• on November 21, 2017

Your Story, Your Worship

by Pastor Afolabi Oladele

The famous quote: “All things are possible with God” is one that resonates right from the infallible word of God as written in the Bible’s book of Mark 10:23.

It is widely acclaimed that many successful people are people who have erased the word “impossible” from their dictionaries and from their lives. Come to think of it, why would some people live as if nothing is impossible while others live as if nothing is possible? It is all a matter of perspective!
The way to having an “all things are possible” perspective is to believe that you are pregnant with possibilities. And there is no other expected end of pregnancy other than birth. This is a reminder to all young people in Christ, that you can achieve your life’s purpose with God on your side.

A vivid example of a young man in the Bible days who was pregnant with possibilities was David. He was a stripling youth who was a shepherd for his father’s flock. From the wilderness to a battle front, David found himself in the first battle of his life against a giant named Goliath, whom he defeated.
How can a young man without any experience of battle defeat a giant whom expert warriors were afraid to confront? He had never gone to war before, but he had gotten experience from the fields where he was a shepherd, and he had learnt to rely solely on God for his help. His life types the life of a true worshipper of God, because worship flows from the womb of true worshippers. David had been trained of the Lord in the place of worship.

In Psalm 144, David declared how the Lord had trained him: “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me. . . Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them” (Verses 1-6).

In the imaginary that David presents in this Psalm, we see a man who is surrounded by enemies, yet recognizes his inability to face his troubles, expecting his salvation only from a great and holy God who is able to deliver him. Here we see David expressing the power of worship.
In typical battles, swords and weapons are used, but we find David using only five stones against Goliath. In the above Psalm he presents 5 qualities of God in which he describes God as his goodness, fortress, high tower, deliverer and his shield), depicting the five graces he applied in using five stones to war against Goliath: five attributes, all standing upon the platitudes of a holy God who is able to deliver.

The battle that David fought was before he became king, although he had been anointed before then (See 1 Samuel 16). And though he had not become king, he saw the task ahead of him, and he prayed: “Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:” (Verses 11-12).

Why did he pray this prayer? The answer is in the ensuing verses: “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace…”

The only way that youths can grow to be like cornerstones in God’s palace is to understand the power of the eternal God to deliver them from the factors that can hinder them from fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives. It is in that light that I present stories of young people who surmounted their challenges and became glorious in life; so that you can draw lessons from them and understand that you are pregnant with possibilities, irrespective of where you find yourself at the moment.

The first story is that of Cohbams Emmanuel Asuquo, a visually impaired Nigerian musician, producer and songwriter. He is currently the CEO of Cohbams Asuquo Music Production CAMP, an all-encompassing entertainment company that discovers, nurtures and exposes great talents.
The following are excerpts from his interview on TEDxEuston in 2012, where he spoke about his gift of blindness:

“I am a dreamer, though not in the literal sense, but in the futuristic sense. Fortunately for me a lot of the things I’ve dreamt about in my life have come true for me. I believe very strongly that one of the elements that fuel my very strong sense of imagination and my ability to dream is the gift of blindness. So I am going to share with you a couple of things that I have learnt, and a couple of life lessons that I think will be invaluable to you.

“I was born blind; no one else in my family of six children is blind. There is no known cause, no links, no explanation, just the reality that I cannot see with my eyes. I was born and raised in the poor side of the military barracks where we lived in a small block of eighteen 2-bedroom flats. I shared a flat with my two parents, my three siblings, and whatever stray pet came our way at the time, as well as with my father’s Honda Road Master 80/100 which slept in the living room with us for fear that one of its mirrors might be stolen by morning.

“In my neighborhood there was always something to look forward to. My mornings were characterized by news of whose water-pumping machine had been stolen, or squabbles between neighbours over who had wrongly killed someone’s chicken. Actually some people attempted to resolve the chicken issue by tying a piece of red string on their chicken’s legs. I don’t know how it worked, but such was the environment I grew up in.

“To me, blindness does not have any physical, psychological or social meaning because since I had never experienced sight, I was not aware that I was without sight. I thoroughly indulged in the innocence of young boyhood—I ran down the stairs, jumped over gutters, played hard, fought even harder, and got into every imaginable type of trouble that a skinny rambunctious young child could get into.

“On a number of occasions I ran into walls, people, and furniture, so hard that observers would shake their heads in pity and say in pidgin English, “Person wey we dey feel sorry for, e no dey feel sorry for himself.” And of course my response to such a rebuke was to scurry off and catch up with my friends, and to hide whatever bruises or cuts I had sustained away from my mother’s disapproving eyes.
“Initially, I scoffed at other people’s well meaning concern and pity because I did not understand what the fuss about my blindness was all about. But as I grew older and gained more understanding of the intricacies of living as a sightless person in a world designed for sighted people, I was faced with the looming possibility of failure in my life. But what I actually considered to be much worse was that people were ready to excuse my failure because of my disability. This is brings me to my first lesson: Do not excuse failure for any reason and on any account.

“I don’t mean that we should be unmerciful and impatient towards those who are either less able or disadvantaged; I believe that we should share one another’s burden because we all face low points in our lives. What I am saying is that failure will come, but in the same way that it comes, we should see to it that it goes.

“Instead, what I have observed is that wherever there is a larger than life seemingly insurmountable flaw in a system, in our cities, in our leaders, even in our own character and bodies, we choose to excuse failure. We overlook it, indulge it, become even comfortable with it and even find different terms for the failure such as “the Nigerian factor” which we call it here, and then we move on with our lives. But by excusing failure and blaming it on some systemic flaw, we miss the opportunity to scale through insurmountable obstacles to elevate ourselves and others.

“When I turned ten, I was enrolled in a boarding school for the blind. Fast forward to graduation day, teachers and other well wishers were giving us advice about going into the sighted world. We were forewarned that we would come across people that would be generally mean to us—they would snatch away our books, pull out our typewriter ribbons, give us incorrect change, and generally just take advantage of us because we were blind.

“I am sure as you may also know, that not all public opinion is correct opinion. I didn’t want to worry myself about those so I decided not to take that particular piece of advice. I didn’t know if it was conscious, but I just decided that there were so many unfortunate things in life that can happen to you regardless of whether or not you are blind. This is a tough lesson but I have learnt to trust, sometimes even when I have no reason to.

“As a child I was quite fun to be with and playful too. My older brother had taught me how to jump over
open street gutters, so anytime I was with my friends and they informed me that there was a gutter before me, I would jump. Pretty soon, I discovered that my friends were telling me to jump even when there were no gutters to jump over, just so they could have a laugh. But eventually, we all had a good laugh about it. And even after I found out, I still continued to jump. I chose to trust them because quite honestly staying out of those smelly gutters was very important to me. You might ask, “Can’t a person be too trusting?” But I think that trust has no expiration date. Blindness has taught me to keep trusting, keep hoping, and keep believing.

“Because I trusted, I went ahead in my university days to buy myself a Beetle Mercedez Benz Wagon while my friend drove me around. And even though it broke down on the first day I bought it, it was a thing of pride for me yet people just wondered why I was bothering myself.

“For me, I have come to find out that sight sometimes is a distraction. I say this because I found out that when my wife goes shopping, no matter how good her intentions are to purchase only the items on her list, she somehow manages to come home with extra—“good deals”—as she likes to call them. She knows a lot about sales and she is a fantastic woman. But don’t get me wrong—sight is very precious gift, but on your way to your destination, what you see can also be a big distraction from your goal. So, I have learnt that you have to be blind in order to be focused. Focus is blindness in a sense. Most of you can relate to this because your goals and successes can only be achieved by being blind to several things in your life.

“We live in a culture that esteems sight over blindness and understandably so, and associates blindness with weakness. Yet from blindness in all of its weaknesses, I have drawn some key strength in my life’s journey. When the brutal reality of blindness stared me in the face, self-pity and failure loomed over my shoulder. Some, I am sure, would have excused me if I became a failure. But I found it more fulfilling to break away from their expectations of mediocrity to successfully navigate and negotiate my way through life, even if it ruffled the feathers of those who genuinely cared about me.”

What do you make out of Cohbams story? A very good point to note from Cohbams is that not once did a word of blame issue from his mouth such as “why me?” What about you? Do you blame your situation on your parents or your background? You need to remove that toga of excuses from your life because you have the mighty God.

The next story is that of a young man, whose life is predicated on the scripture in Proverbs 18:16 which says, “a man’s gift makes way for him and brings him before great men.”
His name is Frank Edwards. He is a Nigerian contemporary Christian singer-songwriter and recording artist. He is the founder and owner of RockTown Records. In an interview with Grace Digital in 2016, which he titled My Story, My Testimony: the secret behind the glory, he shares his story and tells how he has gotten to the place where he is today.

Excerpts:

“I am a product of my worship, and it is not by singing, it is by grace. I am living in a house that I did not pay a dime for. Do you know what it means for someone to finish building a house and give it to you? Every time I come out of my house I look around and ask myself, “How old are you?” because I know it is not by singing. But now I just want to even let people know the secret behind the glory they celebrate.

“When I released my first album the definition, Loveworld Records produced it for me and the first night we sold a hundred thousand at the Night of Bliss and that was a lot of money. We didn’t know it was going to sell that much. And then we had another programme and it was also sold. So the Loveworld productions called me to say that they have made quite some money from the sales and they would like to give me one million naira. To me that was I lot of money! When I told my mom she advised me to leave it as my first fruit to God. And it was not as if she had any money, we used to hawk together in Enugu state, and at the edge of a breakthrough—to receive one million naira—we turned it down and turned it over to God as a first fruit.

“Later I was taken to South Africa to shoot my first video by Loveworld as compensation. There in South Africa I met other people who wanted to promote me but asked that I remove the name Jesus from my songs and use God instead, in order for the music to circulate and reach people who can be offended by the name Jesus. When I saw the offer, I thought “Well, Jesus, God? Is there really any difference? But God spoke to me and said, “If you do this, you will not last, but if you don’t, I will double whatever they promised you.” So again I let the offer go. My manager even felt I made a mistake.

“When I returned to Nigeria, God began to do His work. I released my second album and from nowhere, I was told that somebody had been trying to reach me and had even sent all her staff to look for me in my church. She finally got my number and called me to say, “I have been listening to your music and as I listen, God keeps nudging me to do something for you, do you mind coming to see me in my office? I went and she called all her staff and they took pictures with me. Then she said she just wanted to bless me like God placed in her heart and she gave me an envelope. On my way home, I opened the envelope and found out that she gave me ten thousand dollars. I thanked her and she even promised to foot the bill of any project that I wanted to do.

“When I got home I separated my tithe from the bulk money. The upper week I was told that someone else was looking for me. When the person contacted me, he said, “I have been listening to your music and it has blessed me so much and God placed it in my heart to bless you. Can you come to my house?” When I went, it was the same story. God does not make empty promises and He knows how to make the chain reaction. A forth night later, another woman called me to ask, where do you live? I told her I lived in Ikeja and she said, “Ikeja is noisy, how do you create your music in that noisy environment? Would you like to move to Victoria Garden City?” I first calculated how much accommodation costs in that high rise area in Lagos, so I told her that I was not ready yet. Then she asked me when I would like to move and I told her that I would work on it. The next thing was that I saw moving trucks at my house that had come to move my things to VGC. And I was asked “what would you like to move from this your current house?” I told them I wanted everything but I was told that the house in VGC was already furnished so I only needed some very essential things. That was how I got a house that I did not pay for in Victoria Garden City, and I live like a king. God kept His promised and I kept my own part of the deal—I did not disobey.

“When I met Don Moen, all I wanted to do was to take pictures with him—the usual thing to do when you see a big superstar. But when he put his hand on my shoulder, he looked at my face and said, Frank Edwards (I was like, you know my name?) Then he brought out his phone and showed me my songs and said he had told himself that anytime he gets to meet me we would do a song together.

“I never asked for collaboration with Don Mon, I don’t even know how to reach him but God knows how to
do His things. So Don Moen arranged for us to do a recording together. I told him that I didn’t have a Visa to travel to the US, but he said he would come to my studio in my house. I thought it was a joke, he came the day he promised and he was with me from 8am to 9pm. And after that, he also said we have to do a recording in his home in Nashville.

“So I had to get a visa. I got someone me to take to the consular general’s office without observing all the necessary protocols, but it did not work out. This all goes to say that when God does His things, He does not want any man to take the glory. I felt I had gone about it the wrong way, if after meeting face to face with the consular general and your visa is declined, what else?

“I asked God for mercy and applied again, this time without telling anybody. When I got there, all the embassy staff from the entrance where all saying “O Frank Edwards, we love your music!” even inside the interview hall I was told to go to counter 10. But God had gone ahead. The interviewer smiled and said to me “I love your music! You were amazing at the Experience!” and that was how I got my visa and went to USA to meet with Don Moen and we are done with the Album in which Don Moen spoke Igbo Language for the first time, and that is the first African Collaboration with Don Moen or with the Integrity Music Inc.

“While I was in America, God opened door and Don Moen asked me, “What can we do for the upcoming African artistes who have so much talent but lack the right exposure and technology? The result is that we opened another company together of which he is the president and I am the vice-president. So I went from hawking goods on the streets of Nigeria to becoming the vice-president of the biggest recording label in Africa! I don’t know what you are believing God for, but don’t let your background put your back on the ground. It does not matter your circumstances or whatever, if you are in Christ, you are a new creature. Old things have passed away and all things are become new!”

Another interesting story, right? One of the lessons from Frank’s story is, Never negotiate away God in you r life! Never negotiate Jesus away for money, pleasure or whatsoever! You can take examples from the lives of Whitney Houston and the likes, who all started well in the church, but when they got to the threshold of fame and popularity, they threw away God, the cornerstone out of their lives. Don’t let immediate satisfaction take away from you the lasting possibilities that God has put in your life. That is how Satan deceives people.

Secondly, you must have ears that are open to God because that is how you will receive instructions from Him. And the foundation for that is your relationship with God. How is your relationship with God? Are you really a true worshipper of God? Worship is really all about total dedication to that which you esteem the most important in your life.

A man’s gifts makes way for him but above all the crowning glory is the eternal God who calls the things that be not as though they were. You may not be an Asuquo Cohbams or a Frank Edwards, but you are you, and you are pregnant with possibilities. God is more than able and ready to work in you as you put your trust in Him.

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