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CrystalQuest Adventures

…towards equipping the total man!

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!

Our age is one of great ideas and innovation that produce outstanding projects, and not one of filling minds with information… Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Vice President of UAE & Ruler of Dubai)

Cultivating the spirit of excellence!

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The story of Daniel is old and fascinating as it reveals the possibilities of godliness thriving in the midst of ungodliness. The Bible records their uncommon loyalty to God even in the land of their captors. Based on the overwhelming influence of the spirit of God in their lives, Daniel and his three friends, like Joseph had this “excellent spirit” that stood them out and cause them to thrive even in strange lands. Men of uncommon purpose and prayer that have been seasoned in God’s presence to live uprightly and pursue holiness in all their ways. Men sold out to God and dedicated to their responsibilities. Discerning men of great perception and power!

There are many traits that mark an excellent spirit in man. Heading the list is a factor that should need no emphasis; yet it does. It is hard work. The true spirit of a man is often revealed by his attitude towards work. Work offers a revealing display of character. The way you relate with people and how well you comport yourself tells a great deal about your kind of person and your general value system. Work is a demanding arena of pressure that reflects our personalities and test our efficiencies. An excellent spirit does not just consist wholly in gentleness, patience, meekness, and kindliness. These graces are essential; but there is also courage, energy, and perseverance. Men of stamina are wanted, men who will not wait to have their way smoothed and every obstacle removed, men who will inspire with fresh zeal the nagging efforts of dispirited workers and radiate wholesome integrity and uncommon dedication. Leonardo da Vinci observed, “God gave us everything at the price of effort.” He who works hard will never be without work and he who appreciates hard work will always be appreciated. Everyone want to have such men on their team because the excellent spirit is a cooperative spirit. Kings sought them and princes court them because they are men who will not slack in whatever is committed to them. They are men who understand that “you may not reap where you sow but you will definitely reap what you have sown” and so do not fail to put in their very best whether they are appreciated or not.

There is however the need to be mindful of “workaholism” in our pursuit of excellence. An “excellent” man must take rest seriously. Thinking, planning, praying and especially seeking God’s will concerning our endeavours must also not take the backseat while work goes full throttle. We must be able to strike a balance between the needful and effectively build downtime to accommodate other important activities into our schedules. We must never forget that “getting there” is not what brings fulfillment, “enjoying the process” is the key to fulfillment and lasting peace!

Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone,
Dare to have a purpose firm,
Dare to make it known,
Integrity and rare diligence…
Dare to be excellent!

Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm… Winston Churchill.

Using your gifts wisely!

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One of Jesus’ most significant parables regarding work is that of the talent as recorded in Matthew 25:14-30. It is a simple story about a man who entrusts his possessions to his servants before embarking on a journey. He distributed his wealth among three servants, apportioned to them on the basis of their abilities. To the first he entrusted five talents, to the second two talents, and to the third one talent. The first two servants quickly set to work with their master’s money. The third servant did not invest his master’s money at all; he dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money. When the master returned, the first two eagerly met their master, apparently delighted in the opportunity to multiply their master’s money and both were commended as “good and faithful servants”. Both were rewarded with increased responsibilities in their master’s service. Both were invited to share in their master’s joy. The third servant came to his master with only the talent his master had originally entrusted to him. In fact, if this were to take place today, that money would due to inflation likely be worth less, and all he could offer for his conduct was a feeble excuse. He told his master that he was a harsh and cruel man, a man who was demanding, and who expected gain where he had not labored. He contended that this is why he was afraid to take a risk with any kind of investment. And so he simply hid the money, and now he returned it, without any gain. The master rebuked this slave for being evil and lazy. He took his talent from him, gave it to the one who earned ten, and cast this fellow into outer darkness, where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The meaning of the parable extends far beyond financial investments. God has given each person a wide variety of gifts and He expects us to employ those gifts in His service. It is not acceptable merely to put those gifts on a closet shelf and ignore them. Like the three servants, we do not have gifts of the same degree. The return God expects of us is commensurate with the gifts we have been given. The servant who received one talent was not condemned for failing to reach the five-talent goal; he was condemned because he did nothing with what he was given. The gifts we receive from God include skills, abilities, family connections, social positions, education, experiences and more. The point of the parable is that we are to use whatever we have been given for God’s purposes. The severe consequences to the unproductive servant tells us that we are to invest our lives, not waste them. This slave does absolutely nothing with the talent that has been entrusted to him but bury it. Let us realize that we will be judged not only for what we have done, but also for what we may have failed to do, then we can fully appreciate the sentence passed upon the fearful and slothful servant.

The parable also frees us from some potentially guilty feelings. We cannot all be super athletically gifted or intellectual geniuses but we can all improve upon ourselves. We should not look at others with far more abilities than ourselves and get discouraged or look at others with inferior skills and become lazy and proud. The apostle Paul told the Galatians: “Let everyone be sure that he is doing his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work well done and won’t need to compare himself with someone else” [Galatians 6:3-4 TLB]. To whom much is given, much is expected. We have a responsibility to be proactive in all we do and with all God has endowed us with. God does not expect us to be idle. We are not to cloister ourselves somewhere secluded from the vicissitudes of life and merely devote ourselves to the study of His word. Study and contemplation of the Word of God are useful and certainly merit our fullest attention, but they are not to be an “end” unto themselves. Our Lord expects us to be diligent in all our doings and even if gain doesn’t come immediately, or if sometimes there are setbacks in progress, He expect us to remain steadfast and focused because as long as there is life there is hope.

Anything that works against you can also work for you once you understand the principle of reverse… Maya Angelou.

Ever faithful, ever sure!

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It was in David A. Redding’s “Jesus Makes Me Laugh” that I read a story that truly captures the essence of ‘Isaiah 49:15-16’ and portrays the depth of God’s mercy and His matchless ability to remain steadfastly faithful even in the face of sheer rebellion and unabashed unfaithfulness.

Teddy was my dog, and he would do anything for me. A big black Scottish shepherd, he always wait for me to come home from school. He slept beside me, and when I whistled he ran to me even if he was eating. At night, no one would get within a half mile without Teddy’s permission. During those long summers in the fields, I would only see the family at night, But Teddy was with me all the time. And so when I went away to war, I didn’t know How to leave him. How do you explain to someone who loves you that you’re leaving him and you wouldn’t be chasing woodchucks with him tomorrow like always. So coming home that first time from the Navy (during World War 2) was something I can scarcely describe. The last bus stop was fourteen miles from the farm. I got off there that night about 11.00 and walked the rest of the way home. It was two or three in the morning before I was within a half mile of the house. It was pitch dark, but I knew every step of the way. Suddenly Teddy heard me and began his warning barking. Then I whistled only once. The barking stopped. There was a yelp of recognition, and I knew that a big black form was hurtling toward me in the darkness. Almost immediately he was there in my arms. What comes home to me now is the eloquence with which that unforgettable memory speaks to me of my God. If my dog, without any explanation, would love me and take me back after all that time, wouldn’t my God?

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” [Romans 12:1-2 NKJV]

Someone once said the problem with a living sacrifice is that it always tries to crawl away from the altar and so it is with our fleshly tendencies to sometimes wander away from His will but the good news is that whatever the extent of our sins, God is faithful and just enough to forgive and restore us to Himself. All we need do is to acknowledge our fallen state and retrace our steps. God says in Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” so you can be very assured that His arms are always wide open and heaven will sure rejoice over you no matter how far you’ve missed it. Like the prodigal son, realize your sorry state, acknowledge your need for Him and run back into His waiting arms. Tap into His awesome might, receive the grace to live above sin and constantly renew your mind. The wind will sure blow and life challenges will try to toss you to and fro but when you’re firmly rooted in Him, He will give you strength for the journey, guide you through its rough waters and be there for you every step of the way. Trust in Him with all your heart, lean not on your understanding, acknowledge Him in all your ways and let every aspect of your life glorify His name. You will live an impactful life and succeed exceedingly!

The pursuit of happiness!

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Anyone that has read Chris Gardner’s autobiography or seen its movie adaptation “The Pursuit of Happyness” should be able to relate with the power of diligence and determination in living an impactful life and achieving good success. In a true grass to grace story, Chris Gardner (played by Will Smith) is a bright and talented, but marginally employed salesman. Struggling to make ends meet, Gardner finds himself and his five-year-old son (coincidentally played by Smith’s son) evicted from their San Francisco apartment with nowhere to go. When Gardner lands an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, he and his son endure many hardships, including living in shelters, in pursuit of his dream of a better life for the two of them.

One striking thing I want to believe we all should be able to relate with about his story is the fact that he took his destiny in his hands, played his part very well while trusting God for a breakthrough. He never for once resigned to fate or plunge into despair. My challenge today dwells on how some Christians had misrepresented God’s omnipotence. Although the Bible teaches that God is sovereign and has total and absolute power over all things. The belief that God controls everything that happens to us is one of the devil’s biggest inroads into our lives. When people take this doctrine to unbiblical extremes, they become passive and uninvolved. They lack zeal, become irresponsible and do not strive for personal excellence. If this belief is true, then our actions are irrelevant, and our efforts are meaningless. What will be will be. All is of God, they say, so God does everything. He is the Potter, we are the clay so it does not matter what we say, think or do. He is the ultimate decider of all things. The point is, if we believe that God wills everything, good or bad, to happen to us, it gives us some temporary relief from confusion and condemnation, but in the long-term, it slanders God, hinders our trust in Him, and leads to irresponsibilities on our part.

God sovereignty does not mean we are excused from our responsibilities. It does not give us the liberty to abdicate our duties at all. God predetermined the consequences but gave us the free will to choose our path. He has a predefined will for each one of us but gave us the responsibility to either walk in it or away from it. Our tendencies to want to absolve ourselves of our responsibilities in God’s overall plan for us could sometimes cause us to eschew perseverance and some even go to the extreme of taking life’s challenges as indications that God is opposed to their plans. We forget Proverbs 22:29 [Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men] and Proverbs 12:24 [The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor], claim God’s promises, refused to earnestly put in the best of our efforts and start trusting God for bountiful rewards. Diligence requires us to remain doggedly committed to getting to the finish line. We strive for the best against all odds and refuse to be swayed by challenges we encounter. God is no slacker and can be counted on hundred percent of the time. He wants His children to be imitators of Him, according to Ephesians 5:1. He set up the principles of sowing and reaping and the law of giving and receiving extends to diligence and conscientiousness in one’s work. God never called out lazy people to do His divine assignments. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all herdsmen. Moses and David were shepherds. Elisha was plowing, and Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen. Even Jesus had an occupation. Those who assertively take action and diligently pursue their dreams are the ones who will flourish. Be diligent in all you do and excellence will trail you in all things.

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