Oh September!!!

Tired. That is how I feel after a 13 hours trip from the Granite City down south to the capital via some popular cities. It marked the end of my favourite month of the year – September.

While the trip provided me with an opportunity to strike off one of the items on my bucket list, September had its highs and lows. One of such low took me by surprise and ranks among the greatest surprises I have experienced. Now, I am usually not taken by surprise but I won’t bore you with the details.

Rather, I would share few lessons learnt from the last 30 days.

  • Be positive and work it out. There were times that the odds were against a positive result. By faith, I pulled through with my colleague on that project. The recommendations was a soothing relief to the work done.
  • Flee negativity. Don’t spend your time and consciousness about negativity. Just leave a negative conversation if you can’t turn it around. Don’t be baptised to it.
  • Respect All. Sometimes we look down on some persons either because we believe that we are more knowledgeable or wealthier or wiser or have better jobs than them. Don’t look down on anyone – even the garbage collector.
  • Flesh and blood will disappoint. Times come when our dependency on fellow beings fail woefully and the need to trust in the Lord is emphasized. Anyone can disappoint you but Jesus Christ won’t. When it happens, be cool.
  • Forgive. If we can’t forgive, we shouldn’t expect forgiveness from our father. Just let it go. Vengeance is of the Lord.
  • Apologize. A soft response turns away anger. An apology doesn’t necessary mean one is wrong or right. It is a first step to reconciliation. It opens up opportunities for further dialogue and proper understanding. Don’t cower in the “I can’t apologize for what I didn’t do wrong”. You never can tell.

There are so many others – be patient with people, avoid hasty conclusions, seek to hear people out completely, dialogue, be considerate, be happy, wear a smile, worry less, be selfless, make sacrifices, switch off. Yes, switch off. Go off the grid and catch your breathe.

Ok. That is enough for September. Hello October.

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Three Ways to Empower the Next Generation – Part 3

Link to Part 2

3. Teach

1 Kings 12:25-14:20

Unless we learn the lessons of history and ‘teach… the next generation’ (Psalm 78:5–6) they will repeat the mistakes of the past. The book of Kings records the history of the people of God so that the following generations may learn from them. Sadly, the lessons we can learn from this passage are mainly negative – the account of Jeroboam is a terrifying one. He passed on a terrible legacy to the next generation. ‘After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves’ (1 Kings 12:28). It is not enough to ‘seek advice’ if we consult the wrong people! These chapters contain the account of the sin of the house of Jeroboam that ‘led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth’ (13:34).

Jeroboam’s key sin was that he made up a form of religion and worship to suit himself. He encouraged idol worship rather than the worship of God (12:28). Jeroboam’s religion is a made-up religion, created to suit his own desires and needs. We may not worship golden calves, but the same danger is just as evident today. As Pope Francis has said, ‘The most dangerous idol is our own selves when we want to occupy the place of God.’ This was Jeroboam’s sin, and it affected the next generation. His son Abijah became ill and died (chapter 14). He ignored the good example of the earlier generation of David who had lived with an undivided heart, pleasing God. Instead he had ‘set a new record in works of evil’ (14:9, MSG).

Jeroboam may have had many military, commercial and political achievements (see v.19), and yet it seems these successes are fairly irrelevant. As Jesus said, ‘What good is it for you to gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul?’ (Mark 8:36). What matters most is a close relationship with the living God.

Lord, I pray that you will raise up leaders in industry, politics, creative arts, media and every sector of society, who will honour you and pass on your message and your standards to the next generation.

Pippa Adds

Psalm 78:4–6: ‘We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done… so that the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born.’
It is a challenge to pass on our faith to the next generation. I am so grateful to the children and youth workers at HTB. They have poured out their love on our children and the children of hundreds of others. Every year at Focus (our church holiday away), we have seen our children’s lives and many others transformed during the week. I am excited by what God is doing in the next generation. And the potential for ‘the children yet to be born’ is vast – I feel inspired to pray for them.

culled from Day 175 from my Bible In a Year App 2017

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Three Ways to Empower the Next Generation – Part 2

We’ve shared Part 1.

2. Train: Acts 16:1-15

Paul recognised he had a responsibility to train up others. He found Timothy – ‘a fine young man’ (vv.1–2, MSG). Timothy was discipled, trained and taught by Paul. Paul was a mentor to Timothy. They are a great example of what we all should be doing. Find a Paul from whom you can learn and find a Timothy to whom you can pass it on.

Bill Hybels has said that every major strategic step or decision he has made was inspired and encouraged by someone three feet away from him and not when he was in a crowd of a thousand people. While preaching can make a big impact, preachers often overestimate the amount of truth that is assimilated between the pulpit and the pew.

In his life, ‘Truth applied across a table’ has been a key to his own personal growth. This seems to have been the key for Timothy. It was through Paul that Timothy had become a Christian and they became very close friends. Paul was older than Timothy and he described their friendship as being like that of a father and son (Philippians 2:22).

Paul described Timothy as ‘my son whom I love’ (1 Corinthians 4:17). They went through a great deal together. ‘They travelled from town to town’ (Acts 16:4). They even spent time in prison together. During all this Timothy would have been watching Paul, and being trained up as his successor.

It is not enough to hope that the ‘Timothys’ are watching us. We must strategically position younger disciples to have significant opportunities to lead. Paul bestowed on Timothy real responsibility. He could trust him because he knew him so well. Paul involved Timothy in the work right from the start. They took decisions together (v.4). Through their ministry together, ‘Day after day the congregations became stronger in faith and larger in size’ (v.5, MSG).

Timothy learnt about the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When they tried to enter Bithynia, the Holy Spirit ‘blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either’ (vv.6–7, MSG). This is an important lesson in life. I can think of at least five occasions in my life where I have felt that I should go in a particular direction ‘but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow’ (v.7) the plan to succeed.

As I look back now, I am so thankful the Spirit stopped plans which, in hindsight, were clearly not the right ones. God then led Timothy and Paul in a new direction: ‘During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us”’ (v.9). Not surprisingly Paul took this as clear guidance that they were to go to Macedonia: ‘All the pieces had come together. We knew now for sure that God had called us to preach the good news to the Europeans’ (v.10, MSG).

In Philippi, Timothy would have watched Paul on the first Saturday that he was there, going down to the river where there were a group of women praying (v.13). As Paul spoke about Jesus, Lydia, a rich merchant woman, was converted. She invited Paul and those with him to come and stay in her home. It must have been an extraordinary and wonderful experience for them both to see how the ‘Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message’ (v.14).

The final letter attributed to Paul is 2 Timothy. To the very end of his life, Paul’s priority was encouraging and releasing the next generation. Let’s make it ours too!

Lord, help every ‘Paul’ to find ‘Timothys’ who they can train up. Help every ‘Timothy’ to find a mentor like Paul who will pass on all their experience to them.

…to be continued.

culled from Day 175 from my Bible In a Year App 2017.

Photocredit: TrainingITPG

Three Ways to Empower the Next Generation – Part 1

I am so grateful to Jonathan Fletcher. When I first encountered Jesus in 1974, Jonathan met with me for three hours every week for a year, and regularly thereafter until I left university. He became a great friend. He taught me the Christian faith. He explained to me how to read the Bible and how to pray. He recommended Christian books and answered my questions. Even though I had only just encountered Jesus myself, he encouraged me to lead others to faith in Jesus and to straight away pass on what I was learning.

After I left university, Sandy Millar did the same as Jonathan had done, in a different way. He showed me a model of how to live the Christian life, to which I still aspire. Ever since, there have always been people in my life from whom I am learning and others to whom I am trying to pass it on. As in a relay race, we have a responsibility to pass on the baton.

Psalm 78:1-8 1. Tell

You have a story to tell. Every family has stories. Every church has its own stories of what God has done. Every Christian has a story – a testimony. All of us have access to the great story of what God has done in Christ. We have to ‘tell the stories’ (v.6, MSG).

This psalm gives us a sketch of Hebrew history leading up to King David, and stresses the importance of passing it on to the next generation. We see a contrast between the sins of Israel and the goodness of God. Jesus himself quoted this psalm (Matthew 13:35). The psalmist says, ‘We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done… to teach their children, so that the next generation would know them… and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God’ (Psalm 78:4–7).

Juan Carlos Ortiz tells the story of meeting an old lady in his native Argentina who introduced him to a young girl, who was one of her great grandchildren. She went on to tell that she had six children and thirty-six grandchildren. Her family was impressive in number and among her grandchildren were many well-educated and professional people.

Carlos asked her, ‘How did you manage to produce such a large, well fed, well dressed, well educated, extended family?’ She replied, ‘I didn’t. I just took care of the six. And each of them took care of their six.’

Each generation has a responsibility to tell the next one about the goodness of God and to warn them of the mess that we make of our lives when we turn away from God’s goodness. Lord, thank you for those who told us about ‘the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done’ (v.4). Help us to pass it on to the next generation so that they would put their trust in you.

…to be continued.

culled from Day 175 from my Bible In a Year App 2017.

That Bench in The Garden

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” – John 1:48

After I received my result in that semester, I needed to clear my head. Too many simulations were ongoing. I knew I needed to make a major shift. I needed all my being to be concentrated on the task ahead. I was stunned.

A time comes when you need to be alone – without the hustle and bustle of everyday’s demand. You just want to be alone to reflect on the past, present and future. You just need to be alone with your God.

The first day I walked into that garden, I didn’t know one day I would have a familiar bench to reflect on my life. Some called it “Love Garden“, others called it “Prayer Garden“. The latter seem to be the original name, which isn’t a bad name seeing that God is Love.

The name “Prayer Garden” lived up to its expectation as it was synonymous with prayers in the evening. For me, it was a reflection place and I had a bench – my bench. Surrounded by green foliage with a couple of ant-hills at some corners, the Garden housed my bench – a concrete bench with a back rest.

It was a gateway for me to my Father. There were times when I just couldn’t explain how I feel to anyone – my friends, colleagues etc. There were times I needed to grief a loss and needed his comfort. There were times, I needed direction and I needed to seek his face.

“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me! Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you.” – Psalm 25:16-21

Whenever I was worried, whenever I felt alone, whenever I see that I have drifted away from the pack, I head for that bench in the Garden. I loved it in the evenings, watching the sun set, the cool breeze and the gathering of nature’s night choir.

Yours may not a bench in a garden but you need a place to quietly commune with your father without the earthly distractions. Switch off your phone. Turn off your data. Forget that Soap Opera. Postpone that arrangement. Locate your place and lay your heart before him.

I missed my bench. It was a jolly good bench. I always had directions after using that bench. It was my gateway. Do you have a place to connect?

AmosCP

How To Conduct A Nigerian Meeting

A Nigerian is not just a person who has a green passport or one whose parents are Nigerian citizens. A Nigerian properly-so-called, is one who knows how to live in Nigeria without bursting an artery, committing suicide, or running away to seek asylum somewhere else. If you have run away, kindly refrain from calling yourself a Nigerian. The acceptable term for you is ‘of Nigerian origin’. There is a difference.
Being a proper Nigerian, I feel like I should explain this concept thoroughly starting with how to conduct meetings. A Nigerian meeting is not just an event. It is that sacred, multipurpose, indispensable tool for living the Nigerian life. This is how to conduct a Nigerian meeting.

As a business owner, always call for meetings even for things you can do by email. Sometimes, meet early in the morning for morning devotion to commit your business and hustle to the hands of God. Meet to set the agenda for other meetings that will be held over the week.

Jobs are boring. You need a distraction. Meetings, especially ones with tea break, prevent you from losing your mind and picking up a gun to shoot all your annoying colleagues like white people do. White people need to have more meetings.

When going for a meeting, never arrive early. This will give the impression that you are jobless, desperate or too eager. Nobody likes Nigerians who are jobless or too eager. A true Nigerian, not one who is pretending to be white, will understand if you show up late for a meeting. They may feign annoyance, but usually they will wait. In fact the best of Nigerians will make excuses for you, especially if you live in a place like Lagos. You will walk in late to a meeting, panting, with that faux look of contrition and the person you are having a meeting with – if she is a good Nigerian – will say: “Eiyah! Traffic abi?” You will only have to nod or say something like: “No be small tin o“. Everyone will be grateful that you showed up and the meeting will begin.

When you are having a big meeting with an oga (or oga-madam) it is safer to cancel all other appointments for the day. Because the oga will saunter in three hours late and you will have to smile and say “No, not at all!” when he asks: “Did I keep you waiting?

If you are an oga, you should never, ever show up for a meeting on time. This is Nigeria. People disrespect ogas who don’t keep them waiting forever. They will think you are equals and before you know it one ordinary person will call your name without adding Chief or Prof or Honorable or Your Excellency. God forbid that after hustling to get those titles, some idiot forgets to mention them. All because you came early to a meeting.

As a proper Nigerian whose father is God, you must commit all meetings to His hands. You may work hard but it is God that is in charge of blessing our hustle. Never forget to say at least two prayers in every meeting. One Christian, one Muslim. You never know which of the Gods will answer favorably. It does not matter if you will be discussing how to steal from other people. God sees the heart and he knows that deep down, all you want to do is succeed.

When it is your turn to speak at a meeting it is rude to go straight to the point. Proper Nigerians are not rude. Because I care, please find below a summary of how to speak at a Nigerian meeting:

  1. Don’t be ungrateful. Thank the moderator for giving you the opportunity to speak.
  2. Don’t be disrespectful. Observe all protocol. People did not become highly placed by mistake.
  3. Show appreciation. Say how much it is a privilege for you to be at the meeting. Use the phrases ‘singular honor’ and ‘rare privilege’.
  4. Show understanding. Explain how important the meeting is to you and to everyone present. Thank the conveners for having the wisdom to organize the meeting.
  5. Show regard for the last speaker. Use words like ‘just like the last speaker has said’ or ‘I want to concur with the last speaker’ or ‘I totally agree with the last speaker’ or ‘I want to align myself with the last speaker’. Then proceed to say the same thing using your own words. It is important for everyone to have a chance to speak at a meeting.
  6. Be considerate. Promise not to speak too long with a phrase like: ‘I will not take much of your time’, after which you can speak freely.
  7. Always provide a summary of all you have just said. Use phrases like: ‘So, what have I just said?’ or ‘What am I trying to say?’ to introduce you summary.
  8. Be observant.  If you still have more things to say and you sense that people are tired of hearing you speak, use the words ‘In conclusion’ to give them hope that you will soon end, after which you can continue to speak freely.

All meetings must end in a closing prayer. To avoid a fight however, take care to remember whether it was a Christian prayer or Muslim prayer you began with. When you are not sure, do both prayers. You do not want to annoy any children of the Nigerian God.

One last thing: Don’t forget that the only acceptable way of answering a phone call during a Nigerian meeting is to shout: “Hello, please I am in a meeting, let me call you back.” People will smile, seeing how important this meeting is to you.

I hope that this helps and that God will continue to bless your hustle as you conduct meetings.

A copied post written by Elnathan John

Mobile Lies – What About It?

It was a Tuesday morning and I boarded a danfo from the popular CMS bustop, heading towards VI. We were over halfway through to the final destination of the bus and I was getting ready for a new day at the office when my thoughts were interrupted by a phone call nearby.

“I am at the gate… I went to use the ATM”

What? Really? A couple of heads turned towards the passenger that made the comment. Uncle, you can lie. Haba!!

Within minutes, as I walked towards my office, behold, I heard another:

“I dey Mowe now, I dey come”

My God. Mowe is a town in Ogun state, very close to Lagos and this man is in Victoria Island, 90 kilometers away. Why would he do such?

I began to ponder why we make such lies especially via phone calls and social media. It is rampant. But what the bible says about lies?

 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” – Exodus 20:16

Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another – Leviticus 19:11

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” – Proverb 6:16-20

The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. – Proverb 12:22

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom – Song of Solomon 2:15

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.” – Proverbs 19:9

A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump – Galatians 5:9

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices – Colossians 3:9

“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8

We know the story of Ananias and his wife in Acts 5. You know how it all ended. God wants us to always speak the truth, even if it hurts. God would rather have us tell the truth and suffer for it than to tell a lie to avoid the consequences. This doesn’t exclude “white”, “helpful”, “minor”, “tiny”, “little”, “tactful” lies like padding your CV, covering up for your boss, selling a product etc. Be wise. Read more about white lies.

As we have read, all liars who refuse to repent and trust in Christ are headed for the worst judgment imaginable (Rev 21:8). We all lie but we can all be forgiven (1 John 1:9) and have the righteousness of Christ imputed toward us (2 Cor 5:21) but only for those who repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15) and that’s the truth.

Telling the truth is not an option but a commandment. You don’t need to remember anything when you tell the truth.

Enjoy your day.

@AmosCP