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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[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? 😕

The Death of the Righteous

The Death of the Righteous

When Mary died last month, the news of her death came to me as rude shock; rude, because we graduated together and I couldn’t help asking aloud, ‘How old could she be?’

I was her pastor back then, and she’s one of those who still saw me as their pastor after school. We didn’t communicate very often but once in a while, she did call.

Shortly after the incident, I was discussing with her partner and I asked him what actually happened. He said he wasn’t there when it happened, but he narrated what he was told. Continue reading

Review: Intelligence Model for Holistic Progress

Review: Intelligence Model for Holistic Progress

I know you have read books before now—good books, maybe. I have too. However, never in all my readings have I read a book that well addresses this subject, especially by one of our own authors.

‘Intelligence Model for Holistic Progress’ reminds me of a two-in-one handbook our teachers used back in the days—a guide for the teacher and a book-of-all-answers for the students. In this book, as in his two previously published books, the author addresses both the young people and anyone/everyone who falls into the category of their counsellors, mentors, teachers, parents or guardians. Continue reading

Show, Don’t Tell!

Show, Don't Tell!
Image Source: Internet

Show, Don’t Tell!

Show, Don't Tell.

Image Source: Internet

I never studied literature. Never. In fact, until recently, I didn’t like reading novels either. I read other books, but novels? no!

When I started noticing my flair for writing stories, I had to cultivate the habit of reading the ones written by others too. Alexander Steele once wrote, “Painters often learn their craft by studying the masters, and writers should do the same.”

In addition to reading stories, some months ago, I started reading a textbook on Fiction Writing. I found in one of the chapters which talk about building characters in a story—as I have also found in most other books on writing fiction—this resounding warning, ‘Show, don’t tell!’

I took some notes while reading and I’ll share them with you along with a very important lesson. Continue reading