CrystalQuest Adventures

…towards equipping the total man!


Reflections of a God chaser!

The power of gratitude!

I once saw a movie about a man who at the twilight of his life became depressed because of how much he is yet to accomplish and just could not stop regretting not having taken a different turn. An angel appeared to him and in his dream took him on a tour of how his life would have ended if he had actually taken the desired different turn in life. Inspite of the great wealth he would have acquired in the process, going down that seemingly better route would have made him a monster and he would have died a sad and lonely rich man. I am sure you would not be surprised he woke up feeling very grateful and elated, thanking God for who he had become.

I believe that if God could constantly open our eyes to all the unseen battles He had fought on our behalf and all the unseen evil He had overcame for our sakes, we would remain perpetually grateful but our obedience to the 1Thessalonians 5:18’s ”give thanks in all things” instruction is often swayed by our insatiable fleshly desires and never ending life’s anxieties. 1Peter 5:7 and Matthew 11:28-30 are two of several promises assuring us of God’s ever present help and comfort but yet the human chase for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow gets fiercer by the day and gradually draws him away from his maker. Man is so consumed by the next big thing that he perpetually fails to acknowledge and appreciate God for the present. I tell you what ”a busy heart can never be grateful”.

I have met and heard of people who at the tail end of their lives became embittered and lived regret laden depressed lives and I have observed they could placed into two broad categories. The first are those who in the process of ‘getting there’ failed to enjoy the process. They eventually arrived only to realize they have lost so much more on the way and the sudden realization of this irreversible damage fills them with disdain for their accomplishments and steals their joy and peace of mind. They have been so much blinded by their pursuits that they have failed to relish the experience and enjoy the relationships along the way. They can only wish and long for the good old days. The second category are those I always referred to as ‘chronic worriers’. It does not matter how highly placed or blessed they are, they still get unnecessarily bogged down by ‘greener grass’ on the other side. They cannot help but factor the ‘what could have been?’ into every of their equation of life and whatever God has blessed them with often gets overshadowed by one common attribute of theirs which is their penchant for comparison. It does not matter what they have or have achieved, their focus is always on what they do not have or cannot achieve. They are chronic covetous people and covetousness is a sin of the ungrateful.

‘Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what The Lord has done’ are the lyrics of a popular song. The grateful heart is a blessed heart. It is content, takes the focus off man and place it on God. It is humble, God dependent and worry free. A grateful heart is an obedient one and its obedience is an open door for continuous blessings, so be mindful of even the little gifts of life and be grateful. Give thanks to God always and you will be richly blessed.


The realities of staying married!

I recently asked a group of ladies how they can tell if a man is genuinely in love. They came up with all sorts of seemingly plausible answers but for every answer they gave, we all actually agreed that someone with otherwise intentions could do same, act same or even go the extra mile. A man whose only goal is to get into your skirt can ‘form’ God fearing and treat you nicer than you can imagine, the same way a jezebel can actually mask her real motives and earn your trust. The million dollar question then becomes ”how do I know this love is real?” ”How do I determine if he or she is the right man or woman for me?”

This piece is not really about the telltale signs you watch out for in Mr or Mrs Right but rather about the need to prayerfully bank on God to order one’s steps and also realize the real key to marrying right is being right. First within, they say, then without. You cannot give what you do not have. Being right entails understanding the nitty-gritty of what makes us human. Man’s basic survival instinct and inherent self centeredness lies at the root of his imperfections. The best of us are those with sound mastery of self. They also understand that to err is human and are always quick to forgive and let go of negative baggages, so it is easier for them to maximize relationships and make the best use of whatever life throws at them. These understanding guide their outlook on life and also steer them into the marriage union with the proper attitude and expectations.

Marriage is a union between two entirely and uniquely different individuals. Two people with different backgrounds, norms and experiences. I always tell people that if you as an individual sometimes (or occasionally) does things that leaves you personally disappointed in yourself, how is someone that was never and will never be in your shoes understand you one hundred percent. I tell you what, love generally starts as a feeling but genuine love is a decision and that is why it takes a great deal of commitments and dedicated work to reap its bliss. You will bicker, fight and even be hurt but you will for the most part experience heaven on earth if you stay true to your choice and stick together through thick and thin. The worst of times could be ‘wisdom school’ in disguise and the lessons learnt could serve you well and yield wonderful memories in the future.

Being right comes with the wisdom to choose and with God on your side, acknowledging your own imperfections helps you to accommodate your partner’s imperfections too. Your expectations will be more realistic and you will both strive for a win win in all situations. Amos 3:3 [NLT] says ”Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” In the marriage walk, agreeing requires careful deliberations, reaching the necessary compromises and SELFLESS dedication to the well being of each other. Both parties decide to accept each other warts and all. They try to put up with and make up for each other’s shortcomings. They strive towards bringing out the best in each other: maximizing strengths, tolerating weaknesses and changing for the better, every step of the way.

One essentially key ingredient to marital bliss is communication. If your marriage must be heaven on earth, your spouse must be your best friend. Someone you are not scared to show your highest of highs and lowest of lows. Someone that sees and accepts you for whatever you are. Your number one fan and no holds bared critic. When communication is effective, issues are raised, sorted, discussed, resolved and the necessary concessions made as soon as possible. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 [NIV] bares it all. ”Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”

Marriage is when two adults decide to stay committed to each other. Marriage is when they both decide to reflect Christ’s selfless, agape love. When this committed love birthed in proper attitude and expectations meets with enduring understanding and effective communication, they will sure have a good reward for their labour and with the Holy Spirit as their third strand, their cord will not just be solid, their marriage will flourish exceedingly!

The man God uses!

History abounds with broken men used by God to do great exploits. From Moses the deliverer, who went from forty years as a prince of Egypt to forty years as a shepherd and fugitive in the Midian desert to Joseph that was sold into slavery and even became a prisoner before becoming the prime minister of the same Egypt and preserver of generations. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and every hero of faith have all had their individual share of the wilderness experience at different times. Men like Nick Vujicic and Jessica Cox might not be as widely known as the Wigglesworths, the Billy Grahams and the Adeboyes of this world but God is using them mightily to further His kingdom as He is still in the business of using the worst of men to fulfill His best of intentions.

When you consider Nick’s impact even in the face of physical infirmities, Apostle Paul’s exploits inspite of his thorn in the flesh (2Corinthians 12:9) and the signs and wonders God accomplished through Moses regardless of his stuttering, you too can testify that God has a unique way of manifesting in the weaknesses of men and showing Himself mighty and strong. Even the finest of training and skills that would have equipped some of these men to be the finest of leaders and befitting God’s vessels were trashed when God deliberately took them through the wilderness of brokenness and humbled their so-called shinning credentials. These experiences became constant reminders of their frailties and also justify God’s all sufficiency and Him deserving all the glory.

The man God uses has a broken and contrite heart. He has been crucified in Christ and humbled to the point of relying solely on the sufficiency of God. God then perfects His strength in the weaknesses of these humbled ordinary men to accomplish His greater purpose. The Bible declares in Isaiah 40:31 that ”But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” The waiting is usually the hardest part. It is the period where God ‘cooks’ the man. He strips him of his human strengths and skills and teaches him to lean entirely on Him. As vessels in the hands of the Potter, God can then mould the man to fulfill specific intents and purposes on earth.

As I listened to the testimony of Benny Prasad who from being a sickly & depressed child, to attempting suicide at the age of 16, went on to become a world record holder and the world’s most travelled musicianary. I was amazed about how God is in the habit of making music out of broken chords. God uses the lowliest of men; those who had been written off as nobodies, those who had even written off themselves to show forth His power and glory and confound the wisdom of men. But if there is just one thing I have observed that is common to them all, it is usually their willingness of heart. They are always men who are ready to live and die for Christ. They are willing to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes to further God’s kingdom. Everyone, anyone can be used of God. Christ can be glorified in all you think, speak or do if your thoughts, speeches and actions reflect His will on earth and draw men to His kingdom. If God can use the lowliest of men, if He can use Benny, He can sure use me and you. All it takes to be His salt and light of the world is a broken and willing heart and an obedient spirit.

Thoughts are things!

Current trends in neuroscience offers evidence that we can consciously improve our health and well-being by simply changing our thoughts. Discoveries in the 20th century neuroplasticity have demonstrated that the average person has over 60,000 thoughts a day and that the physical reality of our brain has been formed from our past experiences that can be changed based on new inputs. What we think about affects us physically and emotionally. An uncontrolled thought life can create the conditions for all sorts of negative stuff to thrive and the consequence is usually the unproductive kind of, or at best mediocre life. If you get angry on a daily basis. If you get frustrated on a daily basis. If you suffer on a daily basis. If you continue to give reasons for the victimization in your life and harbour all sort of terrible things in your thought life, you are simply re-wiring and re-integrating your brain to accept it as your all time reality: your personal identity.

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]”

Philippians 4:8 (the amplified version quoted above) is a guide to consciously control your thought life and detox your brain. When you break your negative thinking pattern, your thought process get disrupted and the more you keep at it, the faster your brain adapts these new positive inputs into creating a new you. As a man thinketh, so is he. You are what you repeatedly do and what you do is a result of your thought life which is in turn determined by what your brain accepts, processes and delivers to your mind. Your mind is the seat of your thoughts and it must be constantly filled and renewed with life transforming, forward looking, Christ-like positive thoughts and imageries. These will make you better each passing day. The brand new you will exceed expectations and you will succeed greatly!

Becoming like Christ!

Romans 12:9-18 is one passage of the scriptures that poses one of the biggest dilemma of all time. There are over 19 commands in this seemingly perplexing passage. And truth be told, many of them are nearly impossible. It is hard enough to try to love others, work very hard, serve and be prepared to help people, but how do you handle blessing those that persecute you? How do you honourably repay good for evil and be at peace with all men? How do you fulfill Christ’s Matthew 5:38-48 commands with your sanity still intact?

Well, a thorough understanding of the entire chapter 8 of the book of Romans especially 1-8 reveals the keys to becoming more like God who causes it to rain over both good and evil. When you genuinely dedicate yourself to God, He transforms you to a new person and with the mind of Christ, you walk in the newness of spirit and fully take advantage of God’s gifts in you to live in peace with everyone. When you walk in the light of Philippians 4:13 you operate in His strength and His strength is in turn made perfect in your weakness [2Corinthians 12:9]. As you strive (He never promised it will be easy… John 16:33) daily to be like Christ, you will walk in His humility and do things beyond your human frailties. People around you and even your enemies will marvel at the grace of God upon your life.

The boss that makes you feel terribly at work, the back stabbing, jealous colleague, the subordinate that undermines you, the neighbours that does all kinds of evil and even your unfaithful folks. When Christ dwell richly in you, He empowers you to serve God enthusiastically and walk in genuine love with and for all of them. I see you succeeding in Jesus name!

A call to serve!

It is against the recent backlash on a governor of a state in my country that referred to himself as the ”constituted authority” that I was able to fully convince a friend that most African leaders do not really see leadership as a call to serve but more like a pathway to fame and fortune. They either have a twisted understanding of what leadership entails or simply lack the moral fortitude for genuine service especially those with seemingly credible credentials. They seek for power, just for the vainglory and use it as a tool to oppress those they promised to serve.

Mark 10:4… ”For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The above is one verse of the scripture that truly captures the essence of leadership. Leadership is service. Service is giving one’s life. Giving one’s life is inspiring and inspiration is influence. When your followers realize your willingness to go the extra mile, they know you care and are inspired to do what it takes to follow your lead and accomplish the stated vision and objectives. When a leader is humble, sincere and has a great deal of empathy, serving comes natural even as these basic ingredients will not just determine how great the leader will be but the three Hs will also be factors that will endear the followers to such a leader.

Humility: leadership is about service. Even the Bible declares in Matthew 23:11 that the one who serves is actually the greatest, but the common low self esteem, troubled childhood and shallow mindedness of most of these leaders fuels their unquenchable thirst for self aggrandizement. What they lack in self esteem and humility, they tend to make up for by stupendous wealth acquisitions and self glorification. A leader will always be a true servant at heart and it takes humility to really lower oneself and sincerely serve.

Honesty: It is a fact that people do not care how much you know till they realize how much you care. Probity and transparency should always be key in every leader’s philosophy. When a leader is truly humble and sincere, accountability will never be an issue. Even when true leaders make mistakes, they are quick to admit and apologize if need be. Because their followers sees their hearts, they are inspired by their ways and many try to live right too, their leaders being worthy role models.

Humanity: Being human is also being able to acknowledge one’s imperfections. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and every good leader tries as much as they can to maximize their strengths and surround themselves with credible leaders that will compensate for their weaknesses. This would also prompt them to show empathy with the individual’s situation and enable them make room for their followers’ weaknesses. They will not be quick to assume, judge or condemn but offer the much needed listening ear and always be sympathetic to the plight of their followers.

Leadership skills can be innate or acquired and cultivated. Whenever, wherever, however a leader emerges. Qualified or lacking the requisite leadership skills, deserving or not deserving, any leader that possesses these three attributes would sure have a clearer shot at greatness.

Happy Democracy day!

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!

The power of habits!

Our habits have been generally described as being the product of two shaping forces. One is the narratives that people are nurtured on and how those narratives feed their imaginations one way or another. The other is the context in which people grow up, which has a huge impact on how they see the world and others.

The context (culture) is the sum total of the physical and human environment of nurture. It has a great deal to do with the geography, the moral, cultural values and norms of a people. The narratives (nurture) are the emotional and social factors that shapes how we see ourselves, think, react and relate to situations and how we generally view and treat others. This is often influenced by reactive and proactive reactions to conversations, events, relationships and the overall attitude of a people towards everything in life.

Man is always a product of his habits. Who we are and what we accomplish depends largely on a vast network of routines and behaviours that we carry out with little or no thought whatsoever. Habits are the brain’s own internal productivity drivers. Constantly striving for more efficiency, the brain quickly transforms as many tasks and behaviours as possible into habits so that we can do them without thinking, thus freeing up more brainpower to tackle new challenges.

A man’s habits therefore determines his productivity and effectiveness to a very large extent. Whatever advances a man’s habits will seriously enhance his overall self and so make him a better person. Not much can be done about the culture factor since we really do not have a say over who gave birth to us and where, but for the nurture, it is pertinent to diligently seek and adopt the right kind of influence even when our nurture projects otherwise.

A flawed nurture can be balanced by the sagacity to critically analyse situations and draw the right lessons. All it takes to reinvent oneself is the right kind of knowledge and the sheer will and determination to be different. We can decide to either live reactively and let our nurture determine our lot in life or live proactively, turning the stumbling blocks in our nurture to stepping stones and ultimately becoming success stories. The choice is ours!

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!

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