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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bring it!


Friday May 29th was an incredible day for me. Two major events colored my day beautiful. First, my country Nigeria experienced a landmark handover to a new administration. I watched the entire proceedings with a lump in my throat and a swell of pride in my heart. I love this country! As with every other country we have had our own share of downs and varied struggles…we still do; but I have always considered myself truly blessed to be Nigerian. We are such a remarkable, enterprising, talented, creative, innovative and beautiful group of people. We have such open hearts and an incredible sense of humor that is in a class of its own. We are resilient above all others, and despite our many differences and disagreements, issues and challenges, we share and maintain an overriding collective optimism, a tenacity that is simply enviable. Yes, the path ahead still calls for a lot of work, but Friday opened a new chapter in which I am personally very hopeful and confident that new things will slowly begin to unfold to move us steps forward on our journey of greatness.  

Same Friday, we had an inter-company wedding with an employee in one of my companies getting married to an employee in my other company. This is the second time in our 21-year history that we are having two of our employees meet and marry each other. The other couple have been together now for well over ten years and the Lord has blessed them with four gorgeous children (three boys and a girl… just as we have). I’m looking forward to seeing God unfold His blessings over these two that He has again caused to find each other under our watch. As an aside, my younger sister jokingly asked that we investigate what kind of air is spewing out of our air-conditioning units and causing our staff to fall in love with each other at ten-year intervals, lol. Now if these two also have three boys and a girl….. Hmm! Let’s see what the next ten years bring shall we?  

Yes, it was a pretty awesome day for me. Effectively, as the country handed-over to a new administration, we also had our own internal ‘hand-over’ ceremony going on. As the new Vice-President and President said their vows ….err, I mean swore their oaths of office, these two young people pledged their allegiance… said their vows to each other. As the flags were hoisted down and handed over to the outgoing President and the new ones hoisted up in honor of the incoming President, so also did these young ones let down their singleness and lift themselves up before the Lord and before their witnesses as a brand new couple. Methinks the analogy is so picturesque, hopeless romantic that I am.

The expression ‘hand over’ kept playing on my mind all day yesterday. I thought about the implications of the Presidential handover – not so much from the perspective of its import for the country, but rather from the perspective of its impact on the lives of the new President and his VP as distinct individuals themselves. I then thought about my staff and smiled as I envisioned the ‘new-every-morning’ reality of the hand-over in marriage which they will spend a good while yet settling fully into. I smiled as I prayed the Lord would fill them with every wisdom and understanding, patience and love which they will need to let go of ‘I’ and fully embrace ‘We’. I was still smiling when the question ‘What have you fully handed over the Lord?’ dropped in my spirit. Hmm!

You know sis, questions like this cause to both push back and pretend you didn’t hear it; to admit you heard it and tell yourself you will think it through later; or to immediately start a 360° scan of your life. I chose the latter sis, oh boy but I did didn’t I? I thought about my mind, my will and my emotions.  I thought about my husband and children, siblings, parents, closest friends. I thought about my businesses, my finances –my spending and my giving. I thought about my health, my body, my eating habits, my fitness routine. I thought about my thoughts (yes sis, it’s imperative that we think about the things we think about), my words, my conduct. I thought about my gifts – my writing, my speaking, my singing, my acting, and how I am applying them for God’s glory. I thought about my time… my time sis… that’s a big one. I thought about my spiritual life, my walk with God, my growth and growing, my study life, my praise, my prayers, my service. I thought about my hopes and aspirations, my fears and uncertainties. I thought… and thought… and thought some more.

What was the end result? Honestly sis, the outcome was nothing I don’t already know, except that each time you are more deliberate about any personal reflection or self-assessment exercise, you see the results and implications a lot more clearly. I realized that I am a long way off yet from being able to boast that I am fully yielded to God in every area of my life – the operational word here being ‘fully’. My life is in God’s hand, yes. I have given my life to Jesus Christ, yes. I am walking with God, yes. I lean on Him as my source, yes. He leads me and guides me, yes. I walk in full obedience… errr… hmm! Not quite!

Sis, full and complete obedience is still a work-in-progress for me, and that simply reflects how fully I have handed-over my life to God. Truth is that as plugged in as I am to the Kingdom - in certain situations; in certain areas of my life; at certain times and in certain seasons; I sometimes still find myself trying to help Him help me. Sometimes I find myself trying to go ahead of God to make things happen faster and in my timing. Sometimes I find myself holding on where I should let go. Sometimes I allow my personal desires lead me into partial obedience or truth be told, sometimes total disobedience. Sometimes I find myself walking in fear rather than letting go in faith, usually because I keep my eyes on what I can see rather than what I know. Sometimes I find myself indulging my flesh rather than yielding to the discipline of spirit... from as silly as eating that extra slice of cheesecake, to allowing myself entertain bigger battles of will over emotions, struggles for wants over need. You get my drift, sis?  

Once upon a time, I would have been greatly saddened by the outcome of this self-scan, but I’m thankfully too mature in the Spirit to go there. I spent one year too many allowing the enemy convince me I was too unworthy to dare come near the Lord, and when I allowed that lie fill my soul, I did exactly what the enemy wanted and I stayed away. Those who have followed this blog over the past five years know my testimony of the stranger the Lord sent to me about 18 years ago, with a message that I should draw near to Him just as I was and allow Him do the rest of the work in me. You know from my prior posts that my definition of self is ‘An Awesome Work-in-Progress’. So yes sis, I make my boast in Christ alone and declare boldly that I know that I know that I know that my God is not a God of condemnation, and that awesome WIP that I am, He loves me completely and is more than happy to grow me, mold me and make me into what He wants me to be. I know that it is in His power and strength and in His grace alone that I will make it. That works for me!

And you know sis, when God shines His light on any area of our lives, it is not so as to leave us with an overwhelming sense of condemnation but rather because He is extending open arms and an invitation for us to come up higher in Him. I love God so much because even as He wants you to come up higher, He first willingly and lovingly comes down to meet with you right where you are. He is more than ready to work with you in your struggles. He compassionately holds our hands and maintains a hedge around us as He patiently walks us through life – always trying to help us truly see, to help us grow, to help us overcome, so that we are not lost to Him, and so that we can truly live victorious lives, and indeed draw others unto Him also.

I love the fact that God is willing and eager to use us even as we grow. He is not demanding our perfection, but asking that we draw closer to His perfection. He calls and qualifies us to do His work – not according to our goodness and faithfulness, but rather according to His own. Any righteousness we could try to ascribe to ourselves is like filthy rags before Him so He covers us with His righteousness, amazing Father that He is. He is the Potter – never discarding any mound of clay – ugly and unwieldy as it may appear, but rather lovingly and painstakingly molding it into something beautiful and of great value. I know this, and so my self-examination did not hurt, sis. No, I wasn’t about to sink into despair or depression as the enemy would once have had me do, and I want to encourage that you don’t as well.

I slept pretty well for someone who didn’t get an ‘A’ in her exam. Somewhere around 4am though, I awoke from my sleep to a worship song playing on in my head. As I lay down in that quiet atmosphere of internal worship, I heard the words ‘Bring it!’. Bring what, Lord? I asked. Then I saw it, I heard it, I felt it, and I knew it. This is what I want to leave you with today, sis.

The Lord wants you and I to hand over every area of our lives fully to Him, sis. But He is a God of understanding and He knows we are yet children – spiritually so. He knows that we are at different stages of spiritual maturity. He knows that some of us are drinking spiritual milk while others are eating strong meat. He knows that even within each of us, there are areas of our lives where we are more spiritually sound and strong than in other areas. He is not disqualifying us on the basis of any of these. He is ready to grow us as we commit to growing with Him and in Him.

So today, the Lord is telling us to bring it… whatever your ‘it’ is, and to keep bringing it. Whatever that area(s) of our lives is/are that is still a challenge for us to yield to the Lord – that area we sometimes think we still need to work on before we can present it to Him… the area we are still trying to work out in our own strength; that area we think He will frown on, be displeased with, reject; that area we would rather just not think about at all in the first place; that area we still want to control; that area where we don’t agree with Him.

Sis, God says, ‘Bring it’ and as we do, He will take what we have willingly yielded up to Him and use it to build us up according to His purpose, and for His glory. He is asking for our willingness to continuously bring the fullness of our lives before Him and then trust Him to work out the rest. He is asking us to bring our imperfections, our tiny faith, our doubts and fears, our concerns, our hopes, the seed of our praise, prayers, and our study. He is asking that we bring our intentions, our procrastination's even, before Him. He is saying that as long as we keep coming, He will grow our little into the much that He is more than able to birth in us and through us. He is asking that we stay connected and committed to growing, sis. He knows we will sometimes fall, but He reminds us that He will be constant in picking us up, in dusting us off, and in using the learning’s from our mistakes and failings to build us up as we walk with Him. He is reminding us today that apart from Him, we will be on very dangerous ground. He is asking us not to feel unworthy to be in His inner circle, but to bring even that sense of unworthiness to Him and see Him turn our lives around and give us a new story.

I don’t need to add anything else to this message sis, other than to ask that you think through your life. Do your 360° and see what you need to hand over to Him once again. Concerning whatever area the Holy Spirit shows you, bring it back to the Lord, sis. And please purpose to intentionally reflect on your life regularly, and every time you sense or know you’ve gone back to self-effort, to distance, to fear, to doubt… remember this call sis, and once again ‘Bring it’. 

I can assure you of one thing, God is not man. He is not impatient as we are. He won’t give up on you in your struggle. He has certainly not given up on me for as many times as I have gone around the same mountain. He loves you and I, sis. Let this love enfold and encourage you now and always. The Lord will help you sis. Always and ever as surely as He has been and continues to help me.

Be blessed sis… for you surely are!


Monday, May 11, 2015

Break every chain


Don’t recall who was preaching, but my ears perked when I heard him ask if we truly understood the true essence of the ‘Five loaves of bread & two fish’ experience. He said, ‘When Jesus broke the bread and fish – which from mans’ perspective could only feed one, what He was doing was asking us to see possibilities from His perspective… It wasn’t about feeding the five thousand; rather it was about breaking apparent limitations’. Wow! I certainly had never thought about it like that.

It didn’t take me long to figure that God had a word for you and I somewhere in there, because very shortly after I found myself listening to Rev. Creflo Dollar speaking about focus and the power of our thought life. He had said that constantly thinking a certain way builds traditions in our minds, such that we then can’t see any other possibilities. I had to pause and smile when he then said ‘What you focus on, you give strength to. Focus on your limitations and they will limit you. Focus on five loaves of bread and two fish, and it will never feed many. Focus on the God for Whom nothing is impossible, and the limitation in your hands becomes the opportunity for great things to happen’. Now that was a ‘Selah’ (pause and think about this) moment, if ever. Don’t you agree, sis?

In this place of introspection, it struck me that this is why the Word of God demands that we think about what we are thinking about, and that we take hold of and authority over every thought we have that does not align with the Word of God. Indeed, we are told firmly to cast down every thought or imagination that tries to exalt itself above the Word of God. Sis, ‘casting down’ does not imply ‘lay it aside gently’. Nope! The expression ‘cast down’ sounds more like a ‘fling it away violently with all your might’ type of action to me.

Focus is incredible! I once heard Pst. Stephen Furtick of Elevation Church say that fear and faith both have their root in focus. Our reactions, convictions, actions and inactions are deeply rooted in the things we choose to focus on. Our thought life is the space within which we either let God reign or the devil rule, and if we think through even the smallest of areas of our lives, we see that this is an ongoing battle. The strategy of the enemy is to throw fiery darts, remember? Our minds are his fiercest battlefields and we win or lose in life’s situations depending on how much room we make for him in there. As I thought about the bread and fish limitation principle, I realized that many of the things I have been able to achieve by the grace of God, have come to pass because I chose to at least try, in spite of things looking near impossible, in spite of things looking like they might not add any value, in spite of worrying what others might think, in spite of worrying how it might work out. I have succeeded each time I have allowed my mustard seed faith become my focus.

Speaking with one of my sistas who started to blog recently, she shared how just before she pressed ‘send’ a whole lot of doubts hit her mind. She wondered if anyone would read it, if it would make any sense, etc. She almost succumbed to the pressure to delete her first post. Thankfully she pressed send and a great vision has been birthed. I have read her first few posts and I can confidently say that God is certainly doing a great work through her. I could totally relate though, sis. I could. You see, even knowing I could write and had written severally in times past, I allowed myself be convinced for so long that I couldn’t ‘blog’. It was like there was a secret ingredient that bloggers had which regular writers didn’t have, and which was then a limitation for me. When I finally decided to try, it took me long enough to believe what I had written made sense, and longer still to press ‘send’. When I pressed send, I was assailed with thoughts about how I would be laughed off the web, how no one would be interested in what I had to say. Thoughts in my mind questioned my motives for blogging in the first place, questioned whether it was an assignment from God or me looking for another way to validate myself.

Sis, it took everything in me to cast down those thoughts and stand firm in this assignment. By the grace of God, I was able to call to mind my prior successes. I allowed the Holy Spirit remind me that He had given me a voice and that I should use it. I reminded myself that while my blogs might not be for everyone, my posts would add value to those that God purposed to read it. I found strength to purpose that even if no one ever read any of my posts, I would be fulfilled in knowing I was doing something close to my heart and something I really felt God would have me do. Five years down the line, and again by the grace of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, this platform has been such a blessing to me and to thousands of others around the world.

If I looked at my limitations, I wouldn’t have seen how my dream to run a business would ever have evolved into the companies I run today. If I had kept my focus on the money we didn’t have, the experience we lacked, the industry we didn’t truly understand, the contacts we didn’t have, etc… then all we have built up over the last twenty-one years would never have come to pass. Today, my businesses are touching lives through our staff and their families and dependents, our vendors and alliances; we are making tangible contributions to building up the infrastructure and revenue base of our country, and I dare say our continent… This has only been possible because the Lord was with me and because I chose to focus on the dream He gave me and to see it as realizable potential within me. Sis, I chose not to cover the seed, but to diligently water and nurture it through the seasons and storms of life.

I would not have written two books or had the courage to be working on the several more that I am doing today, if I had focused on the limitations of my money, time and many responsibilities; or if I had focused on the very real fear of being able to stay the course on one hand, and then of having something tangible and value-adding to say on the other. But by God’s grace, I found strength to focus on what I did have… a passion to write, a laptop, a tape recorder, encourages God put in my space, and a commitment to at least try and to stay the course no matter how long it would take.
Sis, one of the major issues we have to deal with in this space of addressing apparent limitations, is our highly focused fear of criticism and of failure. I mean, the disciples focused on the size of the meal in the little boy’s hand. Even knowing they were walking with the Son of God, their faith was small and they saw only the limitations. They feared failure, criticism and ridicule. As far as they were concerned, Jesus should probably have told the crowd to manage their hunger until He was done teaching and they could then go to their respective homes to eat. I suspect that left to them, they would rather have taken even the little meal that young boy had and hidden it. They would have told him it wouldn’t make sense for him to be eating when so many others were hungry. Yes sis, they would probably have taken the limitation and magnified it…. More importantly though, they would have taken potential and buried it! Sad how many of God’s children are doing the very same thing in different areas of our lives… burying potential!

Potential! Such a powerful word! And sis, you and I are packed full of it! My questions today then are: ‘What is it about your life and your circumstances that you are looking at as limitations to your fulfilling potential and thus purpose?’ Sis, what is the bread-and-fish situation you are dealing with today?  Sis, what are you focused on that seems to be hindrance to achieving your dreams? What are you giving power to? What are you afraid of? And what do you have faith for? You have to deliver on your assignment, sis. You and I must not leave this earth without delivering to the world everything for which God purposed that we should be here for this time and season. God is challenging us today to carefully consider what we need to deal with to ensure we are progressively on course towards dying empty.

I love Andy Stanley’s book ‘Visioneering’ and more so because he is a person of faith and so writes this book not based on secular principles, but straight up out of the Word of God. He said some things which I will like to leave with you today

·        ‘Don’t allow your fear of the unknown to deter you from what God has put in your heart to do. Worse than failure is living with the regret of never having stepped out in faith to pursue your vision.’

·        ‘Do not be distracted by criticism. Our natural response to criticism is to defend ourselves. This is especially true when our vision is under attack. We are tempted to begin a dialogue with our critics or with those who are parroting their criticism. Without realizing it, our focus begins to shift. Instead of being vision centered, we slowly become critic centered.’

·        ‘Don’t get distracted. Don’t let criticism or fear derail your pursuit of your vision. You don’t want to wake up one day and realize you spent your time rather than invested it.’

Sis, we must not allow apparent limitations hold us back. We must not allow fear of failure or criticism hold us back. We cannot allow the same old kinds of thinking stop us from seeing and optimizing the potentials that are within and around us. Rev. Creflo Dollar said that we need to break the fallow ground of the traditions of our minds, so that the Word of God can take full effect in our lives; so that the Word of God can grow mightily within us and prevail as we fulfill purpose and bring the glory back to God.  

I had started to write this post this morning, stopping midway to head out for church. I received confirmation that this is a due season word for you and I, as the Pastor who ministered today spoke not only to the five loaves and two fish scripture, but also to the prevailing power of the word of God and the imperative for us not to be sluggards or we might miss our harvest. Like he said, an abundance of rain is irrelevant to those who have no seed in the ground. It’s time to make a move, sis. You and I will not be sluggish concerning our dreams going forward. We cannot afford to be! That dream that looks impossible is our seed and we must sow it in faith, tiny as it is. And having sown, we must press forward….even baby steps work for God, and He is ever faithful to take our small efforts and give us amazing results. There is a heavenly demand for a new level of fruitfulness on you and on me… and in this season we must deliver a new level of glory to God by our obedience.

I am reminded about the Holy Ghost inspired lyrics of Tasha Cobb’s amazing song… that there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain! Sis, that power is available to you and I. Sis, that power… if we focus on God and His Word, will build up our faith and diminish our fears. If you and I intentionally choose to focus on God’s power which effectually works within us; to focus on He Who has said there will be a performance of His Word; to focus on God’s ability to supply all our needs; to focus on His ability to add His super to our natural; then we will see well past our apparent limitations and break the chains that have long since held us back from attaining the level of fruitfulness in our gifting’s that God has purposed for us.

Sis, it is in the power of the name of Jesus that I stand today in agreement with you and declare every chain broken, every apparent limitation exposed. I declare newness in your mind and spirit. I speak an invigoration of your mind and body, an infilling with new levels of energy and drive. I speak a release of fresh anointing over your gift and your dreams. I speak a divine re-alignment with your purpose, and the unction to ‘do all things’. I agree with heaven for fresh ideas, innovative approaches, clarity of thought, and strength of will, so that you will apply yourself with a new level of diligence to your assignments and dreams. I agree with you for a fresh sensitivity to the voice of the Father, to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and a heart recommitted to full obedience as the Lord holds your hands to walk you through this new phase. I decree these over you sis, as I decree over myself also. Every limitation that has held our potential bound and chained us at this level is broken in Jesus name, sis. I agree with you and draw a bloodline around your purpose. I decree that all we see are possibilities and that we will walk fully in the realm of godly possibilities. We shall fulfill purpose, sis! I am looking forward to your testimonies of release. The Lord will help you, even as He is surely helping me.


Be blessed sis… for you surely are!

About Me

Entrepreneur, Mentor, Wife, Mother, Sister, Friend. A firm believer in God. Walking in faith everyday that by His grace, I will achieve harmony in all areas of my life, and make measurable impact in the lives of other women of the world

WORD FOR THE WEEK

LUKE 1:

34“-How can this be, Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God

JEREMIAH 2:

5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you; [and] I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am only a youth. 7 But the Lord said to me, Say not, I am only a youth; for you shall go to all to whom I shall send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.

8 Be not afraid of them [their faces], for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. 9 Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. 10 See, I have this day appointed you to the oversight of the nations and of the kingdoms to root out and pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.

1st CORINTHIANS 1:

25 [This is] because the foolish thing [that has its source in] God is wiser than men, and the weak thing [that springs] from God is stronger than men. 26 For [simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to human estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth. 27 [No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame. 28 And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are,

Colossians 1:

28 Him we preach and proclaim, warning and admonishing everyone and instructing everyone in all wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God), that we may present every person mature (full-grown, fully initiated, complete, and perfect) in Christ (the Anointed One).

29 For this I labor [[z]unto weariness], striving with all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me.