We Kept the Faith

We don’t all have perfect lives.

The stories we told ourselves didn’t all come true.

Yet your word is true, and the days we look forward to are brighter and better.

We don’t all have fairy tales.

There’s been many battles and many failures.

Many tears and many lonely nights.

Yet, we’re the better off with the scars.

There’s been many errors, and many desert places!

But through it all, we’ve held on to the faith.

If we’ve been lied to, it’s the lies we told ourselves

And if they are lies, it’s the love we’ve clung on to

And if the love fails….

We know we have kept the faith!

Let us work while it is day. For the night cometh, when no man can work.

Keep the faith..

~ GE

You are what you Eat (Part 2) – I AM NOT A Catfish, I’m a Writer

In part one of this story, I talked about history and how rules, cultures, and instructions are warped and bent over time and over multiple generations. This got me thinking about situations where we suddenly find out we have broken a rule we tried to live by. For Example; 2 days after I took offence for being told to eat pork, one of my favorite kosher person suddenly posts a picture saying “caught me a catfish in the Jordan River tonight. Fun to catch, but not kosher enough to eat”. I was like what? Catfish is not Kosher with eyes wide open. The response was “Yep, they don’t have scales. But enjoy one for me”…. I was like how am I supposed to go on eating catfish knowing they’re not Kosher (**insert Wailing face**).

JA

His picture reminded me of the parable Jesus told about the Kingdom being like a dragnet. Matthew 13:47 – 50:

“47: Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and caught fish of every kind. 48: When it was full, the men pulled it ashore. Then they sat down and sorted the good fish into containers but threw the bad away. 49: So will it be at the end of the age: The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous, 50: and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”..

I’ve never gone fishing, so I didn’t know if catfish was scale-less or not. Growing up, Catfish was perfect in making Peppersoup, stews and soups (Although, we never actually called it catfish). We called it fresh fish i.e. freshwater fish. (meaning; it may have been a different kind of fish I ate growing up, but I just think it’s catfish because I tasted catfish peppersoup in America and it tasted the same).

At this point, I must tell you the truth is, the only thing I certainly know for sure about Catfish is that it’s a modern Phrase that describes someone lying to you to date you. They lie completely about their identity and then one day you meet them, and someone yells “You have been catfished” lol.

The point of this story is that, there are times when we’ll discover that we haven’t followed all the rules and you start to make changes because you want to follow the rules. The only thing is, it leaves you with a gaping hole. You suddenly find yourself in a whirlpool of noticing how much more expensive other choices are (in my case, there are cheaper options than catfish, I’m just being dramatic). You suddenly realize how you’re unable, or how incapable you are, and this feeling isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it shows you how much you must depend on God in just about everything. You must be dependent on him to make a way for you to be able to obey his laws. This is the reason why he said; “I’ll put my laws in their hearts and write it on their minds. And I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33). And again, he says; “I’ll give you a new heart, and put a new spirit within you. I will remove the stony heart from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you. That you may be able to obey my laws and to do my will” (Ezekiel 36: 26-27)

The western society we have today is supposed to be founded on Christian traditions, but the truth is it’s a mixture of pagan and Judaic traditions. At some point you suddenly feel naked like the catfish without scales, because you don’t have all the hedges you need to protect you from a culture that is not your own (i.e. not Kingdom culture). For example, if my kids decide not to accept pork or catfish at their school, the other option is to be fed stale PB&J sandwiches. We don’t have a society that observes kosher diets, so we struggle with our daily choices, including encouraging our kids not to feel sad if they get offered a stale sandwich.

I would love to say this story isn’t about eating catfish, but the truth is I don’t want to eat catfish. I would rather eat salmon, tilapia or Cod, but without fishing for myself and trolling through the internet for a list of kosher seafood, I wouldn’t really know what’s Kosher and what’s not.

This is where effort comes in. It’s the effort in trying to obey God’s word that leads me to a sudden mindset of realizing I need to eat healthier meals. It’s not just about me not wanting to BE a catfish – naked and exposed to the whimsies of what the world can throw at me. It’s about me wanting to BE a Mackerel – healthy, simple, yet wise. Being distinct and separate to God in the way I think and the way I treat my neighbor.

You’re what you Eat (Part 1) – I Don’t Eat Pork.

You ever heard the phrase “You are what you eat”? I’ve never been able to understand what it means. Like, what does it really mean??? My African mind can never really grasp the meaning behind that phrase.

When I was a child (probably 8 or 9), My mum warned me to NEVER eat snails if anyone ever offered it to me. She told me the story of how as a young adult, she had become a Christian and the Missionaries told her she could eat anything now that she was a Christian. She visited a friend and was offered snail. She decided to try it but broke out in a horrible rash. She was having an anaphylactic reaction to the snails. So, she was very stern with me when giving me this instruction. “I should NEVER EVER EVER try to eat snails”.

In Nigeria, snail was a delicacy in just about very tribe but my tribe; the Isoko tribe of delta state. There’s a lot of food we were forbidden to eat, but she only stuck with Snails because snails were a delicacy everywhere in Nigeria. Pork on the other hand, was a complete NO NO for just about every tribe in the country. At least it was, when I was a child and we didn’t have the luxury of modern technology to influence the culture. Back then you would never find anyone raising pigs or selling pork meat. Pigs were considered filthy animals and if you sold it, you were as filthy as the pig (no disrespect to those who raise and sell pork. I’m just trying to convey the bleakness of pork sales in the Nigerian market back then). All that has changed now. I visited Nigeria a few years ago and saw Pork sausages in supermarkets.

This story isn’t really about pork, but about traditions, instructions, and how they change over time. How they get twisted and overridden over multiple generations. How even the bible itself, the written words for the foundation of our faith gets watered down over multiple generations.

I was at a virtual party a few days ago, and we were playing a game. One of the questions I was asked while playing the game was; “name 5 types of meat you would buy at the supermarket”. I think I answered with; chicken, sirloin steak, lambs, Bison, and venison. Almost everyone laughed and one guest asked “where are you shopping? Wholefoods?”. Then 2 people went on to say “get some “pork chops” in there”. I wanted to respond with “I don’t eat pork because it’s not Kosher”, but I ended up being silent. I enjoyed the virtual party but I left there with a nagging wonder at the back of my mind. It was a church virtual party, but it appears I was the only one in the church who thought Pork meat was not-Kosher.

This night took me back to my first experience with Pork outside of Nigeria. I remember leaving Nigeria to start a life for myself in Europe at age 22. I moved to the UK, but for my first Christmas outside Nigeria, I had been invited to spend Christmas with this Irish family. They offered me bangers and mash and a lot of other stuff I can’t remember. When I bit into the sausage it tasted weird. I mean I had eaten beef sausage growing up, but this sausage tasted different. I asked what’s this? Pointing to the bangers and mash. She said; “it’s sausage and mashed potatoes” laughing. When I got back to London, I decided to visit a supermarket and look up what’s really in the banger sausage. This mini research made me realize pork was just about the only meat everywhere. My first thought after this was; what kind of society is this?

Fast forward to today and my story that’s “not about Pork meat”. The bible lists the types of animals that are clean and unclean by 2 distinct features. “It must part the hoof (i.e. divided hoofs) and chew the cud”.  Animals that don’t fall into this category are considered unclean. The bible lists the Pig as one of those unclean animals. Leviticus 11:7 – “The pig, for even though it has divided hoofs and is cleft-footed, it does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you”.

To an everyday person, this makes no sense. Like why should I not eat pig because it doesn’t chew the cud? The hidden message is that Chewing the Cud means the ability to think rationally and talk/think reflectively. It carries a spiritual significance once you move past the physicality of the animal. The point is this type of animal is unable to reflect on the word (food) and digest it, even though it’s able to distinguish between good and bad (parts the hoof). First you hear the word and you obey the word (which is what Jesus did by coming into the world as a Jew and keeping a Kosher Diet as it would have been in his day), then you get the spiritual understanding because you belong to him. Therefore, Jesus always spoke in parables. He used ideas that Galileans and observant Jews would understand. For example, the angels separating the lambs from the Goats (there were no pigs in the picture). The only time Jesus refers to Pigs, he says “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you”. The other mention of Pigs in the new testament was a hoard of demons requesting to be cast into them.

The new testament writers understood Pigs as the ultimate symbol of sacrilege. Remember during the Maccabean revolt, Epiphanes Antiochus defiled the Jerusalem temple by erecting a statute of Zeus and slaughtering pigs in the temple.

Then again, scientifically Pigs have bad cholesterol (I guess there is that for those who need something else to convict them).

To cut an already long story short, if you can’t learn to hear and obey God’s commands, you can’t begin to understand and reflect on them. It’s the reflecting and understanding that takes you to the next level. Eating non-Kosher food is one of those areas the modern-day church has chosen to follow in its own way, and it’s no wonder our bodies have become feeble and sick. Pigs for example have bad cholesterol but people still choose to eat it. Some say the corona virus was caused by eating bats (a non-kosher vermin), (although, others say it was cooked up in a lab), how hard would it be for us to stick to Kosher food???

All the same, like I said earlier, this story isn’t really about Pork, it’s about how our understanding and ability to obey instructions becomes warped over time. For me; it was my mum giving me a stern warning to never eat snails even if the church tells me to eat it. Now that I live in America, I would have to travel a long way to get snails, and would absolutely want to defy my mum’s instructions, to be able to eat it. Pork on the other hand, wasn’t an instruction from my mum, because back then, we were living in a society that frowned on eating pork. Today, it ended up being an instruction I had to put on myself because I saw an instruction from God in the Bible not to do it.

What does Paul say “Today when you hear his voice, do not harden your heart”.

Again, this is not about eating Bacon or ham. It’s about hearing instruction, understanding those instructions, separating yourself from the world, and allowing yourself to be ruled by God. That’s the definition of the Kingdom. Being under God’s dominion means submitting to his instructions. Whether it’s dietary or something else.. It’s about not dismissing one rule to follow another. If you loved your neighbor would you feed him mass produced processed meat that’s bound to definitely clog up his arteries and kill him someday???

You are what you eat. We all know that, yet we don’t take it seriously when God says it. We take it seriously only when the doctor or a nutritionist says it.

2 Latin words in the Bible that made it into Folklore and everyday life!

1 – Lucifer

Isaiah 14:12

12 “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”

The prophet Isaiah spoke ancient Hebrew. The word he used was “‎ hêylêl”. Which means morning star. The morning star is the brightest star you see at dawn. Depending on where you are or what time of the year, this would usually be Sirius or Venus. It represented the rising Empire. In this case the prophet Isaiah was referring to the Assyrian Empire!

The Assyrian empire were brutal warlords and Prophet Isaiah predicts their fall, while calling them “The Rod of the Lord’s Anger!

In Revelations 22:16 Jesus calls himself the bright Morning Star

2- Niger

Acts 13:1

“Now in the Church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.”

The New Testament was written in Koine Greek. But the word Niger is Latin for black. I always found this verse a little curious. Like why preserve it in Latin? Lucius of Cyrene was probably black as well because Cyrene is in Libya. At least all the Libyans we know today are dark skinned! So why remove the Greek original word and replace it with a Latin word?

Unfortunately, in the old world the word Niger (later Negro, then Nigga) had a negative connotation after the Roman Empire and their later successors took over.

Shortcuts

When I was younger I took a lot of shortcuts
But when you’re older and you hit a brick wall
You have to wait
Wait for a process that grinds you and turns you to zero
You have to learn and embrace a process that molds you into something different
Something separate
Something not everyone will embrace or want to be a part off
You have to love a process that isolates you and molds the true you
When I was younger I used to take shortcuts
But there are no shortcuts when you’re young or older

~ GE

I cry for you 

If I said I knew it all I’d be lying

If I said I know where I’m going, It’ll probably be a bigger lie

I’m completely blind, but your name keeps me going

Your name is the love song that carries me on

My sorrow is much

But I cannot forget you

It’s like your name is the password to my heart
Oh, Yeshua HaMashiach lead me gentle Shepard

For this sheep is blind, lost and weary

Just like Jacob’s stripped sheep, I ascended with the label zebra 

My God, my God, I sing a song to your name in my heart

If you will hear me, don’t leave me alone

Gather me and mine onto yourself
I search for you from dawn till dusk

And the adversary mocks and taunts me, asking; “where is your God” & “there is no God”

My heart is bare before you

I have only you upon my heart and upon my lips

My grief has become grievous because it seems they’ve stolen you from me

Do not delay

Please reveal your truth

Above all else

Above all else I hope I’m able to meet your standards

Not anyone else’s, but yours alone

Above all else, I hope I didn’t let you down

And you look down on me not only with pity but with love

Because I have loved you with every fiber of my being

Above all else I hope you look with eyes of mercy on they that you gave me

Because yours they were, and you gave them to me

Above all else I hope I made you proud

That’s all a servant longs for. 

I yearn to say I’m your child, but who am I kidding, I’ll happily settle for servant

If you break me, you are able to fix me up again

I hold on to you and no one else

Just like the psalmist, I bear afflictions for you

So above all else, please don’t leave me hanging!

Watchman 

Watchman what about the night?Poet where is your pen? 

Shall I write of you? 

Should I tell the truth?

Is your truth known?

Watchman what about the night? 

Are you ready?

Is the terror gone?

Are we there yet? 

Have we reached his presence?

When will they let us alone to serve in the presence of our God

With a pure heart and a true spirit?

When will they let us alone?

When will they stop to twist the truth?

When will they stop the lies

Watchman what time is it?

Tell them to leave us alone

We’re children of the most high

We cannot change our stripes

Watchman what about the night?

Is terror gone yet?

He’s set a new song upon my lips

He’s given me a new charge
Not many can look into this
For sin is complete and prophecy is fulfilled
A new thing has begun
Even now it springs forth
Blessed are those who wait on the living God
And know his name
It’s complete
A new song is written
A new melody is started
Even now Prophecy is complete
He made me a watchman
Now I must speak
For my watch is come
I must stand at my post
Ready with a tune that beats to his name

A broken spirit and a contrite heart

I can write to you of my love for you, but now my spirit is broken and no words can describe my pain

I can tell you all about my heart ache for you 

But my spirit is broken and I’ve no where to turn

I would tell you my love for you has killed me

But your spirit would simply bring me back again just to afflict me 

I know it’s not you, but the watchmen who barely know you

Yet I wish you would deal with me directly

It’s easy to say I give up

That my heart is broken and I can no longer love you

But who am I kidding

You knew I would never stop loving you before you called me into existence 

Now what’s left of me? 

Does a man go into desolation because he loves his God

Or will his God find him and heal him of his affliction.

I read the words: “I’ve spoken”, twice. Now I use those same words.

It’s your turn!

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