DAY 30 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

I went to church this evening, and in the middle of worship, I felt such a moment of gratitude for all the things that God has used my church to give me:

1. I learnt worship there. Now I grew up singing soul stirring hymns that moved my soul to Heaven, and NCCF showed me that it was possible to get lost in music, but it was in church that I learnt to fully let go. Just raise my hands and forget everyone and everything and just focus on the Lover of my Soul, Olowo ori mi. Today as I worshipped, a smile came from deep within me and just burst out on my face…I smiled as I told Him that in my life, I see what He’s doing…I gave Him my worship…offered it to Him and enjoyed His delight. BTW, That song – I have confidence in You…to me is one of the simplest yet most powerful songs ever; a statement of pure affirmation, no grammar, just trust.

2. I learnt to apply the Word there. Again I grew up with a strong doctrine background, but as much as I knew that I had to obey the Word, I never learned to apply it to my life. I never learnt to apply a verse till it came to life in my spirit and worked miracles in my life. I love the fact that now, whenever I have a situation, the verses that I grew up memorizing bubble up in my spirit and burst forth out my mouth. I love speaking God’s truth into a situation. It’s awesome.

3. I learned active faith. I learned that faith is not a passive wait for things, but a living, breathing investment. Faith is Heaven’s currency and is accepted in every place that we could ever find ourselves. I learned to put my faith to work, and then I gained boldness, and peace, I let God’s grace soak into me and stopped struggling to grow, I learned to allow myself to be carried by those everlasting arms, to operate in His rest.

God led me to the right place for me and daily, He has continued to add to what I know, I’m grateful.

And in addition…

Love has truly been good to me...I woke up singing that song today, and it slipped into my mouth several times in the course of the day. I’m not singing about a person though, I’m just so in love with Jesus today (I know I should be in love with Him all the time; I’m getting there). So I have been singing this song to Him, and feeling His smile in my heart, which makes my own smile even wider…it’s so amazing to be loved, I’d follow Him to the moon and the sky above…yes I would. Jesus loves me guys…He does. You know what I call Him? My Hosea…Hosea went looking for Gomer time after time; every time she ran away He went looking for her. God did the same for me, went after me so many times, brought me home, back to the safety and security that only He can bring, back to His unconditional love…naw, I love Jesus.

Btw, as a totally random point, I am not one of those Christians who only sings gospel. I am fully convinced that at the marriage supper of the Lamb, the Heavenly Choir will be singing Etta James “At Last” as we proceed up the aisle or however it is we’re going to be doing it…

Anyway, so today I am again grateful for God’s love, this love that refuses to leave me, this love that chooses me above all else, this love that focuses on me to the point where nothing, not even life itself matters.

I’m grateful for His smile in the warm sunlight, His hug in the breeze, His laugh in rainfall. I’m grateful for His presence, His beauty suffuses every inch of my life and leaves me with a glow in my spirit that is just a little touch of Heaven…

Goodnight guys

 

#PornAgainChristian by Reverend Olamide Craig

Menoword’s note: I follow an incredible minister called Rev Craig and he posted some tweets yesterday night that impacted me very deeply. I got his kind permission to put all his tweets together and create a blog post. The only editing I have done is to remove the words “young men” from the second sentence in the post. Please read this post with an open heart, I hope that it will bless you. And don’t think that this only relates to porn – I learned many of these lessons while struggling with financial responsibility – it applies across the board to anything that anyone might be struggling with and also contains wonderful lessons on generally living a victorious Christian life. You can find Rev Craig on Twitter @RevDrCraig or check out his blog at  http://olamidecraig.wordpress.com 

Enjoy: 

PORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN

Tonight, I want to stand with a friend of mine on a thorny issue. Pornography.  A vast number of Christians are struggling with various forms of online porn. A friend talked to me about his struggle, and as I listened to him share his story, I smiled. I smiled because it reminded me of my own struggle.

So tonight, I want to share with you my story, not his. Its easy for preachers to tell other peoples stories. But how about ours?

I picked up my first Playboy™magazine when I was in primary school. I flipped through the pages with a combination of curiosity and disinterest. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. But a seed had been sown, and its roots would take hold of the soil of my soul to bud much later in my adolescence. By the time I was a teenager, I was familiar with all the American, British and French porn magazines. It was much harder then. There were no phones, there was no internet. You had to sneak around with glossy magazines and hope that no one knew that under the Good Housekeeping or Ebony magazine was Penthouse or Oui or Nuts. All this while I was a committed believer, I did all I could to please the Lord, but I still had this one issue.

And then one day, I got called to leadership in my secondary school fellowship and went from Usher to President. I was sure God had made a mistake. Surely there were others better than me.  I tried to stop, I wanted to fulfill my role as President with a clear conscience. The harder I tried, the deeper I fell. Ministry was great. Souls were being saved. The fellowship was growing. Lives were being transformed, still I was stuck. Mind you, it wasn’t all consuming at the time. I’d probably steal a glance once or twice a month but the guilt that followed was like a crushing stone that stayed on my shoulder and stuck wt me for months and months; it didn’t matter if I hadn’t touched a magazine in months. I always carried around a sense of guilt and shame.In between I would be fine. All would seem perfect in my life again. Then one glance would bring it all crashing down. I won a temporary battle while I was in SS3. Hadn’t slipped for months. I realize now that I was too busy with WAEC  

Then we passed out of high school. I had handed over the ministry. There was no more need to be accountable…and the passions came back like a vengeance.  Before University, I did JAMB 5 times and in that period of depression and hopelessness, pornography became my escape; what had once been a once a month slip became a daily obsession.  Just before my 5th JAMB, I remember going to the roof of Anglican Church on 21 road in Festac and crying out to God. My life was in a mess and I desperately needed him to show up and sort me out. And I remember God telling me how much he loved me and how he had great plans for me. How will I ever make it I asked. All my mates were in school, I was still at home. My faith was a mess. I was a mess. And I heard words that I would NEVER forget. “Stop trying to fix it on your own, my grace is sufficient for you”  

Within that year, I joined FECA where I got my faith on track, passed JAMB, and got into the University of Ibadan. The things I learnt that year became the basis of the ministry I founded when I was just a 21 year old 100L student. Dianoia Foundation and Club Chayil over the past 11 years have since preached the message of sexual purity to thousands  

How did I break free from pornography? All I needed to do was let the Holy Spirit help me.  

The biggest mistake Christians make is trying to use discipline or strong will to keep away from sin. It NEVER works. Sin will always have the upper hand if combated in the flesh. Only GRACE through the Holy Spirit can win over sin  

Second I had to refuse to elevate that one sin above any others. The devil tries to make us feel one sin is worse… and so for as long as I hadn’t viewed porn, I could lie and be unchristian in so many other ways but wouldn’t feel it simply because I had hinged my acceptance in Gods eyes on whether I had viewed porn or not. The Holy Spirit taught me that in his sight, all Sin was as bad as the next. Murder. Lust. Lies. Same thing!  Once I learnt godly sorry for ALL my sins whether they were lustful or not, I realised how truly sinful I was and it was here that righteousness made sense to me. Jesus told me he had forgiven ALL my sins, and given me a new robe. I was righteous not because of what I had done, or didn’t do, but because of what he had done.  

Finally, SIN THRIVES IN SECRECY! If you want to be free you have to open up and let the light in. Tell someone!  Find a mature Christian and tell them your struggle. It’s one of the most important steps on your road to recovery. If you keep it hidden, it will grow. If you bring it out of the darkness, it will die. I promise you. Trust me!  Same goes for fornication and adultery. Expose the sin and it will wither conceal it and it will grow  

I’ve shared this so that you can know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There is help for you in God and he has not abandoned you  God bless you tweet fam!  

Thank you to all those who DM’d to share their struggle or to ask for prayer or to just say thanks… The feedback has been phenomenal.

Someone asked me how my journey’s been. “Has it been plain sailing since you started preaching sexual purity?”  It would be so easy to say that I’ve never touched the stuff again and strut around in a toga of self righteousness. Let me tell you as it is! This is a lifelong battle. There is no quick fix. There’s no magic wand. Once lust has occupied a room in your heart in the past, he will ALWAYS come back to see if there’s a spare room and when he comes back, you bet he’s come with family and friends and he’s gonna ask for the penthouse suite  

I thought it was a war that I had won once and for all. That I had defeated that enemy and he was finished. Your freedom has to be fought for daily. What you won was one battle. There is still a long war.  

I’m still fighting and wining my battle against porn. Its a tough one and sometimes I am valiant, sometimes I am not.  And you best believe that its so much easier to access porn now than it was when I won my first battle. I remember burning all my Playboy™mags with great fanfare ☺ No one buys Playboy magazines anymore. Porn is now online; no need to hide in a corner with a bulky magazine, or hide stacks of old issues under your mattress. One click and boom

But there is GOOD NEWS! The power that rescued me then is still potent enough to rescue me now. Hallelujah! And if you let Him, he can rescue you too.  

Lust is not gender specific folks. He destroys as many men as he does women. Don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking you’re the only one! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  

Same goes for masturbation, fornication, adultery. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Sin thrives in secrecy. Break the yoke. Be free!  Jesus died for all your sins including this one. His blood has cleansed you. Take your stand daily. This war can be won  

God bless you twit fam! Have a blessed day.

olamidecraig.wordpress.com

 

DAY 29 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Do you know the hardest part of this gratitude journey? Being consistent. It has seemed many times that it is just as I have finished all my work for the day, just before I drop off to sleep, then I remember that drat! I haven’t posted.

Something else I discovered, a number of things have happened that I would want to rant on, and then I remember I’m doing gratitude all of this month. Usually, by the next day, my complaint has vanished, it has simply become irrelevant.

I went today after a week away. It was a good feeling and it inspired my post for today. Three things that made today great and made me grateful:

1. Colleagues were happy to see me. I have been away for a week since school resumed and through the day, people kept coming up to my office to say Hi and they were glad to see me. I don’t take it for granted,many  work environments are characterized by backbiting and nastiness and to have people in my office come up to me and repeatedly say how glad they were to see me, it made me feel valued.

2. I’m grateful for the calm  before the storm. It’s holiday time, so my work hours are reduced. This means that I can get a massive amount of work done without the hubbub that usually attends a regular work day – awesome!

3. Today I got the opportunity to do something very small for someone who has often gone out of his way at work to be kind to me. I was excited about it because this person is usually so self sufficient, but blessedly, I was with him when this opportunity came up, and I jumped on it with excitement. It was great!

In addition, I have been working on a project and finally got the go-ahead to go full steam ahead. It’s quite a big project and I am excited about stretching myself and putting my talents to the test.

today, Abuja was cold and very rainy. I got home freezing, jumped under my blanket and had a quick nap. I am grateful for my blanket. It’s been with me 9 – 10 years. It went with me to Zamfara and kept me warm during the cold harmattan. 9 years later, it’s still doing an awesome job.

2 more days of gratitude. I got one big one today…one thing to be grateful for. I’m still processing it, but God worked something out for me in a very roundabout way. In the process, He taught me some things about myself and also showed me how His starting point is often a very poor indicator of where I will end up. He works in such mysterious ways and today, He just reaffirmed to me not to judge His destination by my perception of His direction. It was a wonderful lesson.

I’m asking God for 2 nice things for the next 2 days, I want to round the month out with a bang. Looking forward to seeing what He does.

Have a wonderful night guys. God bless

 

 

DAY 28 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

So I’m sitting here, listening to the prayers from the mosque down the road and asking myself why the heck I’m still awake…but it is beautiful though, there’s an awesome breeze coming through my room and there is something about the thought of people who have put aside sleep to pray.

Today I went out with my sister and my friend and my gratitude bits for today come from the outing.

1. I had an evening of uncomplicated fun. Me and 2 of my fave girls out, listening to karaoke, chatting, playing with our phones, pretending to be back up singers…there was no drama, no need to put up airs or present an impression, it was simple and it was fun.

2. We put a little money in our bags and were able to order what we wanted, knowing that we could pay for it. Guys, you won’t understand this if you’ve never been out with someone, nervous about ordering because you know that you don’t have a dime on you. It was lovely to make our orders, knowing that we had enough in our wallets to cover it. Financial independence is a blessing.

3. I got in a cab and got home…safely

4. I got home, made myself a mug of tea, walked into my slightly messy room and heaved a sigh of sheer happiness. My space, arranged (or disarranged my way)…I am grateful for this.

5. And one more thing, I tried to log on only to discover that my internet had been exhausted again, and for a minute all I felt was blinding rage…I started to think of budgets, was thinking up several choice words to express my opinion of the finisher of my internet when this quiet thought came into my spirit “You can afford to renew it” and I calmed instantly. Just a short while ago, I couldn’t even afford internet…then when I finally got it, I could only afford to renew it once a month and if it finished before the next month…toh. Today, I realised that I could afford to renew it, and yes, it might mean putting off one or 2 purchases, but I can afford it…guys I don’t know about you, but thoughts like these just serve to bring my mind back to just how far God has brought me…how much my life is changing, in these fairly simple ways.

The bottom line of today’s gratitude was simple pleasures. These by themselves might seem like little things, but they are the little things that add the extra to my life…my outing, my tea, my friends, my laughter…the ability to exist in the moment and not worry or stress…I find myself stripping away a lot…drama, stress, unhappiness, confusion…a lot of the extra drama that we take on might not be as necessary as we assume they are. Life as it is, as it was today, well it was beautiful…simply beautiful. And I am grateful for that.

 

DAY 26/27 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Ok this is where I confess that I am actually slacking. This is becoming a habit. And no be say I no get things to be grateful about o! I’m just letting life and it’s plenty busyness get to me.

So today I was reading through my journals and some of my old letters. Journals are great btw. There are few things as good for establishing growth as reading your thoughts and experiences from a year or 2 past. Every time I read a journal entry, I am just overwhelmed with gratitude for how far God has brought me, because I can see the changes within me so clearly.

Anyway I was reading these letters I once wrote to someone I was madly in love with. We weren’t in the same place and so we communicated by writing long letters to each other. It inspired me today to talk about all the things I am grateful for in love and relationships. Not just romantic relationships but in friendships, work and even family relationships:

1. I am grateful for all the people I have had the privilege to love and be loved by. It is not easy…in fact it is really scary to open your heart to someone, understanding that this relationship has the potential to cause you pain. So I am grateful for each person that looked at me and decided that I was a chance worth taking.

2. I am grateful for the lessons they taught me. Each relationship has taught me something.

  • One day, in an argument, an ex said to me “If you keep complaining that people treat you this particular way, it’s not them, it’s YOU!”. It was said in anger but I tell you it opened my eyes and it showed me that it was MY responsibility to decide how I would like to be treated
  • After an evening sitting with some frenemies – you know them, smiles face to face, sharp daggers soon as you turn, I just decided that I would no longer do this. I made a promise that I would only engage in mutually affirming friendships and I would have nothing to do with people that I knew did not like me. And I haven’t since.
  • Every relationship has cleared a new truth for me – the things that matter to me, those that don’t and why. I understand myself, why I act the way I do, the types of people I should never date and much more.

There are many many more like that. Things that I have picked up along the way  and which have helped me as I have crafted the person that I am becoming.

3. I am grateful for every single period in my life. See, I love being single…maybe too much sef. But you know, there is a blessing in the seasons of aloneness. When you can up and move without worrying. When you can apprise a situation and see exactly how it works for you. Being single has given me the freedom several times to take chances or steps or make decisions as they needed to be made. I enjoy my “me” season to the fullest so that when there is a “we” season, I will have no reason to complain about things that I could’ve done but didn’t.

4. I am also grateful because I have learned to value of my affection. See…many of us treat love like we are being done a favour. yes we should be grateful for our partners and their value in our lives, but that gratitude must be balanced by a healthy appreciation of what we are bringing into the equation. This is not arrogance – I am an awesome partner; I know this. It took me some time and a great many tears to learn this, but having done so, I have gained the ability to enter a relationship knowing that the person I am with is encountering an asset. I am less likely to waste my time with relationships that are not profitable to either of us and I am able to love freely, knowing that my value is not dependent on the person I am with, but on who I am.  I acknowledge expectations but do not trap myself into meeting every single one. It means that rather than accepting everyone that walks into my life, I weigh…I treat every encounter deliberately and everyone that is in my life is there because I have chosen to keep them there.

5. I am grateful and excited about the future. I look forward daily to a value adding, mutually beneficial relationship. I am excited about learning about this special person that God will bring into my life. I look forward to being a blessing and being blessed. I know that it will be beautiful…I will accept nothing less.

6. Loving people has taught me more about loving God. Like I said previously, I grew up with a rule book of how God should be loved. Having thrown away the rulebook, sometimes I am confused. It helps to ask myself “How would my partner/sister/friend like to be treated in this circumstance? When I am trying to get out of praying, I remind myself about how much I love chatting with my boo just before I sleep, and realise that God would probably like that too. When I am grumbling about reading my Bible, I remember the “Good morning baby” messages that ensure I start my day with a smile, how much more a love note from the Lover of my soul? When I don’t feel worthy of His love, I think of just how much it pleases me to lavish love, and then I understand.

7. I am grateful for every heartbreak. Guys…every heartbreak has stretched my heart, made it softer, made it bigger. I love deeply. I love children, I love sunsets, I love rainy days, I love people. Sometimes it feels to me that my heart is just so full of love that I must pour it out. I am learning to love like God and there is no way my heart could be as big as it has become without every heartbreak. I have encountered shades and colours of love…I know that love is not perfect and I accept that it is not meant to be; I understand that its beauty is in its many flaws and in its frailty and so I take as I am given, valuing and affirming myself and those around me in the process.

There’s much more to be grateful for, but my washing machine has just sung its “I’m done” tune and I need to go hang out the clothes. Have an awesome awesome Saturday people! God bless

 

 

DAY 25 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

I’d like to share some thoughts that gave me great comfort today and reminded of just how much I am loved by God. I was lamenting to Him this afternoon that I don’t love Him like I should and this is what I got back. “You do love Me, but you’re learning how to live a life of love to Me. When you quarrel with a partner or a friend or a sibling, when you ignore them instead of listening or brush them aside or get irritated, it doesn’t mean that you don’t love them, just that you need to learn how to live that love…it’s a process”

Guys this thought comforted me, it settled my heart and put a smile back on my face. I grew up in a Christian environment that tended to praise performance. I am learning to exist in God’s love. To be a child of love. To accept the unconditional love that He lavishes on me. I’m learning not to judge myself by my successes or failures, but by the steadfastness of His love for me…that’s grace isn’t it…that is the beauty of grace

And then, some minutes later, I didn’t even realise that I was worrying about a decision I needed to make. However, I slowly became conscious of another thought – that God is not some mean old guy sitting with a scornful expression and a big stick, waiting for me to make a mistake. He promises to guide and lead me. He promises to show me the way. And if I go off track, He promises to bring me back on the correct path. God is committed to my – to our – success. It gives Him no pleasure to see us fail.

Finally, remember when I asked that question this morning, about what to do when you get the chance to do the stuff you’ve always dreamed of. Well, I had to ask myself that recently, and the answer wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I agonized, pondered and couldn’t shake off a niggling worry. Finally, I realised that the issue wasn’t what the decision itself, but rather, how it would change my routines. I realised that I would be leaving my comfort zone and entering a whole new dynamic of operation…and it scared me, because I had become used to the way life was.

I never want to become so used to comfort that I forget adventure. I never want to become to set in my ways that I hesitate to break loose and head off in another direction. There is a life available for the living, and I do not want to spend it from the safety of the rocking chair on my front porch. I want to be out there, whooping it up and wringing out every minute that life has to give. I want to Live Out Loud…and I thank God for yet another opportunity to go right ahead and do just that

 

DAY 24 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Ok, I know that this seems like it is becoming a habit, but honestly it wasn’t my fault. There’s a not-so-complicated story of me falling asleep and a cabbie who refused to answer my calls.

Anyway, let me ask a question. If the thing you’re dreaming of happens, do you have what it takes to take the chance? You know now…you dream of that job that will solve all your financial issues, that guy/girl who will treat you like you deserve to be treated, that move that will signal a new start. When you get the chance to take the step, will you jump into the unknown or will you cling to the comfort of the familiar? I thought it would be an easy answer, I was sure I knew what I would do…but it’s not that easy. More on that later.

Now I am attending the Heinrich Boell Conference on Resource Control and guys ehn…I am finding it hard to be grateful about attending. Nigeria is blessed and we are wasting it!!! I’m reading and hearing about solid minerals, land potential, gas reserves and much much more…and the question that has returned to my mind steadily is, “What are we doing with all this?” I don’t think it is a hopeless situation, and in the end, I am grateful for these uncomfortable truths. I need to look deeper, I need to ask more questions and learn more. This conference has sha opened my eyes, I am no longer in a position to pretend that I am asleep. I will also settle down and put these together in a series of posts very shortly.

Third, I am grateful for the extremely healthy peppered snails I had yesterday. Those things ehn…they had obviously been fed well before they were turned in pepper and put on a plate for me.

I am grateful for the people I have met in the last few days…I’m in a room with passionate and active minds and I know that we are not the only ones. I am grateful to have been able to learn from them and engage with them. We are a microcosm of the greater Nigeria, and if we can make these sparks create a huge fire, I’m sure that we can create change.

Ok, back to listening. I’ll blog later today, by God’s grace, no more late posting. 24 days of gratitude and God has indeed given me so much to be grateful for. And I know that there’s still more to be grateful for in the next few days.

Anyway, will go now. Ciao!