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Sunday, December 9, 2012

The benefit of the doubt

Life lesson and reminder #2705

Some thing I've learned, packaged in diverse lesson plans throughout my life, is to give people the benefit of the doubt.

the benefit of the doubt: a favorable judgment granted in the absence of full evidence.

In relationships of all kinds, it’s easy to forget that “nobody is perfect.”

Nobody is perfect; that shouldn't be much of a surprise, right?  However, many interpersonal conflicts could be resolved or at least de-magnified if we remembered this often.  If we remembered this tenet, we would be slow to make judgments, condemnations; basically assume the worst.  In other words, we treat people as if they were perfect beings and when something happens to contradict that, we forget that we are not perfect beings.

In line with the reason for the Christmas season, there's only one perfect person that's ever been created and we mark His birth in a couple weeks. He is seated at the right Hand of the Father, right now! No one presently alive has physically seen Him as a man. That is Jesus. *cue Revelation Song*

With that said, if we remember that "nobody is perfect," forgiving becomes much more second nature, as it should be for Christians.

So my two cents with this post are:

First, in personal relationships: family, friendships, etc. when you feel wronged or when you would assume the worst based on someone’s actions or statements, just give the person the benefit of the doubt. Don’t jump to conclusions from your assumptions.  More times than not, you learn that your assumptions are actually inaccurate, once you eventually receive the explanation you ask for (key phrase: "ask for" read: communication).

Just stop and think, is this person who you once called friend, brother or what have you, willfully trying to be malicious? More times than not, I think, it is not the case.  I highly doubt that a person you (wisely/willingly) held in close quarters would be willfully malicious or intentionally seek to "stab you in the back" (not talking about work relationships though, see below). I know the heart of man is desperately wicked but in these instances, I just don't think people you've let into your inner circle would just snap, (save any psychological issues, God forbid).

There’s probably just a misunderstanding that you ought to clear up. This clearing up involves, giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, intentional communication, and forgiving, regardless of the outcome. Also note, the other person may not have the same idea of forgiveness as you but that doesn't [shouldn't] change your duty or response.

Yes, you also have a duty...

Oddly enough, today someone referenced a Lecrae tweet, which he originally tweeted on July 15, 2012!.....!!!!.....!!!!!!! That's my birthday!!! Get out! lol

I’m noticing more and more that I’m giving people of the benefit of the doubt and it feels great, feels free.  I think I get it from my mom, who always chooses to see the good side of people. And also from an understanding that there are always so many facts and perceptions to one story.  Uncovering every fact would be the only just way to get to the bottom of an issue.

So for me, I'm focusing on the good side of people, not really being consumed with the facts though (I mean who really has time for that, life is too short for all that, I'm on a mission), and just forgiving quickly. (read: Nike slogan: just do it. *shrug*) How much does it cost you to hold on to something? BUT, how much is it worth. It's not worth it. Love keeps no records of wrongs. 

Forgiving as I was forgiven, Merry Christmas to me.

End note

On another (professional setting) note, someone, (I’ll call them a more experienced practitioner), told me this recently regarding our line of work, (and someone told this to that person): always assume [someone on the other side] is lying just a little bit.

Since I’m relatively new to the full-time work scene, I can’t comment much on that, but it sounded like a good piece of advice, as an encouragement to ask more questions; the harder questions, the deeper questions, in an investigation.  

Although, ironically, in my field, typically, you’re innocent until proven guilty. *shrug* Then again, maybe that "innocent until proven guilty" tenet is mainly relevant in the courts of criminal law... maybe it's not even really relevant there! :-o Another post for another day.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lord, I believe but kill my unbelief.

My sermon notes of 10/28/12 @JHouseDallas...

If you are familiar with the Israelites delivery from captivity and subsequent journey in the wilderness, you know that: first, it took Pharaoh 10 plagues before he finally let God’s people go.

Second, you will recall, that an 11 day journey from Egypt to the Promised Land took them 40 years!

Lastly, once delivered, the Israelites forgot about all He had done to bring them out of captivity and began to murmur against Moses, (for apparently bringing them into the wilderness to die, which they eventually did in fact, but not because of Moses.) Everyone, over 20, was delivered but never made it to the Promised Land. They fell short of the destiny the Lord had for them. May that not be our portion in Jesus name.

Sometimes, as you may have experienced, God purposely allows delays or extensions in our life because He knows we are not ready for what He wants to give us.

God purposely delayed the Israelites for two of the 40 years. He said if the Israelites take one way, the shorter route, they may get scared and return to Egypt. So the Lord led them along the longer route, which took them 2 years.

He knows we may exhibit fear, immaturity or other adverse effects in the destiny He has planned for us (Jeremiah 29:11). So for our own good, He brings delay. He knows better and best. If we were to receive that open door, new song or blessing we've been believing Him for in 11 days hypothetically instead of 2 years hypothetically again, we may (may) not be able to handle our blessing appropriately and effectively.

Sometimes, as you also may have experienced, delay can be due to your lack of faith and unbelief. God delayed the Israelites for two years because He knew they would become fearful and return to Egypt. However, the remaining 38 years in the wilderness, wer due to their murmuring, complaints; essentially unbelief. No one from that generation (20+ and over), except for Joshua and Caleb, made it to the Promised Land because of their unbelief.

In Mark 9:24, the father of the sick little girl says: “Lord, I believe but help my unbelief.”

We need the Lord to help our unbelief. Our unbelief can be the equivalent of murmuring. Our unbelief can be equivalent of us returning to Egypt. Egypt is not a geographical location per se but rather a state of mind or return to old ways.

He helped the unbelief of the Israelites by not allowing any of the unbelieving generation to enter into the Promised Land. Our unbelief cannot enter our promise land or Heaven.

It’s time to stop running back to Egypt when things are tough. Let’s stop running back to the ways of the world, or the ways of old habits, when there is a challenge. It’s time to strengthen our faith and take our Kingdom and our Promised Land by force!

Lastly, even though we have the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, the LORD still tells us in Matthew, that the Kingdom of God suffers violence, but the violent, the militant, they, take it by force. The strength of your faith determines the speed of our breakthrough.  When things are not working the way you would have liked them to, it is time to give God the glory. When [fill in the blank], it is time to give God the glory.

God overwhelmed Pharaoh with 10 plagues.  In the same way, He will overwhelm your enemies.

The problem is not the struggle. The problem is how we respond to the struggle.

Lord, I believe, but kill my unbelief. Give me grace to strengthen my faith and take what is mine by force! #Breakthrough!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gracious Speech

A cyber convo . . . 
Friend: If God gives you the opportunity to go to Heaven with one person, who will you go with?
Me: Maybe a Muslim or an atheist.
Friend: Why a Muslim?
Me: *long pause* *thinking* So they can see Jesus the way I see Him.
Friend: But they believe in God.
Me: But? I said “so they can see Jesus the way I see Him.” What do you mean by “but?”
Friend: But they believe in God…
Me: How is that related to my reason?
Friend: I just feel if any other religion besides Christianity believes in God, I don’t care how they get to HIM. Just me personally.
Me: Different religions do not see Jesus the same way. If I had a chance to take someone to Heaven with me, it would be someone who sees Jesus in a different way, so they can see Him the way I see Him, at the right hand of the Father, like in Revelation.
Friend: Oh okay, I see what you are saying. 

Why did I post this? Because what may seem obvious to me as a Christian is not necessarily obvious for every Christian. We all have arrived on our Christianity path from diverse backgrounds. His Word states that there is only one way to the Father. However, someone had to deliver that message to me in a way that I would first, receive and second, understand. I had to think about the best way to respond and prayed for grace in my answer, even the short and quick prayers can get answered promptly. 

I heard this recently: “you might say you don’t care what "they" say about you, God knows your heart etc., but you should care about what they say about your Jesus.” 

I care about what they say about my Jesus. Because of that, I care about the way I deliver His message. 

So just keep this in mind whenever you’re delivering part of His message (pro-life, Biblical definition of marriage, only one way to the Father) to someone who needs to receive it in a way that they can understand, without condemnation or belittling. It's also important to note that this conversation is with a friend where there is a tendency to relax the boundaries since we are in a safer zone. Even still, I need grace on my words, just the same.

Colossians 4:6 
New Living Translation -- Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
The Message -- Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.
Amplified -- Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you]. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A glimpse of the Throne

Earlier today, I went to Fellowship Loop, a monthly lunchtime service in Macy's downtown hosted by Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church.  You know the minister who sings God is Awesome, that's his church.  During worship, and that song in particular, I found myself focusing (imagining/meditating) on the 24 elders and the 4 living creatures at the Throne in Heaven.
Revelation 4: 4, 6-84  Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 
6B And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within.
Little did I know, my ride home at the end of the night, would involve other aspects of The Throne. As I was leaving my car to go inside my church, there was not a cloud in sight. So I disregarded the thunderstorm warning and left my umbrella in the car. After all, they've been wrong before, it was already 7pm and the watch was until 8pm.  However, by the time we left church, the scenery had drastically changed. It felt like a scene out of a Dixie Chicks song.  And I was driving like I just received my permit and my driving instructor was in the passenger seat making me feel very uncomfortable. 

I was so focused on the road. I was driving in lightning and thunder: I could feel it.  Lightning and thunder were seconds apart in a call and response, throughout my trip.  High winds, severe thunderstorm and even tornado watches!  I thought at any moment a car could slam into the divider or spin, God forbid.  Moreover, some of the lights on the expressway were out, so visibility was extremely hindered.  My gentle assurance prayer "Lord cover this car with the blood of Jesus" soon elevated into a plead. 

This was one of the longest dangerous rides I can remember in my history of driving, (11 years or so), even driving 4 hours on a normally 2 hour trip in a snowstorm up the interstate did not compare to this.  For one, I already don't like driving in severe rain from a previous incident. That incident was nothing compared to tonight. Two, I was riding solo this time in contrast to the snowstorm ride.  

Cars were pulled over to the side on the expressway, other cars were driving well under the speed minimum.  At some parts, the expressway was empty. I just kept on going, pleading the blood of Jesus for protection, it was that serious. It might not have been the smartest thing to do, but I was determined to get home safe and sound as soon as I could, plus it's been a long day and I was calculating my hours of sleep tonight.  Part of me with a hindsight aforethought, thought each time I passed a bridge, I should probably pull over, but I just kept going.

Thank God I made it home safely!

Throughout all that, I kept thinking The Throne is much more intense than this, unquestionably. See for yourself: The Throne - Revelation 4

Yet, He asks us to come boldly before Him, boldly before His Throne. Hebrews 4:16

Now that I made it home safely, the intensity of The Throne is magnified in me. Coming boldly before His Throne has new meaning for me. We haven't seen a thing yet! 

My God is truly awesome.

Monday, April 30, 2012

In Jesus name, LORD we asatata-shouldaboughtahyundaibutinsteadiboughtanaccord... WHAT!

So yesterday, we had lunch with the Pastor. We being Reflections, one of the arts groups in the church (conducting skits etc. pre-sermon to illustrate a current teaching topic or theme) It was a somewhat informal lunch; open forum style. Family members were invited, little children and what not. People were served at their seats 2 by 2…
Christianah, did you bless the food?
Oh man, Pastor called me out. (If you’re following, Christianah is the Nigerian-English form of pronouncing my name).
Oya, bless the food. (Translated: Bless the food, now).
Has my Pastor heard me pray before? (not that it matters, but just wondering) . . . In Jesus name…

I was just thinking, (a little Monday #LBS: laughing but serious), what if I began with the typical food blessing prayers and then busted out in tongues...! You would probably be like: what? Whoa! I know I would certainly have the “you cannot be serious” look on my face that I honestly don’t do a good job of hiding sometimes. ;)

This is kind of similar to my feelings about a prayer leader, leading a group in prayer and the majority of the prayer is in tongues. Key word: majority. What are you saying? This is distracting. Some of my energy is then spent tuning out the prayer leader.

Definitely not attacking or denying the power and the at times spontaneous nature of tongues but this is just something that is slightly bothersome when it is deliberate, loud (with or without the mic but usually with the mic) and in a corporate setting for corporate prayer. (Please note the specific qualifications).

So much so, that I remember wanting to go up to a Brother and thank him for the way he led his prayer set during a 24-7 prayerthon. (I didn't, not yet.) It was entirely in English, the language of the majority, and spoken with clarity.

A few of my friends and I have briefly discussed this recently and some are doing a study on it. I would like to hear your thoughts if you have some revelation or thoughts on this topic/practice as well. Let's rightly divide the word of truth.

Below are some verses I pulled from 1 Corinthians 14, but please read it in its entirety.

6) But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching?

9) So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.

11) Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me.

12) Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.

13) Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.

14) For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

19) yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

22) Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.

23) Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

27) If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Religious v. Relationship

Pulling one out of the archives, after various conversations about my Independent Study: seeking to see and learn about Jesus from different perspectives, just like studying the Gospels. It does not substitute an independent relationship with The Father. This post is almost a year old and there's several more where this came from. Anyway, here it is, unedited, unchanged from it's original version circa May, 2011, in Lawrenceville, Georgia. I'll probably dig back into the archives to post a few more soon.

Religious v. Relationship

Thoughts cross my mind when I see the several denominations and practices all under the umbrella of Christianity. I drive passed another church and wonder what it would be like to fellowship with that congregation or denomination. As Christians, we have so many degrees of Christianity.

To the outsider surveying religions generally, Muslims or Jews appear very religious because of their visible adherence to a strict set of rules. The five pillars of Islam mandate a Muslim to pray five times a day at set times a day. The Jews believe salvation can be bought by works.

In contrast, Christianity contains a wider spectrum of religious practices due to people breaking away and starting their own sects. For Christians, we have varied interpretations of what is Christianity and therefore various rules we abide by resulting in several denominations.

Sometimes I see statements such as “Christianity is watered down” because we are all diverse in our practice or adherence to our beliefs and what we prioritize after the first two commandments. I’ll also see people quoting Ghandi “I like your Christ, I don’t like your Christians.” That’s one of the most incorrect statements documented. There’s no way you could like Christ, without liking His Christians.

We’re all going to church with the same end goal; to be in Heaven together with the Father. You can pray five times a day or 50 times a day and other people may or may not see what you’re doing. For Christianity, what matters is your heart. Therefore, denomination or intra religious debates puts our focus on a topic we are not qualified to judge.

Many times we want religious rigidity.

“Christianity is always less of a set of rules and more of a heart posture.” - Tolu Akande

God will look at the heart of all Christians at the judgment seat. We cannot gage how connected anyone’s heart is to the Father. We cannot judge someone’s heart or intentions for what they are doing. And though works are good and needed, our works will mean nothing if our heart was disconnected to the Greatest One of all, the Greatest love of All!

Deliver us from mere routine and religion. We don’t need religion. We need relationship. An intimate relationship of our heart seeking the Father’s heart and the emotions and attributes of Him.

“So what if I know all the language, so what if I sing all the songs, if my heart’s disconnected from the Greatest One of all.” –Caleb Andrews

“When we pursue religious acts without pursuing the knowledge of God, we are also in danger of becoming Pharisees.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sunday Reflection: Trinity United Church of Christ Chicago

I didn’t get the memo: today must be Africa Day or International Day, I thought to myself as I entered the Trinity United Church of Christ sanctuary Sunday morning.

What a beautiful sight. The entire choir, of about 100 people, was robed in various traditional West African attire.

I took a quick picture. This was President Obama’s church and after the youtube incident, their policies on recording or taking pictures have tightened.

Anywho, I couldn’t find my folks. I thought it would be fairly easy to spot them, with the mindset that this is an African American church so all I have to do is look for the people with outstanding headties and colorful cloths.

The occasion: my little cousin’s baby dedication. Funny enough, all of us 16 deep, wore English attire, save my mom, aunt and a friend with a blendable Ankara skirt under an English top - a style many of the Generation-Y have adopted. However, almost EVERYONE else, the choir, the pastor, the assistants, had on traditional attire. 

I went downstairs and decided I'd better get a seat because the church was filling quickly. I ended up walking in behind two of my friends.  Judy, I didn't know today was African Day.  "They wear this every Sunday."

I sat in awe and amazement. I couldn’t help but to think about how life would be had there not been slavery. Seeing that my analysis could go further, thinking “well, they supposedly brought Christianity to Africa,” I let that go and continued focusing on the choir. There was even a man shaking a shekere. We have one at home. I go to a “Nigerian” church and we don’t even use that.

This was so amazing to me.  At brunch, someone in our group said “I felt more African in this church than in my own church!” Sounds like a conversation with the Pastor is forthcoming.  Although, I will say at our church, traditional attire is encouraged every first Sunday, Thanksgiving Sunday.

I really liked the emphasis on turning the hearts of the father to the children and the children to the father. There were about 8 children dedicated to the Lord yesterday, each wearing white.  The assistant pastor read the parents vows.  Then, the pastor came up to each group. One parent would say the first name, the other parent would say the second name, and the rest of the group was tasked with saying the surname. 

Funny enough, my cousin was the only “African” name, which caused the Pastor to pause to ensure accurate pronunciation.  The pastor dedicated the children each individually, in the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.  Then the mother would place a bracelet around the child's wrist.  After that the father’s take their children up to the pulpit. An assistant comes in and places salt, vinegar and honey in each child’s mouth via q-tip. Then the father’s hold up their children in unison, facing east, north, west, and south with a very powerful Lion King-esque style music playing in the background. It was so beautiful!

I wish my eyes could take pictures. I wish I could take pictures with my eyes.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Independent Study: Perspectives of Jesus

If I enroll in an institution seeking another degree, I believe it would be in theology.  I say seeking a degree to distinguish from casual extra learning – like an accounting class here or a music class there – which I eventually plan to take, among others.

Lately, for almost two years now, I have been mesmerized by the various traditions, denominations, and sects of Christianity.  My research thus far wholly consists of primary research.  This means if I ask you several questions about your church, do not take offense, friends, I really just want to know!  I but I think an actual experience trumps what I”ll read online although I might cross-check a few things with a credible site

For example, I recall a recent conversation with a friend and an African American lady we just met at a Whirlyball event for a huge church called Calvary Church of Naperville.  In her attempt to describe the denomination and church practices she says: “are you familiar with the Church of God in Christ?  My friend was, I was not, or so I thought.  “Well, it’s just like that, except it’s white people.”

I’m thinking: Oooh “Cogic!”  Okay we’re getting warmer, I’ve driven passed C.O.G.I.C. parishes in the south but other than that I haven’t the slightest clue.  So I thought correctly, I’m not familiar, just as (un)familiar as the several other churches I’ve driven by at times wondering how things go on the inside of that church or amongst that group of worshipers.

Well yesterday at the Trinity United Church of Christ, this teacher-pastor, Reverend Otis Moss III, broke so many things down with clarity, in such a short time, for me (and everyone else of course but I was definitely a target for that message) and I was taking copious notes.

He began with the allegation (or fact – depending on your experience with other Christians) that “the actual practice of Christianity today, has little to with Christ.” Many of the 30-and-under crowd claim there is a disconnection between the Jesus of love and those that are representing Him, daily, here and now.

Then, he transitioned into the admonition that membership of a church or denomination does not equate to having a relationship with Christ. A denomination is history, practices and rituals. And every denomination has a different perspective of Jesus. Nonetheless, your denomination does not lead you to Christ.

Following his Bird’s eye exhortation of several denominations, such as the evangelicals and traditions, such as Pentecostal (note: it’s not a denomination – popular misconception) he moved on to the 4 portraits of Jesus from the Gospels.

I’m really motivated to step up this independent study!  I’m not too sure what the plans are for my findings in the long run, possibly sharing with others somehow.  For now, I want satisfaction in knowing the history of my tradition/denomination/group and deciphering between the intended practice and beliefs and what’s been added along the way and for what reasons.

We should all know the history behind our respective churches and why we choose to worship there, besides the obvious – which may not even be so obvious.

I implore you to seek this knowledge for yourself too. Learning how various groups, especially your own “group,” perceives the Man, Christ Jesus, also strengthens your perspective of Brother Jesus.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ẹnití ó ni orí, kò ni filà. Ẹnití ó ni filà, kò ni orí.

On Tuesday afternoon, I was walking expeditiously across the loop, trying to beat the approaching rain. Midway through my journey, it begins to drizzle. Now, I am wearing boots that are not water-proof, and damp feet would just be uncomfortable.  The day before, I wore my rain boots, but decided against it on this particular day, taking into consideration the transition from boots to pumps in conjunction with my obligations that day. Also, the forecast did not call for rain until much later in the day.

This thought quickly pops into my mind: I should have wore my rain boots today. A second later, I mean literally one second later, I see a man walking past me, in the opposite direction, barefoot!

I did a quick but discrete whip-neck back, to confirm what I just saw. Indeed, as puddles formed along the concrete, this man was walking down Washington Street, within the center of the main business district of Chicago, at midday, completely barefoot.

And although seeming slightly militant, just slightly, all others things considered, he seemed sane. Granted, there is the very rare possibility that he chose to walk barefoot. But I will give him the benefit of the doubt that that was not the case, in this instant.

Message! Some people do not even have shoes at all, or the luxury to choose from two or more pairs, due to the weather or occasion.  This made me ponder another aspect of what we daily take for granted as "necessity."  This is not even a matter of first-world privilege and third-world oppression: poverty is everywhere!  Let me take you around certain neighborhoods in Chicago.  Let me take you blocks away from my "campus town;"  North Champaign.

When I came home that evening, I told my family about my thought provoking highlight of the day. My story reminded my Aunt of the following Yoruba Proverb and her explanation followed.
Ẹnití ó ni orí, kò ni filà. Ẹnití ó ni filà, kò ni orí. 
Someone has a head, but does not have a hat. Someone has a hat, but does not have a head.
This proverb is used when someone misuses an opportunity or entirely misses an opportunity.

This is a reminder that whereever you are right now, and whatever you think could be the ultimate worst scenario in the world for you, always consider that there are countless people that would trade places with you in a heartbeat.

Appreciate with thanks what you have, and use it wisely, be resourceful.  I am not saying be forever complacent with your current state of affairs. This does not substitute prayer and supplication for change, increase or what have you.  But, just the same, focus on and be a faithful steward of, everything you do have.  And may the above Yoruba Proverb not be said as true for you or me. K'Olorun je k'ani mejeji.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Heavenly Hindsight

Nothing puts life in perspective like death. Each of us has a predestined appointment to die once. No matter who we are, what we’ve done or how much we’re worth, we will die, and there is no escaping it.  How we live on this side will determine which side of eternity we wake up into. How we live on this side will determine whether we are in fact resting in “peace” or eternal damnation.

On Wednesday, January 25th at 12:25PM, my dear grandmother went to sleep and woke up in the presence of the Lord, no doubt about it.  Her faith was secure decades ago, but she kept on running her race, walking out her salvation with fear and trembling.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, she encountered could see her love for Christ.

As humans, emotional beings, we tend to mourn the loss of a loved one because we remember the times we’ve shared and imagine how life will be going forward without this person who played a role in our life.  And that’s okay, there’s a time for that.  Yet, we do not mourn as the unbelievers that have no hope.  For we know as real as death is, Heaven is real too.

Each time I begin to sorrowfully mourn my grandma's death, I have to check myself: “don’t you believe Heaven is real?” “Wasn’t she unquestionably saved?” (or as my brother called her a “professional Christian”) Then, I must know that now that she is absent from her body, she is present with the Lord.

"To the unbeliever, their last day on earth is the worst day of their life. To the believer, their last day on earth is the best day of their life." January 25, 2012, was the best day of my grandma's life, just short of a year after my grandfather was called home. Therefore, it is a celebration!

In the last couple weeks, several people I know have become bereaved.  Today, I attended my friend’s father’s funeral. And I’d never really refer to a funeral as a “good” funeral but that was a good funeral/homegoing celebration.  I left this funeral uplifted and encouraged by his life and legacy.  This home going ceremony, coupled with the things people have been saying in honor of my grandma, as well as the fact that we are  pilgrims, passing through this vapor of a life, motivate me more, to live with my eyes on Heaven.

The question before me now and henceforth is: What will I say when I get to Heaven?  I’m just thinking of that video of my life that will play with the choices I made and the choices I am making. For example, imagine, how embarrassing it will be for me to try to explain an offense I held in my heart (or something else sinful). When I’m at the judgment seat of Christ, accounting for everything I’ve said, done, or thought, how will I explain all my choices to my Father? If the opportunity presents itself, which I'd imagine it could, since we'll be there forever: what will I say to my brother or sister in Christ?  "Oh yeah that time….yeah I was mad because….and yeah that was it. *blank stare* Yeah, it seems really lame and petty, I don’t even know how I could let that affect me. I wish I handled that differently. Thank God He let me in, even after that. So, yeah....” *awkward* Mercy me.
Philippians 3: 18-20 --actually read the whole chapter, letter, testament, etc. for context :)
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ
We get caught up in all these trivial things of the world that will have no value in the age to come.  I want to live my life with a Heavenly Hindsight. I will (try to) live my life with a Heavenly Hindsight, daily. Grace, Lord.

"So I won't lose heart on this journey, in this vapor called life."

I am running after You

One of my favorite past times, is track and field.  In high school, I anchored the relay teams; 4 * 100 and 4 * 200, respectively.  Collectively, these races happen so quickly.  The gun goes off, you turn your head one degree and the next runner (leg) is already taking off in the exchange zone, ready to receive the baton from the previous leg. Every team is running for the prize, the trophy, the medal or the ribbon.

Individually, the races are even quicker.  Once you’ve passed the baton, your job is done.  Wherever you left off, is where the next person picks up. Everyone else's race continues. Where your team is, after your leg is a reflection of how well you ran. You would hope that during your leg of the race, you’ve set your team ahead. You hope that you left a legacy.

Life is a vapor fading fast.  Live your life with your eyes on the prize, heavenly minded.  Live your life to Christly impact your generation.  Live your life leaving a legacy. Live your life in a way that when your part of the race is over, your next destination will be unquestionable to the loved ones that will carry your legacy. Forget about the trivial things of this world.

Oh when we all get to Heaven; may none of us miss eternity with our Father.  I can’t wait but at the same time I can. So, I’m running my leg of this relay not just for myself and my “team” but for my generation and for the generations after me.  Meanwhile, I hope I run well, with the Word as my baton, faith and love as my track suit and my eyes on Heaven, until He pulls me off the track.

So at the end it can be said of me that "I fought the good fight, I finished the race, and I kept my faith; well done good and faithful Xtina."

I am running, running after You.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Celebrating Life

January 11th
On the one hand, I am celebrating the life of my grandma and the legacy she is leaving for us. These last few weeks have been difficult, seeing my grandma in critical condition, in the Intensive Care Unit. 

Thankfully, God has answered our prayers and is still showing us His glory, using His wisdom and power to confound medicinal reports.

On the other hand, I am celebrating the new life of an infant addition to my family. Meet Oluwatimilehin: translated God has my back!
As seen on January 13th in Omowunmi Project 366

Celebrate Life. It's a gift.

He makes all things beautiful in time.

As seen on January 14th of Omowunmi Project 366 
This coat is just a friendly (and warm) reminder to me that God makes everything beautiful and perfect in His time.

If you try to work outside of God's will, you may will get something you don't want.

After months of searching for a coat that fits, I found this coat just in the nick of time. It may sound trivial, but a coat that fits with the few criteria I desired, was quickly becoming a wild goose chase and more so as we went deeper into the winter.

All I wanted was a warm, hooded, long, winter coat that was not black. That’s not too much to ask, right? Many of the coats I came across would leave my wrists really unhappy for the 6 months of winter we get.

I found myself tapping a total stranger once, exiting the train, to ask where she got her coat.  Nothing else was coming up, so I thought one day soon, I would stop at the store she referenced and get that coat.

I knew I definitely did not want the $400 North Face that everyone swears by.  Partly, because I think the coat is more of a marketing strategy. Every other person in downtown is wearing one, with the logo plastered for all to see. Is the coat really that warm? Or is it because everyone else spent $400 on a North Face, you’ve convinced yourself that that is the only coat warm enough. No offense. :)

Thankfully, we’ve been having a pretty mild winter. Our last warm weekend of the winter, I was not even planning to go to the store; I wasn’t in the mood to look through the racks and start searching.  I've decided that the last errand I did, would be it for the night.  Something just tells me to turn into mall, even though I've passed all but the last entrance.  I hear the "don't save for tomorrow, what you can do today" inside of me.  Within 15 minutes, I am the owner of a new coat, way below the price I thought I would have to pay and way below the intended sale price.  I’ll sum it up with two words: "God’s favor."  Or maybe two more words, as a bonus: "Perfect timing."
Tip: Always Be Polite as opposed to a "Have It My Way attitude, when shopping.

Moreover, it’s not black, an in-person view reveals that it is actually a dark gray. Also, the style is one that I was not even thinking of.  More importantly, it fits me perfectly; my wrists are happy.

Sometimes, we try to help God by taking it upon ourselves to make unnecessary sacrifices compromises to get what we think we want, but God has the best in mind, if we just would wait patiently on Him. He makes all things beautiful in time, and He’s just in time.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Christians Protesting.

In light of the recent Occupy Nigeria protests, and discussions last Fall regarding mobilizing people to conduct silent prayer meetings in front of abortion clinics, (when the clinics are closed), (Bound4Life), I want to know what you all think about Christians protesting and silently seiging.

To give you an idea of where some people have fallen in the discussions, I'll provide you with a brief outline:

On the one hand, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.  Protests typically have a negative connotation. Thoughts of rioting come to mind, when protests get out of control, which they have the tendency to do, as they are emotionally driven.

Regarding protesting, some believe our energy can be channeled to a more effective means of affecting change.  Firstly, we can "protest" to our just Judge, Our Father in Heaven.  We could intercede from a room, tucked away from the public, where we are not visible and God will still hear and can answer our prayers. Additionally, one person can pray for something to happen and it could happen.  Lastly, depending on your skills and giftings, in addition to prayer, you can do other things. ie educating, writing etc.

On the other hand, we are commissioned to go out into the world and be bold, spreading the gospel and truth.  Protesting and seiging certainly make statements to the public. Regarding seiging specifically, the prayer meeting makes a statement to the public while warring in the Spirit on behalf of others.  Furthermore, there is something more powerful, more impacting, when praying with others.  Notwithstanding, the importance and presence of God while connecting with God on your own, in your secret place.  However,when believers come together and join their faith, God is in their midst and the presence of God is felt.

I want to know what you think. So, what are your thoughts about Christians protesting? Share what you know about this topic, based on your own revelation or teachings you have received.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Omowunmi Project 366.

I am taking a picture everyday this year for a photo journal, called Omowunmi Project 366. It's something I wanted to do for a while. I learned of this photo journal idea from a friend in my small group, during my last semester at Champaign.  However, since we are in a leap year, it is rightfully named Project 366.

I began on January 1st and already have my pictures for the first four days of 2012. To begin, I will be using both ( and Instagram (omowunmi).  After a few weeks, I'll decide which one I like better, functionally, for my project.

I am excited for what the Lord has in store for me in this new year.  Join me as I chronicle my 7th leap year, one photo a day. 

Stay tuned.

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