastors have turned their congregation to a cult followership…. They’ll eat grass if he says so. Which is so unfortunate.

What’s my message here? Just guard your heart at all times, pray for wisdom and the spirit of discernment, you’ll avoid making half the mistakes we do if we’re on guard.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What's The Beef?...

What’s the beef?
A cow is just beef, so why are humans being killed in droves to please cows and give them comfort to fatten up?
The Fulani herdsmen obviously haven’t gotten the memo on the value of life.
I don’t know what the solution is, what I know is that it’s a horrible situation and lives are being torn apart. This isn’t in the far north or northeast, this is just at my backyard, in peaceful quiet Benue, the food basket of the nation. Where we eat pounded yam for pleasure and abound in the juiciest of fruits. In Agatu… where they people survive on farming and fishing... and my grandma gets the nicest dry fish for the homes of her children and grand kids. We haven't had nice fishes for a while, grandma says the crisis has prevented the women who bring her steady supply from trading.

Death is on a rampage, dining with families and leaving blood trails of heartbreak; deep gut wrenching sorrow.
This is the season where love rises to embrace the hopelessness of people who have been uprooted from their homes, from what normalcy means to them. Waking up and living: cooking a meal, sharing a laugh, scolding a child, sweeping the compound… to the indecency of a camp, a makeshift home, emptied out classrooms. No clothes but the ones they had on as the fled. No privacy, little to eat and dependency on what love has to offer in form of clothes and food from individuals who have a heartbeat for humanity. Because it’s beyond the government, if love didn’t exist, they’d be victims of bureaucracy and corruption, twice hit, from their marauders and the people in authority who have a duty to respond to their plight and ease their burden but wouldn’t until there’s a social media movement that moves them to action.

There are various IDPs spread across the affected region in the state. But I have come in contact with one through my mum and her league of women, some of those led by love to reach out and be a little beckon of comfort. Not like some bags of rice and clothes are any comfort to one suffering from great loss, but they are a joy, an assurance that their survival is worth something, and they will live through this to a time where their land would be completely theirs again and restored, a time where they would be able to breath again without feeling like their chest would rip from the pain and hurt of losing loved ones and entire belongings, not even given the opportunity to have closure from burying their dead.
I haven’t been brave enough to go in the midst of lost hope to give love, because what I’d give wouldn’t be a smile of hope, but a forlorn look of despair and maybe guilt, that I get to come there by choice, I get to wear my own clothes and eat properly prepared meals and leave them in an aced car to a well made bed and at least the comfort of a fan in this heat, when the little some of them had, all of it has been snatched away… just like that, burnt.
I don’t have the heart. Yes I am a coward.
I’m not strong enough to take it in first hand, because it crushes me, even from the filtered information I get from my mum.

This particular camp is made up of those who escaped through the river.
They ran as their homes were set ablaze and witnessed indiscriminate killings of their fathers, sisters, uncles and children, that they couldn’t stop to mourn or hold on to for just a little while longer to their dying bodies. They were pursued and shot at as they fled. Many died right in the heart of an escape to life, but not to living just yet.
As they paddled away in canoes, they were shot at.
One of the ladies lost her husband just as they were about letting out their held breath in relieve at their narrow escape… right on the brink of a second chance, he was snatched from her and her children. What’s a new beginning going to be like for her?
One of the ladies was brought out of camp to be with my family, she’ll be earning some money for the upkeep of her kids.
Her story? While they hid out before they fled… she, her mum and her four kids had nothing to drink for four days, nothing! When they eventually got to the camp, her eight-month-old son died of dehydration. He escaped the machetes and guns of the marauders, but he couldn’t escape the thirst of the body.
There’s such a deep sorrow in her quiet composure, like you could drown in all the unshed tears within her soul. Her husband, one of the brave men who chose to stay behind to defend what they could of their home, their heritage… Did he survive? Or is he still alive and plagued daily with the uncertainty of a crude death and an unmarked grave?

What do the Fulani herdsmen want? There are theories… fingers are being pointed, but sometimes we have to move away from the genesis of an issue and get an exodus from it for a resolved tomorrow. What’s the solution now that it’s happening?
When has the life of a cow mattered more than a human life? When has the life of a cow become worth this indecency to humanity?
Why are we suddenly been stirred to barbaric responses in the era of civilization?
Why is war, rumors of war and crisis becoming a normalcy in our daily lives?
What’s the solution to this?
What’s the beef? And who’s responsible for burying the hatchet and brokering a long lasting truce?
So many questions, but would the answers bring about the peace we’re in search of?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Inexhaustible... The Life Wardrobe Staple

We buy really expensive things and begin the fine art of saving them! Using them only on special, super special occasions. (Who defines what’s special and what’s not? Like the wedding of your best friend even though it’s low key is special and worth that super exclusive dress, but we shelve it and wear it for that celebrity wedding where we know no one, and just managed to squeeze an invite from the printer, so what makes it special? Well, that’s by the way.)

When it comes to bags and shoes, the higher the price, the lesser the use.
Does it make sense? I buy a pair of shoes from Primark and I use it more than, say a pair of Jimmy Choos (No I don’t own a pair of Choos just yet). When obviously the Primark is of a lower quality and would wear out faster from daily use than a Jimmy Choo used as often. I have the humblest collection of designer bags… a very humble collection, and in this collection I have two Louis Vuitton bags. I have worn the life out of the poor darlings; I mean I paid so much for it so why not use them as often as I want to? Rain, sunshine, snow, headrest and travel companion… I have cheaper bags, but they have come and gone after a few good use but the durability of the Vuitton proves itself. (I have a whole chapter on the beauty of Louis Vuitton in my book. You should check it out. Here)

My sister got a pair Vivienne Westwood shoes I loved, and I went back to the shop soon after to get my pair some years ago. I saw her wear hers recently and I was shocked to see that it looked as good as new…. Mine has been worn out. It’s got scratches on it etc. well, it probably helps that she’s got loads of shoes she’s never used or barely uses and I on the other hand have just a handful of shoes that I use ALL the time. The shoes I spend good money on are worn regularly… I mean it’s expensive so it ought to be durable and usable right?
I’m so over keeping certain things away…. If I’ve got a chance to wear, then wear I would. Every occasion is special, so milk it and look fabulous doing it.

The most expensive pair of shoes in my wardrobe are a pair of Louboutins, I didn’t pay for it, it was a gift from my brother. I couldn’t afford to splurge that much on shoes, I can for a bag though :). My point here is that it was free, and I rock the life out of it. God’s grace is the most expensive possession we have in our wardrobe of life. You may be thinking, but I can’t afford it, I’m a sinner… well, that’s the thing, we can’t afford this precious, valuable thing, that’s why it’s given to us as a gift. God loved us so much, that He sent Christ to die for us and He clothed our filthy selves with His perfect cloak of love and grace. Freely He’s given it to us. So, freely, lets enjoy it. You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich”2 Corinthians 8:9 We cannot exhaust it or wear it out by regular usage. It’s as durable as they come, just like my Vuitton bags have served me in all weathers, grace is ready to serve us diligently in every season.It's inexhaustible.

We can’t have such an expensive item for our use, given for free and hide it away to use on just special occasions while we run around in our cheap shoes, what are we saving the grace for? For finding a wife and husband? We can use it for mundane stuff as deciding between chicken and beef for lunch. It’s not just for when we need favor at interviews or when applying for contracts, it’s for when we want the pimples gone, when we want to look fab in that dress, when the hairline is receding, when we want to lose that weight and when we want to stop being pathological liars and cheats.
We hold on to the law like our less expensive items in our wardrobes and use it everyday (helping ourselves, relying on our cheap selves. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands....Romans 3:20), till the special occasion where we bring out grace from it’s well preserved storage to do one or two things for us.

We can never exhaust this grace, what are you saving it for? We weren’t made to toil the earth…. When you drop grace aside, you toil. We were meant to work in grace, pursue our dreams and purpose in grace, enjoy our marriage in grace, in that way we don’t labor in vain to achieve. Who are we saving it for? Does it make the price Christ paid/the suffering on the cross less painful on Him when we don’t use it always? He’s not worried that like a child who’s given a mobile phone to play with will wreck it, that you will wreck this grace, that’s not for you to worry about. You may eventually wear out your Jimmy choo, or Louboutins or Vivienne Westwood shoes like I did from regular usage, but you can never wear out Gods endless grace. 
Use it daily boo.
Be beautiful everyday. Look good everyday, wear your best everyday even when it’s just a regular day. Who says you shouldn’t use that expensive shoe/jewelry/bag/hair because you laidback today? Who says you shouldn’t bring out that pair of shoe for a night out with your friends where there’s no chance of a photo op for a magazine or instagram to show off? Who says everyday, every outing isn’t a special occasion to shine in grace? Gods grace is sufficient for you in all conditions. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Like the music minister Chris Morgan sings “Daily as I live, as often as I breathe may my whole life be expressions of your grace….” May our WHOLE life be expressions of His grace, not just a tiny bit, or an occasional bit, but the whole of it, from our waking to our going to bed each day.
My life is an expression of His grace... from the rising of the sun to it's setting, I'm dependent on this grace.

"Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try and find something or someone that it cannot cover. Grace is enough." Brennan Manning


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