Now That Christmas Is Over

You looked forward to Christmas all year long. Now the celebration for this year is over.

It will be another 360 something days before you will have another chance to celebrate it again. That is if you are still alive.

Please don’t get me wrong there. I’m not suggesting that you would die before next year’s Christmas. But I’m not denying that the possibility exists for all of us.

Come to think of it, not everyone who celebrated Christmas last year’s Christmas was around to join in this year’s celebration. And as sure as the as the rising sun tomorrow, not everyone who celebrated this year’s Christmas will be alive to celebrate the coming year’s.

You know I’m not being a prophet of doom here. It is the sad reality of the life we found ourselves in: after all said and done, death is inevitable.

The Bible says, “There’s time for everything under the Sun.”

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance… Ecclesiastes 3:1-11.

Let’s take further exploration of the first part of the above quote:

A time to be born, a time to die

Jesus had the time He was born to this earth. He had the time He had to die as well. Gratefully He had the time to resurrect as well.

If you are reading this now, I know you had the time you were born; you had a beginning. Or don’t you have a birthday?

And if you had a beginning on this earth, you are also going to have an ending. It is called death – the way of all mankind.

Unlike when you were born when everyone jubilated, when you die, people will cry. I mean if you are not Adolf Hitler or anyone else in his mould, I don’t see why anyone should be glad when you die.

But whether anyone is sad or happy when you die, it would not really matter to you. What would matter would be how you have used your short life on earth to prepare for the eternity that death would be the doorway to.

If you have prepared well for eternity, death will be a gain to you. But if you have not, death will be a great loss to you. Regrettably, it will be too late by then to make amends.

But how can you prepare well for eternity?

To be honest, the answer is simpler than you think. It requires simple faith in Jesus Christ, the birth of whom we just celebrated and will continue to celebrate in the years ahead.

Think back a little to the Christmas story: a virgin gave birth to Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the whole world. (See Matthew 1:20-21).

You see, that’s why we celebrate Christmas every year: a Saviour was born to save us from our sins. In this Saviour lies the hope of all humanity. But it is sad that many are not seeing it that way.

Now that Christmas is over, the question I would like to ask you is this: do you have a personal relationship by faith with the Celebrant? By that I mean, have you accepted Jesus to be your Lord and Saviour?

If your answer is yes, I will advise you to nurture that relationship so closely that nothing will come between you and Him. You have His assurance that nothing can separate you from His love till you will get to meet Him face to face on the other side of this life.

On the other hand, if you have not put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and personal Saviour, you have between now and the next Christmas to do so. Actually, no one can guarantee that you will be alive till the next Christmas. So that means NOW is the best chance you have to invite Jesus into your life.

Please wait no further, “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation” 2 Corrinthians 6:2.


What do you say?

Imagine An Atheist Calling Me An Atheist

Any follower of this blog would already know that I believe in God. That fact has never been hidden in any way.

I would add that I do not just believe in God in the general sense of it, I believe in Him in the sense of having a personal relationship with Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ whom I have willingly accepted as my Lord and personal Saviour.

On this blog I have written sufficient number of posts to have made it clear enough that I don’t belong to atheists’ camp. So you can imagine my surprise when one of my readers (ostensibly a first-timer) suggested in one of his comments to the post The Problems with Atheists that I could be an “atheist masquerading as a Protestant Fundamentalist.”

In the referenced post, I had pointed out that:

Atheists do not have what it takes to come to the conclusion that God does not exist. So when you have anyone claiming God does not exist, understand that he or she is either being insincere or is displaying his or her ignorance. Or as the Bible puts it, he or she is simply being foolish.

Just like the Sadducees that accosted Jesus over a question on resurrection, whereas they didn’t believe in resurrection, the problem with atheists who go about discrediting God and the notion of His existence is that they neither know the Scriptures nor the power of God.”

Though not unexpected, there were many backlashes from atheists over that post. Sad to say, many of the comments from them went off course. One of such comments was what inspired the title of this present post:

Are you a Catholic? Do you accept the teaching of the church? Isn’t it the church that interprets the bible? Or are you really an atheist who is masquerading under the mask of Protestant Fundamentalism?

If you’re a Fundamentalist, the former Fundamentalist pastor (now atheist) called Bruce Gerencser will chop your arguments up and make mince meat of them. He doesn’t hate God. He just doesn’t believe that God exists. What he hates is Fundamentalists pontificating on God and Fundamentalists misrepresenting atheists.

You guys, both Catholics and Protestants, are suffering from what Richard Dawkins calls “The God delusion”.

Although the comment was full of rabbit trails, I cut to the chase in the response I gave to it:

I’m not a Catholic, neither am I Protestant fundamentalist, as you put it. And your suggestion that I could be an atheist is even more laughable. How could I be so foolish to be an atheist? I know better!

For the avoidance of doubts, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ who believes in God as the creator of all things, who has accepted the saving grace that is available in Christ Jesus alone for the forgiveness of my sin and I’m living my life to please God.

I understand what the Bible says, “only fools say God doesn’t exist.” So between those of us who believe that God exists and those [of you] that don’t believe, we know who is delusioned.

Dawkins’ book is seriously mistaken in the claim that there is no God. From the reviews I have read, I know the book is an attack on God and Christianity. Anger. Hatred.

It is okay to note that the God he claims doesn’t exist, makes him so angry. That’s the same trait I have seen in many atheists I have interacted with.

no one can convince you there is God

Talking about the atheists I have had online conversations with in the past, many of them (if not all of them) would also call us delusionists for believing that God exists. Recently, I had to quip to one of them:

“If those of us who believe in God are delusionists, then those [of you] who don’t believe in Him must be worse off because atheism does not make sense at all.”

That response may appear harsh to some people, but that was as nice I could be. I believe the irony in it is clear enough for everyone to understand.

For emphasis sake, I am not an atheist. And I don’t want to be one. I believe that God exists and I believe in His Son Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal Saviour.

Atheism does not make sense to me at all. It’s all foolishness parading as knowledge. “”The fool says in his heart, “There is no God”” Psalms 14:1. I stand on that Biblical position.

All the same, I thank God for His mercies that are seeing some atheists come to Christ. How I wish these ones here will one day see their folly and also come to Christ before it becomes too late for them.

Thank you for reading. Your views are welcome.

TRIBUTE TO MY MOTHER

TRIBUTE TO MY MOTHER
By Victor Uyanwanne

First and foremost, let me be frank with you. As the title clearly portrays, this article is not about me. But I had to begin with a short narrative of a personal history to be able to put things in the best perspective. Kindly indulge me as you read on.

My mother, Victoria Ofunim Uyanwanne Bakwunye (nee Okwuedei) went home recently to be with the Lord at a very ripe age estimated at 90 years. Needless to say, it was our greatest honour and privilege as her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to gather from far and wide in June 2015 in our home state of Delta, Nigeria, to give her a very befitting burial. Before her death on April 18, 2015, she had been all my siblings and I had since our father passed on twenty one years ago at an equally ripe age.

Despite her being advanced in age, I am glad that she didn’t die until her wish came through.

As at the time our father, Uyanwanne Bakwunye, passed away in the morning of June 13, 1994, I had hardly fully understood the meaning of death because I was probably too naive – an innocent teenager I was – to have fully comprehended the full import of death as it were. It was shortly later in life after his death that I came to the full realisation that I would never see my dad again in this life. Poor me!

I missed my dad (especially his love and friendship) since his passing on. But I am not complaining; all has been well with me and I have many reasons to be very grateful to God for everything. Thanks to my recently departed mum and my older siblings who ensured that I was well taken care of from then on.

I was the baby of the house. My parents gave birth to me when they were already advanced in age. This realisation often reminds me of something similar from the story of Joseph in the Bible. It was recorded of him in the book of Genesis (37:3) that “Joseph was a son born to [Jacob] in his old age.” I guess I could easily identify with that depiction! (Incidentally, for many reasons other than this, Joseph has become my favourite Bible character).

As a child, I wasn’t so sure of the number of years between my parents’ ages but one thing was very clear to me then: my dad was much older than my mum. I grew up knowing both of them as “Baba” and “Mama”. In those days in the Nigerian environment (a small town known as Owerre Olubor in the present Delta State) where I was born, (and I believe in many other parts of the world), that was how children called their parents – especially if they were advanced in age as mine were.

We didn’t live in any remarkable luxury, but we were happy and contented

Being the fifth and the last child of my parents, I would say things were relatively easier for me than it was for my older siblings. While growing up, I was never under any kind of pressure. I was much loved by my parents and my siblings and I knew it. They protected me and shielded me from any ‘bad weather’.

They met my needs to the best of their abilities. They shouldered most my responsibilities, leaving me with lots of time to play and to read my books. (To be sincere, I played more that I read then. Smiles! Let’s leave that topic for another day!)

Suffice to say, to a very large extent, I could aver that I was the object of the love of my parents as well as those of my siblings who were much older than I was. We didn’t live in any remarkable luxury, but we were happy and contented. I couldn’t have asked for a better family than mine, as I was convinced that the best family to be born into was this one I was born into.

I hardly wanted people to know I was the last child of my parents. But somehow, some people were always able to figure that out.

My family members had some pet names for me. For instance, my mother called me “Ugochukwu” (meaning God’s honour), while my eldest sister Caroline Onumuzor fondly called me ‘Lastborn.” That’s what she and some other people from my home town still call me till date!

To be honest, I didn’t mind them calling me “Lastborn” anywhere, provided no ‘outsider’ was around to hear them call me that. Smiles! To me the reason was simple: most people thought that all “lastborns” were spoilt brats. And that’s not a compliment! So as much as possible, I hardly wanted people to know I was the last child of my parents. But somehow, some people were always able to figure that out.

Back then, most people knew me as “Okem” for short (which simply means “my bequest” or “my gift”; the name in its fullest form being “Okechukwuyem”, meaning “God’s bequest/gift to me”). I later became known as “Victor” before the age of six years when my mum took me for infant baptism in her church, St. Barnabas Anglican Owerre Olubor, Delta State. She remained a member of this church until her glorious exit from the earth earlier this year.

Thanks to mama, she was the light we saw that pointed us the way to Christ!

About sixteen years after I underwent the said infant baptism, at which time I had become an undergraduate, I had to undergo what in Pentecostal cycles is referred to as “baptism by immersion” ; that was after I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal Saviour. This didn’t require a change of name, but a change of heart. Thanks to mama, she was the light we saw that pointed us the way to Christ!

Now fast forward to the present year, 2015. Baba and mama’s lastborn has become a man. I am now a full grown adult, married to a beautiful lady from heaven and blessed with two wonderful boys (Best and Newman) as children.

Needless to say, I have not only increased in stature, I have also increased in wisdom in all ramifications. So when in the morning of Saturday April 18, 2015 I was informed via a telephone conversation with my eldest sister, Onumuzor, that my mum had “just passed on to be with the Lord”, I was already well abreast with the real meaning of death, the death of an aged parent.

To be honest, I had always been scared of losing my mum.

I heaved a deep sigh…. Mama is gone? Instantly, emotions welled up like a flowing river from within me and my eyes were filled with tears as I managed to end the telephone call. I found myself sobbing my eyes wet, with a nagging thought in my heart like “the day I feared most had finally come: mama was no more.”

To be honest, I had always been scared of losing my mum. I mean I knew she would die someday, but I didn’t expect it would be that very day. I also knew mama was well advanced in age, yet I had the secret wish that she would stay on earth a bit longer. After all, despite her old age, she was still relatively strong in her body and she always had the love and care she needed from her children and grandchildren. Her health had also remained relatively stable until she suddenly had a relapse two weeks before her demise.

Mama came, she saw and she conquered! That’s the feeling all of us her children share.

There I was standing in my sitting room on that fateful Saturday morning when the news of her death filtered into my ear drums. At first, I had tried not to cry aloud but I couldn’t. I then walked from the sitting room towards the kitchen to tell my wife, Jennifer, about the sad news I just received. I sobbed for a while in her warm embrace as she tried to console me. I then regained my composure, but not fast enough as not to allow my first son notice that everything didn’t seem well with his daddy.

“Mummy, why is daddy crying,” he asked, “did he fall down?”

“No Best, he didn’t fall down. Don’t worry, he will be fine,” my wife tried to explain to the boy.

I wouldn’t blame him; he had never seen me cry since he was born three years ago. Besides, he is only a child and would not even understand the full meaning of death. How would we have explained to him that his paternal grandmother was no more? The last time mama saw him, she was very fond of him; they bonded well together.

I was still a bachelor when mama told me she would be ready to go ‘home’ only when I had given her a grandchild.

I remember then, Mama heart’s was really glad that she had seen a grandson from her last born child – Me! Some years back, I was still a bachelor when mama told me she would be ready to go ‘home’ only when I had given her a grandchild. Over the years that followed, I never forgot those words!

Despite her being advanced in age, I am glad that she didn’t die until her wish came through. In fact, I would say she had more than her wish because she had two grandchildren through my wife and I – in addition to several others from my older siblings and their respective spouses. In all respect, she died a happy woman, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Fulfilled!

I wept on hearing the news of mum’s passing. But moments later that same day, the negative emotions I felt about her passing began to wane and positive stimulations about her life and times began to well up from my spirit.

Mama came, she saw and she conquered! That’s the feeling all of us her children share. I for one, her exit made me cry. But at the same time, I felt relieved when I began to put things in the proper perspective. I am convinced that she had gone to be with the Lord, because till her death, she maintained an unwavering faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as her Lord and Saviour. It was this realisation that gave my siblings and I the greatest consolation of heart we needed.

I know I would not be able to describe all things my mother represented, but I know I wrote from my heart.

As I very well recall, naturally, I wept on hearing the news of mum’s passing. But moments later that same day, the negative emotions I felt about her passing began to wane and positive stimulations about her life and times began to well up from my spirit. Suddenly, I thought about her strict love, fearlessness, self-discipline, self-control, contentment, patience, courage, independent mindedness, industry, smiling face, generosity, strong faith in God, fidelity, sense of loyalty and many other sublime qualities too numerous to mention in this space.

In response to the positive thoughts overflow, I pulled by tablet device and began to type as fast as I could and as the words flowed. In the end I came up with these verses of poetic expression below that informed that title of this discourse. I know I would not be able to describe all things my mother represented, but I know I wrote from my heart.

TRIBUTE TO MY MOTHER

Mama, today you are gone from our midst
But you are not gone from our hearts
Cos we will always remember you
Though you are no more here
Your legacies remain alive with us
You were a mother like no other
You were unique in your own ways.

You lived your life the best way you could

You lived your life the best way you could
You ran the race God set before you
Now you have gone the way of all men
We are sad that you are gone,
But we will always celebrate you.

You found the gospel light at a tender age
And you followed it till you breathe your last
You did not only find the way of Christ
You pointed it out for us your children to follow
You told us you knew no other way, but the way of Christ.

You were a mother like no other

You told us to follow Jesus Christ
Till our days on earth are gone
Now that you are no more here
God will help us to follow through
You taught us how to give the tithe to God
Since the time we were kids
Now that we are grown men and women
We have not forgotten this lesson of yours.

You were a mother like no other
You proved that love and discipline can go together
You never spared the rod to spoil the child
You never feared any man, except God
You showed courage even in danger
You stood for what you believed in
Even when no one else stood with you

You are a shining example of faithfulness, loyalty and discipline

You never went back on your words
You always did what you promised
Your face always carried a cheerful smile
That radiated to those around you
The daughters of men testify of your generosity
Your love was strict, but it was also true
We are glad we had the chance to know this.

You are a shining example of faithfulness, loyalty and discipline
You stayed faithful to God until your last breath
You were loyal to our father even in death
And you disciplined us in love unto maturity
You may be gone from our eyes
But you will never be gone from our hearts.
Adieu Mama, a woman of faith and focus.

 

Copyright| Victor Uyanwanne