Is Your Father Alive?

A Father’s Day Tribute To   Some Special Father-Figures in My Life © By Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD; June 18, 2017   Last year (2016) was a particularly trying year for me. Within the span of six months (from June to December 2016), I lost my biological father and three special father-figures a...

The Land of Blessing

The Inauguration of "Dunia ya Heri" Report by Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, Ph.D  On the weekend of June 9-11, 2017, I was privileged to be a special guest at the inauguration of “Dunia ya Heri”  Children's Home (or Orphanage) in a small rural village called Yale Yale Puna, in the Kigamboni District...

Formed of Steel, But Coated In Clay

[Click on Above Title Link for Clearer View]   A Tribute To Dr Raoul Dederen (1925-2016)  By Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD [NOTE: Dr. Raoul Dederen (1925-2016) was my “doctorvater,” theological and spiritual mentor,  pastor, father, and role-model in research and teaching. I learned from him ...

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THOUGHT NUGGETS
Dr. Pipim's Inspirational Quotes 
 
NOTE:
1. Below are the weekly thought-nuggets, beginning with the latest to the earliestYou are welcome to quote and share the nuggets, provided you source them to Samuel Koranteng-Pipim and reference either of these websites: http://drpipim.org/thought-nuggets.html or http://eaglesonline.org/weekly-nuggets/nuggets-archives/.
2. For a BACKGROUND to the weekly thought-nuggets, go to the very end of the nuggets.  
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THROUGH THE STORMS
Violent storms are raging in our world—and in our lives. We’re afraid, we’re out of options, we’re out of ideas, and are frustrated. We’re “at our wits’ end”—a phrase that means “to be so worried, confused, or annoyed that you do not know what to do next” (Cambridge Dictionary). That idiom is from the King James Bible in the 1600s. In Psalm 107:27, it was used when fishermen in the deep oceans faced life-threatening storms in which they felt desperate, powerless and helpless. (The Hebrew of the Ps 107:27 phrase “at wits’ end” literally says “their wisdom was swallowed up.”) How do you face storms in your life? Psalm 107:28-30 assures us that when we “cry to the Lord in our troubles and distresses,” He will calm the storm and the waves, bring peace to our hearts, and guide us safely to “our desired haven.” At your wits’ end? The way up is the only way out.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
 
DISRUPTIVE MOMENTS
They are sudden, painful, and life-shattering. Gordon MacDonald calls them “disruptive moments.” They are “those unanticipated moments, most of which, one would usually have chosen to avoid had it been possible.” He goes on to say, “We don’t like disruptive moments; they are too often associated with inconvenience, failure and humiliation….”  But whether self-inflicted or inflicted on us, let’s consider them as “providential afflictions.” For, through them, God grabs our attention to change our priorities & perspectives. David says: “Before I was AFFLICTED I went astray, but now I keep Your word….It is good for me that I have been AFFLICTED, that I may learn Your statutes….I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have AFFLICTED me.” (Psalm 119:67, 71, 75). Take comfort: Our painful interruptions in life are God’s providential afflictions!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
 
WE ARE ADOPTED
Our Father has many children—and still wants more!  We were all adopted. With His limitless resources and wisdom, He cares for each one of us—as though we are the only ones He has. None of us has seen our Father—the only exception being our Elder Brother who has always lived with Him and who came to live with us for a short time. Thus, our only knowledge of our Father is what our senior Brother has revealed about Him. He tells us that our Father is a King, the ruler of a vast kingdom. That our family here is an extension of a larger family. Before He departed to be with Father, Big Brother said, “I go to my Father and your Father” (John 20:17). And to remind us to boldly approach Him with anything, He taught us to call Him “ABBA, Father” (Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5, 6).  This special name of endearment expresses the close, intimate relationship we have with Him. Just as a trusting child comes to "Daddy" to tell him anything, we also can tell “Abba, Father” anything that is on our hearts. Anything and everything! Our joys, our sorrows, our worries, our hurts, and our struggles. We can confidently approach Him with the things we need and the things we’re thankful for. We can share with Him our deepest thoughts and feelings, our deepest desires and longings, and our most painful and embarrassing experiences—including the sins we wrestle with. Yes, we can bring them all to our loving Father, and know that He will hear us with a sympathetic heart, a heart of love and kindness. Yes, we do have a living, loving, and eternal Heavenly Father, and we will always have His shoulders to lean on and His embrace to sustain us. Why? Because we are adopted—and He is our ABBA, Father.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WOUNDED SOLDIERS
“The Christian army is the only army that shoots and buries its wounded…. We [also] leave them to bleed to death in the field” (Freddie Gage). How true of how Christians treat their erring ones! Even the Church that’s to be a hospital for sinners often becomes a slaughter house where the saints butcher those experiencing personal failures—their fallen, faltering, or failing (cf. John 8:1-11; Luke 15:25-32; Mark 14:1-9).  Are you a wounded soldier? Don’t quit fighting, for the enemy will kill you if he finds you. Remember, a wounded soldier is still a soldier. A wounded Samson brought down the Philistine kingdom. And a wounded Savior took down the gates of hell with Him. “Being wounded is not the end; it is the beginning of a new frontier in battle” (Noel Masvosvere).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
NOT GOOD ENOUGH
The CEO of Facebook began his 2017 Harvard graduation speech thus: “I’m not here to give you the standard commencement about finding your purpose. … I’m here to tell you finding your purpose isn’t enough. The challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose” (Mark Zuckerberg). To his apt observation I add that it is not even enough for everyone to have a sense of purpose. We must also LIVE our purpose! In His own commencement address to the world—His Sermon on the Mount—Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, … it is then good for nothing” (Matthew 5:13). Stated differently, salt is good for something, but tasteless salt is worthless (cf. Luke 14:34, 35).  Being good for something is not good enough. It's why world-changers do not just know their purpose, but live it.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

FEAR NOT!
It is said that whenever God says, “Fear not,” you must start worrying; for He’ll be asking you to do the impossible! (Think of Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, or Mary). Yet, God's “Fear not” commands are also His promises. An estimated 365 “fear not” promises are in the Bible—at least one for each day’s need. Therefore, when it seems like you're finished or it’s over and there's no point going on, Jesus says “Fear not; it’s not the end, just the beginning.” (cf. Mark 5: 35, 36). "The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else” (Oswald Chambers). God has power to intervene, even in your most hopeless situations. Fear not!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
 
DOUBT YOUR DOUBTS
Doubt whispers the impossible, but faith dares it. “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing” (Muhammad Ali). Still intimidated by the impossible? Angel Gabriel said, “With God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37). Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes…. With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Mark 9:23; Matthew 19:26; cf. Mark 10:27). Doubt your doubts, believe God’s promises! “Natural impossibilities cannot prevent the work of the Omnipotent One” (E.G. White).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
DON’T PRETEND  
“We can be anything we want to be, but we can't be anyone we want to be” (Paul Hudson). “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” (Oscar Wilde). As a child, anytime I pretended to be what I was not, my mother would call me by name and say this proverb: “Tadpole, don’t carry yourself as if you’re a fish.” Just because a tadpole lives in the same pond with baby fishes—and looks and swims like them—should not make it think itself a fish. Our identity (who we really are, not our ambient situation) must dictate how we carry ourselves. We live in a world of pretense. We pretend in order to be liked or get what we want. But pretending can be emotionally draining and sickening. It’s like drinking alcohol or doing drugs: “the more you consume, the worse you feel… the worse you feel, the more you consume. And then one day you take a look at yourself and feel sick to the stomach” (Hudson). Be honest; live without pretending. Be real with people—and with God. (James 2:14-26; John 2:23-25). For a distorted identity can be costly, as the fish-pretending tadpole can easily land itself in a fish-lover’s soup.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
STOP PRAYING!
“There comes a moment when praying becomes a form of spiritual procrastination. It’s time to stop praying and start acting” (Mark Batterson). Prayer can become a refuge for cowardly fear, an occasion for inaction, and even outright disobedience! It’s why God ordered Moses at the Red Sea to stop praying and "go forward" (Exodus 14:15). Daunting waters won't part till we put shoes on our faith. If God's Word is clear on an issue—e.g., forgiving our foes, giving selflessly, or lovingly keeping His Commandments—simply “go forward.” Is there something you know you should do? Stop praying and just do it! Without necessary action, prayers are meaningless gibberish, Pharisaical showmanship, and hypocritical laziness.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
BURN THE PLOWS
There are moments when we have to make a clean and complete break with the past, without any possibility of turning back to the life we left behind. That’s what Elisha did, when he burned his farming plow. That day he ceased to be Elisha the farmer and began a new life as Elisha the prophet. Similarly, if you really want the past to be behind you, without the option of ever turning back, you’ve got to burn the plowing equipments of your past relationships and attachments, past failures and successes, past careers and goals, and past habits and attitudes. Don’t be fixated to your past experiences—whether painful or glorious. Let the past be past. Don’t look back. Burn the plows (1 Kings 19:21).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
BEING GREAT AGAIN
Greatness is in the air these days. Thanks to Donald Trump, who wants to “make America GREAT again.” Even my home country’s national anthem begs “God [to] bless our homeland Ghana, and make our nation GREAT and strong.” But greatness is not by economic, military, or political might, nor by building walls—literal or metaphorical. Scripture defines true greatness as excellence in humility and sacrificial service. “Greatness is planted in the seedbed of humility, it’s watered by the deeds of servanthood & it’s cultivated by the hands of perseverance until it finally yields the harvest of royalty” (Kris Valloton). Jesus said “Whoever desires to become GREAT among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be FIRST shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). May the Lord make us TRULY great again.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE SOUND OF SILENCE
Silence is in danger. It’s endangered by the noises of merriment, restlessness, and the cares of this world. When I was a child, I often caught my mother sitting quietly in the dark. Intrigued, I asked what she could possibly see in pitch darkness. She replied, “It’s not so much what you see in darkness as what you hear. The sound of silence you hear in the dark is what keeps you in the daytime.” The noise of noises with which we greeted the New Year should pave the way for the sound of silence, which is what can sustain us through the year. Let’s rescue the sound of silence, that still small voice we hear when we’re alone with God in times of reflection and prayer (Matthew 14:23; cf. 1 Kings 19:11-13).  Happy New Year!–Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE PRIVILEGE OF SORROW
Sorrow deserves our utmost respect and gratitude. It has mentored some of the wisest, inspired some of the noblest ideals and acts, and refined those privileged by its company. George MacDonald (1824-1905) said it best: “No words can express how much the world owes to sorrow. Most of the Psalms were born in a wilderness. Most of the Epistles were written in a prison. The greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers have all passed through fire. The greatest poets have ‘learned in suffering what they taught in song.’…Take comfort, afflicted Christian! When God is about to make pre-eminent use of a person, He puts them in the fire.” Sorrow is a privilege. Cherish it! (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
HAPPINESS & THANKSGIVING
“Happy Thanksgiving” is more than a wish. It’s also a fact. There’s a direct correlation between happiness and thanksgiving. Those who give thanks are happy, cheerful people. On the other hand, those who’re ungrateful swim in pools of melancholy, misery, despondency, depression, gloom, and unhappiness. It’s as though they were baptized in lemon juice! Let’s stop complaining, and give thanks. “Nothing tends more to promote health of body and of soul than does a spirit of gratitude and praise. It is a positive duty to resist melancholy, discontented thoughts and feelings,—as much a duty as it is to pray” (E.G. White). It’s not happy people who’re thankful; it’s thankful people who’re happy. Therefore, "in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim  
 
COUNT YOUR BLESSONS
BLESSONS (a combination of “Blessings” + “Lessons”) is a word that refers to painful experiences in life which end up being both valuable lessons and blessings. Incredible as it may seem, even our darkest moments will one day become the object of our praise (cf. Rom 5:3-5; 8:28). Challenges in life are like seeds in a fruit. We can count seeds in a fruit, but we cannot count the fruits potentially hidden in a seed. It takes time, reflection, discernment, and faith to appreciate the fruits of BLESSONS concealed in our seeds of challenges. Are you discouraged, thinking all is lost? “Count your BLESSONS, name them one by one; And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done” (Edwin O. Excell). —Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
GOD AND POLITICS
Politics can be dirty, divisive, and destructive. And the outcomes of elections can be shocking, painful, and depressing. But God can work through politics. Amidst the complicated interplay of human interests, raw ambitions, intrigues, and violent impulses, God’s divine hand overrules, shapes, and works through all political activities and outcomes to accomplish His purposes (Daniel 2:20, 21; 4:35). He can work even through ruthless and vain rulers as He pleases (cf. Proverbs 21:1). God doesn’t belong to any one nation, political party, or candidate. He is the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Philippians 2:9-11; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16). That’s why, regardless of outcomes, He is the One who is ultimately and always in control.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE POWER OF IGNORANCE
Ignorance in action is dangerous, especially if the ignorance is willful. Confucius states: “The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there's no cat.” None is safe when power is in the hands of willful ignorance—i.e., when power is combined with wrong assumptions, half-truths, misrepresentations, bigotry, or conscientious stupidity, or when it is driven by fear, envy, or fanaticism. Alas, ignorance spreads because those who have it take pride in it and zealously share it with those who won't think. Whether political or religious, the power of ignorance is ignorance with power. “Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE DARK MOMENTS OF LIFE
Without the dark we cannot clearly see the stars. Similarly, the dark moments of adversity often reveal some of life’s most valuable gifts or blessings. What initially comes disguised as painful experiences are often used by God to deepen our spiritual walk and outlook on life. Fyodor Dostoyevsky said it best: “The darker the night, the brighter the stars; the deeper the grief, the closer is God!” Are you wondering about the dark moments in your life? Read the Book of Job, then take comfort in these words by Wintley Phipps: “It is in the quiet crucible of your personal, private sufferings that your noblest dreams are born and God’s greatest gifts are given in compensation for what you’ve been through.”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
INTENT PRECEDES CONTENT
When it comes to knowing God's plan for our lives, our intent to obey determines whether or not He will reveal the content to us. Why should He disclose who we should marry, career to pursue, truth to follow, or the what, when, & how of a duty to perform, when we have no intention of obeying, or are flouting things He’s already clearly revealed in His Word? Christ’s statement in another context equally applies: “Anyone who wants to do the will of God [INTENT] will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own [CONTENT]” (John 7:17; NLT).  Are you seeking to know God’s will—e.g., an action to take, a choice to make, a journey to undertake, a relationship to forsake or break, etc.? Rest assured, clarity & certainty will come when we commit ahead of time to obeying Him. Intent precedes content (Proverbs 3:3-5).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE COST OF IGNORANCE
Not knowing what we should know can be costly. Ali A. Mufuruki tells what took place in his home country of Tanzania during the colonial era: Some native Africans were using big rough stones to play a local board game. A Canadian geologist, Dr. John Williamson, who knew the stones, sent scouts to nearby villages to buy them for small fees and trinkets. He also got the local chief to sell him the land in the area and quickly secured an exclusive diamond-mining license. “Over its lifetime, the [Mwadui] mine has produced over 19 million carats (3,800 kg) of diamonds worth several times the GDP of my country today and has gone down in history as one of the oldest continuously operating diamond mine in the world” (Mufuruki). “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Africa, do you know?—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
A GOOD NAME
Character outlasts reputation. Reputation is the celebrity we admire in the mirror. Character is the person who follows us everywhere. Reputation is our public image—what we want others to think. Character is our secret actions, words, thoughts, and motives—what we really are. Mathematically speaking, reputation is character minus the flaws we try to hide. We often mar our character by protecting our reputation, but God builds our character by smashing our reputation. Let’s allow God to transform our character, for when character is developed, reputation takes care of itself. Do you want a good name? Don’t fall for reputation; stand for character (Proverbs 22:1; Ecclessiastes 7:1).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim  
 
EAGLES IN CHICKENLAND
When Eagles are silent, noise is equated with wisdom, propaganda with truth, and activity with productivity. Regrettably, Eagles in Chickenland are often silent because: they’re tired or feel it’s no use; their voices have been banned; they’re nursing their wounds (whether self-inflicted or by friendly-fire, opportunists, or vicious enemies); they feel it’s not safe (the air, water, & food have been poisoned, & many snares have been laid to entrap them); they’re waiting for a better time. But the cause is too great for Eagles to remain silent! Noise and propaganda will be minimized when knowledge and truth are disseminated, and mindless activity will be exposed when effective and sound efforts are evidenced by their fruits. Eagles must not be silent! They must speak NOW—through their words, actions, and sacrificial service (2 Timothy 4:2-5; Matthew 7:16)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
LET’S BE REAL!
The Hindu philosopher, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), once said of Christians: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.” He also remarked: “Oh, I don't reject Christ. I love Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ. If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.” How true for the entire world! Christ’s actions synced with His words. “What Christ taught, He lived.... And more than this; what He taught, He was. His words were the expression, not only of His own life experience, but of His own character. Not only did He teach the truth, but He was the truth. It was this that gave His teaching, power” (E.G. White). Want credibility? It’s not what we say, it’s what we do—and are. Let’s be real! (John 13:15; Matthew 5-7.)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
PLAN AHEAD!
“A mother bird does not begin building her nest on the day she’s in labor.” This Nigerian proverb restates Confucius: “A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” Every great thing requires a plan and good planning, a goal (where we want to go) and concrete strategies (how to get there). Even an omniscient God plans. He had a plan for Creation, a plan of salvation, and a plan for our lives (Genesis 1 & 2; Galatians 4:4; 1 Peter 1:18-21; Ephesians 2:10; Jeremiah 29:11). To fail to plan, is to plan to fail. It’s “like leaping off a precipice & trying to knit yourself a parachute on the way down” (Kelli Jae Baeli). Plan ahead!  Like the mother bird, build your nest before your labor pains begin.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
LISTEN WITH YOUR TWO EARS
Those who make decisions without listening to both sides of an issue are foolish and dangerous. Often, their judgments are unfair, and their actions encourage gossip and slander. God gave us two ears so we can hear things from ALL directions. One ear would only allow us to determine that a sound exists, but two ears allow us to know where a sound is coming from. Listening with two ears means we must listen to both sides; and must make no hasty judgments. Solomon said: “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame. …[For] the first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him” (Proverbs 18:13, 17; NIV; cf. James 1:19, 20). There are two sides to every issue. Therefore, listen with your two ears.–Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
OLYMPIC GOLD
A nation can be rich in gold, but destitute in Olympic gold. For example, to date, there’s been only one Olympic gold medal winner ever for my home country Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast). Only one! This is a nation where people love to adorn themselves in gold, where one can still find gold nuggets on the ground, and where the symbols of gold and excellence are made prominent in the national flag. But wearing an Olympic gold medal is not a fashion statement, nor a mark of wealth. Rather, it’s a tribute to an athlete’s hard work, determination, learning from failure, & self-discipline. It’s also a testament to a nation's investments in its human potentials. In life, as in the Olympics, those who pay the price win the prize. Be a champion. Don’t just compete, go for gold (1 Corinthians. 9:24-27).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim  
 
OUR WORDS
Our words are bigger than our mouths, travel faster than light and outlast our time. Words can discourage or inspire, wound or heal, build up or tear down. An unknown poet wrote: “A careless word may kindle strife; A cruel word may wreck a life/ A bitter word may hate instill; A brutal word may smite and kill/ A gracious word may smooth the way; A joyous word may light the day/ A timely word may lessen stress; A loving word may heal and bless." Solomon said it best: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). Someone near you is fighting life’s battles at great odds. Look out for that person today. Instead of harsh words, speak words of comfort and encouragement to inspire them with hope.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE NAKED EMPEROR
“Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves” (Eric Hoffer). Two con artists convinced an emperor that they could make him the best suit from the finest cloth. The cloth would be invisible to anyone who was either stupid or unfit for his position. At a parade, no one admitted they couldn’t see the new suit he wore. So, they all praised it, until a little child exclaimed, “The emperor has nothing on!” That naked emperor is us. Willfully deceived, we choose friends, news sources, political parties, preachers, and even religions to tell us what we want to hear. The naked emperor needs the naked truth, not a propaganda outfit (2 Timothy 4:3, 4; Revelation 3:18).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
HISTORY’S VOLCANIC HOUR
Once, a US Senate Chaplain prayed: “Our Father God, …. in this volcanic hour of history save us, we beseech Thee, from panic and despair” (Frederick Brown Harris). Those words capture our inner fears and longings in today’s frightening world of uncertainties: Terrorism, unpredictable political upheavals, economic turbulence, convulsive natural calamities, religious mutations and realignments, obliteration of moral and ethical boundaries, massive corruption, explosive racial tensions, unprecedented lawlessness, violence and bloodshed. There’s the feeling globally that everything is in turmoil, that nothing is normal anymore, and that no one is really in charge. Never has there been valid reason for the feeling that something unpredictable and ominous is about to happen. Is there any help for history’s volcanic hour? Jesus said: "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:25-28).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
OUR TEARS
“The sea is nothing but a library of all the tears in history” (Lemony Snicket). Each tear is written in a language that cannot be expressed in words. And every salty tear meandering into the sea is a cry for answers and a plea for help. Our bitter tears gush from many sources: From sorrow and pain, hate and hurt, betrayal and disappointment, rejection and loss, regret and failure. But it’s assuring that there’s One who has experienced our tears, who knows and keeps count of our individual tears, and who will soon bring all tears to an end (Hebrews 5:7; Psalm 56:8; Revelation 21:4). Until then, let each tear around us initiate the zeal to relieve or remove its cause, lest others drown in the flow of despised tears.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
OXYMORONS
I’m pretty sure this nugget will be clearly misunderstood! If you missed it, I just used an oxymoron (“clearly misunderstood”)—a combination of contradictory or incongruous words. Unless used for dramatic effect or to add flavor to a speech, oxymorons make no logical sense. For example: definite maybe, pretty ugly, original copy, exact estimate, half pregnant, negative growth, all alone, living dead, found missing, (and in recent times) his husband or her wife. Religious and political oxymorons include: unbelieving faith, kosher pork, unforgiving Christian, Sunday Sabbath, Christian Yoga, rules of war, African democracy, United Nations. Can you think of more? "Let your yea be yea…” (Matthew 5:37; James 5:12) or yours is a truthful lie.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
FORTUNES OF MISFORTUNE
Alas, how often we show ingratitude for the gifts of misfortune! How frequently we display little appreciation for sorrow, disappointment, and failure! Wrapped in darkness, delivered with suddenness, and often greeted by disbelief, misfortunes are the fortunes that can easily be missed by the proud, careless, and ungrateful. Yet, through them we acquire wisdom, sympathy, humility, and a healthy dependence on God. The gifts of misfortune won't always be appreciated, but can be converted to meet our needs. Tomorrow’s fortunes are enveloped in today’s misfortunes. Let’s redeem this hidden wealth by developing attitudes of gratitude for life’s vicissitudes (Philippians 4:4-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WHERE ARE THE MEN?
Father’s Day honors not only biological fathers, but all men who act as father-figures in our lives—stepdads, uncles, grandpas, husbands, teachers and other responsible adult males. The day isn’t for hollow hilarity, but for sober reflection and honest introspection. It’s an occasion to celebrate the real men, the ones formed of steel, though coated in clay. It’s also a day to spotlight the reality of RECKLESS men—immature, lazy, inept, selfish, arrogant, and unspiritual men—who have thereby created RESTLESS women and ZESTLESS children.  A time to echo God’s haunting question from Eden: “Adam, where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). And to swell the jarring refrain from today's women: “Where are the men?”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim  
 
From MOURNING To MORNING
What a week it has been! The world has been mourning the deaths of some notables: Sandwiched between the funerals of three-time world boxing legend Muhammad Ali (Friday, June 10) and that of respected, international evangelist Pastor CD Brooks (Sunday, June 12), was the massacre in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, of people from different backgrounds  (Saturday night, June 11). Death has no preference. Death does not discriminate. And Death is no respecter of religion, race, nationality, status, age, gender, or sexual preference. Death alone has power to summon the expression of our basic humanness and to query us about fundamental issues of life, truth, morality, and our mortality. The Christian is comforted that THERE IS COMING A DAY when “God will wipe away every tear from our eyes; there’ll be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying…nor pain” (Revelation 21:4, 5; cf. 1 Thessalonnians 4:16-18). Then, it will be MORNING, NOT MOURNING! What a glorious day that will be!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
    [PS. This special weekend nugget was posted on Sabbath, June 18. It was my personal reflection on the notable deaths above, and their potential impact—globally—on human relations, and on discussions dealing with eternal verities. To wish my readers a "Happy Sabbath," I shared with them the beautiful music, titled “WHAT A DAY THAT WILL BE” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycz4s2xwDhc). You also will be richly blessed.—SKP]
 
THE ROUGH MOUNTAINS
There are no smooth mountains. If our mountains were smooth, they would be difficult to climb. So, when God gives us mountains to climb, He leaves them rough. The bumps and rocks along the way—the obstacles and hurdles in our path—are actually stepping stones in our mountain climb. Thank God for your rough mountains—your trials and afflictions, your temptations and setbacks, your disappointments and sorrows. Without these jagged sides of life, there'll be no maturity and growth, nor mountaintop experiences. Faith climbs rough mountains. Therefore, welcome your struggles and challenges. By faith, Caleb said: “Give me the mountain” (Joshua 14:12). May we dare to say: “Give me my ROUGH mountain.”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
BEING A CHAMPION
His words sting like a bee! “I’ve wrestled with alligators; I’ve tussled with a whale; I done handcuffed lightning and thrown thunder in jail….I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick… I make medicine sick." (Muhammad Ali). Ali’s greatness went beyond beyond the boxing ring. His legacy also includes his courage of convictions, his life of service, and his empowerment of others to fight for a cause (cf. 2 Timothy 4:7). Hear some of his words: "Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion.” "It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you down. It's the pebble in your shoe.” "In a competition of love we'll all share in the victory, no matter who comes first." Do you want to be a champion in your sphere? Hear him: "The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.” And, should you suffer defeat in life, “the only thing is to do it right.”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
LET'S THINK!
It’s easier to feel than to think. And many who think they’re thinking are either parroting the thoughts of others or merely re-arranging their prejudices. Thinking is hard as it forces us to analyze facts before we finalize acts. Also, conclusions based on thinking are not always pleasant. But we must think! Whenever we abdicate our ability to think, or replace it with some superficial, emotional experience, we are in danger of being deceived, deluded, or unwittingly inflicting harm on others. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Let’s learn to think! Which is why Jesus repeatedly asked, “What do you think?” (cf. Matthew 18:12; 21:28; 22:17.)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
DETERMINED LOVE
“You can ignore Him days without number. You can reject Him. You can deny that He exists. You can mock and ridicule and curse Him. You can claim His name but play the Devil’s game. You can be ashamed of Him. You can hate Him bitterly. You can run away from Him. You can pledge your allegiance to His greatest enemy. You can squander on your own gratification all His gifts to you. You can defy Him. You can portray Him to others as severe and ruthless and uncaring. You can shut Him totally out of your life. You can blame Him for all the evil in your world.... But one thing you can never do. You can never make Him stop loving you. Never” (Ken McFarland). “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you (Isaiah 49:15). You can’t stop God from loving you!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim. 
 
CHICKEN LEADERSHIP
Alas, today we’ve allowed the chickens to lead the eagles! We know this when consciences don't catch fire for noble and just causes. When competence is determined by age, degrees, pedigree, and blind agreement. When activity counts, and not productivity. When self-interest and greed reign supreme. We know chickens are in charge when emotions trump common sense, fears melt courage, and the clamor of ignorant, dysfunctional, and self-seeking vigilantes usurp principled decisions. Tragically, in much of society and church, our deluded chickens convince themselves that they’re actually eagles, and parade their clueless, spineless, mediocre, & erratic leadership as administrative savvy. The audacity of chicken leadership! Where are the eagles? (Jeremiah 5:1; Ezekiel 22:30).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim.
 
STAND UP & BE COUNTED
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the [magnetic] pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall” (E.G. White The world is indebted to people who prize character over reputation. Whose only fear is the fear of the Lord and the fear of sin. And who value principle over possessions, power, or pleasure. Such people unequivocally say “No,” when the rest of the world says “Yes.” With Joshua, they take a stand and declare publicly: “BUT AS FOR ME....” (Joshua 24:15). Now is our time. Stand up. Stand out. Stand tall.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
PERPLEXITIES & CONFUSION
Like Peter, there are things we often don’t understand. On one occasion, Jesus responded: “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this” (John 13:7). Writes E.G. White: “All that has perplexed us in the providences of God will in the world to come be made plain.  The things hard to be understood will then find explanation.  The mysteries of GRACE will unfold before us.  Where our finite minds discovered only confusion and broken promises, we shall see the most perfect and beautiful harmony.  We shall know that infinite LOVE ordered the experiences that seemed most trying.  As we realize the tender care of Him who makes all things work together for our good, we shall rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Hallelujah!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WHAT IS IT?
I’m still pondering the question: “I’m sure you’ve had your share of lonely moments and tears…. But in looking back over your life, what is it that has defined who you are today and what is it that keeps you going?” I can't give an adequate answer, as my life is still unfolding. Certainly, life is made up of our choices and actions. And on further reflection, I believe we’re also defined by seemingly meaningless and painful circumstances. Even regretful moments of sorrow, loss, hurt, and despair have often been used by divine providence to define who we are now. To keep going, embrace your identity and destiny in Christ: “For I am the least… who am not worthy…. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain…. (1 Corinthians 15:9, 10). Take some time to reflect, and then answer the question: What is it about you?—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
ITCHING EARS
An ancient Hebrew prayer says, "From the conscience that shrinks from new truth, from the laziness that is content with half truths, from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, O God of truth deliver us." We can’t stand the truth, so we heap for ourselves people to tell us what we want to hear. We read and cite works that agree with our prejudices. And we choose friends, politicians, and preachers to tickle us with versions we resonate with. The Good Book describes us in our self-deception: Because of our “own desires” and “itching ears” we willfully “turn our ears away from the truth to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4). Truth still matters. May the God of truth deliver us from our itching ears!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE LAST LAUGH
His first public announcement after the Resurrection was just one word: “REJOICE!” (Matthew 28:9). Interestingly, the same root word in Greek (“chairo”) was used by Judas in his kiss of betrayal, and by the soldiers to mock Him (26:49; 27:29). Christ’s enemies rejoiced that they had finished Him, that His cause was dead, and His followers, crushed. But, No! He rose! His one-word announcement, “REJOICE,” was His clear answer to sorrow on account of betrayal, injustice, humiliation, hate, and hurt. Good is stronger than evil, and truth, mightier than falsehood. In the Upper Room, He promised: “You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice (chairo); and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy (chairo)” (John 16:20; cf. 22). Yes, the fortunes will be reversed! Sorrow will bow, and you’ll have the last laugh! Rejoice!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
ARE YOU THERE?
The safest place to be is where God wants you to be. That place is your “there.” It describes your reality. “THERE” can be a physical location (e.g., a place to work, study, or live) or it can be a particular time to take an action. THERE can also be a dream or career to pursue, a relationship to engage in, or even a spiritual experience to have. To be THERE is to do or to live in God’s will, however perplexing. As long as you’re THERE, God will provide for you, protect you, and bless you (cf. 1 Kings 17:4, 9, 10). The real question, then, is: Are you THERE? If not, make every effort to be THERE. And if you’re already there, determine to patiently stay THERE. For, THERE is the soul’s place of quietness and peace.–Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
BEING STILL
There are increasingly fewer moments to just be quiet and reflect. Ambient noise has become part of our lives—noise from traffic, airplanes, radio, TV, friends, churches, and even personal computers and phones. But if we learn to block out the noises, we shall discover some majestic truths about our Creator and the universe. We’ll also discover some ugly truths about ourselves—our fears and unbeliefs, our self-importance and self-righteousness, our falsehoods and hypocrisy. The Bible bids us to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). It’s an invitation to quietly reflect and trustfully depend on God. Being still is often the moment God leads us to brokenness. Steal away and be still—to reflect, to pray, and to be.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
AFRICA OWNS TIME
Others keep time, but Africans own time—the African time. This is why Black people have a tendency to be late to programs or functions. Tardiness seems to be in our Black genes. Unpunctuality has almost become the trademark of all Africans—whether on the continent or in the Diaspora. Even among Christians, lateness has been converted into a ubiquitous spiritual gift. Let Africa remember that, those who disrespect time are severely punished by life. For life is made up of time.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
(For more, read my short piece titled “Africa Has Time” on the link below: http://eaglesonline.org/africa-has-time/) 
 
DON’T HATE LOVE
“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable…. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love” (Neil Gaiman). To avoid hating love, “do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5; 8:4; NIV). Instead, first commit your heart to the One Who is “the Chiefest among ten thousand… Altogether lovely…my Beloved…my Friend” (5:10, 16; KJV). You can either hate love or love love. Love love by choosing Love. God is love (1 John 4:8, 16).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
FEAR NOT!
It is said that whenever God says, “Fear not,” you must start worrying; for He’ll be asking you to do the impossible! (Think of Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, or Mary). Yet, God's “Fear not” commands are also His promises. An estimated 365 “fear not” promises are in the Bible—at least one for each day’s need. Therefore, when it seems like you're finished or it’s over and there's no point going on, Jesus says “Fear not; it’s not the end, just the beginning.” (cf. Mark 5: 35, 36). "The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else” (Oswald Chambers). God has power to intervene, even in your most hopeless situations. Fear not!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE VALUE OF VALUES
Are there unchangeable, universal moral values to guide human conduct? Today, “everything is relative,” including values. Moral relativism is the crisis of our times. The crisis is not the violation of morally-accepted standards of conduct (every age has had its share of this). Rather, the crisis is the questioning of the existence of universal moral values to define what’s right and wrong. But if “everything is relative,” then that statement itself is relative and, hence, self-refuting. Worse, “a world without values quickly becomes a world without value” (Jonathan Sacks). It’s why for our ethics we must value what God values. (Micah 6:8; Matthew 7:12; Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14;  Exodus 20:1-3; Romans 2:14-15; James 2:8-13; John 14:15).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
GROW IN THE STORM
Character develops in the storms—when trials and afflictions test our strength, stability, and resilience. The Apostle Paul lists some of the storms as tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword, and states emphatically that "in all these things"—i.e., in all these storms—"we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:35, 37). So, when life seems hard to bear, when it’s full of sorrow, trouble, and woe, let’s remind ourselves that it's in these storms we grow. While thankful for the fragrant and gentle breezes in life, let’s not decry the pungent blasts of turbulent tides. Storms ought not to break you. You’re more than a conqueror. Grow—and BLOOM—in your storms (see, Proverbs 24:10).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
LEAVE A LEGACY 
None was ever honored for breezing through life; they are remembered for weathering the storms. Do you seek to leave your mark? Then, find your calling and run with it. Don’t settle for the status quo, but put some quo in the status: “Risk more than others think is safe. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible. Work more than others think is necessary” (Unknown). And when threatened or rewarded with stabs in the back, shackles on the feet, or shots to the heart, say with the Apostle Paul, “None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, that I may finish my race with joy” (Acts 20:24). Brave the storm. Leave a legacy.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
JUMP IN!
Success begins when you start. An old riddle illustrates: One hot afternoon, seven frogs sat on a log at the edge of a pond. To cool off, four decided to jump into the pond. How many frogs were left on the log? The answer is seven. Why? The four only “decided” to jump.  And there’s a big difference between merely deciding and actually doing. Here’s the point: Dreams, intentions, resolutions, and even best plans are not worth much, unless we act on them. Act upon your decisions—whether in your personal, professional, or spiritual life! Don't wait till all doubts, uncertainties, and obstacles have been removed. The best way to start is to start. Without action, a dream is a daydream (Matthew 21:28-32). Jump off the log now!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim. 
 
HAPPY NEW YEAR!?
“Happy New Year” is an overrated phrase, if not, sometimes, a meaningless wish. 1) How can we wish it to anyone when HAPPINESS means different things to different people? 2) What is really NEW about the year? Chances are we’re going to live and do the same old things. The new YEAR is only new when there’s a new PERSON—one with a new spirit and a new set of values. “Happy New Year” should not be a wish; it must be a will. Not a change on a calendar date, but a change from within. Not a new year, but a new YOU! “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Matthew 5:1-10). Is it "Happy New Year!" yet for you?—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
ON LOOKING BACK
“We ought not to look back, unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors and for the purpose of profiting by dear-bought experience” (George Washington). Here’s how to benefit from regretful experiences of the past: Graciously accept your defeats; humbly admit your failures; willingly accept the consequences of your mistakes; ardently learn from your missteps; courageously ignore your adversaries and distractors; freely forgive those who have hurt you; freely forgive those who have hurt you; and fully surrender your hopes to God’s will. You cannot undo nor ignore the past. But you can make sure you don't repeat what you did or failed to do.  Setbacks shouldn’t set you back. They are stepping-stones. Step on the stones and you’ll move upward and forward. Look back, but don’t dwell there. (Philippians 3:13, 14; Isaiah 43:18, 19.)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
UNMERRY CHRISTMAS
If you think Christmas is all jingle bells, jollity, and unwrapping gifts…think again! To millions around the world, the festive season is full of pain, tears, and disillusionment. Thankfully, the Biblical accounts of Christ’s birth speak forcefully to the harsh realities of life, and even to the ubiquitous headline news: The massacre of the innocent (whether by sword, bullet, bombs, or suicide bombers), the floods of refugees seeking asylum in other countries, the plight of the homeless, the dilemma of couples contemplating breakups or divorce, the challenge of teenage pregnancies and adoption, and the struggles with poverty and guilt (Matthew 1:18-2:23; Luke 1& 2; Isaiah 9:6, 7). Christ’s birth whispers hope to the disheartened, for Jesus identifies with all for whom Christmas is UNMERRY. Unto us a Son is given: Counselor, Prince of Peace, Savior, and Emmanuel.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim. 
 
OUR GREATEST NEED
What is it? An unknown author has aptly stated: “If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But our greatest need was forgiveness, so He sent us a Savior.” So true! “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a SAVIOUR, which is Christ the Lord. …You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Our greatest need is to experience the reality of being forgiven and forgiving (Luke 2:11; Matthew 1:21; cf. 1 John 1:9; Ephesians 4:31, 32; Colossians 3:12, 13).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
TELL YOUR STORY
You have a story to tell, and a duty to share it. It’s the story of what you’ve been through and of God’s mighty deliverances, providential leadings, and tender mercies in your life. Your story may not be pretty or exciting, but even an ugly & painful story needs to be told to instruct, warn, and encourage others. Your story today may not be complete, for you still have struggles and battles. Still, tell the unfolding story of what God is doing in your life. For, amazingly, your story is part of God’s Big Story—the story of His saving grace and love, and of His power to turn what was meant for evil to your good. Never be afraid nor ashamed to tell your story. Like the healed demoniac, go to others and “tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you” (Mark 5:19; Luke 8:39; Genesis 50:20). Tell your story to His glory!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
GIVING & RECEIVING
We say “we’re blessed” when we receive something. In fact, we’re MORE blessed when we give. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). This principle holds for individuals, organizations, businesses, and nations. To constantly receive and not give is to be selfish and impoverished. It’s why the Dead Sea is dead while the Jordan River is alive. “True generosity doesn’t start when you have some thing to give, but rather when there’s nothing in you that’s trying to take” (Nipun Mehta). Sacrificial GIVING—of our time, money, knowledge, sympathy, friendship, kindness, forgiveness, etc.—brings us a greater blessing than what we receive (Proverbs 11: 24-26; Psalm 41:1-3). Give selflessly and generously!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
BE THANKFUL
An elderly lady in a nursing home said, “I thank you, Lord, for two good teeth, one upper and one lower. And I thank you that they meet!” Thankful for little things. Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) wrote more than 9,000 hymns during her lifetime. When she was just six weeks old, she became blind for life—due to a doctor’s incompetence. But despite her blindness, she refused to be bitter or feel sorry for herself. She explained why: “If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.” Thankful for trials. There’s ALWAYS something to be thankful for (Philippians 4:6, 7; Psalm 103:1-5). Find yours!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
A DEADLY DISEASE
It is the root-cause of every other ailment. It has brought restlessness, misery, and devastation to every family that ever existed anywhere in the universe. It has afflicted ordinary people, great leaders, and even holy angels. This cancer of the soul is best known as Pride or self-conceit. “The more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others” (C.S. Lewis). It’s a deadly disease. To have it is to be delusional. To deny you have it is to be full of it and, thus, incurable. There’s only one lasting cure: Christ’s grace of humility. He Himself said, “learn from Me, for I am gentle & lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29; Proverbs 16:5, 18).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
CANCER OF THE SOUL
It was the first malady ever to be introduced into the universe, and the last that will be rooted out. This grave disease is no respecter of persons. It has afflicted paupers & princes, priests & prophets, and even holy angels. The dreadful condition is best known as Pride or self-conceit. Often, this spiritual cancer begins with a seemingly harmless feeling that we’re unappreciated, neglected, or despised. It spreads when we believe our ideas, experiences, or ways are superior to all others, or that some tasks are "beneath us." The condition is critical when we always look down on others to the point of not caring about them. It becomes terminal when we stubbornly refuse to accept our faults or receive instruction or correction, or cherish the spirit of envy, unforgiveness, or hate. The cancer of the soul is deadly! To deny you have it is to be incurable (Proverbs 16:5, 18).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
HUMILITY ON DISPLAY
“Humility is like underwear—essential, but indecent when it shows” (Helen Neilson). A man was voted as the most humble person in a village. As a reward for exhibiting this laudable virtue, he was awarded a gold medal. But the next day, the villagers withdrew the gold medal because the man was found wearing it!  Be careful how you display your humility; the moment you think you have it, you have lost it. Consider another Man. In His life was no trace of extravagance, ease, selfish-gratification, or indulgence. Instead, He consistently displayed self-denial and self-sacrifice—from His humble birth to His humiliating death. “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, … and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord …” (Philippians 2:5-11). To know Him is to cultivate His winsome grace of humility.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim. 
 
SLEEPING LIONS
“A barking dog is often more useful than a sleeping lion” (Washington Irving). True! Far too many are busy sleeping, when they should actively be working. But ability without action is laziness. "How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep—so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:9-11; cf. 24:30-34). Wake up! It’s not what you have, but it’s what you do with it that counts. And you’ve got what it takes to make it!  So put your hand on the plow. Give responsibility to your ability and let God increase your capability. It’s better to be a barking dog than a sleeping lion.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
CRYING IN OUR SHELLS
After a series of tragedies in the animal kingdom, a delegation of credentialed mourners went to the tortoise with a query. Led by the elephant, giraffe, gorilla, dog, cat, goose, and dolphin, they asked: “How come we never see you cry?” The tortoise replied calmly: “I do. In fact, I shed tears frequently. But I always cry in my shell.” Some pains are too deep to be expressed publicly. We can only withdraw to the shells of our closets to cry, and cry out to the Lord. Are you currently in anguish, grieving or mourning in silence? God who feels your pain will be with you in your shell, to comfort and wipe away the tears (Revelation 21:4). You WILL emerge from your shell, to give your own brief on grief.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
MY APOLOGIES
“I’m sorry, BUT…” is not a true apology. Genuine confession has no “buts.” It offers no excuses or rationalizations, and assigns no blames. In a true apology—either to God or to man—I accept my mistakes as MY own failures. Period. I do not blame others or circumstances for my actions and inactions. In an honest confession I admit that my greatest problem is myself, and my greatest need is forgiveness and a Savior from myself—my sinful human self. Genuine apology is a mark of humility—and strength. For when I truly confess my failures, it frees me from the guilt and crippling pain of living a hypocritical and phony life. But if, in my apologies, I play the blame-game, I will B-LAME! (Psalm 51 & 32)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WORDS OF SILENCE
Sometimes the most powerful words are the words of silence. Shakespeare said: "It’s better to be king of your silence than slave of your words.” As powerful as words are, there are times when you need not say any. In a climate of hate, anger, prejudice, or insecurity, don't waste your words of explanation on adversaries. In sorrow, your friends drinking from its bitter cup might benefit more from your mute presence than your vocal commiserations. And from Job, we learn to harness the power of silence when we don’t understand God's ways. Why destroy silence with words? Rightly timed silence speaks volumes, and words of silence are golden. Use them well! (Ecclessiastes 3:7; cf. Job 19:2; Isaiah 53:7).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
THE PRIVILEGE OF SORROW
Sorrow deserves our utmost respect and gratitude. It has mentored some of the wisest, inspired some of the noblest ideals and acts, and refined those privileged by its company. George MacDonald (1824-1905) said it best: “No words can express how much the world owes to sorrow. Most of the Psalms were born in a wilderness. Most of the Epistles were written in a prison. The greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers have all passed through fire. The greatest poets have ‘learned in suffering what they taught in song.’…Take comfort, afflicted Christian! When God is about to make pre-eminent use of a person, He puts them in the fire.” Sorrow is a privilege. Cherish it! (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WHO YOU REALLY ARE
You are what you think most about, what you do when no one is watching, what you say behind closed doors, what you do with your time, and above all, how you react when suddenly assaulted, insulted, or exalted. You reveal your true self in how you deal with injustice, discrimination, betrayal, and hurt. You are how you express your feelings when assailed by malicious gossip, slander, or cruel words. Who you are is evidenced by how you carry yourself during sudden demotion or promotion, in how you handle failure or success, and in how you treat the weak, most vulnerable, and undeserving. Ultimately, who you really are is what lies hidden in your heart. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23; Mark 7:20-23).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
UNDER CONSTRUCTION
God isn’t finished with you yet. You’re still under construction. So, don’t be discouraged when you see only broken pieces, rough spots, and detours in your life. The Divine Engineer is up to any challenge, and He’s more than willing to fix what is broken—if you allow Him. Here’s the assurance: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). It’s God who took the initiative to start His work in you; He won't stop “… until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Yes, the unfinished will be finished! The broken will be fixed, the rough spots will be leveled, and the crooked places shall all be straightened. Right now, you’re still under construction. Let God finish His work in you.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim. 
 
ALL Means ALL
To the child of God, “all things work together for good…” (Romans 8:28). That little word “ALL” captures the scope of God’s promise. ALL includes every conceivable disappointment, sorrow, illness, pain, poverty, hardship, hurt, hate, and any other awful things calculated to separate us from the love of God (see verses 35, 38, and 39). God can take even bad situations and make them for the eternal good of His children. He brings blessings from curses, patience from suffering, sympathy from pain, and humility from disappointment. Whenever in the valley of despair, remember that “all things” (not “some things” or even “most things,” but “ALL” things) “work together for good.” ALL means ALL.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WOUNDED HEALERS
“Sometimes the strongest among us are the ones who smile through silent pain, cry behind closed doors and fight battles nobody knows about” (Unknown). They’re wounded healers. All too often, the ones praying for others need prayers; those feeding others need to be fed; and those extending compassion need compassion. Throughout His life, Jesus Himself was a wounded Healer. Even on the cross, He still suspended His own pain in order to offer compassion and hope to the dying thief. Are you a wounded healer? Are you walking in concealed grief? Spending on others and being spent? My prayer for you is that, in reaching out and being there for others, may the Wounded Healer heal your own wounds in your times of pain, loneliness, and loss (Isaiah 58:10, 11; cf. Ecclesiastes 11:1).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
LABOR DAY or REST DAY?
The irony is, we rest on our “Labor Days” and labor on God’s “Rest Days.” Our Labor Days are yearly HOLIDAYS. God’s Rest Days are weekly HOLY days. Labor Days fall on different days (e.g., May 1 for most countries, & the first Monday of September for USA & Canada). But God’s Rest Days are always on the seventh-day of the week—Saturday. We remember our Labor Days, taking the day off to relax and pay tribute to those who fought for bearable and safer working conditions. But we forget God’s Rest Days, not pausing to honor His great accomplishments of Creation and continued sustenance. “REMEMBER the Sabbath Day to keep it holy…”  is a Commandment, not a suggestion. We’re blessed on the Rest Day when we cease from our labors, so God can work in us (Exodus 20:8-12; Ezekiel 20:20; Isaiah 58:13, 14).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE WORST MAKEUP
Makeups are about making up. We try to cover our deficiencies, mask our fears, insecurities, and pains, and project an appearance of external beauty, strength, and goodness. Thus, we employ the services of cosmetics, sunglasses, and other bodily adornments. We photo-shop our images, pad our resumes, and canvas for overrated recommendations, biographies, and even hagiographic eulogies when we die. But the worst makeup is feigned spirituality—the attempt to conceal our sinfulness by pretending to be good. Makeups are the badge of our contemporary Pharisaism. They are the fig leaves we often wear to hide our soul’s nakedness. Only Christ can make us good from the inside out—if we’re willing (Isaiah 1:6, 18; cf. 64:6; 61:10;1 Peter 3:3, 4). Why try to look good when you can easily be good looking?—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
WORRY
Worry is a deceptive luxury we must not covet. One unknown source gives a breakdown of what the average person worries about:  40% focus on things that will never happen, 30% deal with the past that can't be changed, 12% concern criticism by others, mostly untrue, 10% relate to health, which worsens with anxiety, and only 8% are about legitimate concerns that require action. Statistics aside, the observation confirms that worry is an exercise in futility. There are two things we should never worry about: (i) things we cannot change and (ii) things we can change. Think about it! Then reflect on Christ’s words in Matthew 6:25-34. Worry is shortsighted and blind, but faith has vision. So, why worry?—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
MY FARM
He lamented: “Let’s not speak about life. Let’s rather talk about my farm. It used to be very near, but now seems so far away. The straight road to the farm has become a narrow path with many twists and turns. The sunshine is now scorching heat. Alas, the plowed field exposes only rocks and thorns, and the eyes of the planted seeds are all blind! The only waters irrigating the farm are the rains of tears. I don’t understand life. I only know about my farm.” I responded: “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17, 18).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
HOUSEFLIES
Just because a housefly wears a bow tie or a skirt doesn’t mean you should marry it. Marriage is not a word, but a sentence. Or as someone quipped, “a life-sentence!” Indeed, when with one who is intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually incompatible. You have no business getting married if you have not yet discovered your OWN purpose in life. Don't’ marry for security; that masks your own insecurity. And, by all means don’t marry because you’re lonely. For “loneliness is not the absence of company, but the lack of purpose” (EKP). Blessed is the one who finds a spouse who believes in their purpose, for they shall blossom through life's hurdles (Genesis 2:18-25). Stay away from houseflies.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WE THE WE
It’s never well when “I” thinks it's “We.” When a single note believes it’s the orchestra, and when “We the people” is interpreted to mean “I am the we.” The lure to “go my separate way” or “do my own thing” is the ailment of our time—whether in the home, society, or church. Something is wrong when the ignorance of “I” boasts of its wisdom; when self-centered rebellion usurps unity and togetherness; and when the delusion of lone-rangerism claims enlightenment. Even God is a team of Three; Creation is a “let us” event; and the joy of Eden is a complementarity of the “we” of Adam and Eve. In the words of Malcolm X, “When ‘i’ is replaced with ‘we’ even illness becomes wellness.” Let's redeem the “we” (Psalms 133:1)!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
CROCS IN YOUR LIFE
“The threatening eyes of the crocodile shouldn’t prevent the thirsty frog from drinking from the pond,” states an African proverb. Sound counsel! The crocs in your life are those who seek to control you by instilling fear or hopelessness. They attempt to intimidate with their strength, wealth, know-how, age, or talent. They may employ violence, cruelty, or hurtful words. They can repress your thoughts or feelings; suppress your dreams or interests; manipulate you through shouts, criticisms, flattery, bribes, intrigues, or blackmail; humiliate you publicly, then blame you for their bad behavior or actions. Beware of the croc psychology! To let others control your life is to be like them—unfulfilled, miserable, lazy, and frankly stupid (see Proverbs 26:13-16).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE BITTER TRUTH
Truth is no respecter of persons, and has no color, age, gender, or agenda. Truth may be ugly, naked, plain, or bitter, but it is still the truth. I may not recognize it, but Truth is truth.  I may not believe it, but Truth is still truth. "Truth does not depend on the unsettled and changing opinions of men. It was truth before it was believed. It will remain truth, whether it is believed or not” (Carlyle B. Haynes). Truth cannot be silenced. Truth cannot be banished. “If truth is buried, it sprouts, if it is thrown into the vast ocean, it floats” (Igbo maxim). "We can do nothing against the truth but for the truth" (2 Corinthians 13:8). Better to choke on bitter truth than to savor sweet lies.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
HOLD YOUR PEACE
Should you speak your piece or hold your peace? To “speak your piece” is to share a piece of information you know to be true.  To “hold your peace” is to maintain silence, or refrain from speaking for the sake of a higher cause. It’s hard to hold your peace when you long to speak your piece. And especially in times of hurt or ill-treatment, it takes maturity, wisdom, strength, and faith to do so. Are you aggrieved in the face of aggravation or injustice? “Do not be afraid. Stand still... The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:13, 14). Be silent, but don’t silence your faith in God. For HE will not hold HIS piece on your situation.  HE will speak for you, fight for you, and deliver you! Therefore avoid rash words or actions. Let God speak His piece, while you hold your peace.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
SOMEBODIES & NOBODIES
Sometimes God uses the Nobodies to humble the Somebodies. A West African saying warns about the dangers of stubbornness and pride: “I serve a God that can crack a palm kernel with an egg just to disgrace the stone. A God that fetches water with a basket to disgrace the bucket. A God that uses a stick to bring forth iron from the sea to disgrace the magnet.” Writes apostle Paul: “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise… that no flesh should glory in His presence (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). Are you proud or stubborn in your ways? “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; cf. Proverbs 3:34; 16:18; 29:23). Stay humble, lest you stumble—and crumble.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
DANGEROUS & RISKY
Anything risky requires a license to operate. Hence we need licenses or permits to drive, to practice our professions, to own guns or restaurants, and even to get married. Anything risky—except us! WE are the greatest risk to operate, yet exempt from obtaining a license to run our lives. We were created with the power of CHOICE—an absolute freedom to think, choose, be, or do as we please. How risky! You want proof of this “license-free” right? See how we’ve used it to hate and love, be ignorant and stupid, arrogant and self-sufficient. You want ultimate proof? Look what we did to our Creator on Calvary! Human beings without God are walking time-bombs—they’re “deceitful ... and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9)! WE are dangerous and very risky!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
LOVE THAT MUST WIN
Love wins, Hurray! But not so fast! After so much bigotry, hate, and hurt in our world, it certainly ought to be good news to hear of the triumph of love. But exactly what kind of love? The SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) ruling on same-sex marriage raises two gaping questions on the boundaries of love: Why shouldn’t I marry who or what I love (male or female, adult or child, sibling or distant, human or animal) and as many as I want (simultaneously or serially)? Who defines the boundaries of love (the courts, politicians, society, tradition, or I myself)? As I see it: None can live without Love//It’s the cure for hearts that starve//A Personal gift from our Father above// For “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). The ruling of this God, the ultimate Supreme Court of the Universe, is the LOVE that must win on relationships, intimacy, and marriage.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim. 
 
BLOOD ON OUR HANDS
Dylann Roof sat with worshippers in their Charleston church for an hour before gunning down nine of them in cold blood. But how different are we from him, when many of us whitewash the racism we incubate week after week as we worship with others? If we're sincere, we would acknowledge that at some troubling level, we often treat others as inferior to us. Why shoot them with a gun when we surely murder them with the concealed weapons of racism—discrimination, injustice, slander, hatred, revenge, selfish neglect, exploitation, passive rejection, or thoughtless indifference? We—both the gun-wielding racial terrorists and church-going racial bigots—have blood on our hands (Isaiah 59:3).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
LET'S THINK!
It’s easier to feel than to think. And many who think they’re thinking are either parroting the thoughts of others or merely re-arranging their prejudices. Thinking is hard as it forces us to analyze facts before we finalize acts. Also, conclusions based on thinking are not always pleasant. But we must think! Whenever we abdicate our ability to think, or replace it with some superficial, emotional experience, we are in danger of being deceived, deluded, or unwittingly inflicting harm on others. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Let’s learn to think! Which is why Jesus repeatedly asked, “What do you think?” (cf. Matthew 18:12; 21:28; 22:17.)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WORDS
Our words are bigger than our mouths, travel faster than light and outlast our time. Words can discourage or inspire, wound or heal, build up or tear down. An unknown poet wrote: “A careless word may kindle strife; A cruel word may wreck a life/ A bitter word may hate instill; A brutal word may smite and kill/ A gracious word may smooth the way; A joyous word may light the day/ A timely word may lessen stress; A loving word may heal and bless." Solomon said it best: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). Someone near you is fighting life’s battles at great odds. Look out for that person today. Instead of harsh words, speak words of comfort and encouragement to inspire them with hope.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE NEW OR THE TRUE?
Alas, our generation is obsessed with the new, rather than with the true. Hence we strut around with boasts of “new discoveries.” We brag about “new knowledge.” Lust after “new theories.” Fuss over “new research.” Spend hours poring “new plans,” “new strategies,” “new solutions,” and whatever else we can cloak in the well-worn cliché of “new.” Never mind that the difference between the new toothpaste and the old one is that the new is often smaller in size and more expensive! But let’s remember that, in the realm of ideas and ethics, “there is nothing new under the sun.” If something is new, it probably isn’t true; and if true, it probably isn’t new. To be safe, let’s always test the new by the true (Ecclesiastes 1:9; Isaiah 8:20).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
BE THE BEE
The Bird asked the Honeybee: “You work so hard to make honey and humans just take it away. Doesn't it bother you?" The Bee replied: “No, not at all! They take my honey, but can’t take away my art of making it.” Do you get discouraged or lose motivation when your efforts are not recognized, rewarded, or others take credit for your work? As long as you’re alive, your honey jar can always be filled.  For no one can take away our ability to produce, and God will ensure that our jars never run dry. Don't cease from diligent and sacrificial labor: “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23, 24). Cheer up! Be the Bee!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
HONESTLY MISTAKEN
Honest mistakes are almost inevitable in the quest for truth, innovation, and change. Those who’ve never made mistakes are those who’ve greatly accomplished nothing. Though costly, we shouldn’t be discouraged by mistakes. Mistakes afford an opportunity to learn and grow. They keep us humble and enable us to see reality—and ourselves—more clearly. Most mistakes can be forgiven and corrected, provided we’ll humbly submit to the truth. Our response to truth reveals whether we’re really honest or are frankly misguided, stupid, & deluded (John 3:19-21; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). For when truth is presented to the honestly mistaken, they either cease to be mistaken or cease to be honest.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THEY SEE & SEE THROUGH
Mothers meet a need that no other can. They see what a thousand eyes might miss, hear the inaudible sighs, and touch our broken spirits. When our neon smiles confuse the rest of the world that all is well, mothers know that our worlds are falling apart. The light they represent might grow dim in the rough rides of life, but mothers keep ours lit, breathing hope and love into every minute on our behalf. Our joys are theirs, just as they inhabit our sorrows. Mothers see through our pretenses: They hear the well-masked pain behind our words, the frustration behind our restlessness, and the confusion behind our orderliness. God honors mothers, whether their ties are rooted in biology (nature), sociology (nurture), or theology (Scripture). And the world owes mothers a huge debt for their sacrifices (Proverbs 23:25; cf. Isaiah 66:13). So, from the depths of very grateful hearts, we say “Thank you, Mothers!”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
SELF-OBSESSION
Self-obsession is worse than immaturity; it’s insanity! This “I, me, mine” fixation is most evident with how toddlers view property: “1. If I like it, it's mine. 2. If it's in my hand, it's mine. 3. If I can take it from you, it's mine. 4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine. 5. If it's mine it must never appear to be yours. 6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine. 7. If it looks like mine, it's mine. 8. If I saw it first, it's mine. 9. If I see it first, it's mine. 10. If I think it's mine, it's mine…” (Michael V. Hernandez). Self-obsession is selfishness or greed! It’s the law of the jungle, the spirit of Lucifer, and the root cause of all crimes against humanity. In contrast, self-sacrifice defines true love, for love “does not seek its own”  (1 Corinthians 13:5; cf. 10:24; Isaiah 14:12-15; Philippians 2:5-8).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
BREAK FREE
Sometimes the very things and people that make us feel safe and secure now can also impede our future growth and development—unless we bravely break free from them at the correct time. If a chick overstays in its shell, after a while it will run out of space and food and die, or get swallowed by a predator. The choice of remaining in your eggshell depends on whether you view yourself a chick (able to fully mature and be free) or a mere yolk and albumen (to end up as omelet in someone’s breakfast). What makes you feel safe and secure? Is it your job, education, finances, or relationships? Don’t be imprisoned in any protective shell or nest (Deuteronomy 32:11-12). Know your identity and potential. Don't let present security and comfort zone impede your future growth or advancement. Expand your world. Dare to break free and soar!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
YOUR DARKEST HOUR
The darkest hour is just before dawn. Hence your present midnight cannot get any darker. True, at night you discover that the daytime promises of your friends become booms of silence, and their support, strong as the ropes of sand. But God also works at night—even as He did at the Red Sea: “The Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind ALL THAT NIGHT, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided” (Exodus 14:21). Are you going through some dark night experiences? Feeling helpless, bewildered, and unable to see the way clearly? Hold on a little longer, for your darkest hour heralds the dawn of your new day. There’ll be a way, and the things that now perplex will soon be made plain.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim. 
 
SHEEP LEADERSHIP 
A Ghanaian proverb says, “An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.” Sadly, many organizations are led by sheep. Not humble and teachable, but timid, confused, and dumb. Sheep leadership panics in the face of danger. When it must boldly fight, its natural instinct is fright or flight. It must be told what to do and where to go. Gullible and prone to mob psychology, it finds safety in numbers—even if it follows others to slaughter or a cliff edge. No organization can rise higher than its leadership. Sheep leadership is cheap—and costly. If you’re dissatisfied with the leadership you see around you, step up to the plate. Be the answer, for leadership is not about you, but begins with you. Be the lion! Christ is your Model Leader: “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed....” (Revelation 5:5)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE LAST LAUGH
His first public announcement after the Resurrection was just one word: “REJOICE!” (Matthew 28:9). Interestingly, the same root word in Greek (“chairo”) was used by Judas in his kiss of betrayal, and by the soldiers to mock Him (26:49; 27:29). Christ’s enemies rejoiced that they had finished Him, that His cause was dead, and His followers, crushed. But, No! He rose! His one-word announcement, “REJOICE,” was His clear answer to sorrow on account of betrayal, injustice, humiliation, hate, and hurt. Good is stronger than evil, and truth, mightier than falsehood. In the Upper Room, He promised: “You will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice (chairo); and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy (chairo)” (John 16:20; cf. 22). Yes, the fortunes will be reversed! Sorrow will bow, and you’ll have the last laugh! Rejoice!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
DON’T RUN!
The real problem in any problem is flight from that problem. A sage said: “Running away from any problem only increases the distance from the solution. The easiest way to escape from the problem is to solve it.” Yet, we tend to run when we face challenges or are in distress or trouble. But running only complicates matters. Often, we cannot outrace our problems because we are the problem! Running also delays the solution, since we’ll have to return to the exact spot and face the same problem from which we’ve been fleeing. Are you tempted to run because of fear (Psalm 55:4-7)? Face your challenges head on and conquer them—with God’s help (1 Samuel 17). Not FRIGHT nor FLIGHT, but FIGHT—in His might.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING?
Someone recently wrote to me: “Have you ever felt alone, unwanted, and worthless? Used and discarded? Ever felt like a failure, defeated, and a huge embarrassment? If so, what kept you going?” I replied: Your self-worth shouldn’t be determined by how you feel, but by the facts of your identity. Said the lion, “No matter the economy of the jungle, I can NEVER eat grass. It’s not pride, it’s just who I am." Know who you are. A $100 note may be trampled on, dirty, soiled, crumpled, or slightly torn. But it’s still worth $100. YOU'RE  precious and priceless. For, YOU were created in God’s image and Christ gave His life for YOU (Genesis 1:26; 1 Corinthians 6:20). To keep going, move from feelings to facts: “By the grace of God I am what I am and His grace toward me was not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:10).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
DON’T COME DOWN
“A lion never loses sleep over the opinion of sheep” (A proverb). If you know who you are (identity) and what you’re called to do (purpose), you’ll not be deterred by the contrary opinions and actions of detractors. Such was Nehemiah. Not their scheming, pressure, lies, slander, or plots swayed him from his mission of building the broken walls. He emphatically told his adversaries: “I am doing a great work, … I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3). He stayed focused. Identity and purpose fuel determination and commitment. Ignore your foes and frenemies! Don’t be distracted or discouraged by their ill-opinions and actions. Stay on the wall—keep building—and refuse to come down!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
STOP PRAYING!
“There comes a moment when praying becomes a form of spiritual procrastination. It’s time to stop praying and start acting” (Mark Batterson). Prayer can become a refuge for cowardly fear, an occasion for inaction, and even outright disobedience! It’s why God ordered Moses at the Red Sea to stop praying and "go forward" (Exodus 14:15). Daunting waters won't part till we put shoes on our faith. If God's Word is clear on an issue—e.g., forgiving our foes, giving selflessly, or lovingly keeping His Commandments—simply “go forward.” Is there something you know you should do? Stop praying and just do it! Without necessary action, prayers are meaningless gibberish, Pharisaical showmanship, and hypocritical laziness.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
APPOINTMENTS WITH DISAPPOINTMENT
Disappointments are inescapable appointments in life. Why do we have to face them? Often, dashed hopes, shattered dreams, and unmet expectations summon us to change directions so we can get on the right track. Setbacks are also useful for the trial and exercise of our courage and faith in God. Though painful, a blessed disappointment is when God allows our plans to fail, so His plans for us might succeed. Our disappointments are His appointments to transform our bitterest moments into occasions of great significance. Be sure to honor all your appointments with disappointment, for we sometimes have to be disappointed in order to be appointed for our unique purpose. (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28, 35-39; Hebrews 10:35).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
TRUE GREATNESS
True GREATNESS is giving responsibility to our ability. It is the distinction found in doing things that others might consider beneath them. True GREATNESS is being a slave, serving whoever, whenever, and in whatever. It’s always public-service, never a self-service. Jesus said: “whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all” (Mark 10:43-45). True GREATNESS serves all in need, regardless of their status. It’s a dignified response when people take us for granted, step on us, or treat us as if we’re inferior. It is being deaf to derision, blind to slander, and unaffected by applause or censure. The truly GREAT might not make history, but theirs is a legacy that inspires greatness in others. Dare for true GREATNESS!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
BEWARE OF LOVE
Not all talks about love are really about love—regardless of its peddler or form, its passion or fury, and the allure of its garb or façade. It’s not at all love when it seeks its own way, turns your dear ones away and leads you astray. Beware of love that will ruin your life and end up the chief mourner at your funeral. True love is there whenever you call, stays with you when ills befall, and helps you to triumph through it all (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). True love remains your best friend, till life’s days of toil shall end, or to Heaven you both ascend. Love is in the air, but beware of love that trifles with your soft heart, and piece by piece tears it apart, to be discarded in its laundry cart.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE LIVING DEAD
Many are afraid of death, without realizing that they’re already dead. The only reason they've not yet been buried is because they’re still moving. The living dead are those who’ve lost their purpose in life, with no desire or drive for anything worthwhile. They follow the wind wherever it blows, often seeing themselves as victims of circumstances. Theirs is an empty, wasteful, and miserable life! Here’s some counsel: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die… Remember... hold fast and repent” (Revelation 3:1-3). The ghostly life of the living dead is more haunting than death itself. It’s time to wake up!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
BE POLISHED
It hurts to be hurt—repeatedly!  But consider this: “When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless" (Chris Colfer, actor). Incredible though it may seem, God often employs the hurtful actions of people to bless us! Think of the envy and betrayal of Joseph's brothers, the lies of Potiphar’s wife, and the forgetfulness of the chief-cupbearer (Genesis 39-41). Wondering about the prickly, mean, and vicious people who keep showing up in your life? They’re providential sand papers. Be polished by them! God uses even the worst people to bring out the best in us. Shine through your hurts!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
DARE TO REFUSE!
It takes courage—and faith—to refuse. Refusal is an act of the will, the protest of the conscience, and the resolve of non-conformism. It is saying “No” or “No more” to gutless compliance or indifference. Daring to refuse is remedy to the epidemic of cowardly fear, it’s common sense in the civilization of the mindless, and the purest faith in the religion of compromises & fanaticism. Refuse to go along in order to get along. Refuse the prize that costs you nothing. Refuse to be bought or sold. “By faith Moses … REFUSED to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God...” (Hebrews 11:24-26). Refusal is a treasonable act in the democracy of the timid, ignorant, disloyal, or stupid. Dare to refuse!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
BUTTERFLY OR BEE? 
Don’t just skim the surface; dig deep. Two common field insects illustrate: One, beautifully adorned, dances from flower to flower impatient for where to sip ready nectar. The other, less attractive, is more businesslike. Where he finds the flower-cup closed, he pries open; where deep, he goes down to the bottom. He’s thorough, overcoming all obstacles to find or make honey. “The one died last October. The other is warm in his hive, amidst the fragrant stores he has gathered" (James Hamilton). Are you a butterfly or bee? Shallow or deliberate? Engaged in mere activity, and not productivity? For success—in your work, studies, personal or spiritual life—don’t settle for the superficial; go deep (Matthew 7:24-27).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
GO HIGHER
Don’t be satisfied with aiming high. Go HIGHER.  For, in the words of E.G. White, “higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for His children.”  There’s never a period when there is no more to learn and no higher attainments to reach.  Going HIGHER means—don’t just grow, bloom; don’t just hear, listen; don’t just think, ponder; don’t just speak, communicate; don’t just give, sacrifice; don’t just be patient, be kind; don’t just forgive, forget; don’t just live, live for Christ. Grow—“from faith to faith,” “from glory to glory” and “day by day” (Romans 1:16, 17; 2 Corinthians3:18; 4:16;). Press on the upward way, gain new heights everyday, and plant your feet on HIGHER ground. —Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE LAND OF THE NEW YEAR
We’ve just begun a journey to an unknown destination—the land of the New Year. Since it’s a different land, we must be prepared for new experiences and be willing to do things differently—if we’re to be successful in the land of the New Year. We know not what will happen on our way. There’ll be ups and downs, mountaintops and some deep valleys. But, as with God’s ancient people in their journey to the Promised Land, we’ve been assured: “The land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys,…[but] the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year” (Deuteronomy 11:10-12). So, fear not. God will guide you through this land of the New Year—every step of the way. Safe trip!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
START WITH A BEAUTIFUL PAGE!
“How I wish we were given an eraser. I would have erased all the mistakes I made these past years…” That was a comment from a young man who had read my last thought nugget (titled “A New Chapter”). I also received a number of private emails which similarly expressed regrets over things in the past and a deep longing for a brand new page to begin this year.
Here’s some good news: You don’t just need erasers to erase all the mistakes in the previous chapters of your life’s book.  You don’t just need to begin your New Year with blank pages. You can start with a beautiful page! Here’s how I stated it in one of my previous thought nuggets titled “CLEAN RECORD”:
“You can have a clean record! A preacher illustrates how: When Jesus sits at His heavenly computer, He highlights our list of sins. Then He hits the DELETE key, totally erasing our sins! But Christ does more. He also opens up another folder—the file containing His perfect, sinless record. He highlights and clicks on COPY, then goes back to our record, which is all blank now, and hits the PASTE key. And, lo and behold, His record appears on our record, and He presses the SAVE key! His righteousness becomes our own! ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9; cf. Isaiah 43:25; 44:22; Colossians 2:13, 14). Spotlessly clean record! Praise the Lord!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim”
You can jumpstart your new year. You can have an advantage over others by allowing the world’s best-selling Author to introduce this new chapter of your book with His powerful words of endorsement. If you allow Him, on each day of the new year, His accomplishments can be permanently saved on your record. Yours will not merely be a mistake-free blank page. It can be a beautiful page! His can be yours! Start with His beautiful page.
I wish you a VERY Happy New Year! –Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
A NEW CHAPTER
Life is like a book with many chapters. Some have 70; some, more; others, less. To each chapter has been assigned 365 pages, and every fifth chapter, one extra page. The size of our books don't really matter. What counts is that we’ve all been given pens to write what we want others to read from our books.  Sometimes we write well—by our choices and actions. Other times, we don't. Regardless of what you've written in this current chapter of your book, a new chapter beckons. Make this new chapter count—by writing well on each blank page. For the latest chapter and page of YOUR book determine whether or not your name is in GOD’S Book of Life. Happy New Year! (Psalm 90:10; Luke 10:20; Revelation 3:5).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
TEARS AT CHRISTMAS
The Christmas story is not a sanitized account of life. Not some sentimental jollity of jingle bells, Xmas trees, lights, parades, and Santa Claus’s reindeers supposedly to remember Christ’s birth. Besides “peace on earth and goodwill towards men” (Luke 2), there’s also “lamentation, weeping, and great mourning” because of envy, secret plotting, and massacre of the innocent to advance personal and political ambitions (Matthew 2:1-18). As at that first Advent, our world today is also full of tears at Christmas time. These tears can’t be wiped away by simply going for shopping, dining, or watching sentimental Xmas movies.  Those for whom “Merry Xmas” has become “Teary Xmas” shouldn’t despair. For, He whose Childhood and life were marked by many tears identifies with all our sorrows and griefs. He’ll come again to end all tears.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
DECISION & DESTINY
Destiny is shaped in moments of decision. Shortly before their wedding, a young betrothed lady becomes pregnant. Her fiancée was not the father. To marry her will leave lingering questions about trust and the child’s paternity. What if he wants her but not the pregnancy? To not marry her could bring society’s shame, rejection, and possible execution for adultery. Were her life to be spared, she’d have to raise the child alone without financial support. What was their decision? She kept the pregnancy. He courageously married her. After delivery, he adopted the child “and called His name Jesus” (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-21). The rest is history. Life poses many challenges and dilemmas. Choose rightly today; the world’s destiny may hang on your decision.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
A COMPELLING WHY 
“I was worth about over a million dollars when I was 23; over ten million dollars when I was 24; over a hundred million dollars when I was 25 and it wasn't that important because I never did it for the money” (Steve Jobs). Never for money? Why then did the late CEO of the Apple company build his business? Do YOU have a compelling WHY for what you do? Even more, for WHY you were born? Thank you all for your birthday wishes (sent on my facebook wall & into my inbox, via emails, letters, & phone calls). I spent much of my birthday in prayerful reflection & in completing two-and-half book manuscripts (stay tuned for the release announcement). The WHY we were born is more important than the when. Discover your compelling why—your purpose (Jeremiah 1:4-8).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
ARE YOU BITTER?
Bitterness results from what others did to us, said about us, or took from us (be it real or imaginary). Though we blame them for these ills, often we’re the voluntary victims of our own unforgiveness. Those filled with bitterness are dysfunctional and dangerous. They’re obsessed with those they passionately hate or despise, and constantly prowl around for an opportunity to hurt, humiliate, or slander them. The ROOT cause of bitterness is a lack of grace in a person’s life. To be bitter is to be unforgiving, miserable, and a willing slave of those who have hurt us. Stop drinking the toxin of bitterness. For Christ’s sake, forgive! (Hebrews 12:15; Ephesians 4:31, 32; Matthew 18:21-35; Colossians 3:12, 13).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
CHICKEN LEADERSHIP
Alas, today we’ve allowed the chickens to lead the eagles! We know this when consciences don't catch fire for noble and just causes. When competence is determined by age, degrees, pedigree, and blind agreement. When activity counts, and not productivity. When self-interest and greed reign supreme. We know chickens are in charge when emotions trump common sense, fears melt courage, and the clamor of ignorant, dysfunctional, and self-seeking vigilantes usurp principled decisions. Tragically, in much of society and church, our deluded chickens convince themselves they’re actually eagles, and parade their clueless, spineless, & erratic leadership as administrative savvy. The audacity of chicken leadership! Where are the eagles? (Jeremiah 5:1; Ezekiel 22:30)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
From METAL Chains to MENTAL Chains
It's the root cause for the crisis of leadership in Africa, our culture of dependency, and our beggar mentality. It's the reason we willingly allow others to exploit us to advance their personal, political, ideological, theological, economic and racial agendas; it’s we who allow them to chew our food for us and spit it into our mouths to swallow. Our mental chains are the reason we shamefully sell our own selves, our people, and our nations for the truthful lies, vain flatteries, and cheap bribes of opportunists and adversaries who pretend to seek our interest; and why we then stupidly & hypocritically claim we’re victims! Our mental chains are the reason for the new slavery, colonization, and scramble for Africa. It's the reason we vilify our true heroes when they are alive, and then build monuments for them with the very stones we use to stone them to death! We’re our own problem. Let’s stop the denials, excuses, and blame game. Let’s quit the self-pity syndrome, the “they-did-this-to-me” or “I-have-suffered-this” excuses. Let’s start taking full responsibility for our destiny. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Let’s unchain the Elephant! Our Mindset! Yes, Africa must think!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
UNCHAIN THE ELEPHANT 
Ever wondered why a big, powerful elephant in the zoo doesn’t break down the fence and go free? From infancy, its trainer uses progressively smaller metal chains around its neck or legs to condition it to be helpless. Long after these are removed, the elephant still believes it is chained. Its METAL chains are now replaced by its MENTAL chains. How often we act like the elephant in the zoo! We easily give up trying. Past failures & present inadequacies convince us we’re incapable. We doubt our God-given potential, waste opportunities, and fail to see setbacks as stepping-stones. Our mental chains need to be broken. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Are you paralyzed by your mindset? Unchain the elephant. You!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
BURIED TREASURES
Cemeteries or graveyards hide many buried treasures. Dr. Myles Munroe (1954–2014) aptly explains: “Buried beneath … those sacred grounds are dreams that never came to pass, songs that were never sung, books that were never written, paintings that never filled a canvas, ideas that were never shared, visions that never became reality, inventions that were never designed, plans that never went beyond the drawing board of the mind, and purposes that were never fulfilled. Our graveyards are filled with potential that remained potential. What a tragedy!” Buried dreams are buried treasures. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) dares us: “If there is anything you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” I won’t bury my treasure. What about you? (Matthew 25:14-30).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THROUGH THE VALLEY
Of the many valleys in life, death is the deepest and most dreadful. One out of every one person will walk through this lonesome valley. David confirms and offers hope: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4 NASB). Death is an “even though” reality, not an “if or maybe” event. Green pastures DO turn into gray deserted valleys. But the God who is with us in our valleys of death will also be with us during our other tragedies of life. In the lion’s den, we’ll be safe. In the fiery furnace, we won’t be burned. In the deep waters, we shall not drown. And in life’s journey, we shall walk THROUGH the valley. Emmanuel!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
  
SHATTERED DREAMS

Life is full of shattered dreams. Unannounced, circumstances can circumvent our dreams, disappointments crown our optimism, and the cold remains of broken promises chill the sunniest disposition. But however painful, shattered dreams have the power to change our lives—for good. How? Accept its reality. Believe that God can restore beauty from the broken pieces. Cling to His precious promises (Romans 8:28, 35-39; Job 23:10). We should not despair when our sweetest dreams morph into the worst nightmares. Regardless of how things appear to us, our shattered dreams give opportunity for God to fulfill His own dreams for our lives. Trust Him! Shattered dreams do not signal the end of life.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

PEACE OR PIECES?

“You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace” (Michael Franti & Spearhead). Anger and violence seldom solve problems. So, don’t let bitterness and rage steal your sweetness and gentleness. Commit with Max Lucado: “I choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.”  Are you sorely provoked or hurt? “Let your gentleness be known to all men” (Philippians 4:5; cf. Romans 12:18). To right wrongs, write injuries in sand, and for each grievance, engrave gentleness in granite. The conquests of gentleness outlast the victories of violence.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 

GO FAR

Life is not a "go alone" journey. An African proverb says, "If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together." Honey bees teach us collaboration. On warm days, about half the bees in a hive stay inside beating their wings—to make the inside temperature some 10 degrees cooler than outside. The other half go out to gather pollen and nectar. The bees rotate duties, so the bees that cool the hive one day gather honey the next. That’s excellence through synergy. For success, align with those who share your vision and ideals. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10). To go far, go together. Teamwork!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
ENVY STINKS!
Envy reveals itself in hate, lies, hypocrisy, and slander. To cherish envy is insanity. To nurture it is suicidal. The ancient Greek storyteller Aesop (620–564 BC) tells about two eagles, one envious of the other who could soar higher and more elegantly than him. Trying to wound and kill this other, the envious eagle kept plucking the strongest feathers from his own body and shooting them as arrows. That became his downfall. He couldn’t hit the higher-flying eagle, and was soon grounded by the loss of his feathers.  Envy is self-destructive!  “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.…A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (1 Peter 2:1; Proverbs 14:30; NIV). Envy stinks and kills!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
MONKEY SOLUTIONS
Beware of well-intentioned but misguided solutions to problems. Retired Archbishop Peter Kwasi Sarpong of Kumasi, Ghana, tells the story of how a group of monkeys sought to help some fishes they saw struggling in a raging flood. Quickly jumping down from their trees, and with much effort, they caught the fishes one by one and placed them on dry land. Soon, motionless fishes piled on the shore. Turning to each other, the monkeys said: “See, the tired fishes are sleeping and resting. But for us, they’d all have drowned! When they wake up, they’d be very grateful that we’ve given them salvation.” Zeal without knowledge is risky and destructive (Proverbs 19:2). In the face of danger, ignorance in action is as dangerous as stupidity or inaction.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE HIGH ROAD
Never stoop to the level of nasty people: “Their biggest motivation is that they actually feel inferior to you, so they'll slash you down to their level" (psychologist Jay Carter). Always take the high road. Be gracious and compassionate to difficult and mean people, for often they’ve been hurt, are unloved, or haven’t experienced God’s forgiveness. A dear old lady was asked what she used to look so beautiful and attractive.  She answered: “I use for my lips, truth; for my voice, kindness; for my eyes, compassion; for my hands, charity; for my figure, uprightness; for my heart, love; for any who do not like me, prayer. Try this make-up and see what it’ll do for you.” That’s taking the high road! (Colossians 3:12-17; Matthew 5).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
BE THE PEN
No one has yet succeeded in silencing the voice of the pen. To ignore it is to be influenced by it, and to attack it is to promote it. Over the years the powerful have tried to banish, tarnish, and even vanish the pen. They vilified, conspired, unjustly tried, and imprisoned it. Then they executed it, consigned its burial to infamy, and made sure there was no tombstone for it. But somehow the ordinary pen outlives the sword of the mighty. Its spilled blood infuses life into the veins of new generations. Be “the pen of a ready writer” (Psalm 45:1). Dare to speak. Refuse to be silenced. For the pen of truth is the most effective weapon against the arrogance and tyranny of power. Be the pen!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
UNCOMFORTABLE GRACE
You never ask for it—but it’s a much-needed gift! Paul David Tripp calls it "uncomfortable grace"—and explains: “There are moments in our lives when we are crying out for grace, not recognizing that we are getting it. We are not getting the grace of relief or the grace of release, because that is not the grace that we really need. No, what we are getting is something we desperately need, the uncomfortable grace of personal growth and change.” Uncomfortable grace takes us through places we never intended, so we’ll arrive where we’re destined to be. It’s a “thorn-in-the-flesh” grace that develops and refines character (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Romans 5:1-5). Let’s glory in God’s uncomfortable grace. It’s equally amazing and marvelous! Hallelujah!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
JUNGLE JUSTICE
It’s any ideology that inspires beheadings, terrorism, targeted killings, lynching, and all forms of extra-judicial killings. It’s the logic that justifies violence in the name of God (John 16:2)—or security, or freedom, or democracy. But jungle justice reaches beyond religion and politics. It also includes OUR own thirst for revenge. Our vigilante spirit to persecute without prosecution. Our tendency to judge hastily without full facts. Our assassinations by false accusations, slander, and gossip. Our labeling of people as criminals, sinners, enemies, or unwanted so as to destroy them. True justice protects the “innocent until proven guilty,” accords with God’s Law, and trusts God for vengeance (Romans 12:17-19). Jungle justice is injustice and is as deadly as witchcraft!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WHERE’S YOUR HOME?
Home is much more than where you were born, where you grew up, or where you currently live. Home is where you belong—where you locate your real roots and feel totally connected. It’s where you find your purpose and develop your true potential. Home is the place where it’s safe to be yourself—without needing a mask or makeup. It’s where you’re at peace, even in the midst of storms. Ultimately, home is not a place, but a person—that special Person who accepts you as you are, transforms you into a star, to be admired from afar. God is our home. Wherever and everywhere we experience His holy presence is where we’re at home. He’s the resting place for our restless souls. Let's abide in Him (John 15:4-8).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE EXTRA MILE
Jesus said, “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Matthew 5:41; NIV). The “Extra Mile” mindset doesn’t just do the minimum required, but graciously exceeds all expectations. It’s the attitude which asks: “How can I help you?” and, having cheerfully served, ALSO asks: “Is there anything else I can do for you?” It’s a principle of integrity that seeks to do not just what is legally allowable, but also what is ethically right. It’s a disposition which not only patiently bears ill-treatment, but is kind and respectful to those who have ill-treated you. Go the extra mile today. It will take you farther along in life’s journey—be it personal, professional or spiritual.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
LILY WHITE LIES
White lies are neither pretty nor harmless. They are as deadly as slander, libel, or perjury. Any word or action intended to deceive constitutes a lie. White lies include the evasion of truth, deceptive compliments, flatteries, exaggerations, subtle misrepresentations, and stating facts in ways that convey falsehood. We also lie by our silence, glance of the eye, motion of the hand, and even our countenance. All lies—regardless of their color or shade—are harmful, for they erode trust, violate God’s Law, and have their source in Satan, the father of lies. (Exodus 20:16; Proverbs 6:12-14; Matthew 5:37; John 8:44). Let truth be your partner, for the ugly truth is more adorable than lily white lies.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
EXCELLENCE vs. MEDIOCRITY
Excellence is GOLD; mediocrity is polished brass.
Excellence is REAL; mediocrity is fake.
Excellence is being an EAGLE; mediocrity is being a chicken. 
Excellence is a PERSON; mediocrity is a shadow. 
Excellence is COMMITTED; mediocrity is involved. 
Excellence is a JOURNEY; mediocrity is a bus station. 
Excellence is being NICE; mediocrity is crude.
Excellence SURRENDERS its right; mediocrity insists on its own. 
Excellence OVERCOMES failure; mediocrity is stalled by obstacles. 
Excellence offers NO EXCUSES; mediocrity casts blame. 
Excellence goes HIGHER; mediocrity aims high.
Excellence is DISTINCTION; mediocrity is extinction. 
To be DISTINCT, and not extinct, choose the way of Excellence, not the path of mediocrity (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim  
 
THORNS OF ROSES
We are charmed by the grace of roses, but detest the thorns. Yet there’s never a rose without thorns. The thorns defend the rose from intruders, and their pricks inoculate the flower from infections attracted by its beauty and fragrance. Paul writes: “A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. … I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’ … Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Be thankful for your thorns of roses.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
SENSELESS VIOLENCE
Violence is real and, far too often, absurd: Abel—slain because his brother’s gift was not accepted. Naboth—stoned because a greedy king wanted his vineyard. Zechariah—executed in the temple because King Joash was ungrateful. Uriah—set up and killed because David wanted to cover up his adulterous pregnancy. John the Baptist—beheaded, because of Herodias’ grudge & Herod’s drunken oath. Stephen—stoned for testifying of Christ. Every episode of senseless violence—the Holocaust, genocides, racial lynchings, hate murders, terrorist attacks, war crimes, etc.—screams out for vengeance or justice. But Calvary whispers: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
GROW IN THE STORM
Character develops in the storms—when trials and afflictions test our strength, stability, and resilience. The Apostle Paul lists some of the storms as tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword, and states emphatically that "in all these things"—i.e., in all these storms—"we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:35, 37). So, when life seems hard to bear, when it’s full of sorrow, trouble, and woe, let’s remind ourselves that it's in these storms we grow. While thankful for the fragrant and gentle breezes in life, let’s not decry the pungent blasts of turbulent tides. Storms ought not to break you. You’re more than a conqueror. Grow—and BLOOM—in your storms (see, Proverbs 24:10).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
Stay With the Ball
There’s a saying in Ghanaian football: “The one with the ball is the one that’s attacked.” If you’re productively engaged in a worthy cause, prepare to be opposed and tripped. Adversaries will criticize, vilify, and try to pull down. But be undeterred. Even if you fumble, and are jeered and taunted, get up and keep moving! Remain focused on THE GOAL. Through our trials, struggles, and failures, Satan seeks our downfall and ruin. But through Christ, God always strengthens and renews. “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8, 9). Are you attacked? Stay with the ball and you’ll triumph!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
The Spirit of Courtesy
Let’s be gentle under provocation. E.G. White counsels: “We should not allow our feelings to be easily wounded. We are to live, not to guard our feelings or our reputation, but to save souls. … If impatient words are spoken to you, never reply in the same spirit. Remember that ‘a soft answer turneth away wrath.’ Proverbs 15:1. And there is wonderful power in silence. … Under a storm of stinging, faultfinding words, keep the mind stayed upon the word of God. If you are ill-treated or wrongfully accused, instead of returning an angry answer, repeat to yourself the precious promises: ‘Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.’ Romans 12:21. ‘Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.’ Psalm 37:5, 6. [Also quoted Luke 12:2; Psalm 66:12]…. Christianity will make a man a gentleman. Christ was courteous, even to His persecutors; and His true followers will manifest the same spirit” (Ministry of Healing, pp. 485-489). May the Lord help us, this day, to season our words with Christian grace.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WRESTLING WITH PIGS
“Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig enjoys it” (An old adage). The Bible says: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly. Lest you also be like him" (Proverbs 26:4). At times the best response to falsehood, slander, and cruel attacks is to ignore them, trusting our case with God. We learn this from David, after Shimei cursed, accused, and threw stones and dirt at him (2 Samuel 16:5-14). Writes E.G. White: “False reports will circulate about us; but … let us leave to God the care of our reputation. Slander can be lived down by our manner of living; it is not lived down by words of indignation. Let our great anxiety be to act in the fear of God, and show by our conduct that these reports are false.” DON’T wrestle with your pigs!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE POWER OF IGNORANCE
Ignorance in action is dangerous, especially if the ignorance is willful. Confucius states: “The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there's no cat.” None is safe when power is in the hands of willful ignorance—i.e., when power is combined with wrong assumptions, half-truths, misrepresentations, bigotry, or conscientious stupidity, or when it is driven by fear, envy, or fanaticism. Alas, ignorance spreads because those who have it take pride in it and zealously share it with those who won't think. Whether political or religious, the power of ignorance is ignorance with power. “Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
SAFE AND SOUND
In Christ’s parable, the prodigal son returned home and his father gladly “received him safe and sound” (Luke 15:27). God knows how to lift us up out of our predicaments. He knows how to fix our broken worlds. He brings beauty out of ugly situations. New growth out of dead ashes. Sweet-smelling life out of foul-smelling rottenness. Prodigals, are you discouraged by the crushing weight of failure and the unredemptive attitudes or actions of your elder brothers and sisters? Don't give up! Don’t stay down! Keep getting up! If there’s anyone that can help you handle your failure well, God can. He’s done it for me. He can do the same for you as well. Restoration? You also will return, “safe and sound”!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WHERE ARE THE MEN?
Father’s Day honors not only biological fathers, but all men who act as father-figures in our lives—stepdads, uncles, grandpas, husbands, teachers and other responsible adult males. The day isn’t for hollow hilarity, but for sober reflection and honest introspection. It’s an occasion to celebrate the real men, the ones formed of steel, though coated in clay. It’s also a day to spotlight the reality of RECKLESS men— immature, lazy, inept, selfish, arrogant, and unspiritual men—who have thereby created RESTLESS women and ZESTLESS children.  A time to echo God’s haunting question from Eden: “Adam, where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). And to swell the jarring refrain from today's women: “Where are the men?”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WAIT, BUT DON’T OVER-WAIT
Let’s avoid two dangers. First, the danger of NOT-waiting on the Lord. We often think God is too slow—just because we desperately want an overnight success, instant prosperity, quick solutions to our problems, rapid recovery from illnesses, and instant marriages or relationships. Second, the danger of OVER-waiting on God. Here, we don’t like what God is bidding us to do, so we don’t obey Him or we delay obedience, claiming "we're praying about it or waiting on the Lord." Whereas the first danger tries to rush God’s timing, the second doesn’t immediately heed His clear directives to go forward. Both dangers express lack of faith. Wait on the Lord, but don’t over-wait (Psalm 27:14; Exodus 14:15, 16).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
GET READY TO SING
Maya Angelou knew WHY the caged bird sings, but E.G. White explained HOW: “In the full light of day, and in hearing of the music of other voices, the caged bird will not sing the song that his master seeks to teach him. He learns a snatch of this, a trill of that, but never a separate and entire melody. But the master covers the cage, and places it where the bird will listen to the one song he is to sing. In the dark, he tries and tries again to sing that song until it is learned, and he breaks forth in perfect melody. Then the bird is brought forth, and ever after he can sing that song in the light. Thus God deals with His children. He has a song to teach us, and when we have learned it amid the shadows of affliction we can sing it ever afterward.” Caged Bird, get ready to sing!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
TRIBUTE TO MAYA ANGELOU (1928-2014)
Maya’s “caged bird” was transformed from a victim of racism, hypocrisy, and shame into Angelou’s free bird—independent, self-possessed, dignified, and beautiful. This new bird was capable of composing and singing her own songs. Marvelous songs that spoke to the hearts of even the prejudiced, duplicitous, and haters. Thank you, Maya Angelou, for teaching us lessons on truth, honesty, forgiveness, and faith! Your story is our story. Muted voices will be unstopped, good will triumph over evil, and the caged birds will sing at last.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim   
 
PS: The title of Maya Angelou's book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" comes from the third stanza of Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "Sympathy”— 
     I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
     When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
     When he beats his bars and would be free;
     It is not a carol of joy or glee,
     But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
     But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings –
     I know why the caged bird sings.
The Lord will set free all caged-birds so they can sing their freedom songs. In the end, the forgiven will be forgiving. It's why they can sing beautifully. You!—SKP 
 
FREEDOM DELAYED
Whether physical or spiritual, freedom delayed is slavery. The adversary of freedom is not the one who opposes it outrightly, but the respectable sympathizer who lukewarmly embraces it. According to Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s the one “who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises … to wait until a ‘more convenient season’.” To such, wait really means never. E.G. White urges: “Do not listen to the enemy’s suggestion to stay away from Christ until you have made yourself better; until you are good enough to come to God. If you wait until then, . . . you will never come.” The right time to do right is right now (2 Corinthians 6:2).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim  
 
WITH FLYING COLORS
When you sail through life with flying colors, stay humble or you’ll stumble. Two ducks and their frog friend lived in a pond, where the frog often tried to show himself smarter and better than the ducks—a better swimmer, singer, dancer, visionary, etc. When the hot summer peaked, the ducks decided to fly away to a larger pond. The frog suggested a creative plan so he could tag along. The ducks held in their bills the opposite ends of a strong stick, and the frog hung on to the middle of the stick with his mouth. As they flew high above, a farmer exclaimed, “What a brilliant idea! I wonder who thought of that?” The frog couldn’t resist. He said, “I did. I did.” And that was his end. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverb 16:18).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 

UNLOVED, BUT…

To be unwanted, unloved, or undesired is the greatest loss. Leah was married to a man who didn't choose or love her. She thought she could win Jacob’s love through children. By her fourth son, Leah had chosen to move on. Instead of blaming God or others for being a victim, Leah’s sorrow and rejection led her to say, “This time I will praise the Lord” (Genesis 29:35). Are you ignored, unwanted, or undesired by the men in your life? Your hurt hasn't gone unnoticed. For “the Lord saw that Leah was unloved….” (v. 31; cf. v. 33). God looks inside a woman’s broken heart and sees and feels her pain. You may be unloved, but not unseen; unloved, but not unheard; unloved, but beloved by Him who is “Altogether Lovely” (Song of Songs 5:16)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
ON YOUR ACHIEVEMENT
Be content with what you have, but never with what you’ve accomplished. Until death, there’s no period when there’ll be no more to learn, no higher attainments to reach. True success is the work of a lifetime. So, never cease to improve upon your best effort. Celebrate in humility. For many more should’ve been in your shoes today, but have been delayed, rejected, or passed up for one reason or the other. You’ve come this far by grace alone. Your real work begins now. Never give up until at the end of your life you can say “It is finished” (John 19:30), meaning “I have successfully completed my mission in life.” Only then will your Master say to you, “Well done!” (Matthew 25:21, 23).— Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE POWER OF ONE
Just because you’re the only one doesn’t mean your presence, voice, or efforts don’t count. An unknown author uses a typewriter’s missing key to illustrate the incredible power of one: “If you'rx having onx of thosx days whxn you think you just arxn't vxry important, and you'rx txmptxd to slack off, rxmxmbxr this old typxwritxr. You arx a kxy pxrson, and whxn you don't do your bxst, nothing xlsx around you works out thx way it is supposxd to.” One is not too small to not count. It is not too little to make a difference. And not too ordinary to have an impact. Therefore, don’t underestimate the power of one. God is looking for one person to make a difference. Be that one. (Ezekiel 22:30).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
REJOICE!
His first word is the last word. The first public message of Christ after His resurrection was a single, pregnant word—“Rejoice!” (Matthew 28:9). It’s from the Greek verb “chairo.” Significantly, it’s the same root word used to express the joy or mood of the chief priests, Judas, and the soldiers (Mark 14:11; Matt 26:49; 27:29). The Enemy rejoiced that he finally got Christ—that Christ was finished, and that the huge stone, the Roman seal and security guards at the tomb would keep Him buried and out of sight forever. But, No! Against all odds, Christ arose! His enemies didn’t have the last word—or laugh! For a certainty, goodness will triumph over evil, truth over falsehood, principle over politics, & love over hatred. So, “rejoice!”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
HYPOCRISY
Christ’s death unmasked the hypocrisy of the self-righteous religious leaders. They who would not acknowledge Jesus as Lord went and said “lord” or “Sir” to Pilate (Gr. Kurios)—seeking his help to ensure that Christ would forever remain dead. And, unlike the faithful followers of Christ, they who had often accused the Savior of Sabbath-breaking for His works of mercy now themselves desecrated the holy Sabbath with their works of malice. “On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees … went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard” (Matthew 27:62-66; cf. Luke 23:56). Hypocrisy is at its worst when spiritual leaders stop at nothing to advance their personal, ideological, and political agenda.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

BETRAYED
Events leading to Calvary reveal why we often stab others in the back. The New Testament uses the same verb form for each person or group who sold out Jesus Christ to be crucified. It’s the Greek word “paradidōmi” (to “hand over” or “betray” or “deliver”). Judas “handed Him over” to the priests out of GREED (Matthew 26:14-16). The religious leaders “handed Him over” to Pilate out of ENVY (Matthew 27:17, 18; Mark 15:9,10). Pilate “handed Him over” to the soldiers out of COWARDICE and political AMBITION (Mark 15:15; John 19:12; Luke 23:22-25). The crowd “betrayed” or “denied the Just & Holy One” out of IGNORANCE (Acts 7:52; 3:14-17; Luke 23:13-23). But the worse form of betrayal is to do so in Jesus name!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim  
 
IGNORE THE CRITICS 
A broken bone often becomes stronger after it’s healed. Likewise, God can touch our broken lives and make us stronger than we were before. On the night of His arrest, Jesus said to Peter, “Satan has asked … [to] sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you. … And when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32). Peter’s failure wasn’t final. He did “return”—to “strengthen his brothers.” He preached on Pentecost and 3,000 were baptized; he provided spiritual leadership, and wrote two New Testament books. Restorative grace lifts up the fallen, makes the wounded whole, and transforms failures into fruitfulness. Cast away, rejected, or despised as chaff? Ignore the critics! Christ has prayed for you!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE MOST CRUEL MONTH
“April is the cruelest month,” says T. S. Elliot in his poem “The Waste Land.” True, every month has its own cruelties, but April records many injustices. It’s when we remember the Jewish Holocaust, Armenian Genocide, assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., massacre @ Waco, Texas (1993), Rwandan Genocide (1994), Oklahoma City bombing (1995), Columbine High School shooting (1999), Virginia Tech shooting spree (2007),  Ivory Coast massacre (2011), Boston Marathon bombing (2013)…. But the most cruel April occurred some 2,000 years ago when Christ was betrayed, tried unjustly, tortured and executed by crucifixion.  Do you have questions about your “April experiences” of injustice? Reflect on Christ’s own “Why?” (Matthew 27:46).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WHO YOU REALLY ARE
You are what you think most about, what you do when no one is watching, what you say behind closed doors, what you do with your time, and above all, how you react when suddenly assaulted, insulted, or exalted. You reveal your true self in how you deal with injustice, discrimination, betrayal, and hurt. You are how you express your feelings when assailed by malicious gossip, slander, or cruel words. Who you are is evidenced by how you carry yourself during sudden demotion or promotion, in how you handle failure or success, and in how you treat the weak, most vulnerable, and undeserving. Ultimately, who you really are is what lies hidden in your heart. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23; Mark 7:20-23).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
GOOD NIGHT…GOOD MORNING
Can there be a good morning after a bad night? Joy after sorrow? Jubilant songs to replace our mournings? From the morning we’re hatched from the womb, till the night we’re dispatched to the tomb, our lives are matched with pain and grief. But we ought not despair when our days are dark or when we bid farewell to our loved ones!  Good night shouldn’t be goodbye, for there’ll be a good morning. A song reminds us of a glorious day coming,  “When no heart aches shall come …No more clouds in the sky…No more tears to dim the eye” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 21:4). With Christ, the laments of our dreaded “Good Night” can be replaced by the songs of “Good Morning!” Morning, not mourning!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
PEACE OR PIECES?
“You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace” (Michael Franti & Spearhead). Anger and violence seldom solve problems. So, don’t let bitterness and rage steal your sweetness and gentleness. Commit with Max Lucado: “I choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.”  Are you sorely provoked or hurt? “Let your gentleness be known to all men” (Phil 4:5; cf. Rom 12:18). To right wrongs, write injuries in sand, and for each grievance, engrave gentleness in granite. The conquests of gentleness outlast the victories of violence.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
OXYMORONS
I’m pretty sure this nugget will be clearly misunderstood! If you missed it, I just used an oxymoron (“clearly misunderstood”)—a combination of contradictory or incongruous words. Unless used for dramatic effect or to add flavor to a speech, oxymorons make no logical sense. Examples: Definitely maybe, pretty ugly, original copy, exact estimate, half pregnant, negative growth, living dead. Religious and political oxymorons include: unbelieving faith, kosher pork, unforgiving Christian, Sunday Sabbath, joyful noise, Christian Yoga, rules of war, honesty in politics, African democracy, United Nations. Can you think of more? "Let your yea be yea..." (Matthew 5:37; James 5:12) or yours is a truthful lie.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
SURRENDER YOUR RIGHTS 
Jesus didn’t insist on His rights; He took our wrongs. “Crucified with Christ,” our attitude will be like Paul’s (Galatians 2:20). Leonard Ravenhill explains: “[Paul] had no ambitions [for himself]—and so had nothing to be jealous about. He had no reputation—and so had nothing to fight about. He had no possessions—and therefore had nothing to worry about. He had no rights—so therefore he could not suffer wrong. He was already broken—so no one could break him. He was dead—so none could kill him. He was less than the least—so who could humble him? He had suffered the loss of all things—so none could defraud him.” Advocate for the rights of others, but surrender your rights when YOU are right.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
WOUNDS FROM GOOD PEOPLE
Evil men wreck evil, but often it’s good men who wound the most. NOT the devils who have stabbed in the back, but the angels of compassion who fan the wound site with the blade of the wounding-knife still deeply embedded. It’s NOT the vengeful adversaries, but the envoys of justice whose pious rage is matched only by the ferocity of their insecurity and obsession for attention. These good people are everywhere. As they themselves might also be wounded, respond with meekness and kindness. And if wrongly accused, slandered, or unjustly-treated, remember that gentleness is might, restraint is power, silence is speech, and grace is the remedy. You WILL heal to heal (1 Peter 2:21-23).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
NEED OR GREED?
“There’s enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed,” said Gandhi. This fact is illustrated in the provision of manna for the ancient Israelites. God strictly commanded them to only gather the manna for each day’s need, not for their greed (Exodus 16:4, 16, 18, 21). Also, except for the sixth day, Moses charged them: “Let no one leave any of it till morning…. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them” (vss 19-20; cf. 22-31). Greed always stinks! Tempted to selfishly acquire, amass, or not share food, things, wealth, or power? The stench of greed is repulsive. God will supply all our needs, but never our greed.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
THROUGH THE ROUGH SEAS
Life’s journey isn’t always smooth-sailing. Our ships will be battered and knocked off course due to poor judgment, boisterous winds and waves, hidden currents and rocks, or some treacherous icebergs. But the hazards of the journey shouldn’t cause despair. This, we learn from Apostle Paul’s long and dangerous voyage to Rome (Acts 27). Yes, the rough seas of life will cause delays, setbacks, and losses. Betrayals will hurt, prejudice, envy and hate will maim, failures will dishearten, regrets will sting, and opportunists will exploit. But, regardless of the rough seas, let’s find the will and faith to navigate to our destination. And for Christ’s sake, let’s make discouragement our encouragement.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE VALUE OF RAGS
“The youth can boast of new clothes, but never of as many rags as an adult” (West-African proverb). In stressing the value of rags, this proverb—as also Scripture—bids us to learn from the experiences of others (Romans 15:4). We must imitate their virtues and avoid their mistakes. Do you despise rags? C.S Lewis cautions: “Think of me as a fellow-patient in the same hospital who, having been admitted a little earlier, could give some advice.” I agree. To refuse lessons from other people’s experiences and to insist “I want to make my own mistakes” is to be very immature, arrogant, or idiotic—if not delusional. Be warned: He who derides others’ rags will surely lose his new clothes. (1 Corinthians 10:11, 12.)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
BE BOLD! 
Stand up and fight! Theodore Roosevelt said: "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."  The crown is kept for THE BOLD—those who “fight the good fight and keep the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7, 8).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim. 
 
CLEAN RECORD
You can have a clean record! A preacher illustrates how: When Jesus sits at His heavenly computer, He highlights our list of sins. Then He hits the DELETE key, totally erasing our sins! But Christ does more. He also opens up another folder—the file containing His perfect, sinless record. He highlights and clicks on COPY, then goes back to our record, which is all blank now, and hits the PASTE key. And, lo and behold, His record appears on our record, and He presses the SAVE key! His righteousness becomes our own! “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9; cf. Isaiah 43:25; 44:22; Colossians 2:13, 14). Spotlessly clean record! Praise the Lord!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE GOALPOST
There cannot be a goal without a goalpost. In football or soccer, a goalpost marks the target to be reached. It tells where you’re going, the progress you’re making, and when you make your aim. The goalpost also represents boundaries—those things which are never intended to move. In life, as in sports, success or failure is not only determined by a clear knowledge of your goal (God’s purpose for your life), but also of the goalpost (God’s guide for your life). You cannot score a goal when there’s no goalpost, and it’s futile trying to shift the goalpost. Life’s Goalpost is unchangeable, for the Ten Commandments are not Ten Suggestions (Exodus 20:1-15; Matthew 5:17–19). Want a goal? Aim for the Goalpost.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
DON’T PROCRASTINATE!
Procrastination has lots of time. It has 25 hours in a day and an 8th day of the week called “Someday.” Procrastination’s busiest day is tomorrow—the day it makes major decisions, accomplishes great things, and effects important changes. Trusting Procrastination to do what needs to be done?  Yesterday it promised “one of these days,” and today it’s pledging to do it “later.” But to do it later is to do it late, and one of these days is NONE of these days. Have no faith in Procrastination’s promises or achievements. It will ruin your dreams, opportunities, and destiny (Proverbs 6:6-11; Acts 24:24, 25). To get things done, begin NOW!—for “Now” is the only time Procrastination can guarantee!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

THE JOURNEY AHEAD
The journey ahead should be measured by the milestones we’ve already crossed. Looking back on these monumental pillars of our past, let’s keep fresh God’s grace and tender mercies—“the tears He has wiped away, the pains He has soothed, the anxieties removed, the fears dispelled, the wants supplied, the blessings bestowed” (E.G. White). There will be new perplexities in the journey ahead, but, as in the past, the trial will not exceed the strength that shall be given us to bear it: “As your days, so shall your strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25). Therefore, whatever challenges may come, strength proportionate to the trial will be given. The secret of a happy New Year? Count your milestones.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
HAPPILY EVER LAUGHTER
Those who seldom laugh are among the most dangerous in the world. But the Christmas story assures us that not even such Herods can kill the joy of those who seek the One whose birth has brought “good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2; Matthew 2). So learn to laugh at your circumstances. Laughter is an effective weapon against fear, worry, gloom, depression, resentment, self-pity, and hurt. The hard blows of life will try to bend you out of shape, but laughter will keep you resilient. So whether yours is the quiet laugh of Sarah (Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-6), the season’s boom of Ho, ho, ho…, or the regular hearty Ha, ha, ha... or He, he, he…, let’s all live happily ever laughter. Merry Xmas!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
WATCH YOUR STEPS
“Do not curse the mother of the crocodile, when you have not yet crossed the river” (African proverb). Just because things are going well today doesn’t mean you’re entirely safe from danger: “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). We often face our greatest trials & temptations during moments of our greatest successes. This rhyme cautions: “Look where you are going, watch your steps/ As you journey on daily, the harder it gets/ Let God’s words direct you, as a lamp and a light/ Don’t you turn off the path, and you’ll end up right” (Karen Nurse-Quarm). Today’s successes and victories often invite tomorrow’s temptations and trials. Therefore watch your steps.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
HISTORY or LEGACY?
History is shortsighted, but legacy has vision. In the fierce contest between the two, history often distorts truth, misinterprets events, and omits relevant facts. For a place in the record books, history frequently preys upon people’s ignorance and fears, and leverages its influence to ban, burn, and bury every trace of legacy’s works. But aided by time and truth, legacy always prevails in its interrogation of history. History can narrate our past, but cannot write our future. Legacy uses hindsight to accurately recall the things of old, pass them on to the future, and actually become part of the future. History or legacy? We shall be remembered for our legacy, not our history (Ecclesiastes 7).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
SUDDEN ADVERSITY
Sudden adversity reveals a lot about our identity, core values, and hopes. We disclose our true selves during crisis situations—such as when our reputations, positions, prospects, or even lives are at stake. To find out what people really believe, observe how they deal with unexpected loss or failure. To discover if they have true faith, examine how they respond to devastating misfortune. And to ascertain their genuineness, courage, and meekness, watch how they handle cascading tragedies. Crisis events and pain not only define a person, they also reveal the person (Job 1:20-22; 2:9,10; 13:15). Perplexed? Like a pregnant woman in labor, sudden adversity squeezes out your true character.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim  
 
AN EAGLE IS AN EAGLE
"A weed is a plant whose virtues have not been discovered" (Ralph Waldo Emerson). Those who're quick to dismiss you on account of your past or present circumstances will later discover your worth. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her TV reporter's job and advised: “You're not fit for TV.” Steve Jobs was forced out of the Apple company he founded, but returned 15 years later to rescue it from near bankruptcy. Today’s defeats are the feats of tomorrow. Rejected now? You’re still God’s eagle. A wounded eagle is still an EAGLE, and not a chicken or a turkey! Through God’s grace and mercy wounded eagles can heal to soar again (Isaiah 40:31; Proverbs 24:16; Micah 7:8-10, 18-20). An eagle is an eagle. You!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
BE POLISHED
It hurts to be hurt—repeatedly!  But consider this: “When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless" (Chris Colfer, actor). Incredible though it may seem, God often employs the hurtful actions of people to bless us! Think of the envy and betrayal of Joseph's brothers, the lies of Potiphar’s wife, and the forgetfulness of the chief-cupbearer (Genesis 39-41). Wondering about the prickly, mean, and vicious people who keep showing up in your life? They’re providential sand papers. Be polished by them! God uses even the worst people to bring out the best in us. Shine through your hurts!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
VERY RISKY
Anything risky requires a license to operate. Hence we need licenses or permits to drive, to practice our professions, to own guns or restaurants, and even to get married. Anything risky—except US! We’re the greatest risk to operate, yet exempt from obtaining a license to run our lives. We were created with the power of CHOICE—an absolute freedom to think, choose, be, or do as we please. How risky! You want proof of this “license-free” right? See how we’ve used it to hate and love, be ignorant and stupid, arrogant and self-sufficient. You want ultimate proof? Look what we did to our Creator on Calvary! Human beings without God are walking time-bombs—they’re “deceitful ... and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9)! WE’RE very risky! —Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
SETBACKS and HINDRANCES 
God has a plan or purpose for your life. This plan is as sure and detailed as His plan of salvation. His plan for you knows neither delay nor accident. It leaves nothing to chance, hence nothing can really hurt you. Yes, your feelings can be hurt, you can be shocked by the hatred of others, and can even experience terrible grief and loss. But these things that occur in your life are not without God's permission and they’ll work together for your good. Believe and apply these facts to every circumstance of your life, surrender your plan to His plan, and you’ll develop an indomitable faith that can handle sudden setbacks and seemingly persistent hindrances. Courage! (1 Corinthians 10:13; Psalm 62:8).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
A HIDING PLACE
The science of hiding was discovered in the Garden of Eden. Since then we’ve become experts at dodging, forging, concealing, and blaming others so as not to come to terms with OUR own failures. Today—thanks to rediscoveries of Eden by the science of pop-psychology—we can conveniently justify our wrong choices and actions! But when we honestly confess, we’re freed from the pain of living hypocritical and duplicitous lives. We no longer have to live in the closet of denials and cover-ups. And we’re unshackled from the temptation to hide our sins—from God, others, and even ourselves. The only kind of hiding needed is hiding in Somebody Else—hiding in the Lord. He is our “hiding place” (Psalm 32:7).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
SITTING ON A BUMBLE BEE
Unforgiveness hurts us more than those we wish to hurt. A little boy was writhing in agony while sitting on a park bench. A man walking by asked what was wrong. The boy answered, "I'm sitting on a bumble bee." "Then why don't you get up?" the man asked. The boy replied, "Because I figure that I’m hurting him more than he’s hurting me!" True healing begins the moment we choose to not inflict pain on those who hurt us. I may have been a victim to past ill-treatments, but if I remain a victim, I’m now a willing-volunteer. I may have experienced injustice and hurt, but God is able to transform all things for my good. This is why I choose not to sit on bumble bees (Romans 12:19-21).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
LET THE BIRD FLY
“God who made the birds never made bird cages. It's men who make bird cages and after a while we become cramped and can do nothing but chirp and stand on one leg” (Oswald Chambers). Refuse to be caged by people’s opinion, approval, or censure. Had Joseph waited for affirmation of his dreams, he’d never have become Prime Minister. Had David waited for validation of his ability, he’d never have become giant-slayer and King. Had Paul waited for the confirmation of his conversion, he’d never have become a great Apostle. Don’t be caged by others’ doubts or fears, envy or hate, hypocrisy or mediocrity. Don’t chirp in anyone’s cage. Fly like God’s bird and sing your freedom song! (Jeremiah 1:5-7; 29:11)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
WORRY
Worry is a deceptive luxury we must not covet. One unknown source gives a breakdown of what the average person worries about:  40% focus on things that will never happen, 30% deal with the past that can't be changed, 12% concern criticism by others, mostly untrue, 10% relate to health, which worsens with anxiety, and only 8% are about legitimate concerns that require action. Statistics aside, the observation confirms that worry is an exercise in futility. There are two things we should never worry about: (i) things we cannot change and (ii) things we can change. Think about it! Then reflect on Christ’s words in Matthew 6:25-34. Worry is shortsighted and blind, but faith has vision. So, why worry?—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
GAIN FROM PAIN
Pain is an asset to be invested. Difficulties, trials, and tribulations are often the best resources for future gain. The ancients used an instrument called a “tribulum” (from which we get the word "tribulation") to beat out the ripened grain and separate the wheat from the chaff. No farmer wastes his time and energy to run his “tribulum” over straw, chaff, or weeds, but rather to gain precious grain.  Similarly, our Savior doesn't needlessly put us under the pressure of suffering and pain. No! “We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3, 4). Don’t waste your pain, for it is a capital asset that has long-term value.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

TYRANNY OF NUMBERS
Numbers count in today’s world. Numbers define our identity (passport, license, PIN, & ID #s), assess our performance (grades, GPAs, output), and measure our worth or success (bank figures & credit card limits). Even moral standards and truth are gauged by popularity, polls, or statistics. But let’s beware of the tyranny of numbers (Matthew 7:13, 14): “If you lower the standard in order to secure popularity & an increase of numbers, & then make this increase a cause of rejoicing, you show great blindness. If numbers were evidence of success, Satan might claim the pre-eminence; for, in this world, his followers are largely in the majority” (E.G. White). Numbers count, but weight counts more.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim.

TOTAL COMMITMENT
Many are involved, but few are committed. Observing a family enjoying ham and eggs for breakfast, a chicken asked a pig: “Don’t you just feel good to know that we’re making a contribution to the joy and wellbeing of humanity?” The pig responded pensively: “For you it’s a contribution, but for me it’s total commitment.” The chicken is “involved”—it lays its eggs and resumes normal activities. The pig is “totally committed”—it must be slaughtered to make ham. Do you merely contribute or truly sacrifice? Jesus explains that total commitment requires total devotion, sacrifice, and self-denial (Luke 14: 26, 27, 33). Don’t just be involved in a relationship, organization, or cause, be committed! —Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
CROCS IN YOUR LIFE
“The threatening eyes of the crocodile shouldn’t prevent the thirsty frog from drinking from the pond,” states an African proverb. Sound counsel! The crocs in your life are those who seek to control you by instilling fear or hopelessness. They attempt to intimidate with their strength, wealth, know-how, age, or talent. They may employ violence, cruelty, or hurtful words. They can repress your thoughts or feelings; suppress your dreams or interests; manipulate you through shouts, criticisms, flattery, bribes, intrigues, or blackmail; humiliate you publicly, then blame you for their bad behavior or actions. Beware of the croc psychology! To let others control your life is to be like them—unfulfilled, miserable, lazy, and frankly stupid (see Proverbs 26:13-16).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

THROUGH THE VALLEY
Of the many valleys in life, death is the deepest and most dreadful. One out of every one person will walk through this lonesome valley. David confirms and offers hope: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4 NASB). Death is an “even though” reality, not an “if or maybe” event. Green pastures DO turn into gray deserted valleys. But the God who is with us in our valleys of death will also be with us during our other tragedies of life. In the lion’s den, we’ll be safe. In the fiery furnace, we won’t be burned. In the deep waters, we shall not drown. And in life’s journey, we shall walk THROUGH the valley. Emmanuel!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

POISON OF THE SOUL
Bitterness or resentment is like acid. It damages both the container in which it is stored and the vessel on which it is poured. But bitterness hurts us more than the person we resent. Chances are, our adversary has moved on with life while we remain stuck in our grudge and animosity. Cherishing bitterness is plain stupidity. Worse, it’s “poison” (Acts 8:23), which is why Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for it to kill your enemy.” The root of bitterness isn’t so much the hurt or bad experiences we’ve suffered, but our unforgiving spirit, pride, and unconvertedness (Ephesians 4:31, 32; Matthew 18:21-35; Hebrews 12:15). Are you poisoned by bitterness? Detox now! Forgive and live!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

BOUNCE BACK
Failure isn’t final! You can bounce back and thrive again—IF you respond in humility and repent. After Nebuchadnezzar’s failure and humiliation, God’s grace reversed his misfortunes: “I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding RETURNED to me… My reason RETURNED to me, … my honor and splendor RETURNED to me. My counselors and nobles RESORTED to me, I was RESTORED to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was ADDED to me” (Daniel 4:34, 36). Don’t be discouraged by the pain, loss, shame, gossip, slander, gloating, and other malicious acts that attend failure. “Lift up your eyes to heaven” and bounce back. That’s restoration (cf. Jeremiah 15:19)! After failure empties your cup, God’s grace can fill it to its brim again!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

BY NECESSARY MEANS
God knows how to arrest our attention in order to save us. Sometimes He employs confrontation (Nathan vrs. David) or shame and humiliation (e.g, on Samson, Prodigal Son, Peter). He allows afflictions (Miriam & Hezekiah), judgments (on Manasseh & Nebuchanezzar), betrayal by close friends & confidants (e.g., Ahithophel), and the curses & hurts by critics/enemies (e.g., Shimei). He may even use the voice of Balaam’s donkey or knock us off our high horses (Paul on Damascus Road). He also whispers in still small voices (as to Elijah). By such necessary means and many more, the Holy Spirit quickens our consciences, convicts us of sins, and leads us to repentance (John 14-16). Unless we’ve totally grieved away the Spirit, none can escape the reach of God’s saving grace.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

THE LOST SHEEP
In Christ’s parable, it was a SHEEP that was lost, not a lamb. Could it be that, in the church, the sheep (the grown-ups, old-timers, and leaders) are more in danger of being lost than the lambs (the young and newly converted believers)? Perhaps so. Christ tasked repentant Peter: “Feed My lambs….Tend My sheep….Feed My sheep” (John 21:15-17). The lambs need to be fed. But the sheep must be both fed and tended/shepherded. They have more issues! It wasn’t the lamb (the ignorant and naïve) that was lost, but the sheep (the know-it-all and self-willed). Not the penitent prodigal son, but the self-righteous, unforgiving, and critical older brother. Pray for the lost SHEEP—whose attitudes and actions can also drive away the lambs (Luke 15)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

NEUTRALITY & INJUSTICE
The world is a school of injustice where we promote excellence in neutrality. The result? We’re silent when there’s travesty of justice in our courts; indifferent when our leaders arbitrarily imprison, torture, and kill our enemies; comfortable when our churches deny or sanctify their acts of discrimination and racism; and we don’t blush in shame when our pious lies, hasty judgments, and fanatical zeal ruin lives! But as Desmond Tutu reminds us, “If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Indifference or neutrality in the face of injustice is a crime against humanity—and God (Isaiah 59:9-15). Let’s repent!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

MY APOLOGIES
“I’m sorry, BUT…” is not a true apology. Genuine confession has no “buts.” It offers no excuses or rationalizations, and assigns no blames. In a true apology—either to God or to man—I accept my mistakes as MY own failures. Period. I do not blame others or circumstances for my actions and inactions. In an honest confession I admit that my greatest problem is myself, and my greatest need is forgiveness and a Savior from myself—my sinful human self. Genuine apology is a mark of humility—and strength. For when I truly confess my failures, it frees me from the guilt and crippling pain of living a hypocritical and phony life. But if, in my apologies, I play the blame-game, I will B-LAME! (Psalm 51 & 32)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

UNKIND CRITICISM
“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing” (Aristotle). Let our responses display maturity and educate others. Thus, English evangelist, George Whitefield (1714-1770) once responded to a very critical letter accusing him of some wrong: “I thank you heartily for your letter. As for what you and my other enemies are saying against me, I know worse things about myself than you will ever say about me. With love in Christ, George Whitefield.” Unkind criticism is the hobby of fools, the boast of the arrogant, the exploit of the jealous, and the spiritual gift of hypocrites. Learn from criticism if it’s justified; ignore it if untrue, unfair, or ignorant; and, if needed, respond to it with Christian grace (Proverbs 15:1, 2).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

UNSPOKEN
In today's church culture, acknowledging one’s sin is treated as a criminal act. Hence we employ pseudonyms and euphemisms for our sins. We have personal “struggles, challenges, weaknesses, and issues.” We regret the “things” we’ve done, express our need for “spiritual growth,” and ask others to pray for our “unspoken requests.” We even confess we’re not "perfect" or "where we should be" in our spiritual walk. But woe to believers who admit the sin of immorality, unwed pregnancy, stealing, lying, witchcraft, substance abuse, depression*, doubt, gossip, hatred, greed, jealousy, selfishness, and pride! Lord, help me call my sin by its right name and save me from the summary justice of your righteous saints (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; John 8:1-11)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

*NOTE on "Depression": In the nugget above, I’ve included "depression" in the list of unspoken sins because there’s seldom an opportunity to talk candidly about it in the church. However, to avoid being misunderstood, let me make two brief points: (i) "Depression" can be a sickness--the result of chemical imbalances or disorders (and which can be treated with medication and counseling); (ii) “Depression” can also be sin—the result of unbelief, fear, anxiety, guilt, self-centeredness, etc. (and which can be overcome by repentance and an abiding faith in Christ). In the nugget above, I’m referring to depression as sin. Even Elijah and John the Baptist were quite depressed at some points in their lives—out of fear, doubt, etc. Christians are not immune from this kind of sin either. Unfortunately, we’re unwilling to talk about our sin of depression for fear of what our fellow Christians will do to us. May the Lord help us to call our sins by their right names.

WHERE ARE THE WOMEN?
Clad in designer fig leaves to hide their failures, shame, and fears, and chewing on a mouthful of excuses, women are in the exact same spot God found men when He called out, “Adam, where are you?” (Genesis 3:6-13). The issue of excellence—whether spiritual or professional—is not about gender, but mindset. Sadly, many women have the mindset that their self-worth hinges just on their looks; their primary purpose in life is to have boyfriends, husbands, or children; and their greatest success is to leverage their sex or gender. But excellence cannot be genderized, for success is not sexually-transmitted. Excellence begins when we—male & female—acknowledge our failures and seek Divine help to live victoriously.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

TIME TO WAKE UP
Feeling sorry for ourselves is a waste of valuable time and a nauseating nuisance. We might have had no control over what people did to us or the adversities we’ve suffered in life, but we do have total control over our responses to them. We’re miserable because we’re discontent with what we have or who we are. We’re resentful because we’ve chosen to be held hostage by negative emotions and bad attitudes. We crave attention because we really think the world owes us something. We feel helpless because we don’t believe in God’s promises and power. This plain truth can set us free (cf. John 8:32). It’s time to wake up from the stupor of self-pity and start taking ownership of our actions and destiny.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 

GO HIGHER
Don’t be satisfied with aiming high. Go HIGHER.  For, in the words of E.G. White, “higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for His children.”  There’s never a period when there is no more to learn and no higher attainments to reach.  Going HIGHER means—don’t just grow, bloom; don’t just hear, listen; don’t just think, ponder; don’t just speak, communicate; don’t just give, sacrifice; don’t just be patient, be kind; don’t just forgive, forget; don’t just live, live for Christ. Grow—“from faith to faith,” “from glory to glory” and “day by day” (Romans 1:16, 17; 2 Corinthians3:18; 4:16;). Press on the upward way, gain new heights everyday, and plant your feet on HIGHER ground. —Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
One of the saddest confessions to escape human lips is “I wish I had…!” Those words express missed opportunities and regrets. Easy to be ignored, and requiring little effort to waste, opportunities are lost because of fear, pride, delay, misplaced priorities, and busyness. Missed opportunities can be costly, hence a Bulgarian proverb urges: “Seize opportunity by the beard, for it is bald behind.” Now is the time: Make that phone call or send that mail; express the apology, appreciation or love; take that decision about your studies, work, health, and relationship—with God and man. If the Spirit is prompting you on an issue or duty today, don’t miss the opportunity. Today is NOW! (cf. Hebrews 3:7-15; 4:7.)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

MOVE ON!
Life was never meant to be traveled backwards, that’s why you must move on. Learn from past mistakes and carefully apply its lessons. But let no one define you by your past. Critics and those with unresolved issues may try to whitewash their own dark history by dwelling on yours. Don’t give them the brush. Remember, every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Thus, when folks dig up your past, reconstruct it, and try to re-settle you there, tell them you’ve moved on and have no desire of ever living there anymore. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Your new dwelling place is “in Christ.” So, move on.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 

MATURITY
Unless incapacitated, an adult who still wears diapers, feeds on baby-milk, and doesn’t think or take responsibility is simply immature—and is not ready for marriage, nor useful for any productive purpose. As in the physical realm, so in the spiritual. Leonard Wedel says: “A mature person does not take himself too seriously...keeps himself alert in mind...does not always view with alarm every adverse situation that arises...Is too big to be little...never feels too great to do little things, and is never too proud to do humble things...never accepts either success or failure in themselves as permanent...is one who is able to control his or her impulses...is not afraid to make mistakes...has faith in themselves which becomes stronger as it is fortified by their faith in God.” Age, education, and position are not necessarily evidence of maturity. Let’s grow up! Paul counsels: “Do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20; cf. Hebrews 5:14; 6:1; Galatians 5:22-23)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

WHO IS A MOTHER?
Getting pregnant and giving birth doesn’t necessarily make person a mother. Nor does loving and caring alone (as does a step-mother, adoptive mother, guardian, grandmother, aunt, nurse, teacher, or social worker). Motherhood is more than biology (nature) and sociology (nurture); it’s also theology (Scripture). Jesus explains: “Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My … mother” (Matthew 12:50). Correctly understood, a true mother is any godly woman who lovingly and caringly leads others to usefulness AND a saving relationship with Christ. The world is most indebted to such “mothers-in-Israel”—and is in dire need of such “mothers of thousands of ten thousands” (cf. Judges 5:7; cf. Genesis 24:60). Thank you, Mothers! —Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

SOW IN TEARS
Are you discouraged because you work so hard and yet see few or no result? God’s Word assures: “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5). Not every sowing guarantees a joyful harvest, but sowing “in tears.” And it’s not sowing once, but persistently: “He who CONTINUALLY goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (v. 6). Keep sowing-—in sunshine and darkness, in sacrifice and pain, in sickness and grief, in patience and kindness. Sow amidst opposition and persecution. “Sow in tears”—-in tears of sympathy with the hurting, tears of disappointment and regret, tears of sorrow for sin, and tears of brokenness under conviction from God’s Word. Don’t give up. Sow in tears and you’ll reap in joy.--Samuel Koranteng-Pipim  

ILLITERATE GRADS
My advice to graduates: “When you graduate today, and stop learning tomorrow, you’d become an illiterate the next day. There are many graduates who, for all practical intents and purposes, are functional illiterates. Don’t increase the population of this uneducated class. Don't’ be an illiterate grad.” There’s never an end to learning, unlearning, and relearning. Constantly grow in knowledge—both in your field of study and in your spiritual pursuits. Even the all-knowing “Jesus GREW in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). He kept learning. Illiterate grads drink from the stagnant pond, but the truly educated draw from the running stream. Stay fresh. Keep growing and learning. Always!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

SHEEP LEADERSHIP
A Ghanaian proverb says, “An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.” Sadly, many organizations are led by sheep. Not humble and teachable, but timid, confused, and dumb. Sheep leadership panics in the face of danger. When it must boldly fight, its natural instinct is fright or flight. It must be told what to do and where to go. Gullible & prone to mob psychology, it finds safety in numbers—even if it follows others to slaughter or a cliff edge. No organization can rise higher than its leadership. Sheep leadership is cheap—and costly. If you’re dissatisfied with the leadership you see around you, step up to the plate. Be the answer, for leadership is not about you, but begins with you. Be the lion! Christ is your Model Leader: “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed....” (Revelation 5:5)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

THE TABLES CAN TURN
Those of us who are privileged, successful, in power, or who feel righteous must be careful how we use our advantage to treat others. An unknown sage cautions: “When a bird is alive, it eats ants. But when the bird is dead, ants eat the bird. One tree makes a million matchsticks. But only one matchstick is needed to burn a million trees. Circumstances can change at any time. So don’t devalue or hurt anyone in life.” Because tables can turn, the apostle Paul counsels: “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall…. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (1 Corinthians 10:12; Galatians 6:2, 3).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

UGLY SCARS
Deep wounds, whether self-inflicted or inflicted by others, often leave behind some ugly scars. These scars can cause embarrassment, shame, and pain. But they can also remind of worse situations that could have happened, but didn’t, at the time of wounding. Scars from our self-inflicted wounds caution against repeating the same mistakes. And they can help us appreciate the ugly scars of our risen Savior. By displaying His scarred hands, feet, and side, Christ identifies with all our disappointments, failures, fears, doubts, insecurities, and pains (John 20:19-29; cf. Zechariah 13:6; KJV). Those of us who carry ugly scars—on our bodies or on our souls—should look at the scars of Christ. For in the scars of Christ, we find hope and courage to move on, embracing our own ugly scars of pain, shame, and regret as scars of hope.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

WE SHALL ALSO LIVE
When He cried, “It is finished,” some thought He was finished. “One of His friends betrayed Him. Others deserted Him. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies, and He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While dying, His executioners gambled for His clothing, the only property he had on earth. When dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. But three days later He rose from the dead” (James A. Francis). “He is risen…indeed,”  announced the angel (Matthew 28:6, 7)! He Himself later declared: “I am He that died and am alive for evermore.” His enemies thought they could tarnish, banish, vanish or finish Him. But He rose! And He lives. And “because He lives, we shall also live” (cf. John 14:19).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

CLIMBING UP BY PULLING DOWN
Insecure people try to climb up by pulling others down. Their neurotic need for attention makes them parasites on the fortunes and misfortunes of others. But history doesn’t reward “Pull Him Downs/Pull Her Downs” (PHDs), only those who graciously lower themselves to uplift and build up others. “Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself” (Philippians 2:3-5; Message). Those who pull down that they may climb up enjoy neither the ride up, nor the stay up.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THE EXCELLENCE OF GRACE
The thirst for vengeance should never be mistaken as a quest for justice. Nor should the verdict of justice ever transcend the excellence of mercy and grace. A father’s only son had been brutally murdered. Vengeance hunts down the murderer and kills him. Justice gets the murderer arrested, tried, convicted,  and executed. Mercy pleads with the Judge and the murderer’s life is spared.  But grace petitions the Judge for murderer’s custody, adopts him as his own son, takes him home, loves him, and lives with him forever! Through Christ, “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11; cf. Romans 5:10; John 1:16, 17). Vengeance is incited by the evidence; Justice weighs the evidence; Mercy overlooks the evidence; but Grace IS the evidence.  In our hurts, let’s always be moved by the excellence of grace—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

LET'S THINK!
It’s easier to feel than to think. And many who think they’re thinking are either parroting the thoughts of others or merely re-arranging their prejudices. Thinking is hard as it forces us to analyze facts before we finalize acts. Also, conclusions based on thinking are not always pleasant. But we must think! Whenever we abdicate our ability to think, or replace it with some superficial, emotional experience, we are in danger of being deceived, deluded, or unwittingly inflicting harm on others. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Let’s learn to think! Which is why Jesus repeatedly asked, “What do you think?” (cf. Matthew 18:12; 21:28; 22:17.)—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

Little ISN'T Little
The highlight of a grand wedding was to be the speech by the bride's best friend immediately after the vows. The bride’s friend had wanted the minister to “read first John 4:18” (“There’s no fear in love”). But nervous, she said, “read first, John 4:18.” The minister did, aloud: “You’ve had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband.” A little mistake! A little comma or change in intonation. It ruined a grand wedding. It’s “the little foxes that spoil the vines” (Song of Songs 2:15). Don’t neglect little things: A little kindness, a little apology, thank you, courtesy, cleanliness, faith, etc. Big doors are opened by little hinges. Little isn't little.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
GROWING IN PATIENCE
We must possess both passive and active patience—i.e., longsuffering (bearing long with others) and endurance (calmly dealing with life’s adversities). You can tell God is growing you in patience when you run into many anguishing experiences; when the things or people you depend on suddenly fail you; when your life seems to be in detours; when prolonged illness and afflictions plague you; when your situation goes from bad to worse; and when you cry out to God for help and He doesn’t seem to care. Patience is like a beautiful diamond; it emerges after the rock of faith is subjected to trials’ intense heat and pressure (Romans 5:3, 4; James 1:2-4).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
THE SILENT MAJORITY
Injustice is often celebrated because of the shout of silence. For a while, Truth is violently overthrown, exiled, or assassinated because its vanguards are too afraid to speak out. Our days are no different from the days when Ahab and Jezebel, actively aided by the silence of “the elders and nobles,” conspired to murder Naboth (1 Kings 21:1-16). Alas, reputations, prospects, and lives are often ruined because the voices of conscience are mute. NO, the silent majority are never silent! Their voices of apathy are louder than the courage of their convictions. And because they passively go along in order to get along or get ahead, the silent majority are worse than criminals.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
HE SPEAKS OUR LANGUAGE
Mandela said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”  Indeed, God often speaks to our hearts using our own language. Paul’s Damascus road experience confirms this fact: “I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the HEBREW LANGUAGE, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? … I have appeared to you for this purpose…” (Acts 26:12-18). If we honestly desire to know God’s will, He’ll make it abundantly clear. Don’t fret about His purpose for your life, or what to do on a pressing issue. He’ll speak in your language—He’ll speak to your heart. There’ll be no doubt in your mind.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim  
 
WHEN DOORS ARE CLOSED
Despite our best intentions and efforts, doors of opportunity sometimes shut in our faces: Prospects are blocked, relationships are terminated, & scholarships, school admissions, job offers, and visa requests are denied.  It’s Divine Providence & timing that close certain doors in order to re-direct us to new & welcoming ones. Thus, Paul and his team “were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. … They tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.So passing by Mysia they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us’...” (Acts 16:6-10). Don’t despair, but catch the vision: With every closed door, another beckons us to enter!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
STAY WITH THE BALL
There’s a saying in Ghanaian football: “The one with the ball is the one that’s attacked.” If you’re productively engaged in a worthy cause, prepare to be opposed and tripped. Adversaries will criticize, vilify, and try to pull down. But be undeterred. Even if you fumble, and are jeered and taunted, get up and keep moving! Remain focused on THE GOAL. Through our trials, struggles, and failures, Satan seeks our downfall and ruin. But through Christ, God always strengthens and renews. “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8, 9). Attacked? Stay with the ball and you’ll triumph!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

HASTY JUDGMENTS
It was a costly mistake: The trusting parents went for a brief walk, leaving their new baby in the care of their watchful pet dog. They returned to find the baby’s crib upside-down and empty, its blanket in scattered bloody shreds. The family's pet—a previously tame and loyal pit-bull—innocently wagged its tail in welcome, unaware of the bloody evidence on its mouth and paws. Betrayed and outraged, the husband shot the dog dead. Soon after, in one dark corner of the room, he found their baby—alive, well, and without a scratch! And in another corner lay a dead wolf, its face pointing to the shattered glass window. CAUTION: Never rush to judgment! “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
BE THE BEE
The Bird asked the Honeybee: “You work so hard to make honey and humans just take it away. Doesn't it bother you?" The Bee replied: “No, not at all! They take my honey, but can’t take away my art of making it.” Do you get discouraged or lose motivation when your efforts are not recognized, rewarded, or others take credit for your work? As long as you’re alive, your honey jar can always be filled.  For no one can take away our ability to produce, and God will ensure that our jars never run dry. Don't cease from diligent and sacrificial labor: “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23, 24). Cheer up! Be the Bee!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
LEMON JUICE OR LEMONADE?
Life can at times be very hard, full of pain, unfairness, and hurt. But of what use are folks who relax in pools of self-pity, who’re adorned in robes of long faces, and who dance to the rhythms of criticisms, complaints, and blame? Or Christians who seem to be baptized in lemon juice, equating gloominess with spirituality, gossip with gospel, and hyper-neurotic anxiety with sensitivity? And what good are those who take themselves too seriously, have no sense of humor, and cannot laugh at the funny side of life—including even life’s tragedies?  Here’s some lemonade to a sickening, bone-dry existence: “A merry heart does good, like medicine. But a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22; cf. 15:13).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
YOUR COUNSELOR
Uncertainties and tragedies often summon us to seek someone to talk to. But, alas, many stray into wrong places for counseling. Amidst the confusing claims of professional and “Christian” counselors, one Counselor is worth listening to. One who truly knows and cares about our struggles: “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given….His name will be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR” (Isaiah 9:6). There’s no limit to Christ’s knowledge and understanding. His counsel is always right. He’ll never lose His professional license. He’s competent, ethical, and altruistic. He ever lives, so He’ll always be there for us. Why wander in the fog of dubious counselors when we have such a Wonderful Counselor?—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
TEARS AT CHRISTMAS
The Christmas story is not a sanitized account of life. It’s not some sentimental jollity of jingle bells, Xmas plays, and Santa Claus gifts, supposedly to remember Christ’s birth. Besides “peace on earth and goodwill towards men” (Luke 2), there’s also “lamentation, weeping, and great mourning” because of envy, secret plotting, and massacre of the innocent to advance personal and political ambition (Matthew 2:1-18). As at that first Advent, our world today is also full of tears at Christmas time. These tears can’t be wiped away by simply going for shopping, dining, or watching sentimental Xmas movies.  Those for whom “Merry Xmas” has become “Teary Xmas” shouldn’t despair. For, He whose Childhood and life were marked by many tears identifies with all our sorrows and griefs. He’ll come again to end all tears.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
TEMPLE OF JUSTICE
Deep within the human heart is a yearning to worship at the temple of justice. It’s a longing for the day when truth will at last triumph, when unresolved mysteries will be finally solved, and when all wrongs will be fully made right. Carved in time, the temple of justice is when “each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12) for every selfish act we’ve done, every wrong word we’ve spoken or written, every hasty judgment we’ve made, and every evil thought and motives we’ve cherished. Also, for every unfulfilled duty, neglected warnings, unimproved opportunities, and misused talent, funds, time, and influence. We who sigh because of injustice must seek refuge in God’s temple of justice, for none shall escape the irrevocable verdict of the Ultimate Judge. —Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
LET GO!
Those who cherish the spirit of settling scores are devious and dangerous. Their vengeful spirit is cloaked in robes of justice and their treasured bitterness explodes to harm others. The retaliation they seek arises, not necessarily from hurt they’ve experienced but rather, from their wounded pride and selfishness which find satisfaction in inflicting pain on anyone—real or imaginary—who’s hurt them.  “Love keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians13:5; NIV); it trusts God with the ledger of wrongs. A tit-for-tat spirit evidences that we haven’t truly experienced God's healing, forgiveness, and love. For, hurt people hurt people, forgiven people forgive people, and loved people love people. Let go and let God!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
THORNS OF ROSES
We are charmed by the grace of roses, but detest the thorns. Yet there’s never a rose without thorns. The thorns defend the rose from intruders, and their pricks inoculate it from infections attracted by its beauty and fragrance. Paul writes: “A thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. … I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’ … Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Be thankful for your thorns of roses.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
THANKSGIVING: THANKS for GIVING
On the eve of “Thanksgiving,” may I take this opportunity to say to all, “Thanks for giving….(Fill in the blanks).” To all those who reached out to me and my family during our difficult time, we offer our sincere and deep appreciation. Some were kind, others were cruel. But the Lord found fit use for all forms of response to teach us valuable lessons from everyone who felt the need to connect with us, so none need feel bad. Soon, it will be evident that the Lord employed the words and gestures from friends, foes, and frenemies to transform our lives, and to steer us in the direction of His will and plan. This is why I say to all on this “Thanksgiving” day, “THANKS for GIVING…”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
REPLACE THE TURKEYS
Thanksgiving day in America pays tribute to the great suffering of millions of turkeys at factory farms and to their funeral at our dinner tables. The price tags for it and other special holidays are not just in the cost of turkeys, chickens, ducks, goats, pigs, or cattle, but in currencies far more valuable. When we gather over the main dish of our holidays, let’s replace our turkeys with a different currency: gentleness in place of provocation; peace for war, moderation for waste, and love for hate. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
THE PEN
No one has yet succeeded in silencing the voice of the pen. To ignore it is to be influenced by it, and to attack it is to promote it. Over the years the powerful have tried to banish, tarnish, and even vanish the pen. They vilified, conspired, unjustly tried, and imprisoned it. Then they executed it, consigned its burial to infamy, and made sure there was no tombstone for it. But somehow the ordinary pen outlives the sword of the mighty. Its spilled blood infuses life into the veins of new generations. Be “the pen of a ready writer” (Psalm 45:1). Dare to speak. Refuse to be silenced. For the pen of truth is the most effective weapon against the arrogance and tyranny of power. Be the pen!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
HONESTLY MISTAKEN
Honest mistakes are almost inevitable in the quest for truth, innovation, and change. Those who’ve never made mistakes are those who’ve greatly accomplished nothing. Though costly, we shouldn’t be discouraged by mistakes. Mistakes afford an opportunity to learn and grow. They keep us humble and enable us to see reality—and ourselves—more clearly. Most mistakes can be forgiven and corrected, provided we’ll humbly submit to the truth. Our response to truth reveals whether we’re really honest or are frankly misguided, stupid, & deluded (John 3:19-21; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). For when truth is presented to the honestly mistaken, they either cease to be mistaken or cease to be honest.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 
 
COURTESY TO OUR CRITICS
“We should not allow our feelings to be easily wounded. We are to live, not to guard our feelings or our reputation, but to save souls. … If impatient words are spoken to you, never reply in the same spirit. [Quoted Proverbs 15:1]. And there is wonderful power in silence. … Under a storm of stinging, faultfinding words, keep the mind stayed upon the word of God. If you are ill-treated or wrongfully accused, instead of returning an angry answer, repeat to yourself the precious promises: [Quoted Romans 12:21; Psalm 37:5, 6; Luke 12:2; Psalm 66:12]….Christ was courteous, even to His persecutors; and His true followers will manifest the same spirit.”—E.G. White (Ministry of Healing, pp. 485-489). 
 
THE POWER OF OUR WORDS
Our words can discourage or inspire, wound or heal, build up or tear down. An unknown poet wrote: “A careless word may kindle strife; A cruel word may wreck a life. A bitter word may hate instill; A brutal word may smite and kill. A gracious word may smooth the way; A joyous word may light the day. A timely word may lessen stress; A loving word may heal and bless." Solomon said it best: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). Someone near you is fighting life’s battles at great odds. Look out for that person today. Instead of harsh words, speak words of comfort and encouragement to inspire them with hope.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

BITTER OR BETTER
Life is full of injustice and undeserved hurt. These ill-treatments can make us bitter or better. From Joseph’s experience we learn that, we’ll be BITTER when we focus on the “I”—ourselves and the hurt we’ve unjustly suffered. But we’ll be BETTER if we view things from the perspective of “E”—eternity or God’s eternal plan (Genesis 40:14, 15; 45:5-8; 50:20).  When we’re unfairly treated, let’s yield to God’s plan. He can squeeze our bitter lemons of life into nourishing lemonade; He can cause the bitter pills forced down our throats to make us better people. To cherish bitterness, anger, or hate is to be faithless, miserable, and a loser. You’re much better than that. Forgive and move on!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

THE IRONY OF MONUMENTS 
Monuments honor those who have long passed from the scene. But monuments also pay tribute to our betrayal. In Christ’s day, when our voices could have made a difference, we shouted “crucify Him!” Then we later esteem Him by exalting, and even adorning ourselves with, the very cross on which we crucified Him! That’s the way we reward our heroes. We vilify them when they are alive. Then we build monuments for them with the very stones we used to stone them to death. “Woe to us hypocrites”(Matthew 23:29-36)! One day our eulogies will impeach us. The only evidence needed for our conviction are our tributes—the very monuments of wood and stone we erected to honor those we murdered.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

FROM THE DEEPEST VALLEY
From the mountaintop, some of have seen the Promised Land. But from the deepest valley, others have caught a vision of God Himself. Jacob of old, fearing, fleeing, and weighed down by his sin, had a dream of a mysterious Ladder. Seemingly cut off from man and God, the lonely wanderer saw a stair of angels and heard the voice of God atop the ladder (Genesis 28; John 3). From the depths of your deepest valley, you also can have the company of angels, catch a heavenly vision, and hear words of comfort and hope. Yes, even from the depths of your hell you can hear echoes of mercy that can transport you to your promised mountaintop. It is well, even in the well.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
AFRICA HAS GREAT LEADERS**
Only the ignorant and prejudiced will question the fact that Africa has produced some great leaders in its history. Today, however, it is highly debatable, to argue that Africa still has such great leaders—leaders who display excellence, humility and selfless service, and who inspire others to become effective future leaders. A majority of our “great leaders”—in both society and church—want to be leaders for life. They stay in power till they become senile or are shot dead. Thus, they will make sure that until they die, no one else will ever come up to positions of prominence. True leaders train others to succeed them; but great leaders develop others to supercede them.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (**This nugget is of a new series focused on Africa) 

AMEN—The Last WORD
“Amen” is a universal word, having been imported directly from the Hebrew into many other languages. AMEN (“let it be so”) expresses surety or absolute certainty. It’s a fitting last word in prayer, affirming our strong agreement with God regarding our petitions and their eventual outcomes. But AMEN is more than the last word in prayer. AMEN is also a Person. Jesus Christ is “the AMEN” (Revelation 3:14), always true and faithful. When circumstances, e.g. illness or death, seem to doom your fate, when your enemies and frenemies have done their worst, when men render their unjust verdict or write you off, and when all seem lost and hopeless, Jesus always has the last word. AMEN!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

BIRDS OF PURPOSE
It's tragic to have no purpose in life. It's worse to misunderstand or lose one’s purpose. To cheer and keep his lonely father company, a successful young man presented a most valuable Christmas gift to his aged father. It was a talking bird—so versatile that it could speak five languages and even sing the national anthem. After Christmas the son asked his dad how he found the bird. The father replied: “I enjoyed it very much; it was delicious!”… How often have we also lost or killed our birds of purpose. Our identity is linked with our purpose. Let’s rediscover God’s purpose for our lives (Jeremiah 1:5), for life without purpose is an aimless, fruitless, and tragic existence.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

ALL Means ALL
To the child of God, “all things work together for good…” (Romans 8:28). That little word “ALL” captures the scope of God’s promise. ALL includes every conceivable disappointment, sorrow, illness, pain, poverty, hardship, hurt, hate, and any other awful things calculated to separate us from the love of God (see verses 35, 38, and 39). God can take even bad situations and make them for the eternal good of His children. He brings blessings from curses, patience from suffering, sympathy from pain, and humility from disappointment. Whenever in the valley of despair, remember that “all things” (not “some things” or even “most things,” but “ALL” things) “work together for good.” ALL means ALL.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

BEING STILL
There are increasingly fewer moments to just be quiet and reflect. Ambient noise has become part of our lives—noise from traffic, airplanes, radio, TV, friends, churches, phone rings, and even personal computers. But if we learn to block out the noises, we shall discover some majestic truths about our Creator and the universe. We’ll also discover some ugly truths about ourselves—our fears and unbeliefs, our self-importance and self-righteousness, our falsehoods and hypocrisy. The Bible bids us to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). It’s an invitation to quietly reflect and trustfully depend on God. Being still is often the moment God leads us to brokenness.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim 

AFRICA HAS TIME**
The rest of the world has watches, but Africa has time. We’re never late to events; just not early enough (except for our babies who are born prematurely and senior citizens who die promptly in their 40s). We borrow generously from other’s scheduled appointments and spend hours to introduce speakers at functions. Output is based on activity not productivity, and work slated for completion forever ago are still undergoing construction.  Our leaders are presidents for life, and funerals last for months. Time is not such a big deal, so we’re calm and laidback. The only pressure is the annoying crowing of the rooster, reminding us each morning that Africans don’t really have time.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (**This nugget is one of a new series focused on Africa) 

THE TIME TO TRUST
It’s not when hope’s flag is high in the sky, but when many bow their heads and groan “Why?” The darkest hour is the time for unwavering trust. The apostle Paul trusted at such a time. In shipwreck he said, “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope for being saved” (Acts 27: 20), but then he went on to say, “Keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God” (v. 25). The time to trust God is not when life is calm and sings its psalm; it’s when the storms rage and our song is but a lisping cry.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

THE TRIAL OF NON-SUCCESS
Non-success is the trial we face when disappointment crowns our efforts. It’s the pain we experience when our energy and time are not appreciated or rewarded. The prophet Isaiah captures the feeling of non-success when he lamented: "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing….” (Isaiah 49:4). But we mustn’t be discouraged when we see no hints of success. Let’s serve sacrificially, even if results are not always visible or recognized. History will render the verdict. And, as Isaiah himself added, “surely my just reward is with the Lord." We must be undaunted by the trial of non-success, for a diligent and selfless effort is itself success.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

NEED PATIENCE?
Have you ever seriously prayed for patience? For most of us, even such petitions are impatient ultimatums! We’re frustrated with God’s “delay” in granting us overnight success, instant wealth, rapid improvement of health, on-the-spot caring relationships, and quick solutions to our problems. But we cannot command God—even “in Jesus name”—to give us instant patience. Why? Patience is developed in the furnace of trials and afflictions, when we willingly and totally surrender to God’s will (Romans 5:3, 4; James 1:2, 3; John 15:1, 2). Are you really honest about needing patience in your life? You might as well petition God for more agonizing trials or prolonged afflictions, then calmly wait and see what He’ll do!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

SETBACKS & HINDRANCES
God has a plan or purpose for your life. This plan is as sure and detailed as His plan of salvation. His plan for you knows neither delay nor accident. It leaves nothing to chance, hence nothing can really hurt you. Yes, your feelings can be hurt, you can be shocked by the hatred of others, and can even experience terrible grief and loss. But these things that occur in your life come through the hands of God and they’ll work together for your good. Believe and apply these facts to every circumstance of your life, surrender your plan to His plan, and you’ll develop an indomitable faith that can handle sudden setbacks and seemingly persistent hindrances. Psalm 62:8.--Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

THE GARDEN OF FRIENDSHIP
In the garden of friendship, our Eden can become a Gethsemane. Our trusted companions can fall asleep, leaving us alone to drink the bitter cup. And our friends of many years may wound us with their kisses of betrayal. Yes, we may often walk alone in the garden. But there is Another faithful and ever-present Friend. He is gracious and tender-hearted, sympathizing with all our trials, failures, and sorrows. He’s a consistent Friend—unchanging and unchangeable. No circumstance or distance can separate us from our Savior. No wonder the wisest man who ever lived refers to Him as: “The chiefest among ten thousand....This is my Beloved, THIS IS MY FRIEND” (Song of Songs 5:10, 16). He is enough for me.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

HOPE
A life without hope is futile existence. When we think or feel that we have nothing to hope for (in our studies, relationships, finances, prospects, spirituality, and health), we inevitably grow depressed and desperate.  The desperation and depression can result in bitterness, rage, hatred of life, and in some cases, can lead to suicide. This is why the word “HOPE-LESS” is written across the details of almost every suicide or murder-suicide. Hope is the lens through which we view the future. It is the eyes that enable us to see through the dark. God is our Hope. With him, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.--Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (on Romans 15:13; Joel 3: 16; Psalm 71:5).

DISTINCTION OR EXTINCTION
“Excellence is distinction. Mediocrity is extinction. Mediocrity is content with its condition and accomplishments. It settles for good when better is available. But excellence betters its best. It rises ‘higher than the highest.’ Excellence is a journey, never a destination. This journey begins when we “count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus [our] Lord” (Philippians 3:8). Jesus is the Model of excellence. Pleasing Him is to pursue excellence in all our works, personal lives & relationships, and in our exercise of power. This is distinction. Anything less is a denial of faith—hence, extinction. Choose to be distinct, not extinct.”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

THIS IS AFRICA**
“Instead of raising millionaires and billionaires, we’ve succeeded in producing nillionaires (people with a lot of nothing—people with next to nil.) The richest continent in the world is inhabited by the poorest people on the globe. Mediocrity is the new standard of excellence. PHD means ‘Pull Him Down’ or ‘Pull Her Down.’ We excel at hammering those who stand out. And we clip the wings of our soaring eagles so they can become chickens like us. This IS Africa. The heart of the African problem is the African heart. This heart must be transformed to create the Africa that OUGHT to be. Romans 12:2”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (From his book manuscript “The Transformed Mind: Changing the World By Being Changed”; **This nugget is one of a new series focused on Africa) ).

DEALING WITH HURT
Have you been seriously hurt? Is anyone deliberately hurting you right now? Is a friend or loved one maliciously treating you worse than your enemy? Jesus offers four ways to deal with such painful situations: “LOVE [be patient and kind to] your enemies, BLESS [speak well of] those who curse you, DO GOOD to those who hate you, and PRAY for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43). If you are to do these four things for your “enemy,” how much to a friend or loved one at home, work, neighborhood, or church? Believe me, consistently displaying these four graces to those seeking your hurt takes the pain and bitterness from your own heart.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

CONGRATULATIONS FOR WHAT?
When one accomplishes something extraordinary we say, “Congratulations!” Yet our greatest achievement is not when we pass an exam, earn a degree, acquire a job or property, receive a promotion, get married, etc. Nor is it when we display superb talents or prowess. Rather, our greatest feat is self-control—the discipline of self when provoked, tempted, or hurt. Self-control is the basis and crown of achievement in any field or endeavor. So, "Congratulations!” for what? For saying “No” to our appetite, passion, anger, bad attitude & habits, and pride. Without self-control, accomplishments result in regrets. —Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (on Proverbs 16:32; Galatians 5:23).

JUST ONE EGG
A codfish lays ten thousand eggs and says not a word. But the hen lays just one egg and cackles all day to advertise her incredible accomplishment! We’re like the hen in our self-admiration and self-absorption. One evidence is how we use our smart phones, emails, Facebook, Facetime, Skype, etc.: We download and upload images of ourselves; we text and post messages about ourselves; and we chat back and forth about ourselves. Just one egg: SELF. Self-centeredness partakes of Lucifer’s selfishness and leads to destruction (Isaiah 14:12-16). We must die to self—i.e., be selfless, emulating Christ’s “self-emptying” act that resulted in His sacrificing His life for us (Philippians 2:5-8).—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim

CONSEQUENCES
“The word consequence literally means ‘with a sequence,’ one thing following another or resulting from another action or condition. Every choice in life has far-reaching consequences. Hence, the saying: Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; and sow a character, reap a destiny. Thus, a single choice for sound biblical instruction affects other choices—e.g., friendships and relationships, education, career, marriage, recreation, and where, when, and how we worship. It also shapes our outlook in life--how we handle tragedies & triumphs. Ultimately, it determines our destiny. One choice, many consequences!”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (From his book "Healed Wounds, but Ugly Scars").

OBEDIENCE DELAYED
Often, our problem is not an unwillingness to perform a known duty. Rather, it’s a reluctance at PROMPT obedience. But on Wall Street, an hour’s delay in selling or buying can be expensive, and in a 100m race, a one second delay can be costly. In the spiritual realm, obedience delayed is disobedience. It’s sin. Therefore, a continued postponement of a known duty is living in sin. Since deferred obedience is disobedience, don’t put off the apology, the thank you, Bible study, Sabbath observance, baptism, or some other duty. True obedience respects the time of the duty just as much as any other part of it. Delay no longer!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Psalm 119:60; Acts 24:25).

HAVE YOU FAILED?
“You think you’re finished and that all hope is lost? Take courage in the fact that God does not throw any repentant soul away... For you He waits that He might brush off the dirt from your fall and set you back on track….After Failure empties your cup, God’s grace can fill it to its brim again…Take courage when you have to sit in the darkness of your failure. If you allow the Lord, your fall will not be fatal. There may be dark clouds, but your sun will not set. … If you have failed, don’t give up. Don’t stay down. Keep getting up.”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (From his book "Six More Chances", pp. 144, 174, 181. www.TheWoundedEagleBooks.com.)

GUILTY CONSCIENCE
“Nowadays we don’t want to feel guilty or have a guilt trip laid on us. But if we don’t feel guilty, then our consciences are dysfunctional. Conscience is our internal GPS, programmed by God to direct us to our heavenly destination. If and when we sin, guilt is that audible voice that tells us we’ve departed from God’s navigational instructions and must change our ways by repenting. It motivates us to make things right with God and those we’ve wronged. Guilt is a gift to convicted sinners, pointing them to the way of peace. It’s a “godly sorrow” that leads to salvation.” --Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Psalm 51; John 16:7, 8; 2 Corinthians 7:9-11).

GOD CAN
“God knows how to lift us up, out of our predicaments. He knows how to fix our broken worlds: broken hearts, broken hopes, broken homes, broken health, and broken lives. There is not a problem that Christ cannot fix. He brings beauty out of ugly situations. New growth out of dead ashes. Sweet-smelling life out of foul-smelling rottenness. . . . If you’re discouraged, I encourage you ‘Don't give up!’... Do not succumb to the crushing weight of failure over your life. If there’s anyone that can help you handle failure well, God can. He did for me. He can do the same for you as well. ”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9. Excerpt from his book Six More Chances, pp. 166, 179; www.TheWoundedEagleBooks.com.)

ENVY & JEALOUSY
“Envy or jealousy is mediocrity’s tribute to excellence. Though interchangeable, ENVY begins with empty hands mourning its lack, and rejoicing at another’s misfortunes; JEALOUSY starts with full hands, but afraid of losing to another what it already possesses. Envy or jealousy is demonic (James 3:13-16). When conditions are ripe, it will kill the object of its grudge (e.g., Cain/Abel; Saul/David; religious leaders/Christ), but its malice always boomerangs (e.g., Haman dies on his gallows for Mordecai; Daniel’s rivals end up in the lion’s den). The misery of jealousy outlives the joy of those we envy.”--Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Proverbs 27:4; 14:30; Ecclesiastes 4:4; Galatians 5:19-21).

PROCRASTINATION
“Putting things off till last minute is the womb from which Procrastination is born. Its first words are ‘later’ and ‘not now.’ Procrastination is not lazy, incapable, or disobedient. It simply postpones what needs to be done to another day of the week called ‘Someday.’ Procrastination’s busiest day is tomorrow—the day it makes major decisions, accomplishes great things, and effects important changes in its personal life. Though we’re in love with Procrastination, the relationship can ruin our dreams, opportunities, and destiny. Let’s de-friend Procrastination by befriending Today—Now!”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Proverbs 6:6-11; 12:27: 13:4; 20:4; Luke 9:59-62;  Acts 24:24, 25).

THE GOSPEL OF GOSSIP
“I’m very troubled about so and so. I’m confiding in you so you’ll join me pray and work for their salvation.” The Gospel of Gossip is the only gospel preached behind closed doors. It tells of your faults and failings behind your back. While pretending your soul’s concern, the purveyors actually seek to look better by making you look bad. Preachers, listeners, and believers in this hearsay gospel risk their own salvation because it distorts truth, ruins reputations, destroys friendships, and splits homes and churches. People “talk behind your back” because they’re steps behind you. Pray for them!--Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Prov 16:28; 17:9; 18:8; 20:19; 26:20-22; Rom 1:28-32; Matt 18:15-17).

WAIT, BUT DON’T OVER-WAIT
Let’s avoid two dangers. First, the danger of NOT-waiting on the Lord. We often think God is slow because we want an overnight success, instant prosperity, quick solutions to our problems, rapid recovery from illness, and instant marriages or relationships. Second, the danger of OVER-waiting on God. Here, we don’t like what God is bidding us to do, so we don’t obey Him or we postpone obedience. Whereas the first danger tries to rush God’s timing, the second doesn’t immediately heed His clear directives. Both dangers express lack of faith. Wait on the Lord, but don’t over-wait.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Psalm 27:14; Isaiah 40:31; Exodus 14:15; Deuteronomy 1:19-33).

THE MAJESTY OF SILENCE
Silence at the right time is the most effective speech. The majesty of silence is revealed by a calm, dignified restraint in the face of accusations, injustice, betrayal, and hurt. Being thus silent does not mean one is speechless, sullen, or dumb. Rather, this voluntary surrender of our right to speak is occasioned by a higher cause. It permits God to be our voice, while allowing our accusers to reveal their true character. Like our Lord Jesus Christ at His trials, we don’t need to defend ourselves when we’re secured in God’s will and His plans for our lives.–-Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-14; Mark 14:60, 61; 15:3-5; Luke 23:8-10; John 19:9).

SIX MORE CHANCES 
God is not just a God of 'second chances,' but also the God of ‘six more chances.’ The Bible says: ‘A righteous man may fall seven times and rise again...’  If a godly man rises again after falling seven times, the mathematical implication is that when he first fell he had ‘six more chances’ left! Therefore, whenever you experience a major fall—personal, professional, or spiritual—don’t despair or give up. Don’t stay down. Keep getting up. You may be knocked down, but you’re not knocked out. Through Christ’s forgiving, transforming, and restorative grace you have “six more chances.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Proverbs 24:16; Psalm 37:23-25; Micah 7:8, 9; 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9).

BEWARE OF FRENEMIES 
“Frenemy (= "friend" + "enemy”) refers to either an enemy disguised as a friend or to a colleague who is simultaneously a rival. Frenemies are more dangerous than our real enemies because, while pretending to be friends, out of envy, jealousy, or deep-seated hatred, they seek our hurt.  Sin is our frenemy. It worms its way into our lives, cuddling us, and promising thrill and joy in its bosom. But when the initial thrill wears off, sin’s enjoyment turns to emptiness, misery, shame, and guilt. At last, it bites like a serpent. The only true friend is our Savior. He gave His life for us.”--Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Proverbs 5:22; 16:25; Hebrews 11:25; Romans 6:23; John 15:13).

TOMORROW IS PAST 
It’s said: ‘Yesterday is history, today is reality, and tomorrow a mystery.’ Despite the mystery and unpredictability about the future, with God tomorrow is as certain as yesterday. Six months before Jesus’ birth, His future mission was stated in the past tense: “God has VISITED and REDEEMED his people” (Luke 1:68, 69). He was in the womb, and His earthly ministry, death, and resurrection lay in the future. Yet, Christ’s mission is written in the past tense! With God, the future is already history. He’s already set things in motion to accomplish our hopes for tomorrow. We can confidently face the future because Jesus Christ has visited our tomorrow and made it irreversibly yesterday.--Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Isaiah 44:6-8; 46:9, 10; Luke 1:67-80; Hebrews 13:8).

THE THING ABOUT SIN
The thing about sin is that everyone is an expert on other peoples' sins. Davids express righteous indignation at the rich man for taking the poor man’s only lamb. Pious Scribes and Pharisees want to stone the woman caught in adultery. Loyal siblings are outraged that their father celebrates the prodigal son’s return. Victims of the thief on the cross feel contented that 'justice has been served!' Against our expert verdicts on other peoples’ sins, the finger of the Unerring One writes in sand, ‘Thou art the man!’ When God saves us from our self-righteousness, we shall pray with the tax-collector, ‘God, be merciful to ME a sinner!’—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on 2 Samuel 12:1-13; Luke 18:9-14; Matthew 7:1-5; Psalm 51).

A GIFT TO RE-GIFT
To ‘regift’ is ‘to give a gift one has received to someone else.’ Forgiveness is one gift we must always regift. The FORGIVEN must be FORGIVING. We may have had no choice over the actions of those who betrayed, wounded, or abused us, but we can choose to regift to them the divine forgiveness we ourselves have received. When we don’t forgive, we become the slaves of those who hurt us. We also risk losing our salvation. For, whereas a forgiven abuser would be saved, the unforgiving abused could be lost! Regifting forgiveness is at the heart of the Christmas message. Let's do it!—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Matthew 1:18-25; 6:12-15; 18:21-35; Ephesians 4:32).

BIRTHDAYS
Unless we take time to discover the purpose of the life we’re celebrating, the celebration of birthdays is, frankly, a fuss, if not a farce. The lyrics of a 1970s secular song sum it up: ‘Why am I dying to live, if I'm just living to die?’ Stated differently, WHY I’m born is more important than the WHEN. Purpose gives meaning to life. When we discover a life of purpose, our lives become purposeful. Therefore, on our birthdays and those of our loved ones, let’s remember to raise the ‘Why?’ question. Then, and only then, can the birthdays be real milestones of life, and not some blips of existence on calendars.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on on Jeremiah 1:4, 5).

HYPOCRISY
From the Greek ‘HYPO’ (under) and ‘KRINEIN’ (to decide or distinguish), the word ‘hypocrisy’ literally means to make a decision by hiding it under. That’s how we often deal with our sins. To appear ‘good/nice,’ we conceal our sins by cover-ups, excuses, and denials. Only Michael Jackson confesses ‘I’m bad.’ (But even his acknowledgment really means ‘I’m good!’) In today’s ‘culture of victims,’ we’ve all become specialists in blaming others, circumstances, Satan, and even God. To be forgiven and healed, true confession must take ownership of our bad attitudes, choices, words, and actions. Choose to be a sinner than remain a hypocrite, for hypocrisy is an unpardonable sin.--Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Proverbs 28:13; Matthew 23:27).

SELF-PITY
One doesn't have to be good-looking, talented, intelligent, powerful, or rich to be proud. Pride also infects some of the ugliest, seemingly ungifted, ignorant, oppressed, and poorest people. SELF-PITY is the pride of the weak and suffering. It’s the most subtle form of pride because, while pretending to be very needy, it is actually unrenewed self clamoring for attention. Priding itself in its deprived status, self-pity often masquerades as “humility.” It’s delusional, seeing itself as “a victim” for its own failures and mistakes. When self-pity refuses to acknowledge its loathsome condition, it is incurable and deadly.--Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Proverbs 29:23; James 4:6)

FORTUNES OF MISFORTUNE
Alas, how often we show ingratitude for the gifts of misfortune. How frequently we display little appreciation for sorrow, disappointment, and failure. Wrapped in darkness, delivered with promptness, and greeted by disbelief, misfortunes are the fortunes missed by the proud, careless, and ungrateful. Through them we acquire wisdom, sympathy, humility, and a healthy dependence on God.  Tomorrow’s fortunes are enveloped in today’s misfortunes. Let’s redeem this hidden wealth by developing attitudes of gratitude for life’s vicissitudes.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Philippians 4:4-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18).

PRAYING OR PRAYED FOR YOU? 
Nowadays, just about everyone says “I’m PRAYING for you”—whether or not they’re godly or mean it. If not an outright lie, the phrase is now a cliché in our verbal and written communications. At best, it’s a declaration of intent—a wish we conveniently forget. In contrast, “I’ve PRAYED for you” is more meaningful, especially when it’s from a godly person we trust.  Jesus is trustworthy. He has both PRAYED for us and is PRAYING for us. He’s more than godly. He’s God. His prayers are effective because He’s the Petitioned Petitioner.”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on James 5:16; Luke 22:31-34; John 17:6-26).

CHARACTER & REPUTATION 
Reputation is the celebrity we admire in the mirror. Character is the person who follows us everywhere. Reputation is our public image—what we want others to think. Character is our secret actions, words, and thoughts—what we really are. Mathematically speaking, reputation is character minus the flaws we try to hide. We often mar our character by protecting our reputation, but God builds our character by smashing our reputation. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to do His transforming work on our character, for when character is developed, reputation takes care of itself.--Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Proverbs 22:1; Ecclessiastes 7:1)

A BRAND NEW YESTERDAY 
Yesterday is the foundation upon which we build houses of today and tomorrow. Though we’re able to reside in the homes of today’s challenges and those of tomorrow’s unknowns, often we’re unable to live with yesterday’s regrets. Yesterday represents spilled-milk experiences—lost opportunities, costly mistakes, shipwrecked relationships, lost innocence, and ineffaceable records. But Someone can literally step out of time, journey to our bygone years, and fix yesterday’s broken hopes. Jesus Christ is the same YESTERDAY, today and forever. He alone can give us a brand new yesterday to enable us build our mansions.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Hebrews 13:8; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

ANGUSTA & AUGUSTA
"Per ANGUSTA ad AUGUSTA" is a Latin quote that means "through trials to triumph." (The rhymed Latin words have the same roots as our English words “anguish” and “august” [impressive or eminent]). The quote captures Michael Youssef’s words: “There can be no triumph unless there is a trial. There can be no testimony unless there is a test. There can be no conquest unless there is a conflict.” To those who are currently going through some dark moments, remember that it is only through ANGUSTA that we get to AUGUSTA. No cross, no crown. Your trials are precious gifts. Treasure them!--Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Romans 5:3, 4; Hebrews 12:7-11; 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9).

WIDOWS OF PRINCIPLE
"The culture of our times does not, in general, reward unpopular courage—except long after those displaying such courage have passed from the scene. How easy it is to honor the heroes of yesteryear from our safe harbors today! How comfortable it is to marry cowards than to be widows of principled nonconformists! And how secure it is to be sheltered in the shade of apathy than to be burned by the battle for right. To defy today’s culture of silence demands the courage of convictions.”—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (From his “Not for Sale,” p. 17; A Meditation on 1 Kings 21).

CASUALTIES OF SIN
Sin is a betrayal of trust. As such, it has many casualties, even when repented of. Here’s one: Sin waives our right to be believed, giving falsehood an undeserved platform to legitimize itself. However, with time and through the mercies of God, the voice of the penitent will be heard. —Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on 2 Samuel 12:13, 14; Psalm 51).

SUCCESS HAS NO CHOICE
“We learn almost nothing in victory; but we learn much in defeat,” a football coach once said. I agree. For, when we take time to learn from our mistakes, success has no choice but to fall flat at the feet of failure. Let’s give success no choice. How? GRACIOUSLY accept your defeat; HUMBLY admit your failures; COURTEOUSLY offer no excuses for your faults; WILLINGLY accept the consequences of your mistakes; ARDENTLY learn from your missteps; and FULLY surrender your hopes to God’s will. Success wins by falling at the feet of failure. --Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on 1 Corinthians 10:11, 12; Micah 7:8).

A MATTER OF SEQUENCE
Nations “rise and fall,” but the saints “fall and rise!” All other human beings first “live and die,” but Jesus “died and lives.” It’s all a matter of sequence. The fulcrum is He Who was born for the “falling and rising of many.” –Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Micah 7:8-10, 18, 19; Psalm 37: 23-24; Luke 2:34; Revelation 1:18).

FROM THE HOME OF MARTHA & MARY
It is far more important to spend time WITH Christ than to do things FOR Christ. A quiet moment with the Lord is far more valuable than service for the Lord. The kitchens of life have many important things for us to do, but our most urgent need is receiving Life in the living room of Christ.—Samuel Koranteng-Pipim (A Meditation on Luke 10:38-42).

ECHOES FROM THE DARK
“No words can express how much the world owes to sorrow. Most of the Psalms were born in a wilderness. Most of the Epistles were written in a prison. The greatest thoughts of the greatest thinkers have all passed through fire. The greatest poets have ‘learned in suffering what they taught in song.’…Take comfort, afflicted Christian! When God is about to make pre-eminent use of a person, He puts them in the fire.”-- George MacDonald (1824-1905).

TODAY
Today is the last day of yesterday and the first day of tomorrow. It’s the conclusion to yesterday’s chapter and the introduction to your new book. Why dwell on a written past, when you can write the future today?—SKP (A Meditation on Isaiah 43:18).
PS: Thanks for all your prayers. God-willing, I will sing again—after learning my "song in the dark.” —Samuel Koranteng-Pipim
 
 
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A Background To Dr. Pipim's Thought Nuggets
 
Following his spiritual failure and subsequent resignation from his former employment, Dr. Pipim suspended all his public ministry activities in order to build his spiritual walls and learn important lessons from his failure. Urging him not to be discouraged, several of his well-wishers pleaded with him to rise quickly and continue his ministry. He, however, declined, explaining that he needed time to "sit quietly in the dark, listen in the dark, and learn the song the Lord would have him sing." Unable to respond to every message of encouragement, he shared a generic message with all of them. It was titled "Listening in the Dark." See 
 

After a brief pause in their requests, folks began to email him again, only that this time they requested that Dr. Pipim shares some of the songs he had been learning in the dark. Thus begun the one-paragraph "Songs in the Dark" nuggets. These lyrics were initially shared fortnightly, but are now weekly thought nuggets. They are shared with his Facebook friends and subscribers. They are also available on his EAGLESonline website. 

The very first thought nugget was entitled "TODAY." It read: "Today is the last day of yesterday and the first day of tomorrow. It’s the conclusion to yesterday’s chapter and the introduction to your new book. Why dwell on a written past, when you can write the future today?—SKP (A Meditation on Isaiah 43:18).  PS: Thanks for all your prayers. God-willing, I will sing again—after learning my "song in the dark.” 

You are welcome to quote and share these nuggets, provided you source them to Samuel Koranteng-Pipim and reference these websites: http://drpipim.org/thought-nuggets.html and http://eaglesonline.org/weekly-nuggets/
Thanks.
 
To receive the weekly nuggets, follow him on his Facebook page  http://www.facebook.com/drpipim.You can also read them on his EAGLESonline page: http://eaglesonline.org/weekly-nuggets/nuggets-archives/