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A Cow That Has No Tail: A Birthday Reflection

When I woke up this morning, all I could do was to remember.

“31 years gone, just like that!” I said to Jesus as I headed to the kitchen to make a cup of tea.

Unlike my birthday routine for the last few years of doing a series of posts counting down to the day, all I wanted to do this year is to remember—remember the highs and lows, the summers and the winters.

While the water for my tea was boiling, I recalled a message I preached recently in church. I titled it ‘EBENEZER’ (Stone of Help). If the message could be summarised in one statement, it’s this:

“The key that unlocks VICTORY in life is Divine Help, and the key that unlocks Divine Help is REMEMBRANCE.”

It’s a simple thought, but a profound one. The idea came from 1 Samuel 7:12-14 where the Israelites experienced one of their most memorable victories. The context of the story, however, makes it clear that this was not a victory that came because of the bravery or strategy of the Israelites; it was a victory rooted in just one thing: THE HELP OF GOD. Divine Help. (The story of my life!)

There is a saying amongst my people,

“Màlúù tí ò nírù, Ọlọ́run ní ḿbá a léṣinṣin.” Translation: “A cow that has no tail can count on God to help it chase flies away.” 

I reckon this to be the story of my life, these 31 years.

The ‘Ebenezer’ story actually begins in 1 Samuel chapter 4. The Israelites had faced the Philistines and lost 4,000 soldiers in one day. They re-strategised and thought that if they brought in the Ark of Covenant, they will ‘automatically’ start winning, so they brought in the Ark from Shiloh. They rejoiced at its arrival so loudly that the ground shook and the Philistines were terrified. In spite of this seeming assurance, however, they went to battle and the Philistines killed even much more of them—30,000 in all! And that’s not even the worst bit. They lost the Ark of Covenant in the process!

When Eli heard it, he died.

When Eli’s pregnant daughter-in-law heard it, she went into premature labour and gave birth to a boy which she named ‘Ichabod’ (meaning ‘the Glory has departed’).

For the next 20 years, as Prophet Samuel records, “all Israel was in sorrow because the Lord had seemingly abandoned them.” (1 Samuel 7:2 TLB, emphasis mine).

Samuel led the people into repentance, consecration and worship. And as the nation of Israel were worshipping God, the Philistines came again. (Yes, while 20 kids may not play together for 20 years, there are stubborn adversaries that keep showing up years without end). This time, however, God Himself intervened. He made a thunderous sound from the heavens and threw the whole camp of the Philistines into disarray! The Israelites took this as their go-ahead from God and defeated the Philistines massively. The defeat was so final that the Philistines “didn’t invade Israel again at that time because the Lord was against them throughout the remainder of Samuel’s lifetime.” (1 Samuel 7:13 TLB).

You will recall that when the Israelites made a thunderous roar in celebration of the arrival of the Ark of Covenant in chapter 4, they still lost the battle. Woefully. But when God thundered from heaven in Chapter 7, they won the battle hands down! The implication is clear; there is only one explanation for their victory: GOD. The Israelites are the tailless cows whose God had helped to chase their flies away.

In acknowledgement, Samuel took a stone and named it ‘Ebenezer’ — meaning ‘stone of help’. He said “The Lord has certainly helped us!” (1 Samuel 7:12 TLB).

But why did Samuel do that? What’s the point in picking that stone? And what’s the point in naming the stone ‘Ebenezer’?

The reason is not far-fetched. He wanted the Israelites to be INTENTIONAL about REMEMBERING. The word ‘Ebenezer’ is not only apt in this instance as a one-word testimony for how God brought them victory. The word had appeared earlier in this same book. Guess where? In Chapter 4! Ebenezer was where the Israelites lost 30,000 men to the Philistines. So Samuel is naming their victory ‘Ebenezer’ not only because of the literal meaning of the word, but also as a reminder of the backdrop of this victory: a 20-year-old defeat.

“The key that unlocks VICTORY in life is Divine Help, and the key that unlocks Divine Help is REMEMBRANCE.” 

It is for the same reason that Joshua ordered that 12 stones be dislodged from Jordan’s riverbed and piled upon one another as a memorial after the Israelites crossed River Jordan. He was arming the Israelites with their best weapon to survive the unending battles of life: A GOOD MEMORY.

We all need this.

My birthday gift to you, therefore, is a question: Where is your Ebenezer? Where is your Stone of Help? To put it in clearer terms, Can you recall HOW God has helped you . . . and WHY?

  • Your Ebenezer could be a DATE you can’t forget.
  • A PLACE permanently engraved on the walls of your memory.
  • A PERSON (or PEOPLE) through whom God has come through for you.
  • An EVENT or EXPERIENCE that has changed your story for the better.

You want some inspiration to compile your ‘Ebenezer List’? Here’s an excerpt from my copy:

I remember ‘EASTHAM D2’. It’s a meaningless phrase that labelled an anonymous credit alert for £100 which came in at a time when £100 felt like £1m. The money was so timely, it could only have been God chasing away some flies of strandedness from my tailless cow. You can read all about it here.

I remember ‘GOMBE’. To you, it may be just a city in Northern Nigeria; for me, however, it’s an acronym. ‘God Of My Beautiful Experience.’ In that city, I met my wife and received the beginning of a progressive revelation into my future.

I remember ‘FEBRUARY 10, 2012.’ It’s the day Valentine came early for me—the day the first lady I will ever ask to marry me gave me her response. It was neither a ‘yes’ nor a ‘no’. I got a better deal: “I AM READY.” (As I was typing this part of the post, the said damsel walked in, gave me a hug and prayed for me from her heart. I couldn’t hold back the tears!)

I remember ‘A PHONE CALL IN FEBRUARY 2015’. The call came from a couple I was yet to meet physically. Our conversation that night made coming to the UK possible as God led me into another phase in His unfolding plans. (Coming to the UK is not the blessing, mind you; the blessing is in being led into the next season in God’s unfolding plan.)

I remember ‘AN APRIL VISITOR IN 2012.’ He’s a man of God who stopped by to say ‘hello’ to my parents while passing through our town. As he prayed for us when he was about to leave, he had a message for me. Exploring that message led me to the adventure of abandoning Microbiology and a pending job offer for the pursuit of God’s call for my life. I’ve never regretted the decision.

I remember ‘WHO ARE YOU?’. It’s the theme of a 2-evening event I attended while in my first year in Uni. June 2016. It was at that meeting that I became what Yorubas call ‘ọmọlúwàbí’ (which translated, literally means ‘a child born by the Lord of Character’). The equivalent in Christianese is ‘being born again.’ To be born again, of course, is to be born of God—born of the Lord/Master of Character and Virtue.

[There is another saying that highlights this born-again concept in the Yoruba tradition. It goes thus: “Kí ẹrú mọ ara ẹ̀ lẹ́rú; kí ìwọ̀fà mọ ara ẹ̀ níwọ̀fà; kí ọmọlúwàbí mọ ara ẹ̀ lẹ́rú Ọlọ́run ọba.” Translation: “Let the slave know himself or herself as a slave; let the pawn know himself or herself as a pawn; let the ọmọlúwàbí know himself or herself as the child of God.”](Oops! I couldn’t resist chipping in a bit of ‘African Theology’.)

I could go on and on recounting the countless items on ‘My Ebenezer List’, but let’s turn the table and point the question back to you: WHAT’S YOUR EBENEZER?

When you remember what God has done, it reminds you of Whose you are. If you will recognise the Jordan in your rearview mirror, faith will arise as you approach the Jericho in front of your windshield. If you will recall the place where you fell and the lessons Providence taught you from there, you have perspective to face the future.

So join me in creating a trophy room. Let’s create one in our heart. For each victory that comes our way going forward—each provision, protection and answered prayer—we will do well by placing a memory on the shelf in our trophy room. In no time, we will have a room full of trophies that remind us that though we may be like a cow with no tail, there is a God Whose track record clearly shows that He can be counted on to help us chase the flies away.

Olódùmarè, 
You are the ‘Flies Chaser’ on my tailless cow. 
You’ve chased away the flies of debts and death. 
Chase away, also, the fly of forgetfulness 
That I may always remember that You are my ‘Flies Chaser’. 
Amen.

PS: #iRemember is a daily mentoring retrospective look at Chronicles of our past—my wife and I—drawing life lessons from past experiences. It is exclusive to members of Alive Mentorship Group—an online mentorship platform for young adults across the world that provides an avenue to learn practical life lessons across geographical barriers. If you will like to be a part, just click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/alivementorship/ and/or get added to the Telegram group here: https://t.me/joinchat/JvxLBRDnP1cvbaeTBfs2dQ .
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Are You Called to Write? (My Story)

Today, 10th of January 2020 makes it exactly 10 years ago when my first book, The Salvation Journey was launched. (Work is ongoing to release a 10th-year anniversary edition, revised and updated.) In the past decade, I’ve worked on a number of book projects some of which are unpublished eBooks which I gave out for free as a giveaway. They include:

  1. The Salvation Journey (© 2009, launched 2010)
  2. 13:13, The Numbers of Life (© 2012)
  3. Alive: Living in the Power of Grace and Truth (© 2013)
  4. Me, My Thoughts and My Nation (© 2014, ebook giveaway)
  5. #Peaces: I Will Wait (© 2016, ebook giveaway)
  6. Bumpy But Sweet (© 2017, ebook giveaway)
  7. Waiting Compass: Finding God When He Seems to Delay (© 2018)
  8. #Unaddicted: Finding Freedom from Sex-related Addictions (© 2019)
  9. Is This Opportunity from God: 7 Checkpoints for Discerning Divine Opportunities (© 2019)
  10. Marriage in View: Ready? Sleep. Go! (© 2019)
  11. Young and Found: a Devotional for Young Adults (© 2020)

Besides these are over 150 Facebook Notes, tens of blog posts and hundreds of #iRemember reflections on Alive Mentorship Group. I thought today is a good day to share a few of the lessons I have picked up along the way on this writing journey.

Lesson #1: Discover Your Call to Write.

I think one of the strengths and weaknesses of the advancement in the ICT world in the past decade is that it has made virtually everyone that has access to some media platform a writer of some sort (even if that means copying and pasting or sharing unattributed broadcasts). Suddenly, anyone can choose to pursue writing irrespective of what that looks like. But really, I’m persuaded that some people are really CALLED into writing. Some people are called to use words to shape lives and influence positive transformation in the lives of others. While I’m yet to ‘arrive’ as a writer, I am convinced that I am called to write.

“How do I know if I’m called to write?”, you may ask, and I will answer that in a bit. But let me retrace and reframe my writing journey story for you to further underscore some of the points I will be making later.

My engagement with words—as far back as I can remember—began when I was in Primary 2 (I should be about 6 or 7 years old at the time). I got The Wedding Photograph (a kids’ novel) as a gift for topping my class and I finished reading the book at one seating. As I read the book—I can repicture the scene in my mind even now—I imagined myself writing such a story. I imagined how I would have changed the plot in some ways and what words I might have used…

When I got to Primary 4, a teacher whose name I can’t remember (who, apparently, was a temp in the school—a youth corps member) formed a Press Club and in a curious series of events, I was elected to be the editor-in-chief of the club. I found myself writing articles which were displayed on the school’s notice board virtually every other day. Besides, I was gathering news headlines and compiling news bulletins which we broadcast every week on the school’s assembly ground.

By the time I got to JSS 1 (age 10), I started writing my first novel. I still remember the weird title I gave it: The Overreachment. It was a story of a secondary school student who, as the ‘head boy’, impregnated the ‘head girl’ without even ‘having sex’. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say it was nothing short of what someone that had absolutely no clue about sex could have written. It’s a good thing one of my classmates who had the manuscript relocated to another city and I never saw the manuscript again.

When I got to JSS 3 (age 12), I remember a senior student bringing me an erotic poem she was trying to put together. She wrote a stanza and got stuck. I picked it up and finished the poem for her, and it was indeed erotic.

By the time I got to Uni, I made a friend in my first year; her name is OREOLUWADARA. In the same year, I became resolute in beginning to live out my new found faith and I joined the team of Bible Study teachers in the Christian fellowship I was a part of. This was the season I returned to writing, but with a redeemed passion to write ‘for God’ and not for selfish or erotic purposes.

All of these was happening without my sense of a call to write. Until one day.

I was in the library reading. I had earlier written a poem—a Christian poem—and left the sheet of paper on which it was written lying on the table as I studied. Then my friend, Oreoluwadara (a gift of God indeed, and my first crush), came by. She was leaving the library and wanted to bid me farewell. Then she found the poem I had left on the table and read it. Her response was overwhelmingly shocking.

“You wrote this?! Oh my goodness! You should write more! This is bla bla bla bla…” 

She went on and on about how good the piece was and how inspiring she thought it was. I had not thought of the poem as anything special. It was just a poem as far as I know. But she saw more than that. And as much as I knew her, the last thing Ore would do is flatter anyone. She’s virtuous like that. So her comments got to me.

I began to write more poems and articles, and guess who I send them to for feedback? You guessed right. Ore. Ore would read the write-ups and offer her often very constructive critical feedback. I was becoming a better writer without even knowing it.

By 2009, I made ‘publishing a book’ one of my final year goals. However, I didn’t know I was going to be called to serve as the leader of the Christian fellowship I was a part of. (It wasn’t customary to call final year students into such offices as the final year is busy enough as it is with research and dissertation among other things.) Thankfully, we had a 4-month break as a result of lecturers going on industrial action. I maximised the time with my desktop computer with an HDD drive capacity of 4GB (how I managed to install all the software I had on the PC is still a wonder, considering it had such a small memory capacity). By the time the strike was over, a book was ready.

I sent off the manuscript to my mentor for feedback and editorial recommendations. As soon as I took the step of writing it, God began to orchestrate circumstances and events to favour the publishing of the book. I met with willing editors. I was linked to a willing publisher. God supplied the finance. He announced the project to my Area Superintendent who decided to drag the church to the book launch willy nilly on Jan 10, 2010.

By the time I got to Gombe State in 2011, I had come to realise that “I’m called to use words to shape lives.” I remember praying one evening and God said to me, “I’m giving you the key which I gave Max Lucado in 1979.” (Max Lucado is my favourite author). I went online and searched for everything I could find about Max Lucado and 1979 but I never found anything striking. In any case, I continued doing my bit writing via every avenue I could manage. I started blogging on WordPress and Blogspot. I began to publish notes on Facebook via their Facebook notes platform. I opened a personal website in 2012 to do some more blogging.

And through it all, I never stopped reading.

It was years later that I got to find out the key God gave Max Lucado in 1979. And I discovered I’ve been doing the same thing. It was CONSISTENCY. In 1979, Max was serving as an associate minister of a downtown church in Miami, Florida. One of his tasks was to write a weekly article for the church bulletin. “Many ministers dread such tedium,” he would later write, “but he grew to relish the task.” Because he was single at the time, he stayed in his office until late at night, writing and rewriting the pieces. The bulletin was small, so his essays were brief. He had no thought that the articles would ever be read outside of the church. But the pieces were read outside of Miami. He began receiving letters from people around the country requesting copies of the articles. For the first time, he was exposed to the power of the written word. The pen, he realized, would speak to people he did not know, in places he might never go, in ways he otherwise never could. Those articles were compiled to form his first book: On The Anvil. He was amazed.

So am I. Every day! Just by the CONSISTENCY of leveraging on social media to write the thoughts God was laying on my heart or something I’d gleaned as I read a book, many doors had been opened. I’d received messages from Muslims who speak of the transforming power in the words I’ve written. I’ve engaged in countless chats with countless people who reached out because they read one thing or the other which I wrote. I have received a call from a Facebook friend who felt blessed by my writings and turns out to be the one God will use to orchestrate the journey that landed me in the UK as I continue to explore and fulfil God’s call. My first time of visiting the United States (in 2018), as I have shared with some of you before, was also because of my call to write. I could go on and on and on.But I’ll circle back to the question:

How do I know if I am called to write?

  1. God will bring you many OPPORTUNITIES for you to explore writing. While you may choose to ignore the opportunities, I’ve found God does bring such opportunities.
  2. I believe you will have an innate connection to and with WORDS. Most ‘called’ writers I know also love READING and/or LISTENING to well-crafted words.
  3. You will receive CONFIRMATION of your call to write. This can come as testimonies or positive feedback based on what you have written.
  4. You will have a burning desire for the TRUTH. Those who are called to write are messengers of truth and they know it. They are passionate about it.
  5. You will be TEMPTED to MISUSE or IGNORE your writing gift. For me, it was the lure of writing erotic nonsense at some point. Thank God for redeeming the gift and helping me begin to unleash it at His appointed time.
  6. MONEY won’t matter AT ALL if you are called to write. The financial gain that comes from royalties won’t be your motivation.
  7. God will surround you with PEOPLE that can bring out the writer in you.

These are 7 quick points that I can think of as I reflect on my story and the story of a few others that I know who are called to write.

If you can resonate with these 7 points and you are yet to come to terms with the fact that you are called to write, think again! Take some time to ask God some sincere questions about your calling; He is ever-so-willing to answer.

With love,

josephkolawoleola

I hope this helps someone today.

PS: #iRemember is a daily mentoring retrospective look at Chronicles of our past—my wife and I—drawing life lessons from past experiences. It is exclusive to members of Alive Mentorship Group—an online mentorship platform for young adults across the world that provides an avenue to learn practical life lessons across geographical barriers. If you will like to be a part, just click here and/or get added to the Telegram group here.
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A Collage of 7 Lessons

7 LESSONS I LEARNT FROM MY MASTER’S DEGREE EXPERIENCE
#iRemember | Episode 329
 
It’s no more news that I graduated from my MA in Biblical and Pastoral Theology last Friday. On the morning of the graduation, I picked up my phone almost after I woke up and scribbled down six lessons I learnt in the experience. This morning, I revisit my jottings to edit them and add one more point.
 
1. The Bible is infallible and inerrant.
Whether we like it or not, the world (especially the Western world) is becoming increasingly secularised and post-Christian. We are surrounded by a worldly secular system in which all truth is relative and in which there are no absolutes. As such, the Bible is both openly and subtly undermined or attacked. Many are beginning to accept it as one more way to look at the world without giving it an adequate acknowledgement regarding its divine authority which is “simply passed over, ignored, flippantly popularized or dismissed with a tolerant smile” (to use John MacArthur’s words).
 
The Biblical side of my MA programme got me questioning many things I’d assumed as being true (eg, that Paul wrote all the epistles we traditionally ascribe to him) but landed me back at the shores of the age-worn truth: God’s Word is infallible and inerrant!
 
Infallible signifies the quality of neither misleading nor being misled and so safeguards in categorical terms the truth that Holy Scripture is a sure, safe, and reliable rule and guide in all matters. Similarly, Inerrant signifies the quality of being free from all falsehood or mistake and so safeguards the truth that Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its assertions.
 
That is not to say that there couldn’t/wouldn’t have been errors in copying and recopying the original manuscripts, but the original manuscripts are inerrant and what we have today in whichever language is capable of preserving and delivering unto us the whole counsel of God.
 
All that to say this: You can trust your Bible as God’s inspired words to you.
 
2. Failure is a part of life.
I already shared with you in previous posts how I failed a particular module by 1 mark and had to do a reassessment. The lesson here is that failure is not shameful. There are life lessons which only failure can teach you in such a way that you will get it. Don’t despise your failures; celebrate them!
 
3. Start early.
It is a wise counsel to start whatever it is you are venturing into as early as you can as much as it lies in your power. Why linger when you know you’re going to do it anyway?
 
For reasons beyond my control, I started my MA 5 weeks after others have resumed and within that 5 weeks they’ve completed the course that would be the foundation for the MA (called MA Thinking Skills). That gap kept reflecting on my assessments. It took a few assessments to be able to come to the point of thinking critically enough at the level expected of Masters students in the field of my study.
 
In another sense, there was only one assessment that I could remember submitting before the deadline; every other one, I submitted ON the deadline date. The reason is the same: I just never start writing my essays on time (in the name of having so many things on my plate). It is a good practice to embrace this counsel as a life principle: the earlier you start, the better.
 
4. Just Start.
This is different than the previous point. We all have stuff we desire to do but are simply humanly beyond our comprehension of possibilities, but we must never allow anything whatsoever to stop us from venturing into what God has in store for us.
 
When I was going to begin this programme, I had no idea of where I would raise £10,800. It’s just unthinkable. At some point, the school finance invited me for a discussion in which if nothing happened in 2 days, I’ll be reported to the Home Office and deported, but even in the heat of that, God proved to me yet again that ‘impossible’ is still His favourite word.’
 
5. Give your best and leave the rest to God.
My first degree was in Microbiology, and so there is already a gap in venturing into a Masters degree in a field in which my only previous knowledge is largely personal studies and the experience I had at the 9-month Bible College program I did in Bradford. But the gap notwithstanding, I gave my best. I didn’t finish with a distinction (no one did in my class), but rather with a Merit. Yet, in the light of the research I undertook for my MA Dissertation, the school invited me to join a bunch of Professors and Doctors to design the curriculum for a new Masters Degree programme the University is about to commence (an MA in African Christianity). It was such a great honour meeting a good number of the scholars whose works I’d only read and cited from electronic sources in a real-time scenario, brainstorming together to shape a curriculum that will shape another generation of scholars. That experience is opening doors within doors for which I’m grateful to God.
 
All that to say do your best, and leave God to honour your efforts in the ways that He deems best fitting.
 
6. There is a huge task lying upon the shoulders of African Christianity.
My MA dissertation explored the journey of Christianity from the West to Africa (and the global South generally) through the efforts of missionaries and how many Africans are returning to the West bringing back the Christianity they brought to us (as they are now so secularised that Christianity is practically dying in their sphere with more and more people claiming to have no religion in countries that used to be heavily Christian). However, looking at how many Africans are doing church here in the UK (for instance), if care is not taken, we will not fulfil God’s mandate to us to become an agent of re-evangelisation of the West. African ministers in the diaspora will need to be intentional about learning how to do cross-cultural mission if their church plants in the West will last beyond 2-3 generations.
(It’s okay if that point doesn’t make sense to you. But if you are an African Christian, understand that you are part of the fastest-growing Christian movement in the world and God is counting on us to be actively involved in the end-time harvest of souls into His kingdom).
 
7. Let God’s Glory be your motivation.
Whatever you set out to do, if your motivation isn’t in alignment with being able to glorify God, you are definitely in the wrong.
 
My motivation for doing a Masters transcends an opportunity to stay a little longer in the UK. Surely it goes beyond just wanting to add that to my ‘achievements’. The sincere truth is that at the very base of this pursuit is the desire to be able to better understand the scriptures through the eyes of different worldviews, and as such be able to think clearer thoughts and write/speak clearer words to a wider range of people so that my circumference of reaching people with God’s truth can be wider and more people can be blessed. Besides, there were specific modules that taught me better Pastoral skills and different avenues for development so that at the end of the day, I’m more equipped to equip others with that which I gleaned in my journey through this phase.
 
I hope this helps someone.
 
josephkolawoleola.
 
#iRemember is a daily mentoring retrospective look at Chronicles of our past—my wife and I—drawing life lessons from past experiences. It is exclusive to members of Alive Mentorship Group—an online mentorship platform for young adults across the world that provides an avenue to learn practical life lessons across geographical barriers. If you will like to be a part, just click here and/or get added to the Telegram group here.
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Don’t forget the Main Thing

Have you ever had a rather disappointing experience that cost you unnecessary money? I have.

I was in Bible College. I woke up early enough to have some time for my devotion and the daily journaling I do with members of my online mentorship platform. I attended to a couple of other issues, had my bath and then set out on a very important assignment: COOKING!

I made some noodles to which I added shreds of chicken and some (sort of) fried rice which I had as a left over from the previous day. Long story short: After a long while in the kitchen, the food was ready. I dished it in my lunch pack and came to my room to pick my phone and iPad and set out for school.

When I checked the time, I was already 10 minutes behind my normal schedule. If I’d still have to make it to College on time, then I had to run, jog and walk a bit. And that was what I did.

I got to school panting! I consoled myself with the thought that the food I cooked will make up for the unnecessary extra energy expended. That was when it dawned on me: I LEFT THE FOOD AT HOME!

It was as painful as painful can be. You know when your mind and taste buds had been set to “expectation mode” only to find out later that their specific expectations had been cut short! I almost cried!

When I saw people buying different things at Starbucks during a 10-minute break we had in-between lectures, I could no longer resist the lure. I ordered for a big cup of hot chocolate and a slice of cheese cake to placate my appetite. But no matter what I bought, nothing satisfied my hunger as much as my time-consuming well-prepared chickened rice and noodles would have done.

When all is said and done, the point remained this: I FORGOT THE MAIN THING!

All that to say this: We all have a propensity to do that. In this postmodern world saturated with speed and distractions, it’s very easy to forget the main thing!

Please don’t do that this year! And if you are wondering what the main thing is, a couple of Bible verses should help you:

Matthew 7:17-18 (MSG): “Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. WHO PREACHERS ARE IS THE MAIN THING, NOT WHAT THEY SAY.”

~Who you are is the main thing, not what you say. (Your identity trumps your words).

2 Corinthians 5:9 (MSG): “CHEERFULLY PLEASING GOD IS THE MAIN THING, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions.”

~Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing!

If you merge those two scriptures together, then you will discover that *the main thing for a child of God is to cheerfully please God as His CHILD!*

Receive the grace to do that this year.

I pray that God will grant you the grace to keep the main thing the main thing as you stay unwavering and unflinching at the sight of distractions that could short-circuit the joy of living out our identity in Christ in Jesus’ Name.

Amen.

Have a great year!

josephkolawoleola

#iRemember is a daily mentoring retrospective look at Chronicles of our past—my wife and I—drawing life lessons from past experiences. It is exclusive to members of Alive Mentorship Group—an online mentorship platform for young adults across the world that provides an avenue to learn practical life lessons across geographical barriers. If you will like to be a part, just click here and/or get added to the Telegram group here.

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April 30, 2012

APRIL 30, 2012
 
That was the defining moment.
That was the first leap of faith in the journey that was about to change the course of the rest of my life…
 
Few days before then, I was alone in a small room for 3 days. Alone, but not lonely. I emerged after those 3 days with a rather audacious submission and an even more audacious commission and mandate. I couldn’t shake off the sense that I was to spend the rest of my life finding expression for the lyrics I heard in those 3 days – lyrics beyond terrestrial melody.
 
3 days passed. I told my parents.
Mum cried. Dad sighed. But they both came to the same conclusion: We release you to go for that which you believe you have been called to pursue. (Oh! God bless my parents!)
 
My mentor gave me a “song sheet” for the new melody. Some well-meaning destiny friends gave me some “musical instruments” to start with (in a manner of speaking). And my eternal twain was ready to go all the way with me to sing this new tune together. (Thanks, Eleos).
 
On the very day I was supposed to go for an interview at a High School to start a lecturing job in the field I had chosen, I set out on another trip entirely into the unfamiliar.
 
The trip to Lagos seemed like forever. She welcomed me with her soundtrack of weary faces. I remember carrying my two small bags close to my heart as I was looking everywhere for a clue as to which way to go. I called Funmi, and she directed me.
 
Four years down the line, God has proven Himself faithful.
 
He has healed me of a cough that should have taken my life.
He has backed up His words on my lips with testimonies.
He has introduced me to people I never knew existed.
He has heard prayers I had not voiced out.
He has silenced the voice of impossibility.
He has disgraced insufficiency and lack.
He has broken the chains of “locality”.
He has shut the mouth of tradition.
He has given me HIMSELF!
 
“If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for (me), embracing (my) condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for (me)?” (Romans 8:32 MSG personalised).
 
Yes, it’s a great climb. The wall is high, and the stakes are higher. But He has given me His harness (the Holy Spirit) and placed a rope (His Word) in my hands.
 
Yes, at some point, I’d lost my footing and my focus. At some point, I’d fallen for a moment which seemed like forever…but then the rope tightened, and the tumble ceased. I hung in the harness and found “Him” to be strong. I grasped the rope and found “Him” to be true. I looked at my Guide and found Jesus securing my soul.
 
Now I’m wiser. I’m careful and cautious, but I’m also confident. I trust the rope. I rely on the harness. And though I can’t always see or feel my Guide, I know Him enough to trust His strength. And I know He is able to keep me from falling.
 
“To him who is able to keep (me) from falling and to present (me) before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God (my) Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ (my) Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Jude vv. 24–25 NIV)
 
…He that has begun the good work, will, no doubt, finish it.
Amen.
 
PS:
1. Thanks for your support and prayers. Every single one of you.
2. And if you are sensing the same thing I sensed 4 years ago, don’t delay. His remuneration plan is unmatchable!
 
Blessings.
josephkolawole.org
www.josephkolawole.org
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5 Points To Overcome Masturbation

The plight: “Good morning sir, please I need your help.  I’ve been battling with masturbation right from my childhood and I don’t know how to put an end to it totally. I pray and fast about it at times, then it will stop for some weeks and later on, I’ll be back to it. Pls, help me to stop it totally sir.”


The Response:

Pleasant evening, my friend.
Glad to read from you.
I can definitely feel the sincerity of your pain in the mail you sent, however, this much I will say for now (and I pray you “get it”):

1. NOBODY can help you “stop it totally”; not me, not you—except God and His grace.
2. This has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with whether or not God loves you or accepts you. He always will love, accept, cherish, provide for, bless, and help you day in day out, whether you stop this or not.
3. But then (and most importantly) for the sake of fruitfulness in God’s kingdom (by being able to inspire and encourage others that are presently or will be passing through this same street in the future as I’m doing for you now), it is a BIG NEED for you to stop for good… [And understand that fruitfulness is the ONE THING that will distinguish believers from believers when we stand before God on the last day, for the fruitful shall be rewarded and the fruitless shall “suffer loss”]
4. But (as in my own case) I didn’t stop because I wanted to stop (otherwise, I would have stopped immediately after it started). I later found out (after mastering point number 2 above to a fault) that the tempter let me be because he came to terms with the fact that come-what-may, he will always lose. If he brings the temptation and I shrug it off, I win (and become stronger). If he brings the temptation and I fall for it, I still win (because when he reports me to My Dad, it doesn’t change the way HE sees me and Jesus never stops interceding for me—so the devil is just helpless in all of this—he always [and will always] lose!)
5. You’ve tried fasting; you’ve tried praying (and trust me, I tried both, too); but try embracing the simple fact that you are still God’s child even if you still masturbate. And the more God’s unexplainable love seeps through you, the more you get the power to be free as you’ve always wanted.

“I write this, dear children, to guide you out of sin. But if anyone does sin, we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus. When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world’s.” (1 John 2:1-2 MSG)

Cheers!

Best regards,

joseph@notalone.org

TAC

Our Destiny > Our Memories

As I watched the Centenary celebration service of The Apostolic Church held in Penygroes tonight, my heart is full—so full that I could hardly type these words. I type only because I hope that in so doing, I will lighten the burden and give expression to what God is saying primarily to me, and secondarily to whom it may concern. I hope to be able to capture them in 7 bullets:

  1. I HAVE A FAMILY TREE. More than ever, tonight, I felt like I belonged to a family with a history. As I heard again the stories of Pastors D.P. Williams and Andrew Turnbull, as I learnt that the first Missionary Office of TAC was in Bradford (where I now study in a Bible College because The Apostolic Bible College is no longer in existence) I felt like I stumbled on a chest that contained photos that told my family tales from time immemorial. I felt like I’m part of a river winding through a great canyon. How true is the saying that “knowing where you came from says much about where you are going.” Little wonder the Bible started with Genesis… “God wants us to know from where we came, for learning that will teach us much about the place we are going.” (Max Lucado, 2004)
  2. DESPISE NOT THE DAYS OF LITTLE BEGINNINGS. To think that a movement that is now manifestly present in about 100 countries around the world started in a tiny dot on the map spear-headed by a man who was just about 10 years in the faith at the time speaks volumes! Has the Bible not said that “whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world?” (1 John 5:4). “Don’t be afraid to start small”. Those were God’s exact words to me in February 2012 as I stepped out of Gombe State in Nigeria as a young man ready to “start living”. Perhaps, He’s saying the same to you today…
  3. IT’S OKAY TO GO WEARY, BUT DON’T STAY WEARY. To be honest, weariness happens with life. Ask every Pastor called of God—they’ve had moments when they almost gave up. And the same can be said of any genuine child of God. And I think often time, the devil finds us most vulnerable at our moments of weariness such that rather than do what the weary should do, we find ourselves losing our confidence in That which brought us hitherto in the first place. As I stand to look from without (in a manner of speaking) the oriental view of TAC (especially in Nigeria where I come from), I find a picture of a weary congregation and more painfully, weary ministers. The only thing more painful is that many have mistaken their weariness for productivity or efficiency when it is in fact, mere busyness. And this can as well apply to you (as an individual, or an organisation; whatever eyes you might be reading this with). But in all sincerity, (as Pastor Daniel Jenkins read the Scriptures) I felt the Lord saying, “It’s okay to be weary, but don’t stay weary”. Has the prophet not spoken that “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength?” Has Jesus not called in clear language “Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest”? Embrace His restoration. And when He restores, don’t expect Him to give you back what you lost; He restores in dimensions consistent with His limitless creativity. Whatever part of your ministry/business has gone weary, don’t expect Him to restore the modus-operandi. Opening yourself up to God’s strength and rest is positioning yourself for His creative ideas that will revive your viability and vitality and give you more rest and greater impact. I write by the Spirit of God.
  4. REPOSITIONING FOR GREATER IMPACT COMES WITH ITS EMBARRASSMENTS; SHRUG THEM OFF! I could see a form of disappointment on the face of some people in the failed initial attempt to connect live with the Ghana Church while the programme was on. Leveraging on technology for a greater impact is a great thing but the devil wants to discourage the attempt despite the fact that it had been tested to work last night. The good thing is it eventually happened at a later time in the programme. And I think the same is true for all of us in different ways. When Peter stepped out of the waters, that was a repositioning that was to launch him to a whole new level amongst the apostles, but then came the embarrassment that the venture attracted. What I don’t know, however, is if Peter ever tried water-walking again… But for you, this much is sufficient: to walk on the water, you need to get out of the boat!
  5. DON’T JUST “DO” IT, “TEACH” OTHERS TO DO IT AS WELL! Wasn’t that Jesus’ pattern? “…the things which He began both to DO and to TEACH…” Powerful message from Pastor Eric Horley. That was a timely word! And that’s what leadership and discipleship is all about—and that’s, in fact, what our calling is all about. Don’t be so big on “doing” that you forget to teach—you tend to shorten your life span by so doing and lose the coming generation to those who are doing what you fail to do—teach! That’s why, in some parts of the world, The Apostolic Church is tending to become more of a church for the elderly and less a church for the youths… And don’t be so big on “teaching” that you fail to “do”; otherwise you become practically irrelevant to your community and outsiders will label you as being hypocritical—and rightly so!
  6. NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE! Oh, I also love the “We Believe” song that was rendered during the service. You need to listen to the real song to appreciate it more. You can watch it here. I’m proud to say that the composer of that song is actually one of my lecturers in my Bible College, Matt Hooper.(And on a lighter note, I wondered if the people that picked the song also knew that the composer wears a tattoo and is a pastor…lol). But, hey! That’s all that matters on the long run—what you believe! What do you believe? We believe in God the Father, We believe in Jesus Christ, We believe in the Holy Spirit and He’s given us new life. We believe in the crucifixion, we believe that He’s conquered hell; We believe in His resurrection and He’s coming back again….
  7. YOUR DESTINY IS GREATER THAN YOUR MEMORY. That’s the take home for me tonight. That come what may, my destiny in God is greater than my memory. That my yesterday is incomparable to my tomorrow. That eyes had not seen, ears had not heard, and neither has it gotten to the hearts of men the things God is preparing for me and for you.

These are the things the Spirit of God ministered to me from being a part of this centenary celebration. pray it blesses you, too.

Joseph Kolawole Ola
Life Church College, Bradford

 

 

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THE WIND OF FRESH LIFE!

Bradford. The first I heard of the city was 8 years ago while reading Roberts Liardon’s book—God’s Generals. I saw that Bradford was the base of the great Apostle of Faith—Smith Wigglesworth and his wife, Polly. The twain had such a great ministry in Bradford that the power of God was so evident and #FreshLife took over the atmosphere from their Bowland Street Mission.

Fast-forward to a century later, things have changed! Not only in Bradford, but in the whole of England, and inferentially, in the whole of the western world. The people had, in a sense, substituted the government for their God. Their heroes past had successfully established an orderly system—so orderly that people rarely see the need for God let alone to retain Him in their thinking. Thus, many are given over to a reprobate mind to do things that are “not convenient”. Behind the rampant alcoholism, drug addictions, pornography and all sort is a kleptomaniac—the devil!

But God will not leave a nation without a remnant—agents of RESTORATION—THE CHURCH! And by “the church”, I don’t refer to the entertainment-laden powerless small groups in beautiful buildings that meet every week to go out into the world and continue the business-as-usual lifestyle. The church that will “blow the trumpet in Zion” will not be at ease. Amos said “woe to them who are at ease in Zion”. The Church that will restore the spiritual sensitivity and sanity of the Western World is the church that is angry at what the devil is doing in these last days—stealing, killing and destroying—but will be opened to divine guidance for strategic positioning for the work of RESTORATION, REVIVAL, RE-ESTABLISHMENT and RENEWAL.

In Bradford, no doubt, Life Church and Life Church College is tops amongst such agents!

Knowing that I will be resuming in their college at this time of the year, I’d started following their video podcasts for some months. But there’s a dimension of reality in worship gatherings that the cameras could never capture! My first day in Church and College was a WOW! Royal Welcome. Heaven-on-Earth Worship. Timely Powerful Word. Unhideable Testimonies. I’m in for a ride of a lifetime! What more could you ask for?

Folks, God is doing a great work in kairos moment that we are in. A wind of #FreshLife is blowing, not only in Bradford but all around the world. Do well to CONNECT. There is an abundance of the expression of ABUNDANT LIFE in every vessel that will not mistake the provision for the Provider. A life that is not only ETERNAL in duration but also EXCEPTIONAL in quality. An exceedingly-abundantly-above kind of life.

Folks, “It’s not enough to be in God’s neighbourhood, God has a PERSONAL APPOINTMENT with YOU!” @SteveGambill

God is expecting you and me to balance out a spiritual understanding with practical expressions of the same and not get entangled with materialism. The miracle is NOT the mundane; it’s only HIDDEN in the mundane. The epic news in the blessing of “manna” is not in the provision but in the assurance of our “perpetual possession” of the Perpetual Provider of the provision. When He says “don’t take portions meant for tomorrow today except on the day before Sabbath”, what He’s saying is that “I’ll be here again tomorrow…and the next…and the next…and on Sabbath day, you will rest in the satisfaction of my presence.

Embrace His perpetual presence and give expression to it everywhere you go!

And be like my colleague, Sedia. I looked over to her towards the end of our first day in College and whispered (echoing the preacher’s words)…

“Let go of the past”
With a full and lovely smile, she looked back at me and whispered back… “I have!”

May that be your testimony IJN.

________________

Keep an eye on this blog for more “shares” as I learn in God’s School of Life in this journey of a few months…

#TBL Episode 5: finally, reFOCUS!

 

Ed. Note: “The Biggest Lesson (TBL)” is a series on the biggest lesson I’ve learned in life written to mark my birthday this year (March 23, 2015). THIS IS THE LAST EPISODE IN THE SERIES (AND MAY BE THE LONGEST, BUT I PLEAD WITH YOU TO READ IT TO THE VERY END). May you be blessed as we conclude the series. Amen.

 

Opening Question: What are you living for?

 

************

March 2012,

Ile-Ife, State of Osun, Nigeria.

 

At about 2pm that afternoon, I was on my way to my bank. I alighted at Lagere from a commercial vehicle and crossed the road. As I was about to make a left, a young man caught up with me, panting.

 

“Are you Ola Joseph Kolawole?”, he asked with high optimism plastered upon his face.

“Yes, I am. Pleased to meet you.”

 

He screamed! Then he hugged me. He couldn’t contain himself.

 

“Wow! Are you serious! You look a little younger than your profile picture. Oh, pardon my manners—I’m one of your friends on facebook. I follow every of your notes and I’m blessed by each piece. Your status updates, too are great. I’m glad I finally met you!”

 

I smiled. He was so excited that he forgot to tell me his name. And I was so shocked, I couldn’t ask. If I see him today, I doubt if I’ll recognise him.

 

By the time we parted ways, I was left with one question: “What’s special about the notes and status updates, anyways?”

 

************

 

June 2013,

Idimu/Ikotun Road, Lagos State, Nigeria.

 

I was transferred from my former station to an assembly in Ilesa, State of Osun in May 2013 as a Student Pastor. I was posted back to Lagos on the 1st of June, same year. Lots of stuff happened within those three weeks both at Ilesa and in Lagos. But I had an experience I will never forget in a hurry on my return…

 

Shortly after I returned to Lagos, I visited the filling station close to my church where I used to buy fuel before my transfer. The transfer came rather suddenly so I didn’t have time to bid the filling station attendants farewell. 3 weeks had passed and they had not seen me.

 

Then one of them spotted me from afar.

 

She screamed so loud, all their customers thought she was running mad. They traced the direction of her gaze…and there I was. Before you could say “Jack”, the other attendants joined in the scream.

 

“Pastor! Our very own Pastor!”

“But Pastor you no try o. How you go commot like that, you no fit tell person”

“Pastor, what did you bring for us”

“Pastor, are you finally back, or you are going again?”

 

They were all talking simultaneously. I was shocked and embarrassed. You would have thought it was an “Area Father” that stepped into the midst of “Area Boys”. I was really embarrassed.

 

They fought over who will sell fuel to me. I got a more-than-executive treatment at their station. Me? I have no car for crying out loud. Most of the time, I come to the filling station with kegs or ride my Pastor’s vehicle. Yet, I felt like their biggest customer.

 

As I headed back to church, I was asking myself… “What have I done to deserve this royal welcome-back from, well, from sinners?” The Holy Spirit stopped me in my track and reminded me: “JESUS—your chief example—was called A FRIEND OF SINNERS!”

 

Like Jesus, like me! Like Father, like son!

 

************

 

In Episode 1 of this series, I asked: What is the one thing separating you from joy? When will you be truly happy? When you are healed? Or promoted? Or married? Or single? Or rich? Then we took it further: What if your ship never comes in? What if the situation never changes? What if your dream never comes true? Could you be happy?

 

In my experience, the answer is yes! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own.(Luke 12:15 NLT). TRUE HAPPINESS is not gotten from MATERIALISM; true happiness is gotten from expressing your reason for living! True happiness comes from prioritizing souls and investing in them! True happiness comes from reFOCUSing on what’s going to last.

 

It is called GODLINESS! Godliness focuses our attention on eternity. Godliness reminds us that we shall be accountable to God on the last day. Godliness reminds us that everything earthly is temporary. Godliness urges us to give our attention to permanent values and reorganize our lives around eternal priorities!

 

For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time; but what cannot be seen lasts forever. (2 Corinthians 4:18 GNT)   

 

Materialism clouds our vision of God, and we begin to think that all there really is to life is getting and enjoying things. Our perspective gets warped. Hence, my opening question in this final episode: WHAT ARE YOU LIVING FOR? How would you want to be remembered 100 years from now? Or, better question—“How would you want to be REWARDED in ETERNITY?”

 

On this side of eternity, the truth remains that the vast majority of us won’t win a gold medal…and that’s okay! We understand in the economy of earth there are a limited number of crowns. The economy of heaven, however, is refreshingly different! Heavenly rewards are not limited to a chosen few, but “TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE LONGED FOR HIS APPEARING” (2 Timothy 4:8).  The 3 letter word “ALL” is a gem.  In heaven, the winner’s circle isn’t reserved for a handful of the elite, but for a heaven full of God’s children that “will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

 

For all we don’t know about the next life, this much is certain.  The day Christ comes will be a day of reward.  Those who went unknown on earth will be known in heaven. 

  • Those who never heard the cheers of men will hear the cheers of angels
  • Those who missed the blessing of a father will hear the blessing of a Heavenly Father.
  • The small will be great. 
  • The forgotten will be remembered. 
  • The unnoticed will be crowned and the faithful will be honoured…Your day is coming.

What the world has overlooked, your Father has remembered, and sooner than you can imagine, you will be blessed by Him.  And when it comes to this eternal reward session, God doesn’t delegate the job. Angel Michael doesn’t hand out the crowns. Angel Gabriel doesn’t speak on behalf of the throne.  GOD HIMSELF does the honours. “God will praise each one of them” (1 Corinthians 4:5 NCV).

 

And what’s more, the praise is personal! Awards aren’t given a nation at a time, a church at a time, or a generation at a time.  The crowns are given ONE AT A TIME.  God will look you in the eye and bless you with the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23 NIV).

 

To the person of faith, death is a day of rewards for a life well-lived, a battle well-fought, a faith well kept—not for the gadgets you acquired or the titles you obtained.  It is a day when all that has been overlooked and neglected on this earth will be finally awarded.

 

I can imagine myself… in the great circle of the redeemed. My body has been made new—no more boils or pimple. My mind has been made new—what I once understood in part, I now understand clearly. I feel no fear, no danger, no sorrow. Though I’m just one of a massive throng of people, it’s as if Jesus and I are all alone. And He asks me a question…

 

“I’m so proud that you let Me use you. Because of you, others are here today. Would you like to meet them?” At that point Jesus might (— remember, this is just some mere speculation)— but Jesus might turn to the crowd and invite them. With His hand on my shoulder, He announces, “Do we have any here who was influenced by this child of Mine?” One by one, they begin to step out and walk forward….

 

My room mate at Obafemi Awolowo University, a crusty naughty sort who never stopped harassing me with aphrodisiac text messages. To be frank, I didn’t expect to see him. “You never knew I was watching,” he explains, “but I was. And because of you, I’m here.” And then comes a cluster of people, a half-dozen or so. One speaks for the others and says, “You were our teacher at Alheri Model School, Gombe State. Yes, back then we were very unserious and liked making fun of you—but those words of encouragement that you told us after tedious teaching sessions were enough encouragement. We became Christians shortly after you left Gombe State.”

 

The line continues. A co-worker that noticed how I controlled my temper. A receptionist remarked how I greeted her like she mattered. Someone I don’t even remember reminds me of the time I saw her in the hospital. I came to visit a church member in the next bed, but on the way out I stopped and spoke a word of hope with this stranger who looked lonely.

 

And then some 2,000 others emerge. I don’t know them but they all had one thing in common: They were my friends on Facebook! One person speaks on their behalf and says, “thanks for those timely status updates, birthday wishes, and facebook notes! Through them, some of us were saved at the brink of committing suicide, some rededicated their lives to Christ after reading one of your notes. And all of us are closer to God because we accepted your friendship request or you accepted ours.”

 

And on and on and on… It’s not long before my Saviour and I are encircled by the delightful collection of souls I’ve touched. Some I know, most I don’t, but for each I feel the same. But Jesus isn’t finished. He loves to save the best for last, and I can’t help but imagine Him doing the same in heaven. I’ve seen the roommates, the co-workers, the people I hardly knew, the foreigners I never knew, but there is one more group. And Jesus parts the crowd so I will see them. MY FAMILY!

 

Anu is the first to embrace me. There were times when I wondered if either of us would make it. But now I hear the words whispered in my ear, “Thanks for not giving up on me.” Then my parents—Baba and Mama Ola. Robust and renewed. “We’re proud of you,” they say. Next come my children—children for whom I cared and over whom I prayed. Jemimah, Keziah, Joseph, Jessica…they all thank me; over and over they thank me. They know how hard it was, and how hard I tried together with their mum, and they thank us. And then some faces I don’t recognize. I have to be told—these are my grandchildren and great-grandchildren and descendants I never saw until today. They, like the others, thank me for an inherited legacy of faith.

 

************

 

Will such a moment occur? I don’t know. If it does, you can be certain of two things. First, its grandeur and glory will far outstrip any description these words can carry. 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “… no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man IMAGINED, what God has prepared for those who love Him.”  Second, if such a reunion occurs, you can be certain you won’t regret any sacrifice you made for the kingdom. The hours of service for Christ. The money you gave. The times you helped the poor and loved the lost. You’d do it all again!

 

In that moment, when you see the people God let you love, I dare say, you’d do it all again in a heartbeat. You’d change the diapers, fix the cars, write the cheques, prepare the lessons, pray the prayers, teach the Word, and tell others about Jesus. One look into the faces of the ones you love, and you’d do it all again. And your joy will be full … and your suffering will be forgotten. Think about that.

 

Heaven knows no regret. Our God is too kind to let us face the opportunities we missed. But He is happy to let us see the ones we seized. So, look forward to that time. If you make it there, you will be WINNING WHERE IT MATTERS MOST. What are you living for? reFOCUS on what will LAST!

 

Now, I know I’ve messed some of you up by these words, but it’s a good mess. Right now, follow your heart! If you feel like rededicating your life to God, pause NOW and do it. If you feel like taking a moment to pray for your unsaved family members, do it NOW. And if you feel like sowing a seed of prayer to the birthday celebrant of March 23 whose fingers typed these words on the keyboard this Sunday evening with a near-empty belly, please do. I really covet your prayers! (It’s the best birthday gift you could give me!)

 

And finally, if you feel you need to (and you should), appreciate The Inspiration that birthed these words, please do. The Holy Spirit deserves the praise!

 

Let me urge you, finally, to stay strong. Don’t give up. Don’t look back. Let Jesus speak to your heart as He says, “Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown” (Revelations 3:11 NIV). And talking about crowns, let's save that for another day!

 

As I type this, March 23 is just a few minutes away… See you here, soon…with another piece … or over there on the reward stage! “for godliness + contentment = GREAT GAIN!”

 

With Jesus Joy,

Ola Joseph Kolawole.

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