On Repentance towards Others

In every healthy human relationship, there must be a good dose of a repentant attitude on both sides. We are constantly learning about each other, and finding out things about our friends, families and colleagues. If we are not disposed to “repent” or make changes, we are very likely to keep hurting or offending people we claim to love. We must commit to doing better when we fall short, and our commitment has to be backed up by the right actions. This is the language of true love – making sacrifices for the sake of other people.

On the other hand, the absence of true repentance gives room for breeding of mistrust. We humans are creatures of habit and judgment. We watch patterns and make deductions. When you don’t make changes after you claim to be sorry or repentant, you send a clear message that you do not mean your words. Whether they pick on it quickly or not, people remember, and when the great occasion comes when you need their trust, they will call to mind your behaviour. It is very important that we consciously commit to learning and evolving in every relationship.

On Repentance towards God

The thing about repentance is: it always has to be backed up by an action or a proof of change. The very word, “repent”, means to turn away from an action, behaviour or way of life, and embrace an opposite or different action, behaviour, or way of life. This is why John asked the Pharisees to produce fruits worthy of repentance – evidence in lifestyle that they have truly changed their ways. They came out in their numbers to hear him preach but his challenge to them was that of a changed lifestyle. You need to show me proof!

The preaching of repentance in the gospel must always be accompanied by the preaching of faith. This is because the natural man, at his best, is not capable of living in a way that pleases God. To be convicted and desire to change is one thing. To truly take practical steps in living differently requires the power that only Jesus can give. In the words of Jesus, “You must be born again”. To be born again or empowered to live differently requires faith in the resurrected Christ. A man turning from his sins must turn to face Jesus Christ.

Scripture References: Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8, Acts 20:21, Hebrews 6:1

Give Thanks!

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (I Thess. 5:18, NIV)

Today, I want to send you a quick reminder for a very important Christian attitude: giving thanks! Giving thanks refers to speaking words of appreciation to someone for something they have done (or will do) – an expression of our gratitude to them. While I will focus on giving thanks to God, I also realize that a thankful heart towards God usually doubles as a thankful heart towards fellow human beings. As simple as it is to give thanks, it is an attitude that many have not cultivated because they have allowed their situation to determine their attitude.

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Through It All

The last few days have been difficult for a lot of Nigerians. The #EndSARS protests which started as a spontaneous reaction to police brutality became a wildfire that spread across several cities of the nation. Hoodlums began to take advantage of the protests to wreak havoc, leading to a worrisome security situation. Sadly, on the same day a curfew was declared in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, armed security forces opened fire on peaceful protesters with an unverified number of dead people and several injured. It was indeed a traumatizing experience for many.

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Covered by Love

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Here I am, lying in quiet contemplation
As you gently serenade my soul
With lyrics sung to an eternal tune.
You speak peace to my storms
And bring an end to my fears.
Your words stir my lukewarm soul
And awaken my heart to heavenly love

Love so tireless that it chases me
Down to depths of depression where I sink
Love so true that it pulls me out
From the chambers of darkness and death
As I fade away from the view of a busy world:
A world that moves on with ease
When this fragile frame I finally lay aside

Your love draws me out of myself into You
Into purpose and service and sacrifice
With fulfillment and everlasting joy
In Your presence, I find abundance of peace
Even in the midst of a troubled world.
So, once I was lost chasing shadows in the dark
But now I am found, shining brightly like a star

The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I am loved with a love that never ceases or fails, drawn with a kindness that has no precedence. God’s love calls out to me in the day time, whispers to me in the night seasons, heals me when I am wounded and restores me when I am broken. This love, so surreal, rejoices over me with gladness, like a sheep once lost now found. He sings to me joyfully as I lay quietly in the palm of his arms, covered by His love, without care or concern in this world.

Wonder

who planted a tree
in the middle of the ocean
and nurtured it to life?

how did its roots
get a hold of the seabed
and secure to a base?

how did its shoot
survive the undercurrents
and spring above the sea?

who shall number the days
of a tree that dwells in the ocean
or chronicle its tales?

A Tale of Time

The sweet chiming of bells; slow passage of time
Cackling of chickens and chirping of crickets
Remind me of the future we once dreamt about
The story of my life: a true motion picture
Far more to tell than that which meets the eyes
Much harder to sell in cold weather than ice
Hold your thoughts: this is a commercial break

You sang me a song when I turned sweet thirteen
Told me to be brave when I clocked seventeen
Truly no one was there when it mattered the most
Jobless and homeless at vague twenty-three
Crispy fried chicken slowly turned sour on my lips
Joyful birthday song growing dour by the year
Please wake me up now: all this has to be a dream

Look here we are, still awake, grinding out reality
Little feet follow me as I make my own mistakes
I traded away my fears at the currency exchange
But held on to my greed, an implicit part of me
Surely I must write my story, as I try to find my way
Though you must be wary as you listen to my tale
Yet no better tale was told than one made up on the go


Rise

Rise
Above my fears and your misfortune
Above your failure and my weakness
Today could just become your day
But first, you will need to rise again

Rise
To the tune of your glorious anthem
And the rhythm of my solemn pledge
To the challenge of restoring the ruins
And the labour of saving your name

Rise
Above this injustice and corruption
Beyond the limits of manipulation
Rise to the status of true nationhood
In unity and peace, by faith making progress

Rise
My beloved country, my dear friends and family
Above selfish interests and personal gain
Beyond finger-pointing to solution-finding
Until a great nation on the earth we truly become

O.J. Taiwo
Oct. 1, 2014

Shadows

Why do the shadows look bright, almost blood-red?
Strange hues of orange, like fire dancing in the dark
Remind us of the forgotten, whose blood were shed
And of fires we stoke as attack dogs keep up the bark

We forged strange friendships on the altars of deceit
Broke up alliances with those who cared how we fare
So when shadows light up, and we’re feeling the heat
We should not ask each other: “how did we get here?’

Joseph

Though a solitary wanderer lost in foreign lands
Yet stayed true to the culture of my native home
The blessings of my father were far much greater
Than amazing bounties found in everlasting hills
Eminent among brothers, a prince among sons
Humbled by circumstances; loved by my father
I found unusual favour with my Father above

He who brought me out of a dungeon so I could
Sit on thrones and teach wisdom to noble men
Makes for a wondrous tale every time it is told
Though depressing as I wandered through it all
And this births my message to every generation:
Hold on to faith as you go through the process
My name is Joseph: a fruitful bough by the well