Storm Warnings

Storm Warnings

By John Ogunjimi

Please permit me to take a break from my break for the sake of this very important post. And, please, find time to read it to the end. It’s very important.

I was in the middle of something I was writing when Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm in, in August. Shortly afterwards, it flooded Houston as it finally slowed down to a tropical storm after displacing thousands of people and wrecking havoc.

I took particular interest in following the news probably because it resonated with the tenor of what I was writing at that time. I was writing about my experience on one Sunday morning last year: an account of how the sermon I took that morning had to take an unplanned different course from what I had on the outline.

That morning, around November or December last year, I felt strongly compelled to warn certain folks (especially the complacent and recalcitrant) in the congregation according to the Scriptures in Colossians 1:28: “Whom we preach, WARNING EVERY MAN, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus”.

I reminded them of the time of Lot in Sodom. Of how the angels told Lot to warn his relatives of the impending danger. But what happened? Bible says, “Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.” Genesis 19:14 (KJV).

I reminded them of the time of Noah too. Of how God Himself commissioned Noah to warn the then world of the impending deluge. Of how for one hundred years, this ‘preacher of righteousness‘ was unable to convince up to ten people to take refuge in the ark. Of how they eventually perished in the flood–every singly one of them that was outside the ark!

I reminded them of how Hurricane Matthew caused great devastation in Haiti and the United States just few weeks before that Sunday morning. Of how about 600 deaths have been attributed to that storm.

I told them particularly of the preparations the government made between the time Matthew was formed in September and the time it made landfall. Of how schools were closed, malls locked, regular flights cancelled, shelters built, and helicopters deployed for evacuation of those in the way of the storm, and despite all, several still died.

My curiosity on why people still die in such floods despite the preparations on ground had led me to a website where I’d read different reasons why some people refuse to evacuate. I’m not in position to judge their decision because I can’t say what I would have done, since I’ve never been in their shoes…

I was writing about my sermon that Sunday when I heard about Harvey. Now, Harvey has come and gone, and while the affected people are still trying to pick up the pieces of what’s left of their destroyed houses, storm warnings are coming in again.

Hurricane Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida as a Category 5 storm in less than 72 hours, and it is already killing people, flooding and taking off roofs in the Caribbean, leaving a trail of destruction. After NASA released a satellite image of the hurricane from their space station, weather experts have described this storm as ‘apocalyptic’ and the worst to hit the US in many years. As I type this, I’m watching the storm causing massive devastation and almost sweeping a camera man off his feet.

Like before, preparations have been made, and are still being made. The governor of Florida and other local authorities have been making update upon update on evacuation plans and available shelters from the storm. The level of preparation is impressive as always and while our prayers are with the people there, the bitter truth is that more people will still die. Why?

You see, escaping is voluntary. Even in the face of mandatory evacuations, some will still choose to ‘ride out the storm’ by fortifying their houses. It has worked for some in the past, but with the predictions on Irma, everyone on the storm’s way is advised to evacuate.

This is a parable to our generation. Jesus Himself said it this way:

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:37-39 KJV.

I want to think that there were people in the time of Noah who were realists. “C’mon,” one may have said to another, “have you ever heard of such thing as a rain that would flood the whole world? Be realistic my friend! Noah is crazy.”

Perhaps, another was an atheist who mocked Noah, “You are a deluded old man. How did you see God? Prove to us that your big guy in the sky exists before you deliver your message of doom.”

Maybe there was another there who was a free thinker or agnostic. “I don’t care if your God spoke to you or not. I don’t have time for religion. I want to exercise my mind and use my brain. I can’t shift all my responsibilities to an imaginary deity and enslave myself.”

And maybe there was someone there who had a tinge of conviction in his mind on the possibility of truth in Noah’s message. “I would join Noah, but for my friends,” he thinks. “What will they say of me?” Eventually, he decides, “Just before the rains begin, I’ll join Noah in the ark. I’ll run into the ark before the flood becomes terrible. I’ll make it before it becomes too late.” He was almost persuaded, but he still perished with the flood because he didn’t know God was going to lock the ark by Himself.

As I said before, all that is happening around us (home and abroad) are parables to our generation. Why do I go through the trouble telling you all these?

I’ll answer in the words of Billy Graham, from Part 1 of his book, Storm Warning, published about 25 years ago; prophetic, I must say!

“Today’s headlines ring with the warnings of approaching storms, and the language of John’s prophetic writings has never seemed so contemporary… The figurative language of the Apocalypse is indeed complex and profound and at times difficult to understand fully…”

“However… Let no one make mistake of interpreting such passages as mere fiction or hyperbole. In the face of so much hopelessness in every corner of the globe, we need to recognise the Word of God for what it is: the Word of God.

“So my ultimate goal is to… point to the ultimate source of peace, which is faith in Jesus Christ. There is a way out of despair. There is an answer to the world’s crisis. There is a way to have peace with God. That is why this storm warning must be sounded now.”

A storm is coming, friends. A mighty, big storm is coming! And only those who are sheltered will be saved. The Ark of God is loading now. Jesus is the Ark. Come on in while you may. Be saved before it’s too late. There won’t be time to repent when the trumpet sounds. There won’t be time to make peace with God when the rapture takes place.

Friends, we are in the last moments of the last days. The end of the age is drawing nearer. Romans 13:11 (KJV) says, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” The return of the Lord is at hand. Heaven has made adequate preparation for our evacuation from this world. Join this life-boat–Christ.

If you are a believer already, stand fast and join to spread this news to others. It is our collective responsibility as believers, not just the pastors’. If you aren’t a believer yet, don’t gamble with your soul, your destiny, your eternity.

Believe and be saved.

Be born again.

Choose Jesus.

Now.

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Just Come

Just Come 

On the 28th of December last year, I found myself in the hospital. 

Okay! It’s not as bad as it sounds; what I mean is that I didn’t plan to go there. I went to the campus that day to see someone, but he wasn’t at his office. When I called him, he said he was at the health centre, so I went there to see him. 

He was checking his blood pressure when I got there. As he stood up to leave, I passed a comment like, “I don’t remember the last time I did this.” That’s how they–the nurses, the person I went to see, the man who drives the ambulance–persuaded me to take my sit and check too. I agreed. 

As the nurse tightened the cuff of the sphygmomanometer around my arm, I distracted myself from what she was doing by focusing on what was written on the the oxygen tank siting opposite me, deliberately becoming absent minded. I was jolted back to reality when she announced the readings, saying my blood pressure was low. (Whatever that means!) 😐 

Different questions and opinions started flowing from the people there: How old are you? You are a young man; You don’t have much to think about. You are not married yet, so you are not worrying about anything. (Actually, the way someone there said it, you would think having a wife was an automatic blood pressure raiser.) 😂 

Just then, the doctor walked in, and the nurse asked her if she should refer me to her. My heart began to pound almost loud enough for my ears to hear. Refer who? In all honesty, I was scared. I was scared, not because of injections but, because I was waiting for 31st of December so I could celebrate 9 years of NO tablets, syrups, or injections due to sickness; nine years–since I started counting–of enjoying divine healing… (That’s a testimony, actually). 🙌 

Then she decided to take the readings again, just to be sure. This time, I was so afraid that the blood pressure they said was low before was now too high. They concluded that I should come back the following day. 

When I got home later that day, I went straight for mom’s automatic blood pressure monitor that she kept in her wardrobe, put in new batteries and fired it up. I took my readings and they were normal. By the time I went back the following day, they said the readings were normal. 

Now, this is where I’m going. 

I was advised to come for checkup at least once a month. To me, that meant a doctor’s appointment on the 29th of every month. Although, my office is just a block away from the health centre, I had no intention of going for any checkup because if there’s anything I know medical people for, it is that they always have a ‘bad name’ for every feeling you have. (No offence intended) 😉 

Well, January 29th came and I didn’t go for checkup. I was actually exhausted from accumulated stress, and one could even tell from my conspicuously pale face that I needed rest. Going for checkup could mean referral to the doctor, followed by the other things I didn’t want. So, I ditched checkup in January. 

“When I have rested enough and I’m well, I’ll go,” I told myself. 

I was glad 2017 isn’t a leap year, and so, no 29th of February. For me, that was an automatic no-checkup month… Or so I thought, until I got a memo one Monday like that, that we were expected to go for some medical tests and submit the report before the end of the week. When they hinge something like that on your salary, you’re left with no choice. 

I guess you know the drill: among other things, there was peeing in a cup and giving some blood in the laboratory; reading from a mirror showing letters written backwards in a lighted box hung behind me at the optometrist’s; taking a photograph of my bare chest at the radiologist’s. (Don’t worry,I know what it’s called.) ☺ 

All that happened in February. Since then, I have always had one reason–cross that out, excuse–or the other why I couldn’t go for another checkup yet. The most prominent reason has been that I wanted to feel 100% alright at any checkup time, so that there would be no need to refer me to the doctor. That doesn’t look achievable just yet, until maybe when I retire. 😂 

Another 29th of the month is coming, and as you may already be guessing, I’ll come up with an excuse why I shouldn’t go. There’s none yet but I’ll find one. Trust me. 😉 

*** 

Like me, some people have been doing the same, but on a more DANGEROUS scale. 

The Saviour has called them to come, but they want to be alright before they come. They want to put away the jewelries before they come. They want to turn a new leaf before they come. They want to buy the long skirts and turtlenecks before they come. They want to trim their nails and shave their beards before they come. They want to be outwardly righteous before they come. They want to be ‘good enough for Jesus’ before they come… Please tell them it is impossible! You can’t be good enough for Jesus on your own! 

Let me tell you this story I read in one of A. W. Tozer’s books, ‘I Call It Heresy’. Here’s the way it appears in the book: 

*** 

Paul Rader once told about the artist who had an idea for a powerful painting, depicting the plight of a tramp, a human derelict off the street. 

He went to the Skid Row district and found just the subject he had in mind—a man who was dirty, disheveled, rundown at the heels, in rags, and completely at home among the disreputable elements of the city. 

“I will pay you a fee if you will come to my studio tomorrow morning,” the artist told him. 

The bum’s face brightened and his eyes took on a new light and he said, “You mean you want to put me in a picture?” 

“Yes, I want to paint you into a picture and I will give you fifty dollars right now,” the artist said. “Just show up at my house tomorrow morning and I will tell you what to do.” 

But when the artist’s doorbell rang the next morning, the painter hardly recognized the man who stood there. He had been shaved, he had on a white shirt and his pants had a reasonable facsimile of a press. 

“I don’t want to come to your fine place looking like a bum, so I spent the money getting myself cleaned up and fixed up,” the man said with pride. 

“But I cannot use you now for the painting I had in mind,” the artist told him. “I thought you would come just as you were.” 

*** 

Jesus Himself put it this way, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17 KJV) 

If you have been trying to heal yourself of your sins before coming to Jesus, you are putting the cart before the horse. The truth is: you can’t! Even if that were possible, you wouldn’t be needing Jesus anymore and neither would He be needing you, because He saves those who cannot save themselves, not those who think they can. 

All your good works minus the grace of God are as filthy rags before God. If you are thinking that there is a scale in heaven that will measure your good works against your bad works, and qualify you for heaven if your good works exceed the bad: a big fat NO to that! You qualify for heaven by coming to Jesus and allowing Him to save you. It is after He has saved you that you get empowered to do good works that can count in heaven. 

And when you decide to come to Jesus, COME JUST AS YOU ARE. You can come with your heavy load sin, but come in humble repentance. Jesus said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37 KJV) Jesus will not reject anyone who comes. 

A songwriter puts it this way: 

Come: and He will give you rest; 

Trust Him, for His word is plain; 

He will take the sinful-est; 

Christ receiveth sinful men. 

You can’t be too bad for Jesus to save. The Bible assures that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (Romans 5:20 KJV). See the wonderful way one hymnist passes across the same message: 

Marvellous grace of our loving Lord, 

Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt, 

Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured, 

There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled. 

Grace, grace, God’s grace, 
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within; 
Grace, grace, God’s grace, 
Grace that is greater than all our sins.
 

Your sins can NEVER be greater than His grace, no matter how big you think they are. Stop trying to be free from sin before coming to Jesus; He will give you the power for that when you come. If you have come before, but have wondered far away from home, the Saviour waits today with open arms to receive His prodigal. 

Do you want to come to Jesus today? Take this hymn as a prayer, as it was probably written for those who would come on a day like this: 

Just as I am, without one plea, 
But that Thy blood was shed for me, 
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee, 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

Just as I am, and waiting not 
To rid my soul of one dark blot, 
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

Just as I am–poor, wretched, blind–
Sight, riches, healing of the mind, 
Yea, all I need, in Thee I find, 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, 
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; 
Because Thy promise I believe, 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.” 

*** 

If after reading this, you have decided to come to Jesus, I would like to hear from you. You can send me a message on +234-703-268-8038 (text or WhatsApp) to let me know your decision so that I can keep on praying for you. 

God bless you.

On a not-too-serious note. 

​On a not-too-serious note. 

I don’t like mosquitoes. That is hardly news considering the fact that that is a common factor to most humans. Mosquitoes are dangerous and you should avoid them by all means–especially the girls among them. Personally, there’s a kind of irritation my skin develops whenever it smells them. 

There are many things a normal person should never like about mosquitoes. Maybe the first would be the silly noise they make that sounds like an amateur fiddling the E string of an untuned violin. Very annoying something! 

Next to that should be their modus operandi

You lie peaceful in your bed, expecting to be transported to the realms beyond as you give your body a much needed rest. Then, out of the blues comes this creature, perching somewhere not too far away, and watching you become unconscious before launching an attack. 

First, you are anaesthetised without your consent, then it drills a hole in the flesh covering the calve of your left leg. After a successful drill, it brings out a straw, or pipe, or hose if you like (I don’t know why some people give such a dangerous weapon a beautiful name like proboscis) puts it in the hole, and begins to drink your blood. 

It drinks itself to stupor before the anaesthesia wear off, throws up on your skin, and staggers away. It manages to flap its wings once or twice, and flies; but because it is drunk, it soon lands on the wall just across your bed. 

Then, by some mystical alert system, you stir and wake. Instinctively, you know you have just survived an operation in a room that is not antiseptic enough for such open-skin surgery. You look straight to your leg and you find spilled blood on your skin. You know this is the work of a mosquito. 

As you raise your gaze, it rests upon the suspect. You close your eyes and reopen them, allowing the image to reform on your retina so that you can be sure you’re not hallucinating. 

“I have visual confirmation of the suspect,” your eyes tell your brain. 

“Aim,” your brain tells your right palm, “But don’t shoot yet.” 

You adjust your body and reposition yourself. You don’t want to miss this shot. You take a third look at the suspect; it does not just look drunk, it looks dead. But you are not deceived. The last time this happened and your hand came too close, it flew away and never returned. This time, you know it is just having a hangover and you need to act before it wakes. 

So you aim. Again. In split seconds, something is asking you what you will gain from killing the suspect. It is neither beautiful nor edible; you can’t set it in your room as a trophy, neither can you eat it to regain your blood. What! You can’t even get an intravenous recovery of your blood after the revenge. But you don’t mind. This revenge mission has to succeed. 

You aim again, ready to hit as hard as you can. After all, it’s against a wall, so you don’t think too much about how your hand will feel. You cannot care less. You would have cared a little if the slap was to land on your skin. But just a little care it would have been, and nothing more; you would have gone ahead anyway. The only occasion that would have made you care much before hitting–if you eventually do–is if the suspect had been on your scrotum. You would have thought twice–no, trice– about your mission, unless you have have prayed Samson’s last prayer, ‘Let me die with these Philistines!‘ 

The suspect stirs, ready to fly. Your thought is interrupted and in a rush of reflex, you catch the criminal mid-air smashing it against the wall. Blood spills, your palm blushes pink and begins to hurt. You feel your phalanges clinking like cymbals. 

Awkwardly, you catch yourself smiling wryly through the pain. You wear satisfaction like a mask and you can almost hear your head congratulating your heart. Mission accomplished. A smug smile creeps up your face. You can’t contain the joy. Revenge tastes sweet. Or, so you think. 

In the final analysis, your blood is still gone. Since there is a high probability that the name of the suspect is Anopheles, it is safe to assume that she left a package for in your vein. If you bother to check, you would find it wrapped with the inscription ‘plasmodium vivax‘. Don’t worry if you don’t know what that means; let’s just say it’s a time bomb that causes malaria. I’m guessing you already know what happens after that…headache, high body temperature, hospital, nurses, doctors, injections, tablets… 

And, just to add that the hurt in your palm may last for a few more minutes. Not to mention all the grey matter you expended in planning the revenge. Waste! 

In the long run, you sit down to evaluate your mission, and the uncontroversial conclusion is that your revenge was a total waste. Unnecessary! 

The same conclusion is applicable when someone offends you and, instead of forgiving and moving on, you choose the path of revenge. You waste so much. 

While seeking revenge, dig two graves–one for yourself. – Douglas Horton

PS: Now, I’m not preaching that you let that mosquito live after doing the damage. I wouldn’t either. Actually, you could just save yourself the stress by sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net and let your enemies do touch-and-freeze while you sleep. Then you wake up to see them dead like the host of Assyrian army that besieged God’s people in the Old Testament. 😀  

©John Ogunjimi, 2017.

[Fiction] Here for You  

Source: Internet

Here for You 

By John Ogunjimi 

I returned from the office exhausted from the day’s work and with files of unfinished business in my briefcase. My plan was to get home, have a shower, take a one-hour nap, and resume my office work, as I have had to do in the last two weeks. 

However, something unusual happened when I arrived home. My wife was home earlier than usual, seated in the living room coiled up like a cat in a carton with her gaze fixed on the television. 

“Hello, dearest,” I said, dropping my briefcase on a stool beside the couch. 

“Welcome home,” she replied, sitting up but without really looking in my direction. 

There was something about her reply that didn’t seem right. I could tell when my wife was angry about something, but this was not that. It was something else… Something I couldn’t explain yet. 

She slouched in the couch, shot me a brief smile and refocused her attention on the television. I moved closer and placed a soft kiss on her forehead. “I love you,” I said. 

“I love you too.” She smiled and returned her attention to the screen before her. She was glued to it moving her eyeballs like one tracing a laser light on a projector screen. 

I shifted my stare from her to the television. She was watching the Sound of Music. 

“Great old classic,” I commented while removing my cufflinks. 

“Hmm,” she replied curtly. 

I made to move away but hesitated when I noticed she didn’t say anything or even look in my direction. Was something wrong, or was she just engrossed in her movie? I wondered. 

I came closer again, and this time I sat beside her. She sat up and placed her head on my shoulder. I put my arm around her, squeezed her shoulder gently, and stroked my fingers through her hair. She exhaled loudly like someone relaxing into scarce comfort, then she put one hand around my back and placed the other on my chest as if to feel my heartbeat. 

“Sweetheart, are you alright?” I asked. 

“I’m fine,” she replied in a way that didn’t sound any fine, her attention still on the movie. 

I paused for some seconds before trying to talk again. “If there is anything you w–” I was saying when she slid her hand from my chest to my mouth and stopped my lips with one finger. 

“Shhh. Everything is alright, my love. You don’t have to say a thing. I just need you to sit here with me, watch with me, and laugh with me.” She looked up into my eyes like she was expecting a consent. “Like old times, you know?” 

I nodded, took a deep breath, ran my hand through her hair again, and replied, “I’m here for you, darling. Like old times, I’m here for you.” 

[Passion] Conclusions

Conclusions 

Some years back, I had just moved to a new city and joined myself to the fellowship there. After attending some services there, a sister caught up with me after the service one Sunday and said she wanted to see me. 

We stood outside and talked. She said she had a restitution to make. I was surprised because I was new there and couldn’t even remember ever having a discussion or disagreement with her or anyone there. 

When I asked what it was about, she said I came up in a discussion with her friends, and they had said some things about me. She said her conscience pricked her afterwards and she felt the need to apologise. 

I said I forgive her, but out of curiosity I wanted to know what was said about me. It turned out they had said I was proud because of the way I related — or did not relate — with people. 

You see, if you were there, you’d have probably thought so too. Back then, I just went to church with my Bible; the pastor says ‘Praise the Lord,’ I say ‘Hallelujah’; you pray in Jesus’ name, I say ‘Amen’; the service is over, I carry my Bible and go back to my house. If you cross my path from my seat to the door, I throw you a hello; if you catch it, good for you, if you don’t, better for me. 

So, making friends was not really my thing. That’s why people like us are grateful for social media; the only place where weird things like me sending a friend request on Facebook can happen. I doubt if that can happen in real life. 

(Imagine me, walking up to someone and saying, “Hi, can we be friends?”
*wakes up from nightmare*) 

That’s why it doesn’t take time for me cancel a friend request I send that pends for too long. And that why it hurts when I go out of my way to chat someone up, and they ignore me. Or, when I call someone and they don’t pick up and refuse to call back. 

But I digress. I was talking about how people draw conclusions about you without even knowing you yet. I explained to the sister that I wasn’t actually proud. The best way I could describe myself was to tell her I was shy. It was easier for us to become friends after that. Even with those her friends too. Before I moved from there, they were one of the closest people to me. We’re still good friends till now. 

I’ve caught myself drawing conclusions about people too. Wrong conclusions. I still did it when I boarded a cab the other day. There were two women at the back already, and I didn’t want to sit between them as neither of them was willing adjust, so I sat in the front for the sake of convenience. 

Shortly after, a young lady came and the younger of the women who was supposed to alight and let the lady go in, refused and insisted that the lady cross over her lap. The lady did without complaining. I didn’t look back from where I sat in the front, but I was annoyed. Then the same woman talked roughly to driver, yet I didn’t look back. All she did only made me draw my conclusions: she was rude

Then we started the journey, and their discussions filtered into my ears from the back. In my silence, I was able to gather from their discussions that she was pregnant which probably explains why she couldn’t alight when the lady was to come in. Also she had just been duped by a younger, trusted neighbour, and she was on her way from the person’s parents, which probably explains why she talked ‘roughly’ to the driver. Needless to say, I felt bad about my rash judgements. 

I know you’re going to say people should not transfer aggression to the innocent; I agree with you. But, how should I react when they do? Judge them? Definitely not! 

I’m learning to give people a break in their lives. I’m learning to give them the benefit of the doubt. When you call someone and they don’t pick up, think to yourself, ‘They’re probably busy. They’ll call back as soon as they can.’ If they don’t, forget about it. 

When you greet someone and they don’t answer, conclude within yourself, ‘They probably didn’t hear. Or, if they heard, they had something else bothering them; not that they didn’t want to answer me.’ 

When someone talks roughly to you, instead of thinking they are being rude, assume that they’re having a bad day and couldn’t help reacting the way they did. 

Don’t always assume that you know who is calling, pick up. Don’t always assume that you know why they’re calling (or calling back), still pick up (again). Don’t always assume that you know what’s in a text, open it. 

I know that I may not always be right with my conclusions about why some people act the way they do, but the (positive) conclusions I make give me peace of mind, and my peace of mind is more important than anyone else’s. 

The logic is simple: always put a positive construction on people’s action. Don’t draw conclusions without asking questions. If you must draw conclusions at all before asking questions, let them be positive conclusions. Give them the benefit of the doubt until you are able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they really meant harm. And, even when you prove that, find a reason to make yourself happy. 

Hello, can we be friends? 😕