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CrystalQuest Adventures

…towards equipping the total man!

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Better late than never!

As a child who grew up attending Sunday School classes, the mention of the name Samson, even without reading the Bible would instantly remind you of that story you must have heard countless times about that great man who lost it all on the laps of a Delilah. A man that failed to fulfill God’s purpose for his life. But I once stumbled on a portion of Hebrews 11 that made me revisit the story and re-examine his life with a much more open mind and a broader perspective of the overall picture of Samson.

Judges 13, 14, 15 and 16 tells the overall summary of Samson’s life. His chequered story is a classic tale of exuberance, moral weakness, reckless pride and last minute redemption. He was born as a result of God’s plan to rescue Israel from the Philistines. He was given enormous physical strength and had tremendous potential but inspite of his brilliant credentials, he wasted his strength on practical jokes, getting in and out of fights and eventually gave it all up to satisfy a woman. Yes! Samson wasted his life but how did this so called waster of destiny ended up in the Hebrews 11 faith’s hall of fame?

I realized that inspite of his many mistakes, pride (Judges 15:16) and willful disobedience, Samson’s heart turned to the Lord while imprisoned by the same Philistines he was meant to deliver Israel from. He was humbled. He prayed to God—a first—and God answered. Samson finally recognized his dependence on God in the end and when he died, God turned his failures and defeats into victory even though he had to pay with his life.

One vital lesson is that, however badly we may have failed God in the past, it is never too late to start over. God’s mercy never fails. Ever faithful, ever sure. Samson returned to God at the very end of his life and was counted victory for him. He was listed in Hebrews 11:32-40 among those who “through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice (evidenced by Judges 15:20), and gained what was promised… whose weakness was turned to strength.” For a man who seems to have missed it, that for sure is a resounding eulogy!

Sell something!

God has created each and everyone of us with unique abilities and gifts and you can not make impact in life if you can not sell them. Your visions, ideas, talents and skills will translate to nothing if you can not properly harness and market them. Making impact is simply trying to identify specific need(s) and meeting them with specific products and/or services. Selling is trying to persuade someone to enjoy your solution to such needs. Whether you realize it or not, everyone is in the business of selling and those that make the greatest impact are usually those that did not just discover and advance their talents and abilities early in life but also develop and deliberately work at increasing their selling capabilities.

Selling affects all areas of our lives. As we grow older and strive to fulfill destiny, we consciously and/or unconsciously reflect our values, attitudes, behaviours, dreams, ideas, products and services in our relationships, careers, finances etc. We can either proactively carve and create outstanding brands out of ourselves and what we are about or reactively go with the tide and be tossed around by the winds of life. Those who want to leave their footprints on the sands of time will do well to adopt the best of life’s survival strategies and thrive exceedingly.

Learning how to learn is one sure strategy for survival especially because man is a product of his ‘head’ and his ‘heart’ and feeding both with life changing, impact making principles will require a deliberate love for learning. Learning broadens your understanding and increases your knowledge and then comes wisdom to navigate life’s murky waters and make great impact. Selling is a skill that can be learnt and your love for learning will definitely be a big booster to acquiring time-tested selling skills.

Passion and curiosity are also key elements to thriving in life. An inquisitive mind will strive for answers and in its quest become wiser. The wiser you become, the easier for you to sell yourself. Passion will help you remain dogged. You will never give up on what you are passionate about. Curiosity will drive you to seek and passion will sustain and strengthen you till you break even and eventually explode.

When Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said ”you will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read”, he was basically emphasizing how the books you read and your ability to network can make or mar you in life. As you read and expand your knowledge base, you also need to master the art of meeting people and networking as this will enable you to leverage other people’s strenghts and capitalize on their experiences. How well you relate and sell yourself to people will go a long way in determining how far you will go in life. When you are honest, caring and authentic, people will love you and embrace your message. You will become a big influence and make so much impact that even your finances will be better for it. Be deliberate about life and do not sell yourself short!

God’s got it all in control!

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I was on my way to church this morning when my car broke down. I was about to negotiate a bend when one of my front tyres stepped on a sharp pebble that I did not even realize was there and ‘boom’, there goes my tyre! While I was waiting for it to be fixed, I reflected on how puzzling life can actually be especially because the first thought that came to my mind was how God would allow this to happen on my way to church. The same reason people always wonder why bad things happen to good people. As I kept turning it all in my mind, I recalled Psalm 23:4 [Even though I walk through the (sunless) valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod (to protect) and Your staff (to guide), they comfort and console me. AMP] and then it hit me! God has a way of making all things work together for our good [Romans 8:28]. HE never sleeps nor slumbers, even in the midst of our adversities. Like the shepherd’s rod that was meant to chastise the sheep when they want to stray, there is the deliberate underlying protection the rod provides. The seeming rebuke is more like a safety measure that keeps them from harm. And then again the shepherd’s staff is always there to guide and direct the sheep.

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In the midst of life’s overwhelming turbulence, God’s rod (protection) and staff (guidance) would always be a sure source of comfort and direction. Serious challenges of life and even little hitches like my tyre issue can actually be God’s preventive or safety measures for the overall good of His children. God often uses the foolish things of this world to show His mighty works [1Corinthians 1:27]. That is why He commanded us to give thanks in all situations [1Thessalonians 5:18] as that seemingly terrible circumstance might be His help in progress and would eventually be something to really be grateful for. If you are still in doubt, ask Joseph in Genesis 41 about the 24hours miracle of repositioning from the prison to the palace or read the entire chapters (just 4 of them!) of the book of Ruth and you will be amazed about how God can use the direst of situations to achieve His redemptive plan for mankind. God is perfect in all ways and really know how to make music out of broken chords. Your situation can never be beyond Him, just cast it all on Him and with a heart of gratitude, be confident that it will end in praise. God’s got it all in control! He is God over all!!

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The good thing about midlife crisis!

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I think the ”crisis” in midlife crisis is what gave it the negative ring oftentimes associated with it. The definition itself does not even help matters. Midlife crisis simply put is a loss of self confidence and feeling of anxiety or disappointment that can occur in early middle age. It is a period of life often characterized by a deep sense of confusion arising from an oftentimes unconscious re-evaluation of one’s life. It is a period when you start to have more questions than answers especially hard ones like ”is this all there is to life? Why am I doing this? What about what I need? Who am I? What is the real point of me? Why put my life off any longer?” As we grow older, things often do not turn out as nicely as we planned. We may not climb up the career ladder as quickly as we wished. Or we do, only to find out that prestige and a high income are not as satisfying as we expected them to be. At the same time, high expectations about the future adjust downwards. Midlife essentially becomes a time of double misery, made up of disappointments and evaporating aspirations. Many could even be obsessed with their own mortality as the realization that time is ticking could lead to depression. Paradoxically, those who objectively have the least reason to complain (e.g. if they have a desirable job) often suffer most. They feel ungrateful and disappointed with themselves particularly because their discontent seems so unjustified. This is often because of the fact that most of them forgot to enjoy the ride on their way up, clinging to the illusion of ”I will have it all when I get there” only to get there and realized the fun is actually in the process of getting to the top. What a wasted life!

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As much as one might want to see midlife crisis as a psychological issue (especially going by the tendencies of those going through it to exhibit certain irrational behaviours such as drastic changes in habits, mood swings, and impulsive decision-making, obsession with appearances etc), there is also the need to realize that it can also be used as a springboard to rediscovering oneself, redefining one’s goals and charting a fresh course towards fulfilling destiny, if properly harnessed. Once you are able to honestly acknowledge and evaluate where you are coming from with or without the help of someone (that may at least help you see your blessings and rid you of that feeling of discontent), you can actually through determination and diligence strive towards getting to where you desire to be and you never can tell, you just might get there!

Making certain changes and taking some decisions early in life may prevent one from having a midlife crisis. When your life is driven by a strong sense of purpose, you become passionate about your dreams and pursuing your goals become fun. People who spend their lives dedicated to fulfilling their aspirations and objectives are less likely to have midlife crisis; growing older is easier for them. Knowing their purpose in life gives them stability. Whatever challenges life throws at them, their passion for what they do keeps them going against all odds. People who changed jobs or take on new challenges before their midlife years had a greater sense of generativity when they reached midlife. They find fulfilment in trying to give back to the society that nurtures them and take pleasure in contributing their own quota towards making the world a better place. For the ”late bloomers” that realized they have missed it and rediscovered purpose in the second half of their lives or those that all of a sudden are not so sure their purpose is actually worthwhile, all hope is not lost. You should first be grateful that you are alive and rather than indulge yourself in the excesses of a full blown midlife crisis, you can actually restrategize and start with what you have. Use new thoughts and ideas to create new goals in a positive way, move outside your comfort zones and seek help if need be. It is better late than never! For the vast majority of us reading this that are not even anywhere near our midlife yet, this is a wake up call that we need to buckle up, do some serious soulsearching and get passionate about why we are here, and for those on the path already, stepping up your game would not be a bad idea at all. A purpose driven, diligent life will definitely have fewer regrets than going through life on autopilot. The autopilot life will inevitably suffer midlife crisis and the second half will most likely be rocky.

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Why you must cultivate a reading culture!

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Success is not just about innate ability. It is combined with a number of key factors such as opportunity, meaningful hard work and your cultural legacy. Random factors of chance, such as when and where you were born can influence the opportunities you have (as asserted by Malcolm Gladwell in his classic book ”Outliers”) in life. How well you succeed and the quality of life you lived will be determined by how you take advantage of the opportunities life presents to you and this in turn is greatly dependent on the kind of ”stuff” you are made of. This so called ”stuff” is simply the sum of your physical, social, emotional and mental well being and if there is one potent means of developing yourself, it is by taking advantage of the ever present wisdom of those who had gone ahead of us and had garnered vital lessons on how to navigate life’s troubled waters. I tell you what, much of these wisdom are very much available in books.

When was the last time you read a book, or a substantial magazine article? Do your daily reading habits center around tweets, Facebook updates, or the directions on your instant food packet? There is a reading genre for every literate person on the planet. Whatever your taste or preference, there is something out there to capture your curiosity and imagination and knowing them would sure make a better you. If you are one of countless people who do not make a habit of reading regularly, you are missing a great deal on a significant number of benefits. Some of those benefits are listed below:

1. Knowledge – Reading is one fantastic way of filling your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. Even if all you read is fiction, you can learn quite a lot about cultural influence, relationships, history, fear, human psychology, the various expressions of spirituality, the effects of war and so on. Branch out into non-fiction, Biographies, history etc and you will learn more about past and current events. Study Philosophy, Psychology, How-to books. Memoirs, Science, Exploration etc and watch your knowledge base broadens. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to tackle life’s challenges and position yourself for greater tomorrow.

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2. Improved writing and speaking skills – Reading published well-written works has a noted effect on one’s own writing, as observing the cadence, fluidity, and writing styles of other authors will invariably influence your own work. Reading is the most painless way to improve your vocabulary, spelling, and grammatical proficiency: the more you read, the more words you gain exposure to and consequently the more articulate and well-spoken you become. Reading is also vital for learning new languages, as non-native speakers gain exposure to words used in context, which will greatly enhance their own speaking and writing fluency.

3. Mental stimulation – Keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power. Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, so the phrase “use it or lose it” is particularly apt when it comes to your mind. Reading stretches your mind and have also been found to be helpful with cognitive stimulation.

4. Stronger analytical thinking skills – As you fill your mind with fresh materials from all these books, you become more creative. Creativity is really all about making connections. The creative people in life have a broad database of knowledge and they can make those connections really well. They do not bother keeping the categories separate. They let poetry seep into science. They let faith and history hang out together. They understand, in fact, that all those categorizations are imposed. We put labels on things so that we can feel like we understand them, but sometimes the labels are counterproductive. Reading helps you to fill your mind from as many sources as you want, and then let all of that beautiful stuff mingle and mix in anyway it wants. Have you ever read an amazing mystery novel, and solved the mystery yourself before finishing the book? If so, you were able to put critical and analytical thinking to work by taking note of all the details provided and sorting them out to determine the end game. That same ability to analyze details also comes in handy when it comes to critiquing the plot; determining whether it was a well articulated piece. Should you ever have an opportunity to discuss the book with others, you will be able to state your opinions clearly, as you have taken the time to really consider all the aspects involved. That is how reading nurtures your creativity.

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5. Improved focus and memory – Apart from being able to nurture your creativity, when you read, you have to remember an assortment of characters, their backgrounds, ambitions, history, and nuances, as well as the various arcs and sub-plots that weave their way through every story. Amazingly enough, every new memory you create forges new synapses (brain pathways) and strengthens existing ones, which enhances memory recall as well as improving focus and stabilizing moods.

6. Stress reduction – No matter how much stress you have at work, in your personal relationships, or countless other issues faced in daily life, it all just slips away when you lose yourself in a great book. A well-written novel can transport you to other realms, while an engaging article will distract you and keep you in the present moment, letting tensions drain away and allowing you to relax. In addition to the relaxation that accompanies reading a good book, it is possible that the subject you read about can bring about immense inner peace and tranquility. Reading spiritual texts can lower blood pressure and bring about an immense sense of calm, while reading self-help books has been shown to help people suffering from certain mood disorders and mild mental illnesses.

Reading is truly an essential activity with many benefits. Next time you find yourself with nothing to do, try picking up an interesting book, open your mind and let your imagination run free!

The ‘indomie’ generation!

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My thoughts have been on a roller coaster ride lately. I have a job that requires me talk to and extract information from seemingly ordinary day to day conversations with clients and I must confess it’s been quite an experience. My burden actually stem from the realization of how much our generation seems to lack in terms of depth and wisdom. We have so majored on the minor things of life and our ignorance is quite astonishing. As much as there will always be exceptions, the vast majority of us are kind of guilty as charged.

Ours is a generation I lack the right words to adequately describe. A generation that sees pain as a curse and refuses to come to terms with “no pain, no gain”. We have the best of resources and still could not accomplish much. We claimed to be smart and despise hardwork, yet lack the depth and wisdom to even steer our own lives aright. Our role models are footballers and weird looking, morally bankrupt musicians. We adore and talk about them with so much passion that even Albert Einstein would go green with envy if he realizes how much Lionel Messi earns in a year and how much we idolize him. Check out the crowd at a typical newspaper stand and you will be shocked that over eighty percent of them have come to check out the sport pages. Only a handful would bother to read the news or try to keep abreast of current events and happenings around the world. I always wonder how we will care for our offspring when we lack the rudiments of parenting. Here is a generation that’s just too busy to learn. A bunch of workaholics with very lazy minds. Always in a hurry to take it all in and thus fail to perfect competence in what truly matters. A Jack of all trade generation that is so delighted in instant gratification and taking the fastest means available. Ask an average youth how many books he read last year and his response would probably be “when I have not even finished studying what I’ve been taught at school, where is the time to read books that has no direct relevance with my course of study?”

The decadence seems to have taken a toll on our morals too as that in itself has degenerated so much especially lately. How else do you explain the fact that chastity seems to have lost it pride? It doesn’t matter what kind of life you live for as long as you have some material possessions to show for it. Who cares about a good name when the society itself relates with you on the basis of how heavy your pocket is? Whether it’s ill gotten or ritual money, as long as it pays the bills and support your ostentatious lifestyle, “na you dey reign”. Leadership is never on the basis of competence but on nepotism or who spends the most cash. I often wonder how we expect progress especially in our so called third world countries when all we care about is our individual welfare and that alone. An average youth just want to get there and ‘make it’ by hook or crook because leadership is no longer about service but an avenue to siphon public wealth into private pockets. The proliferation of junk and instant, oftentimes over processed foods is another testament to how much this generation seems to love shortcuts and truth be told, it’s already telling on our health and vitality.

The rate of deterioration and its attendant consequences are indications that we continue to ignore the red flags at our own peril. We need to retrace our steps and go back to the basics. Values like hardwork, diligence, honesty and selflessness need to find their way back into our systems. Total character reformation and reorientation to set our moral compasses aright. Integrity and the fear of God should always drive our motives and dealings because our love for God and for each other is what really matters if we truly want to chart a fresh course towards greatness. With our minds made up and hands on the plough, we can make it happen!

New year reflections!

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It’s the last day of the year and there I was on my bed in the early hours pondering on my 2014 in readiness for the incoming year. I recalled how events of the past years have kind of shaped who I am now and how faithful God has really been all the way. As I mentally anticipate and prepare for the incoming year, I thought of the fact that mankind’s search for true and lasting happiness has been the pivot of all ambitions and struggles.

I remembered a blog post by Patrick Morley rightly pointed it out that regardless of our age, size, race or wisdom, we’re all trying to solve one or more of these 7 cardinal problems of life…
1. Why do I feel so alone?
2. Does God care about me personally?
3. What is the purpose of my life – it feels random?
4. How can I conquer these destructive behaviours dragging me down?
5. How can I feed my soul?
6. How can I make my relationships more healthy?
7. How can I make a difference and leave the world a better place?

I’m sure we all can add to this list but whether you live in Texas or Tokyo, Lagos or Khartoum, we’re all asking these same questions. Regardless of the intelligence, wisdom, wealth, education, ethnicity or eloquence, we’re all trying to solve the same problems. That’s because christianity and secularism are not trying to solve different problems. They are only trying to solve the same problems in different ways.

Christianity frequently explains why life is so hard and what to do about it but the problem is that every other worldviews, philosophy and religion also promises the same thing. And really, the good ones actually work sometimes for as long as 30 or 40 years. But all worldviews other than christianity eventually fail frequently at the worst possible moment and often after you have given it the best years of your life.

As the year draws to a close, consider using these questions for a time of reflection, self examination and new year’s course corrections. Don’t ever make that mistake of replacing the truth with mammon. God has given His only begotten son to save us from eternal damnation (John 3:16). Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). The only way to live in lasting peace and still enjoy eternity is to make Christ the centre of our lives! Welcome to 2015. You will succeed!

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