Posted in christian, Faith, The Christ

The Tree

Photo by Rob Mulally on Unsplash

The sun shone with unparalleled brightness while its heat beat on Amara’s bare shoulders and head as she was led on a narrow arid road.

Her guide, Mark, the leader of a group of people who called themselves the Jesus Tribe, was taking her to a place where she would understand why they lived as they did.

They arrived in the desert area, located outside the town, and walked to an undisclosed location. To Amara, who was sweating like the goat they passed in town on their way, it seemed like an eternity. It had only been ten minutes.

She didn’t dare complain though, Mark led the community as its leader, and people held him in high regard. Why? Amara had no idea.

He didn’t appear rich, tall, or handsome. His face and hands showed signs of toughness and a life that was accustomed to it. Whatever the community respected must be inside of the man. His intelligence and skills, perhaps?

Amara wiped her forehead with the sleeves of her t-shirt as she started praying for redemption from the long walk and a tall glass of iced water. She smiled; her mates were praying for better things.

Up ahead, she saw a massive tree in the arid landscape. The tree stood tall and alone, and shock of shocks, it had a full crown of green leaves and branches sprouting everywhere.

“How is that possible?” She asked herself out loud.

Mark turned and smiled at her. “That’s where we are going.”

They walked the short distance to the tree and found relief under its shade. Mark opened his little backpack and removed two bottles of cold water, which they shared. 

They finished their water, and Mark stashed the bottles in his bag as he turned to the tree.

“Amara, you asked me how people can choose to live for God? This tree will help me explain the reason for it. When you look at the tree, what do you see?” He asked, looking at her.

“Well, I noticed that it’s rooted in a dry place, and it has a lot of green leaves. Does it bear fruit?”

“It’s an apple tree. Everything you noticed is correct. The tree is standing tall and strong and deeply rooted in the desert. How is that possible for an apple tree?

“To produce good-quality fruits, trees need lots of feeder roots in the surface soil so they can take up plenty of water and nutrients. The surface soil should be deep, soft, stable, well-structured, well-drained, fertile, and cool in hot weather. The pH level should be between 5.8 and 6.5.

“However, desert soil is mostly loamy sand, derived from granitic rocks and other related rocks. The soil here is deficient in organic matter. It’s high in potassium and has pH’s around 7.5 to 8.0.

“If all that is so, how is it possible for this tree to stand? How is it getting its water and essential nutrients? The soil surface is not soft, nor is it fertile for the tree.”

Amara looked from Mark to the tree as she absorbed all the information he shared and asked herself the same questions he did.

“It is supernatural. The tree is a symbol of truth, proving that the supernatural occurs in this natural plain we all dwell.

“What’s the use of the symbol, you might ask? It helps us remember that in Christ, the Jesus Tribe can live the supernatural life every day of our lives. 

“The most important use of the tree, in my opinion, is that it reminds us that we are all branches in the vine that is Christ.

“Look at this tree, looking healthy in a place where it shouldn’t. It reminds us that in Christ, because He lives, we live, regardless of the circumstances that surround us. The branches living off the tree remind us to draw all we need from God, strength, sustenance, wisdom, etc. Under its shade, we are covered from the elements, just as both of us are now. If you know psalm 91, the first two verses apply. When you hear, in Christ, we stand, this tree paints the picture. 

“Imagine being a branch under this tree. Do you think you would lack anything? But once you are broken off, your sustenance is cut off. You would no longer be protected under its shade, and the most important, you will not be able to bear fruit and fulfill God’s purposes in your life.” 

Mark stopped and waited for questions, and when none came decided to ask one of his own.

“Why were you standing under the bridge at night?”

Amara looked away. Her first instinct was to lie to the man of God, as she now thought of him in her mind, but she hesitated, uncaring of judgment.

“I am a prostitute. I was waiting for a customer before Gbenga picked me up and invited me to your fellowship.” She said, looking at him as she spoke.

Mark smiled. “We all have our histories—fraudsters, liars, murderers, adulterers, thieves, etc. I helped a gang scam rich Germans out of their hard-earned money about ten years ago. You would have called me a 419 fraudster.” He said, smiling at the upward movement of her eyebrows.

“We are all standing before God now, and so can you. Gbenga asked me to speak with you before you leave us today. I know what you are going back to, but we invite you to come and join us. Come and live out God’s purpose for your life with our tribe. There is no need to remain in the same situation when help is available. I want you to think about it, please.”

Amara looked down at her shoes. What he asked wasn’t possible.

“What will I be doing for your tribe? I can’t be eating and sleeping forever?”

Mark smiled. “Gbenga was coming back from work when he saw you, and the Holy Spirit asked him to pick you up. You will be taught to seek and to know God for yourself. God will direct you on the life He planned for you. On the side, you can help out in the community once in a while.”

Amara nodded. Mark’s request seemed possible with every word he uttered; however, something else bothered her.

“Will God forgive me?” She asked, looking at him again. Her need for confirmation came from a place of desperation. A change had been presented as a gift, and she wanted it with all her heart. She needed to know that she wouldn’t be turned away in the end.

Mark turned and held her by the shoulders, looking into her eyes. “God sent Gbenga to you because He loves and cares for you, and Gbenga brought you to me. All of it was in God’s plan for you. He makes a way where there are none and rivers in the desert. Let this tree be a reminder when you doubt his love. He will not leave you nor forsake you as long as you live and believe.” 

Amara nodded as possibilities flashed before her: freedom, life, family, a future. 

She smiled at Mark and nodded again. “I want to be part of the tribe.”

Mark nodded, smiling. “Praise God.”

Till next time, be transformed!!

*http://celosangeles.ucanr.edu/Agriculture/High_Desert_Soils/

*https://www.goodfruit.com/six-steps-to-good-orchard-site-preparation/

Posted in christian, The Christ

His Strength in Our Weakness

Photo by Anuja Mary Tilj on Unsplash

Martha walked into the compound solemn. She held her bag tight, still wondering what to say to Antonia, her friend, family, and former boss.
Antonia lived in an old red brick bungalow. Those houses that are old, but never out of style.

Martha looked up and around the house, still wishing that she owned such a beautiful home after so many years. The cleaner must have just swept the compound clean of leaves from the mango and orange trees. The broom marks were still visible. The whole place was empty and quiet as if no one was home.

“Martha, is that you?” Antonia’s sing-song voice sounded from the living room window, in the center of the house.

Martha smiled. “Yes, but I can’t see you.”

“I’m coming, dear.”

Martha’s smile remained. Antonia opened the front door on the house’s left side, and Martha heard her walk to the front before seeing her. Antonia had a big smile and outstretched arms.

“Hello dear, come here.” She said.

Martha went to her feeling like a daughter who had come home. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay. It’s only money.”

Martha raised her head and looked at Antonia with wide eyes. “Only money? Ten years of work and your retirement funds? You call that only money?”

Antonia smiled at the younger woman. “Come, let’s have cold drinks and talk. The heat is excessive this time of the year.”

They walked back into the house, the older leading. That was how they had always been—one the boss, and later the mentor. Antonia had taken the once rebellious orphan, Martha, under her wings and taught her everything she knew about the job and God.

Martha looked around the once boisterous house, now quiet, with warmth. The draped windows, the rugged centers, and their pieces, the cushioned seats in different colors. Entering Antonia’s home reminded one of the Arabian Nights stories.

Martha followed her mentor to the living room where she sat, as Antonia opened the drapes to allow the light filter through. She must have been reading in the dark with the lampstand by her side. Martha noted the heavy volume on the next chair.

Antonia turned to her with a smile. “What can I get you?”

Martha shook her head. “Nothing, please sit. How is uncle Dave?”

Antonia’s smile remained. “He is fine. Don’t look so serious. I didn’t die.”

“Yes, but…” Martha knew the source of Antonia’s strength. He was her source as well, but how could this happen? “How did it happen?”She asked.

Antonia sat. “Well, Tony, you remember him, the manager I hired, called me on Monday that he was at the shop, and it was on fire.”

“Like that? How did it start?”

“I don’t know. It’s been three days, and the Police are still investigating. It is well, Martha.”

“What’s the Insurance company saying?”

“Well, they are also investigating and will conclude soon, I suppose.”

“Thank God for the way you are taking this. I don’t know what I would have done if such a thing happened to me.”

Antonia rubbed her hands together the way she did when lost in deep thought. Martha waited, knowing the action was for her.

“Martha, what do you think happened to me?” Antonia asked, not smiling.

“Well, you lost a heavy investment.”

“Yes, that’s true. I lost money and a lot of the products that I sell, but what happened to me?”

Martha sat forward with narrowed eyes. “I don’t understand.”

Antonia smiled. “On the morning of the incident, I was reading Hebrews 11. I believe the Holy Spirit led me there because out of the blues, the chapter dropped into my heart as I woke up. I opened it and read, and a small line stayed in my mind. It said that out of weakness, they were made strong. I meditated on it and discussed it with Dave, and thirty minutes later, Tony called. At the end of that call, I asked myself, what is faith? Is it a belief in me, my abilities, and possessions, or in God and His manifold wisdom?

“You see, dear, He saw all sides of what happened before it did. He saw the end from the beginning and prepared me for it. He is preparing us, not just for good, but His strength manifests in our weakness for times like this. Martha, I’d rather rejoice in my weak state for God’s strength to show up. Can you hold onto money? It comes, and it goes, and I will not fall prey to fear of a temporary necessity.”

Martha nodded, looking down, as understanding flowed through her. Tears filled her eyes as she thought of how she had worried about this woman whom she loved. She stood in gratitude and raised her hand in worship to the Father, the keeper of all men. Antonia joined her, smiling as she noted the other woman’s tears.

When they finished worshipping, Antonia went to her side and sat.

“Why worry, Martha?”

Martha was still dabbing at the sides of her eyes with tissues. “I didn’t know if you would be okay. I didn’t know how you would take it, with none of your children in the country and with your strong independent spirit, stubborn more like.” She said and smiled as Antonia laughed.

“But you know there is God, right?”

“Yes, but how do you survive?” Martha asked holding Antonia’s hand.

Antonia sat forward and looked into her eyes. “That’s where you allow God to be God. I have become weak that the excellence of His glory may be made known in and through my life. I am waiting on Him for instructions on my next steps and looking onto Jesus, the author and finisher of the race I’m on. I have humbled myself before my Father as I wait for Him to save as He sees fit. I am happy you came; I believe you needed to hear this.”

“Yes, I am so relieved that you are fine and your faith intact.”

“No, not that. My problem is the reason for your worry and the words you spoke some minutes ago. What if it had been you? What would have happened, Martha?”

Martha looked down. “I would have been devastated, not as strong as you.”

“Because you have started depending on the temporary and not the eternal, my daughter.” She turned Martha to her and tilted her head up so she could look into her eyes again. “Retrace your steps. Nothing is worth losing the joy set before us, nothing.”

Antonia held onto Martha’s face and kept looking until the other woman managed a nod. Antonia nodded as well, as she knelt in prayer, and Martha joined.

Both prayed to the same Father. The one who had suffered the physical loss for the one who seemed to have lost her spiritual way. When they stood, the peace in the older passed to the younger.

Till next time, be transformed!!!

Posted in christian, The Christ

The Good Part

Photo by Jacob Bentzinger on Unsplash

‘And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”‘ Luke 10:41-42

I hear Him calling my name twice as well.

How many can you count? Global problems, good news, to-do’s, to become’s, the Christmas season’s call, etc. Every day has its own.

Martha was going about life the way every hardworking person should. She was cooking, serving, hosting, and taking care of the household. Mary sat and watched. She sat at the feet of Jesus, looking up at him in awe, listening to every word from his mouth. Mary was entranced by wisdom, forsaking the call of duty.

Martha’s frustrations are understandable. I’d feel like that as well until Jesus spoke and broke in pieces the old mold.

“Amongst all the hustle and bustle, Martha, all the well-mannered attempts to be the good hostess, to do well before others, nothing is as important as what Mary is doing.”

Like smoke, everything changes and goes away. One day, you will retire; the kids will grow up and leave; the spouse will no longer be there; the guests will stop coming; someone may take over the side-hustle taking up all your time, etc.

The focus must be on the eternal, the presence of God, from where life flows. A cousin of mine says the peace in that place drowns the noise of many waters. It fazes out the threat of the storms of life.

Martha didn’t feel threatened. She was going about everyday life the same as before. Jesus asked, what is taking your attention? He asked her if she was listening to earthly life when eternal life was in her house? He gave her the answer to a multiple-options question. Only one thing was needed, and her sister had chosen it. Mary had chosen the prepared food for the soul, not minding the earthly preparations meant for the body.

If the bread of life feeds your soul, it overflows to your body and life. When you sit at the feet of the peace giver, you have His peace. In God’s presence is joy, and fear is obliterated like dark clouds when the sun rises.

To chose the good part is to have the light of God shine in and through you, no matter how dark the night. May we all continue to listen, and to hear, that we may live and thrive.

Till next time, be transformed!!!

Posted in christian, Faith, The Christ

Enduring to the End

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

The church was quiet that afternoon. A slight breeze blew past the two occupants in the building. They were seated next to each other, one contemplating what to say, the other handing her over to God.

“Pastor, things are getting worse. I hear the word, which strengthens me, but once I leave this place, it seems as if all hell breaks loose.” Nkechi said, bending her head with a sigh.

In her heart, she knew the word she received each time in church was undergoing testing, but the tests’ intensity seemed to rise higher and higher as if they raced towards a crescendo.

“Everywhere one turns, there is one bad news or the other. I have come to find out, how do you get through?” She asked, turning to him.

Pastor Debo smiled to himself and shook his head before he looked at her.

“I stand before the Lord at all times, Nkechi, looking up to Jesus, the author, and finisher of my faith.”

“Yes, Pastor,” Nkechi said, nodding as she looked away.

The Pastor smiled again. “Tell me, what does that mean to you?”

“It means we should keep praying at all times and not give up.”

“Yes, in a sense, but not exactly. You see, I’m not standing and praying to God for help at all times, No. I’m standing before my Father, your Father, awaiting His will. If I believe the scriptures I have read and preached, then I should stand confident in who my Father is, shouldn’t I?”

She nodded.

“If God is my refuge, stronghold, and tower, then I shouldn’t be afraid. If I have been chosen and called for His purpose, then all the things I face are working for my good, and I should be thankful in every situation. If His grace is sufficient for me because, in my weakness, His strength is made manifest, shouldn’t I be rejoicing when I’m weak, so God’s strength can show up? In fact, shouldn’t I always stay weak before Him, to ensure my life glorifies Him?”

This time, when she nodded, it was a slow dip in her head as she meditated on what he said.

“Nkechi, you are God’s own and greater is He that is in you; however, except, you start to live out the truth God speaks into your heart, and you stand in your position in Christ, the enemy will use you as mincemeat. Let me borrow from my father, who told me that Christians hear the roar of a lion and quake in fear, but it’s just a roar. He knows the one with you, but do you? Are you aware of who you are in Christ? Our greatest problems are not external but internal. The strongholds, imaginations, and thoughts built and planted in us have to come down, and it’s our task to execute.”

“I understand, Pastor, but a lot is happening all over the world. There are rumors of shakings, and terrible things are happening in and outside the church.”

“Where did scripture ask that we focus our eyes?”

“On God.”

“True. Focus, not on what has happened, is happening or will happen, but on Jesus. Wear the armor of God at all times. Work on bringing down everything that exalts itself over the knowledge of the Lord in your mind, and stay alert.” The Pastor said, patting her on the back. “Nkechi, it is well. The time has come for us to do the battle and possess our possessions by the grace of God. You can no longer rely on others to get you there. The giants were in the land, but Caleb and Joshua alone reported the truth – they knew they could fight them because Israel had God’s backing. You need to choose every second of every minute of every hour, whose report you will believe, and keep at it until the end.”

Nkechi smiled at the Pastor, knowing she had work to do. She turned to leave, and he called her back till she stood before him.

“Father, I pray for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of you. Enlighten the eyes of our understanding, so we may know the hope of your calling, the riches of your glorious inheritance, and the exceeding greatness of your power to us who believe. I pray you will strengthen the inner man with might through your Spirit, that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith, that having grasped the entirety of the love of Christ, which passes all knowledge, you will fill us with your fullness. Thank you, Father, for this time of pressure. You are taking us into the fullness of your will in Jesus’ name. (Eph 1:17-19, Eph 3:16-19)

“God bless you, Pastor,” Nkechi said, as she left to do battle.

Till next time, be transformed!!!

Posted in christian, Faith, The Christ

Perfection

Credits: Wesley Tingey

‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.’ James 1:17-18 

A perfect man once walked this earth. Like all of us, he had a father and a mother, and there were half-siblings in there as well. He grew up and attained height, weight, and wisdom as he aged. His parents also expected certain things from their child as other parents do. He was a carpenter by profession and not the fancy types as we have now, he used his hands. So, what set Him apart? Truth.

Though he was born human, he grew up with a hunger and thirst for God, not rare. In the fullness of time, He received the Holy Spirit, anointed for His calling on earth; others received it too. So, why was He so different? Truth.

What is it about the truth that set Him apart from the others? He lived it out His whole life till He died.

The wisdom of this world and the wisdom from God are different; there is no doubt. The world encourages you to draw strength from yourself and keep hustling because, like all the greats, one day, you will make it. How many have? We receive wisdom from God is received by faith, and it works if you are willing to empty yourself of everything contrary to it. It requires total humility before God because there cannot be any other option to fall back on.

Jesus, the perfect man, lived by the truth of who He was, His calling, and His death. The Holy Spirit guided Him through His life in wisdom, and He excelled before God. His father rewarded Him with a throne at His right hand, a position available for everyone wanting to live out God’s truth.

Does that mean we can attain perfection in Christ? Yes, by continuing in His truth. God’s truth/wisdom is different from ours and affects every aspect of our lives. To live out godly wisdom is to give up all the truth/facts/wisdom that men have taught us. It insists that we apply God’s word alone in everything we do and how we interact with one another. Does it appear difficult? It’s not.

Jesus walked this earth, led by the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit is still available today, waiting on us. He is a friend like no other, one that loves us regardless. He is the only one that cannot lie to us or lead us astray. So, what is stopping us from such a relationship, His invisibility? Well, you relate with air, though you can’t see it. You learn to draw breath as a baby and become perfect the older you get, the same thing with building a relationship with God’s Spirit. It may look complicated at first, but continue in faith and see God at work. Remember, with God, you cannot depend on what you see.

Every journey taken with God leads to destiny, and it’s different from individual to individual. Are you on yours?

Till next time, be transformed!!