What’s LEGO Got to do with You and Christ?

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of Life, (for the Life was revealed, and we have seen it and bear witness, and show to you the everlasting Life, who was with the Father and was revealed to us), that which we have seen and heard we declare unto you, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we write these things to you so that your joy may be full. – 1 John 1:1-4

Did you ever play with those LEGO construction toys when you were a kid? Even if you never did, let me give a brief description here. The ones I am quite familiar with are the hundreds of interlocking plastic blocks with which you could build any structure you wanted (or, so we thought as kids). Each plastic block has round locks and keys with which it fits into others and the bricks come in different colours and sizes, and even shapes! Your task is to fit and arrange them in intersections and alignments such that whatever structure you build stands. Imagine that you want to build a house with your LEGO set and some of the pieces in one corner of the structure, perhaps the foundation, are bad and damaged…

Just like those individual LEGO bricks are pieced together to make a whole new structure, individuals make up the bunch. So what’s LEGO got to do with you and Christ? Plenty!

The Church is the body of Christ, and we, Christians, are the Church, hence the body of Christ. It is so easy to get ‘lost’ in the euphoria of “unity in Christ” that we forget that basically, Christianity is first about individuality! Let me explain.

There is a common saying that the strength of a chain is dependent on its weakest link. Since individuals make up the team, if each individual does not grow and build up her/his strength, sooner than you expect, the weakness will tell on the team as a whole. Individuals have to work and make sure they are personally effective and efficient so that they can bring something to the table for all to work with.

Our walk with God is an individual walk. Your relationship with God is a personal one and, as such, it is crucial that you endeavour to be the best that you can be as a person. Take responsibility for your own actions and spiritual growth. Always remember that you will be judged alone and that you will account for your own for your own actions. We know that iron sharpens iron, but if all irons were blunt, we would have some really hard work on our hands! We need each other to grow stronger as Christians, no doubt, but we should not neglect our individual nourishment in the place of personal fellowship with God.

In summary, it is important to know God for yourself. If most Christians could confidently say that they know God on a personal level, and not just rely on ‘corporate anointing’, then we would have a vibrant Church. There would be many people to actually assist our pastors in growing the Church and getting the gospel out to the needy. We would not have to always wait until Sunday for the Word; neither would we have to run to our pastors at the slightest appearance of challenges. Now, go get your ‘LEGO’ fixed!

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Guest Post: Welcome the Rain – A Short Story by Adetola Onayemi

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I shall pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” – Hosea 2:28

The wind blew across the crusty earth, evidence of the perennial drought that had besieged the land, forty-eight months and still counting. The inhabitants of Ile-aye sauntered with their heads bowed while the river moped as its lips ran dry.

A middle-aged man whose white ears cuddled like wet cornflakes approached Ijo Village, trudging on dead logs, dried palm fronds and carcass. He stared awhile at the villagers, particularly those making little ridges for the grasses. Grasses had become vegetable in this hard time; at least they were more resilient. Yet, they were watered once in three days. The man walked towards them nonetheless. He looked plush, and well-fed. He was wearing a spotless white robe and had a smile etched on his face.

The villagers stopped tilling the farm as they gazed at the man. Questions ran through their minds. Who was he? Where was he coming from? How come he had ruddy cheeks and looked well-fed? The children ran towards him. He dipped his hands into his bag and brought out akara snacks for each of them. How did he get that much food for all the children? The villagers looked on with adoration in their eyes. The man walked on still, pressing with each step into the centre of the village, towards the gathering at the centre of the village. There, a man named Oluso-agutan taught the villagers from the Book. The congregation at the village square murmured in low tones; they were bored, but feigned attentiveness. They failed in their attempt to encourage the speaker and attract more villagers to join them. They had lost their fervency and their face dropped, revealing their hunger, boredom and frailty.

As the white-haired man arrived at the village centre, people made way for him – a path leading to the centre of the gathering. He sat down on the stool, and they all sat around him. He turned to Oluso-agutan, and asked, “Do you know Me?”

“No, sir, I don’t know You; can we meet you sir?”

He turned to everyone. The multitude had begun to increase in number because word had gone round the village about the strange man.

“Does anyone know Me?”

There was silence. A few whispers could be heard. Then, a hand shot up. It was a young woman reputed for her eccentricity in the village.

“You’re Iyanu.”

He shook his head in disapproval.

“That’s what you’ve being looking for, but that is not the answer to life’s emptiness.”

She replied, “But they told me once I joined Ijo, I would overcome life’s emptiness. It was that way for a while, until some four years ago.”

“There’s more in the life you are to live in Ijo than just some activities. That’s why the activities drained you of strength, yet you had no source to replenish you.”

Just then, a small boy walked to the centre of the circle. He spoke up as he drew nearer.

“I know you sir, you are Him of whom the prophet spoke of in Joel; you are Him whom the master promised will make our lives and fellowship with Him to peak like the mountain top. You are Emi Mimo”

Emi Mimo smiled, and stood up, saying: “You have all remained this way because you refused to read the testament as you should, and ask of me of whom your master spoke. I was around all along to guide you into all truth, but you failed to see me. I am here because that young boy read his testament and asked for me. That is the reason the rains have refused to pour: because you have left the business of the master undone to minister to your own needs. You have become people chasing after the order of Ile-aye.”

The people all fell to the dusty earth, and began to weep, each asking for forgiveness. They lifted up their voices to the heavens as they confessed their iniquities.

Just then, it began to drizzle. Rain descended in small pellets. Many people stood and ran into the rain in jubilation. After the celebration, they went into the comfort of their huts. As soon as they settled down, the rain stopped. “What happened?” they all asked, as they hurried back to meet Emi Mimo who had been waiting under the juniper tree at the village square.

“Did you wonder why it stopped raining? Firstly, how many of you prepared your soils to receive the rain? Even if it was not prepared, will it not be wise for you to till the earth even in the rain. Must the rainwater go to waste? Never squander the master’s resources. Emi Mimo’s power is meant to bring in harvest; it is not for you to just revel in. Secondly, you all went into your huts; this is what has made my presence tarry this long: because when it poured in time past, every man used it for selfish ends – furthering his own course.”

He continued, “In Ijo, there ought not to be any huts, divisions or denominations. You are one. Thirdly, for how long did you even stay in the rain to get drenched and purged? The moment it came, you started moving. Ought you not to cultivate yourself, just like you cultivate the land? There is dirt: I need to wash off your bodies. But some never stayed in the rain. You press into the depth as you remain in the rain. That is why it is expedient you tarry in the rain. Your master said He needed to leave so that I could come to lead you into a time of truth and power, and ensure that people all over Ile-aye can worship your master from anywhere, even as they remain in the rain.”

The rain began to pour down heavily on every inhabitant of Ile-aye even as he spoke.

“Stay in the rain and learn of me.”

Emi Mimo rose among them. Oluso-aguntan took the Book and began to teach the now increasing church. They held their hoes firmly and put their cutlasses to work even as they remained in the rain.

This piece was originally published in the 2010 Edition of Campus Mirror, an annual magazine of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union, University of Lagos, Nigeria and has been slightly modified. Tola Onayemi studies Law at the University of Lagos.
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Keywords: Ile aye: the world; Ijo: the church; Oluso-aguntan: shepherd or pastor; Iyanu: miracle; Emi Mimo: the Holy Spirit.

Photo credit: www.rnw.nl; www.badgermeetsworld.blogspot.com

Guest Post: Write The Vision… by Bolaji Olawoye

By Olawoye Bolaji

“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets…”[1]

It is a scriptural principle of life. The first stage is to conceive it (or receive it). The second stage – document it! Write it down in details, even if it changes later. Learn to take your dreams seriously. Write down those visions of the future in your heart: spiritual calling, ministry outreaches, business ideas, financial ideas, philanthropic organizations, fashion companies, and technological breakthroughs, name it….WRITE THEM ALL DOWN!

The Clearer Your Goals, The Greater Your Faith[2]. When you write them down, they start to look feasible; then you edit, you fine-tune, and you modify. What was initially on God’s mind starts to find earthly manifestation. The sons of the Kingdom start to become instrumentations to making the earth a better place – God’s own way. Hallelujah!

Think on them, ponder on the dreams, and subject them to the scrutiny & illumination of the Holy Spirit with the help of the Word of God. The greatest dreams all began with a thought. If it is birthed in the place of the Holy Ghost, it is a future miracle begging for manifestation at your feet! I personally testify that the greatest breakthroughs and solutions I have had in web development (an area of gifting) have come, usually during a service, during my quiet time or just while thinking! Please, write them down, they may never come back again that way.

Run Of The Vision…

“…that he may run who reads it”[3]

A Mentor once wrote, “You will never make significant success with something until it becomes an obsession”. Start doing something about those dreams & visions. Add them to your daily schedule. Make sure no day ends without you doing something (no matter how little) that contributes to the fulfilment of that dream, even if it is just writing down a thought! Read about it. Prepare for it. Learn about it. Let it have permanent residence in your heart.

Run along with the Spirit of God…

“The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits. Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established”[4]

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths”[5]

Regularly lay it before the Holy Spirit. A moment with Him will reveal the flaws of your most carefully laid plans. Talk about it to other Christians who will support it and encourage you. Most importantly, spend time with God’s Word, studying scriptural examples, admonitions, warnings & illuminations. Take out time to pray. Pray in tongues. Pray concerning your fears and doubts; discuss freely with God. His presence is the proper place to receive confirmation about the validity & authenticity of your dreams, whether it is of Him or not. Your spiritual sensitivity and obedience is crucial at this stage.

The Holy Spirit will lead you every step of the way and supernaturally open doors of opportunity before you. When He does, make use of them! He will bring the right people your way; the right connections. He will schedule timely instructions as well as timely warnings. Please do not take either lightly! Disobedience or disregard of warnings (i.e. chastisements, rebukes and/or intentional delays) can cost you dearly!

• Some people can discourage you simply because they do not understand your dreams and visions and so they do not appreciate them. Notwithstanding, make use of wonderful people around you.
• Acquire or develop skills you may require. They may be mental, physical, emotional or spiritual.
• Learn about things you do not know about, such as forming/building organizations, raising/managing people, raising funds, etc.
• Build up your most holy faith in the Holy Ghost. Deal with your weaknesses; study His Word like never before; soar in the Spirit on the wings of prayer.
• Support other people’s dreams & visions; appreciate them, encourage them and sow into them.

This is your youth – the morning part of your days, the time for purpose, preparation, planning & process. Before the flood of circumstances begin to sweep many away, embrace your destiny in God and partner with divinity. Shod your feet with the boots of vision-created stamina. Launch out into life with a sense of direction towards purpose, abundance and fulfilment.

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but in the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”[6]

Importance of Vision

Having a vision of the future gives you focus. Focus is being ‘un-distracted’ by the many distractions in life. Focus is one of the most important ingredients for outstanding and extraordinary success in life. You cannot stay focused unless you have something to look unto – a reason to live; a reason to press on; a reason to wake up each day and a reason to work on, despite the bad situations of things at the present.

Your vision is of an expected end. This God approves of:

“For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (or an expected end).”[7]

“The fear of the wicked will come upon him, and the desire of the righteous will be granted”[8]

“My son, eat honey because it is good, and honeycomb which is sweet to your taste; so shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul; if you have found it, there is prospect, and your hope will not be cut off”[9]

The dreams of the future that you have are little scenes from the big pictures of God’s thoughts. They might not look feasible. The dreams may not be the complete picture because visions of the future only get clearer and brighter as you mature and advance in your partaking of God’s thinking pattern.

“But the path of the just is like the shinning sun, that shines brighter unto the perfect day”[10]

“For we know in part … For we now see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face”[11]

Having a vision keeps you from envy, jealousy and comparing yourself to others. Your God-given vision fully gives expression to your God-given potentials and talents – the best of you and what you were actually created to be. You have to stay focused in training to attain that picture that the Lord has for you. Even when other vessels of God are gloriously manifesting His excellence in their God-given calling(s), you are not envious. Instead, you are challenged to step up and continue in what He has specifically called you to be in its God-given fullness.

Having a vision also helps in one of the most important decisions in life – the choice of a life partner, i.e. marriage. In the second chapter of Genesis, while Adam was in the garden, God saw he the need to provide a help meet (fit, proper and comparable) to him. A help(er) meet for his assignment and his person. As a man, when you have started walking in the fulfilment of God’s purpose, I believe recognising a helper comparable to you is easier. The same also goes for the woman of purpose. It is until then that she can recognise the man with the calling and potentials to husband her life. The commandment to multiply, fill the earth and subdue it was given to both man and woman. We equally have a calling to fulfil purpose in our lives.

The reason why life seems so ordinary for so many is this: If your heart cannot picture a future, your person cannot achieve (or manage) it. Some say, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it”. An older and well-established lawyer friend once told me (along with another colleague), “God works with the picture you have in your mind”. It’s like, when you see far, you give God work to do in bringing it to fulfilment. You however, must not lose the caution of subjecting every thought, dream and aspiration to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to ascertain whether they were of Him in the very first place.

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[1] Habakkuk 2:2; [2] Mike Murdock quotation; [3] Habakkuk 2:2; [4] Proverbs 16:1-3 (with author’s emphasis); [5] Proverbs 3:5-6; [6] Habakkuk 2:3; [7] Jeremiah 29:14 (with author’s emphasis); [8] Proverbs 10:24 (with author’s emphasis); [9] Proverbs 24:13-14; [10] Proverbs 4:18; [11] 1 Corinthians 13:9,12

Photo Credits: www.2writewithpassion.com; photoblog.statesman.com; www.flickr.com; blog.writeyourvision.org; projectmicah.blogspot.com

Guest Post: Purpose, Calling & Dreams by Bolaji Olawoye

By Olawoye Bolaji

Perhaps you have for a long time held the notion that your Future or Assignment (in life) is something God will have to decide on later in your life, and you consider it something very difficult to discover.

The Holy Spirit teaches otherwise! Through David – “…and in your book they were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them”[1]. Through Jeremiah – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born…I ordained you a prophet to the nations”[2]. Through Paul – “…God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace.”[3] Joseph also had dreams of a future right from when he was little.[4] The bottom line is, every one was created to fulfil a purpose and that purpose does not show-up in life (or occur by happenstance) but was implanted before birth! “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom he foreknew, He also predestined…whom He predestined, these He also called…”[5] The mustard seed carries within it instructions on how to become a mighty mustard tree, so do you!

The process of fulfilling your purpose and calling begins as you gradually discover it. One thing is primary however, and that is the gradual revelation and unfolding by the Holy Spirit as your spirit becomes responsive & attentive to Him. His relationship to you as Mentor (who understands the fullness of your Purpose & Assignment as well as the timing of every event) is important!

You also need to understand the place of your Dreams, Aspirations & Visions.

Dreams, Aspirations & Visions

Dreams & Visions in this context refers to those little ideas and pictures of the future that grow in your mind and spirit over the years. They can also manifest in your night dreams.

Usually, in childhood, we all had childhood desires to be pilots, or doctors or even the president of your country! As we grew older however, God placed other (or even similar) dreams in our maturing minds & hearts to give us a glimpse of the possibilities that lie on His mind.

Some of us have dreams of building a large orphanage or day-care centre; some a vast fashion empire; some an IT corporation. Some have dreams of coordinating an anointed evangelical outreach; some a church; a philanthropic ministry; a teaching ministry or an online 24-hour prayer ministry! God is grooming some woman, greatly anointed with the ministry of healing or worship. Praise God forever more! Notwithstanding, others have dreams of becoming a Professor Emeritus in their field of discipline and a force to reckon with whilst others have a dream of a vast business empire. A friend blew my mind when he shared with me his dream of building an academia comprising primary, secondary & tertiary schools. Some surprisingly will still live a very calm life of a gentle mother or father quietly raising their children as God’s arrows for the next generation.

Sometimes we ask in doubt, “How is it ever possible that you know God’s will & purpose in life?” Paul explains “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard … the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit”[6] via the little dreams that seem so big, unattainable or even ambitious in our own little minds! These dreams (when placed on the filter bed of His Word and under the illuminating laser beam of His Spirit) are usually pointers (or a glimpse) of what is on the Father’s mind for you & for your future.

Through Jeremiah, God explains: “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (or an expected end). Then you will call upon me…and you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart”[7]

These are dreams and aspirations that give full expression to your emotional, psychological, temperamental make-up as well as your spiritual endowment. Though they may not be fully developed at the present, they are worth paying attention to!

What God is trying to do is to give you a reason to run, a problem to solve, an object of planning, a goal, an aim worth achieving, a reason for living and ultimately a life Assignment. He deposits His greatest revelations into your spirit and your mind. Your mind has to participate to get you moving and ultimately bring it to physical fulfillment. God told Abraham, “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land you see I will give to you and your descendants forever.”[8]

At certain times in life, God asks you, “What do you see, son?” Look well with all spiritual foresight and all the creativity of a renewed mind and respond! If you see well, He will tell you what to do next; otherwise, He probably continues His work upon your life and then asks the same question sometimes later.

The Dreams of a Leader

“And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.” (Deuteronomy 28:13, with author’s emphasis)

Sometimes we think it is humility not to want to be the head. It is not! It is disobedience! This is why our minds need to be renewed by God’s word and by the help of the Holy Spirit. Your spiritual specie is head only and not tail. Your humility is not to be induced by unfortunate life circumstances such as “na condition bend crayfish.” Your humility is because of a spiritual nature that remains true in both affluence and abasement.

Get a life and live as God wants you to live. Notwithstanding, leadership comes at a price – obedience.

Clues to the Assignment within

Mike Murdock, in his book, The 3 Most Important Things In Your Life, suggested the following clues to discovering your Assignment:

¨What You Love Most Is A Clue To Your Assignment;
¨What Grieves You Most Is A Clue To What You Are Assigned To Heal;
¨What Angers You Most Is A Clue To What You Are Assigned To Correct; and
¨Your Assignment Is Always The Problem God Has Designed You To Solve For Others.

All these things are just pointers to the details of your God-given physical, psychological, temperamental, emotional and spiritual constitution; a clue to the real design within. It is intended to make you discover in which areas of life God created you to function optimally and maximally. I love to suggest some other clues: What would you do if finances, parental influence, societal conditions and other situations (that might sometimes be limitations) were absent? What would you do for Christ if you had all resources at your disposal? What gifts within you can benefit humankind if you have all the resources needed?

Pursuit and Obsession

You cannot have significant success with something until it actually becomes an obsession. Until your God-given dream becomes an obsession, something that daily preoccupies your mind, something you build towards daily; you will not make significant headway with it!

The Pursuit of the Dream

Mike Murdock also wrote, “The Proof Of Desire Is Pursuit” and “You Really Have No Right To Anything You Have Not Pursued”.

The entire Kingdom of God is all about Pursuit – of His Nature, of His Power, of His Presence, of His Wisdom, of His Principles, of His Truth. The Kingdom requires violence[9]…taking the grace made available to you and breaking loose from the enslaving clutches of sin, of which Jesus had made you free!

Listen to Wisdom: uncommon men & women are few! You wonder why? – It is because God made it so! “IT IS THE GLORY OF GOD TO CONCEAL A MATTER, BUT THE GLORY (OR HONOUR) OF KINGS IS TO SEARCH OUT A MATTER”[10]

Break loose from mediocrity, live the privileged life God is giving you.

The Pursuit of the Mentor

The same man of God wrote, “An Uncommon Future Requires Uncommon Preparation” and “An Uncommon Dream Will Require An Uncommon Mentor”.

A mentor is one who has been equipped and enabled by the Holy Spirit (your primary Mentor) to equip you for a future assignment or responsibility. Mentorship is simply Wisdom without the stress of learning by Experience! You increase in Wisdom via mentors or mistakes (or both). A mentor stands fit to equip you via his/her words, character/lifestyle & teachings. You are the Protégé; the one who needs what is in the heart of the Mentor.

Don’t get me wrong! This is not about following-after or glorifying man. A Mentor is not necessarily someone you should be like! It is just that he/she carries a contactable anointing that you know you require in your life. I personally have a number of mentors, some on my major spiritual calling & Assignment; others on God’s Principles of Fruitfulness & Financial Prosperity and still others on the believer’s Faith and Authority. Notwithstanding, the daily School of the Holy Spirit is the greatest mentorship programme I have and continually partake of.

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[1] Psalms 139:16; [2] Jeremiah 1:5; [3] Galatians 1:15; [4] Genesis 37:5-10; [5] Romans 8:29-30 (with author’s emphasis); [6] 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (with author’s emphasis); [7] Jeremiah 29:11-13 (with author’s emphasis); [8] Genesis 13:14-15 (with author’s emphasis); [9] Matthew 11:12; [10] Proverbs 25:2 (with author’s emphasis)