Ongala Maurice

To Inspire is to Empower


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Men, Let’s Talk 04, Trap Three

Pit of Pride

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Man, we are committed to finishing the race of life strong, leaving a great legacy, being accountable to God and while at it, inspiring as many men as providential Grace would permit. But pride won’t let us.

There is the male ego, and there is pride. Don’t twist them up – they are oceans apart. Today however, for the purposes of this series, I will delve into Pride as a trap that’s barring most men from finishing strong.

Pride is definitely one of the worst enemies of progressive God-given masculinity. If you are a proud man, you are countable to no one. A bold personal inventory will quickly reveal to you that you have acquaintances but no true committed friends. No one within your circles can dare ask you tough questions about your choices in life, your character or the friends you keep and what you do with them. Pride makes a man haughty and unteachable – he has learnt all there is to learn and he probably only lives to ‘teach’ and ‘help’ others. He is a know-it-all. Proud men do life with a wild sense of entitlement and the thoughtlessness of a perishing deliquent brat.

See, a proud man, in his utopia, simply walks himself into a pit and continues to dig it with his own hands till he sinks himself deep enough to self-destruct. Care about Proverbs 16:18?

“Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall”

This proverb is best illustrated in the life of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. This man built a great and enviable empire in the East. He had the money, the respect, the power, the influence… anything he ever wished for, it was all his. He disregarded the Almighty God and boasted publicly of his achievements (Daniel 4:30). And that was the beginning of his end! God shattered his kingdom. He was driven away from his people and he ate grass like cattle for years. His hair was like feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. God humiliated this proud man for seven years!

Man, pride is like bad breath – you are the last one in the room to know that you have it. It helps, therefore, to stick around brothers honest enough to call it out. Like cancer, pride is best treated in its early stages. The more you dig yourself into the pit of pride, the  more difficult it becomes for you to come out.

Pride has driven many men into the bush. It has brought down great kings, husbands, politicians, mighty leaders and their organizations, even angels!

Lucifer was a brilliant angel created most magnificently by God. He was distinguished for wisdom, sagacity, and efficiency. Of him it is recorded:

“You were perfect in all your ways from the day you were created till unrighteousness was found in you.” – Ezekiel 28:15

From such a magnificent beginning, through evil and error of pride, Lucifer embraced sin and now is numbered as chief of the fallen angels who have succumbed to the urge of self and surrendered to the sophistry of spurious personal liberty, which is, sadly characterised with rejection of allegiance to God and  blindness to cosmic relationships.

See, Lucifer is now the fallen Satan. Fellow men, self-contemplation is most disastrous, even to the exalted personalities of the celestial world. Of Lucifer it is also recorded:

“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom because of your brightness… How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cast down, you who dared to confuse the worlds!”

Like Lucifer, most men today become proud of their social strata, possessions, positions, careers, talents, looks, education, family heritage, etc., which they deem superior to those of their contemporaries. Like the king of Babylon, they thump their chests and despise others in their speech and conduct. The are proud of the works of their hands and material earthly achievements. They easily forget what the Bible says,

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” – James 1:17

Man, beware of the Pit of Pride.  Walk in humility and God will lift you up. When you are exalted, the trick is, again, to remain humble. Acknowledge that you are not all of that. Respect others and acknowledge their contribution and that of God in making you whom you are. There is ever nothing as “self made”. No man is an island, they say.

Humility makes a man appreciate his weaknesses and realise that he is only human. Humble men walk carefully and strive to stay away from foolish risk taking.

Next, Trap Four is beckoning. Please tag all the men you care about and lets get talking, from a comment!

#FaithNotFate #PitOfPride #MenLetsTalk #ToInspireIsToEmpower

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Men, Let’s Talk – 03 Trap Two

Addictions

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Fellow men, any addiction, whether it be an ingestive or activity addiction, is an intimate relationship. The workaholic with his work and the alcoholic with his booze are both having an illicit love affair. Each numbs his pain to avoid the feeling of loneliness. They hurt in the underbelly of shame.

They suffer silently, much to their detriment. They slide down the slippery path of self-destruction.

When you are dependent on a habit or a substance, you are an addict! Addiction starts with seemingly enjoyable experiences. It feels great so you go back, then again, and again and… again. Addiction progresses from a ‘harmless’ regular choice to a habit and finally to a bondage. An addict desperately needs the substance or the habit in order to survive the day. At that point, man, you are in prison. Your God-given masculinity is chained.

Most men slide into addictions in an attempt fulfil needs and obligations such as love for spouse, acceptance within a clique, affirmation, intimacy and community. Others fall into addiction as an act of rebellion to authority. A good number find themselves in this bondage as a result of stress and depression. Men, society has put so much expectation on us, so lofty billboards of standards have been raised and everyone seems to be pointing us to them.

Work, food, drugs, alcohol, sex, masturbation, caffeine, shopping, porn and gambling are some of the most common addictions that trap men of our generation.

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The oldest and most widely used drug in the world, alcohol, is a depressant which alters the emotions, senses and perceptions of the user. Many men believe in social drinking, taking small amounts alcoholic drink around food and social functions. What they hardly realise is that these small amounts actually lead to dependency then to addiction – alcoholism, which has trapped and destroyed many a man.

See what the wisest man says to King Lemuel about alcohol:

“It is not for Kings, O Lemuel – not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Give beer to those who are perishing and wine to those whoa re in a anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.” – Ecclesiastes 31:4-7

Wine and alcohol are not altogether condemned, but the counsel above if heeded, will avail much to men in this generation. Alcoholism has dug the graves of many men. When a man is hooked to the bottle, he can neither do much at work nor at home. His productivity and performance in life are greatly com[promised. He is a slave.

Remember Noah, the man who built an ark? Well he was also the first man in Bible history to plant a vineyard and press wine out of it. His earlier years were full of vitality and vigor for Gods cause, but he didn’t finish strong! He wound up drunk. In an unseemly incidence, he uncovered himself while drunk and lay naked in the tent. His youngest son came and mocked him in his stupor. When he regained his consciousness, he was upset with what the son had done and cursed him. But what if he hadn’t fallen drunk in the first place – would there have been a curse?

How about Lot, the only righteous man in Sodom and Gomorrah? This man was so holy that God had to send Angels straight from heaven to come rescue him and his family from a city about to be destroyed. But after being rescued by Angels from that wicked city, he became so drunk that his two daughters slept with him and bore children. Would he have been involved in this abominable act if he were sober?

Drunkenness has a way of attracting sexual misbehaviour, gender-based violence, poor health and general misconduct among men. If you are in the claws of alcohol, seek help. Go for rehab if need be. If you are chained into masturbation, porn, work, or any form of addiction, don’t suffer and die in silence like a coward. Man, you are better than that! Come out! See a professional counsellor and get some help.

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Brother, both substance and habit addiction are real and lethal. Do not walk into this trap like a blindfolded sheep! Wake up. Stay away from triggers. If you are in the trap already, seek help. Denial only lengthens your prison term. You are a great man and God has a great purpose for your life. Realise that and quit wasting it away with things that will never satisfy you. Starve the wrong habits and feed the noble ones.

But the most effective way to steer clear of addictions, regardless of the stage is to stay connected the Higher Power. If you have come across Alcoholic Anonymous’ 12 Steps of Recovery from Addiction Programme, you will notice that step one is so grand. It starts by urging the addict to admit his powerlessness towards alcoholism and recognize that only God (as they understood Him) could salvage them from their predicament.

Seek God’s help. Addictions have a spiritual dimension, leading you to the dark world, thus God is the best antidote. Pray with someone and build your spiritual life and you will triumph over this vice.

Break free! A free man is a strong man.

#FaithNotFate #MetLetsTalk


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Men, Let’s Talk – 02: The Traps

Doubtless, what I’m about to present here has been, almost universally, encompassed to instigate and facilitate the down-the-drain trudge of many a strong man. The wisest, the wealthiest, the noblest, the most religious, the most powerful. The strongest! All of them fell miserably when life introduced any of these five traps.

TRAP ONE: THE WOMAN

Women are not bad. How could God give Adam something that would eventually destroy him? Women are the greatest blessing, the most precious gift God ever gave to man.

But there are good women, then there is Delilah. There is the graced and gracious woman, and there is the woman of harlotry. Many men have fallen on her chest. Man, if there is something that’s likely to bring you down swift and hard, it’s Delilah.

Beware!

You’re probably thinking such things don’t apply to you. Perhaps in your estimation, you can’t do such sinful, silly and obvious mistakes as sleeping with a strange woman.

Wake up man! Samson of the Bible was strong enough to kill the enemies of Israel single handedly, but weak in the face of a woman – he could not control his loins. He was cut off prematurely from life. David of the Bible would have finished better had he not fallen for his soldier’s wife. Time would not permit me to talk about Solomon. The lure of a naked body. The seduction and delight of stolen waters.

Take care man. You have too great a destiny to lay it down on the thighs of a strange woman. You’re better than that. Porn, lust, an affair. Take care brother, danger is lurking all around you.

What measures should we take? The good old ABCD!

a) Abstain

Keep away from the temptations of Delilahs. Every man knows the kind of woman he is likely to fall for and the progression of the fall. Like Joseph, be man enough to say NO! 1 Thessalonians 5:22 is forthright – ‘Flee from all appearance of evil’

b) Be Faithful

Married? One is just enough. That’s what The Lord requires of you. That’s the right thing to do. Don’t reason out or debate with a commandment expressly spoken by God! Build your marriage and treasure it. Stick with your woman and love her to death. Unmarried? Stick it out until you get her. Honor your bride-to-come by holding out. Show yourself strong and make her proud.

c) Community

Strong men walk in groups of like minded brothers. A rope of three strings isn’t easily broken, counsels the Good Old Book. Ensure the men around you can encourage you, correct you, speak into your life and keep you accountable. Don’t keep a weak, toxic and flimsy crow around you, who flatter you even when you are making grave mistakes.

d) Depend on God

Lastly, it takes more than personal resolve and temerity to finish strong. It takes a deliberate, strong relationship with God! Look up to God, man. Acknowledge your weaknesses and seek His strength. You will be winning every day. You are not too lost to save!

Watch out for Trap Two! Tag men you care about. Keep it here.

#FaithNotFate

#MenLetsTalk


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Men, Let’s Talk – 0

There has been a lot of whining as to how the society has neglected its boy child. This is true to a great extent and a lot can be said about it. But just ‘saying’ is t enough. What will make the difference is; what more, how and why?

I’m grateful to God that after much soul searching and prayer, He helped me discover, many years ago, my calling and passion to mentor fellow young people through life – young as I was! This is a story for another day, really.

I’m currently part of a program that is talking so deeply to the mentors and mentees alike.

I will purpose to share my personal thoughts and a few nuggets from the program on this blog – with regards to what exactly manhood entails and what it takes to be ‘man enough’. I intend to keep them short, thought provoking and incisive.

The series will be themed “Men, Let’s Talk”, with the hope that one or two men who follow my blog will get help with a dark area of their lives. It will be guided by Christian principles, with contemporary examples. All I ask you to do is invite as many men as possible herein so that we open up and talk.

Please keep your responses, reactions and comments civil, well reasoned and objective.

Let’s engage!

#FaithNotFate


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Private and Confidential

Daughter,
Hearty greetings from Daddy! How is this girl doing? I may not understand just how it must feel to be in the dark of the confine that is mummy’s tummy, which has been your God-given abode for the past many moons. I believe the Doctor, though, when he tells us you are fine. And chiefly, I trust God when He re-assures us of the same each time we pray for you. Mummy and I are well and blessed.
As I type this, there’s something like a line of gold thread running through these words when I concede them for you daughter, and gradually over the years it will grow long enough for you to pick it up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. That gold-like thing is the first word I will introduce you to at the end of this letter.
Child, let’s dispense with this first. Your gender has remained a sweet mystery to your mummy and daddy – not that the 21st Century technology has failed, but because we like it that way. However, with the insane tendencies of this wandering-wanderoo generation aptly foretold in the closing verses of Romans 1 – lustfully lost and incorrigibly irksome – mummy and I feel safer thinking of you only as male or female. But mummy loves to think of you more as female than male hence my addressing you as ‘Daughter’. Mummy is more creative and insightful than I am, so she has gone ahead and given you a lovely heavenly name which will only be unveiled when you let out your first cry. I love it. I can’t wait to refer to you by it. But I have always loved everything about mummy. Let’s talk about her later.
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Photo impression courtesy of Dreamtime

Pretty Daughty, you must be a very playful and irresistible piece of human! Whenever mummy is enjoying an afternoon siesta in the cool breeze under a twig’s shadow in the backyard, she occasionally lets out an excited scream. Are you okay Love? I ask. It’s her again, she asserts. She complains you’re kicking her. Sometimes she says you’re just moving around as if backstroking in a swimming pool (do you even understand what a swimming pool is?). She gives me an expectant look. But I’m not sure you can kick that hard or even backstroke. So I don’t know whether to tell her sorry or to urge you on. I love you both so terribly, I tremble at the thought of my affection for you two. So I smile first – because my daughter is growing in grace. Kicking, even. That smile is usually for you Pretty. The I say a silent ‘oops!’ and tell mummy, ‘I’m so sorry Your Majesty, she is soon coming out’. But your mama is super intelligent, just like you. She knows I’m on your side so she frowns. I peck her dimple, rub her back till she smiles back. We are sorted.
But that’s not all, mummy has some incredible claims too. She says you are able to recognise my voice! Imagine that. She says when I get home and we’re just saying a prayer, you leap for joy because daddy is finally here! I laugh at these claims hysterically. But I also become so humbled at the remotest imagination that such a claim could be true. Many times when I sing for you ‘Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world…’ I pause to think, you are not a child of this world, you’re a heavenly gift. Then you give me a high five on mummy’s tummy, perhaps to remind me to sing on you’re still listening. The I continue; ‘…red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.’ My moments with you afford me the divinest of experiences under the golden sun. Makes me wonder when I shall see you and hold you in my very arms. When that time shall come, my little angel… I want you to look up to me. I want us to build a great relationship. I want to be your oracle, your hero, your first love.
Sorry Pretty Little One, I can sense your concentration span is getting used up. I didn’t mean to bother you with these vain utterances. Had I enough space and ink, I would have told you the nuances of this generation including the slay queen phenomenon. But allow me to wrap this piece by introducing you to your first vocabulary.
Daughter, as you grow older both in your humble confine and when by God’s grace you shall see the sun, never forget the word LOVE. Say it with me again baby, L O V E. The sages of ages and the linguists of lands have defined this word variously. But they have afforded generations nothing but confusion. For now, Pretty, I wanna give you something to look up to. When you come of age, daddy will make this word clearer. I pray already that then, you be able to both discover and discern. For now, it will help you to know that you are a product of pure, unadulterated heavenly love. Mark my word.
Mummy says hi.
Love,
Daddy.


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Love Divine

Behind every glory there is a story. Every juicy fruit was once only a beautiful flower whose pollination made the difference. Every long journey was once only a stride but the voyager’s reseal;eoience made the difference! For us, Love was the Divine pollen grain and God’s grace made the difference. Here goes our story.

We first met in Nairobi during a church function several years back. A good friend of mine nudged me,

“Maurice, look at that girl!”

At that first glance, I beheld a Queen in her Royal Majesty! She was standing at the outer upper corner of the sanctuary, not too far from the main entrance, perhaps having a good chat with two friends. She rocked a greenish African print skirt with a black short sleeved blouse. Her hair was so black, so rich and so long I mistook it for those Brazilian things in African markets – I was wrong. Before I knew it, I was staring. Naturally, our eyes met. I didn’t know whether to grin or smile, so I assumed I didn’t see her. But that was the most daunting assumption of my life. How do you assume nothing has happened when you have just seen an angel only short of wings? Her eyes spelt deep calmness laced with kindness. she was a bit laid back but her demeanor was all gracious. She had this thick, pink lower lip that formed a smoothly curved based for the upper one, and which perfectly matched her light skin tone. She wasn’t loud, seemed to listen more than talk. Impressive, I chuckled. You wouldn’t easily notice her except for her stunningly radiant beauty that betrayed her quietude before the sons of men.

My jaw dropped, but in keeping with good church manners (oh religion!), I maintained my cool and shot back at my pal,

“Ah stop it.”

She laughed and let me be.

Later, my pal and her hubby revisited the discussion about this girl whose name I didn’t even know (come to think of it, such friends are heavenly to say the least). Times without number, I quietly and secretly knelt and asked God to allow me to chance upon her again. Our next two meetings would be in a different church, both unplanned. But why church? I gave excuses for not making the first move. Church is not the place to ask girls their names and tell them that you like them, I rationalized. Maurice is the confident masculine guy oozing bravado and class. But he failed to make the move not once but thrice… damn! There was something unusual about this lady. There is.

I embarked on what me and my boys love to call “Chapter Two: Literature Review” and my findings were as good as whats in your mind. Fast forward, we became the best of friends under the sun. Not because the difference between our names was only ‘c’ and ‘n’. Not because our follower siblings shared both names. Not because our mothers both shared middle names, neither was it because it took us so long to become friends, but as we later found out, our friendship was authentic because we shared so much in common, it was incredible. Later she confessed that she had been patiently praying that I make the first move and if I didn’t within her timeline, she would! Brothers, that which thine hand findeth to do, to it now, but as my favorite author puts it, make haste slowly. I digress.

In my mind, the search had officially come to a definitive halt, because it marked the beginning of a new phase. We had become so close we would take offense if the other person didn’t call whole day. Time was now ripe to press the next button, to dial the next key. I had to take risks. Serious risks. It was a do or die kind of thing. Come with me…

 

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After sharing my plans to propose with a very close friend of mine, let’s call her Dee, we planned that we would host a surprise dinner just for Her Majesty at an exclusive upmarket place within the city and pop the ring on one knee. Stakes were high, almost everything was in place, when I an invite came my way to attend an exclusive wedding reception of Tom and Eileen, another great pair of friends. This was to go down at Mount Kenya Safari Club. When I shared with Tom I was planning to pop the ring, he said, man come do it there! What better place would I have done this! I exclaimed. So we abandoned the initial plan and took this memorable event 194 kilometers away from Nairobi.

A mild Sunday morning in Nanyuki town. The Fairmont, Mount Kenya Safari Club, an exquisitely agonizing scenery. Delicately tranquil atmospheric freshness hovering over the lush green grass at the very foot of Mount Kenya. Her Majesty and myself are attending the exclusive wedding reception in the company of lots of mutual friends. Our hosts know the plan only too well but she knows nothing about what’s about to befall her. I get a bit jittery and it worries her. I assure her all is well, isn’t this all they usually want to hear?

Then, kaboom! a set back sets in. The radiant red roses I had carried from Nairobi have been so badly damaged that if they were a car, the insurance company would dread compensating! But in the ind of Your Truly, every set-back is a set-up for a come-back. So I ask my bros Mandela and Barry to keep her busy as I run around in pursuit of fresh Nanyuki flowers. You should’ve seen the determination on your boy’s face! At the reception, I am quickly linked to the hotel florist and I’m sorted, just like that. Now the PowerPoint slides are ready, each with a unique love line and her pictures. The  live band is ready to back me up as I sing Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years. I am supposed to sing all the way from the farthest entrance to the podium and end up on my knees with the piece of silver and diamonds on my hands. The plot thickens.

Just  before the cake is cut, the newly wedded couple takes the stage and Tom grabs the mic. He announces a surprise raffle game (this was his idea, I just danced to his tune. Interesting guy!).

“There can only be one winner and whoever the lucky winner will be, we have a great gift for them,” declares Tom

By this time, I had excused myself to the ‘gents’ when in reality I was hiding with a mic at the main entrance, far away from the crowd, gathering every ounce of courage. Tom called a false name intentionally, someone who had left. Then he did one more round of raffle, this time round calling out none but Her Majesty. Excited to be the lucky winner, she dashed to the podium. It was my turn to swing into action, I did. She screamed, Yes! The photos will speak the rest.

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The traditional ceremony followed afterwards and on 15.10.17, we said our vows. For us, it has been a long, intriguing and thrilling voyage. Sometimes we wonder how we got this far, but looking back, we both know it could only be God’s grace. Glory to His name!

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Special gratitude to our pastors, elders, counselors, loving parents, families, colleagues, committee, friends and the bridal party for the prayers, support, counsels and sacrifices to deliver 15.10.17. You guys stopped at nothing. We love you so dearly.

To my charming wife, Kenny Rodgers says it for me;

I’d die before I’d damage, this union we have made
The vows go unbroken, and you still know I do
Love, keep and honor, always true to you

But King Solomon caps it best;

Set me as a seal upon your heart – Song of Songs 8:6

#LoveDivine


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ATTRACTION AND DISCRETION

When the face you have been staring into with grins and goosebumps turns into that of a monster. When the hands you have been enjoying to clasp burst into flames and burn your own. When the lip you have been kissing grows proboscis and sucks your blood dry. When the chest you have been hugging with fondness pushes you hard and you fall with a thud. When your hope of a blissful future turns into a painful eternity…

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“When the hands you clasped burst into flames”


Attraction is a natural law of socialization. Everyone needs some amount of attraction in order to be comfortable doing certain things, keeping a certain job, being in certain places or keeping certain people as friends or acquaintances. Without this subtle yet powerful law, all you engage in will soon turn out to be meaningless and worthless regardless of how dazzling and cherished they are right now.

Stop forcing yourself into a clique you are not attracted to. Stop trying to fit into a job which doesn’t satisfy you and which you don’t enjoy doing. Stop trying too hard to love people when the natural attraction jar between you and them is only emptying down rather than filling up. Stop trying to study a course that you have no attraction to, only to please your parents and professors, because they want to be proud of you when you finally hold that title.

Listen, you would rather die, than live a lie. Be real. The greatest form of betrayal is that committed against self. When you betray yourself, you have only yourself to blame

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“Do not be too timid to affiliate to your attraction” 

because you had better options on your hand but you consciously chose the wrong one. Sooner or later, the friends you were trying to please by staying on in an abusive relationship will be all gone. The relatives you were struggling to do their will, will soon leave you to your own devices when you are already shattered in a love triangle or smashed in a pitch-dark emotional abyss.

The Advisors-In-Chief who opened pages of “Relationship 101” for you day and night, will run short of lies, their prophecies will be nullified by time, their theories will cease to hold. Then they will block your communication channels. You will feel like dying after realizing just how cold this world can get. All these because you were not real in the first place. You were living your life to please others who sadly, didn’t have your best interest at heart.
With all these, where then is the place of advisability? Should we be headstrong and ignore every voice that cautions us and every instruction that we receive? Nay! This is where discretion comes in. Exercise discretion with caution and fearful obedience to God, especially when you know what God’s express will is, in such a situation.
You will be branded a few names here and there for it. Some ugly rumors will run across social media of you being a heart breaker, indecisive, ungrateful, tough headed, proud and evil. You will be ostracized by your family, discriminated against by your friends and maligned by those you held most dearly to you. But that is just fine, because it is both a phase of growth and a learning curve. 
During this phase, you need to keep your pen and note pad closest to you. Don’t let a lesson go un-learnt. Here you will unlearn to learn. You will sift and shift. You will acquaint and quit. But when you are done, you will be the best version of you: bold and strong, wise and knowledgeable. You will be ready to face the world. 
See you in the next article!