Saturday, August 25, 2012

Grad School Life: Orientation

Today was orientation for new graduate students at the University of North Texas. The event as a whole had its laughs and its boredom. However, I was able to indulge in priceless information that will help me to become the best graduate student I can be.

My next orientation session is with the Mayborn School of Journalism on Tuesday and classes begin on Thursday. I am very excited and nervous about my first semester at UNT. I pray that God will bless me with more than enough resources to pass this first year with flying colors. I look forward to all of the new experiences in this new chapter of my life.

My only concern was that I wished to already have a good job to combat the cost of commuting to and from Denton or that I made enough money to live on campus.

It's official. I'm a UNT grad student.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Grad School Life: New Beginnings

In one week, I will begin my graduate schooling at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX. I can't express how excited I am about all of the new experiences and challenges I will have pursuing this Master of Journalism degree.

I know for a fact God Almighty will connect me with the right people to accomplish His plan for my life.

I recently found out that I became a sports writer for the North Texas Daily (shameless plug, follow @NTDaily) and the first staff meeting was today and tomorrow. The mood was rather enlightening as I met most of the staff and my section editor, Josh. He seems pretty laid-back.

My journey for the next two years or so will be one of the best of my life. I believe it will give me the opportunity to break some habits and create new ones so that I can be the best journalist God wants me to be upon graduation.

Keep up with my grad school journey with the hashtag #gradschoollife on twitter @ubathediplomat.

My goal is to start at a local paper like the Dallas Morning News and work my way up. My dream job is to cover sports for ESPN or other sports media sites. God willing, I will cover a Summer Olympic Games or a major sporting event.

I firmly declare that God will fulfill every need of mine and my heart's desires. I will need many prayer warriors.

Orientation is on Saturday.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Daily Devotion: Patience: Our Gift of Service

Read | Colossians 3:12-13
When troubled or in pain, we turn to people who will listen patiently to our cries of distress. But I wonder how often we seek to be the person who gently steps up to share a hurting friend's burden for as long as it lasts?
Paul encouraged believers to "put on" a heart of compassion, kindness, and patience. In other words, we don't come from the womb pre-equipped with these traits. Rather, we receive on-the-job training in imitating Christ as we bear with and forgive one another. The Holy Spirit is more than willing to instruct us in the proper ways to grow spiritual fruit. The Lord then provides opportunities for us to try out our newly developed skills.
We tend to classify patience rather narrowly as "waiting." That's certainly part of the definition, but so are concepts like endurance, perseverance, and persistence. When we're relating to others as Paul challenged us to do, we are not simply waiting for them to become better versions of themselves. We are enduring their hardship alongside them or persisting in our attempts to offer aid. We're caring, listening, and serving however we can. In a world that insists on doing everything quickly, patience is an amazing gift to give another person.
By placing patience on the list of spiritual fruit, God indicated that every believer could develop this trait. Whatever additional gifts and talents you possess, patience is an attribute that you can put on. Practice it for the glory of God and as a way to serve your fellow man.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Daily Devotion: How to Hold On

Read | Psalm 37:5-7
Job was a man who certainly knew trouble and temptation, and yet he boldly claimed, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him" (Job 13:15). That is commitment. Job had lost his children, his fortune, and his health, but he refused to abandon faith in God. The stricken man was determined to hold on because he trusted the Lord to do right.
Unwavering commitment to trust the Lord in all situations is a cornerstone of unshakable faith. From the vantage point of that foundation, we can focus our eyes upon God alone. It is easy to be distracted by circumstances and allow them to dictate our emotions. But if that's the case, then when life is good, we're happy; when times are tough, we're frustrated; and when hardship pours in, we're downright miserable and looking for escape.
Unlike Job, we are fortunate to have Scripture, which reveals God's nature and promises. And it is a wise believer who claims those promises when enduring hardship. For His Word tells us that our Father is always good, always just, always faithful, and always trustworthy. When we take our eyes off the whirl of day-to-day activity and concentrate on honoring Him and following in His way, we find a consistent peace that carries us through both plenty and poverty.
In order to hold on to God through any trial or temptation, commit to trust and follow Him all of your days. Lay claim to His promises: The unchanging Lord and Savior (Heb. 13:8) is committed to caring for you in all circumstances (1 Peter 5:7) and will never leave or forsake you (Heb. 13:5).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Daily Devotion: Self-Inflicted Adversity

Read | Psalm 119:65-72
The difficulties we face originate from one of three sources. Some are sent to us by the Lord to test our faith, others are the result of Satan's attacks, and still others are due to our own sinful choices.
As you consider these three causes, which type is the hardest for you to bear? I think most of us would say the last one, because we have nobody to blame but ourselves and it seems as if no good can possibly result. After all, the Word of God says that we will reap what we have sown (Gal. 6:7), so we see nothing ahead except a painful harvest.
What this kind of thinking fails to take into account is the Lord's redemptive abilities. Although He never promises to remove all the consequences of sin, He can use our failures to teach us to fear Him, hate evil, and walk in obedience. The difficult lessons we learn can also become our protection from sin in the future. Having suffered the pain of going our own way, we're more likely not to take that path again.
God's arrows of affliction are sharp and painful so He can get our attention. He won't let His beloved children get away with sin because He knows it robs us of blessings, opportunities, and even character refinement.
As painful as your situation may be, thank your heavenly Father that He cares enough to send out His loving discipline. Now it's up to you. How will you respond to His warning? When we learn from experience, the scars of sin can lead us to restoration and a renewed intimacy with God.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Me, Myself, and Depression

This post is dedicated to those who fight this depression daily but don't have the courage to speak out about it.

Many people, for the most part, see me as a guy who is sarcastic and sociable at times. However, a lot of people never realized the pain and anguish that lived inside me. However, no one really knows what it is like to be me.

See, growing up in a Nigerian household, (I'm Nigerian, by the way) was very different from the typical American household. I couldn't do a whole lot as a kid. I mainly played with my siblings. I didn't have many friends. I remember kids calling me "African Booty Scratcher" and how it made me feel. I felt as if I didn't belong

It got worse in the seventh grade and begin to snowball once I entered college. My depression got so bad, I indulged in minor marijuana and alcohol use. I felt that if I did these things then the pain would go away.

I felt as if my life was not going to get any better and I began to have suicidal thoughts day after day. I actually contemplated committing suicide. I had a suicide plan and everything. I was going to drive my car to the very top of the parking garage at school and jump off of the roof.

I ended up talking to the school counselor and was hospitalized for a week in 2009. I believe that whole week was the avenue God used to heal me.

I still cope with depression long after my release from the hospital. In fact, I made a commitment to live my life in an optimistic manner despite my current troubles and struggles. I now read my Bible daily and I have come to terms with my depression and decided it will not define me.

I thank God for giving me the gift of the pen because writing basically saved my life.

Mental illness, especially depression, is prevalent in the Black community. We need to confront this issue before it causes the death of a loved one.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Daily Devotion: A Barometer for Spiritual Growth

Read | 1 Corinthians 13:11-13
Since our Father wants us to mature in the faith, we should stop periodically and examine our lives to see if we're making progress in this area. Physical growth is fairly easy to evaluate--all you need is a tape measure. But how can you tell if you're growing spiritually? Let's begin by considering how children develop.
Desires: Have you noticed that your childhood toys no longer interest you? The maturing process changes our desires in the spiritual realm too. When we're growing, the world's pleasures lose their appeal, while our hunger for God and His Word increases. We are eager to be with Him and share with others how He's working in our lives.
Understanding: When you were young, your perception of the world was very limited. In the same way, we lack spiritual understanding when we're new believers. But in time, we begin to see life from God’s perspective. Trials and temptations become opportunities for growth, and service for the Lord becomes an honor instead of a burden.
Selflessness: The most obvious sign of a toddler's immaturity is his selfishness. He wants his way, and he wants it now! Hopefully that is no longer characteristic of you. A mature believer is submissive to the Lord, willing to wait, and more concerned about others than himself.
How are you doing in these three areas of growth? Maybe it's time to let go of a few childish ways in order to grow into a mature believer. The greatest evidence of maturity is love. When the Lord and other people have first place in our hearts, it's then that we're most like Jesus.