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.

The Fear of Being Known

Read: James 5: 16-20

One of the most most difficult inner conflicts we have is our desire to be known versus our fear of being known. As beings created in the image of God we are made to be known – known by God and also by others. Yet due to our fallen nature, all of us have sins and weaknesses that we don’t want others to know about. We use the phrase “dark side” to refer to aspects of our lives  that we keep hidden. And we use slogans like “put your best foot forward” to encourage others to show their best side.

I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will
confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.
Selah. – Psalm 32:5 KJV

The voice of sin may be loud but the voice of forgiveness is louder – D. L. Moody

One reason we are unwilling to risk being known is that we feat rejection and ridicule. But when we discover knows us, loves us and is willing to forgive even the worst things we have done, our fear of being known by God begins to fade away. And when we find a community of believers who understands the dynamic relationship between forgiveness and confession, we feel safe confessing our sins to one another (James 5:16).

Lord, help me to expose my sin,

Those secret wrongs that lurk within;

I would confess them all to Thee;

Transparent I would always be. – D. Dehaan

The life of faith is not about showing only our good side. It’s about exposing our dark side to the light of Christ through confession to God and also to others. In this way we can receive healing and live in freedom of forgiveness.

@AmosCP

Culled from Our Daily Bread – 2016 Annual edition for September 19 “On Being Known” by Julie Ackerman Link.

 

 

Trash Right, Live Right

It was an evening after close of business. Home was calling and the roads were busy. He finished his wrap of sausage roll and out of the window of the car, the wrapper flew. 


Saturdays have a way of making us do some kind of sanitation – wholesome or partial. Homes are cleaned up, surroundings are tidied up and the resulting trash is packaged or heaped outside the gates for the authorities to pick up. 

In Lagos, the Lagos Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) is in charge of managing the trash from such sanitation exercise with trucks coming around almost every weekend to pick up trash and refuse but I am more interested today in the trash they gather on the roads and highways.

When you enter a City, the roads are the first things you notice – good & clean or bad & dirty or a mixture of both. The 1st day I stepped on the city of Owerri, I was marvelled. Clean roads from Orlu road through Wetheral and along Douglas. I trekked in admiration and wondered. I heard it was once the cleanest city but within the next 5 years after my 1st visit, the city had great moments of being gardened in huge dumps of refuse.

Douglas road was oozing to the heavens despite having one of the largest market in the City. Recently I heard the state government had to leave the mountain heap of refuse that took as much as a lane on each side of the road as a payback to the people. Seriously? Let’s not talk about Aba. We can say positive things about Enugu, Ilorin, Abeokuta and a few other cities.

That aside, nothing bothers me most than seeing a road commuter throw thrash through the car window on the road. On my way back from work few months ago, a plastic bottle flew out of a public bus into the road with so much velocity that it could crack the windscreen of another vehicle. We had to swerve to avoid the bottle. The bottle with other of its cousins will play along the road until someone picks them up. Who? The street sweeper from the waste management agency.

What kind of education do you have that gives you a pat on the back for throwing thrash on the road and expecting an “uneducated” person to pick it up and make the city clean for you to brag that “I live in a clean city”?

A testimony was shared in a big branch of a very big church in Lekki. The lady stopped on the bridge to throw thrash into the waters below. She noticed a man on the other side of the bridge crossing over to most probably rob them. They had to zoom off without polluting the waters. Everyone praised God but the water had the ultimate victory – saved by an unknown.

Cleanliness is next to godliness it is said but it is not restricted to how clean your clothes are or how tidy your living room,  kitchen or other room are. How do you affect your environment? Do you also fling plastic bottles, snack wrappers, papers off the vehicle? You would prefer to have your car tidy to causing nuisance on the same road you ply? Tomorrow, you would be the first to say the roads are untidy? 

They may be doing the dirty job of keeping the roads clean but I must commend the street sweepers and members of the waste management agency that ensure the roads are swept regularly. This post is for them. They endanger their lives, working on the roads and highways, picking up the products of your iresponsibility. Please respect them. Drive carefully when you see them in action. 

More importantly, live responsibly. Keep your trash in your car till you see a trashbin. God abhors dirtiness and irresponsibility. Check yourself and live right.

Trash right.

@AmosCP

Tales From FEGO: HSC Block

 

Inside A Room in Main Block – There were no fans in those days (courtesy: Damola)

One quick jump and I was away, out of the hostel through my window. I was on my heels away from the officials that have come to gidi us on that Saturday morning. For heavens sake, it was not an inspection Saturday but I had to make use of my window – the one good and bad aspect of my stay in the oldest hostel in FEGO. The HSC Block.

Sandwiched between New Block and PTA Block, the HSC Block used to be assigned to the JSS2 students until Government Block was built. In front of HSC Block stood the school mosque and the dispensary just around. At the back was a large grass land which formed a major part of Saturday morning clearance. Sometimes ridden with snakes, bush rats and all sort of grass loving animals, it was our duty to clear those grasses so that we could see any activity on the Ikoyi road the staff quarters beyond.

With a big quadrangle, HSC had a good space for Saturday indoor football. Although baptized with wicked stones, the boys shunned those hindrances in making sure they enjoyed themselves – with approvals from the hostel officials for sure. In this quadrangle was the open bath. No one used the walled baths because they were conducive. The open bath had 4 tap outlets through which water flows in the afternoons.

HSC was divided into two parallel building blocks. Chad and Cross houses were on one block as usual. Niger and Osun houses made do with the other block. Each block had 4 rooms with 2 for each house. For each two rooms assigned to each house there are two micro-mini rooms acting as dividers. I want to believe these rooms were not meant for living but we had captains and prefect who used them as heavens. Although small, it was a hub for Ironing, kpoksing and many more.

I moved into Room A of the rooms for Cross House. I got a corner by the wall and lived out my days in HSC block there. I spent two years in HSC block no thanks to the commissioning of the Government at the beginning of my second year. So I spent JSS2 and JSS3 in HSC. I dreaded wearing shorts in Main Block and was happy to spend one more year in the ancient HSC Block.

This brings me back to the opening part of this post. I returned from the long vacation, ready for another adventure. Lo and behold, I could not find my window net nor the louvers. I was exposed to the outside world but it was a quick entrance and exit from the hostel – just don’t be caught. It was a regular escape route for me in those dark mornings when the officials come around to gidi of punish.  I was near invisible.

Yemi joined me in the corner as an SS1 boy and I learnt some tricks from him. His friends frequented the corner and one of such friends had artificial rains falling on me from the top bunk one night. Sadly, when he was woken up, he stepped down, jumped out and cased closed.

There are so many other tales from HSC block – the bunk shakers, the ghost riders, the smelling gutters, jacked lockers, chained mattresses, space travels and many more.

Tiri gbosa for HSC Block. Ehen!! You know HSC means Higher School Certificate?

Enjoy your day and share your HSC experience with us.

@AmosCP

How Do I Pray Without Ceasing?

There is a daily podcast/interview on desiringGod.org that is worth listening to/reading. It is called Ask Pastor John. I enjoy the questions and the answers from Pastor John is always rich in the word of God.

Zach, a listener to the podcast recently asked:

Hello Pastor John! Thanks for being such a great resource and answering hard questions in this podcast. My question for you is this: In your own words and application, what does it mean to ‘pray without ceasing’?”

Pastor John Piper had these to say:

Let’s get the text in front of us with a little bit of context, because that really has significant things to say about the little phrase. Here is 1 Thessalonians 5:15–18: “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always” — note that word — “always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” So, I start here with verse 15 just so that we can see that Paul’s burden is not just a kind of private piety when he comes to speak of prayer. This is a radical call to counterintuitive, countercultural love. Don’t repay people evil for evil. Do good to everyone always.

“Paul’s burden is not just for private piety when he teaches about prayer.”

Next verse: “Rejoice always,” which is not the kind of emotional response one would ordinarily have to being mistreated and treating others better than we are treated. You might be wounded. You might be spurned. You might be in jail if people have treated you badly. So, this is a really amazing way of life in Paul’s mind — a miraculous one. Being treated badly, returning good for evil, and all the while rejoicing always. Always doing good to those who do bad to you, always rejoicing. This is incredible.

And then comes the phrase that Zach was asking about, and it makes sense, now, a little more: “Pray without ceasing.” If that life sounds hard to you, “pray without ceasing.” And then he gives a specific example of the kind of prayer in verse 18: not just, “Help, Lord,” which, of course, we would pray, “Help all the time. I need help to live this way.” But he goes on and says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Let’s keep in mind two things about that context. One is the every’s and the all’s. 1) Do good always to everyone. 2) Rejoice always. 3) Pray always or without ceasing. 4) Give thanks always or in every circumstance. The other contextual observation is that there seems to be a deepening to the question: How? How to life? Answer: Do good always to everyone, even when they don’t do good to you. How? Rejoice always. Find your joy in something other than the way you are treated. How? Pray without ceasing. How? Be in a continual disposition of thankfulness to God.

So, in those contexts, what does “pray without ceasing,” then, mean? That is what Zach asked. And I see at least three things here that it means.

1) First, it means that there is a spirit of dependence that should permeate all we do. This is the very spirit and essence of prayer: dependence. So, even when we are not speaking consciously to God, there is a deep, abiding dependence on him that is woven into the very essence of our faith. In that sense, we are praying. We are experiencing a spirit of dependence continuously, and that kind of disposition is, I think, right at the heart of what God creates when he creates a Christian.

“There should be a spirit of dependence that permeates all we do.”

2) The second meaning that it has, and I think this is probably the one that is foremost in Paul’s conscious intention here: praying without ceasing means praying repeatedly and often. And I base that on the way he used the word audiolaptos, unceasing, in Romans 1:9. Listen to how he uses the same word for “without ceasing.” He says, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing” —audiolaptos, unceasingly — “I mention you.”

Now, we can be sure, can’t we, that Paul did not make mention of the Romans in every minute or second of his prayers or his days or his preaching. He prayed and he spoke about lots of other things besides the Romans. But he mentioned them over and over. He mentioned them often. He mentioned them regularly. So, he says: I mentioned you without ceasing. It doesn’t mean that he was verbally and mentally always, every second mentioning them. It means that over and over, always, repeatedly, without fail, when I get on my knees, you are in my prayer. That is basically what I think he means by “without ceasing” — repeatedly and often.

3) And the third thing I think he means is not giving up on prayer. Without ceasing means: Don’t ever come to a point in your life where you say, “Prayer doesn’t work. I am done. I am giving up on prayer. I am giving up on prayer.” That would be the very opposite of “without ceasing.” It means, don’t ever do that. Don’t ever get to that point.

So, the key to rejoicing always is to pray continually; that is, to lean on God all the time and call to him repeatedly and often. Never give up looking to him for help, come to him repeatedly during the day, and come often. Make the default state of your mind a godward longing and a godward thankfulness.

“The key to rejoicing always is to pray continually.”

4) And one last thing, maybe, it would be helpful to say. I think it is important to notice that, in real life, some discipline in regular times of prayer during the day keep this kind of “without ceasing” prayer alive. I have heard enough people say that they want to pray spontaneously. They want to be always in a spirit of prayer. They don’t need set times of prayer. That is legalistic. I think that is ridiculous. I think it is unbiblical and it think it is unrealistic if they just knew themselves, because it is disciplined, regular times of prayer that fit us for the kind of spirit that enables us to enjoy the hour-by-hour, spontaneous walk with God.

“Discipline in regular times of prayer during the day keep this kind of ‘without ceasing’ prayer alive.”

And good, old Daniel in the Old Testament is a great example of this, because we know that Daniel in critical crisis moments of his life offered up quick prayers to God: “O God, help me. I am being asked something here that I don’t have an answer for.” And where did that come from? Well, Daniel 6:10 says, “When Daniel knew that the document,” — namely, that nobody can pray except to the king, — “had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” That was his pattern. He continued his pattern of disciplined, three-times-a-day prayer: praying and giving thanks “before his God, as he had done previously.”

So, the point is that Daniel lived a life that combined discipline three times a day with spontaneous encounters with God, and I think that is the way it should be with us. If we hope to pray without ceasing day and night in the way Paul calls us to, enjoying that kind of continual communion with God and that repeated coming to him, we are going to need to develop disciplined times of prayer as well.

You can find other recent and popular Ask Pastor John episodes.

Continue to pray without ceasing.

(@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.

Anniversaries 

September has always been a special month for me and it comes with numerous anniversaries:

August 28 – My Soteria was born. Yes, my September begins from August 28. Lovely kid. She has grown and has the inquisitivy I love. 

August 28 – 1st time live on Radio hosting a sports program with Unilorin FM. 1st time in Ilorin. All in 2015. Thank you Bayo.

August 30 – 1st official football match i watched live in flesh and blood: Shooting Stars 2-0 Abia Warriors. A brace from Sunday Adetunji. Lekan Salami stadium became the 1st stadium I watched a Nigerian League game. 2015

September 2 – 1st assignment with the engineering team in the Red base.

September 9 – Airborne for the 1st time. It was a chopper. Off to Samabri in Bayelsa. 1st trip to the field. Job came up by 15th.

September 10 – Nedu bossed into the world, trampling on the challenges brought forth, victorious as ever. 

September 15 – The beginning of my blogging experience. This blog and SoccerGunz were created. The former for Life and my experiences and the latter about football. You know I love football.

September 16 – An anniversary of the day I had my first fill of gaseous Oxygen gas. It made me cry but it filled my lungs to keep me. God has been good. He continues to be good. Thanks for your wishes.

September 18 – 1st trip to Warri. Area. When next will I be there? 2013

September 22 – Arsene Wenger was unveiled as Arsenal manager in 1996. Hate him, love him, yab him, he is a unique man and brought revolution to the game. I know you love some virtues of him.

September 25 – The adventure at FGC Odogbolu began. It was chilling Friday morning in 1998. 6 formative years. I still have a lot to write about FEGO.

That is the lot I can share. It comes with the September rains after the August break. I always look forward to this time of the year, especially the fulcrum of September – the 16th.

God will continue to keep me and you until our assignments are finished on earth. Be ready for the great feast. For now, Praise Him for today is special.

@AmosCP

Don’t Stay Down

Image result for dont stay down

There comes a time when life throws its weight against you and you are left with two options: keep fighting or just let life have its way. You are left to decide whether to accept fate or refuse to be down.

I had a relatively poor result in my 3rd year of university education and I went back to the drawing board. I switched on the imaginary DVD in my mind and clicked on “My life – 18 months ago”. I chose to watch it in black and white because I had to make some changes. I noted some areas I needed to improve, some actions I needed to take and some paths I needed to avoid. I denied myself of a lot of secular needs in order to make amends for the poor form. I was walking a tight rope and I needed to be top notch to navigate back to my initially desired goal. Things went further south after taking these actions – the next result was worse, my worst. It was a tough time for me.

 

In the Bible, the widow at Zarephath gave her last bread to Elijah and God gave her ceaseless blessings to take care of Elijah, the widow and her son (I Kings 17).

And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. – I Kings 17:17

Sadly, she must have been mad at Elijah and may have even questioned if he was a prophet of God. Sometimes we are tempted to question God, our faith and his deeds. But Elijah restored her son back to life.

And Elijah took the child and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, see, thy son liveth. And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth – I Kings 17:23-24

A time comes when you put in your very best, and you get the worst of results. You tarry with the Lord, make atonement, give alms, bring smile to people, win souls for Christ, finish a 40 days dry fasting, sow seeds of faith and the 9 yards but the immediate result has every adornment of discouragement. You begin to question and ponder. Doubt sets in and the will to do more begins to dwindle.

Sometimes you do everything right but that lecturer refuses to treat you fairly. You tick all the boxes but you are not chosen, you have the best of interviews but you are not invited for medicals, you fulfill all righteousness but the goal is missed. Do you give up and stop trying?

The three Hebrew lads were thrown to the hottest of flames for refusing to bow to the gods of Babylon. They didn’t stop worshiping God, they continued. Daniel was thrown into the dungeon for praying to God. Could he have suspended his prayers? Maybe he asked God “why?” or he believed that it was all for good and for the glory of God.

Joseph was disliked by his siblings and sold out to Egypt. He found his way to prison because he refused to what was wrong in the sight of the Lord. He tarried in prison but it was all for good. It must have been the lowest moment of his life.

The widow got her son back, Daniel had a pillow made of lions and was restored. The three Hebrew lads were elevated, Joseph became the prime minister and I had my best result the following year. Worth it?

So Friends, don’t let the bad results of today refrain you from making efforts in reaching your goal. God understands when you ask “Why?” but can you answer his questions in Job 38-41? You must believe that he is in charge and everything was created for him. Don’t just fold your hand and accept defeat. Don’t just accept that poor result and wallow in agony. The milk is spilled, stop crying over it.

For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again – Proverb 24:16

The low moment is not a period to continue in sin, nor a time to flee from the presence of God. The temptation is there to do as the world especially seeing positive results of their ways. Remember, there is always light at the end of tunnel as far as you are in Christ. Don’t stop praying, don’t stop worshiping, and don’t just stop. Rise up and give it another try.

Give someone a helping hand today.

@AmosCP

Don’t Stay Down was first posted on The Exceller Blog in The Experience Series