Author: MsHellenaFolakeA

The Promise – When Honesty Trumps Hard Questions!

First of all, Happy New Month! Can you believe we are already in the month of December? It feels like it was just yesterday, I wrote ‘A Space of Optimism – New Year’s post. Nevertheless, here is to many more to come this month.

Earlier this week, the inhumane atrocity that is the news of modern day slavery in 2017, where Black people being sold into Slavery in Libya came to light. The anger and burden I felt was so heavy that I spent the day convincing myself to contribute more than just a 30 second ‘God, help them’ prayer as I carry on scrolling through my unending Instagram feed. I say convincing because ‘sometimes, we can find ways of denying the struggles that other people face as something we ought to not care or be burdened by’. Yet, we must help those who are unable to help themselves.

There are many promises in the Bible, one of which stood out to me in a very unusual way. I, like this world is in a very weird place at the moment. We are in a state that very much resembles the saying ‘you have to go through Hell to get to Heaven’. It is in times like these, I like to remind myself of the promises of God. To build my faith, to latch onto something, to Hope. For I don’t believe this is it for this World. There must be more and indeed there is.

Growing up, my siblings and I would always hide the shoes of family members and guests we liked. We, for whatever reason did not want to leave our home. If we didn’t hide your shoes, that meant, we didn’t care too much for you *shrug shoulder*. I remember the liked ones would always try to bribe us to get their shoes for them. They would say things like ‘if you bring my shoe for me, when I come next time; I will bring gala for you’ or ‘do you want me to buy biscuit for you? – okay, let me go and buy it for you’ or ‘next time I come, I will come and sleep here to spend more time with you’. After a while, we would cave in and get said person shoes. Usually, we caved in because after about 15 minutes of our antics; our parent would usually steps in and instruct us to get the shoes in a ‘nice but stern’ manner.

There was always some sort of promise attached to our act of obedience.

In my time with God, I asked the question, ‘is there anyone in the Bible who has had a Promise attached to their obedience?’ He took me to the story of the Queen of the South herself, the queen of Sheba. Her story can be found in 2 Chronicles 9 and 1 Kings 10.

The story begins with this inquisitive queen, who heard of the fame of king Solomon. A king who had been blessed by God with ‘a wise and understanding heart, so that there would be no one like him; before and after like Solomon. He was also blessed with riches and honour, that there shall be no one like Solomon among the kings of his days’ (1 Kings 3:5-15).

She travelled all the way to Jerusalem to test King Solomon with hard questions. She met with King Solomon and spoke with him concerning everything that was in her heart. He answered all her questions; in fact, there was nothing so difficult for Solomon that he could not explain to her (2 Chronicles 9:1-2).

When she had seen the wisdom of King Solomon, the house he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiter, his cup bearers and their apparels and his entry way by which he went up to the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her. (2 Chronicles 9: 3-4).

‘…. There was no more spirit in her?’ Wait. What? Another translation translates it as ‘she was breathless’.

Her response to the king was “it was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However, I did not believe their words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed, the half of your greatness was not told to me. You exceed the fame of which I heard” (2 Chronicles 9:5-6).

At the end of her visit, King Solomon gave the queen of the South, all she desired, whatever she asked, much more than she and brought to the king. So, she turned and went to her own country (2 Chronicles 9:12).

**If you’re like me, at this point, I still didn’t see how this answered my question.**

Jesus, in the new testament referenced the queen of the south. He applauds the fact that she travelled from a distant land to Jerusalem to hear the wisdom of Solomon; yet someone greater than Solomon is here – but you refuse to listen (Matthew 12:42).

** I still didn’t see how this answered my question.**

Leaving no stone unturned and trying to find out more information about this queen; I found out that origin and meaning of Sheba is Oath/Promise in Hebrew.

** It still didn’t answer my question.**

Then, I was reminded of the promise in Matthew 6:33 which many of us chorus so frequently; and it reads “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”.

**Lightbulb Moment**

To answer my question ‘is there anyone in the Bible who has had a Promise attached to their obedience?’ The story of the queen of Sheba reflected the promise so well. How? – I hear you asking.

The queen of the Sheba (Oath/Promise) travelled all the way to Jerusalem, to SEEK for herself (to test everything she had heard about the king) only to find that the report she had heard was not only TRUE; but also found out that she had ONLY heard about HALF OF THE GREATNESS of the king’s wisdom. And her encounter EXCEEDED the fame she had heard. She had even brought with her camels that bore spices, gold in abundance, and precious stones. Yet she left with ‘all she desired, whatever she asked, much more than she had brought to the king’.

She even said to king Solomon, “blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on His throne to be king for the Lord your God! Because your God has loved Israel, to establish them forever, therefore He made you king over them to do justice and righteousness”.

Her story spells out the promise in Matthew 6:33 so well. She legit sought the king’s fame and his kingdom and she left with everything she desired and much more. This story represents an exemplary tale of seeking after God. The queen of Sheba had questions about this king, she has beard so much about and went seeking for herself. And at the end of her visit, Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba everything she desired. So also, God promises to give those who seek Him first. I have come to realise that honesty trumps hard questions. Being honest with God about those hard questions only exposes you more to His greatness.

Knowing God just through the words of your mum, dad or even pastor, prophet is HALF OF THE GREATNESS! Imagine if the queen of the south, only ever relied on that which she heard from others, she would have only known HALF!

Just deep it.

We are invited to someone much greater than Solomon and like the queen of Sheba, we have a promise to inherit, if we would only seek first the kingdom of God.

Permission.

Live like you know that God has got you.

Live without fear.

Live without worry.

Live without walking on eggshells around life.

Live like you know that your next course of action or decision whether you think it’s good enough – God still gets all the glory.

Live.

Live like a child; Like His child.

Live; you’re a being in the hands of your father.

Live like you live in the cusp of your father’s hand.

Live like a child dancing in the middle of the playground.

Live like you don’t have to make the decision for God but rather He makes them for you.

Live consciously.

Live intentionally.

Give yourself the permission to live freely.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone.

Using poetry as a medium and my voice as the instrument, there are so many things I would love to see accomplished in my life. I have always spoken of my love for poetry and this year, I challenged myself to exercise my voice through this medium. Way past the four walls of my bedroom and the supportive ears of my friends and family alone. To push myself, invest in myself and to stand in my own self.

All that to say, I dedicate this cheeky weekly fav to an upcoming ‘Verse and Prose Presents – VS: A Spoken Word Competition’.

Verse and Prose is a Christian Creative organisation, which focuses on Spoken-Word Poetry. With aims to-

  1. Encourage people to live out their creative dreams by stepping outside of the norm,
    2. Introduce and showcase up and coming poets,
    3. Educate, entertain and uplift,
    4 Help make poetry a more recognised and respected art form.

Verse and Prose are holding a ‘VS: Spoken Word Competition’ on Thursday 29th June 2017. So, if you enjoy impactful Spoken word poetry & good music. Or interested in knowing what makes a good Spoken Word poem? Then, this event for you.

Edifying Spoken word show, with special performances by our judges:

– CalledOut Music

– John M D Mills &

– Thembe Mvula

And performances by:

-Emily Mutaako &

– Izzyy Eze

And Open Mic slots available at the end of the night. This is truly an event not to be missed!

So, come along to the quirky Café 1001 as 3 up and coming poets perform head to head, for a chance to win £100!

For more information, visit –  https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/verse-and-prose-presents-vs-a-spoken-word-competition-tickets-34707073792

 

Life, The Bigger Learning Ground.

Being a Nigerian, the need to study within the educational system has never been up for discussion. It is an unspoken religion in my family. In fact, the damaging repercussion that would engulf one’s entire existence if ever they were to suggest to their Nigerian parents – ‘I do NOT want to go to University’ has turned into the never ending ‘joke’ which circulates within many young Nigerians friendships groups. (Unfortunately, this is something that happens not only in some Nigerian homes but across many other countries and homes and I also know the parents mean well).

Oddly enough, the perception of education is one that I never understood. I hated education with every fibre of my being because I never understood it. That happens a lot, doesn’t it? A lack of understanding for someone or something can often spur on your hatred for a person or thing. Education for me was no different. I didn’t understand why such importance was placed on this complicated system that seems to make the world go around. A system worshipped by many. Now I am not here to bash education, far from it. The whole educational system is one I will forever be grateful for, because it provided me a space for growth even without realising it. There I even compare it to sharing similarities with experiencing the thrills of childhood. Childhood like education is a man’s training wheels at life. An experience for growth from mistakes, some individuals robbed of their childhood, some experience their childhood in its full entirety and others, who lack in understanding, experience an average childhood.

From the dependent maintenance grants and loans, the 9am lectures, the group works and grounds filled with everything diversity; educational institution like Universities serve as the biggest bubble wrap of them all. Grounds that can breed into you; levels of comfortability, conflict and conformity without it being its intentions. I have seen many young people like myself fall into the system of education and used it not as it is intended to be used but rather lost in the system of its establishment. Lacking the understanding of what these establishments can stand for in regards to life in general, I struggled every step of the way to complete every key stage. Floating at an average level from GCSE to A-levels to achieving my first degree and now unto the second (all to the glory of God), my perception of education had always been very limited. I failed to see these key stages as my very training grounds for mistakes, growth, an opportunity to work on my craft and overall build myself. Education doesn’t stop at the grading systems; well it shouldn’t.

For many, the first several decades of their lives are spent in various educational institutions. They unfortunately fall under the pressure of a grading criteria in every class. They are consumed by the unconscious limitations of education that upon completion, they struggle with the life that awaited them outside of education. There is no benchmark in life like those grading criteria in education systems therefore dare to develop a more holistic view of what education can do to you. See education as that internship you use to gain recognised experience and transferable skills geared towards that ultimate career of your choice.

Education is a system; life is the school! In a system, there is ample amount of room for errors. There are loopholes but life is a subjective continuum that can be attested through experiences, culture, religion, etc. It has no grading criteria; therefore, dare to live from a more holistic perspective called life rather than the narrow view what education holds (a degree or a qualification). See education as a training wheel for life, a childhood to be experienced in all its entirety, a space for growth from many mistakes and the miniature of life, the bigger learning ground.

A Prayer For The Heart: 

Dear God, 
(Jeremiah 17:9) says the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. So much so that I nor anyone of us really knows how bad it is?  (Proverbs 15:11) says that even Death and Destruction hold no secrets from You. So how much more do you know my human heart!” Lord, have I tried to hide my sins like other people do, concealing my guilt in my heart? (Job‬ ‭31:33)‬ ‭ For “how can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.” (Psalms‬ ‭19:12)  Father, I ask that you cleanse my heart through faith (Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭15:9‬b)‬‬. 

(Proverbs 21:1) says “a king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.” And (Proverbs 22:11) says “whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend.” Father, “create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” (Psalms‬ ‭51:10‬) A heart that will not desert you or stray away from your path.” (Psalms‬ ‭44:18‬)  Nor, a heart that is filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:28b) Lord, may my heart cease to be filled “with bitter sorrow and unending grief” (Romans‬ ‭9:2‬) and as “my heart hear you say, “Come and talk with me.” my heart’s response will be, “ Lord, I am coming.” (Psalms‬ ‭27:8‬)  “Lord God change my heart and the hearts of all my descendant, so that we will love You with all our heart and soul and so we may live!” (Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:6‬). Lord, give us one heart and put a new spirit within us. Take away our stony, stubborn heart and give us a tender, responsive heart,” (Ezekiel‬ ‭11:19‬). So that we will “obey your instructions; and put them into practice with all our heart.” (Psalms‬ ‭119:34‬) In Jesus name, amen! 

The Purpose of Life is Not Happiness: It’s Usefulness

KESHAV TREHAN

For the longest time, I believed that there’s only purpose of life: And that is to be happy.

Right? Why else go through all the pain and hardship? It’s to achieve happiness in some way.

And I’m not the only person who believed that. In fact, if you look around you, most people are pursuing happiness in their lives.

That’s why we collectively buy shit we don’t need, go to bed with people we don’t love, and try to work hard to get approval of people we don’t like.

Why do we do these things? To be honest, I don’t care what the exact reason is. I’m not a scientist. All I know is that it has something to do with history, culture, media, economy, psychology, politics, the information era, and you name it. The list is endless.

We are who we are.

Let’s just accept that. Most people love to…

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13th July 2016.

I see you, walking in bodies of three

The good, the bad, the ugly

Wandering like the sanctified feet of Moses

Casting out your hands in gestures of utterances

Looking like your mind is bounded by the lines of your salvation on opposite sight

I see, you’ve let go of memories of me

Your infatuation has ceased over these many inordinate years

Your need for me to teach you my mother’s tongue has out grown you

You no longer recognise the tribes on my face

The parted sea in my mouth

The staff behind my words

Your choice of me to be the mark or the henry. Both on a bad day

I see you are no longer checking for me

You’ve found yourself another target, haven’t you?

She’s good, she’s pretty, she is the one whose tongue you do not envy as much

She is plain, isn’t she?

I see you, walking back in bodies of three

I never expected less, you always looked like you’d be the one to make it

We did too.