Prepare! 

​Prepare! 

On a Sunday like this, 2nd of April 1995, my father went to be with the Lord. That’s 22 years ago today. They say Christians don’t die, that they only sleep; that is very comforting, I must say. To think of a resurrection morning when those who have died — slept — in Christ will rise with an immortal body and be eternally reunited with their loved ones, oh what a blissful thought! 

I like the way the Gaither Vocal Band captures that thought in the refrain of their song, ‘Knowing You’ll Be There’: 

“Knowing we could spend a lifetime reminiscing on the past, 
Knowing I would see your face again where tender moments last, 
It makes me want to go there, knowing I won’t be alone; 
Knowing you’ll be there makes it easy to go home.” 

Do you ever wonder, like I do, if the saints in heaven see what’s going on on earth? If they do, as the writer of Hebrews 12:1 suggests when he speaks of “a cloud of witnesses,” I like to think that they are watching us, cheering us up to continue the race, and to finish strong like they have done. 

If you’ve ever lost any one to the chilly hands of death, be comforted in the knowledge that there is a resurrection morning. If you are persuaded that they have gone to be with the Lord, weep not for them, for they are in a far better place. Rather, prepare yourself to join that happy throng above, and to be counted worthy to sing with the angels over there. 

We may not understand why some things happen on this side of eternity. We will never be able to explain some of the heartbreaks we experience here. There are answers that time will never tell, that only heaven holds. But we should comfort ourselves with the lyrics of this timeless hymn: 

“When death has come and taken our loved ones, 
Leaving our homes so lonely and drear, 
Then do we wonder why others prosper, 
Living so wicked year after year. 
Father along we’ll know all about it, 
Father along we’ll understand why; 
Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine, 
We’ll understand it all by and by.” 

One day, it will be your turn to leave this sinful world for the great beyond. Be wise and prepare for that day by having your name in the Book of Life. There is no salvation after death. There is no repentance in the grave. As you lay your bed here in time, so you will lie on it in eternity. If you have not become born again, don’t put off your salvation again until a later time. Heed the entreaty of this songwriter: 

“How many times has the Saviour called before, 
And each time you turn away from His door? 
You said, ‘Not this time, but someday I’ll get in,’ 
Though your little world may crumble before He calls again. 
Before the Saviour calls again, you may cry a million tears. 

Before He calls again, you may waste precious years. 
He’s calling now, the door is open, come inside while you can; 
You may suffer needless heartaches before He calls again.” 

How I Want to Die. 

How I Want to Die 

There’s a rechargeable lamp in our house. To put it mildly, I dislike this lamp. With passion. And, I’m not even talking about its colour yet; it has a yellow colour which I consider too loud for my temperament. 

Although, I consider yellow–shiny, glistening yellow–to be a good colour for a lamp because it should make it easily findable in the dark, but that doesn’t in any way make me like this lamp. 

Electricity supply is fairly stable in our area, so, on good days, we have an aggregate of about 15 to 20 hours of power supply per day. This lamp would be plugged in and allowed to charge full. Apart from that, it has a solar panel with which you can charge it. 

Unfortunately, whenever you need to use this lamp at night, it would glow brightly for the first 5 minutes or so, and then dim to an annoying shade. It even has an output port through which you can charge your phone, but if you dare use it at this time, your phone begins to discharge. 

On a particular occasion, I thought of disposing the thing off. It’s better to know we don’t have it, than to bank on this disappointing stuff. 

Then, I felt something in my spirit. Are some Christians not like that? I have had to examine my life in the light of that revelation. 

I have access to the word of God from time to time. I am blessed with anointed teachers of the word. I am like that lamp that has a constant supply of spiritual manna. But, when the time comes to bear fruit, am I fruit-bearing? Am I giving to my world? 

Are there times that I disappoint God? How faithful have I been in times when God expects me to discharge, out of the abundance He has invested in me, to those around me? 

“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:48). What is my reaction when God requires more of me? 

In another dimension, if we consider the myth that overcharging spoils batteries (though nothing I know in electrochemistry supports that), is it possible that we caused this by overcharging the lamp? If true, then that leads me to scarier thoughts–the dead sea, the children of Israel in eating manna in the wilderness. 

When someone is always getting but never giving, the over-concentration of what they receive soon becomes a disadvantage to them. 

I don’t want to disappoint God when He looks up to my tree expecting fruits. I don’t want to selfishly conceal his abundant investment in me. I don’t want to end up like the tree that Jesus cursed for being fruitless. 

I want to swallow all that God provides for me, and discharge as much of it as possible for this world before I leave. I want to be always available to give whatever I have to whoever needs it. 
When my turn comes to die, I don’t want to leave this world with untapped potentials, undelivered messages, unexploited talents, un-expressed gifts, unfinished works, unaccomplished mission, or an unfulfilled life. I want to die empty. 

So help me God.

[Inspiration] Different Rules

​Different Rules 

When I started learning Spanish, one of the things that quickly caught my attention was its verb conjugation and the difference from that of the English language. 

In one of the lessons, I learnt that verb conjugation in Spanish is more complicated than in English. In Spanish, the verb endings change in order to describe who is doing the action and when. For example, for “comer,” “I eat” is “yo como” and “you eat” is “tú comes.” 

Because the conjugations indicate who is doing the action, it is usually possible to omit the pronoun. For instance, instead of saying, “Yo como arroz,” (I eat rice), you can say, “Como arroz.” And, instead of saying, “Yo soy un niño,” (I am a boy), you can say, “Soy un niño.” 

Now, imagine a native Spanish speaker who is learning English and has to write an exam in English. He would fail woefully if he applied the rules in Spanish to English, and begins a sentence with “Am” instead of “I am.” If he wants to succeed in the new language, he has to work by the new rules. 

The same thing applies in the Christian faith. When a person becomes born again, they are translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God. They are expected to begin to live and operate by the rules of the new kingdom. 

And, yes! there are rules in the kingdom of God. The Bible is our rulebook. Those who practise ‘lawless-Christianity’ (if there’s anything like that) are alien to the truth. Paul wrote, “Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, LET US WALK BY THE SAME RULE, let us mind the same thing.” (Philippians 3:16 KJV) 

You can’t claim to be in the kingdom of God but be living like you’re still in the world. The rules are different. 

By default, the broad way accommodates a person with their pride, lusts, immorality, profanity, and all shades of sinfulness. The rules of that kingdom allow it. 

But, when you come into the kingdom of God — into the narrow way — there’s room for just one, YOU. In this kingdom, there’s an expected change of life. Old things must pass away. All things should become new. 

The rules of God’s kingdom demand abstinence from all appearances of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). The rule demands following peace with all men (Hebrews 12:14), walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), watching and praying (Matthew 26:41), overcoming sin by the Spirit’s power (1 Corinthians 10:13), and whatever else the ‘rulebook’ says. 

I like the way a songwriter puts it: 

“If you say you love the the Saviour, 
In His word you’ll always live; 
If you say your sins are forgiven and gone then, 
Prove it by the life you live.” 
🎶

[Inspiration] What’s in a Name? 

​What’s in a name? 

The longest surviving dream I have nursed since I was a child is to become a pastor. Beyond being called a pastor, however, I wanted to be a preacher of the word. I still want to be a pastor when I grow up. Maybe a missionary too. 

Perhaps, this is partly responsible for my not having had any permanent nickname since childhood, except pastor. In fact, whenever I get to a new place, even without actually doing any verbal preaching, I begin to hear people call me pastor, behind my back and even to my face. 

Names. But, what’s in a name? 

While giving an Organic Chemistry lecture today, I told my students about the difference between IUPAC names and common names of compounds. 

I gave example of a chemical compound called ‘churchane‘ having a rather complex IUPAC name I don’t want to write. This compound is called chruchane, not because it goes to church, or because it is born again, or because an apostle-scientist isolated it, but simply because of its structure which LOOKS LIKE a church. 

Chemical structure of Churchane

Churchane. | Source: Internet

As I give that a deeper thought, I realize that it would be a wise decision for me not to get carried away with what people call me. 

Wouldn’t it be wise for me to constantly remind myself that without a genuine personal experience of the salvation that comes by grace through faith, regardless of what title people give me, I would remain a stranger to the kingdom of God? 

My friend, I hope you know that you may dress up like churchane; looking like a church-boy or church-girl, wearing your well-ironed pleated skirt, your turtle-neck blouse, long-sleeved shirt, straight trouser, nice tie to match, and still not be born again? 

Are you aware that salvation does not come just by having godly parents, being born and/or raised in a gospel church, regular attendance in church services or any merely religious activity? 

Would you know, dear reader, that being named John, Grace, Peter, Mary, Paul, Esther or even Jesus, doesn’t book you a space in God’s book of life? 

They may call you pastor, preacher, evangelist, prophet, apostle, Father Abraham or mother-in-Israel, but until you have a personal encounter with the Saviour, heaven knows you as a sinner. 

What’s in a name, my friend? Nothing! Really, nothing! 

You are not what people call you. You don’t just become what people call you. Your parents may wake up every morning and call you Governor, but that alone doesn’t make you one. 

You are who you are. God knows who you are; you do too. Interestingly, the devil also does. 

Why not stop the charade, take off the façade, and get a real relationship with Jesus today. He knows you have been pretending all along. He knows your hypocrisy. He knows your struggles with sin and the flesh. He knows it all. 

But, He’s not judging you yet. He wants to save you. He wants to forgive your sins. He wants you to really know him. He wants you to become a Christian — not just the religion-section-form-filling kind of Christian, but a Christian in heart and life. 

What’s in a name, I ask? Something, maybe, but only when the name and the named correlate. 

John Ogunjimi welcomes you to the month of March. God’s abundant blessings are yours this month.
Image credit: Internet. 

[Inspiration] Would it help? 

​Would it help? 

By John Ogunjimi 

1957 

The height of the cold war. 

The United States and the Soviet Union fear each other’s nuclear capabilities — and intentions. 

Both sides deploy spies — and hunt for them. 

Inspired by true events. 

***
That’s the text on screen at the beginning of the movie, Bridge of Spies. I’m not a big fan of history, and my laziness in reading history books makes me sometimes resort to watching historical movies when I’m less busy. 

I’m not a movie reviewer — and I don’t intend to sound like one now. I’m just going to pick out a lesson form this historical drama I watched. 

There’s this Russian spy, Rudolf Abel, that was caught in the US. James Donovan, an insurance lawyer, was charged with the responsibility of defending Rudolf, like Atticus Finch was appointed to defend Tom Robinson in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Okay, maybe not exactly, but something close, you know? 

James Donovan presents himself to his client and tell him his mission. After Rudolf accepted that Donovan should represent him, this conversation ensues between them: 

Donovan: Then do not talk to anyone about your case inside of government or out, except to me to the extent that you trust me. I have a mandate to serve you; nobody else does. Quite frankly, everybody else has an interest in sending you to the electric chair. 

Rudolf: Alright. 
Donovan: You don’t seem alarmed. 
Rudolf: (Shrugs) Well, would it help? 

When the case got to trial, there’s another scene where this happened after Donovan and the prosecuting counsel returned from the Judge’s office: 

Rudolf: How did we do? 
Donovan: In there? Uhm… Not too good. Apparently, you’re not an American citizen. 
Rudolf: That’s true. 
Donovan: And, according to your boss, you’re not a Soviet citizen either. 
Rudolf: Well, the boss isn’t always right. But, he’s always the boss. 
Donovan: Do you never worry? 
Rudolf: Would it help? 

Then, after the trial and conviction, Rudolf was sentenced to 30 years. The defense counsel had earlier advised that Rudolf should not be killed as he could still be useful for them. As it turned out, they eventually had to trade Rudolf for Gary Powers, an American Pilot was who was shot down from the CIA’s top secret U-2 spy plane over the USSR. 

This conversation takes place between Rudolf and Donovan on the bridge where the exchange was to take place: 

Donovan: What do you think will happen when you get home?
Rudolf: I think I’ll have a vodka. 
Donovan: (Chuckles) Yeah. But, Rudolf, is there no possibility–
Rudolf: … that my people are going to shoot me.
Donovan: Yeah. You are not worried. 
Rudolf: Would it help? 

***

I haven’t been able to shake of the thought of Rudolf’s calmness in the midst of it all. The way he never worried is quite impressive. 

Perhaps, you have been worrying for so long that if worrying were a university course, you’d have a PhD by now, but how has it helped? 

I mean, all the years you have invested in worrying about things you can control, how has it helped? 

How has worrying helped you become a better person? In what minutest way has it proffered any solution to the problems you’ve been facing? How does worrying put food on your table, or money in your pocket? How does it boost your health? How has it helped? 

This is what Jesus has to say about worrying: 

“So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34 (NIV). 

A song writer puts it this way: 

“One day at a time, sweet Jesus, 

That’s all I’m asking from you. 

Just give me the strength 

To do everyday what I have to do. 

Yesterday’s gone, sweet Jesus, 

And tomorrow may never be mine. 

Lord, help me today, show me the way, 

One day at a time.” 

I pray that God will cure us from the worrying spirit. Amen.