Thursday, October 24, 2013

Not Static. Not Stagnant. Next Steps

Not Static. Not Stagnant. Next Steps.

Today's blog post takes its leap from my last post - Blog Post 100: Not Static. Not Stagnant

I noted in the previous post that at one time or the other, we are visited with seasons of darkness and vicissitudes, which forms dark bands across the landscape of our lives . Seasons of pains, hurts, disappointments, rejection and grief. Seasons when the fulfilment of our dreams and desires look bleak. Seasons when we appear to be rooted to the same spot or going around the same mountain for so long and our breakthrough seems not forthcoming.

I concluded that at such times, like David did in 1Sam 30, we need to seek God's face and take God-oriented actions.

In today's post, I will share with you some of these God-oriented actions we may take to move forward and away from the spot where we have been sitting on the track.

A Call for Consultation, Collaboration and Partnership:

Right from the beginning, God demonstrated to us the importance of consultation, collaboration and partnerships. After creating all living and moving creatures and calling into existence the firmaments, when it came to the creation of man, there was a difference in God's approach. He did not say, "Let there be man" nor did He say, "Let me create man" but God said, "Let us create man in our image…"  A consultation was held in the formation of man. "Let us" was spoken by God to the Son and the Holy Spirit. The three persons of the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Ghost consulted and concurred in the creation of man. There was a partnership and inclusiveness of these Three in the creation of man.

Man was created different from all the other creatures and living beings. He is the fusion of the flesh, soul and spirit.

Too many times, we try to go it on own and do things by ourselves—solve the problem in our own way and isolate ourselves from others in our dark seasons and how we deal with the issues of moving forward. This isolation almost always lead to a fall.

But what we need to do is to first consult with God and with the Holy Spirit for leading and direction. And there are times we need to consult with godly, matured, tried and tested Christians, God brings into our lives. It is amazing how God can connect us with such people if we listen to His voice and follow His leading.

The Bible says that there is a great gain in the multitude of counsel. Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but there is safety in an abundance of counsellors (Prov. 11:14). The way of a fool is right in his own sight but a wise man listens to counsel (Prov. 12:15). Without counsel, plans fail but with many advisers they succeed (Prov. 15:22). There many more of such verses in the Bible, urging and encouraging us to seek wise counsel as we seek to move away from status quo and move forward in fulfilling God's plans for our lives.

I learnt a lot from Bidemi Mark-Mordi's book - Sistapower, about the power of collaboration and the importance of partnerships. From the Bible, we learn that "a three-fold cord cannot be easily broken." My Sista said in her book that "what this means is that every venture takes more than one person's input and once we have enough people making their input, the impact will be a lot more effective."

We will need to form God-directed partnerships in order fulfil our assignment, our calling and our dreams. The Bible is replete with many examples of people who consulted with each other, formed partnerships and alliances, and collaborated to achieve a common goal and purpose. Some were for good and some were for evil.

The Shunamite woman of 2Kings 4 consulted with her husband and proposed to him that they extend hospitality to the man of God, Elisha. It was not a small task that she proposed but they agreed to build an extension to their home to provide accommodation for Elisha and also to furnish the "apartment." This proposal is obviously a product of careful deliberation in addition to the display of kindness, thoughtfulness and appreciation of the man of God. But the final decision was in agreement. Read the rest of the story and see how this decision eventually affected their lives for good.

Marriage is an important relationship where husbands and wives must consult together and work in partnership, agreement and unity of purpose in every decision making and in fulfilling their God-given purpose.  Consultation and agreement are critical for a thriving relationship and beyond that, "There is usually a ripple effect when a man is connected with a woman that compliments him, (and it affects) all other relationships the man may be involved in, especially at work and in business" (Sistapower, p.29).

Collaboration and partnerships in other spheres of our lives also have rippling effects. "Let us" as the starting point of consultation and partnership provides us with the opportunity to advise, exhort, stir up and encourage one another to the work proposed. It gives us the chance to tap into the skills and resources that God has invested in others, which they bring to the relationship, and which God is poised to use to enhance our skills and resources.

When you are one in agreement and one in spirit and purpose with your partner, collaborator and assigned helper, there is no limit to what you can accomplish together especially when it is God-directed and pursued to fulfil God's purpose for your lives. In Genesis 11:1-9, the people were united and in agreement, and they were going to do the never-done and never-seen-before but unfortunately, their goal was in conflict with God's purpose.

The effect of partnering with the right person is like throwing a stone into calm waters and watching it ripple all the way to the shore. The impart is felt far beyond the original starting point. When we trust God to form the right partnerships, it catapults us beyond the spot where we have been rooted and in the process it touches many more lives that we could ever have imagined.

In taking the next steps forward and away for the status quo you have been at, I encourage you to wait in the presence of God and seek His instructions as to where to seek counsel and with whom you should collaborate or seek partnership. I pray that your ears will be sensitive to His voice as He leads you in the way to go.

Have you been a recipient of wise counsel or perhaps you have entered into partnerships which have taken you far beyond your wildest imagination, share your story and encourage someone today.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blog Post 100: Not Static. Not Stagnant.

This blog post refused to be written in a hurry. Rightly so, it is my hundredth post since I started blogging in November 2011.

I spent five days last week in the hospital undergoing a 6-month post-surgery checkup. Yes, indeed it is six months since I had the life threatening open-chest surgery. My God is truly awesome and worthy of my praise. Tried as hard as I did, I just could not get the post finalized in time for posting on Thursday. Do bear with me.

My second son, DE, was 5 years old and had been ill on and off for a period of time. So I took with me on a trip from Tamale to Accra, where I was scheduled to attend a series of meeting at the Country office, to see a UN staff doctor for a checkup. After the consultation with the doctor, I left him in the care of my colleague while I attended my meetings. My colleague gave DE sheets of paper to draw on and colour to keep him occupied. He sketched a number of what appeared to be long and tapering objects and coloured the tips red. When asked what he had drawn, DE promptly responded, “Mummy’s fingers and long nails.” Well, I took good care of my fingers and kept well-manicured nails. His agro was that I kept my nails long while I insisted on having his nails cut.

Over ten years later, in April/May 2013, I suffered from severe oxygen deprivation at the extremities (my feet and hands) and also had renal failure. A short while after I regained consciousness, I noticed changes on my nails. They were discoloured, some were deformed, a couple had fallen off and some had what looks like blood clot under the nail. There was also a dark band and indentation across the nails.

With dark band
As my fingers became re-oxygenated, they recovered and a new season of refreshing came upon the nails. During the last 4 months, I observed that as the nails grew, the dark bands moved up and after sometime, the part of the nail above the dark bands literally separated along the line above the bands and in some cases while the upper part was still attached to the nail bed, causing a lot of discomfort.

Despite the extremely difficult circumstances my nails were subjected, they struggled to grow again because the living part of the nail was active. The dark bands have almost reached the tip of my fingers. Soon it will be a figment of my memory that they have once experienced a season of darkness.

In Biology, we were taught that all living beings exhibit seven characteristics. Among these are movement, growth and reproduction. Everything that has life must grow, move and reproduce. Nothing that God created with life is expected to be static or stagnant. Man was created to be an active creature.

There was a time that the earth was without form and void, and darkness covered the deep. It laid in waste, empty and chaotic, and was shrouded in thick darkness. Then came a spark of hope. God did something about it (Gen. 1:2).


Because emptiness and chaos is not of God, He is not an Author of confusion. The Bible recorded that the Spirit of God moved upon the waters. And God began to speak things into existence—“Let there be…” He made some things— the sun, moon and the stars. He created some things—great creatures of the sea, every living and moving things and He created man (Gen1:2-28).

He blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply/increase in number.”

At one time or the other, we will experience seasons of darkness in our lives -  periods when things go wrong in different spheres of our lives, when we are treated unfairly or unjustly,  and periods of trials and tests, of insufficiency and lack, and of troubles – spiritual, physical and emotional. These leave dark bands across the landscape of our lives.

Perhaps, you have dreamt dreams and nurtured great desires in your heart, and the fulfilment looks bleak
Or you have been sitting on the same spot for years waiting for a breakthrough in a particular area of your life and it is not forthcoming.

Or you have been going around the same mountain for so long.

What do we do at such times?

Put our hands over our heads, and our heads upon our knees, moaning and wailing?

Make a move - Let it be God-directed:

David was a man who had many seasons of darkness in his life. Let’s take a look at one of them described in 1 Sam. 30. He and his men returned from following Achish to fight against Israel. He was rejected by Achish. When they got back to Ziklag, they found that their wives, sons and daughters were carried away by the Amalekites and their homes burnt down. They had lost everything.

What was their reaction?

They lifted up their voices and wept until they had no strength to weep anymore (vs. 4). Whilst his men remained bitter, angry and full of grief, David took an action to address his situation.

First, he encouraged himself in the Lord his God – he found strength in God (vs. 6b).

Second, he enquired from the Lord what steps he should take to deal with the situation – he sought God’s direction and leading.

God gave him clear instructions and in addition, He gave him an assurance of victory — “Pursue: for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”

There will be times we will walk through the valley of the shadow of death, times we will pass through deep waters, and times we will walk through fire (Ps. 23:4, Is. 43:2). The key word is THROUGH. We walk and pass through difficult and dark seasons. We are not expected to stay static and rooted there. We must at such times turn towards God, be encouraged and find strength in Him, and seek His face for instructions – What shall I do in this situation?

Time to be Active and Creative:

Wait in His presence until you get clear instruction AND take the necessary steps to move forward! Growth and movement requires effort, time and other resources but above all, it takes willingness and determination to move and not remain static or stagnant.

What is holding you rooted to the same spot?

Usually, it is fear. The enemy uses fear like a shackle to pin us down, to hold us back and to limit our movement. Fear paralyses and keeps us static and stagnant.

Sometimes it is fear of failure. It could be fear of rejection, of being refused or even fear of death. Fears whispers doubt and disbelief into our hearts – maybe God’s word will not be fulfilled in this case. But let me give you this assurance: God’s words are effective. His words are not idle. They always accomplish the purpose for which they have been sent forth and will never return to Him void. God will do what He says He will do. He will never go back on His word or renege on His promises.

God’s grace is also abundantly available and sufficient to move us away from the spot to which we have been rooted.

When God, the Trinity, created mankind in their image, He put in us the ability to relate with the Holy Spirit. He, as our teacher and counsellor, broods over us and brings creative and purposive life out of our chaos and makes a ministry out of our mess. Also, because we are created in God’s image, God’s creative ability is at work in us to make us creative like our Creator.

God has created us to be active. He created us to be productive, to increase and to grow.  He created us to be creative. Sometimes growth may mean for us a deeper spiritual maturity, which we are all called to attain in Christ.

He did not create us to be static or stagnant or idle or to live in fear.

Dear Friends, it is time to move from this spot where you have remained static and stagnant, and from the spot you've been held down in fear. You have encompassed this mountain long enough. It is time to follow God’s leading and instructions if you want to fulfill your destiny and possess what God has ordained for you for a possession (Deut. 1: 35 – 2:9).

Today, is the day to take action. Let it be God oriented, directed and guided.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

More To Be Desired Than...

I recalled an incidence which occurred last summer as I prepared today's blog post. It was at a time when I was going through a rather rough time with my health and I had lost my appetite. At such times, I looked for sweets, chocolates and cakes to pep up my appetite. I have a favourite cake shop.

I could not immediately find someone to take me to this shop (my husband and the boys had to travel at that time), and there was no way I would send someone to get the cakes for me. I had to do the selection. So I decided to go myself. Accompanied by a friend staying with me and I took the risk to drive just to satisfy my craving for the Cartier Cakes.

Recently, I had reasons to evaluate my personal Bible Study time and for all the reasons that I may proffer, some genuine and some not tenable, I found that I lacked consistency.

Spending quality time in praise and in prayer was non-negotiable for me, and against all odds, I will make every effort to keep that time. I found it exhilarating just praising and worshiping God. However, over the past few months, I had not given the same attention to my personal Bible study nor had I made the same effort to spend time in God's presence, just listening to Him and hear Him speak into my heart. It has been sporadic and I know I have been drawing on the stores laid up much earlier.

"Speak to my heart," I have cried many times.

"Open my ears that I may hear Your voice," I prayed.

But how I could I hear, if I will not take time to listen?

How would I not miss the call in the midst of many distractions if I am not attentive to His voice?

Yet I know I need to have clarity. I need His guidance, leading and most importantly, I need to hear His instructions as He leads me in this new phase of my life and as His plans unfolds.

During the past week, I have been hit from different directions by messages declaring that it is not only important to speak to God through praise and prayer BUT it is equally important to spend quality time listening to God speak back to us. It is also important to make every effort to seek God's Word.

The guest preacher in church last Sunday said;

"God wants our attention."
"It must be the top priority in a believer's daily life to hear the voice of God."
"A disciple trains and disciplines himself to hear, know and recognize God's voice."

Solomon said, "O Lord, give me a heart that listens so I can judge Your people and tell the difference between good and evil …" (1Kings 3:9 God's Word Translation). Another translation says, give your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart that I may judge your people and discern between good and bad.

For us to discern aright, to make the right decision, and to walk in God's purpose and fulfil our assignment, we need to have listening hearts and ears that knows and hears His voice.

God speaks to us in many ways, through His written Word, in still small voice into our hearts and through the counsel of godly people He surrounds us with. It is important for us to know and to hear His voice for ourselves. A greater ability to recognize the voice of God is given when we spend quality time in His presence. The question is, are we spending enough time alone in God's presence to know and recognize His voice?

A few days ago, shared the verse below and it latched itself to my heart:

When I discovered Your Words,
I devoured them.
They are my joy and my heart's delight,
For by Your name, O Lord God of Heaven's Armies.
Jeremiah 15:16

Discover - to find by searching. Received by divine revelation. Requires diligent seeking, a desire for it and a devotion of time and resources to find it.

Devour - to eat hungrily. Consumed with eagerness.

Delight - brings joy and rejoicing. Received cheerfully and treasured in the memory. Digested in our mind, mixed with faith and carefully retained.

As I meditated and pondered on this verse, I realized that this should be our attitude and approach to God's Word. Something we diligently seek and search for. "Truth is like 'treasures hid in the field;' he alone who seeks it with unprejudiced mind finds it" (Pulpit Commentary). When we find it we must consume it hungrily. Why? Because it brings joy and rejoicing, a delight to our hearts.

"Your Word filled my heart with joy and happiness because I belong to You"
(NET Bible).

Ps. 19:10 says "Your Word is more to be desired than gold, even more than fine gold. They are sweeter than honey and the drippings from the honeycomb." Job said, "…I have treasured Your Word more than my necessary food." God's Word is food for our soul. It is wholesome, nourishing and strengthening.

Then came the questions:

Can I truthfully say with all boldness that I have treasured God's Word more than my necessary food?

Am I paying enough attention to listen to what God is saying to me through His written Word?

It was at this time that I remembered how I made a definite decision and the effort to go after Cartier Cakes against all the odds, and this gave me only a momentary satisfaction. It sometimes require a sacrifice of time to dwell in intimate and close fellowship with God to hear Him speaking to us. It take time to meditate on the Word and to lay it up in our heart but God's Word gives long-lasting satisfaction and it is of eternal value.

What is it that you diligently seek after each day?

God's Word is more to be desired than ___________ (fill in the gap as it applies to you).

Craving for you
Craving for you
was like a stubborn itch
upon my heart.
It won't go away.
Getting to you
was a risk I should not take
Yet no one could get you for me.

Against the odds
On this bright summer day
Heat soaring
Sun high in the sky
I climbed the hill
I crossed the river
In search of you
who my heart craves for.

With utmost patience I waited
to get close enough to you.
The final stretch was tortuous
At last, I made it through the woods
And there laid before me
An array of sweet temptations
A delight to the eyes
And satisfaction for a craving
Who could have selected you for me?
None but I.

Were I to desire You
more than I crave the sweet tempter
Were I to seek after You
with the same zeal
Then would I discover Your Word
And make haste to devour them
As one who hungers after Him
Who is an everlasting delight
to my soul.

© Irene Olumese (2013)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

We Will Remember

We will remember, we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give you praise
For great is Thy faithfulness
 - Tommy Walker (2005)

Celebrating Life:

That's exactly what we have been doing since last weekend. On Sunday, September 29th, my family and I together with our friends went before God to give thanks and lavish praises on Him as we remembered the works of His hands in our lives. It was a time of rejoicing, praising and dancing in the presence of God. It was a celebration of life and God's faithfulness.

We remembered where we were coming from, what we have been through and the victory God wrought on our behalf.

 We remembered that God has been our helper, our deliverer, our liberator and giver of life without end.

We stopped and gave Him praise for great is His faithfulness.

The praise and rejoicing continued on October 1st (my birthday). It was an opportunity to celebrate life in the land of the living. We recalled the mercies, which God faithfully lavished on us this past year.

We remembered when we walked through life's darkest valley, that God was our joy, comfort and life sustainer.

Last night, my Sista and friend of almost 30 years stood by my bed. She recalled the last time she was standing at the same spot, a few months back at the end of March. It was a challenging time for me then. I was on the ventilator and coughing my chest out. She looked around the room and started to give praise and thanks to God.


The ventilator was gone. I was not struggling with breath. I was not coughing. I was not hanging to life.

The Paraphernalia:

for travels
short term outings

oxygen reservoirs under our stairway

And the place they were knows them no more. They are all gone. Hallelujah!

Celebrating Togetherness:

We used the opportunity to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary which we missed on April 23rd. I was in coma on that day.

April 23rd, 1992
Twenty-one and half years later - Sept 29th, 2013
We remembered that throughout the 21+ years of our marriage, God has been our shelter and our peace in the midst of the storm.

Our Boys. Our Joy. Our Blessing:

We remembered how God kept them strong through it all. They have been so supportive. I praise God for blessing our lives with these fine young men.

Giving Thanks:

But then I recall all You have done, O LORD;
I remember Your wonderful deeds of long ago.
They are constantly in my thoughts.
I cannot stop thinking about Your mighty works.
Ps 77:11, 12

We shouted Hosanna and Hallelujah to the One from Whom all blessing flows, Whose glory has been put on display in our lives. Our friends joined us to shout that our God is good and that He is the faithful One.

Your Turn:

Now it is your turn. 

Will you take time to remember the good works that God has done in your life in 2013 alone? 

Will you stop and give Him praise? 

God has surely given you reasons to be glad. So this is a good time to lavish praises on Him. You can also share with us in the comment box below what God has done for you.

While you are at it, please pause for a moment and give thanks to God on our behalf. He has been good to us. We can't say it enough or thank Him enough.

Pleased to share with you Tommy Walker's "We Will Remember" 
I love this song and I have used the lyrics in preparing this blog post.

Blessings be multiplied to you and yours. May your life daily touch lives for good.