Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hmmm! I wonder if...

Some of the most compelling parts of the book, Adam, were the questions posed at the end of the story. Skillfully crafted as a discussion between Daniel the story's hero, his estranged wife Heather and the priest who performed the deliverance (exorcism) on Alex Price, they consider the following questions:

  • How had they been blinded to the light for so long?
  • How could the rest of the world be so blind?
  • How did evil manage to hide itself so effectively?
  • Why didn't more people talk about evil?
  • Why didn't people at least acknowledge that evil responded in a uniquely compelling way to the name of Jesus? Surely the forces of evil knew something the rest of the world seemed to deny.

While some of these questions went unanswered in the story, they are not unanswerable according to the Bible. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, demonic possession is alive and well in today's world. Not only do stories abound of modern-day, real-life cases of demon possession, for those who care to seek them out, but I have personally been involved in numerous powerful cases of demon possession and deliverance. If this is true, you ask, then why are more people not aware of it? The simple answer is because it is not evil's purpose to brazenly display itself in a manner in which it can be readily identified since it's primary goal is to destroy in the most subtle of ways (Alex Price, like Ted Bundy and David Berkowitz, was the most "normal' of people until he was behind closed doors). Hear what the Scriptures have to say about that: "...for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14)

Because the realm of the demonic often operates within the supernatural, skepticism is a tool that Satan uses to lure people into being complacent about their "dark" secrets, simply passing them off as bad habits. The Scriptures have something to say about this also: "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4) Dekker addresses this through Daniel's request to the priest for help: "Then Daniel had begged the priest to tell him what he must do. The light: he kept mumbling about the light and demanding to know more about the light that had saved him. Father Seymour (see more?) had put it very simply. Jesus, he said. The light of the world."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Film Student's Vision of ADAM on a $100 dollar budget

Admittedly, this video doesn't really do justice to the story at all, but with a $100.00 budget, it certainly attempts to capture the idea that the subject is dealing with a phenomena outside the realm of the ordinary. The premise of the story is that a recognized FBI behavioral psychologist, who has essentially written the book on profiling, unwittingly enters a world that takes him by complete surprise. What is worse is the fact that it is a world he doesn't believe exists. Like most people today, Daniel (the primary character in the story) has ridiculed and in fact written bestselling treatises attempting to debunk the validity of a spirit realm and a belief in God, Satan and demons. He finds himself embroiled in a darkness that is palpable and for the first time in his life he experiences a terror that is beyond a humanly induced fear.

Dekker skillfully weaves in stories of demonic possession that are taken from case files of real live events (albeit with his own added twists), which leave you on the edge of your seat. Many times you have to remind yourself to take a breathe. The story begins with the kidnapping and subsequent abuse (physically, emotionally and spiritually) of Alex and Jessica Price. This begins the long descent into darkness for Alex as he unsucsessfully battles with demons that are ravaging his mind and influencing a behavioral pattern that is completely outside the realms of normal. Alex's story mirrors stories of real people like Ted Bundy and David Berkowitz (dubbed the Son of Sam killer), infamous serial killers that blamed their lust for blood on demonic entities that gave them specific instructions. Again, many laughed at and ridiculed the "preposterous" idea that "voices" could have influenced their decisions, however, those who are versed in the Scriptures are not so quick to dismiss these claims.

So here are todays truths:

  • Demonic possession is alive and well in our world today (Matthew 8:28-34)
  • Spiritual forces play a large part in our daily lives whether we realize it or not (Ephesians 6:12)
  • What you give your heart and mind to will exert control over you (Proverbs 23:74:20-27)
  • There will always be skeptics about spiritual power (Matthew 12:22-28)

Tomorrow we'll explore some of these truths a little deeper. What do you believe about demonic possession?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Adam and Eve

In my opinion, one of the most creative and spiritually astute Christian fiction writers to come along in over a decade is Ted Dekker. I must admit that he is one of the people I would most love to meet. His subject matter is the stuff psychological thrillers are made of, and if you doubt the veracity of my assessment, look no further than Hollywood who turned one of his most acclaimed novels (Thr3e) into a silver screen hit (okay, maybe it wasn't such a hit). Famed for writing amazing books like, Thr3e, Blink, Blessed Child, The Red, White and Black series among many more bestsellers, Dekker has outdone himself with his latest novel, Adam.

I guess healthy competition is good, because, since (again in my opinion), Robert Liparulo's and Tim Downs' bursting on the scene of Christian fiction, Dekker has stepped up his game. I am not easily intimidated by the world of spiritual warfare. In fact, I have written a fair amount of non-fiction material on the subject such as a book titled I'm a Christian so how can I have demons? as well as a manuscript on witchcraft, currently in the pipline. This book scared the "bejeebers" (whatever they are) out of me! I was initially confused as to whether it was a true account or a work of fiction even though the book and it's reviews stated clearly that it was a work of fiction. I kept returning to the intro on the sleeve to see if I'd somehow missed the information that detailed the fact that this was a true account of a real event.

Delving into the mind of the books primary representation of evil, "Eve," Dekker paints us a perfect picture of how the devil clandestinely works to destroy people in the real world. The story is interlaced with a "ficticious" nine-part article culled from Crime Today magazine, complete with photos and detailed accounts of the saga faced by the beleaguered Alex Price and his sister, that further pushes the mind to question whether or not the book is actually a work of fiction. Deliverance and spiritual warfare have been an area of significant interest for me over the last two-plus decades, and so this book was a breath of fresh air for me. This week I will examine some of the truths outlined in the book so that together we can uncover the ploys that the enemy of our souls uses against us in an attempt to hinder our destiny. What's your opinion about demons and spiritual warfare? I really am curious so please don't be a silent reader today.

Friday, April 25, 2008

head games and kisses

So, I'm having this conversation in my head regarding the recruiting process from high school to play division 1 college football. Between April 15 and May 31 the recruiting season for rising-seniors picks up in earnest. We have been bombarded with letters and e-mails encouraging us to call, visit, consider.... It's a seemingly endless and distracting process of trying to make sense of whether this is about a college education or about playing football for a school.

Part of me thinks there's too much hype going on, with kids being made to feel as if they are the greatest things since the invention of... well, sliced bread. Another part of me feels like the kids have worked hard and deserve the attention they are getting. I realize how overwhelming this process can be, especially since I am so involved with my son's recruiting process. To date he has full offers from Purdue, Cincinnatti, UCF, USF, North Carolina State, and Duke with a number of others in the pipeline. There are so many factors to consider in the process of choosing a school, but the most important consideration is the need to remain grounded and recognize that God is the author of your destiny.

As quickly as all of this is happening is how quickly it can be gone. In an instant the phones can stop ringing and the offers can stop coming. It's kind of like pastoring a church. You might be fooled into thinking your church is experiencing the favor of God because you are such a great pastor (If you thought that, the only thing you are is highly deluded). Your church is doing well because you have been "kissed" by God. I tell my son this truth all the time: "Don't get carried away by thinking that it is your skills and work ethic alone that have provided this opportunity for you. God will not share His glory with another, so it's vital that you remember who's in charge here." I'm recognizing that the favor of God that is on our church right now is happening in spite of me. It's humbling to think that I've been gone the entire month of April yet the church is doing better than it ever has (hmmmm, I wonder if...).

I've decided that the key to staying grounded is to enjoy the moments and remember that they are happening in spite of and not because of me. I tell my son the same thing regarding his recruiting process: "It only happens once, so enjoy the moment." What moments are you experiencing that you might be taking for granted instead of savoring?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Great Expectations...

Okay, Is it just me or am I losing momentum after having missed posting a couple of times in the last week? Traveling will do that to you though, especially when you are up in the mountains away from the "civilization" of wireless internet connections. Any way, I'm determined to catch up on all that I've missed out, so here are my final thoughts on the ARC conference. Matt Keller of Next Level Church in Fort Myers, FL spoke about church planting using a football analogy. He explained that while most church planters hope for the long bomb down the field that gets you up and running at over 1000 people from day one, real world experience suggests that that is more the exception than the norm. Most people have to fight for every yard right up the middle. Blood, guts and tears are the reward of this type of church planting.

He suggested that some of the reasons why church planters struggle with where they find themselves are as follows:
  • Unmet (unrealistic) expectations. Many who have come from "resource rich environments" think that their church plant will be an extension of where they have come from.
  • We need permission to be where we are; to think small because external pressures often convey the message of failure if you are not at a certain place by a certain point in time. He explained five levels of church planting: Family phase (100 or less). This is where the focus is on relationships and DNA reproduction. Growth is a byproduct of these two factors. Your team needs access to your head and your heart during this phase. Organizational phase (250 or less). This is where systems, structure and schedules are put in place. Medium size phase (300-400). In this phase expectations are different. Keys to success are leadership, staff, and delegating responsibilities appropriately. Large church phase (750). Momentum carries you and you need to re-evaluate your systems, structures, and leadership. Mega church phase (1000+). He's not there yet so doesn't know what it takes. :)
  • We need permission to have our own unique journeys rather than compare ourselves to others. You are not a failure because someone else has bigger crowds than you.
  • We need permission to think differently. The what, why, and how are essential questions to our success so that we are not just copying the resource-abundant ministry thinking it will work for us because it works for them. We must be strategic in applying our limited resources.

Then the analogy switched to baseball (get the feeling he likes sports?): You can't get to second base unless you touch first base, but you can't get to second base with your foot still on first base. Some people who ran to first base with you cannot make it to second base. They form part of the scaffolding that helps to build the structure, but they don't make up part of the building.

  • We need permission to learn at every phase. We must be willing to re-learn what we think we already know.
  • We need access to those who are where we are as well as those who are a step or two ahead of us. This serves as tremendous encouragement on the difficult days so that we know that we aren't the only ones dealing with difficulties and pressures.
  • We need a new definition of success: Success is significant life change, celebrating the stories of our "wins." Celebrating success is so much more than celebrating just numerical increase. Whatever you celebrate as a leader, your people will celebrate.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Camping, Big Dogs and other stories

I'll be concluding my thoughts on the ARC conference tomorrow once I get back home. Today I wanted to give you some thoughts about the just concluded Point Man Camp that took place at Garner State Park this past weekend. My friend Marc Longoria of My Father's House (Church) hosted the conference and it was an amazing time of connecting, personal ministry, and real vulnerability. There's nothing quite like a group of men gathering together to seek God and open their hearts to other men about their struggles, their fears and their failures. In the midst of that kind of vulnerability, something supernatural happens.

Paul Cole, Dave Roever and myself were the featured speakers and the prevalent theme seemed to be the idea of choosing to confront our weaknesses in an honest and open manner so that we could make ourselves accountable to other men who have walked through our stage of life. One of the most refreshing things that happens at these types of gatherings, is that men realize that they are not the only ones contending with major issues and fears. The response of the men was humbling as they wept openly, prayed together, confessed their struggles to each other and experienced a tremendous amount of freedom and emotional healing. I am confident that the lives of a large majority of the men who attended the conference will be completely different on their return home.

Ultimately, if we are better husbands, better fathers, better employers and employees, better friends, better pastors... and the list goes on, we would have accomplished exactly what we set out to accomplish when the idea of the Point Man Camp was first birthed. This is truly one of my favorite things to do. I love to see men growing spiritually and taking full responsibility for the wellbeing of their families, their churches and their communities. I'm convinced that if more and more men are willing to live their lives with honest and godly vulnerability, we will find our churches becoming more and more relevant to the larger community as we coach other men on how they can live their lives successfully the same way. By the way, this very cool Big Dog custom motorcycle, worth $35,000.00, was up for grabs to whoever was able to throw the words 'Big Dog' on the roll of dice. Unfortunately, I am not riding the bike home! What did you learn this past weekend?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I'm going dark!!!

I'm going dark! No, I don't mean my complexion silly, I'm talking about being off the internet for a few days. I'm speaking at a men's conference in Garner State Park (90 miles outside of San Antonio, TX) and they are apparently still in the dark ages with no access to phones or internet (gulp! How will the world survive without me for a few days?) Anyway, that means that this will be my last post for the week. Instead of posting on the just concluded ARC conference (I'll give you my final thoughts on that next week) I figured I should post on something spectacular and unprecedented that is about to take place in June.

Craig Groeschel came up with the idea of One Prayer which asks the question what if...? (I bet he borrowed the idea from my post of the same title). What if we all prayed one prayer as a church globally? This, apparently led him to the idea that he would teach a message titled Make us One, and have that message shared by video in as many churches as were interested in being a part of One Prayer. For the entire month of June, a different message would be preached by a different speaker. For instance, at Craig's he would have Perry Noble teach on Make us dangerous, and then Ed Young Jr. would teach on Make us creative (all of these via video). Pastors from across the globe who wanted to participate in One Prayerwould submit a teaching to the website teaching on whatever their One Prayer for the church would be.

We would all have access to any of the messages submitted, so that we could pick and play any three of them over the month of June at our local churches (obviously the fourth message would be the one you are teaching). The Well will be participating in this amazing adventure and I will be teaching a message titled, Make us passionate. If you're interested in finding out more about this and who will be participating go here. If you want to sign up to be a part of One prayer go here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

ARCing day 2

This conference has been explosive so far (well I guess for me it's over since I'm posting this from Houston's Hobby Airport enroute to San Antonio for a men's conference I'm speaking at), and I'm totally inspired by the humility, transparency and passion displayed by all the speakers I've heard. Brian Houston looked and sounded like he'd had too many cans of Red Bull, but other than that he was fun to listen to. Greg Surratt, Dino Rizzo and Stovall Weems (in the photo with me) all had great stuff to share. Here are the highlights:

  • Feeding off Chris Hodges message on opening night, Greg Surratt informed us that not only had he had to contend with the "kings" that attack church planters and pastors, but he'd had to deal with an alliance between the king of discouragement and the king of rejection.
  • he has lived through four waves of God's move in America namely, the thirst for revival wave; the performance wave; the purpose driven participation wave; the experiential wave.
  • The current wave which is the experiential wave has demonstrated, based on a survey, that the unchurched would attend church if they knew they would experience God.
  • God wants us to respond to His love in a physical way.
  • Dino Rizzo inspired us with a video of the last fifteen years since the inception of Healing Place Church (HPC) and 750 plus Sunday sermons, by reminding us that most things will change over time and the course of ministry as you grow and learn. He told us that there were four key things that have not changed for him and that never will in order that he remain faithful to his purpose. These four things are: relational servanthood leadership; acknowledge, honor and celebrate what others have accomplished; protect his intimacy and passion for Jesus; enjoy life.
  • Stovall Weems, speaking on diversity in the church said, "You will not have diversity in your pews unless you have it in your heart."
  • Diversity in your church must be a core value for you if it is to happen.
  • Diversity must first be reflected in our leadership, our staff and our "sound."
  • In fifteen years there will be few if any uni-cultural environments or neighborhoods in the USA.

What are your thoughts on these different issues?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Jump into the ARC

I know, I know, you've patiently waited all day for the updates I promised would be coming your way. Well wait no more. The conference started yesterday evening at the amazing campus of Church of the Highlands. It is nothing short of a miracle that a seven year old church has built such an astounding campus. I'll tell you more about the campus in a later post but for now I want to give you some highlights of the incredible things the ARC is accomplishing through a group of guys that are relationally connected with the singular stated purpose of planting life-giving churches that impact the world.

Since its inception 7 years ago (Chris Hodges' Church of the Highlands was the first ARC church plant), the ARC has given away 40 million dollars to local and global missions. In 2007 the ARC planted a new church every 17 days. In 2008 that number is a new church every 12 days. There have been 59 church plants since inception and the average weekend attendance at all ARC churches combined is 99,976 people. All I can say is... wow!

Chris Hodges kicked off the conference with a powerful message highlighting the church planters favorite verse: "Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you... Be strong and of good courage... Only be strong and very courageous." Joshua 1:3, 6-7. He reminded us that even though the territory had been promised, there would still be a battle that required strength and courage. He highlighted the kings that Israel had to contend with in order to possess the land. He likened it to the spiritual battles church planters face daily as they contend with their own demon kings. The following are some of the major battles facing church planters.
  • The battle against the king of demonic attacks
  • The battle against the king of rejection
  • The battle against the king of loneliness
  • The battle against the king of temptation
  • The battle against the king of discouragement

He further highlighted the three things that would help us win the battle against these "kings."

  • Humility - a man on his face cannot fall from that position
  • Honesty
  • Holy Spirit - the greatest church planting tool God gave us was the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Digest these amazing nuggets and I'll connect with you again tomorrow with some more great stuff from the conference.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Subway anyone???

Okay, I apologize for posting so late today, but if you read yesterday's blog you'll know that we headed out to Birmingham, AL today for the ARC conference. We left Orlando at O'dark thirty (4.30am) in a fifteen passenger van hauling 9 near catatonic people and a sleeping infant, heading for Birmingham. We finally arrived at around 1.30pm Central Time after having traveled for ten hours. I will begin posting highlights of the conference beginning tomorrow morning, but today I wanted to share a couple of photos with you that highlight the thrills of the trip up to Birmingham (at least from my perspective).

One of the photos shows a cross section of the van taken from the front seat (don't worry, I was in the front passenger seat and not the drivers seat). This photo was taken after breakfast at 7.00am so they all looked alive and well. I have kept the photos taken of the crew with their mouths hanging open and drool dripping down their chins, as a bargaining chip for some things that I've been wanting to get them to do. You can expect to see those lovely photos posted if I don't get my way (wink, wink!!) The other photo is priceless (I'm thinking of entering it in the Del Sol photo competition so I can win some money for our summer vacation. It's a photo of the restroom at one of our stops. It's obviously the men's restroom judging from the urinal but women were waiting in line to use it also since the women's bathroom was "Out of order."

Notice the poster on the wall. You have to credit Subway for trying so hard, right? I mean, when's the last time you stood in front of a urinal (guys) doing your business and saw a photo of a delicious Subway sandwich and thought to yourself, "Mmmmm, I could really use a juicy, meaty sandwich right now, I'm so glad Subway was kind enough to remind my tummy that I can go directly to their shop from here?" Besides this, it was a pretty uneventful trip if you don't count the number of bathroom breaks 9 people need to take at different points in the journey. Enough said. Now all you silent lurkers... names shall be witheld to protect the guilty... Nike A of Atlanta take note, please post your responses as I share the conference highlights during the week. Enjoy your Subway sandwiches everyone and see you tomorrow.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sailing on the ARC

Next week is the ARC conference. My entire lead team will be going to Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, AL where the conference is being held. It is one of the most innovative and stimulating conferences that I attend every year, and it really recharges my batteries as far as ministry goes. I am thoroughly excited that I get to hang out with my team as well as with numerous ministry friends from around the nation, and I am particularly thrilled about this years line-up of speakers including Brian Houston of Hillsong amongst various others. Check out the conference info here, who knows, you might decide that it's worth attending yourself. I'll be blogging from the conference the early part of next week and I'll do my level best to give you the juiciest bits! Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What if...?

Recently I've been pondering the idea of "What if...?" There are so many "what ifs" that could have changed the course of human history for good or for bad. For example; What would humanity look like today if Jesus had chosen not to die on the cross? What if I had chosen not to eat that last piece of bread? (this decision could have altered human history?!) What if I committed to enduring pain beyond the limit of my perceived endurance and served people selflessly? What if I denied myself something I really wanted and instead gave the money towards a worthy cause? What if I believed that God's word was unequivocally and irrevocably true?

There are myriad "what ifs" that would no doubt change the face of our world each day if only we would committ ourselves to looking beyond only the fulfillment of our own dreams. I recently read something a friend of mine wrote in which he stated, "Get involved in the dreams of others and God will see to it that others (the right others) get involved in your dreams.... Connect yourself with a church that exists to help make God's dream for people come true." Wow! How noble is that? I am convinced that there's a little bit of Moses in each of us if we would only be willing to look "foolish" in the eyes of other people. Moses led the nation of Israel to the mouth of the desert having trekked an uncomfortable, complaint filled, sand-in-your-sandals, parched-mouth journey, only to be instructed by God to head right back in the direction they had just come from.

Most people would have quit at that point. What if Moses had quit? The people of Israel would have been overrun by the Egyptians or may have died from thirst in the desert. But God's plan all along was to bring them by way of the Red Sea so He could dispense with their enemies once and for all. I'm not sure if there are any "what ifs" rolling around your head right now regarding God's purpose and promises to you. If there are, may I suggest that you consign them to the scrap heap of irrelevance, and hold firmly to What He has shown you. What if God's promises to you were true and...?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Blame it on the Tylenol...

The world is so much smaller, and our ability to impact it, so much larger. It's hard for me to fully comprehend the idea that I woke up almost 9,000 miles away from home yesterday, yet this morning I sit at my computer in the familiar sorroundings of my home office in Lake Mary, Florida. The astounding developments in technology make it continually easier and safer to fly long distances over shorter periods of time. The internet makes it considerably easier to communicate with people globally at the click of a button. All of this amazing technology serves the Gospel really well!

Because of the internet, I can share my thoughts with the world through blogging, so that people who want to, can vicariously live my life experiences with me. Because of the Internet I can e-mail people an encouraging (or discouraging, depending on the context) word, send e-faxes, and generally conduct my daily business no matter how far from my home base I am. I absolutely love this! How else can people I've never met, who literally live on opposite corners of the globe from me, offer me condolences, prayers and encouragement at the mere click of a button? There is a global village that exists in the Internet world, many of whom must be recognized as a vast "unreached people group" in and of themselves. That's why I'm sitting at my desk on four and a half hours of sleep, dazed by the residual effects of Tylenol P.M. rambling on and on about... well, nothing really.

So, in case you're visiting for the first time or are a recent visitor to Seasons of Change, before you mark this as one of the blogs that has nothing to offer by way of sensible content, I'm going to sign off now and get some more sleep. I promise I'll be more profound and inspiring tomorrow. Meanwhile, what things in your life have been made easier by the advances in technology?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Stuff they forgot to teach us in school!

If you've followed my blogging journey over the last year or so you'll probably be aware of many of the transitions and lessons I'm learning along the way in this journey of life. The last couple of weeks have been particulary packed full of "journey lessons" and so I wanted to highlight just a few of them as I begin the long trip back home today (I'll be arriving Orlando at 10.47pm EST which is actually 3.47am GMT).

  • A legacy is written long before you realize you're "writing" one.
  • People would rather learn from what you do rather than what you say.
  • Difficulties and obstacles are an essential part of character building.
  • Leading effectively is nearly impossible if you've never been "tried in the fire."
  • After every "valley" experience, there is a slow climb to the top of the next mountain.
  • Christians shouldn't approach death as if it is the end of life, but as if it's the beginning of real living, because it is.
  • My wife and kids mean the world to me.
  • I am truly grateful for good friends! Friends like Byron and Angie Bledsoe, David Melnik, Gene Cristan and my incredible lead team.
  • Tylenol P.M. makes long international flights bearable.

What life lessons have you learned recently? Please share your life-wisdom with the blogging world so that we may become the richer for the knowledge.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Final Celebration!

This is the final installment of the Celebration of Life posts that I’ve been doing since I arrived in Lagos, Nigeria. For those of you that have closely followed the proceedings with interest, this, sadly, will be the last post. For those of you that have been thinking, “Hurry up and post on something different,” you’ll be pleased to know that beginning tomorrow your wish will be granted.

The photos I’m posting today are photos of the Thanksgiving service. After all the activities of the week, which lead up to the funeral service, there is a final Thanksgiving service, which was held yesterday at my mother-in-law’s home church. Much of the service is a traditional celebration which includes a time for the family to come to the altar and be prayed over and then we give an offering to the church in thanksgiving for the life and service of my mother-in-law. Today, with all of the activities having been concluded, I am resting at home and am back to sporting my shorts and T-shirt.

This has been an amazing week; full of highlights, memories, sadness, rejoicing and a whole gamut of other unnamed emotions. Because of the frenzied pace that we have had to keep, Sola and I have barely had time to “unpack” much of what has happened. Her dad will be returning to the States with her this Friday for about 3-months, as he valiantly works to begin the next phase of his life without his wife of almost 50 years. Please keep our family in your prayers. While I’m at it, how is your family doing? No matter what your answer to that question may be, remember that there is an Eternal Father that wants to adopt you as His own if you will simply accept His invitation.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Meet some of the family

Here's one more photo for you. This was taken immediately following the funeral service. From L - R: my niece Tomi, my sister Adiza, my cousin Solomon, me, and my cousin Fatima.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Celebration of Life

I apologize for keeping you all in suspense for so long. I’ve been unable to blog as consistently as I’d like because I’ve been so consumed with funeral arrangements and activities. For those of you that are completely unfamiliar with Nigerian culture (which is probably a large percentage of readers), let me intimate you with some of the things that go on when a loved one who has led a full and commendable life, dies.

Rather than a solemn ceremony with copious amounts of tears and mourning, a celebration of epic proportions is the norm. Dubbed Celebration of Life, this festive occasion begins with a wake-keeping, which is essentially a service of songs and testimonies of how individuals were personally impacted by the deceased. That took place on Thursday evening. Today, we held the funeral service at 11.00am at my mother-in-law’s home church, after which we followed a long procession of cars to the burial site where her body was interred.

Then we went back to the church and gathered in the multi-purpose hall for music, dancing, food and fellowship. It was amazing to see the number of people whose lives have been impacted by my mother-in-law’s life. I must admit that it set me thinking about what my funeral would be like. I’m not trying to be morbid here, simply realistic about the fact of death, which as they say, is as inevitable as taxes. I pray that at the end of my act in this amazing drama called life, I will have impacted even half the number of people that have been so obviously impacted by Abigail Olumuyiwa Obaweya. I’m posting a few photos of the events so you can live vicariously through me. If you haven’t yet, now might be a good time to start thinking about the impact your life is having on the lives of people around you!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Land Ahoy!

I'm in Lagos, Nigeria. I arrived at 9.15am GMT (4.15am EST) after a fairly lengthy but bearable flight, most of which was spent crossing the Atlantic. It felt really good to have my feet back on terra firma, and I dove right into the activities for my mother-in-law's funeral. It would appear that it is going to be a significantly busier week than I initially thought. It really feels great to be back "home" and I'll be posting photos and stories from here all week so be sure to tune in to Seasons of Change for updates. Right now, I'm tired and I'm off to bed since its well past 11.00pm. Manana!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

What time is it?

It's D-Day! I'm leaving for Lagos, Nigeria today. I'm at once thrilled yet reticent. I'm excited to visit the land of my birth which holds so much affection in my heart, yet I'm not really looking forward to my mother-in-law's funeral. The fragility that represents life makes me all the more grateful for each day that I'm alive. I'm especially grateful for a wife and kids who constantly teach me what it means to love unconditionally. I'm grateful for my bicycle, it gives me the liberty to eat one more lemon bar. Most of all though, I'm particularly grateful today that Delta has a non-stop flight from Atlanta to Lagos so I don't have to fly for a week (slight exaggeration)via Europe to get to Nigeria.

So while I'm traveling today, and you're busy doing what it is you do... would you spare a moment and finish this thought:

Today I'm really grateful for...