2013 Finale: False Gods Among Us

 “People don’t really need answers. They need reasons. Most of what we need to know we already know.

Wake with light, sleep with the night. Sow in season and reap. Honor your father and mother, love your neighbor, and your enemies. Do not steal. Do not covet. Do not kill, not even in your heart. Do this, do that. It’s all there. Yet you don’t always do what you’re supposed to do you?”

“I can’t say that I do.” I answered embarrassed.

“There you go. You don’t need an answer. I’m giving you something more powerful. I’m giving you a reason.”
I Found My Blue Sky, Destiny


What a Difference Jesus Makes
I feel like drawing. I feel like filling-in all my faceless sketches with a specific face. There’s a reason they’re faceless you know?

But let us leave them faceless. I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s not good.

Which is not unlike me. I find myself always thinking about the future, especially our inevitable future of death. I seem to have a more-than-average awareness of death, how easy it is for man to die, and how important it is to live in such a way that makes the most of the time we have alive. Of the many things I can be accused of, no one can accuse me of wasting time. I understand its finiteness and its continuously flowing nature, not stopping for me or for anybody, on and on it goes ushering us into the future at, as C.S. Lewis said,  “the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is”. 

Again, I’m getting ahead of myself. Before all the morbid talk I want to begin by thanking my Lord Jesus. I dedicate this post to Him. In truth, this article is a full-blown attempt to correct a large on-going mistake in my life, a mistake that bothers me daily. I will talk more about this later. For now, let us remain with gratefulness.

Last year I asked for one thing on my faith list for 2013: More of God, more of His presence in my life. It was a very different approach to years past that were filled with a ton of requests. For 2013, I asked for one thing. And I can say I feel His presence more today than I ever have. I feel Him listening to my childlike prayers, as I used to feel Him when I was much younger and way more innocent. I feel Him whispering to my heart, sweet words, the sound of music, poems, and dreams. I feel Him disciplining me with consequence, that painful result of my sinful heart is His loving reminder to return to Him, because there are things worse than pain, even incredible pain, such as the loss of loved ones and the ultimate loss of dying outside Christ’s embrace. I feel Him surprising me with a rainbow, or an act of kindness witnessed, or a beautiful sight, such as beautiful women. Haha!

And even when I’m at my worst, the darkest, most despicable me, I feel Him in forgiveness, and the reminder of “tetelestai” – IT IS FINISHED. My debt has been paid. What a declaration to hold on to, what a promise to reach and embrace. Everywhere I go, even in religious circles, I’m expected to be an amazing person, an example in church, a successful businessperson, a wise man, a creative artist, a fast runner, and I can’t say I’m extraordinary in any of these things, better than average for sure, but nothing special aside from the special pressure. But with Jesus, I am unburdened. No need to pay a debt that’s been paid. No need to fight a battle already won. No need to achieve an honour already bestowed. I only need to choose a love that’s offered, His love that is not forced on me because there is no true love without choice. 

Still at times, many times I must admit, I don’t choose Jesus but my moment’s hungers and fears. Which I’m sure is not uncommon among people.

Yet the amazing thing about Jesus is this, when I open His word it tells me this: My pain is the result of sin, even the accepted sins of doubt, fear, insecurity. Sin is choosing to journey without Jesus, living a life separated from Him. And the answer isn’t to figure things out once more or pay some penance, it is simply to recognise the divine presence already with me, He is omnipresent after all, calling my name to acknowledge not only His existence but surrender to His beautiful love.

I remember in one particularly dark moment in my life, quite broke and in guilt, I was praying, and you can pray anytime, even when you’re in sin, especially when you’re in sin, and I felt Him with me. I wondered to myself, how He arrived so fast and in such a timely way, then I realised that though I had not been choosing Him, all this time, He kept choosing me. 

So how can I not give Him all the credit? How can I be ok with taking honour that’s His, even the honour others give me freely, honour I truly don’t deserve?

This is the on-going mistake I spoke of earlier, this worship and honoring of man and forgetting God. I want to correct that, at least in my own capacity, which is through writing, to point my readers away from me, from my limited human wisdom, but to God, my source, and yours, of infinite love, infinite wisdom, and infinite grace. 

I find, among the messages some readers send me or the comments, that too many miss the point of my writing, and it is this: to inspire YOU to become a great YOU by encouraging YOU to take what God has given YOU, where He has placed YOU, and to love the people around YOU.

It is nowhere in my list of goals to be your crush or anyone else’s, to be admired by you, for my blog to be read more than the Bible, and especially not my wish to have irritating idiotic stalkers imagining things about me and sending lewd messages.

It’s a mistake to worship anyone, including me, just because this person has done something relatively impressive, when worship is meant for God.

It’s a mistake to think that all love is equal. If one loves himself more than anything than his love for others will always be inferior. It’s also a mistake to think that loving anything or anyone, as long as it is love, will lead to happiness and fulfillment. What if one loves evil? What if one loves an asshole? What if one loves a lazy bum? What if one loves someone unfaithful?

To be so simple-minded about who and what we give our affection and attention to is to set ourselves up for frustration at best and disaster at worst.

Our culture, over and over, makes this mistake of turning into celebrities inferior people, setting up false Gods that take undue affections and attention, and we wonder why the picture gets worse as a whole – of course it will – we spend more time, money, and energy on fallible beings, even good beings, but still fallible. We give more tithes to the material and to the manufactured through our materialism and spending so much on entertainment yet can’t be bothered to give tithes or give token donations.


Attention and Affections

“Most everyone searches for true love all their lives, yet most miss it. They miss it because they’re looking at stones and metals, woods and fabrics, colors and shades, boxes and crates, and hugs and kisses, and entitlements, and sentimentalities. They’re looing at roles and positions, and haves and have nots. Most of all they’re looking at mirrors.” 
– I Found My Blue Sky, Destiny

I like to remind my staff of this simple truth, “Remember this. Everyone is asking the same question. That question is this:  ‘What’s in it for me?’ Figure out the answer to that and you can influence anyone. Live above that need to be validated and you’ll become special.” 

Yet in all of us lie insatiable needs, needs that need filling and seek an ultimate source. Because we are limited the temptation to settle is strong. The temptation to choose the here and now over the unsure future is something we all fall for regularly. I see this when I lose my temper, when I want to satisfy my misguided idea of justice with the anger of the moment, not wanting to trust that God is just. I see it in my selfishness, not wanting to part with things I’ve hoarded, not trusting that there is manna from heaven for each and every day. I see it in many different areas of my life where I settle.

You see, when one is hungry even terrible food tastes good. When one is lacking intelligence even silly opinions seem wise. When one is starved of validation even shallow compliments can sway. When one is fearful even false securities feel safe – for a while. When one is impatient even the mediocre “right now” will do. Admirable is the person who challenges the moment’s hunger and braves the day’s fears to achieve tomorrow’s promise. And those quick to settle for the now, like I am prone to, will be left with this thought, “I wonder how things would have been if I had climbed. I guess I’ll never know.”

But we need more than information. Like I wrote in my novel-in-progress, “People don’t really need answers. They need reasons. Most of what we need to know we already know.” People need something more powerful than an answer to their questions. We need a reason, a motivation, to take the information we have and actually apply it.

For example. Smoking is one of the most brainless things anyone can do. It’s good for no one, not the smoker, not the people around him, not the environment, nothing. Yet why do we smoke? A habit? To distract us while we try to fit-in with stupid small talk? To make money? To help us deal with stress? To fuel an addiction? There are motivations more powerful than any information on the dangers of smoking. These motivations override the information.

Our motivations will always override the information in our heads because our affections, what we love, will dictate our decisions.

I prefer to stay at work or at home to paint, draw, sit on my bean bag and read or write, but when I  like a lady, I find myself pushing aside my favourite activities to spend way too much time, money, and energy on her. Even during the years when I had little, I always managed to have something to offer.

What captures our affection will inevitably have our attention.

I’ve written many times about the dangers of celebrityism, about the need to have higher standards for who to give attention and affection to. My friends will tell you that conversations about shallow thinking wakes me into an angry monologue.

Too many people today, empowered by social media, are in the business of appearing instead of being. And too many of us can’t tell the differences. A friend asked me recently, “How do people fall for online scams or fall in love with fake profiles online?” I told him, “Well we’ve had a lot of practice falling in love with fake celebrities and false gods. When a people cannot tell the difference between what is truly noble and what is a projection these same people can fall for anything.”

We fall for politicians just because they go to the same church, forgetting that the church can be a hospital, and just like hospitals there are doctors and sick people. Be sure you’re not voting a sick person!

We fall for girls just because they’re beautiful. (Guilty! Haha!) No need to elaborate on this one.

We fall for guys just because they look secure, forgetting that the greatest security can only be found inside us and to rely on someone else’s external security is the fastest way to increase our insecurity because your safety is now based on a person you can lose whose security is based on something he can lose.

We fall for pastors because they preach well, forgetting that their role is to point us to Jesus. If you miss Jesus because you’re so impressed with your pastor then you’re going to miss the real benefit of Jesus having a personal relationship with you. And we wonder why so many pastors are killing themselves, so many pastors’ kids too, we wonder where things went wrong. Things went wrong the day we worshipped man more than God, even the man supposedly known as the “Man of God”. 

We fall for formulas, “3 steps to get rich”, “secrets to success”, “kiss dating goodbye” because we think that by getting the steps right we are assured of our desired outcome, forgetting that life has infinite permutations. Not even the smartest scientists, with the most advanced equipment, can accurately predict the future every single time, what more our superstitions? 

We fall for money-making schemes because we want to get rich so bad, thinking it will free us. If we are not free without money we will not be free with money.

We fall for the latest diets which science tells us over and over are fads, and that the simple most important thing to do with food is moderation – yet we don’t moderate because we want to eat whatever we want.

We fall and fall and fall for apparent solutions, for functional saviors, because deep down inside is the ultimate of false gods, we have made ourselves, the validation of ourselves, most important.

This is also why we turn on our ex-gods, like we turn on ex-lovers, or ex-pastors, or ex-bosses, or any ex that has let us down. We turn on them with a distaste much greater than the worship we once offered them. Forgetting that it is not only more plausible that a man or woman will fall, but that is a sure fact that in one way or another, every single human being WILL fall. But we cannot forgive them because we cannot accept their fall, this is because we expected so much from them, and we expected so much from them because they validated us in one form or another. Again, even in our admiration it is revealed that what we are asking is “What’s in it for me?”

In the story I’m writing, I Found My Blue Sky, the part about the feast, the single mantra that powers the evil done in that place is “me above all”. I wanted to capture how our desire to uplift ourselves has actually trapped us into a path of descending darkness. Let me share with you a part of the story:

“How the sweet words of the selfish blind the selfish.

The hungry boy, the pregnant girl, the toiling old couple, each had passed before her yet none she followed. Many times it is not the crucible that dooms us but the feather touch we enjoy  so much.

With each blind eye turned, excuse accepted, and selfish rationalization, Sam surrendered, and surrendered, and surrendered, until she had surrendered it all.

Euphoria has a way of revealing the most vile things within us, and it always starts by celebrating “Me most of all”.

Sam could not remember feeling this much fun and freedom, and her simple mindedness gave way to the pleasure. This time confidently she joined the Fox in doing his rounds, sharing her honey with strangers and drinking from their glasses. She knew not what she drank yet she thanked them. They passed her along and held her in new ways, making her try new things, things she did not know what nor why they were to be done, yet she thanked them.

Worst of all, she knew not that her honey was running out, and this is the worst that can happen in a feast.

The music must never stop for the musician or who needs him in a feast? The laughter must always ring from the funny man for that is his job. The makeup must never come off  the beauties, and they must always remember to tease, or else someone might actually realize their wrinkles stretched. The banker must lavishly treat or people might catch-on to his greed. The divas must sing, the models must strut, the chefs must cook and bake and prepare, the artists much farcically create, and everyone, including the so-called wise men, must pretend to understand how important all of this is to the universe, because here, “I am the universe in this universe of me above all”.


Instead, this 2014, Seek Ye First 

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
– Matthew 6:33

Earlier I said that people don’t need answers to their questions, that we already know our answers. What people really need is a reason to fight for what’s truly valuable. We need to love something so true and so right that it makes us live differently.

I’ve found that most people don’t really want to get healthy, that what’s really important to them is to look good, so as long as they look “good enough” there’s really no need to alter diets or lifestyles, until they feel a little uglier, and go on little health seasons. But those who truly want to get healthy, build a lifestyle of health, not a seasonal thing.

Most people don’t really want to be free, they only want to do what they want, when they want, how they want, why they want. Isn’t that what freedom is? No. Freedom means being released from things that hold us back – including materialism, selfishness, fear, and insecurity. So I find people try to rationalize their freedom when freedom cannot be rationalized. One knows when one is a prisoner despite whatever external circumstances. And one knows when one is free even if his circumstances seem to imprison him.

In both examples the problem is not so much the practice but the root of those practices, the problem is the heart. More information, while useful, is not enough to save us. It is very typical for a man dying of cancer to read and study more about cancer but in the end he must turn to a doctor to operate or receive a miracle. What makes us think that more quotes, more uplifting articles, more inspiration, and more life rules will save our souls? We need to turn to God to heal the cancer in our souls.

We need a reason more powerful than the information. That reason is love.

I used to feel at times that God was this insecure person wanting all the attention to Himself. I know now that’s the wrong way to see things. He is a caring Father saying, “Spend time with me. What I have is infinitely,greater than what your friends can offer, even more, everything I have is yours.” He is a protective lover inviting, “Stay with me. No one will love you the way I do. Stop giving the best of your affection and attention, the first of your time, money and energy to dogs when you can have my best.”

I live in a country that’s so prone to looking for heroes to worship, prone to vicariously live through other people’s lives. I can be guilty of this many times too. To use this bad practice for my own benefit is prideful, selfish, and evil in my opinion. I’m guilty of many things as it is, I don’t want to be guilty of taking away affection meant for God and for the people around you.

This 2014, You go be amazing. Stop with the hero worship. YOU are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, prepared in advance for YOU to do. YOU go love YOUr parents. I have to love mine. YOU love your families. I’ll be busy loving mine. YOU show up for YOUr work on time and focus. I’ll be focused on mine. YOU take care of the people around YOU. I’m responsible for those around me. YOU be kind to YOUr maids and drivers instead of waiting for people like me to serve them. YOU be a hero to your kids before some idiot becomes theirs. YOU be committed to someone, to something. I’ll be committed to my work. Haha!

It’s so easy to be blinded by the manufactured stars we have been so trained to admire and it is so hard to appreciate the upside down kingdom of Christianity where the humble, the poor in spirit, and the lowly are blessed.

When Jesus came to die, He did not come to uplift a few talented or good-looking individuals, He came to bring freedom for the wise men and the shepherds, the rich and the poor worshipped Him together. The life Jesus promised is a life for every single person, so don’t ever believe that some people were meant to be greater than others. All were meant to enjoy faith, hope, and the greatest of these, love. All were meant to serve, and so be great in His eyes.

This 2014, YOU go be amazing, but if you’re not sure where to start, start with Jesus, in prayer, in church, in worship, and my hope for YOU this new year is that YOU’ll find, for YOUrself, that the God of the universe, has His own reason that overrides all, that reason is His love for YOU.


How I Planned for 2014

There are 4 more days left in 2013, and it’s a good time to reflect on the year that passed and start making decisions for 2014. I use the phrase “make decisions” because that is what planning is about – it’s thinking through your “whys”, choosing what the priorities are, what activities achieve these priorities, when these activities have to take place, how they should be executed, and even where. The whole planning exercise is a bunch of decisions, and from experience, the more committed we are to these choices, the more likely we are to achieve the goals we set.

Much of our success will boil down to our ability to see things through. In other words, much of our success boils down to commitment.

Having emphasized the importance of commitment, I’ll now get very practical with a framework I like to use for planning, particularly planning a new year. It’s not perfect, and it’s not complex at all but it’s a system that has helped me through the years learn, grow, and achieve a variety of things from my diverse interests. I’m a big believer in developing “personal systems”, ways of doing things consistently that lead to efficiency and growth in one’s own life. This system has slightly been introduced through the Giving Journal of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (which is also a subsidiary of the CBTL Holdings Group, parent company of New Leaf Ventures). Go get yourself a copy before they run out.

Here are the steps…

Read the full article here

I Found My Blue Sky – Everything is Illuminated


How beautiful the dawn when it arrives after a most black night.

How beautiful that first glimmer, that moment when the coming brightness becomes apparent.

This morning sky above them, Abe walked further from the feast with Sam safely in his arms. The rising sun illuminated the valley they traveled revealing a path to the mountains away from the dark lands. Scattered across the valley were statues of people, men, women, young, old, hundreds of sodium sculptures in all sorts of frozen motion.

“Abe”, a tired Sam called. “Who put all these statues here?”

“They did.”

“Who are they?”

“They themselves did.”

“The statues?”


“How did they do that? How did they move?”

“They were once alive.” Abe said with hint of sadness. “Once alive like you, and also fleeing the feast. But as they moved away their hearts longed to return and so they turned. Here now they stand, held in place by indecision, stuck with the knowledge of the light and the contrary desire for the darkness of the feast.”

Sam felt herself shiver. The pain of the feast was much to fresh for her to want to ever go back. “Why would anyone want to go back?” she asked.

“People forget. Then they imagine. Then they turn. Then turn back, then turn again, then turn. It is their own lack of commitment to either direction that freezes them.” Abe answered.

“Can’t we help them?”

“We help them by staying resolute. But in the end they must help themselves. All it takes is one final choice.”

Sam found herself in deep thought. Her wounds stung and her body ached, but her thoughts preoccupied her.

“Please don’t let go of me.” she asked Abe. “I’m so weary.”

She felt his arms bring her closer to his chest.

Tears started to fall down Sam’s face. “I’ve been a fool, Abe. I’ve been such a fool.”

“My dear, there’s no more need for that. There’s no need for condemnation. I’m here with you.” Abe comfortingly told her.

“Why did you take so long, Abe?” Sam cried to him. “Why did you take so long to come back?”

Abe listened to her kindly despite her questioning.

“Why did you leave us? Where did you go?” Sam poured on still in trauma. Still overwhelmed Sam’s questions came like a cross-examination. Question after question flew through her mind and escaped in her words.

Abe steadfastly continued his pace, still gently cradling Sam.

“Why Abe?” Sam cried. “Why? Where were you?”

“Do you really want me to explain?”

“Yes!” Sam said.

Then Abe gently spoke, “My dear Sam, You ask me where I was, and I feel your slight resentment of my absence. But I was there and I never left. I never truly left. I was with you and David, in my words and instructions. When we remember someone, that someone never really leaves. I told you to stay together and to stay on the path, and I told you to remember my words. I was telling you to keep me present in your journey, that is what remembering means – to be present once more – even as I went to prepare your way. I was with David, I allowed him into your life, to invite you on this journey. Yet you ignored him too.

You did not remember. You forgot. Forgetting is the natural result of being preoccupied with other things. You forgot my voice and listened to other voices. The voice of your hunger, the voice of your fear, the voice of your anger, the voice of the fox. You were the one who abandoned my memory and strayed from the promise. You didn’t understand that even in my absence I was remembering you.

And in the feast, where I found you miles away from the narrow path, I was there. I was in the hungry child asking for food. I was in the pregnant girl calling for your attention. I was calling to you in the dying old couple, the couple you saw before you chose yourself above all. You could not hear me, much less recognize, because your heart had chosen best of the feast. In the euphoria of the feast, in your desire to be loved you ignored my call to go beyond yourself and your honey’s validation. You ignored my call and chose “I”.

The whole time I never left you. But to journey is to choose daily a step, and to journey with someone is to choose to walk with that someone in-step if not beside them then in mind. Where our journey leads us is determined by the steps we take, and the quality of our journey by those we choose to walk in-step with. Who we find in our journey, those who leave and stay, is the result of the choices we make.”

Sam was crying even harder now. “These explanations are most painful to hear, most painful to understand. But I know in my heart they are true. Thank you for saving me. I know not why you thought it worth your time to rescue me, but thank you.”

Her meekness touched Abe’s heart, and he explained, “In that instance of your humiliation, when in your brokenness you called for forgiveness, you, once more, with those words, invited me on your journey, and gave me permission to break the power of the feast – a power I have broken for all, though many, like you, still choose its shadow.

Sam’s crying stung the the wounds of her face but she did not notice. The brokenness of her heart was much much heavier.

“Am I hopeless, Abe?”

“No one who lives is hopeless, Sam.”

“That’s good to know. What should I do now? I feel like I’m dying.”

“Just rest.” Abe told her lovingly as he cradled her. “Just rest.”

Sam pressed herself deeper into Abe’s embrace. Her painful wounds ached but she was shortly in a very deep sleep.

A drop of water on Sam’s cheek woke her and she opened her eyes to a rainbow. She stayed lying there still not knowing what was happening. The darkness of the feast had so overwhelmed her that the bright colors amazed her eyes. Then the scent of roses and jasmine wafted under her nose. Still not knowing what was transpiring, Sam sat up quickly and looked around. What she found amazed her, a lush garden of plants and flowers of infinite colors with streams of flowing rivers of honey. Everything the honey touched turned into patch of beautiful flowers. She felt her body, she was fully clothed in white, and no wound was left. She held her face in her hands and it was whole.

“Abe?” she called out.

“I’m here Sam.”

“Where are we? What happened?”

“We happened.” he smiled at her.

She smiled back.

“I wish David could see this. This is amazing.” then it hit her and she woke up still lying in the arms of Abe. It was all a dream. “David! Abe, we forgot about David! He didn’t have food when I left him. He didn’t have much of anything left. We need to find him.”

How precious the turned heart that no longer places the self above all, that even in her happiness Sam remembered the unfortunate.

“He’s fine. In fact, he’s on his way here.” Abe told her.

A little fear came over Sam. “I don’t want him to see me this way. I’m so ashamed.”

“Do you want to see him?” Abe asked.

“I do…” Sam answered.

“Then you must see him as you are.”

“He’s going to hate me. I’m sure he hates me already. And he’ll find me so ugly and stupid. I can’t let him see me Abe. Not like this.”

“Sam…” Abe spoke to her kindly. “David loves you. Stop trying. He loves you.”

“But I have nothing to give him. I have nothing to show.” she said with her head bowed and tearing eyes.

“Sam, there are many kinds of love, but only one kind that is true, the love I speak of has no criteria, but David loves you because you’re you. All your life you’ve wanted to be loved, for your face, for your honey, for what you can offer. But that is temporary. Faces age, honey rots, and then what?”

Sam could hear David’s voice telling her,“What happens if you ever run out of honey? What will people respect about you?”

“But he loves you.”Abe caught her attention once more. “He may not like honey but he definitely likes you.”

Sam smiled. “Why wasn’t David in my dream?”

Abe smiled back sadly, “Because he’s no longer there.”

Sam nodded. “I understand.” she said as tears streamed down her face. “There’s no undoing some things is there?”

“No. It’s a world of choices, Sam. But every choice, even wrong choices can be redeemed even if they cannot be undone.”

“Will David be alright?” Sam asked.

“He’s going to change this land.” Abe told her.

Sam leaned back on Abe, closed her eyes, smiled. “That thought makes me very happy. I know now that I love him too.”

Abe, though having seen this a million times, a love discovered too late, hid the infinite pain it caused him.

“Rest now, Sam. Rest.”