Thursday, March 28, 2013

Right Where You Are

I have always loved to write.

I scribbled stuff here and there when I was a teenager. I wrote scientific reports, speeches and presentations as a professional. I wrote notes of events happening in my life. I kept a journal. My friends encouraged me to write my story into a book. I started without a clear direction of how to present it.

Turning Point
In all of these, I did not see writing as a gift.  Until two years ago, in response to my desperate cry, God opened my eyes to see the gift He blessed me with and revealed to me how to use it creatively for His glory. I wrote about this in Sitting On a Gold Mine. Click to read.

That was when I became a full-time writer and I took definite steps to hone my craft. I started to write articles, essays, short stories and fiction novels to convey the truth of God's word—to enrich lives and inspire hope.

After three months of writing, in June 2011, I began to share a weekly Enriching Lives. Inspiring Hope. Newsletter by email with friends and family members. And in November of the same year, it evolved into this blog.

That mailing list has grown incredibly. The page views on the blog grew exponentially especially in the last three months. I could never travel to the 80+ countries from where visitors come to the blog. The reach of the message is gone beyond my wildest imagination like the silver branching of a lightning bolt flashing in the sky.

A couple of friends drew my attention to the chain of reaction which is taking the message to the uttermost parts of the world. Another writer led an appreciation of creative writing as a gift from God. I sat back and reflected on my small beginning. I marveled at God's faithfulness to do exceedingly more abundantly that I could ever ask, think or imagine.

My wildest imagination paled at God's ability to do limitless possibilities.

Home-bound, I write from the corner of my broken glass-styled dining table top, and right where I am, from my little corner, God is doing amazing things with the gift He blessed me with, in such a way that not even I could share in His glory

In that corner, I spent many hours writing, researching and studying. In between, I glance out through the window into the sky with a twiggy dry tree standing in my line of vision. I watched this tree changed with the  changing seasons, yet reflecting God's unchanging faithfulness in keeping me through my seasons.

It can be lonely alone at this little corner but it gives me utmost joy to know what God is doing with message He gives me the grace to write from here.

In your little way, in the little corner where you are, God can boast about you when you give back to Him to use for His own glory and honor what He has given to you. You can make a difference of eternal value right where you are.

Something in Your Hands
There is something in your hands that you can give to the world around you which will make the message of the cross come alive in their lives. You always have something to give. God has not left you empty handed.

I once read the story of a woman in a Chicken Soup Stories for the Soul©. Unemployed, she was filled with self-pity, despite being jobless she searched for ways to give. Feeling worthless because she thought she had nothing to give, she glanced out of her window at her garden and found flowers blooming. She ran into the garden, picked, arranged and shared them with her neighbors  One of them turned out to be a desperate woman, with an alcoholic husband, a diabetic mother and two children she could hardly support. The flower delivery evolved into praying together for each other, until despair gave way to hope, until she found a job and the alcoholic husband quit drinking.

The boy with the five loads of bread and 2 pieces of fish was willing to share what he had. God multiplied it exponentially, it fed 5000 men, women and children not counted and there were leftovers (Luke 9:13-17). Talk about superabundant multiplication.

The widow at Zarephath gave all she had left - a handful of flour and a little oil to make bread for Elijah, and her jug of oil never failed until God gave rains back to the land (1Kings 17: 11-16).

What these witnesses and many others like them did, still stand as a memorial and a testimony today, encouraging us that we always have something in our hands to give, which God can multiply beyond our wildest imagination, and with rippling effect.

Who would have thought the gift of a bunch of flowers would have such a rippling effect? There is always something in your hands to give - your skills, talents, gifts, time, money, to name a few, and you can be creative with it.

Something You Can Do
There is something you can do right now, right where you are, which can impact lives for eternal significance, not by the magnitude of what you are doing but by the intensity of love, commitment and passion underlying it. There is something you can contribute that will advance the gospel of salvation.

Do the good you know to do. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. Whoever knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17). Cotton Mather noted "that the ability to do good in any case imposes an obligation to do it."

You can deliberately seek opportunities to do good to people around you if you pay attention to them and to their needs.

It may be the way you respond in time of great adversity and affliction that will speak volumes about your relationship with God, and show Him as the source of your hope and confidence. When you patiently endure persecution, you show forth a God-given inner strength and peace that many will long and ask for.

Be Persistent, Consistent and Diligent
We must be faithful and diligent to identify and passionately pursue the assignment God has for us. For most of us, the impact of our assignment may not be visible or quantifiable now, and it need not be.

My husband shared the story of someone who sowed some seeds in her garden, nurtured, watered and tended the plant. It grew over her fence but appeared not to be blossoming. All she seem to see was the green plant but she kept at it until her neighbor exclaimed at the beauty of the plant—it was blooming on the other side of the fence.

God is able to make the seed you sow into people's lives to blossom in a way you could never have imagine. Don’t give up even when you don’t see results.

A Gift And A Blessing
Creative writing is both a gift and a blessing to me. I am amazed at the way God is using this gift to open doors to me and to bless me. It does even much more:
  • It holds me accountable —I am compelled to practice what I preach.
  • I am motivated to stay connected to the source of power and inspiration. I frequently have to ask the Holy Spirit for inspiration when I share a message.
  • Often, I go back to read again previous posts and I receive encouragement when most needed. I get a fresh revelation and insight at that moment that it is sometimes difficult to believe that I wrote the piece.
Everyone has a calling and a God-given assignment. It may be to your family, community or to the nations. Whatever your assignment may be—right where you are, in the workplace, marketplace, school, via internet or social media—you can impact the world.

What perfect example we have in Jesus. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friend. But while we were yet sinners, Jesus came and died for us. In the short time Jesus spent walking here on earth, He left an indelible mark on the lives of everyone who came in contact with Him!

Let this Easter be reminder of the precious gift of life Jesus died to purchase for us, let us be encouraged to reach out with this message of love from where we are. I pray that this will be a special time of celebrating God's miracle of life and amazing love for you and your loved ones. Happy Easter.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Intimate and Unbroken Fellowship

This week's post is coming later than usual. I apologize. It has been a challenging week. This is a two-fold message. The first part is a preview of a post coming soon.  
The second part is a rewrite of an article I wrote in June 2011 and shared by email with couples on my mailing list then. I found the article while I was looking back to where I started from.

It is two years since I started writing actively.

A series of events these past couple of weeks ignited an appreciation of how God blesses us with gifts to be used for His honor and glory. As I reflected on how far God has brought me in this journey — writing to Enrich Lives and to Inspire Hope,  I considered my small beginnings, I could not but give thanks to God Who does not despise small beginnings.

I appreciate God for the gift of writing and what God has chosen to do with it in my life and in the lives of those He brought my way. My heart overflows with gratitude for the many helpers He brought my way in the process. I will put a hold on this for now until I bring you "Right Where You Are."

I was extremely blessed in the course of meditating and researching on a topic I was writing on a couple of years ago, that is, “The Promise (gift) of His Abiding Presence." It was about dwelling in God's presence, and having an intimate and unbroken fellowship with Him, our Saviour Jesus Christ and the Holy  Spirit.

Whilst reflecting on this subject, it was clear to me that God also designed and desired that couples should have an intimate and unbroken fellowship with one another and together with Him.

Building an intimate relationship requires closeness — dwelling in each other’s presence. Closeness deepens emotional intimacy, which is a God-given desire in every woman. I can attest to the deep longing of every woman for a deep emotional intimacy. Sometimes, this may be challenging for many reasons including distance especially for couples who have to live apart. But even in such circumstances, couples can still creatively maintain a degree of closeness that keeps their relationship vital and their fellowship unbroken.

In the series I ran last month — Couples Or Co-Tenants, we can infer that it is possible for one to be lonely in marriage even though you live together. So being physically together or sharing same space, though an essential ingredient, does not guarantee close and intimate relationship.

It is what you do together, how you share time and space in fellowship with one another, that ensures a deep and intimate relationship.

© Duccio |
Growing close together like an ivy beautifully entwined around a tree amplifies the degree of intimacy we ought to seek in our marriage. It is at this intimate proximity, when all the fences are down, we identify and lovingly close up the cracks in our relationship.

Jim Mueller wrote in Incredible Intimacy: “Over the last several years, our marriage has evolved into a deeper partnership, with increased trust, confidence and security. Our communications and conflict resolution skills have improved. We selflessly serve each other, always looking for creative ways to express our love and foster romance.”

Take note of these key phrases:
  • Our marriage has evolved into a deeper partnership
  • Increased trust, confidence and security
  • Our communication and conflict resolution skills have improved
  • We selflessly serve each other
  • Always looking for creative ways to express our love and foster romance
Sit back for a moment and ponder a little bit on these facets of your relationship with your spouse. How have you fared? Can you identify one or two areas where you can improve and do better? I hope this will motivate you to take your fellowship with your spouse to a deeper and more intimate level.

The more you dwell in God's presence, the more you will desire that the life of God flow through you into your marriage, the more you will desire the purpose of God fulfilled in your marriage. The more of the life of God flowing into you from an intimate fellowship with God, the more you will submit to His leading to honor Him in your marriage as in every other sphere of your life.

I honestly do not believe that it is possible to have an intimate and unbroken fellowship with God and it will not reflect in a desire for a deeper and more intimate fellowship with our spouse. I urge you to check the temperature of your fellowship with God and of your relationship with your spouse, and challenge you to seek after an intimate and unbroken fellowship.

Today, I want to encourage you to have a yearning for a deep, intimate and unbroken fellowship that will keep your relationship vital and vibrant. Don't settle into the rot of stale monotony in your marriage. Be determined to do all in your power by the help of the Holy Spirit to create an atmosphere that will improve your closeness to your spouse.

Ultimately, the closer you and your spouse draw to God, the closer you are drawn to each other. The closest thing to heaven on earth, after your fellowship with God, is a rich and vibrant relationship with your spouse to the extent that both of you can jointly sing: "Your Presence is Heaven to me." 

What can couples do to improve how they share time and space together? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

I share with you Your Presence is Heaven To Me by Israel Houghton.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Legacy of Good Testimony

This week, Christians in Geneva celebrated the life and legacy of a man whose life touched the lives of countless number of people across many continents.

I knew of Pastor Philip K. I never met him but his life and testimony touched me beyond words. He was the founding Pastor of one of the churches here in Geneva. He was baptised in the Holy Spirit at the age of 10 years. We learnt that he led members of his family up to the 3rd generation to Christ. His influence was not limited to his family alone, many people from different countries testified, at the memorial and funeral services held in his honour, of how he touched their lives. He had a passion for souls, he wanted to take the gospel to the Philippines and for many years he asked God to make a way for him. God did.

Pastor Philip K. went home to be with the Lord after a victorious crusade in the Philippines on February 27th, 2013 at the age of 68 years.

In his quiet simplicity and humility, he created opportunities for others and invested in the lives of numerous people. Many were deeply moved by his testimony, which left us pondering on whether we are majoring on what is really important as Christians. What really matters the most to God is that we seize every opportunity to make the message of the cross known to all and to fulfil His purpose in our lives.

As I pondered on this, I remembered the story of a well-loved Christian woman, a disciple, who lived in Joppa. Her name was Dorcas. She fell sick and she died (Acts 9: 36-43).

While she was alive, she had a great testimony. Her life touched the lives of people in the  town where she lived, using the skills God blessed her with. She was wholly devoted to the good and charitable works she was constantly doing. She fed and clothed the widows and the poor. To the extent that ALL the widows brought out the tunics and shirts she made with her hands for them.

Such was the impact she had on the people in her town that they sent for Peter—"Please come at once!" They had an expectation. He came. He prayed. And he presented her to them alive.

I noted some commonality in the lives of the two people I shared here - Pastor Philip K. and Dorcas. They were disciples of Christ.

Who is a disciple?

A disciple is
  • a follower and a student of a mentor, teacher or other figure (Wikipedia).
  • One who embraces and assists in spreading the teaching of another, in this instance, Jesus (
  • One who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another - Jesus. (Merriam-Webster)

Disciples work with their hands and walk with their feet for the good of others and for the glory and honour of God's name.

These two personalities embraced the gospel of Christ, but they did not hold it to themselves alone, they assisted in spreading the message of the cross as far as God gave them influence.

They lived out their faith by touching lives, investing in lives and impacting lives in their sphere of influence.

It starts with us bearing fruits that are consistent with genuine repentance and having a conduct that is worthy of a changed heart - Luke 3:8.

As Christians, we must bear fruits that will make Christianity attractive to everyone we come in contact with.

If you have the pulpit, use it very well to bring souls to God and to build lives in the faith. But quite honestly and in the words of my sista, Bidemi, in her book Sistapower— "gone are the days when you need a pulpit within the four walls of a church to impact lives…"

Each of us in every place God has put us and has given us influence can impact lives and touch them for good. We have been called to show forth the excellency of the word of truth where we are and by the way we live our lives.

Paul charged Titus to be an example by doing good works of every kind. In everything we do, like him, we are also charged to reflect the integrity, sincerity and seriousness of our faith - Titus 2:7.

It is not about us seeking to do good for own vain glory, it is for the life of God to overflow through us to touch and impart the lives of others. That is why living a life that makes a difference to the lives of other people is dependent on how much of the life of God is in us.

It is not about leaving our imprint on the lives of others but we seek to let the image of God be engraved on their hearts.

Every moment of each day, we all are writing a legacy — with our words and with our actions — so why don't we make it a legacy that will endure?

What are we teaching others by the way we live our lives? What story is our life telling others by the way we handle and face life's challenges? What we are doing now that will impact lives beyond now?

Pastor Philip K. touched lives in all the places where God gave him influence. Dorcas touched the lives of the widows and the poor around her. They both left a lasting legacy. Is your life touching and impacting the lives of those God brings along your way for good?

Ultimately, what we do now will continue to bear testimonies about us even after we leave this world. I want mine to be a lasting legacy of a good testimony—a life lived to touch lives for good and for the glory of God. 

Be assured that God can use you to do amazing things of eternal significance for His own glory where you are right now.

In what tangible ways can we impact and invest in lives of people right now where we are? Share with us in the comment box below and encourage others.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Orange, Books and Midwives of Destinies

Golden beams from the huge orange ball setting behind the forest ignited like flames of fire upon the trees. Dazzling tongues of orange flames hung on the trees in place of leaves. The forest was aflame with the brilliance of orange, gold and russets. Dry autumn leaves glowed beneath the trees.

The beauty of this autumn sunset was captivating. I was mesmerized as I drove past the forest on my way home a few years ago. I wished I had a camera with me to capture the image and share it with the world.

Orange—brilliant as light, it can't be hidden. It stands out.

The first time I saw an orange-coloured book was in October 1992. I had been invited for an interview for the position of Nutrition Officer in an international organization. I prepared as best as I could. On my way out of the office, I stopped by my big sista's cubicle. I happened to look up to the bookshelf overhanging her seat, and an orange-coloured publication caught my attention. I pulled it out and it was—…Nutrition Goals for the 1990s! Needless to say, I read the book all through the 150 kilometres trip from Ibadan to Lagos (located south-west of Nigeria), and half the night. The following morning, every question I was asked at the interview came from that book.

Three months later, I was called to take up the position. An orange-coloured book, which we later found out had been sitting on the same shelf for at least a year unnoticed, just at the right moment, stood out among other books, caught my attention and was used of God to midwife a dream career that spanned 15 years in three countries.

Orange - warm, visible, captivating and arresting.

On February 12th, 2013, I held another orange-coloured book, just a few days out the press—SISTAPOWER embossed in orange on the glossy cover decorated with a wind blown sunflower peeking at the lower right corner. The book glowed with the radiance of an autumn sunset. "Discovering the power of collaboration" was illustrated with a picture of hands connecting together. I knew in that instant this book authored by Bidemi Mark-Mordi will stand out among its equals to captivate and to touch lives.

The glowing cover compels you to open and look inside. When I did, the aroma of fluffy vanilla cupcake decorated with swirls of butter cream frosting tantalized my nostrils and made my taste buds to water. The flavours of vanilla perfectly captured the enticing texture of  the smooth cream bond paper used in SISTAPOWER. And the print is friendly to the eyes. Simply beautiful and beautifully written, it is sprinkled with graphic illustrations.

Armed with my orange highlighter, my pen and a notebook, I began my journey through the book. The foreword was written by Coach Anna McCoy, Founder, Women Act Now, USA, which spoke volumes about Bidemi's qualification to write this book.

In the introduction, Bidemi described how she received the inspiration and her mandate to write this book. It was explicit right from the beginning that she was not going to do this project alone. Writing the book itself will demonstrate the power of collaboration she sought put forward in the book.

"He was going to raise for me a group of women, who will make themselves available to work with me on my dreams and birth them together… " - page xviii

SISTAPOWER refused to be read in a hurry. It prompted a re-read of the Bible stories I thought I was familiar with. I swung like a pendulum between my Bible and the book. For everyone who would read this book, you will find there is no quick reading of SISTAPOWER,  it will prompt you to revisit the stories you thought you knew so well These will ignite with illumination as deeper meanings are revealed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the many stories shared in the book, you will see the power of collaboration at work. You will see how destinies were entwined—one person fulfilling his/her part so that the purpose of God can be fulfilled in the life of another. You will see the power of God at work connecting His servants to people, things and information, He had prepared ahead of time so that they can fulfil their destinies according to His plan. You will read of women who took audacious steps to do the never-done-before and therefore contributed to fulfilling destinies.

SISTAPOWER motivates every woman to be a woman of excellence in every sphere of her life starting first in her home:

"There is a usually ripple effect when a man is connected with a woman who compliments and complements him …" - page 29. It affects all the other relationships the man is involved in, including his work and business. Remember the Proverbs 31 woman? Her husband sits at the city gate with elders in the land, in a position of honour. The husband of such a woman is full of confidence and he has no fear of alarm (emphasis mine).

Books and Midwives:
It is amazing what God can use to midwife His purpose in our lives. Books containing vital and powerful information add value to our lives, and bring about life-changing experiences. I testified earlier to how God used an orange-coloured book in my life. Bidemi shared about two of the books which impacted her life.

"Someone brought me a book by Joyce Meyer…She immediately became my sounding board…No, I didn't have access to her, but her books proved to be very helpful in putting into perspective the issues I faced, and like Rick Warren, she helped midwife the confidence with which I stand today." - p. 64

I believe that SISTAPOWER, though a book about midwives of destinies, will be used of God to midwife divinely ordained connections and powerful collaborations in the lives of as many as will take time to diligently follow the principles shared therein. I am persuaded this orange-coloured book will elicit testimonies with far-reaching impact similar to the one I shared at the beginning of this article.

Certainly not because of its colour or the high quality presentation but because of its powerful and rich content. It is well researched and filled with wide-ranging Biblical truths which have application for our day-to-day lives if we want to fulfil God's call upon our lives.

In this book, Bidemi defined a paradigm that demands movement and action. It challenges the reader not to wait for someone to give us permission to participate but to be willing to lead the change ourselves in the different spheres of influence God has placed us. It encourages us not to do it alone.

"For each of us, there is an ability that has been given, which if we utilize properly, has the potential to bring about change and create value for mankind" - page 173.

"Gone are the days when you needed a pulpit within the four walls of a church building to be able to make divine impact… All God wants from us is to use what we have been given by Him, where we are, to bring about change and be the midwives of destinies." - pages 173 - 174

"… we have become an army of women spread across the continents, who come together daily to pull each other, hold each other accountable, pray for each other and love each other enough to contend that the highest possible good be made manifest concerning us." - page 185

Bidemi wrote this book with the passion of a woman who wants to see other women achieve their God-given potentials. In it you will find a selfless commitment to help another Sista birth and live her dream.

Published by Verbatim Communications, Lagos, Nigeria, SISTAPOWER is a manifestation of an audacity to dream and to dream big. It will be available in the international market in April, DV.

I encourage you to get your copy of SISTAPOWER and position yourself to achieve uncommon results which comes when women collaborate on significant ideas and provide exceptional encouragement to one another.

Bidemi, a delightful treat of fluffy vanilla cupcakes decorated with swirls of orange cream frosting, awaits you when SISTAPOWER is launched in Geneva.