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Archive for the category “Meditations”

Happy Easter

I was chatting with a non-Christian friend earlier today and he was moaning about having to accompany his family to church.

When I encouraged him to try to see beyond everything else to the message of Easter, he said;

“Organized religion bears subliminal messages of subjugation. They are tools of oppression by men, of women, children and the weak. No one should submit to those teachings…”

I had to agree with him. Except for his spelling of ‘organized’, he’s American, they can’t spell properly! On a more serious note, I had to concede that he was right about organised religion.

Organised religion is an institution to express one’s belief in a higher power. It is an outward and often social articulation of belief in higher powers, often practised in community settings and may include participation in rituals. These are definitions from a couple of dictionaries.

However, I do not subscribe to organised religion. I believe in and have a relationship with God, three in One. I believe The Father made me in His image and likeness and endowed me with all of that He is and represents – love, forgiveness, mercy, kindness etc.

jesus-relationship-not-religion

I believe that Jesus, the Son, was crucified not for any wrongdoing on His part but because it was the only way to ensure my salvation. An exchange needed to be made; a life for a life, and He gave His for mine, willingly.

I believe in the Holy Spirit. He is there to comfort, guide and teach me.

Increasingly and unfortunately, Christianity has become a set of rules and regulations, dos and don’ts, rituals and traditions instead of a lifestyle of faith. A lot of Christians are now more concerned with what people can see on the outside as opposed to what is actually on the inside. It has become less about the state of our hearts and more about putting on a good show, less about pleasing God and more about conforming to other people’s expectations.

I’m so thankful that “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7. He is the only One I need to please

It saddens me to agree with my friend but he has a very valid point. Manipulation has become the order of the day in the church; toe the line or fall out of favour.

Jesus does not manipulate. He doesn’t play games or hold his cards close to His chest keeping us guessing about what He wants. He is very clear when He says He loves us unconditionally and accepts us just the way we are. He doesn’t put undue pressure on us to be good. He doesn’t have unrealistic expectations for us. He invites us to come and reason with Him Isaiah 1:18. He offers rest for our weary and burdened souls Matthew 11:29.

He says He loves us with an everlasting love Jeremiah 31:3 and nothing can separate us from that love Romans 8:38 and I believe every word.

It will probably take my friend a whole lot more than this post to be persuaded that true Christianity isn’t organised religion and that’s ok. If someone as erudite and eloquent as Paul was only able to ‘almost’ persuade Agrippa to be a Christian, I have my work cut out for me Acts 26:28 – 29.

However like Paul responded to Agrippa, (and I paraphrase) it is my prayer that whether now or sometime in the future, you too, will become a Christian just as I am.

Happy Easter, everyone.

Spreading the G O _ _ _ _ ; Gospel or Gossip

Did you ever play the game ‘fill in the blanks’? The one where you were given a few letters of words and had to complete the rest? Well if you never did, here’s your chance.

I was listening to Creflo Dollar preach a while ago and something he said gave me pause for thought. He said some people like to discuss other people’s mistakes but never remember to consider the possibility that these people may have asked God’s forgiveness.

It set me to thinking that in spite of our call as Christians to spread the gospel, we tend to spend our time spreading gossip instead.

I remember a time when I was so excited about my salvation, I wanted to tell everyone I knew (and even those I didn’t) about it. I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone in my sphere of influence going to hell. I didn’t always know the right words to use nor did I always know the right moments to bring up the topic in conversation. But I made an effort to let people know what I believed and hoped that they, too, would come to share my faith.

I have to admit that it isn’t the same anymore. I find I have come to take my salvation for granted and am much less fired up about sharing my faith. I tend to hide behind the fact that people will somehow see that I am different, ask me why and then I’ll take the opportunity to tell them about Jesus. I must confess that this happens seldom these days.

When I carefully scrutinise my conversations these days, I am ashamed to say that I spend much more time talking about the goings-on in people’s lives than the gospel. This is a sad but true fact.

I started by asking if you’d ever played ‘fill in the blanks’, now is the time to actually play it. They are both six-letter words starting with the letters ‘g & o’. One means ‘good news and unquestionable truth’ and the other ‘divulging personal information about others, often malicious.’ Which do you actually spend your time doing? Are you spreading the gospel or gossip?

If, like me, you realise that you have been doing the latter, now is the time to repent and make a concerted effort to do the right thing. Ask for the grace to fulfil the great commission. Look for opportunities to share your faith with friends, family and colleagues. As with everything, practice makes perfect. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

My prayer is that the next time you get a chance to play ‘fill in the blanks’, the word will spell ‘GOSPEL’.

Safe place

I take my boys for swimming lessons once a week. One of the first things they were taught was about the ‘safe place’. They were encouraged to hold on to the walls of the pool. Their instructors explained that this was to provide the children a place to come back to should they ever find themselves in trouble in the water. If they got used to doing this, then it would become second nature to them.

I didn’t quite know what my next blog post would be about so I missed my weekly schedule. I was also getting a bit overwhelmed by all the things that were keeping me from writing. I’ve been falling behind on some of the other goals I set myself this year and it’s left me feeling disquieted and unsettled.

To settle my disquieted heart, I started to wonder what I could do to help me re-focus and get back on track. I took stock of where I’d lost my way and was reminded that I, too, have a ‘safe place’.

My ‘safe place’ is my relationship with God. I find that every time I’m out of sync with Him, my life just doesn’t make sense. Things don’t add up. I may expend all my energy doing things but all the effort seems fruitless. I find myself unable to find contentment and peace eludes me.

As I meditated on my life, a portion of Scripture which has brought me much comfort over the years came to mind. Psalms 61(AMP);

1HEAR MY cry, O God; listen to my prayer.

2From the end of the earth will I cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and fainting; lead me to the rock that is higher than I [yes, a rock that is too high for me].

3For You have been a shelter and a refuge for me, a strong tower against the adversary.

4I will dwell in Your tabernacle forever; let me find refuge and trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

5For You, O God, have heard my vows; You have given me the heritage of those who fear, revere, and honour Your name.

6May You prolong the [true] King’s life [adding days upon days], and may His years be to the last generation [of this world and the generations of the world to come].

7May He sit enthroned forever before [the face of] God; O ordain that loving-kindness and faithfulness may watch over Him!

8So will I sing praise to Your name forever, paying my vows day by day.

Even though I may feel overwhelmed by life, I know that if I just hold on to my ‘safe place’, the Rock that is higher than I, I will find comfort and strength for the next phase of my life. So I’m holding on for dear life.

What, who or where is your ‘safe place’, if you have one?

Tara for now.

In perspective

I wrote this poem in honour of all the teenage girls sold and trafficked into sexual slavery.  May those who work tirelessly via different agencies to free them and end this horrific act be blessed immeasurably. As for the perpetrators of this crime, I leave you in the hands of the Almighty God.

You look at everything and everyone with disdain.

Your words are filled with contempt

I am looked upon with disdain

I am the object of men’s contempt

 

 

For you, life is one big experiment.

You take everything for granted

The world is your oyster

For you, the sky is the limit

 

 

I am the experiment

Men take me for granted.

My world is but a small oyster.

I hardly ever get to see the sky.

 

 

You have no cares or responsibilities

Life is yours for the taking

The money you spend on trivialities in a night

Is more than enough to secure my freedom for life

 

 

My skin bears the tell-tale signs

Of whipping and scourging so sore

My sole purpose in life is to please

Men, who, for me, have no regard

 

 

Your mother complains every time she tidies up after you

But it’s really just a humble brag

She’s thankful for the opportunity to look after you

And proud to call you her own

 

 

My step-mother sold me into slavery

My mother died when I was a baby

She was glad to get rid of me in order to save her children

For the price I fetched fed my family for a week

 

 

Your laughter rings out, unrestrained and loud

Your friends are numerous and proud

Your opportunities are limitless

Your problem is too much choice

 

 

I have no reason to laugh or smile

No friends to call my own

Cruelty is my constant companion

My problem is I am trapped.

 

 

So the next time you decide to complain

About the unfairness of your life

Because you were not allowed out to that party

Or couldn’t buy that outfit or latest gadget

 

 

And whenever you are tempted to reject a home cooked meal

In favour of eating out instead

Or complain your bedroom’s too small

For your countless clothes and shoes

 

 

Remember me and be thankful

Your life is full and bountiful

Count your blessings and be grateful

That unlike me, you are no one’s fool.

 

 

Appreciate your friends and family

Be content with your lot

What I wouldn’t give to be in your shoes

Instead of a teenage sex slave.

Morbid thoughts

The thought of death evokes a gamut of emotions across the human race. Emotions ranging from fear and fright to cheer and delight, however the former seems to be the more prevalent case.

Some people believe that the less you think and speak of it, the less likely it is to come your way. For such people writing a will is out of the question as this is thought to be an open invitation to the grim reaper.

There are many superstitions and beliefs about death. It is at the centre of most religions and cultures around the world.

The preoccupation with and angst towards death can be put down to its inevitability but even more importantly to the ambiguity of what comes after it.

I believe in an after-life; heaven and hell. It may seem irreconcilable that a loving God would allow His creation to burn in hell for eternity but it’s not, at least I don’t believe it is. From what I understand, we all are given a chance to be beneficiaries of God’s goodness but if we choose to spurn His advances, we only have ourselves to blame.

I subscribe to AWAD (A word a day). The daily emails include a word (usually based on a weekly theme), its  meaning, phonetic pronunciation, etymology and an example of usage usually in the form of  a quotation. They also contain a thought for today.

Today’s word was ‘verdigris’. Since it has nothing to do with this post, I’ll let you find out yourself what it means. What does have something to do with today’s post is the thought for today. It is to do with death. I don’t know if I agree with it in its entirety but there is some merit to what William Hazlitt (essayist 1778-1830) had to say.

“Perhaps the best cure for the fear of death is to reflect that life has a beginning as well as an end. There was a time when you were not: that gives us no concern. Why then should it trouble us that a time will come when we shall cease to be? To die is only to be as we were before we were born.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks for stopping by.

Tara for now.

Nigeria at 50: The dusk of despair or the dawn of hope

Nigeria marks her 50th anniversary of independence from British rule today, the 1st of October 2010. I’m not going to go into the long and detailed history of Nigeria under British rule, you can check out Wikipedia for that. I am however going to talk about the different feelings a 50-year old Nigeria evoke in me and several other Nigerians.

Much has been written by many articulate, eloquent and prolific writers about the state of play in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, even more will be written today in commemoration of her 50th anniversary. Sometimes these works of writing portray the country in a good light, but more often than not, in a very bad light.

In this blog post, I just want to express in my own words how I feel.

Nigeria; what a conundrum!

A nation brimming with potential

Has now become a sanctum

For all things nonessential.

Nigeria; what a riddle!

The poor are wretched yet the rich get richer,

With no class in the middle

Corruption is the clincher.

Nigeria; what an enigma!

One so endowed with natural resources

Yet boldly bearing the stigma

Of her government pilfering all she grosses.

Nigeria; what a puzzle!

Laying claims to democracy

Whilst constantly seeking to muzzle

Any who decry her hypocrisy.

Nigeria; what a mystery!

Replete with inspiring landscape,

A vast population and a rich history

And yet so many trying to escape.

Nigeria, the Giant of Africa

Will you from the ashes arise?

Shall we once again see a flicker,

As your greatness, you reprise?

Beautiful things take place in profound silence

Silence is so much more than the absence of sound or abstinence from speech. Silence tends to shift the emphasis of a relationship away from words and transactions to a place of intimacy where no words are necessary.

One must feel totally accepted and comfortable to sit in silence with someone else. It can be, at best, embarrassing, and, at worst downright intimidating but beautiful things take place in profound silence.

In silence God’s spirit, which is resident within us, searches our hearts separating motive from action and thought from speech. In silence, the very essence of our being is laid bare before Him, leaving no room for pretence or ambiguity. In silence, the still small voice of the One who made the thunder reverberate through eternity as the Creator communes with His creation, drawing it into His unconditional love. As man’s spirit quietly worships its Maker, the two become infinitely intertwined with one another making room for an impartation of immortality to mortality, of the eternal to the temporal, of incorruptible to corruptible,

The paradox of silence is that God is not silent unless His being so will serve a greater purpose. He is constantly speaking and longs to commune with us just as He did with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, the One will never change. This implies that we are the ones who have changed. It is us who have become so bogged down with and distracted by things to do with our short stay here on earth that we have lost sight of what He requires of us.

If every person that wanted to hear from God made their heart silent, then He wouldn’t need to resort to using other people or circumstances to get our attention. He speaks to us through circumstances because He can’t get our attention any other way. We have so compartmentalised our lives that we will only seek to commune with God at moments we deem fit e.g. during our ‘quiet time’, during a sermon etc.

God’s omnipresence permits Him to be everywhere all at once. He ordained time, space and all physical laws but He transcends them all. He does not require an appropriate time or place to manifest Himself, all He needs is individuals who are willing to “be still and know that I am God.”

When’s the last time you were silent?

Why I believe

Apparently on the 1st of December, several Christian bloggers responded to a call to write about why they believe in God. I read a few of their entries and determined to do the same, however I didn’t manage to get round to it sooner.

It’s 2 weeks later but better late than never so here I am taking up the challenge and endeavouring to articulate why I believe. Read more…

Paradigm shift

I’m reading a book called ‘The Shack’, written by William Paul Young. It came highly recommended by my pastor and Mo Cushla and I picked up a copy a few weeks ago. And am I glad we did!

Anyone who knows me well knows I read very fast and by very fast I mean getting through hundreds of pages in a matter of hours. However this is one book I don’t want to finish in a hurry.

I’m experiencing a paradigm shift of monumental proportions as I read. There are so many mind-blowing concepts in the book, I keep having to set it down to adequately absorb each and every one. Read more…

Musings on trouble

I wonder where I came off getting the idea that, as a Christian, I’m somehow exempt from tragedy and suffering. Deep down in my subconscious, I believed those things only happen to other people, not me or mine.

 

I always seemed to express deep shock when something went wrong in my life or in the life of a dear one as though it were a great cosmic mistake. I tended to think that there’d been some sort of heavenly mix-up and the trouble had been wrongly delivered to my address. Read more…

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