Category Archives: Life

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

Handling Criticism

Today is the 102nd day in 2017. As you may have read in previous posts, I am on a daily bible reading plan and part of its 100th day section was from Proverb 9:1-12. It talks about handling criticism. 

When we are criticised, there is no point in replying to those who are merely mocking us (v.7). If we do they will hate us even more. But it is worth replying to the ‘wise’.

Our response to criticism should never be to ‘insult’, ‘abuse’ or ‘hate’ (vv.7–8). Rather, we must learn from it in order to become ‘wiser’ and to ‘add to [our] learning’ (v.9). Indeed, our response to a rebuke should be increased ‘love’ (v.8b).

This is far from easy – our natural reaction to criticism is often to lash out, or try and justify ourselves. Yet the wise path is to seek to learn from the rebuke or instruction, however difficult that may be.

For example, I have noticed over the years that those speakers who do not like their talks criticised seldom improve. Those who invite constructive criticism and are not threatened by it often improve rapidly and become far more effective. A right relationship with God will increase your wisdom (v.10), and enable you to hear constructive criticism and grow through it.

Lord, give me wisdom to be constructive when I give criticism and gracious when I receive it.

I believe this will help you become better today. Have a nice day.

AmosCP

With Love From The Bible

Few days ago, it was celebrated by many as Valentine’s Day with “love in the air” but what does the bible say about love?

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. – I John 4:8

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:13

Do to others as you would have them do to you. – Luke 6:31

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31

And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. – Mark 12: 33

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – I John 3:18

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. – I Corinthians 13:4-8

See what kind of love the Father has given unto us, that we should called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him – I John 3:1

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. – Romans 13:8

Hatred stirs up  strife, but love covers all offenses. – Proverb 10:12

Do everything in love. – I Corinthians 16:14

Applying Lessons Learnt

After the test, I walked out of the hall, worried and lost. I was disappointed at my performance and couldn’t believe I was only able to attempt just one out of four questions. It was a disaster and below my expectation. I was devastated. As I took calculated steps towards my hostel, I knew I had to do something to avert the slide. We were heading for an unknown period of school strike no thanks to demands from the National Universities Commission (NUC).

We were taking stocks some weeks ago. I was taking stock of my academic life that fateful day. Have you been able to document your life in different fields? I bet you have taken your time to play back 2016. You smiled at some and frowned at others. You wished for a replay of some events and hoped that some others will never occur again.

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. -St. Francis of Assisi

There were some highlights you would love to hold on to for the new season. There were some methods that produced so much fruits. There was a reading pattern that helped you pass your exams. There was a bible app that helped you draw closer. There was a routine that made you healthier and happier. There was something that stood exceptionally glorious. There were friends that brought out the best in you. Hold on to them or still look for further improvement.

There were few that held you down and restricted your flight in some fields. There were colleagues that made you feel less of yourself and had a way of talking you away from your divine goal. There were patterns that hindered your activities. There were some activities that drew you away from God. There were some apps that took much of your time. Prune them. End them. Turn around.

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. – Matthew 5:29

Back to my opening experience story, I spent the 2 months NUC strike on that course – Engineering Thermodynamics. For the first time, I bought two past question booklets with answers. One was for Engineering Thermodynamics and the other for Computer Studies. I just didn’t understand the latter. I buried myself in these past question booklets, answering them over and over again. I was still dazed by my performance in that test.

It is not enough to be compassionate – you must act. -The Dalai Lama

These are lessons learnt but they are not just for documentation purposes. They are for your improvement. Wouldn’t you like to be better in the New Year, the new season? There is always room for improvement. You shall have no better yesteryears.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. – Philippians 3:12-15

Cheers. @AmosCP

Originally posted on Exceller Blog

Time To Take Stock

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Growing up in the suburbs of Lagos, my mum had a shop – not as big as a supermarket but big enough to cater for the house and provide for normal expenses associated with kids. There was a culture I grew up to learn from my mum and that culture is STOCK TAKING.

I resolve for 1920 to sit down all by myself and take a personal stock-taking once a month. To be no more charitable in viewing my own faults than I am at viewing the faults of others. To face the facts candidly and courageously. To address myself carefully, prayerfully, to remedying effects. – B. C. Forbes

After the noisy crossover nights, infested with loud firecrackers and “Happy New Year” shouts, my mum took to the solace of the quietening environment to look back at her shop and make preparations for the New Year. She would take me and any other member of the house and we would assist her in taking stock in her shop. She needed “actuals” and not mere assumptions, generalizations nor sight deceptions.

Galatians 6:3-5 – For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbour. For each will have to bear his own load.

It was a very serious exercise for her because it gave her the opportunity to know how much goods she had and which of these goods will expire in the next 365 days and the actions thereof to eliminate them. We had our pens and papers and we divided the shop into various sections. Expired goods were disposed. Those that had 30-60 days validity period were marked out for immediate consumption while records were kept and made reference to.

As Christians, it is expected that we take time out to examine our lives and deeds with the objective of running The Race lighter, earnestly contending for The Faith, achieving the divine goal and making improvements where needed. This is usually achieved if we look at our lives into three phases: Past, Present and Future.

II Corinthians 13:5 – Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Without the past there will be no lesson learnt. Within the walls of the higher institution, the availability of my result after every session was a catalyst to taking stock of my academic life. Every present result emanated from actions in the past. These past actions have to be closely dissected to draw out lessons learnt in order to make appropriate improvements for the present and the future. If we must change, we must first recognize what is wrong. It requires deep and fearless personal searches without meandering away from the “dark spots”. This inventory has to be done accurately else the result will be skewed wrongly.

Lamentations 3:40 – Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!

We are in the month of December and it sends different signals to different people. To many, it is the end of the year and a period to round off plans for the year. To others, it is just another month with nothing special other than what we decide to make of it. Make December a month for you to take stock of your life so that the New Year will kick-start on a positive note.

Press the pause button and take stock of your life. Are you on the downslide or on the rise? Take an inventory of your relationship with God, relationship with man, academic pursuit, personal goals, collective goals, family etc. No one knows you better than yourself. Put it down in black and white. It is one of those vital steps to excelling in the nearest future.

What next after taking stock? We would talk about that in the next post. For now, just take stock. Pray for the courage to take an honest assessment of your life.

@AmosCP

This was originally posted on Exceller Blog as Experience 6: Time To Take Stock. Do well to follow the Exceller Blog.