What’s New?

What’s new?

I can’t take credit for anything that has happened during this transformation. I’m not even near where Jesus wants me to be just yet but everyday I am reminded that I am on the right track. I’m more motivated, my decisions are more thought based and purposeful & my life just feels like it has taken on a whole new meaning. I’ve felt refreshed every single day since the day I fully committed to Christ. I haven’t been perfect since that day but I know that I will soon get there. I’m still going through a cleansing period which has been less stressful than in times past. I struggled immensely with lust; it was so bad that even in church I would look at the opposite sex and wonder how far I could go with them. I had no shame in it and I didn’t realize how deep in sin I was. But now all of that has changed. Having a clean mind and pure heart is so refreshing in so many ways I can’t even begin to explain.

It’s Wednesday afternoon and I’m on the way to work listening to two tracks: Falling in Love with Jesus & Moving Forward. The decision to commit to Christ was a tough one, but the decision to completely make myself open to Him was even tougher. It’s one that I’m still learning to do but in the process I find myself falling in love with Him and His teachings. The way that Christ loves us can never be understood by us; it’s why when we think about his goodness it can often be overwhelming. I almost cried in worship on the way to work. I realize I’ve been in tears of joy a lot more lately. I’ve been attributing those tears to the victories that Jesus has had on behalf of my life.

So what’s new? I’ve connected with people who desire and yearn for God as much as I do. I committed to the church I had been attending sporadically since November of 2016. I was awarded a certificate there this past Sunday and I still haven’t wrapped my mind around that experience. It felt as though I was graduating in the presence of strangers. I didn’t go through multiple courses with these people like one does when they graduate with their college peers. When I got up to the stage to accept my membership certificate, I looked briefly into the crowd and only saw one familiar face; it was my friend Mack who initially brought me there to that church. I can’t thank God enough for using him to bring me here.

How did I get to this point? How did I finally reach a place of peace? How did I reach a place where I could trust Jesus as the anchor in my life? Those questions can be answered later but for right now, I know that I’m in a really great space with Him.

Advertisements

Rise Up.

It took me three and a half weeks to compose this speech and I thought by now I wouldn’t be nervous presenting it to you all; I was wrong. Some will say that this is inappropriate for a time such as this. I say they’re wrong and that this is probably the best time to address this ugly issue our country faces.

I prepared this speech in the wake of the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile murders. Fellow brothers and sisters, now is the time to wake up. We need to stop ignoring the fact that the world we inhabit is full of terror and that same terror awaits us every time we step out of our homes. The violence against our African American men and women has shown that there are some and maybe even many amongst those who have sworn to protect and serve us that have no regard for our lives.

There are two schools of thought that usually come about to contest the seriousness of police brutality: the first being that black people kill each other everyday. It’s my belief that this particular thought dominates especially in Nigerian homes. Nigerians are notorious for dismissing American issues as problems they have and not us as a collective whole. Yes, they are a different race. But please don’t be fooled; in their eyes we are all people of color. In their eyes we are all targets. In their eyes we are all threats.

The second school of thought concerns our faith. This weekend we gathered together in love and unison to pray and receive blessings. How many of us prayed concerning the nation we live in? How many of us asked God to shake the foundations of this country so that the ones coming after us have a better overall experience? As Christians, we cannot afford to be wrapped up in a proverbial bubble and assume all is going to be good because we are Christians. That’s a naive way of thinking. Scripture says faith without works is dead. The scripture speaks about maintaining justice, doing what is right etc. At a time like this we must pray for peace and strive to become symbols of peace in a world filled by violence and conflict.

Please understand that I’m not asking anyone to go out there and start a riot. This is just my attempt at planting a seed that I’m sure God will touch. This is intended to challenge not just our leaders, but every individual that identifies as a person of color in this country. I love you guys and I pray we remain safe.

Reflection.

Today my mom sat me down and had a conversation with me that helped me heal in ways I’m sure I won’t understand until sometime later. As she spoke to me I felt relief coming over me. It’s a feeling I haven’t had in a while. She spoke to me about the past and learning how to let go of hurt.

The process of letting go is a tough one. It’s something that is learned from the time you first experience pain as a child until the very moment you’re living right now. Sometimes hurt is magnified according to the offender: the closer the person, the more painful the offense. A lot of people sit and endure multiple offenses until the last straw is pulled and they’ve had enough. In most cases, we are hurt by people that we have allowed to come closest to our hearts. Somewhere along the way I completely lost my way and that was a result of me being hurt. I realize now that in discussing it in my blogs I’m only reliving the pain of old. As therapeutic as it may seem it’s also poisonous to continue to discuss what happened in the past.

In thinking about and discussing how my life has been thus far without really involving Christ in it, I realized that so much time has been wasted. Life can only be so good without God in it. But with God in it, there’s no limit to the goodness. Later this month I’ll be graduating; an accomplishment that at one point seemed so farfetched because I had no direction in life. I had no purpose. But God found me and revealed a gift that I had no idea I’d become so obsessed with. There’s purpose. And I’m connecting with people in ways that I couldn’t even imagine.

I’m thankful for this. I’m thankful for you. I’m excited about my future and all the opportunities He has in store for me. And I’m ever grateful for the opportunity to learn from my past and live according to His purpose.

Standards.

In the time I spent away from the Lord, I learned a lot about myself and others. Some of it was positive but a lot of negatives began to glare over time. The natural reaction that people have when they feel they’ve been hurt by a person or an entity is to grow resentful/critical of it. For instance, when you’re in a relationship with someone and that person constantly hurts you, you two will eventually split. That split can leave you hopeless, feeling as though nothing in this world is good..

This is the reaction I had when the chaos ended. Anytime I stepped into a church, I found that I was always so critical of everything starting from the leadership down. People always tell me that I’ll never find a church that is without its issues which is true. But after what I’ve been through I wasn’t really trying to hear that. If people of God gather on Sundays preaching forgiveness, patience and love until their mouths run dry, the expectation should be that everyone practices what they preach and learn. That should be the standard of the church of God. Instead, people settle for hatred, deceit and malice because “no one is perfect”.

In the House of the Lord, meaning in your heart and in the place you worship, you should leave no room for evil to lurk and overcome the good in you. I’ve come across a plethora of people that are extremely positive in their nature but stumble far too often and choose to stay fallen. Whatever happened to turning the other cheek? What happened to showing love and mercy in the face of hatred? Jesus Christ, after being nailed on a cross by people who didn’t even know who he was, asked the Lord to forgive them. We are often persecuted by people that know our nature, yet we allow ourselves to succumb to anger.

The Bible tells me that whoever is patient has great understanding (Proverbs 14:29). This piece of Scripture means so much to me because it basically says if people exercised patience more often, a lot of issues wouldn’t even be issues in the first place. That was a major part of the downfall of my church; I witnessed a poor example of patience. I lost patience in terms of waiting for the Lord to help the church out. I lost patience waiting for the Lord to help me out…

Big Brother

First, I’d like to say thank you to everyone that has supported me from the beginning up until this very moment. You all have been very awesome and have stuck with me through some tough times. For that I just want you to know I really appreciate you.

My absence from the blog world is not without reason. My journey with Christ as of late has been rocky but not completely off. Just know that my absence from blogging is almost synonymous with my relationship with Christ; I’ve been tried for some time but I’m here to let you know I’ve conquered. 

My church, a place I used to call home for so long, recently underwent some trials (as most churches have gone through since the beginning of time). I won’t go into details about what happened and why but by the time all was said and done, I was left to fend for myself and to grow in Christ on my own. For the first time in my life I was left without my security, my comfort, my support, because of all of the chaos that occurred in my church. I know what some people will say: as a Christian you should know how to stand on your own, blah blah blah. But some of us simply aren’t built that way. Believe it or not, the faith of a lot of people depends on the gathering of the saints. Whether that’s in church or at conventions, these people really do look forward to gathering with like minded Christians in order to develop and feel as though God is listening. I was one of those people. 

It was a fact that was hard for me to grapple with because most of the people I associate with look at me as a big brother or a mentor. Big brothers are supposed to have everything figured out. Big brothers are supposed to know what to do when the going gets tough. Big brothers are supposed to have all of the answers to every question there is. I didn’t. Most of those things I listed about big brothers are responsibilities that I placed on myself and I understand that it was pressure that I didn’t need. But I’m of the mindset that if you’re ever in a position of leadership, regardless of the context, you always have to be prepared for your fellow brothers/sisters. 

In the next couple of posts I will try my best to explain how I found my way back to God. Trust me, a testimony is coming. This initial post is a testimony in and of itself. Thank you for reading and I pray the Lord will support you as you support me. 

Tithes

  
First, I’m going to start by saying this: paying tithes is probably the most under appreciated part of the Christian faith you will ever learn about. The truth about giving tithes is that it is the most rewarding aspect of your Christian walk.

Today, I paid tithes for the first time in as long as I can remember. Trust me when I say that I can relate to whatever reason you have ever given to either pay partial or no tithes at all. After doing so, the Lord deposited some Godly math in my mind and I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Bear with me as I try to explain it just as it was revealed to me.

Let’s say a church has a congregation that contains about forty different families. Each family makes an average about sixty thousand dollars and the Scripture says to give ten percent of what you earn to the church (tithes). If you do the math, ten percent of sixty thousand dollars is six thousand dollars. Finally, if you multiply six thousand dollars in tithes a year times forty different families, that will give you a grand total of about two hundred and forty thousand dollars. Now I’m no statistician or accountant but that is a lot of money.

The churches today struggle mainly because people simply don’t pay their tithes. The Scripture states in Malachi 3 verse 8 that our refusal to pay tithes and offerings is an act of robbery to God. The Scripture literally tells us that we rob God when we do not offer tithes/offerings. Our inability to give back a tenth of whatever amount we earn is also reflected in different aspects of our faith individually and in most cases, as a body (church).

You will notice that some people are very stingy or greedy in the church during different seasons. I attend a Nigerian church and I have heard the story of that random aunty who comes to church exclusively during anniversary season to take five or six trays of food home for herself. When it is time for that same woman to give back she is nowhere to be found. Pastors aren’t paid by some of the churches they shepherd because the congregation gives nothing to the church. Churches struggle to find new homes (buildings) because they spend their money without guidance and do not make enough to recover whatever they have lost. In the average Cherubim & Seraphim church, there are at least six different opportunities to give to the church. Tithes, General thanksgiving, Building funds, Fulfillment of vows, Special thanksgiving from the Pastor, etc. That list goes on and on in a lot more churches than you think but one can’t help but wonder where all the money is going to.

On a personal level, I have experienced financial hardships recently. Given the amount of work that I have done this summer, I should not be staring at the financial hole that I am in right now. But I now understand that it is due to my inability to give unto whom it is due. I realize now that I will have saved more money by giving at least ten percent of my earnings unto Christ. Why? Because I know that He will not only bless me for doing so (Malachi 3:10), but He will also teach me to spend wisely.

Just imagine earning one hundred dollars one day. The trap that most Christians fall into is one in which we begin to calculate what we are going to spend our money on before we even gain possession it. We forget that we are to give to God first before anything else. Understand that the Lord promises that if we were to give, He will open the windows of heaven and pour so much onto us that we would not be able to contain. The promise of an overflow!

Brothers and sisters, make it a habit to pay your tithes. Try to remember God first before you think about phone bills, car notes etc. Remember, he that sows sparingly will reap sparingly. But he that sows bountifully will in turn reap bountifully (2nd Corinthians 9: 6-7). God bless!

Empty.

Earlier this year I was asked to do the sermon at my church. After preparing for it halfway and expecting glorious results/rave reviews, I got up to the pulpit and fumbled. In everyone’s eyes, I did a good job for “someone who just started”. But between myself and the Lord, I knew I reaped what I had sown throughout the week; nothing. I left the pulpit feeling as though there was a hole in my stomach. I couldn’t look at anyone as I walked to the back of the church and sat down next to my mother. It felt as though the congregation was staring at me with a look that screamed “what was that” the whole way back. My mother was saying a few words to me but I couldn’t hear it due to my head ringing from the noise I just made on the pulpit. There was no participation. Everyone’s eyes were glazed for the better part of the sermon. I almost burst into tears while I sat back there but I had to hold them in because some of the younger kids that look up to me were looking at me. I put my head down on the chair in front of me and prayed. Tears dropped from my eyes as I silently asked the Lord to forgive me.

This occurred back in May and it’s currently August. Three months later, I’m still reeling from that day.

I haven’t been in the Word as much as I used to. Prayer is a rarity as well. I still fast a lot but sometimes I can’t help but feel as though I don’t even know what I’m fasting for. I know that my life is in the hands of the Lord because since then a lot of amazing things have happened to me. But at the same time, I still carry an emptiness around that I know only He can fill.

There’s a rededication that has to occur and for some reason I’ve been putting it off. I don’t want to do that anymore. So I’m praying that the Lord helps me draw closer to Him as I begin to live my life in a way that pleases only Him.

Amen