Your Word is light – a reflection

In the wake of all that’s happening in our world today, it’s very easy to forget that there is #hope.

God loves and longs for all people — white, black, male, female, young, old, and the diverse in-betweens.

In his heart is love.
In his way is life.
And in his word is light.

For those who believe, do not forget that there is #truth and #justice and #mercy and #healing in God’s word.

Maybe if we immerse ourselves in the person of Jesus Christ through His word, our hearts will be flooded with light and we will gain wisdom to be the hands and feet and voices of healing and justice our world desperately needs today.

“YOUR WORD IS LIGHT” is a self-reminder of the power in God’s word.

USEFUL LINKS

StoryVox Podcast
The Curious Case of Doctor Maundy

A Miracle in the Valley

IT WAS FIRST SILENCE. Deadly silence.

He could almost hear a pin drop.
From the cliff where he stood, he saw that the valley stretched before him was a white carpet. With brown patches. As he descended the hill on the wings of the Spirit, he saw the carpet take a three-dimensional form. With contours.

White carpet? Hardly.

White carpet – bones, thousands of them. Brown patches – sand.

He didn’t believe his eyes! Shapes like skulls, breast bones, fists and — what the…

He stepped down into the valley and was at eye level with the bones. Frowning skulls, clenched fists, flexed thigh bones across broken hip sockets. They all seemed poised to action, but without a flesh. They were disjointed.

Dry. And. Very dead.

He went round them and thought he was seeing faces. Depressed, downcast ones. Wishing they had won the battle that brought them down in this valley. He was probably unborn when the war was fought and ten years old when the bald vultures got tired of meat.

His face squeezed in a grimace as desperation rushed through his veins. The gory sight made him queasy.

Dry bones in the valley of death.

But before he got overwhelmed with sadness, the master GOD tapped his shoulder and said, “Son of Man, can these bones live?”

Live? Dry bones. How long does it take a human being to decompose to dry bones – ten years, twenty? He could have looked it up on Google.

If souls do travel by foot after death, theirs would have reached their destination long ago. Now to call them back?

I don’t know, he thought. But he knew better than to voice his doubts. So he said, “Master GOD, only you know that.”

Yes. This was the Master GOD, not mere man. This was the One who made a walled highway on the Red sea by the wand of a cane walking stick. This was One who made dresses that grew through the years so His people did not need to swap dresses. It was Him who rained manna from heaven for food. Same God who scolded His people and drew them back to Himself.

Only You know that. Only You can know that.

What is death?

Hopes lost. Dreams dashed. Heightened expectations crushed.
Being dead is like being in sin, being alienated from God and condemned to the harsh consequences of iniquity.

Death is what happens to a substance addict who isn’t himself when there is no fix. His sanity and sobriety are dead. His joy is late. He ravages mummy’s drawers, steals her trinkets or dad’s suit pocket for cash so he can fix himself up. Or else –

A dead guy is like a victim of a bad habit like a furious temper. No one knows when he will let rip so everyone plays safe around him. Don’t annoy him or he becomes a big red machine -energetic on the outside but he feels dead within. Self-control, love is dead.

When you set out to execute the bright ideas that pop up in your consciousness, you always meet a dead-end. No matter how hard you try to study for a test, you still flunk it. When you manage to keep your head above the water in school, but you know you won’t stay afloat for long, that’s dead-ness.

Or those bright ideas are limited by a debilitating physical illness. You can’t help but feel dead and wimpy.

Do you see yourself like the colt tied to the stakes? It has never been used. It has potentials, but still tied. Maybe his owners felt he’s still too small, or has a weakness they do not want to risk exposing.

Like dad and mum does to you – you’re still too small. You stammer or can’t speak your bright ideas in front of a crowd. Potentiated but restricted –more or less dead.

Or you have a fear of failure that makes you fail the test in your mind before even writing it. You’re already dead before you start living.

Dead. Dead. Dead.

If it takes years for human bones to decay, it means you’ve had this problem for long.

So Master GOD spoke again: Speak my words to these bones.

Ezekiel did speak and there was a rustling sound. The bones began to shake and come together. At first it was bone to bone, then muscles, subcutaneous tissue, ligaments, tendons, skin and hair began to form on the bones. Before He knew it, complete humans were fashioned.

Then He prophesied to the wind – which promptly responded and gave them the breath of life. They lived and became an exceeding great army. The dry bones became an exceeding great army. Once again. And for the rest of the day, he walked around dazed because he had seen a miracle.

Yes, what you need is His Word, the very one that created the beautiful universe. The very One that came down, lived among us and saved us – you need Jesus Christ. The very one that is ready to make you alive again.

Ezekiel saw a miracle. Do you want to see one?

Then come to the source of the God kind of life. Jesus awaits you at the well. His words are spirit-words; it gives Life to dead things.

He says:
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Will you come to the valley?

God raised Jesus from the dead, and if God’s Spirit is living in you, he will also give life to your bodies that die. God is the One who raised Christ from the dead, and he will give life through his Spirit that lives in you.
Romans 8:11 NCV

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A Miracle in the Valley is a tiny part of the first draft of an upcoming anthology set to release in 2021. Watch out for more details soon.

This article was written in 2012. References: Ezekiel 37, Matthew 11:28-30, John 6:63. Article initially inspired by “Spirit Wind,” a song by Casting Crowns

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USEFUL LINKS

StoryVox Podcast
The Curious Case of Doctor Maundy

No room!

Many years ago, a group of scientists thought about all the advancements in technology, medicine and science man has made, and concluded that they do not need God, so God challenged them to a man-making contest. As one of the scientists bent down to pick a handful of dirt to mold, God said, “Oh, no. You’ve got to make your own sand!”

This paraphrase from an Our Daily Bread Devotional titled, “We don’t need you” was my earliest exposure to man’s efforts to get God out of the reality of human life.

From then on, I have seen the secular society, which the Bible called “world system” gradually push God out of the Public scene. Age-old monuments are taken down, the Bible, Christian Moral instruction and Prayer is outlawed in public schools, and in extreme cases, the practice of Christianity is a criminal offence in some countries.

Well, I didn’t know what it meant to take God out of schools until yesterday.

After family prayer time, meals and pictures, my younger cousin, who plays the Baritone for His Middle school band decided to treat us to a game. He would play melodies from popular songs and eachperson that got it would get a price – a candy.

We all braced up for the occasion and he started with “Mary had a little lamb.” Someone got it. After two rounds, he got to play a melody that sounded like the popular school song.

It was actually the song:

I love Jesus, I love Jesus,

He’s my friend, He’s my friend.

He will never leave me, He will never leave me,

He’s my friend.

My aunt and I sang the lyrics out and thought we would get a candy.

“NO!” He said.

Then, He told us what song it was. And I couldn’t believe my ears. I later learnt that the public system somehow adjusts songs or take out ones that had something to do with religion.

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WOW! On Christmas, I learnt a tragic truth – there’s still no room for Jesus!  And I remembered the statement, “There was no room in the inn.”

Jesus is no longer the cute little baby for whom there was no space in the inn. He is no longer the young man who had no place to lay his head. He is the God who is being pushed out of public places, and the savior who has no space in people’s heart.

Jesus is being replaced by Santa, Elves, Reindeers, Mistletoe – things that have little to do with the central message of Christ’s birth.

Yet, in this increasingly hostile world, I hear some people question whether it’s important to celebrate Christmas. They are beginning to dig up bony contentions about the date, the pagan tradition associated with it in times past.

Right now, I don’t care whether Jesus was born on December 25, January 7 or sometime in April. Fact is, Christmas is not about the date. It’s about Jesus. And Jesus was born, lived, died for my sins and rose up to give me new life.

In this present world, where we have fewer opportunities to discuss Christ with family and friends, and teach offspring the way of God, we must not let Christmas, as well as other Christian traditions slip by.

I remember God telling the Israelites: tell your children about this Passover.

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I know that it’s not that they should keep meaningless traditions and go empty headed, but that they may remember God who always saved their fathers from enemies and continue to serve Him.

We celebrate Christ daily, but I don’t think it’s bad to specially celebrate His birthday. Just like we celebrate life everyday, but we carve out special preparation for our birthdays, weddings, convocation, anniversaries…

So, I encourage you, Celebrate Christmas BIG! And use the opportunity to tell your friends, family, especially the digital natives – the KIDS, teenagers and youth- about the values of Christmas. We can use Christmas, Easter as well as other seasons of the Christian calendar as faith building points and milestones in their lives. Give then meaningful presents and start healthy conversations.

Let them know about the greatest gift – Jesus – who perfectly expresses the loving personality of God and who meets the specific need of every man.

Certainly, Jesus, like everyone else, doesn’t want to be left out of his birthday.

If we don’t guard our Christmas, they will take it away from us, and the younger generation will suffer for it. It’s not too late to do Christmas again. Give. Share the love of Jesus, and let them know what this means to their lives.

Christmas is not a mere Christian tradition. It is the birthday of Christ, the savior of the whole wide world.

Share my burden with friends and celebrate!

Cheers!

Toluwanimi

Open Up!

We wanted to take our bath that Saturday morning but it felt awkward having to take our baths together. As we stared at ourselves in the ceramic bathtub, the unspoken words between my cousin and I were loud and clear.

No one wanted to remove his pants first.

Just about turning thirteen at that time, we were two young boys crazy about the new crop of pubic hair just beginning to sprout. It was private matter, not ‘public’ hair.

But my aunty didn’t understand that. She just prepared warm water in a single pail and closed the door behind her. She didn’t know that these boys were no longer small boys – thirteen years wasn’t a joke.

“What are they covering, let them bath together.” She must have thought.

Minutes passed and no one moved.

Finally, we reached a compromise: we agreed to pull down our pants at the same time – at the count of three.

One. Two. Three.

Down the covering went and I guess we must have giggled in the process. But, I can remember it wasn’t so embarrassing after all… we didn’t feel exposed. We were boys.

I think of this when I remember Jesus telling us to “Open up to Me.”

Well, not literarily, but what of when Jesus says “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly”? [Matt 11:28-30]

It sounds to me like “Come to me and open up. I will not despise you. I will help you.”

When Jesus says come with me, he means open yourself to me. Let me help you.

There’s a high chance that you are like me: I had a crop of pubic hair to cover. You have dark pasts and present personal struggles, so bad that it’s shameful to speak of it in the open.

Opening up may sound like exposure. But it’s not shameful afterall. He knows our thoughts, our secrets and shameful details our lives. Those acts we would rather cover up.

But he wants to take these details upon himself and liberate us. God who knows the end from the beginning isn’t myopic in perspective. He chooses to see what He wants to make us and then works in us to get us there.

He will take us from where we are and help us work our way up. At the end of yourself is the beginning of God’s grace [Phil 2:13]

Surprisingly, it’s not shame you feel when you open up. Rather he wraps us with mercy and love and teaches us the way to go. Ps 32:8

Open up and be helped.

Young girl reaching for airborne bubbles

Have a wonderful week,

Toluwanimi

Let me box you

Boxing Day – everyone knows it’s a day after Christmas. But what does it mean? I’m sure I will be right if I say that you do not know what the day represents. Don’t feel bad [many people do not know].

Boxing Day isn’t about throwing fists at each other but boxing gifts for each other. Today reminds us of the importance of giving. It tells us to box good things and give. Let me box you a gift: that’s what it means.

Romans 8:32 – He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

The first giver was God. He still is. He gave Christ and all other things we need every day – freely and abundantly. He gives us our breath, the beautiful sun, flowers; the intelligence man boasts of, beauty we go crazy about, the opportunity to know Him personally and the Spirit that empowers us to do exploit.  He gives us talents too!

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While the devil gives us small costly things, Jesus freely gives big things. This should remind us to share the greatest gift, Christ Jesus, with others as we have received, through our words, deeds and life.

Matthew 10:8- Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

But you know, God freely gives us so we can freely give too. His grace is not to be hoarded but to be distributed to profit everybody – to draw people to the Kingdom and to strengthen those in it already. Doing less is falling short of His expectations.

Mat 5:14-16 – Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Everywhere we go, we should remember that we can give too. The world is dark. Evil prevails and permeates everywhere. But Christ came to give light. He has released it to those who believe and he expects us to give light to others. We are lights of the world – we should give our lights to illuminate dark places.

1 Corinthians 2:12 – Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

So now, many people do not know they have been given all they need to liv a godly and abundant life. They suffer in the midst of plenty. Once you connect to Christ by believing on Him and accepting Him, eternal life and a lifetime of blessing was credited to your account.

It is your duty to get to the depth of knowledge and mine the riches. Then give freely!

Cheers,

Toluwanimi

GOOD DEEDS [Action Point Page]

Can good deeds make you acceptable to God?

You can’t assess how good a man is by his good deeds because you don’t know the motive behind those actions. A woman may seem so pleasant and nice to her step-daughter and make every one think she’s a good person until she decides it’s time to poison the little girl’s food – then truth is revealed that it’s all a façade.

Or how do you balance the bad things people do with the great ones? Will philanthropy cancel out murder? Will you advice a father, whose only daughter was killed by a careless drunk, against pursuing charges because this same driver has also assisted his brother [and many others] in getting a job?

Do you say but murder is a great thing! Okay, which is weightier: generosity vs corruption? Marital infidelity vs Gentleness?

We would have a twisted justice system if we operated like that.

If we would not operate our justice system like this, why do we expect God to do less? We want to come to God presenting our medals of honour – the great things – thinking probably they will outweigh our terrible mess ups.

At times, we even brandish good motives as excuses for our bad actions… Isn’t that unfair?

Can good deeds cross out bad ones?

You see, it can’t because: Every man is inherently selfish and has no capacity to continue to do good in himself – he is weak. Jer 17:9, Gen 6:5

You can’t gain acceptance of God by doing good any more than a dirty cloth can wash itself. He would rate us all UNACCEPTABLE. Our good deeds will not get us anywhere! Eph 2:9

You need something or someone higher than you to help!

And as you would wash a dirty cloth yourself, God can make you clean [forgive your bad deeds] and also grant the ability to do good deeds always. He made the provision before you were born:

While we were yet in weakness [powerless to help ourselves], at the fitting time Christ died for (in behalf of) the ungodly. Rom 5:6 [AMPLIFIED]

He can save you by His grace [unmerited favour] when you believe in Him. This isn’t any more of your striving, but is the gift of God [paid by Christ’s blood]. It is not a result of good deeds so that no one would boast.

Through Jesus Christ, God can create you a new masterpiece – give you a new life that will be able to do good deeds which He prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Eph 2:8-10

Why not accept his offer – and take it all in today?

Toluwanimi

Want further discussion? The lines are open: Comment, or send me an email or call.

Call to Me

‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’  Jer. 33:3 (MSG)

This is a principle in the Bible.
God promises an answer to your prayers. He is known for doing that. It is clear here that He desires that you should call upon Him (seek His face in prayer) and then He will open your eyes to great and mighty things that you do not know.
Jeremiah did and God showed him – concerning the House of Israel, the cure and abundance of peace and truth He was about to bring.

This means to me that you can call on Him about your life and He can show you the things you do not know about it. The things you can’t possibly figure out yourself.

He is your father, who interprets the future, and tells things reserved in His heart, and which he purposed to do; and very rightly: He wants to show you so you can bring it to manifestation.

For the choices you are faced with that you do not know what would be the best for you, you can call upon Him. He can reveal unto you a message for your generation. He can guide your decisions and lead you aright in life.

Are you in a dilemma? Have you gathered your thoughts and are considering taking a step or you’re just plain confused? You can’t possibly figure it out on your own. He says call me and I will answer and show you!
For me, the Lord, I will call.

How about you?

Toluwanimi

A lesson from Peter

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Many Christians follow Christ but only from a distance.

Peter did.

Tonight, the Jews had arrested Jesus and were dragging Him to the high priest’s house. Peter followed Christ. Many people crowded Jesus and the soldiers, mocking and having fun and looking forward to another time of watching a criminal being crucified. It was easy to be a spectator, without any care in the world – the people did not know Christ personally – so they could dare to move closely without fear of the soldiers.

But not Peter. He knew Jesus, he was a follower of Him. Just this afternoon, they ate the last meal together. Last week, they still performed miracles. They cleansed and cleared the temple just some days ago. They were very bold then. But now, he knew anyone who associated with Christ in this dire moment was as good as dead. The other disciples fled, one other follower, when he was grabbed, left his linen overall and fleeing naked. They all feared for their lives. Their families and friends.

He probably loved Jesus, or wanted to get in on the action but not get into trouble. While he never wanted to be left out, he was careful for his own life. So he kept a distance – about 3 or 4 metres away.

Jesus had told them earlier “Tonight you will fall away. For when the shepherd is struck, the sheep will scatter.” He did not believe it then. He had beat his chest and said “Even if others fall away, I will not.” Now he did the exact opposite of his proclamation.

Do you deny Christ?

Jesus told peter: you will deny me – you will fall away!

And here we see Peter, following Christ from a distance. That was the first sign of denial that preceded his actual testimony in the High Priest’s courtyard: I do not know him.

Do you follow Christ from a distance? Are you taking your first steps into denial?

Peter calculated that the group advancing towards the High priest’s house would occupy about 3-4 metres. And Peter added about 3 metres more. So that gave him an allowance of 6-7 metres. Behind Jesus. Space away from Jesus. Chance to dash behind a stall if a soldier or anyone who can identify him with Jesus looks back. An advantage to run back if anyone takes up a chase.

I picture him stopping – when the mob approaches a bend – and waits behind a vegetable booth, till they round the corner. At that point, he loses sight of Jesus. Then he will run up to them, round the corner and wait again.

This he did at every twist and turn till they got to the Priest’s courtyard, where he established his denial with curses upon himself. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he blatantly lied.

That is the way it is when you follow Christ form a distance – you slow down and lose sight of Christ at every twist and turn. Your life becomes a mixture of pauses, stops and agitation all in fear of not wanting to stand with Christ in His reproach.

Peter had to catch up at every turn. Does this happen to you? Does your life have pauses and halts? Do you lose sight of your focus, purpose and direction at every turn of your life? At every decision point?

Is your Christian life a series of catching up and dropping back?

Maybe you’re following Christ from a distance.

You come to church but you don’t want to get involved in service. “It’s demanding,” you say. You are a Christian, but you don’t want your colleague at school or work to know. You love God and want to know more of him but your desire is not strong enough to push you to a place of consistent Bible study and prayer life.

You are following Christ from a distance. That is denial – and it is sin. Do not forget that though He leads you to the cross, it is a sure way to the glory.

Please catch up and stay with Jesus. 

Happy Easter,

Toluwanimi

Forgotten Treasures 2: Feeding Habit

Read your Bible

Pray every day

Pray every day

Pray every day

Read your Bible

Pray every day

If you want to grow.

 

We know this song.

We want to grow.

But we do not read our Bible or Pray everyday.

It doesn’t work that way.

We desire to grow strong and healthy bodies and we know that it is required that we eat a balanced and adequate diet in quantity and quality EVER DAY. (My friends quarrel with me when I don’t eat well!) We know that eating boosts immunity and protects us from many illnesses.

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But who fooled us into believing that we can manage Spiritual growth without daily feeding at the fountain of life. What makes us think we can get by this journey of faith without consistent prayers, study and meditation of God’s word in order to obey?

We take three (or more!) square meals a day, and frequent snacks here and there, but we take one or two cold spiritual snacks a week?

Spiritual growth doesn’t work that way.

Please, reconsider your options: Fix your feeding Habit or you break down pretty soon.

Supporting scripture:

Jos 1:8: Always remember what is written in the Book of the Teachings. Study it day and night to be sure to obey everything that is written there. If you do this, you will be wise and successful in everything.  (NCV)

Happy Sunday,

Toluwanimi

From Here to there: Birthday Thanksgiving

You thought me out, knew me uniquely, and formed me in my mother’s womb.

I imagine you setting a date for my conception and birth and there was no mistake about it. You predetermined my destination – Earth – and the country in which I will be born – that works perfectly in your plan.

You had it all in mind and you spoke me into being. You gave me a purpose to fulfill but I couldn’t grasp it yet. I had to grow.

I figured you smiled when I was weaned off my primitive reflexes and you helped me say my first word (I don’t know what it was), you helped me take my first steps in life and then when I was wise enough, led me to the faith, helping my toddler-steps firm on the rock: Christ.

I remember the start of the walk – the zeal and the ignorance all clashing against each other, and when I stumbled as a toddler in life and in the faith, how you held my hands and walked with me through the vale of the shadows of innocence, exuberance and unwise decisions. You still do, now many years later.

You made me discover confidence in the Word of Your grace and the power of Your Spirit.

I have walked some with a God that delights in picking up pieces of people from the miry clay and setting them up on the solid rock.

I have grown to know the God who has a bright and beautiful plan for His children.

I have a God who longs for relationship and communion and showers blessings upon diligent seekers.

I have known the One who spared not His son but gave Him to die for my sins. How much more won’t He freely release all things I need?

I have a living God- the God of peace who has been my help in ages past and my hope in years to come!

My love, my King, my Saviour, my Lord.

I don’t have all the answers, but I have THE answer, and it’s enough for me.

I figure I have not learnt all that there is – I believe there is more.

I have discovered that it is not he who runs swiftly, but him who finishes strong.

I know that He is taking me to that place he predestinated me to get to – conformity to the full stature of Christ.

I don’t have all I want in this world, my possessions are few, but I have all I need and I’m content with Him.

And he has blessed me with beautiful people, some of who are reading this piece right now. I love you.

I don’t know what my future holds, but I know Him who holds my future and He’s already here, working my way from here to there.

I know who I am – I am a son – a heir.

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And for all these and more, I give thanks this day!

Toluwanimi