Experiencing His Provision

John 21:3-6 (CEV)
Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing!” The others said, “We will go with you.” They went out in their boat. But they didn’t catch a thing that night. Early the next morning Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize who he was. Jesus shouted, “Friends, have you caught anything?” “No!” they answered. So he told them, “Let your net down on the right side of your boat, and you will catch some fish.” They did, and the net was so full of fish that they could not drag it up into the boat.

I am coming to realize that faith is not a fairy tale. It is a conscious effort. It is hard work. It is resistance against pressures and demands. But eventually it is the precursor of victory and fulfillment. Scripture says that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. I used to believe this in my head, but now I am learning to believe it with my life.

I was thinking about my new apartment. See, I cannot shout about it enough. I will really try to get a digital camera so that I can show you a picture of the apartment I used to stay in and where I now reside. Bishop Jakes said once that you can never appreciate my success if you do not understand my struggles. I totally agree.

My pastor announced 2008 as the year of fulfillment for us in the Christ Embassy ministry. And God spoke to me personally some things in line with this prophecy, one of which was that in this year 2008 I had come into the experience of His provision. This was sometime in January, and then I had actually moved out of my former apartment and was practically living in the office. Fast forward a few weeks and I had moved into a new apartment that was like 10 times bigger than the previous – without paying a single dime.

The thing I want to shout about today is the “jara” of God. See, there is something in the Nigerian culture when it comes to shopping in the open market. After striking a bargain with the marketer, you try to cajole him/her into adding a generous amount of extra. I believe it is something like what the bible describes as “pressed down, shaking together and running over”. It is the kind of experience you want to have when you go to purchase food items like rice, beans or garri. The local name for it is “jara”.

So I am thinking of God’s “jara” today. When I was looking for an apartment, I found one myself that I really would have loved to take, but as it turned out God had something better, which initially, I wasn’t so keen on. (why is it that we always think God is out to spoil our fun?). Now if I had taken the first apartment I saw, I would have probably had to deal with erratic power supply. In my present apartment, my neighbors bought a big generator that also powers my place. So I don’t have to worry about black-out. Even though I have my own generator which my office gave me for my birthday, I don’t have to use it and that saves me fuel money.

Plus I now have access to a car. My neighbor has a car. She doesn’t drive. And since we all work in the same place(church) my flatmate drives them to church, so she gives me access to drive her car. I now have a chance to improve my driving since God promised me a house and a car, when I did like Abraham and left all for a strange land. (I see my brand new car!)

I know it may sound petty to some, but God also told me to recognize the small fulfillments because they will make room for the bigger ones. Indeed God don’t just bless his kids, he gives them “jara” too.

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Finishing First.

You know, in being a Christian, especially for me as a church staff, some days are just so hard to get through. I have promises and prophecies from God about what I am doing with my life, but some days it just feels like those words are fairy tales, and that God is nowhere on the scene. I don’t know if anyone else but me has these days, but every now and then I wake up feeling like this. And recently, I have had these days more often than I would like.

This is what makes the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life such a beautiful thing. Ever since my pothole moments, I have been trying to rehearse my romance like I said I would. No, it hasn’t been a pie in the sky. It has been an uphill climb. I do make a more conscious effort now to read the Word, and pray, and bond with the Holy Spirit. There isn’t yet the ease and flow of a veteran, but there has been some progress. For example, in this month of May, so far I have heard God speak to me twice, besides the now and then unconscious leading of the Holy Spirit of course. See, like David said, I am led of Him even when I am unaware of Him.

Psalm 139:7-12(CEV) Where could I go to escape from your Spirit or from your sight? If I were to climb up to the highest heavens, you would be there. If I were to dig down to the world of the dead you would also be there. Suppose I had wings like the dawning day and flew across the ocean. Even then your powerful arm would guide and protect me. Or suppose I said, “I’ll hide in the dark until night comes to cover me over.” But you see in the dark because daylight and dark are all the same to you.

My pothole moments was not an absence of His presence; it was the withdrawal of my affection. One thing I remember now is a scripture I got some revelation on a while back. Somewhere in Jude,i think, scripture talks about keeping ourselves in the love of God. See, His love is a constant; like Paul said nothing can separate us from His love. Notice that the variable is us, not His love. And this is irrespective of our devotion or denial. But I digress.

So in this month of May, unlike the usual daily affair, twice I have penned words from the Spirit, and on May 22nd, one of those “God-is-not-on-the-scene” days, he spoke a word to me so precise, so comforting and so reassuring that it was like falling in love for the very first time. And that word is what I want to share today.

May 22, 2008
Trust me completely. I know the pressure you face and I am not insensitive to your pain. But if you stay in step with me, you will outrun the best of your mates in the same way that Elijah outran the best of Ahab’s chariot. See, your life is not by natural process; it is on a supernatural course. Indeed, you are going to get a whole lot more out of all of this. Simply stay in step with me. In spite of the distractions and the demands. You will outrun all of them. 1 kings 18v46 is your new marching orders; live on it.

Simple words spoken by the Spirit. But like scripture says, those who find them find life. For me, these words have been like medicine to my flesh, and no, it has not put me on cloud nine, because obviously it talks about death to my desires, but it offers a rewarding joy.

1Ki 18:46 (NET) Now the LORD energized Elijah with power; he tucked his robe into his belt and ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

I am making camp on this scripture for a while. God said it is my new marching orders. I believe it is a continuation of my first marching orders. But there is something so striking about this verse that just causes a bubble in my spirit. Anyone close to me knows how much of a struggle it is for me to be doing what I believe God called me to do, because it is costing much more than I planned to pay. But right here, God is letting me know, and you, whoever you are walking this same road, that it don’t matter how best and fast your contemporaries travel or scale up the success ladder. It don’t matter if they seem to have a head start over you. If you stick on the mountain top with God like Elijah; if you stay in step with God on the path He has called you to walk, no matter how winding and torturous it may be, eventually there will be an anointing over your life that will cause you to outrun the best of your contemporaries.

Sometimes, it’s not about starting first. It’s about finishing first.

Living on God’s Foolishness

(John 2:1-10 CEV)
Three days later Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at a wedding feast in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited and were there. When the wine was all gone, Mary said to Jesus, “They don’t have any more wine.” Jesus replied, “Mother, my time hasn’t yet come! You must not tell me what to do.” Mary then said to the servants, “Do whatever Jesus tells you to do.” At the feast there were six stone water jars that were used by the people for washing themselves in the way that their religion said they must. Each jar held about twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants to fill them to the top with water. Then after the jars had been filled, he said, “Now take some water and give it to the man in charge of the feast.” The servants did as Jesus told them, and the man in charge drank some of the water that had now turned into wine. He did not know where the wine had come from, but the servants did. He called the bridegroom over and said, “The best wine is always served first. Then after the guests have had plenty, the other wine is served. But you have kept the best until last!”

I was reading this portion of the bible recently and I realized a parallel with my life. The amazing thing that struck me about this story was the source of the water turned wine. The scriptures describe it as water used for washing body parts. Now I think I have an idea what this is like.

I schooled up north which is predominantly an Islamic region, and observed that many of the Muslim students had a habit of keeping a small kettle with water which they used in washing their hands, feet, face and other body parts before they either went to their prayer meetings or engaged in some other activities. Now, I assume that this kettle was used only for this particular task and was probably not used for any feeding activities. But, here was Jesus, in essence asking these stewards to serve wash-water at a wedding party.

I try to imagine myself as one of the stewards, and the thoughts that would be running through my mind. This was a most foolish thing to do, besides the direness of the situation at hand. What was needed was an intelligent attempt at averting this disaster, not some delusional stranger handing out unrequested and paranoid counsel. But they had their orders, and had to obey. I imagine the trepidation of the steward that presented the glass of wash-water to the wedding planner. I imagine his amazement when instead of spluttering and expletives, delight and praise followed an obviously foolish action.

Many times in my life, I feel like God is foolish. Besides the fact that everyone I know, including family, is asking me what the heck I am doing with my life, working in church where I barely make minimum wage and find myself with too much month at the end of my money, many of the expectations I had seem like they are a long shot. I mean, sometimes, I wonder if I really heard God right that night I spent in the hotel room after my final exams asking God for directions for my future. I wonder if all the things I had written down in my little book during my moments of meditation were mere fantasy, and not the voice of God. I wonder if choosing church work over my mother, family and desire for “the American dream”, is indeed a wise move. I think about many of my mates, all of whom earn so much more than I do, and live more comfortable lives than myself, and wonder if I have not made a foolish mistake.

But in spite of the obvious gray sky hanging overhead, I can’t ignore the landmarks of God’s grace and favor in my life. When I left home to come work in church, one of the things God spoke to me was that he had made provisions for my house and my car. But as I got on the bus and headed for Lagos, I had no idea where I would be staying. Yet two weeks after I got into Lagos, I got my very own apartment. And two years later, I moved into a better apartment. The thing is that I could not afford any of these places, and I always feared an eviction, but both times God paid my rent. I refuse to see this as mere coincidence. It’s funny, and perhaps foolish to think that I can get a car when I can\t even afford rent money. But hey, it was what I heard, and if God could come through for my accommodation, am sure he can also come through for my car.

I am slowly beginning to see the point, though. I think God is trying to let me know that it’s not up to me anymore. I want to be like the rest of my friends who have good jobs, work hard, make good money and pay their bills. But it seems like God is trying to get me to see that He wants to take the work out of my success; he wants to be responsible for my welfare; he wants to pay my bills. It should be a good feeling, except that it takes control out of my hands, and that is something I am not yet comfortable with. You know how it is when you want to be able to tell the boundary of your days and know what to expect and make plans? I feel like a spectator watching my life careen and unable to do anything about it. I feel like the steward carrying wash-hand water in a critical and urgent moment. I mean, these are the better years of my life. Most companies don’t hire anyone past the 28 mark, which for me is just a few months away.

The other day my cousin called me about being disallowed to write her part-time exams because she had not completed her school fees, and there was nothing I could do about it because both my bank accounts were empty. My mother lives each day like the widow Elijah rescued during famine – day by day. I have every reason to throw towel and admit that I made a mistake and I have wasted a good number of my years. So did that steward at the wedding party. I mean he could resign honorably, than bump his chances for a good recommendation at the word on an unknown deluded magician-wannabe.

But since I know the end of the story, it is hard for me to just walk away. I have more than enough witnesses that God’s foolishness, apparently, pays off – and big time too. Noah. Abraham. Joseph. Moses. Esther. Jesus. So no matter how winding the road gets, living on God’s foolishness is a wise move to make.

Quirk! Who me?

Tagged by Rinsola. Am posting this in a hurry, so i can’t do the rules right now.

1. Most times, I put the toilet seat down.(ladies, am still single…)
2. In all of my 27 years, I have only had 2 pairs of suits, of which I have only worn one, once.
3. When I was going to the university, my mom made me a step by step list of how to make soup so I could eat eba. I think I could still make use of that list.
4. I am very selective about eating meat, fish, chicken etc anywhere. If it’s too big, or it rubs me the wrong way, I’d rather eat the food and pass on the meat, fish or chicken. As a result, most people who know me are always on standby to receive my meat, fish or chicken.
5. I have never played PS games. Never been in a physical fight with anyone.
6. When I was about 12 or 13, I wrote a chapter in one of my books detailing explicit sexual actions of one of my characters. And I let my mom and dad read it.
7. You know the stretch of skin between your thumb and index finger? When I was much younger, I liked to play with it; see how far I could stretch it and fantasize about running a blaze across it….lol….there was something about the pain that was sweet. I used to do the same thing for my Achilles tendon. There was a sweetness about the pain that came from trying to crush it… I am so glad I wasn’t paranoid enough.

Grow Up Already!

I was going to put up somethin else but this one makes a good laugh!

From the Desk Of:
Prof Charles C. SoludoGovernor (CBN)
IMMEDIATE PAYMENT
REF: CBN/IRD/CBX/021/08
http://mail.yahoo.com/config/login?/ym/Compose?To=info_stbbank@financier.com ludo_profff@hotmail.com

Attention:

Attention; Dear Praiseworthy contractor,

YOUR IMMEDIATE CONTRACT PAYMENT.

We Apologies, for the delay of your payment and all the Inconveniences and Inflict that we might have indulge you through. However, we were having some minor problems with our payment system, which is Inexplicable, and have held us stranded and Indolent, not having the Aspiration to devote our 100% Assiduity in accrediting foreign contract payments.

From the Records of outstanding contractors due for payment with the federal government of Nigeria, your name and company was discovered as next on the list of the outstanding contractors who have not yet received their payments.

I wish to inform you now that the square peg is now in square whole and can be voguish for that your payment is being processed and will be released to you as soon as you respond to this letter. Also note that from my record in my file your outstanding contract payment is
USD$10.500,000.00(Ten Million Five Hundred Thousand United States dollars).

Kindly re-confirm to me the followings:
Your Full Name: _____________________________
Your Complete Address:_______________________
Name of City of Residence:_____________________
Country:____________________________________
Direct Telephone Number:______________________
Mobile Number:______________________________
AGE :_______________________________________
Fax Number:__________________________________
Occupation: __________________________________
Scan Copy of Identity_________________________

As soon as this information is received, your payment will be made to you by the Diplomatic Agency or Wired Transfer into your nominated bank account directly from central bank of Nigeria.

Prof. Charles C. Soludo.
Executive Governor Central
Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

Something to Shout About

I feel like I have a billion words in my head all struggling for a chance to be blogged. I will try to put them down one after the other. My blog frequency has reduced drastically. I think it is because my life has been on the fast lane lately, and all I seem to have time for is looking through the front window. But life is a journey, and I know God wants me to enjoy this journey. The prize is not only at the finish line; like a computer game you can pick up trophies along the way. I want to be able to stop and smell the roses every now and then. Even though I may be in the middle of a storm, I want to be able to throw my head back and laugh as the rain pelts my face.

While I was on vacation, God gave me something to shout about. Before you continue, you need to read THIS first. I was thinking of how to write this out in a way that would explain it right, and make some sense. Then it hit me. It doesn’t have to make sense. That’s why He is God and we are human.

So after resigning myself to the very likely chance of getting kicked out of my new apartment (I had moved in without paying a dime for about three months) as there was no way I could raise some 200,000 Naira to pay my 2 year rent, I got a call from my flatmate. And his message was simple. PYK had paid my rent.

Now it’s hard to really paint a picture of how all of this is nothing but a miracle because there are some details I cannot share on here, but PYK is my boss and the same person who denied my loan application in the first place for certain reasons. It also happens that this same PYK happened to just lease an apartment for her siblings at the particular time I was also looking for an apartment. It also happens that my colleague/flatmate decided at this particular time that he needed to move out of his family house and get his own apartment. It also happens that PYK’s siblings didn’t have enough people to occupy the 5-room duplex and 3-room boys-quarter. It also happens that the house agent who had showed me an apartment was calling me up to pay up and since I didn’t have any money presently I switched off my phone. And so one event led to another and to another. Totally unrelated and unexpected events all working together behind the scenes.

Anyways, long story short, the same person who denied my loan application is the same person who leased and paid for the house I am presently staying in. Something tells me God was secretly smiling as He weaved together the random events and circumstances that led to this very unlikely arrangement. I still have to pay back the rent, but now I can do it at my convenience. That is truly one burden off my chest, and a brick wall out of the way.

Father, thank you for the miracle. And thanks to all you guys who assured me God would come through. For anyone believing God for a miracle, keep looking out for it, because if the brick wall doesn’t come down, you can simply walk through it. So now, I am no longer thinking of raising rent money. I am thinking of how to furnish my spacious bedroom and living room with more than a single mattress. For someone who used to live in a leaky-roof cubicle-quarters(my first miracle apartment), I am certainly moving up.