LESSON 21: TEMPTATION IS NOT SIN!

And this final post is specifically for fellow believers out there. There’s so much struggle with the flesh on a daily basis. Truth be told, we desire to live right, to serve and please God  wholeheartedly. But our shortcomings can be so overwhelming. There are days when we feel we’ve gotten our “spirituality” right, only for us to slip into some unexpected sin. The Goodnews is that God isn’t done with us yet. And where sin abounds, grace abounds even more! (Romans 5:20)

So let’s talk about temptations. According to James 1:14, A Temptation is a trap while falling into it is sin. The Goodnews is that, even Christ himself was tempted in every way like we are, yet knew no sin (Hebrews 4:15).

   

Temptations come in various sizes and shapes, and present at every passing moment. From the temptation to yell at someone who has stepped on our toes, to the temptation to act selfishly while dealing with others, and the temptation to conform to all sorts of ungodly lifestyles. Temptations are for real. No wonder Jesus prayed “Lead us not into Temptation…” (Matthew 6:13)
The problem of the believer is not the temptation he faces, but the lack of resistance to overcome it. We are easily enticed by sin because we are not yet rooted and grounded in God’s word. While some of us know a few scriptures offhand, we still can’t readily discern when the spirit of God is leading us. We must continue to walk steadfastly on the path of righteousness, with all sobriety and sincerity. And God is able to make his grace abound towards us (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Believers must  be careful about setting conducive environments for temptations to thrive. Like I shared with a friend recently, if I were to add an 11th commandment, it would read: “THOU SHALL NOT TEMPT THE TEMPTER.” You don’t place some sugar in an open bowl and expect sugar ants not to visit.

We are to guard our mindspace (heart) with all diligence. We should closely monitor whatever goes in/out. There’s the kind of music that promotes lust. The same goes for movies, books etc It’s in our best interests to avoid them. Feed on anything that promotes your love for God on a daily basis. The WORD is always a go to. (Psalm 119:11) 

It’s also reasonable to ask that we associate with fellow believers. People of like-minds. That is, not just those who are called Christians, but those who are as determined as we are, to live for Christ here on earth and reign with him in eternity. 

Temptation is not SIN, but an opportunity to commit it. SIN is always a choice the believer  can choose not to make. 

Above all, the Christian walk is a walk of faith. Without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

*******

PS: Thanks to everyone who read/liked/commented on, any of the posts for this challenge (DEAR 2016: 21 LESSONS!). I really appreciate the feedbacks and encouragement. I sincerely hope each of you picked up a lesson or more. Please endeavor to apply what you have learnt as soon as you can. It’s not enough for us to know the right things, we can only profit by doing them.

Till next time😊☺️😊☺️

Have an Amazing 2016!!!

Cheers,

:::requ1ne:::

Advertisements

LESSON 20: BE DELIBERATE! 

It’s easy to fit in. To flow with the crowd. To have that sense of belonging. To laugh with the others. To be a part of their world. 

It’s lonely to standout. To flow against the tide. To have no sense of belonging. To have no one to laugh with. To be lost in your own world.

  
***

I was the atypical child, alone in my corner, in a world of many fantasies;

I was the atypical teen, weird in my thoughts, naive in my actions;

I’m the atypical woman, difficult to understand, no where to fit in.

I have never been popular, and hardly ever seen or heard of.

I tried to be like her, like the pretty girl just next door..

I was shooed off the stage, no one wanted to hear me sing,

Then I knew, I would never belong to that crowd..

So I took my pen and the thoughts began to flow..

Today I write, lending my voice to the entire world, 

My contribution is but a tiny drop in the mighty ocean. 

I’m content with being different. I’m glad I cannot fit in.

Who I am, is who I was. And who I was, is who I will continue to be. 

***

There’s no use trying to lose yourself in order to gain the acceptance or approval of others. There’s nobody more ORIGINAL than you are. God created you unique. To be DISTINCT, you have to be DELIBERATE.  Be deliberate about how you live, your thoughts, words, actions and habits all matter. Make every minute of your day count. 

Sometimes it will be hard, most times it will be lonely. But to make a difference, you have to stand apart. It’s good to connect but you don’t have to conform. You were made to STANDOUT, You were born to FLY! Don’t allow anyone tell you otherwise. 

This year as you discover your uniqueness, remember this: YOUR POTENTIAL IS IRRELEVANT, UNTIL IT BECOMES A CONTRIBUTION TO THE SOCIETY

Cheers,

:::requ1ne:::

LESSSON 19: MUSIC IS THERAPEUTIC!

Have you ever met a music-lover? Or are you one? I mean the type of people who have headphones in their ears every other time when they are not having a conversation. Some of these people literally breath, eat and drink music. To them life isn’t complete without it. They know the latest songs in their favorite music genres. They have favorite artistes and keep discovering new ones. Their world entirely centers around music. A fellow blogger Omooba, who is such an example, claims she has a 1000+ songs on her Playlist. I was Amazed. Until recently, I didn’t even realize my phone had default playlists: recently played, most played, favorite tracks and recently added. The discovery has further piqued my interest in music.

There’s this friend of mine who likes to have his playlist on repeat all-day as long as he is indoors. No matter what he is doing, there is music likely being played at the background. And he likes to sing along too. At first, I used to be like what? Can’t we have some quietness in this place? I mean I’m someone that can actually live with absolute silence. No Tv, No Music, No Talking, Nothing. And No, I don’t find it boring. Infact, I find noise typically distracting. That’s why it’s rare for me to have the Tv/Radio on without sitting to watch/listen. Some folks claim they like some background noise especially when they are at home alone. Well, I love my beautiful moments of quiteness. They give me the time/space to think/reflect, which I do a lot.

In the last few months though, my interest in music has escalated. From being the occasional music-playing-type whenever the desire arises, I’m fast becoming a music freak. Yes to music in the shower; Yes to music during my laundry/chores; Yes to music while walking on the street; Yes to music in the bus; Yes to music as I go to sleep; Yes to music, anytime and anywhere! And I’m loving the experience. Music is BEAUTIFUL. Ofcourse as a lover of God, I stick to Christian music, because I believe what I choose to listen to should both edify my mind and glorify God. Thanks to YouTube, I can easily find lyrics to lots and lots of worship songs. Well let’s just say that friend of mine, has largely influenced my current taste of music, especially indigenous ones. Yeah, some Naija Gospel artistes are on point: #ChrisDelvan, #ChrisMorgan, #NathanielBassey…to mention a few.

Music is therapeutic for the soul, it frees the cluttered mind. Like writing, it can be used to cure both the mind’s excitement and depression. Unlike writing however, even a person with the crudest skills can produce some form of music. No formal training is required to learn simple music. 

Music is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind. It’s a common language that cuts across all tribes, nations and people. And it cuts through any situation too, celebration, war, famine, life or death.

What Food is to the human body, Music is to the human soul. Songs are powerful seeds to feed your soul with. You can tell the kind of person someone is, just by the kind of songs the person chooses to listen to. The world we now live in thrives on that knowledge; and to our disadvantage, has captured the minds of many, especially younger folks, with all sorts of volatile music. These days, most songs contain explicit sexual and obscene words. Rather than edify, they promote promiscuity, rebellion and violence. Just like poisonous food is toxic to the physical health, so is unwholesome music toxic to the mental health. Beware of what you listen to!

This year, I hope you too can cultivate the habit of listening to music more often, especially soul lifting, spirit-filled and inspiring ones. Like the scripture says “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry, let him sing psalms.” (James 5:13). Thankfully, Christian music covers both aspects.

Let there be a song on your lips each morning as the sun rises, and by evening as the sun sets. 10,000 Reasons (Matt Redman) is a good place to start. Enjoy!

Cheers,

:::requ1ne:::

LESSON 18: ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING!

Tonight I write on perhaps my most favorite topic of all times. Since reading Keith Harrell’s book, ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING early last year, my life has experienced a major turn-around. I’ve read quite a number of books, but this one in particular remains remarkable and I’d gladly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it. Though I’m yet to make use of all the lessons I picked from the book, if given the chance I will read it all over, maybe 2 or more times. Thanks to the author, I now know that how I do what I do is more important than what I do, and how I respond to what happens to me is more important than what happens to me.  

As a believer this is of significant importance, since my thoughts/words/actions should be as guided by the Holyspirit. With my current understanding, I am more conscious of his role in my life. I’m learning to deliberately act rather than react to anything that life throws my way. And I’m learning to choose my thoughts and words carefully especially in line with the scriptures. I must confess however that this hasn’t been a smooth journey, but thankfully I’m not where I was when it started.

  

  

 

So I used to be naturally pessimistic. I was more concerned that things would likely not work out. Then I used to think “what if this fails?” and come up with possible negative scenarios. Praise God! Those days are long gone. Now I deliberately condition my mind to think “what if this succeeds?” After sometime I discovered that failure was no longer a threat to me. With the right attitude, I now see failure as an opportunity to even succeed better. 

I believe that applying the right attitude to every area of our lives will give rise to more buoyant daily experiences for us. Our Attitudes reflect in our actions, and our actions are a product of our thoughts. And ofcourse these thoughts arise from whatever we allow our minds to be exposed to. That’s why the importance of God’s WORD in the heart of a believer, cannot be taken lightly. In a nutshell, when our thoughts are moulded into a particular kind of mindset (belief), we have established a perspective, that is, the way we look at some things. Our perspectives form the basis for our Attitudes. 

Take for instance, a certain person who believes that every woman’s primary responsibility is to give birth to children, prepare meals and take care of the home. Such a person would generally look at women that way, including the Queen of England, and perhaps question campaigns for Girl-child education, Gender Equality and Women empowerment. If the person happens to work for a female boss, this attitude may affect their relationship too.

This year, we must learn to cultivate the right attitude in everything we do. In the workplace, Diligence is an Attitude, Excellence is also an Attitude. In our relationships, Selflessness is an Attitude, Giving is an Attitude and so is Humility. As we fellowship with God, we must realize that Worship is an Attitude. No wonder the scripture says those who worship him must do so in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Then Gratitude is an Attitude as well. The list is endless. Attitude is a choice. If we can take time to evaluate our thoughts, we can determine what positive attitudes to build/keep. 

Attitude is EVERYTHING! 

PS: You can also read this related Post I wrote early last year.

Cheers,

:::requ1ne:::

LESSON 17: YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS! 

I used to hate stress and anything closely related, until last year when I realized that stress wasn’t always a bad thing. As a matter of fact there is something called Eustress, which is positive/beneficial stress. And on the other hand, there is Distress which is negative/non-beneficial stress. The latter is what many of us are familiar with. The problem itself is not the stress, but how we handle it. 

 
Every healthy individual requires a moderate dose of stress to function efficiently. And this cuts across physical, psychological and mental aspects. There’s a need to burn a few calories daily by putting the joints and muscles to work. This way the body’s metabolic processes are regulated. That’s one of the reasons why exercises are highly recommended. The mind, and the brain at large, also need some daily stimulation to think, analyse and solve issues, to prevent apathy

I recall a friend who at one time was like he couldn’t have imagined me being in medical school, with the stress and all. And his concerns were genuine. Anyone can imagine how intricately stressful medical school is. Everyone who knew me as a child would agree that I was the delicate type. I generally avoided anything that would take me out of my comfort zone, no matter how appealing it looked. I imagine myself to be an egg, taking care to avoid the slightest scratch or crack on my shell. But here I am, I’m not only tougher, I’m also stronger.

Last year in particular was a moulding period for me. I learnt a lot of HARD things, the HARD way! From learning to live by delayed gratification, to coping under pressure both physically and emotionally, to holding on to God’s promises and exhibiting a new level of Courage when the occasion demanded. 

Though it was stressful and not an easy experience, yet it was AMAZING. So much was learnt and accomplished. God was my personal TRAINER, he worked on shaping my thoughts, attitude and character, in alignment with his WILL. I began to refer to him as THE HARD-WAY TEACHER!  And he still is. 

Now that I know the importance of stress, I embrace it holistically. I’ve found channels to ease the tension whenever it seems overwhelming– Music, Writing & Exercise work well! 

I know and I tell myself that, I can do ALL things (including the HARD ones) through Christ who gives me strength- Philippians 4:13, paraphrased.

I hope you too can take hold of this truth this YEAR. No matter how tiring/trying your experience is, be reminded that YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS!  

Cheers,

:::requ1ne:::

LESSON 16: NOT EVERYONE WILL BELIEVE IN YOU.

When it comes down to it, it’s useless to expect that everyone will cheer you on in life. Some people will not just give their support, no matter what you do. Period. 

While a number of people are downright haters (permit the use of that term) and always have malicious intentions towards you, others are sincere and their reservations are genuine. Of the latter, there are some people who just don’t think you can. To them you don’t have the right combination of background, talents, skills, personality and intelligence. They can see you fail through even before you start. Now if only your goals are a bit more realistic, they would readily give their support. You’ll hear statements like, “oh she’s pretty good at dancing but I don’t see her making a career in acting.”

Some other people lack the faith to see you reach out for those extraordinary goals you’ve set; they wonder why you are not comfortable with getting to a particular level, especially one that appears reasonable to them. Others will even pick offence at you for daring to dream big, they just think you lack contentment. Afterall, they say, not many people can even boast of this degree or that career, what else do you want in life?

The truth is, not everyone will believe in you and that’s fine. Just because others can’t see what you can see, doesn’t mean you should stop seeing it. No one can picture the future you want better than you. That they are your friends, teachers or family members, does not make them indispensable to your future. You must learn to chart your own course, because ultimately you will have to live in it.

There have been stories of parents who put their kids on a particular course, and after some time, those kids end up doing something entirely different. For example, some parents wanted their daughter to become a lawyer, so they invested diligently in her education upto law school. On getting there however, the young lady discovered her love for photography and pursued it immediately after graduating. Fortunately her parents were smart enough to give their support, even though some concerned friends advised them otherwise. Today, she’s very successful doing what she is passionate about. And her parents are proud of her achievements as well.

Although you need people’s support to succeed in any given venture, you don’t need everybody’s opinion. When you align yourself with the direction God is leading you to, he will raise HELPERS along the way. In your pursuit of success however, don’t focus on proving your doubters wrong. When your success is evident, you don’t have to gloat or boast about it, instead give God thanks. “So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” (Romans 9:16)

This year, dare to DREAM BIG even if No one believes in you.

Cheers,

:::requ1ne:::

LESSON 15: MISHAPS ARE NOT FATAL!

Have you ever had an experience that felt like a total disaster? I’m referring to those random occurrences that interfere with your otherwise well-laid-out plans for a very pleasant day. For instance getting your favorite shirt burnt on a Monday morning, or losing your treasured bracelet at a Christmas Outing; What about getting completely soaked from a downpour after a long, hard and tiring day at work?  These things happen and they suck!

Like that day last year, when my external hard drive accidentally dropped to the floor while trying to get some materials into it, and that was the END of it. I honestly wanted to crash along too. I mean there was SO MUCH STUFF in that device that I treasured, lots of study materials inclusive. I had lost my laptop to theft the previous year, and that disk happened to contain a number of my archives. And just in the fraction of a second it was gone too. “Why God, why? Couldn’t you have prevented the disk from slipping off my hands?” I questioned.

I’ve experienced a few minor, and sometimes significantly terrible events that made me wonder if maybe some unseen agents/forces were sent to frustrate me. I know that sounds far-fetched but it’s a Nigerian thing. Whenever there’s an unfortunate occurrence, no matter the likely explanation for it, we prefer to blame the demons. 


Life has a way of surprising us at the most unexpected moments with events that can frustrate our plans. There are situations that will shake you but you mustn’t allow them to crush you. There will be floods of disappointments and discouragements, but you shouldn’t let the waves swallow you. When you are hit by a sudden random misfortune, don’t sit wallowing in self-pity. Sometimes, these things just happen for whatever reason. We can however take pleasure in knowing that nothing happens to God’s children by mistake. Eventually, God allows his plans and will to come to pass through our situations. The requirement is for us to TRUST him completely.

He knows. He cares. He sees. He hears. Nothing, no matter how random it seems, takes God by surprise. Be STILL, and know that he is God (Psalm 46:10).

Many times Accidents are what they truly are, Accidents. Don’t take them too personal.

Mishaps are not fatal.

Cheers,

:::requ1ne:::

LESSON 14: CHANGE IS INEVITABLE!

That moment you realize that the people you once knew, are no longer the people you now know. And the things you used to love, are not things you love anymore.” Change!


Change in this context, is a process that can be both painful and exciting. There are healthy and unhealthy concepts that can be applied to change, but we will stick with the former.

It’s what a tree experiences when it sheds its leaves during Autumn; leaving the warmliness of the sunny summer, and looking forward to the loneliness of the cold winter.

It’s what a first-time mother goes through in bringing forth a new life. The pain of childbirth on one hand, and the joys of motherhood on the other.

Change is also what we see during the developmental milestones (cooing, grasping, rolling, sitting, walking etc) of a baby, all through childhood, to the first signs of puberty (menarche, facial & pubic hair growth, deepening of the male voice, female breast development etc) in a teen.

Change is a journey we all must go through and it’s not always an easy one. Some forms of change are drastic (like the sudden loss of a loved one), while others are gradual (like a person going through physical rehabilitation). None of these is however without challenges.

Everyone loves to progress but not everyone likes change. Unfortunately, the former cannot do without the latter. For a caterpillar to become a butterfly, it must learn to fly. Many of us are so comfortable with what is familiar, that the thoughts of anything different can be frightening. Change is however, inevitable.

Like my secondary school friend liked to quote, “if you refuse to change,  you will become (a) change.” In other words, a person who refuses to accept/adapt to change will eventually be discarded.

Year 2015 was a year of change, mostly subtle ones which have contributed to who I am now. I was able to learn that Feelings change, Seasons change, People change, and Situations change. And I made effort to to embrace those changes by adjusting my thoughts/attitudes.

Change is a beautiful adventurous ride. You really don’t know all there is to expect until you are on the other side. But staying in the same spot is not an option either. Sooner or later it would lead to frustration.

Adapting to Change is one of the major keys to not just surviving, but enjoying life. This year, do your best to progress and not regress in the face of Change. Keep moving forward.

Cheers,

:::requ1ne:::

LESSON 13: ASSUMPTIONS CAN BE COSTLY!

-assumption (noun): a thing that is accepted as true or as certain [to happen], without proof. (The Oxford Dictionary).
We live in a world of assumptions. Many ongoing issues are covered by superficial layers of kindness, courtesies, and even political correctness. These days, it’s common for us to mind our own selfish interests, and avoid interfering with whatever is going on around us. At best we smile, hug, and sometimes chat with our neighbors (friends, co-workers, acquaintances), but we are not really keen on knowing how they are faring. We assume all is well, when in reality some of these people are struggling. And to be fair, we too are, but no one is asking. And when they do ask, it’s often due to formality, rather than a sense of genuinity.

We also live in a world of extremism, especially in our ideologies. So we believe anything that is not BLACK is WHITE, and vice-versa. Too many times, we make biased associations and jump into unfounded conclusions based on that. For instance, the black race is typically associated with poverty, ignorance and crime; and for some, even the enlightened ones, the assumption is that every black man carries that STIGMA around. Because of this, embers of racial discrimination and superiority complex are fanned into flames from time to time. 

The problem with assumption is that it usually takes the worse of two opinions. It’s easier to assume that every stranger you meet, is a robber until proven otherwise. And not the other way round. Many times we like to stick with the general knowledge we have about things, places, and people, based on past experiences or stories we’ve heard. This works sometimes, but it’s certainly not the best approach to life. Infact it is a risky one. It’s good to ask questions, and get clear answers too. Like a friend shared, Ignorance is something we all pay for. And it’s on a daily basis. If you are ignorant about sewing for instance, you have to pay a tailor to help you or go to the boutique to buy clothes. Ignorance has many price tags and is not always affordable. 

  

A major reason we favor assumption is that it shields us away from the responsibility of digging deep and knowing the truth about certain things. Sometimes we are afraid of what we’ll find out, that we don’t bother trying. And too often, we sacrifice our consciences/peace of mind on the altar of Assumption. Many relationships have been destroyed and lots of ventures have crashed because of this subtle vice. And we hear/use it alot in our daily conversations:

I assumed you were going to return earlier today.”

“I had an appointment with my dentist.”

“I assumed you would pick up the groceries for the house.”

“I didn’t have enough cash on me.”

“I assumed you knew about the meeting already.”

“Nobody informed me about it.”

 The examples are endless. ASSUMPTIONS can be very costly. Beware of them.

“Sometimes we assume because deep down, we are AFRAID to ask questions.” 

I’ve also learnt that it’s risky to assume everyone knows what you think they should know. This is especially true when you’re in a leadership role. Don’t think all the people on your team know what to do. Sometimes you need to spell things out CLEARLY for them, to avoid unnecessary issues. Moreso, a number of people genuinely don’t know that they have annoying traits or habits, sometimes you need to be BLUNT and tell them, the honest ones will thank you in future. Even in spreading the Gospel, don’t assume everyone you know has heard about it already, keep sharing! 

This year as much as you can, get your facts straight…assume LESS and ask MORE!

Cheers,

:::requ1ne:::

LESSON 12: FEELING BAD IS OFTEN NOT AS BAD AS IT FEELS.

Last November, I wrote this post Transient Feelings. I think y’all should read it.

***

Aside intelligence, our emotions as humans are what set us apart from most Animals. I said most, because a lot of people have argued that some animals are also emotionally-inclined. Like dogs for instance, they have been described as the best non-human companions ever known to man. A dog that has lived around you long enough would probably sense a difference in your moods and react accordingly. Happy dogs are generally seen to wag their tails, while unhappy ones usually appear morose. There are other animals however, like the butterflies, the fishes, the cockroaches and so on, that we can’t readily say whether or not they are capable of having such emotions. 

Human emotion is that part of our nature that is so complex, yet very beautiful. We have the unique ability to feel and express joy, sadness, anger, fear, excitement, disappointment and everything in between, from time to time. A friend once described Emotions as feelings that are always in motion. It is possible to feel good one moment, and seconds apart (at the turn of an event or news), you feel otherwise. Occasionally we experience that neutral state, when we are literally neither happy nor sad, we are just there.

 It becomes awkward when we place too much emphasis on the way we feel. And even worse when we base significant judgements on them. Feelings are just a reflection of our thought-processes, and the interpretations we give to the events that happen to us both internally and externally. The quality of our thoughts often produce the quality of our emotions. The more refined we think, is the more refined we feel.

I have come to understand that I don’t have to feel right, to act right. I can consciously decide the way I feel, by continuously making the right choices.We must realize that we are not a product of our feelings, but a product of the choices we make or do not make. Including the choice to respond to or ignore certain feelings. We might feel wronged, hurt, despised, discouraged or betrayed, at some point or the other, but we mustn’t let those feelings define/control us.

Feelings in themselves are not bad, the problem is when we allow them (especially the negative ones) to take root and become our convictions. Feeling bad is often not as bad as it feels

    
 I used to be have intense “mood swings” as a young girl/teenager, and that wasn’t pretty at all. Sometimes, I’d go on sulking for hours or days, over something of relatively little importance. It affected my relationship with others and also my self-esteem. Thankfully with the help of the Holyspirit, my life has since been transformed. Those who knew me back then, can testify to this change. Although I still have those atypical moments, I’m not controlled by them anymore. 

Now whenever something unpleasant happens, my worst reaction is to feel bad and cry; but I’ve also learnt (and I’m still learning) with God’s help, to let go and move on

***

This year, you don’t have to be limited by the way you feel. You can instead choose to: 

Forgive quickly.

Let go of any Emotional baggage. 

Show Love.

Have Faith. 

Trust God.
Cheers,
:::requ1ne:::