Guest Writer, Hope

History – The Perfect Teacher

Written by Ms. Funmi M.
History - The Perfect Teacher

The Exceller Blog

My younger self was always intrigued by the stories of childbirth from mothers – the pain, discomfort, lasting ‘deformation’ to the woman’s body and many more serious concerns and experiences. It however left me confused when I see women with their second, third, fourth etc. pregnancy. I couldn’t help but wonder, ‘Has she forgotten all that she went through? Is this woman okay? Hasn’t she learnt from the past pain she described to me?’ As time went by, I began to see that perhaps the joy of holding that precious one in one’s arm is greater than the pain and discomfort of the past months. Most women seem to treasure the calling to be a helper in bringing up an image barrier of the Creator over the discomfort of a swollen nose and looking weird in family pictures. The pain and struggle of childbirth and rearing is real, but the joy ahead is greater – most women will agree..

I say this as I think about the many lessons that history is meant to teach us and how often we forget the lessons. I am quickly reminded of the journey of the Israelites from slavery of 430 years in Egypt to freedom in the Promise Land. I often wonder how anyone could forget seeing the hand of God as the sea parted ways. I am quick to caution myself not to be too quick to call the Israelites out on this one. Our 21st century world just went through an incredible pandemic, one that our century has never witnessed before, yet, as our cities open up and the mask begins to fade away and turn into waste nuance, we are beginning to leave the painful history behind us and forge ahead. The question remains, what should we do with history?

History is a teacher that we should learn from. A wise woman will study the past and not fall into the same mistake others have fallen into. She will leverage the failure of others and her own mistakes – not dwell on them, but rather, learn from them. I have often wondered how the children of Israel were to survive the aftermath of slavery – 430 years of slavery is a long time: longer than the Chattel slavery. Studying history, Israel was commanded by their King to celebrate their freedom year after year as opposed to nesting over their slavery!

Being a woman in this age seems challenging. The expectations and demands for our time, attention, intellect, looks etc. are countless. How did we get here? As I look into history, I see clearly that there is nothing new under the sun. Talk about the French women of the 17th century that had to spend hours in making their 3ft tall hairstyles and leave it untouched for weeks allowing their head become a home for lice and fleas. Or the 18th century ladies that had their crinoline catch fire multiple times all to follow the appearance expectations set on them. History shows us clearly that the problem is not with our generation or a certain era. As a wise man once said, every generation has its own blind spots. The problem is in the inherent sinful nature of all human beings.

The same history presents the solution clearly to us, it shows us that life is fleeting; we are here today and gone tomorrow. The solution to the inherent problem of human nature is Jesus Christ. We obviously cannot help ourselves. I am a believer that the Bible is the infallible, inspired word of God that clearly presents to us who God is, the world He created, who we are and how to live in this world. It is really that simple. It is a lack of wisdom that makes a man/woman go against the manufacturer’s instruction and again, history has shown us over and over again that it is not in man to direct his path.

Life comes with challenges of different shapes and sizes. As our faces are and our fingerprints are unique, so are our challenges. At times, language does a poor job at expressing our innermost thoughts, struggles and hurt, but we can come to our creator and groan before Him through Jesus Christ. We can sit at His feet in silence yet every word in our hearts is heard.

I pray that you receive grace to learn from history and lay ALL your burdens at His feet.

Shalom!

CareerGrowth, Guest Writer, The Experience Series

How I Employed Faith and Other Tools in Tackling Underemployment as an Immigrant and Secured my Dream Job

Friends, in this post, I have the immense pleasure of bringing on a fellow Christian and a blogger-friend to share her story with us! Mrs. Juliet is an environmentalist. After migrating to Canada with her family a few years ago, she faced the oh-so-familiar challenge of under-employment. In this post, I have invited her to talking to us about some of the principles and tools that she engaged in scaling that hurdle to secure a dream job in her choice career. I have also included some bonus tools and resources at the end, so don’t rush off until you check those out as well. 😉

Exceller: Hellooo Mrs. Juliet, it’s so exciting to have you providing content on The Exceller Blog. You’ve been an inspiration to me, being a blogger yourself, and always actively engaging with our posts. How do you feel about sharing your journey with us?

Mrs. Juliet: It has not been easy sharing my journey because it requires being vulnerable, exposing your shortcomings and all that. I am an open book, but I married a very private man which means, I need wisdom in my writing… I trust God that my journey and process as a Christian will bless fellow Christians like me. As the scripture says, Iron sharpens iron. (Proverb 27:17)

Exceller: Before moving to Canada, you were already well-educated and set up for a promising career. Yet, on relocating, there were a few tools and programs that you explored in order to adapt to the Canadian labour market. Could you tell us about some of those?

Mrs. Juliet: I couldn’t afford paid programs at the time, so I went to immigrant training sessions by some not-for-profit organizations to understand how interviews are conducted. I attended the resume clinics. I also utilized LinkedIn to build relationships and I kept applying to jobs related to my field. I also learned how to write a good cover letter which is very important in my field – the ability to tell your story to align with the organization’s need and how you are the solution they are looking for.

Exceller: For the first several months, you were underemployed and in a field outside your area of expertise. I imagine how discouraging that must have been. What top 2 principles kept you persistent in your job search?

Mrs. Juliet: First principle is in Matthew 7:9-11, I know my “now” is not an accident so that scripture is an assurance that the job suitable and custom-made for me will come. Secondly, I stayed connected to the right people who kept encouraging me.

9“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:9-11

Exceller: One of the things you kept engaged with before settling into your original career was volunteering. I know that you still serve some of those NGOs. Is this something you would recommend to others in your shoes? If so, why?

Mrs. Juliet: Yes, volunteering is very important. Although, back in Nigeria, it was not something we were taught but I learned from studying in Finland the importance of volunteering. I got my first job with EU for Africa through volunteering at my university back in Finland. All the references I got for my current job were connections made from volunteering and I have met some wonderful people through volunteering.

Exceller: Let’s zone in on one of your principles. What role did your faith in God play in pulling you through that phase?

Mrs. Juliet: My faith in God made me realized that God never fails and even in dark moments, He comes through, and it is always obvious.  I will tell you a little story. I have always been a very impatient person especially when I can get something done myself. I was doing a night job that required us to work as a team and my supervisor was a very stressful one. I was always angry with her. One day we got into serious arguments, and I warned her seriously to the extent that she was so afraid. That night, I remember the Holy Spirit asking me to go and beg her before I can even think of praying but it took me days to obey because I felt cheated.

God takes us through processes to make us better and prepare us for a bigger blessing!

I apologized to her, and she cried, she ended up becoming my friend and over time I was able to talk to her about Christ. Few days later we both changed jobs. Immediately, I felt my assignment on that undervalued job was over. Sometimes, God takes us through some processes to make us better and prepare us for a bigger blessing.

When I felt discouraged, I cried and sang praise, I let myself be expressive, but I did not lose hope. I kept the faith.

Additionally, the community of Christian friends around me has been a tremendous blessing… I was always connecting with friends who prayed with me and encouraged me and spoke positive words over me especially when I had doubts about myself when I got rejections on jobs that I felt I was qualified for.

Exceller: What are some myths/popular opinions that were sold to you, but which your personal experience helped to debunk?

Mrs. Juliet: I had been told that as a black person, getting a job in my field (Climate Change) will be difficult and also, I did not have any prior Canadian experience, neither did I attend a Canadian school, so I was told to forget about searching for jobs in the climate change space in Canada. However, I stopped listening to them and allowed God to lead me. I got a job in my field and also my role is multi-faceted which has empowered me in less than a year! It can only be God. One advantage we have as Christians, is the help of the Holy Spirit to help us make right decisions even at crossroads in our career and not just in the spiritual things.

Exceller: Wow! Thank you so much Mrs. Juliet for sharing your story with us so openly and authentically. Your journey inspired me, and I am sure it’s the same for all the wonderful Exceller_Readers. God bless you immensely, and I am confident that your path will continually shine brighter and more radiantly.

About Mrs. Juliet:

When she is not working at her formal employment, Mrs. Juliet enjoys spending time with family, serving young people and blogging at My Christian Journey. Do well to check out her blog for other inspiring writings.

Editor’s Note:

Tell me, which of the above-mentioned tools or principles resonated most with you? 😊 Was it persistence in faith, resume, cover-letter and interview clinics, professional networking (LinkedIn), volunteering, a supportive Christian community, partnering with the Holy Spirit, or a mix of everything?!

Did you know that there are over 1250 free newcomer services scattered all over the provinces and territories of Canada? You can find the entire list here, as well as narrow your search to career-related services that are closest to your location .

Other “tools” that you may find effective for aiding your transition into the Canadian workforce include:

  • Obtaining the Canadian equivalence of your overseas education,
  • Acquiring internationally recognized professional qualifications that are specific or related to your area of expertise.
  • Learning relevant technical skills that are competitive in your field of endeavour.
  • Developing soft skills that are required in the Canadian work environment. I will suggest that you do not downplay the relevance of soft skills, especially if you are relocating from a culture that has strong language and mannerism. It is necessary to learn to communicate in a way that your colleagues will find familiar, or at the very least, non-revolting. No pressure, though. 😊 We all keep getting better. Last year, I bought a nice, little book from Amazon titled “Canadian Workplace Culture – Mastering the Unspoken Rules.” I haven’t finished reading it yet, but the parts I read were definitely refreshing. 😊

Note that although these tools seem to be specific to the Canadian work environment, readers in other parts of the world will find usefulness in them.

It is interesting how much can be found from a simple internet search with just the right keywords. E.g., “most in-demand IT skills in Sydney.”

Most importantly, I pray that the grace of God will continue to amplify our efforts and open amazing doors for us.

Cheers to breaking glass ceilings, debunking myths, staying the course, and winning together! 🥂

Academics, Guest Writer, The Experience Series

The Experience 7: Applying The Lessons Learnt

apply-lessons

After the test, I walked out of the hall, worried and lost. I was disappointed at my performance and couldn’t believe I was only able to attempt just one out of four questions. It was a disaster and below my expectation. I was devastated. As I took calculated steps towards my hostel, I knew I had to do something to avert the slide. We were heading for an unknown period of school strike no thanks to demands from the National Universities Commission (NUC).

We were taking stocks some weeks ago. I was taking stock of my academic life that fateful day. Have you been able to document your life in different fields? I bet you have taken your time to play back 2016. You smiled at some and frowned at others. You wished for a replay of some events and hoped that some others will never occur again.

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. -St. Francis of Assisi

There were some highlights you would love to hold on to for the new season. There were some methods that produced so much fruits. There was a reading pattern that helped you pass your exams. There was a bible app that helped you draw closer. There was a routine that made you healthier and happier. There was something that stood exceptionally glorious. There were friends that brought out the best in you. Hold on to them or still look for further improvement.

There were few that held you down and restricted your flight in some fields. There were colleagues that made you feel less of yourself and had a way of talking you away from your divine goal. There were patterns that hindered your activities. There were some activities that drew you away from God. There were some apps that took much of your time. Prune them. End them. Turn around.

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. – Matthew 5:29

Back to my opening experience story, I spent the 2 months NUC strike on that course – Engineering Thermodynamics. For the first time, I bought two past question booklets with answers. One was for Engineering Thermodynamics and the other for Computer Studies. I just didn’t understand the latter. I buried myself in these past question booklets, answering them over and over again. I was still dazed by my performance in that test.

It is not enough to be compassionate – you must act. -The Dalai Lama

These are lessons learnt but they are not just for documentation purposes. They are for your improvement. Wouldn’t you like to be better in the New Year, the new season? There is always room for improvement. You shall have no better yesteryears.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. – Philippians 3:12-15

 


Chibuzor Amos is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the prestigious Federal University of Technology, Owerri and currently a technical professional in an oil firm. He blogs at Soccergunz and Amoscp’s blog.

Academics, Guest Writer, The Experience Series

The Experience 6: Time to Take Stock

take-stock

Growing up in the suburbs of Lagos, my mum had a shop – not as big as a supermarket but big enough to cater for the house and provide for normal expenses associated with kids. There was a culture I grew up to learn from my mum and that culture is STOCK TAKING.

After the noisy crossover nights, infested with loud firecrackers and “Happy New Year” shouts, my mum took to the solace of the quietening environment to look back at her shop and make preparations for the New Year. She would take me and any other member of the house and we would assist her in taking stock in her shop. She needed actuals and not mere assumptions, generalizations nor sight deceptions.

Galatians 6:3-5 – For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbour. For each will have to bear his own load.

It was a very serious exercise for her because it gave her the opportunity to know how much goods she had and which of these goods will expire in the next 365 days and the actions thereof to eliminate them. We had our biros and papers and we divided the shop into various sections. Expired goods were disposed. Those that had 30-60 days validity period were marked out for immediate consumption while records were kept and made reference to.

As Christians, it is expected that we take time out to examine our lives and deeds with the objective of running The Race lighter, earnestly contending for The Faith, achieving the divine goal and making improvements where needed. This is usually achieved if we look at our lives into three phases: Past, Present and Future.

II Corinthians 13:5 – Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Without the past there will be no lesson learnt. Within the walls of the higher institution, the availability of my result after every session was a catalyst to taking stock of my academic life. Every present result emanated from actions in the past. These past actions have to be closely dissected to draw out lessons learnt in order to make appropriate improvements for the present and the future. If we must change, we must first recognize what is wrong. It requires deep and fearless personal searches without meandering away from the “dark spots”. This inventory has to be done accurately else the result will be skewed wrongly.

Lamentations 3:40 – Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!

This is the first week of December and it sends different signals to different people. To many, it is the end of the year and a period to round off plans for the year. To others, it is just another month with nothing special other than what we decide to make of it. Make December a month for you to take stock of your life so that the New Year will kick-start on a positive note.

Press the pause button and take stock of your life. Are you on the downslide or on the rise? Take an inventory of your relationship with God, relationship with man, academic pursuit, personal goals, collective goals, family etc. No one knows you better than yourself. Put it down in black and white. It is one of those vital steps to excelling in the nearest future.

What next after taking stock? We would talk about that in the next post. For now, just take stock. Pray for the courage to take an honest assessment of your life.


Chibuzor Amos is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the prestigious Federal University of Technology, Owerri and currently a technical professional in an oil firm. He blogs at Soccergunz and Amoscp’s blog.

Faith, Guest Writer

5S Your Life

​Have you ever been in a situation where things around you just seemed so out of place, so disorganized? Well…I guess we all have been there, maybe once or twice. If only we knew what to do to get ourselves out of those situations. 

So the question is… What is 5S? 

5S in the general sense, is a lean manufacturing tool designed to improve workplace efficiency through facility wide organization and cleanliness. Simply put, when you come to work, you want to see everything put where it is supposed to be for easy location and you also want to see the place clean and conducive for business, thereby enhancing efficiency and reducing costs.

What are the 5Ses? 

Sort: The stage where you remove unnecessary items from the work area. You clearly distinguish what is needed, what should be kept, and what should be thrown out.

Set in order: Where you organize the necessary things making it easier for anyone to find them and use them. You keep the important things nearby and implement visual organization. 

Shine: The stage where you clean the work area, equipment and tools regularly. 

Standardize: Create a consistent 5S workflow. Assign tasks and create schedules so that everyone knows their responsibilities. 

 Finally, 

Sustain: Where you ensure that 5S is a long-tem goal. Analyze results, hold team meetings and train workers on the importance of 5S.

What’s the essence of all these? 

If 5S can be applied to the workplace for greater efficiency and gain, why can’t it be applied to our lives? It definitely can..and it should. 

  • Sort out things in your life, habits, friends, thoughts, goals, even foods, and then determine which is necessary for your long term growth and those that don’t fall in this list, you should discard…immediately. 
  • Set in order your thoughts and goals. Place them in order of priorities and then begin to take action. 
  • Shine and clean up negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. This could take time, but trust me…it’s worth it. Remember that a clean place is safer and more productive.
  • Standardize these acts. Create a consistent plan to see that you  go through with the 5S for your life. And finally, 
  • Sustain these acts. If it’s possible, get an accountability partner, get a mentor. Read books, educate yourself, make a decision that your life will continue to get better and better.


There’s a saying…Personal development is 99% personal. So, take matters in your own hands and 5S your life for greater productivity. Make 5S a habit, because habits keep you going. And good ones would see you all the way through. 

Remain blessed.

Written by Ebuka Obiajulu 
Ebuka Obiajulu is a Mechanical Engineering graduate, a Project Manager at Ticon and currently works as a trainee engineer at Nigerian Bottling Company. He is also a graphics designer: wedding cards… logos… fliers… catalog designs. He enjoys art, playing basketball and reading. He reads for personal development; motivational,philosophical books and wants to learn how to cook!

Guest Writer, That Introvert Christian Girl

Introvert-Extrovert Excellence

​I’m an introvert and growin’ up, sometimes I wished that I was the outgoing, confident type. The need grew more pronounced in my undergraduate days as I was surrounded with all sorts of confident, bold personalities. I wanted to be more, because I thought that in order to make an impact on the world, I needed a big, outgoin’ personality.
Somewhere along the way too, people told me (not in these exact words) that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, creative enough, crafty enough, intelligent enough. I was compared to just anybody who appeared better and I could not be more overwhelmed with my insufficiency as it were. Was I goin’ to end up a failure? Will I be a never-do-well? These questions that I tortured myself with were suffocating in their own right.
As I grew, I dedicated myself to strippin’ the layers of inadequacy, one by one and embracin’ a new pace of life: to be patient with myself. This journey was slow, messy and I struggled with workin’ on the weaknesses of my temperaments. But then, one day, it was like somethin’ finally clicked into place and I realized I didn’t need to be outgoing, be a social butterfly or the constant centre of attention to excel in my chosen field (although I still think those personality types certainly make it easier at times!)🙈


You see, bein’ quiet is not a weakness. Just like bein’ confident doesn’t mean that you’re always goin’ to be an outgoin’ person who has all the answers all the time.

With this understanding, all I now strive and daily want to be is the kind of person who knows when to speak and when to listen. The kind who turns the other cheek instead of engagin’ in an argument just to prove a point. The kind who no matter what comes her way remains at peace. The kind who has a calm that makes others feel at ease in her presence. The kind of woman who is secure in her looks, talents and callings. The kind of person who doesn’t feel the pressure to always be the centre of attention or seek the approval of the world and all around her. The kind who has a quiet confidence deep within.

If you’re goin’ to excel at all, you have to first believe that you have all it takes, regardless of whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. That at that moment in time, you are enough just as you are, with all that you have and all you think you lack personality-wise.

Written by Oyiwodu

Oyiwodu is writer at Havilah: The Bloomfield. She’s a first child with a happy handful of four belles. She holds degrees in French, International History & Diplomacy. Though not a life-coach or expert on life matters, growing up in a Christian home exposed her to the struggles of young Christians and the pull of the world on their hearts. Through her writings, she desires to inspire her generation and the next to live purpose-intended lives, with the realization that each one is remarkable and lavishly loved by the good good Father.

Guest Writer, The Experience Series

The Experience 5: Don’t Stay Down

Quotation-Michael-Jordan-If-you-run-into-a-wall-don-t-turn-around-55-43-82

There comes a time when life throws its weight against you and you are left with two options: keep fighting or just let life have its way. You are left to decide whether to accept fate or refuse to be down.

I had a relatively poor result in my 3rd year of university education and I went back to the drawing board. I switched on the imaginary DVD in my mind and clicked on “My life – 18 months ago”. I chose to watch it in black and white because I had to make some changes. I noted some areas I needed to improve, some actions I needed to take and some paths I needed to avoid. I denied myself of a lot of secular needs in order to make amends for the poor form. I was walking a tight rope and I needed to be top notch to navigate back to my initially desired goal. Things went further south after taking these actions – the next result was worse, my worst. It was a tough time for me.

tightrope

In the Bible, the widow at Zarephath gave her last bread to Elijah and God gave her ceaseless blessings to take care of Elijah, the widow and her son (I Kings 17).

And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. – I Kings 17:17

Sadly, she must have been mad at Elijah and may have even questioned if he was a prophet of God. Sometimes we are tempted to question God, our faith and his deeds. But Elijah restored her son back to life.

And Elijah took the child and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, see, thy son liveth. And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth – I Kings 17:23-24

A time comes when you put in your very best, and you get the worst of results. You tarry with the Lord, make atonements, give alms, bring smile to people, win souls for Christ, finish a 40 days dry fasting, sow seeds of faith and the 9 yards but the immediate result has every adornment of discouragement. You begin to question and ponder. Doubt sets in and the will to do more begins to dwindle.

Sometimes you do everything right but that lecturer refuses to treat you fairly. You tick all the boxes but you are not chosen, you have the best of interviews but you are not invited for medicals, you fulfil all righteousness but the goal is missed. Do you give up and stop trying?

The three Hebrew lads were thrown to the hottest of flames for refusing to bow to the gods of Babylon. They didn’t stop worshipping God, they continued. Daniel was thrown into the dungeon for praying to God. Could he have suspended his prayers? Maybe he asked God “why?” or he believed that it was all for good and for the glory of God.

Joseph was disliked by his siblings and sold out to Egypt. He found his way to prison because he refused to what was wrong in the sight of the Lord. He tarried in prison but it was all for good. It must have been the lowest moment of his life.

The widow got her son back, Daniel had a pillow made of lions and was restored. The three Hebrew lads were elevated, Joseph became the prime minister and I had my best result the following year. Worth it?

So Friends, don’t let the bad results of today refrain you from making efforts in reaching your goal. God understands when you ask “Why?” but can you answer his questions in Job 38-41? You must believe that he is in charge and everything was created for him. Don’t just fold your hand and accept defeat. Don’t just accept that poor result and wallow in agony. The milk is spilt, stop crying over it.

For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again – Proverb 24:16

The low moment is not a period to continue in sin, nor a time to flee from the presence of God. The temptation is there to do as the world especially seeing positive results of their ways. Remember, there is always light at the end of tunnel as far as you are in Christ. Don’t stop praying, don’t stop worshipping, and don’t just stop. Rise up and give it another try.

 


Chibuzor Amos is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the prestigious Federal University of Technology, Owerri and currently a technical professional in an oil firm. He blogs at Soccergunz and Amoscp’s blog.

Academics, Guest Writer

Stay Christian On Campus

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HOW TO STAY CHRISTIAN ON CAMPUS

By David Mathis

They call it “the bubble.” It’s the perception that your campus, however big or small, college or seminary, is cozily quarantined off from the surrounding world. Life is different when you’re safe “in the bubble.” At least for now, you’re protected from the real world and the suffocating responsibilities that being an “adult” will one day bring.

True, the realities of campus life and being a fulltime student often produce a sense of disconnectedness from society. College and grad students aren’t always the sharpest on keeping up with what’s happening outside the bubble.

But while there may be some truth to the bubble experience, it can be unhelpfully deceptive and give way to a crippling lie: that campus life isn’t real life. My race hasn’t started yet. School is just a scrimmage; the real thing begins after graduation. This is one of the most important myths to dispel for the Christian student.

Pop the Bubble

After living four years “in the bubble” as an undergraduate, then working on staff with a college ministry for four more, taking graduate courses, and now interacting with students about How to Stay Christian in Seminary, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned personally, and am eager to pass along to fulltime students, is this: Pop the bubble.

Don’t believe the lie that life really hasn’t begun because you’re a fulltime student. Don’t think that what you do, or don’t do, on campus won’t affect the trajectory of the rest of your life and bring consequences that can be hard to shake. In particular, don’t give yourself a pass on the normal Christian life because “this is a special season” that somehow makes you immune to temptation, demonic attack, and the deep deceitfulness remaining in your own heart.

If you’re a student fulltime, it is a special season for growth — for study, for developing habits of mind and heart that will benefit you, and others, for a lifetime. It is a springboard to lifelong learning, not one long last day of recess. Be vigilant to protect class and study time, within reason; if God’s call on your life for now is to be a student, embrace his call and don’t squander this season of preparation for a life of need-meeting.

But it is vital to fight the instinct to think of ourselves as exceptional. That we’re exempt from saturating our lives in the word of God, or continually availing ourselves of his ear in prayer, or genuinely belonging to his body in a local church. You are not a student first, but ten thousand times a Christian first.

And in Christianity, there are no holding patterns, no pauses or time-outs, no respites from everyday soul-care. No bubbles. Today always matters (Psalm 95:7; Hebrews 3:13) The risen Christ is ever on his throne. Satan is always scheming. And your heart is never in neutral, but either getting hotter or colder. This “special season” of life is way too special (and normal) to give yourself a pass on Jesus, his gospel, or his church.

This Is Real Life

It’s important to hear that the life of a student is not a retreat from real life; it is real life. Real faith, real holiness, real warmth and softness of heart, real relationships, real eternity lie in the balance. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “There is no such thing as a holiday in the spiritual realm.”

The secret to “staying Christian” as a student, whether at a secular college or a Christian seminary, is that there’s no real secret. It’s just ordinary, everyday, world-transforming Christianity. The key to staying Christian in any season of life, any place on the planet, any time in history is simply this: being a Christian today. Hearts don’t harden all at once, but a day at a time.

There’s a sense in which it can be even more dangerous for the Bible and seminary student than for the student at a secular university. If the gospel is the aroma of life to life, and death to death, then studying theology is either the fast-track to sanctification or to condemnation (2 Corinthians 2:15–16), to increasing faith or diminishing belief.

But what’s true in the incubator of Bible college is true as well on the secular campus. All things were created in, through, and for Jesus (Colossians 1:16). Every course of study is about Jesus, if we only have the eyes to see. And “he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). Biology, physics, business, chemistry, communications, literature, medicine, philosophy, and political science will either draw you nearer to Jesus or pull you farther from him.

Your Most Important Homework

Heart-work, said Puritan great John Flavel, is the “one great business of a Christian’s life.” If you are a Christian, your most important homework (and classwork, for that matter) is heart-work. The life of the student is cognitively demanding, but we should relentlessly labor to make our mind-work serve our heart-work.

And we do so, not leaning on our own understanding and resources, but with the wind of the Holy Spirit in our sails. Staying Christian in college, seminary, or any other season of life means expending energy to “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). And that is the very thing he stands ready to do for and through us: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling” (Jude 24).

 


During my undergrad days, our patrons often drummed into our ears this saying, “You are first a christian before you are a student” and this is very true. If you are a christian student, then that is who you are – a christian, then a student. In the same way, a christian teacher is first a christian and then a teacher. A christian parent is first a christian, then a parent. As long as we see ourselves in this order, everything else will be seen in the correct perspective and that includes our actions, reactions, decisions or future ambitions. We are different. Do not expect to live like your colleague or compare yourself with them. Who you are is different and so are what you become and the results you will get in life, both on the short- and the long-run. Stay blessed.

This article was initially published on desiringgod.org. You should consider following that blog as well.

You, my reader-friend, are the best. So much love from me to you. See you soon.

Guest Writer, Love

3 ‘S’ For The (Yet) Unmarried

SINGLE, SATISFIED, AND SENT: MISSION FOR THE NOT-YET MARRIED

By Marshall Segal

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If you’re single, Satan is after you.

Okay, he’s after all of us, but there are some unique dangers in singleness — especially in unwanted singleness. He loves to deceive and discourage single people in the church and derail our devotion and ministry. But God intends to use you, your faith, your time, and your singleness in radical ways right now, as you are.

You might come away from a reading of 1 Corinthians 7 with two categories in mind: those who will live, serve, and die single and those who must marry. Paul sings singleness’s praises, listing the spiritual benefits of being spouse-free. The single life can be (relatively) free from relational anxieties (7:32), worldly distractions (7:33), and wide open for worship, devotion, and ministry (7:35). So, Paul concludes, skip the ceremony, literally, and enjoy “your undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Most say, “More power to you, Paul… but I’m getting married.” Maybe temptation overwhelms you, and you need a God-honoring way to satisfy that longing (7:2). Maybe it’s abundantly clear that you need a helper to carry out God’s call on your life (or it’s abundantly clear to others that you do). Maybe you want to have kids and realized that you need help with that. Maybe you just have a deep, undeniable desire for a loving, committed companion. In each case, it is good for you to get married.

While it may seem like two categories at first, we soon discover in application that there are three: the single, the married, and the not-yet married. After all, as any single person knows, a desire for marriage does not a marriage make. My hope in reflecting on Paul’s words is to restore hope and ambition in the hearts of the not-yet married and set them solidly on mission in their singleness.

ALL DRESSED UP AND EVERYWHERE TO GO

Perhaps the greatest temptation in singleness is to assume marriage will meet our unmet needs, solve our weaknesses, organize our lives, and unleash our gifts. Far from the solution, Paul makes marriage out to be a kind of problematic Plan B of Christian life and ministry. Marry if you must, but be warned, following Jesus is not easier when you join yourself to another sinner in a fallen world.

While marriage may bring joy, help, and relief in certain areas, it immediately multiplies your distractions because you’re intimately responsible for this other person, his or her needs, dreams, and growth. It’s a high calling and a good calling, but a demanding one that will keep you from all kinds of other good things.

Therefore, for the not-yet married, our (temporary) singleness is a gift. It really is. If God leads you to marriage, you may never again know a time like the one you’re in right now. A season of singleness is not merely the minor leagues of marriage. It has the potential to be a unique period of undivided devotion to Christ and undistracted ministry to others.

With the Spirit in you and the calendar clear, God has given you the means to make a lasting difference for his kingdom. You’re all dressed up, having every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3), with literally everywhere to go.

With God’s help and leading, you have the freedom to invest yourself, your time, your resources, your youth, and your flexibility in relationships, ministries, and causes that can bear unbelievable fruit.

So, here are eight suggestions for making the most of your not-yet married life.

1. AVOID TRADING MARITAL DISTRACTIONS FOR OTHER DISTRACTIONS

Paul may have been right about our freedom from spousal concerns, but in an iPhone, iPad, iPod, whatever iWant world, single people never have trouble finding their share of diversions. In fact, if you’re like me, you crave diversion and tend to default there, whether it’s SportsCenter, Downton Abbey, working out, fancy eating, endless blogging and blog-reading, surveying social media, or conquering the latest game. We might call it resting, but too often it looks, smells, and sounds a lot like we’re wasting our singleness.

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Everything just mentioned can be done for God’s glory, and it all can be a dangerous distraction from it. If you deny the latter, you may need to put down the smartphone, controller, or treadmill.

Look for ways Satan might be undermining your mission with short and simple pleasures. You may not need to eliminate it, but limit it and look for ways to welcome others into your life through it. Be creative and make disciples over college basketball, cooking, or Call of Duty, rather than going AWOL from God’s mission because of them.

2. SAY “YES” TO THE SPONTANEOUS

It’s just a fact, marriage murders spontaneity — not entirely, but massively. If you haven’t learned this yet, I doubt any of your (formerly spontaneous) friends have gotten married.

One of your greatest spiritual gifts as a single person is your “Yes.” Yes to a random phone conversation. Yes to coffee. Yes to help with the move. Yes to stepping in when someone’s sick. Yes to a late-night movie or the special event downtown. You have the unbelievable freedom to say yes when married people can’t even ask the question. When the spouse doesn’t exist, you can’t hurt them with your selfless, impulsive decisions. Be willing to say Yes! and bless others, even when you don’t always feel like it.

3. PRACTICE SELFLESSNESS WHILE YOU’RE STILL ALONE

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3–4 will only get harder in marriage, so practice now.

Think of a couple people or families for whom you could lay down your single life. No one is expecting you to care and provide for others right now — no one, that is, except for God. So be mindful of the needs of others, especially those in the church, and consider contributing. It could be money or food or just time and energy. Maybe especially time and energy. Regardless of your paycheck, you have been given much. Spend it wisely and liberally on the needs of others.

Financially, you’re supporting just one person. Sure, save modestly for days when you’ll need more, but while you wait, look for ways to provide for others. While you’re not buying groceries for five, dinner for two, and endless diapers, budget to bless and develop attitudes and habits of sacrifice for others. It will serve your future spouse immensely and make Jesus shine beautifully to those around you in the meantime.

4. DO RADICAL, TIME-CONSUMING THINGS FOR GOD

Just as you are free to say yes to more spontaneous things, you’re also able to say yes to things that require more of you than a married person can afford. Dream bigger, more costly dreams. Start a daily prayer meeting or some regular outreach. Commit to multiple discipleship relationships. Organize a new Christ-centered community service project. Do all of the above. You’d be surprised, with God’s Spirit in you and a resolve to spend your singleness well, how much you and your single friends are truly capable of, especially when you dream and work together.

Be radical, but not reckless. The idea is not to spread yourself dangerously thin, so make decisions prayerfully and in community with people who love you and can tell you, “No.” My perception, however, is that most not-yet-married believers can afford to give or do more than they are.

5. SPEND TIME WITH MARRIED PEOPLE

The longer you’re not-yet-married, the more time you have to learn about marriage from other people’s successes and failures. While you can’t avoid your own set of marital missteps and sins, you certainly can increase the odds of successes, small and large, by being a good student beforehand.

Look for opportunities to be a regular part of a married person’s life and family. If you’re not around enough to see any ugliness or messiness, perhaps you’re not around enough. Don’t impose on people, but don’t be afraid to initiate the conversation, either. It could be as simple as having lunch with them after church on Sundays. Make it easy for them to say yes by being a willing and eager servant. Offer to babysit on date night or help with yard work or bring a meal when one of the kids goes down sick.

Then be a student. Watch carefully. Ask questions. Take notes on what to imitate. In all your observations, be humble and gracious (if you could see your future marriage, this would be less of an issue). As our minds and hearts are being shaped by Scripture for marriage, we need examples of flawed but faithful marriages. These kinds of ongoing relationships make the principles and lessons real and repeatable.

6. SPEND TIME WITH NOT-YET MARRIED PEOPLE

While married people provide an important perspective and example, you need people in your life who are experiencing the same feelings, longings, and temptations you are. You should find and invest in people who are asking the same questions as you and also seeking to make the most of this unique season of singleness for Jesus’s sake.

Think about it, though he was never married, Paul did most of his ministry with someone. Find the trusted, gifted, and mission-minded friends in your life and be accountable to one another to make your not-yet married life matter for the kingdom. Following Christ was never meant to be done alone, even when you’re single.

7. FIND A FIANCÉ ON THE FRONT LINES

Instead of making it your mission to get married, make your mission God’s global cause and the advance of the gospel where you are, and look for someone pursuing the same. If you’re hoping to marry someone who passionately loves Jesus and makes him known, it’s probably best to put yourself in a community of people committed to that.

Join a small group, not just a group of single Christians, but one actively on mission together. Get plugged into a ministry in your church that’s engaging the lost in the local community. Focus on the harvest, and you’re bound to find a helper.

8. WHILE YOU WAIT, HOPE IN JESUS MORE THAN MARRIAGE

Make it true first. Spend lots of time satisfying your soul in all that God has become for you in Jesus. Then be bold to say it when all anyone wants to talk about is your love life. “So, any women in your life these days?” “Are the two of you an item?” “She’s a really great girl. What do you think about her?” “Would you be willing to go on a date with my wife’s cousin’s roommate’s brother?” Married people have lines, too.

Use the awkward small talk as an opportunity to point them to the Groom who purchased your eternal happiness whether in life or in death, in sickness or in health, whether in matrimony or “on the market.”

So when you feel lonely or discouraged in your singleness, remember that if you’re saved, you’re sent. Instead of waiting until your wedding day to get about the work, make the most of this not-yet-married life.

 


I’m sure that you were blessed by this post, as I was. You should consider following the blog desiringgod.org for more inspiring posts as this, as you follow excellerblog.wordpress.com and as we all follow Jesus.

You, my reader-friend, are the best. So much love from me to you.

Academics, Guest Writer, The Experience Series

The Experience 4 – Where Is The Library?

Where is The Library?

 “A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.” – Shelby Foote

There are various buildings in a school – the lecture halls, the hostels, the restaurants, the admin blocks, the laboratories, etc. – but none is as important as the library. Of the various facilities I utilized in higher school, the library was among the most crucial.

Wikipedia defines a library as a collection of sources of information and similar resources, made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. But I love Cambridge’s two definitions more:

A building, room, or organization that has a collection, especially of books, for people to read or borrow, usually without payment

A collection or set of books or other things, all produced in the same style or about the same subject:

I looked at my course handbook and perused through the requirements for each of the courses for my very first semester. I was familiar with all but one – Engineering Workshop. I have never encountered such subject in secondary school and I was not a student of metal or wood work. The closest I knew was Technical Drawing which metamorphosed into Engineering Drawing. I needed help before lectures began proper. I could only find one in the library.

The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library – Albert Einstein

With a library card, I was able to access the library, perused through the collections and chose a book that answered my questions wholesomely. I read a while in the building but had to borrow the book for further reading. It became the genesis of my constant visit to the library and eventual desire to borrow a book I need to enrich my knowledge.

As Cambridge defined, the use of library is usually without payment. You can say the internet offers more information than the library but how organized are these information gotten from the library? How reliable are the answers google gives to you? Yes, the internet itself is a library, just as you are reading this post but there is a good number of information that is not on the net but is neatly arranged in your school library.

Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one. – Neil Gaiman

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries. –Anne Herbert

As a student, you may not have so much money to buy every book needed for a particular course. You may not have so much cash to visit the café. You may not have data to surf the internet on your phone. You may not even be buoyant enough to own a smartphone. So what do you do? Sit, fold your arms and blame your current situation? There is a library in your school, use it. I prefer to read hard copy documents than the electronic ones. There is also the fun of stumbling upon the book the lecturer uses, accessibility to books with easier explanations, past questions, journals, videos, CDs, and whole world of new things.

Everything you need for better future and success has already been written. And guess what? All you have to do is go to the library. –Henri Frederic Amiel

To have a library card, know the location of a library or even own a library is one thing; the usage and application of the knowledge learnt is another thing entirely. The former is of no use if the latter doesn’t come to pass. It is like have a very beautiful bible that is rarely read. It is like hearing God’s words and refusing to do as He says.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. – James 1:22

There may be no physical library in your community; you can build yours in your room. The bible should be our first piece in our library and is itself a library. It is a collection of God’s words and commandments and a direction to the good life. If you don’t own one, what have you been reading?

This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success – Joshua 1:8

Build your personnel library. You may not know all things but with a library you have the opportunity to access all things.

Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. –Sidney Sheldon

Written by Chibuzor Amos


Chibuzor Amos is a graduate of Chemical Engineering from the prestigious Federal University of Technology, Owerri and currently a technical professional in an oil firm. He blogs at Soccergunz and Amoscp’s blog.